The Best Mountain Bikes of the Past Four Years

If recent testing has taught us one thing, it's that versatility is king

Some of the mountain bikes in contention for the best of 2019 (Photo: Claire Bruce)
Some of the mountain bikes in contention for the best of 2019

As part of the testing for our annual Summer Buyer's Guide, we gather a squad of expert riders, put them on the most promising new mountain bikes at a world-class destination, and let them rip. Then comes the hard part: determining the single best trail steed of the year. Over the past four tests, these rigs rose to the top.

2019 Gear of the Year: Ibis Ripmo

During a week of riding dozens of mountain bikes in Grand Junction, Colorado, last fall, our crew fell in love with the Ibis Ripmo. In the year of the long-travel 29er, the Ripmo's smooth ride and ability to handle any terrain with ease helped it claim Gear of the Year.

2018 Gear of the Year: Evil The Following MB

For last year's test, we traveled to sunny Tucson, Arizona, where we put a crop of 25 mountain bikes through their paces. Our testers rode everything from flowy desert singletrack to chunky downhills and massive rock drops. Evil's The Following came out ahead for its versatile suspension and playful handling, despite being a large 29er.

2017 Gear of the Year: Santa Cruz Tallboy

In 2017, we found the one standout rig that could tackle just about anything, even the notorious White Line in Sedona, Arizona. With its stable ride and all-around capability, the Santa Cruz Tallboy (and its sister bike, Juliana's Joplin) won over our testers.

2016 Gear of the Year: Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper FSR 6Fattie

We saw impressive growth in the plus-size market in 2016. At that year's test (also in Sedona), eight out of the 36 mountain bikes fell into the burgeoning category. These bikes, with their wider tires, provided incredible traction and inspired confidence in riders of all abilities. And the 2016 Stumpjumper FSR 6Fattie did it all the best.

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.
Contribute to Outside
Filed To: Mountain BikingBikingCity Biking
Lead Photo: Claire Bruce
More Gear