Each year, we survey you–our readers–to find out what you think are the best products of the year. Last year, we asked you what you thought was the most innovative brand, but for 2016 we modified that question a bit. Instead, we asked, “What is the most innovative mountain bike of 2016?”

Well, over 2,200 of you responded and came up with 710 different answers! After wading through the data, we compiled this list of the Top 5 Most Innovative Mountain Bikes of 2016.

5. Pivot SwitchBlade


When Pivot launched the SwitchBlade at the end of May, it was clear that this wasn’t a “me too” bike. The SwitchBlade was designed from the ground up to work with both 27.5+ wheels and 29-inch wheels. It can fit tires up to 3.25 inches wide in plus mode or 2.5-inch 29ers. It also has sub 17-inch chainstays and 135mm of rear travel. To pack all that in, Pivot went to 157mm rear spacing, which they call Super Boost Plus.

Key features/specs:

  • Travel: 135mm rear / 150mm front
  • Full carbon frame
  • 29 or 27+ compatible
  • 16.85″ (428mm) chainstay length
  • Available in XS and XL sizes
  • Pricing: $5,200 – $10,100
# Comments

  • Greg Heil

    Wow I can’t believe how this list turned out! You could correctly categorize every single bike on this list as “a high-dollar, carbon fiber, 27.5+ full suspension trail bike.” I was honestly expecting more diversity, but apparently FS plus bikes are the story of the year!

  • mongwolf

    Aaron or Greg, do you have an opinion why the Yeti SB6c or 5c are not on the list? Do you think it’s because they didn’t come out in a plus size in 2016. Isn’t there a SB5c+ or SB6c+ for 2017???

    • Aaron Chamberlain

      Hey @mongwolf, there were numerous votes for the Yetis, but they were spread out over their various models which put them out of the top 5. There will be a plus-sized Yeti for 2017, but it had yet to be announced when we ran our survey.

      Also, it could be that the new SB line of Yetis has been around for a couple years, so apart from some refinements, there hasn’t been too much in the way of “innovation.” That’s just a guess though.

    • mongwolf

      Thanks Aaron and Greg. Some very cool bikes. Looks like plus tires are here to stay and the adjustable geometry is becoming more and more a reality. I look at my 2.35 tires now and think, “Man, those look skinny.” =)

    • mongwolf

      Thanks Greg. I did read that article before when you posted. Good to read again. Soon the sb6+ … …

  • Joel DH

    I agree that the Santa Cruz bike deserves #1. That is a very innovative wheel system. I am a Specialized fan, so me picking the hightower over the stumpjumper is saying somethin’. I love the fact you can chose whatever tire size you want, but an interesting question popped up in my mind that nobody addressed in the other posts: what about the shock and fork? Do you have to adjust your settings with each tire change? Wouldn’t the damping have to be adjusted?

    • Aaron Chamberlain

      I mentioned it in the paragraph about the SC, but yes they recommend running a longer travel fork when using the plus wheels to maintain a consistent BB height. There is a flip chip for the shock as well, but you don’t have to adjust that unless you want to.

    • Mr Mojo Risin

      Switched from a Stumpjumper FSR to the Hightower C+ this summer and haven’t looked back. Truly amazing bike, sometimes I pinch myself that I really own it.

    • Joel DH

      How does the hightower descend compared to the stumpy? Does it feel as capable? How does the jumping performance compare?

    • Mr Mojo Risin

      Sorry, just saw this. I laughed when I read this question, not because it was a silly question but because how much better the HT is. The HT is way more nimble and playful, yet it hammers at speed. This could be because of the plus tires, or the stiffer carbon frame (my Stumpy was the Elite alloy). As far as jumping goes, again it’s not even close. I had the Fox Brain fade on the Stumpy and just flat out hated that shock. The HT is really playful and the plus tires feel super plush when hitting the jumps.

  • dpb1997


    Really not too sure how the poorly designed Trek got in on the list… With the fork and down tube clashing, and the restricted turning radius of the handle bar, all equate to warranty claims, widgit replacement, at owner’s expense, and crashes… Trek will be changing this design… Don’t believe me? I hope I am wrong, but time and statistics will tell.

    Plus size bikes are so unnecessary and carry more weight…and as for boosted hubs…what a joke on the consumer…!!


  • k2rider

    The silly part about these bikes being chosen, presumably for their ability to switch wheel sizes (aside for the Mojo 3), is that apparently very few people are swapping wheels. If you read everybody’s posts on MTBR, people are finding one size is working much better that the other and they are sticking with that wheel size. Consequently, being able to switch wheels is effectively moot.

    • Aaron Chamberlain

      That backs up from what I’ve heard from shops as well as my personal preference. After all, you at minimum need a set of wheels and tires, if not a fork. That gets spendy.

    • Mr Mojo Risin

      I appreciate the option of choosing my desired wheel size. This doesn’t mean I intend to run all other options.

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