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Top ten: Best mountain bikes 2012

Your guide to the best mountain bikes 2012

Let’s get 2012 rolling with a look at some of the most interesting and innovative bikes that will be available in the shops this year, with our top ten mountain bikes to look out for.

Yeti SB-66 Carbon

Yeti released its innovative new 150mm trail bike using the novel Switch Technology suspension to much fanfare, and it’s followed up that initial launch very quickly with the release of a carbon fibre version.

The new bike gets a carbon front triangle and swingarm that together with the Fox shock weighs about 6lbs, roughly a full 1lb lighter than the alu version. It’s not just weight has been improved upon, the stiffness of the frame is reportedly a marked improvement.

Cotic Rocket

Called the Rocket, the frame features 150mm of rear travel via the company’s new Droplink suspension design, and is designed around 140-160mm forks. It’s intended for trail riding and has a 66.5 degree head angle and 13.3in bottom bracket height (when a Fox Float 150mm fork is fitted).

The suspension uses 15mm pivot axles at the main pivot and Droplink pivots, and the seat tube has been oversized to 35mm to increase frame stiffness as much as possible.

Titus Cycles Rockstar 29er

Titus is back to doing what it does best; building great looking high quality frames.

The first out of the stable and ready for release early next year is this, the great looking Rockstar. Rear travel is 100mm with a custom tuned RockShox Monarch RT3 with a full carbon rear triangle keeping the weight down.

A carbon yoke further drops a few grams.

Kinesis FF29

The UK-based arm of Kinesis bikes has been busy, with a 29er hardtail nearing production and due for release this spring.

The frame has been the result of six months hard work and will feature an aluminium frame with extensive use of hydroforming to sculpt a great looking bike.

Focus Carbon Raven 29er

Delicate leaf spring seat stays are a striking visual identity, designed to offer a degree of bump taming flex. Handling is kept in check with a short wheelbase, with the seat tube bending to tuck the rear wheel in closer to the front. The 29er movement has been led by the superlight carbon hardtails, and the Raven is the latest of the breed.

All the modern details are there, including a Press-Fit 30 bottom bracket shell, Post Mount disc mounts, integrated cable routing and the option for an adjustable height seat post. It also has a tapered head tube.

Niner Bikes Air 9

The new Air 9 hardtail frame gets a new 6000 series aluminium tubeset replacing the Scandium previously employed, a change which allows the company to make a frame that’s stiffer and lighter through extensive butting and hydroforming.

The use of hydroforming has meant the designers can shape the tubes and optimise strength and stiffness in key areas, and improve the ride feel. Niner use a multi-stage hydroforming process: a butted tube is fully enclosed in a die, then pressurised with hydraulic fluid causing the aluminium to expand and taking the shape of the die. This process, says Niner, process allows better control of wall thickness and more flexibility in cross sectional shaping over mechanical forming.

Ragley Big Ten Four

Keen to show they’re not only about hardtails, UK-based Ragley will launch a range of three full suspension bikes this year, including the 29er Big TenFour.

Details are still a bit sketchy but we do know that the bike will pack 100mm of travel with geometry designed around a longer travel 140mm fork, offering a rare mismatched travel bike.

Genesis Fortitude 29er

Another UK brand to get in on the 29er action, Genesis Bikes will put its versatile 29er bike into production this side of the summer (we hope).

The Reynolds 725 frame is rigid specific with a 69.5 degree head angle, stacks of mud clearance and mounts for racks and ‘guards. They’ll offer three specs, singlespeed, geared and Alfine 11. Prices will start at £849.99.

BMC SpeedFox SF29

On paper it looks the part. A triple butted and hydroformed 6000 alloy frame uses BMC’s signature integrated skeleton concept that reinforces the top/seat tube junction, a huge downtube and short 100mm tapered head tube.

Geometry has been tweaked for the bigger wheels with a 70º head angle and 73º seat, and short 430mm chainstays.

Giant Anthem X 29er

Giant use the same tried-and-tested Maestro suspension platform to delivery 100mm of travel, with a Fluid Formed AluxX SL aluminium frame featuring a tapered OverDrive headtube and PowerCore Press-Fit bottom bracket, which allows for the impressively large downtube to be fitted to the front triangle.

Geometry measures the same as the 26in-wheeled Anthem, with a 71° headangle and 73° seat angle on our size large test bike. Importantly,  and perhaps crucially, the wheelbase is 1in longer on the 29er and the chainstays measure longer too, 18.2in compared to 16.7in on the smaller-wheeled sibling. The top tube length on both is identical at 24.4in. How this will impact the handling out on the trail remains to be seen.

Which bike are you most looking forward to riding or buying this year? Let’s hear them in the comments box below.

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