ShrEditor’s choice: our favorite bikes tested in 2021
Singletracks tested an impressive and diverse set of mountain bikes in 2021. Here are the best of the best, the bikes that stood out among the herd of incredible 2021 trials. While all of the bikes we’ve tested this season perform well for someone, there are always a few that we would like to keep for the long haul.
You can listen to the podcast conversation included above to learn more about our picks and finalists. Oh, and we’re also making some of the most unusual bikes we tested in 2021, so be sure to tune in.
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The Canfield Tilt was a refreshing surprise. After spending some time on the CBF suspension platform, I already knew I was a fan, but couldn’t wait to try it out on Canfield’s brand new track bike. What makes the Tilt a favorite bike of the year? Like the Ibis, the Canfield rises as it descends.
By combining the endless traction of the CBF suspension with a modern upright seating position, the Tilt climbs better than any full suspension bike I’ve ridden in recent years. The short 165mm cranks could help maintain momentum on particularly sketchy lines and that was a smart and deliberate choice by the brand.
With aggressive yet precise geometry numbers, the Tilt eats up the track when pointed down, feels planted and stable on rougher stuff and dialed in the air. If you are looking for a versatile bike, the Tilt is a great choice.
The 140mm Cotic Jeht surprised me in several ways. It was the first full-suspension steel machine I had ridden at the time, and it weighed no more than the similar carbon model I was testing alongside it. Considering the unique look and balanced feel of the steel, I would take this bike on the carbon frame any day. The bike rides smoothly and consists of light to medium stuff, with lots of loft pop when you want some air. It definitely looks more like a bunny than I would expect from a steel platform with this build, and there is very little I would change about the specs of the bike and components. While you can line up for an enduro race on the Jeht, it’s more focused on long alpine adventures and quick laps than snacking.
GT released the new Force this summer adding the famous high steerer and idler pulley to their Horst-link controlled enduro bike. GT has also given the Force the geometry it needs to continue to progress and win in the Enduro World Series. Riders like us benefit from this progression.
I chose the Force because it has a distinctly different feel than many enduro bikes. On the Force, you become a pilot instead of being a jockey on a runaway horse. The Force is agile, responsive and supportive, but remains planted when you want it.
The supportive suspension gives riders a nice pedaling platform as well as a steeper seat tube angle, and the supportive nature means the bike lifts off the ground without much effort for those who like to ride. have a little fun in their descents or jump over rocks for the ultimate gesture to save time.
Ibis Ripley AF
It’s hard not to like the Ibis Ripley AF. You can certainly nitpick a few things; for starters, this is a 32lb, 120mm touring bike. In other words, not very light. I think you can tell Ripley carbon fiber looks better. And the placement of the bottle cage in the frame could be better. But considering what the Ripley AF brings to the price – $ 4,100 according to testing – they’re still nit-picking.
The Privateer 141 that I tested this year is the same price and better value than the Ripley AF, probably thanks to its direct-to-consumer business model, but the Ripley AF carries its weight better than the 141 and is a more well-rounded track bike. I’m only comparing the two in terms of value and components as they’re obviously very different bikes, and in the end, for what the Ibis is, I liked it more.
I had more fun ripping the 141 descents than almost any bike, but the Ripley AF was just as fun going uphill as it was downhill. The DW-link floats on hairy lines, and the bike feels planted and more confident than most 120mm touring bikes out there. So the Ripley AF isn’t just a budget bike, it’s a great trail bike.
I tested the Pyga Hyrax earlier this year, and I’m still thinking about the bike six months later. This is one of the best I have ridden in recent memory and found it to be a great choice for big mountain riding, but also for local trails.
With 140mm of rear travel and a 150mm front fork, the Hyrax is a longer-travel 29-inch trail bike with a racy, almost enduro feel that hugs the ground on fast descents and difficult. The bike also rides surprisingly well on narrow technical trails with responsive handling and a fairly efficient pedaling platform. I’m into the simple finish of the alloy frame, and the 32lb weight puts this bike close to the carbon frame territory minus the cost of the carbon frame.
Finally, I must salute the construction of the Pyga Hyrax that I tested. The Rock Shox Pike fork is a dream as usual and the 210mm dropper post made my long legs happy. With an 820mm carbon handlebar and 510mm reach on the XL frame, I found this bike to be a great choice for taller riders.
Raaw Madonna V2.2
When it comes to snacking, the Raaw Madonna is undoubtedly designed to eat everything and spit out at a smooth speed. This bike is built for racing and clearly designed for people who want to spend more time riding than scrambling with its massive bearings and all that is external. I haven’t yet found a trail that overwhelms the Madonna, some high mountain DH stuff in the Alps at its namesake trail at Finale, and the local drop lines here in Bellingham, Washington. The wide waist that I’m on feels dialed into speed while her heavy hips can be tossed around and over anything that comes along. The extra-low BB gives it a locked-in feel on the berms, which translates to increased speed in the trickier parts of the trail. I can highly recommend the Madonna to anyone who wants to get down as fast as possible, and thanks to the steep angle of the seat tube this sturdy frame also rides really well. Stay tuned for a long term review of Madonna in the coming months.
The YT Decoy is my finalist for Favorite Bike of the Year and looking back it actually has pretty similar specs to my real favorite, the Pyga Hyrax. Only the Decoy has a battery and a motor.
The Decoy is an electric bike that doesn’t scream an electric bike, at least from the outside. The 50lb weight ensures that it looks like a downhill bike on descents, and YT’s Virtual Four Link suspension design paired with the e-bike-friendly Fox suspension gives the bike a refreshing playing feel. The climbs vanish thanks to the efficient and responsive Shimano EP8 motor and 540 Wh battery, providing the rider with a free shuttle to the top and power for multiple laps. It’s not a bike that I could see replacing all the mountain bikes in my stable, but it’s definitely the one I would choose for the bigger days. Owners can be forgiven for letting their bike park pass expire with the YT decoy in the stable.
Finally, if you haven’t seen our Mid Travel Mashup earlier this fall, consider clicking on it to see more great Singletracks tested in 2021.