Editors Choice Favorite Trail Bikes for Mountain Biking

Hands-down the most common question that we receive, in one form or another, is “what mountain bike do you recommend?” While we’ve written dozens of articles with bike recommendations, including budget buyer’s guides and lists of top-rated bikes according to our readers, we’ve decided to share our personal mountain bike picks with you. We’re planning to share these editor’s choice selections for a number of categories, starting with the hottest niche in mountain biking today: trail bikes.

To keep this list realistic, we’ve capped our choices at $4,000 MSRP. While the $4,000 cap might still seem high, it actually proved to be difficult, with our editors finding that some of the best trail bikes on the market aren’t available in even a basic build kit for less than 4 grand. For higher dollar recommendations, be sure to check out the Top-Rated Trail Bikes of 2017 article.

If we had $4,000 to spend on a trail bike, here are the mountain bikes that would make our short list:

Canyon Spectral CF 8.0

I spent a week riding Canyon’s Spectral trail bike in Sweden in 2015, and absolutely loved it. The incredible value that Canyon offers with their direct-to-consumer model is undeniable. To sweeten the deal even more, Canyon just completely redesigned the Spectral’s frame, updated the Spectral’s component spec, and simultaneously dropped the price compared to previous years.

While I’ve included Canyon bikes on editor’s choice lists before, for a long time they weren’t really relevant to the majority of our audience living in the United States. However, with their official entry into the US market in 2017 (finally!) almost everyone that reads Singletracks can now get their hands on a Canyon mountain bike.

While I had $4,000 to work with for this article, the CF 8.0 model comes in well below that cap, at $3,499 MSRP. You can also save even more money by opting for an aluminum frame–the base model retails for $2,500 MSRP.


Key Specs:

  • Travel: 150mm front / 140mm rear
  • Wheel Size: 27.5″
  • Headtube Angle: 66.1°
  • Reach: 460mm (large)
  • Chainstay Length: 430mm
  • Frame Material: Carbon fiber
  • Price: $3,499 (Base models start at $2,500.)

Key Components:

  • Fork: RockShox Pike RCT3
  • Shock: RockShox Deluxe RT
  • Drivetrain: SRAM GX Eagle 1×12
  • Brakes: SRAM Guide R
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth
  • Wheelset: DT Swiss M 1700 Spline
# Comments

  • fsuglover

    Why link a 2015 article a Canyon bike while doing a article in 2018?

  • mongwolf

    Wow, nice to see components like the Eagle 1×12 at this price point. I think we have begun to see some downward pressure on mtb prices. For some years there, it was a pretty strongly upward sloping price curve.

  • 2sharp7

    I bet if you’d tried the KNOLLY ENDORPHIN, it could have made this list!

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