2021 was the year that long-travel trail bikes and enduro rigs became really interesting. The promise of good adjustable geometry met with the rise of high pivot suspension designs and the broader availability of purpose-designed mixed-wheel bikes. More material options, and a made-in-Canada carbon fibre debut, and creative designs make these the best bikes to eye up if you’re looking at going big in 2022.
After covering the quick and nimble options in our XC and short travel trail bikes list, we’re moving on to the bruisers and brawlers. These bikes like to take on any trail at any speed and make sure you come out the other side unscathed and smiling.
High concept, high pivot, high speed. The three come together brilliantly in Norco’s new Range. Three years in development, the Canadian brand’s High Virtual Pivot design performs like a bike with much longer travel, letting you take on the toughest trails with a smile, while still pedalling efficiently enough to call itself an enduro bike.
Rocky Mountain Instinct
The Instinct is a core bike for Rocky Mountain and, for 2022, it gets a host of updates to make it even more capable on a wider range of terrain. The classic bike is better, a bit badder but still balanced enough to cover everything from light trail riding to big backcountry epics. The Altitude still reigns supreme in proper enduro territory but, with new frame adjustments and more capable geometry, there isn’t much that’ll hold the Instinct back, either.
Canyon Spectral CF8 CLLCTV
Canyon initially unleashed the Spectral as a limited, 29″ carbon fibre-only release. This year, the German brand followed up with all the options. You can get the 150mm trail bike with aluminum frames or carbon fibre, 27.5″ or 29″ wheels and even a dedicated mixed-wheel set up. The latter, Canyon’s Spectral CF8 CLLCTV edition, caught our attention. With a coil shock and mullet wheel set-up, this bike holds much of the Spectral 29’s speed while highlighting that frame’s more playful attributes.
WeAreOne has teased the possibility of a full frame for a couple of years now but, until 2021, stuck with its made-in-Kamloops, B.C. carbon fibre wheels. The Arrival changes that. The frame is still constructed in house in WAO’s Kamloops facility, proving that high-end carbon fibre bikes don’t have to be made overseas to make sense. And the Arrival looks like it makes all kinds of sense.With 150-mm of travel, it’s enduro-ready or happy crushing local trails for fun. Futuristic looks developed with the WAO crew’s decades of riding experience pay off in one incredible looking frame.
Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Alloy
The Stumpjumper EVO was a blast to ride in carbon fibre, bringing the iconic Stumpjumper name into the 2020s with style. Specialized brought that performance to alloy, so more people could enjoy the latest version of this classic bike.
Knolly Fugitive 138
The first version of Knolly’s debut 29-er hinted that it could perform far beyond its travel numbers. In updating the alloy frame, the boutique Canadian brand delivers on that potential. The Fugitive 138 doesn’t add gobs of travel, but just enough to expand this trail bike’s potential. The Chilcotin is still Knolly’s wild child, but the new-look Fugitive is ready to go fast and take chances, too.