We reflect on our six favourite machines of last year.
Last year was, as always, a good year for new bikes. A new glut of gorgeous shapes emerged spurred on largely by the growing acceptance of the 650B wheel size - manufacturers needed bikes to fit the 'slot' and as a result, some attractive steads were born.
How did we choose them?
It was a long, complicated, mathematical process whereby we argued over it until somebody won. Remember, this is no technical test or mechanical evaluation - this is simply a recognition of the bikes which best displayed that 'Saturday morning' effect. The bikes that if you saw them sat in your garage, everything else would get put on hold until you'd ridden them.
They're in no particular order either (it took long enough narrowing it down to six).
Yeti's 'Super Bike' platform has been around for a couple of years now but with 650B wheels and 125mm (5in) of travel, it may well have found it's zenith. The fact that Yeti are offering it in their factory turquoise and a lairy yellow sort of makes up for the fact that there'll undoubtedly be a svelter, carbon fibre version along shortly.
Oh, this is a GOOD looking bike... All the fluid lines of Rocky's already pretty Altitude but witth added muscle. Wider bars, wider tyres and Fox Racing Shox Kashima-coated suspension. A touch of fluro paint rounds things off a treat. We always suspected that enduro was just rallying anyway...
If there was a reward for 'most controversial' then the 5010 C would take the plaudits. Originally dubbed the 'Solo', Santa Cruz got some pretty strong legal letters from a manufacturer with a model already using the name. Regardless of what it's called, the smooth carbon fibre lines of the VPP suspension linkage, 650B wheels and a banger of an introductory edit courtesy of Steve Peat made it all too tempting a machine.
Without a doubt one of the most talked about bikes of 2013, Stevie Smith's Devinci Chainsaw Massacre was a one-off special for the Pietermaritzburg World Champs. It was the fastest bike in timed training before a crash early on in the race run brought things to a halt. If DH racing is mountain biking's F1 then this Dave Weagle special was pretty much at it's pinnacle.
If the swoopy contours of the Santa Cruz 5010 C are an ode to the dusty trails of California, then the Rocket from Cotic is a glorious punk rock chorus to the steep and slick woods of Great Britain. 'Normal' sized wheels, skinny Reynolds 853 steel tubing and 150mm (6in) of travel make it a properly thoroughbred riot.
The carbon fibre Santaz Cruz V-10 was already one of the most desirable DH bikes on the planet. How would you go about increasing said desirability then? Produce a limited run of exact replicas of the bike Greg Minnaar won his third World Champs title aboard in front of his home town Pietermaritzburg crowd. You even get a replica number-plate.