Pete’s Pick of the Best of MTB in 2023.

With November now in full swing, Pete looks back at the kit, places and people that have stood out for him over the last twelve months.

Pete gives us his top picks from the Bikes, eBikes, Components, Soft Goods, Protection, Service, Tech, Outstanding Performance and Athlete.

Photos by Pete Scullion unless stated.

Bikes

This category was a three way stand-off between the Orbea Occam M10, the Cotic RocketMAX and the Deviate Highlander II. I have changed my mind many times on which I’d spend my money on.

Whilst all three were cracking bikes, especially for the kind of nonsense I get up to in the summer months, there was little to separate these three when it came to how they made me feel whilst I was winching or descending. Especially the latter.

The Cotic RocketMAX takes it for producing that ride at a price that becomes even more attractive once you know that the steel has been hand-crafted here in the UK.

eBikes

Two full fat and one skimmed make this list. The Orbea Wild M10 and the Nukeproof Megawatt 297 RS go toe-to-toe with the Specialized S-Works Levo SL for the ebike category.

Simply for its ability to make me disregard my personal safety from the get-go as soon as the ground tilted downward, and keeping me rubber-side down whilst I was at it, the Nukeproof Megawatt takes it. I likely haven’t gone faster off road with more control.

Photo by Mirror Media.

Components

Picking the best components was somewhat of an easier task.

The Hope Pro 5 had some big shoes to fill and came out swinging. DT Swiss 240s were always the de-facto baseline and would take some beating, but we reckon the Hope Pro 5s have usurped that crown. Faultless over a massive year of having everything thrown at them, still running smooth and that labyrinth seal will see you coasting for miles enjoying the buzz between your heels.

Soft Goods

Another one that was a total no-brainer.

I have mad short chicken legs, so getting ‘small’ trousers to fit me usually runs along the lines of having to cut several inches off the leg to suit. The Fox Ranger Pants were the first and perhaps the only set of riding pants I have used in several years that fit from the get-go. They were that good, I paid for a second pair.

Protection

The Fox Speedframe Pro has been our helmet to beat for a long time, and barring the higher price tag, the Troy Lee Designs A3 MIPS comes close if not betters the Fox lid in terms of performance, mostly in the no sweat in the eyes department.

Good coverage, excellent adjustment, cracking ventilation and not dog’s dinner looks make this winner.

Service

Support your local bike shop folks.

For me, that’s Keith and the team at Country Cycles in Killearn, just north of Glasgow.

Tech

Whilst I am, at best, a bit of a luddite when it comes to using apps for navigation, tracking and all that jazz, during the six days of a Stone King Rally Touring Club week, Komoot saw me right.

For an average daily distance of 45km, Komoot saw me through the mountains of the Queyras to the Mediterranean Sea with no real mishaps.

Race

This is a two-horse race between the races I actually did in 2023. Those being Ard Rock’s Epic and The Ex Enduro. I was utterly goosed after both, oddly enough it somehow rained more at The Ex and I did my usual mid-pack finish.

The Ex pips it though, and as most races these days are excellent, it was the sheer quantity of food on offer that pushed The Ex in front for me. Whether it was the inordinate breakfast or dinner quantities provided by Ian Luff and co., or the fine china-mounted baked goods at the feed stations, you never went hungry. On top of that the racing was all time good times, with the bonus addition of night stages to keep you on your toes.

Photo by Paul Box.

Event

It’s hard to look past the downhill World Championships for many reasons. Home World Champs isn’t something we’ve had the luxury of witnessing since 2007 and the 2023 event would have everyone champing at the bit. Charlie Hatton taking the Elite Men’s gold as the heaven’s stayed open was the icing on a very tasty cake indeed.

Outstanding Performance

Even if you discount her win in Lenzerheide and her bronze medal in Leogang the following weekend, Rachel Atherton dislocating her shoulder on the motorway jumps at World Champs one day, doing her seeding run the next and finishing 8th is something only Wolverine can dream of…

If we’d popped a shoulder on the motorway jumps, we’d still be there crying.

Athlete

Isla Short takes the biscuit for us. Whilst the headlines might have told of Puck Pieterse’s battles with various French women, they should have had some mention of the wee Scot’s overtake record for the year.

Anyone watching the live timing would have seen the Ghost Factory Racing pinner make up a good 25-30 places between the start gun and the finish line. Few would even come close to such a tally over the entire season, let alone a single race.

What product, person or place cut the mustard for you this year? Let us know on our Facebook page.


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