Best Trail Bikes - Five of Our Favorites

Best Trail Bikes - Five of Our Favorites

Written by Alison Littlefield, on August 26, 2022

As we head into fall, the cycling season may be winding down but in Utah the best riding of the year is upon us. With cooler temperatures, changing colors and a little more moisture to give us hero dirt, the fall brings the best mountain biking of the year. So no better time to review our current favorite trail bikes. Time to pack in the riding. Before you know it, snow will be dusting our high mountain trails.


5 of our favorite trails bikes 2022 at Contender Bicycles


A trail bike is perhaps the broadest range of mountain bikes available today. In the quest to find the best mountain bike for your area, the trail bike is generally the best answer: not as heavy and unwieldy as a long-travel bike, and generally more confidence-inspiring than a cross-country mountain bike. A trail bike usually has up to 150mm suspension. They usually come with components that are a bit tougher, tires that have more aggressive tread profiles, and geometry that will be more comfortable should a trail get spicy.

A trail bike is the best mountain bike style if you want to do a little bit of every kind of MTB riding, or if you don't know what kind of riding you would want to do. They can comfortably handle smooth singletrack to more aggressive and technical descents. And above else, a trail bike is a great choice if you could only have one mountain bike for all kinds of trails.


Every year Santa Cruz continues to impress us with their trail bikes, and the new Hightower does not miss the mark. Santa Cruz’s Virtual Pivot Point linkage it gives the bike an explosive feeling, making it an incredible descender without sacrificing much on the climbs. The all-new (to Santa Cruz) frame storage transforms the lower portion of the downtube into a storage area, giving you room to stash essential tools and your favorite snacks! A sleeve is provided to keep things from rattling in there as well. The flip-chip for the rear shock allows you to change the entire geometry and bottom bracket height without more than 10 minutes of work. 

Learn more about the Santa Cruz Hightower HERE.

Santa Cruz Hightower at Contender Bicycles

Santa Cruz Hightower downtube compartment contender bicycles


Yes, the Orbea Rise is an electric mountain bike but that does not mean it is not a purebred trail bike that deserves to be on this list. It handles and pedals like a trail bike. With the only proprietary tune in the marketplace of Shimano´s EP8 motor and a maximum torque of 60 Nm, the Rise´s capabilities are simply that much more than any other lightweight eMTB competitor. More benefits to a light eMTB are an extended battery range and increased agility. The Rise is the shop favorite in the eMTB category. Just ask shop owners Ryan and Alison. They each own one!

Learn more about the Orbea Rise HERE.

Orbea Rise at Contender Bicycles

Orbea Rise Motor at Contender Bicycles

SCOR 4060 ST

As a new brand to the marketplace, SCOR strongly entered the trail market. Geometry is key to the SCOR 4060 ST. First the travel can be increased from 140mm to 160mm by using a different shock stroke length. Add a flip chip in the shock mount and you can adjust the bottom bracket height to fine-tune the geometry to your liking. The lower link suspension design has great small bump sensitivity but is still highly progressive to feel like it has more travel on the big stuff. With great builds offering upgraded forks and brakes, the SCOR presents great value. The SCOR quickly became a shop favorite with multiple staff members picking them for their personal rides for the season.

View the SCOR 4060 ST models HERE.

SCOR 4060 ST at Contender Bicycles SCOR 4060 ST flip chip at Contender Bicycles

SCOTT Genius

One thing that has always set the Genius apart is the SCOTT Twinloc system.  Allowing you to switch between descend, traction control, and locked-out modes in both the front and rear suspension from the convenience of the handlebar, the Genius helps you tackle the steepest climbs without the pain and loss of power from pedal bob. The Twinloc simply allows for reduced travel and higher spring rates to make it climb like a cross-country bike. While this SCOTT carries on the trend of being among the lightest in class, the Genius, and its 150mm of travel, still make it capable of riding the chairlift or more aggressive park riding.

View the SCOTT Genius models HERE.

Scott Genius at Contender Bicycles
Scott Genius TwinLoc suspension levers Contender Bicycles

Orbea Occam

Over the years, the Orbea Occam has been a staple in the Orbea line. As a tried and true model that has seen frequent refinement, the Occam shines as an efficient pedaler making it a great climber in technical terrain while offering quick, agile, and energetic handling. The Occam is offered both in a standard 140mm travel option and an LT version with 150mm travel and a coil shock.  With the ability to make your Occam all your own through Orbea´s MyO custom program, who can argue with such a proven ride with custom colors and a personal selection of some build components?

View the Orbea Occam models HERE.

Orbea Occam at Contender Bicycles

Obea Occam suspension at Contender Bicycles



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