Dirt 100 2017: The best aluminium enduro bikes - Dirt

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Trail and Enduro Bikes

Dirt 100 2017: The best aluminium enduro bikes

For those who still love welds

There are a whole number of reasons companies would eschew carbon frames – cost, environmental impact, difficulty to produce – but all we care about is that there’s a great selection of bikes in both aluminium and carbon.

There’s something to be said for cold, hard aluminium though. It’s the metal that modern mountain biking was built on and there are aluminium bikes still destroying at the top of the sport in both the downhill World Cup and Enduro World Series.

Carbon may have the curves but, in our opinion, an aluminium bike can look sexy in its own right. Straight tubing, clean welds and a reassuring thunk on the trail will always grab our attention. On top of this, shorter production times and cheaper processes mean aluminium bikes can be updated year-on-year to stay bang on trend.

Most companies produce aluminium versions of their carbon bikes and they will often share a lot of the characteristics of the carbon version but at a cheaper price. In the past we’ve actually preferred the feeling of an aluminium version of a carbon frame but this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule.

So, in no particular order, here are a handful of aluminium enduro mountain bikes that are more metal than Ozzy Osbourne standing on a Marshall amp at Donnington Park, picked from the Dirt 100.

Orange Alpine Six Factory

Everytime we swing a leg over a new Alpine we always wonder how they can make it any better… They always do.

We’re looking at a very well regarded, UK designed long travel bike with the Alpine, a machine capable of anything from uplifting technical DH tracks, enduro racing to big mountain multi-day trips. The Alpine, as its name suggests, can handle itself in most terrain and the spec choices needs to match this attitude too.

We’ve been running the Alpine for a year and feel like the slashed weight and hard look at the latest hub, wheel and tyre standards have only added to its appeal – a whole bundle of small changes but they all add up for a significant improvement on what was already a very accomplished design.

orangebikes.co.uk


Read the Full review here


Radon Swoop 170

The Swoop is all about cutting loose in the woods and caught us totally off guard at the start of the year. Its multi position geometry, reasonable weight and killer component specification make it a coveted bike before you you take into account the 170mm travel, ride characteristic and outrageous price.

The bike comes in four sizes and five specifications starting at €2399 with the top of the range at €4899. Our large test bike sized up well, with a 473mm reach which is spot on. Radon have made one of the longest, slackest, lowest 170mm bikes we’ve tested, with a fit that is bang up to date.

How does it ride? We were blown away on our first ride and this sensation stayed with us. The Swoop is so low, so slack, so balanced, and just a hooligan through and through. There simply can be no measured remarks about this bike when the delivery is simply so flat out in its nature. This is a long travel bike that has a light ride character, is reasonably quiet and has excellent balance between flex and stiffness. We’ve yet to find any real-world compromises.

radon-bikes.de


Read the full review here


Commencal Meta AM V4.2

The Meta range has aged better than a Bordeaux South Bank and two versions of it made it into the 2017 Dirt 100. Hard hitting long travel bikes, with single crown forks, have been a big part of Commencal’s line up for years and always hot favourites here at Dirt.

Since moving to the direct sales model, the spec choices are phenomenal for the money. It could be argued that they’re cutting costs with an aluminium frame, but the triple butted tubing, excellent finish and realistic weight (around 3.3KG) results in longevity as well as performance.

With well-mannered (and improved) damping, spot on geometry and a sorted spec, Commencal have nudged the Meta AM up to another level.

commencal-store.co.uk


Read the Full review here


Nukeproof Mega 290 Comp

The Mega, be it in 27.5” or 29” wheel sizes delivers quality componentry within a solid chassis at great prices. Up until this year the design centre based out of Northern Ireland have only offered the bike in 27.5” but now they have got wise and have the larger, faster wheel into the mix. Its great to see.

Although these Nukeproof frames were conceived with racing in mind, they hit the spot for many riders looking for a bike that can be used for anything from aggressive trail riding through to sessioning DH tracks (ad Sam Hill currently leads the Enduro World Series riding a carbon 27.5″ version).

The Mega 290 is a design that was spot on from the start. If you’re looking for a big wheeled, aluminium framed enduro bike at sensible money then this is it.

nukeproof.com


Read the full review here


YT Capra AL Comp

Yes, we love the carbon version of the Capra, a bike we called “the most significant development in mountain biking” when we first rode it nearly three years ago, but we’ve found this aluminium version to be almost its equal.

Yes, this metal framed bike is a touch heavier than the CF models but all the ride dynamics and ability are still there. With plenty of riding time this year on huge variety of well-dialled long travel bikes, we’re not looking at aluminium framed options as a second rate choice.

Great riding, exceptionally well equipped machines at killer prices, with a visual appeal that’s hard to beat. The aluminium Capra continues YT’s theme and this AL Comp model in particular is a winner, a bike up for anything whatsoever.

yt-industries.com


Read the full review here


MOJO/NICOLAI GEOMETRON G16

Mojo and Nicolai have pioneered something special with their collaboration. Progressive and up to date geometry is much talked about these days, with words such as long, low and slack being thrown around on a regular basis. Has any brand moved things forward as much as we see here though?

The creativity is down to Chris Porter and his team at Mojo, who had been tweaking frame geometry as well as suspension tunes, firstly with the stock Forward Geometry Mondraker bikes and then onto prototype frames built by Nicolai of Germany.

With a head angle of between 62 and 63.5 degrees, depending on fork choice, and a ‘low as they dare’ bottom bracket height of around 340mm, these figures certainly are outside the boundaries of even the most up to date enduro bikes. 

geometron.mojo.co.uk
nicolai-bicycles.com


Read the full review here


Vitus Sommet

Last but by no means least comes the Sommet from Vitus. We love both of Vitus’ main models and downhill bike but the Sommet really shows itself when the tracks step into enduro territory.

The standard model Sommet is our pick here at £1800. At a price where many bikes are compromised, either in frame design or specification, Vitus shows us just what can be done. A bike with an ‘up for it’ attitude, that has enough ability for a spot of uplift action at the bike park or an enduro race or two. As with the Escarpe, they’ve done a cracking job of the Sommet.

If you’re looking for a hard hitting, mid travel bike, you won’t be disappointed with the Vitus Sommet. A reliable and sorted frame design kitted out with an up-to-date spec, dishing out a ride that is truly impressive at an exceptionally keen price.

vitusbikes.com


Read the full review here


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