Contender's Trail Bike Tech Guide
With so many different options on the market in terms of trail bikes, it can be confusing and overwhelming to decipher the important differences. Our video and journal dives into the tech aspects and differences between some of our key trail bikes available at the shop and we hope to help you answer the following question. What makes one bike better than the other for a certain scenario and why would you want to choose one over the other? Here we dive into the tech. Look for a ride review comparison coming soon.
What is a so-called trail bike? With so many different types of mountain bikes now, it is hard to know exactly what each of them mean. A trail bike is a bike that will typically have 140mm-160mm of suspension and its main purpose is to, get this, ride trails. These bikes are good all-rounders with capability on the descents and the ability to climb decently well. These are for the everyday rider who wants to have one bike for every terrain. All mtb brands will have their own, but in this article we highlight the Santa Cruz Hightower, the Orbea Occam, the Scor 4060 ST and the SCOTT Genius.
**Note– All geometry measurements are pulled from the Medium size of the bike for this article
SANTA CRUZ HIGHTOWER
Every year Santa Cruz continues to impress us with their trail bikes, and the new Hightower 3 does not miss the mark. Santa Cruz gave this bike 150mm of front travel paired with a 145mm rear shock. They wanted to pack as much suspension in without destroying its climbing ability. With Santa Cruz’s Virtual Pivot Point linkage the bike has an explosive feeling, making it an incredible descender without sacrificing much on the climbs. The larger pivot bearings add lateral stiffness and longer lifetime to the frame to make sure it always runs smoothly. If the bearings wear out, no worries, Santa Cruz offers lifetime frame and bearing warranty to prove their bikes are built to last.
The Hightower is the slackest bike on this list, coming with a 64.8 degree head angle. This puts your front wheel further out to try and provide greater capability on the descents. The wheelbase on this bike is slightly longer than the others, at 1217 mm, in an attempt to give stability to the bike in fast sections and over rocks. With a reach of 455 mm, a middle ground amongst trail bikes, the bike aims to have a responsive feel, while still providing stability and comfort.
The all-new (to Santa Cruz) frame storage transforms the entire downtube into a storage area, giving you room to stash essential tools, your favorite snacks or even a small jacket. Two sleeves are provided to keep things from rattling around in there as well. The bike has a flip-chip for the rear shock that allows you to change the entire geometry and bottom bracket height without more than 10 minutes of work. The Hightower 3 comes in two carbon frame options, the C and the high-end CC frame, for those trying to get the maximum performance out of their bike. For those who still want more information on this bike, Isaac wrote an in-depth tech review of his personal Hightower.
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 comes standard with a 140 mm front and rear suspension setup, making it one of the shorter travel options on this list. For the suspension lovers out there, do not be too worried, they also offer it in a LT option with 150 mm of suspension travel front and rear and with a coil shock.
Orbea sought out to make a bike that you could be on all day without being too slow on the ascents and without beating you up on the descents. The Occam is the least aggressive bike in the comparison, coming stock with a 66 degree head angle. This shortens the wheelbase down to 1194 mm, almost 2 cm shorter than the other bikes featured, giving it a playful and responsive feel. This makes the bike a better climber and more maneuverable, but not quite as capable on the descents as the others. The Occam has a reach of 450mm, which aims to give the bike as much maneuverability as possible.
The Orbea Occam is built for people who want to have the handling of a downcountry bike, with the suspension and capabilities of a trail bike. This bike is designed for those who like to ride and that is it. The bike takes you where you want to go comfortably and quickly. And 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?
SCOR 4060 ST
As a new brand to the marketplace, SCOR strongly entered the trail market. Geometry is key to the SCOR 4060 ST. Built around a carbon frame, the SCOR 4060 ST comes equipped with a 150 mm fork and a 140 mm rear shock to give it everything needed for aggressive trail riding. The SCOR frame is completely adaptable to become their enduro - 4060 LT option with a 170 mm fork and 160 mm shock. The frame has an adjustable headset and flip-chip to allow these changes to happen, so if you ever feel short on travel you don't have to buy a new bike.
The 4060 ST is right about the middle ground for the trail bikes in this comparison in terms of geometry. The bike comes with a 65.5 degree head angle giving it capabilities on both the ascents and the descents. Scor gave the bike a 1210 mm wheelbase to make sure it would be capable on trails while still being able to climb up anything you may want. At 461 mm, the reach is the longest of the bunch. This gives you the option to run a shorter stem with a higher bar to give the bike stability in the descents. This bike was designed around being used everywhere, and the geometry reflects that.
The 4060 comes equipped with 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. They also come with a small storage area and an extra derailleur hanger built into the frame. 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.
For a while, SCOTT didn't import bikes to the US. In 2004, when they started bringing bikes back to the US, the SCOTT Genius was an ever popular trail bike. The original Genius boasted 140mm of travel and no dropper. Things have come quite some ways since then, but the Genius remains a staple in the SCOTT line up, filling the position as the do-it-all trail bike. Now the Genius is a 150 mm front and rear travel bike, with a hidden rear shock, something that the original Genius could only dream about. It is even now offered in a Genius ST (Super Trail) build with a 160 mm fork among other changes. Keep your eye out for an in depth comparison of the two to help you choose which one you would need.
The SCOTT Genius comes standard with a 65.1 degree head angle, but the headset cups do allow you to slacken it out should you want to. This bike has a 1216 mm wheelbase which focuses on descending stability and capability. To offset this, SCOTT gave the bike a Twinloc lockout remote on the handlebar to allow you to halfway lock or fully lock your suspension. This makes the bike climb fast in all terrain, because it is easy to adjust your suspension. The reach on this bike is 460 mm to give the bike as much stability as possible without sacrificing too much on the climbing end.
The SCOTT Genius is the dream for anyone who loves a clean looking bike, or loves new advances. With internal cabling through the headset, one-piece handlebar/stem combos, a hidden internal rear shock, and the Twinloc lockout, there are innovations galore. The cabling and hidden shock along with the bar makes for a super clean, futuristic looking bike, with very nice lines. All these features combine to make one of the most advanced trail bikes on the market.
All of these bikes are great options if you are looking for a trail bike. Give us a call or email us with any questions. We are happy to help out in any way and are always willing to customize your bike to meet your needs. Come check these bikes out in store or on the website. They are in stock now!