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The 6 Best Trail Bikes of 2020

“Trail” might just be the broadest and hardest to define category in mountain biking. For us though, the best trail bikes are just supremely versatile mountain bikes. They’s bikes with the travel, geometry, and components to handle a little bit of everything. The bikes on this list of the best trail bikes reflect that definition. You won’t feel out of place showing up to an XC race on any of these trail bikes, they all pedal well and are light enough that long pedally rides aren’t a chore. But on the flipside, any of these bikes will be happy to take a few laps through the bike park every year, they have the modern geometry and solid components to stand up to run after run of DH chunder.

Mountain biking covers a broad spectrum of trails and styles, the trail bikes on this list excel across that whole spectrum. But while every bike on this list is very versatile, subtle differences set them apart. That’s why we’ve put together these comparisons, to help you figure out which bike’s strengths and weaknesses line up best with your intended use.


Evil Offering GX

Best trail bikes of 2020
 
 

The Offering is Evil’s mid travel 29er. It’s designed to do a little bit of everything, but no matter where you’re riding, the Offering always puts the focus on fun. This bike begs to get into the air, it’s very poppy and playful, with its 140 mm of Delta Link suspension optimized to create a progressive feel.

Evil has always been on the cutting edge of bike geometry, and the Offering is no exception, its steep seat tube angle, slack head tube, and low bottom bracket mean that it climbs comfortably, but really comes alive on the down. If you’re looking to carve corners hard, and rail tight turns, the Offering is a great option. And for riders who spend a fair amount of time shuttling or riding the bike park, the Offering is the most aggressive bike on this list and is well suited to big gravity days. This make the Evil Offering one of the best trail bikes for gravity-minded riders.

The flip side of that, is that if your trails are mostly mellow and rolling, without steep descents, the Offering might be a bit overkill, and it’s worth looking at one of the shorter travel options on this list.

 Fork Travel Rear Travel  Wheel Size  Original Price
 140mm 140mm 29"  $5,799

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Devinci Django Carbon 29 GX

Best 2020 mountain bikes under $2000
 

The Devinci Django is the perfect trial bike for the rider who knows that less is often more. It’s only got 120 mm of travel out back, but its Split Pivot suspension design helps it use that 120 mm to its fullest potential. And the 140 mm fork helps compensate for any questionable line choices.

The Django is a very efficient climber, and recent tweaks to its geometry mean it’s comfortable winching up the most technical trails, but it doesn’t sacrifice any descending performance on the way to the top. While some short travel trail bikes have a tendency to feel flexy and vague on the descent, the Django’s stiff carbon frame feels composed and ready, no matter what you point it down.

The Django doesn’t have enough travel to let you get lazy, you can’t just sit back and let the bike do the work. Instead it rewards an active and engaged rider. If you like to pick your lines carefully, popping and flitting around the trail, instead of just sitting back and pointing your plow of a bike downhill, the Django is a great choice.

 Fork Travel Rear Travel  Wheel Size  Original Price
 140mm 120mm 29"  $5,199

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Santa Cruz Hightower C S

Best trail bikes of 2020
 
 

The Hightower has always been one of the most versatile and best trail bikes in Santa Cruz’s lineup, and last year’s update only broadened the spectrum of situations in which it excels. The new Hightower gets Santa Cruz’s lower link VPP suspension layout, first seen on the Nomad, along with a bump up to 140 mm of rear travel and a 150 mm fork.

Those changes allowed Santa Cruz to make the Hightower a more efficient pedaling bike, while also giving it a little more cushion when the trail gets technical. Looking for something light and efficient enough for all day backcountry exploration? The Hightower is happy to pedal into the sunset with you. Fancy lining up for a few enduro races, the Hightower is there, chomping at the bit.

Of course, riders in flatter areas, who mostly ride smooth, buff trails, don’t need as much travel as the Hightower has on offer, that’s why Santa Cruz makes the Tallboy after all. But for anyone who is lucky enough to ride big ascents that pay off in long, interesting descents, the Hightower does it all.

 Fork Travel Rear Travel  Wheel Size  Original Price
 150mm 140mm 29"  $5,199

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Transition Scout Carbon NX

Best trail bikes of 2020
 
 

Transition has built its reputation on bikes that are more fun, and more capable than their travel numbers might suggest. They’ve accomplished this by focusing on having some of the most progressive geometry on the market. The Scout is the first of their latest line of bikes to be released, and it makes it clear that Transition is coming out the gate swinging.

The Scout gets a travel bump, from its original 130 mm to 140 or 150 mm of rear travel, depending on what size shock you run. Along with that, its reach grows a little, the seat tube gets steeper, and the head tube gets slacker. All of those changes combine to create the most capable Scout yet.

But Transition didn’t want to sacrifice the jibby, playful nature of the old version, so they updated the suspension kinematics to make it more progressive, more efficient when pedaling, and allowing it to work with coil shocks. If you love the flickability of smaller wheels, and want a capable, confident trail bike that will leave you laughing after every ride, the Scout is your bike.

 Fork Travel Rear Travel  Wheel Size  Original Price
 150mm 140mm 27.5"  $4,499

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Santa Cruz 5010 C S

Best trail bikes of 2020
 
 

The 5010 has changed a few times over the years since its introduction, but through it all its maintained the same playful personality. If you’re obsessed with your max O2 output and KOMs, this bike might not be for you. Instead, this is the perfect bike for any rider who sees any time they’re on the trail as an opportunity to play around and have some fun. It’s poppy, agile, and quick.

Sure, the 5010 is prepared to crank out the occasional enduro race or bike park day, but it’s happiest when you just head out for a ride, no clock, no agenda. The 5010 makes even the most boring trails more interesting, it begs you to treat every root as a lip, every roller as a landing. So, while hardcore racers may want to look elsewhere, anyone who just wants to have fun on their ride, no matter how flat or smooth their trails may seem, should check out the 5010.

 Fork Travel Rear Travel  Wheel Size  Original Price
 130mm 130mm 27.5"  $4,899

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Yeti SB130 T2 X01 LR

Best trail bikes of 2020
 
 

The SB130 is Yet’s mid travel 29er, with, you guessed it, 130 mm of rear travel. The bike’s designed as a do-everything crusher, efficient on the up, supple on the down. However, with the unique “Lunch Ride” build, Yeti made some custom tweaks to the SB130 to help it stand out in more rugged terrain.

The Lunch Ride build was born from changes Yeti employees were making to their on personal rides, swapping out components and suspension to create a slightly more aggressive version of the SB130. So this special edition SB130 gets a longer travel fork, 7 mm more rear travel, more powerful brakes, and higher-end suspension. All of these changes don’t take much away from its climbing prowess, but add that extra edge when the descents get steep and chunky. So if you’re looking for something on the “enduro” end of the trail spectrum, that doesn’t sacrifice the sporty manners of shorter travel bikes, the Yeti SB130 Lunch Ride should be high on your list.

 Fork Travel Rear Travel  Wheel Size  Original Price
 160mm 137mm 29"  $7,599

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