Pinkbike Awards 2023: Nominees for Product of the Year

Our insatiable thirst for new products often makes us mountain bikers guilty of wanting better performance for less money. But this is what drives innovative products. It appears that some brands are still holding their labels on unreleased products to accommodate false waves of supply and demand. Regardless, here are four new products debuting in 2023 that hit the mark in our eyes.

For two drivetrain manufacturing giants, that meant launching a completely new vehicle Ecosystems, word of the year 2023. SRAM has launched its own high-end GX shifter, while Shimano’s Linkglide XT has taken a much less sophisticated approach. Other products on the candidate list, such as Berd’s “string theory” wheels, may not be obvious at first glance, or in the case of Schwalbe’s Tacky Chan tire, are located close to existing components.

Here are the powerful reasons why these products leave lasting impressions on us.


Why was he nominated?

When riders on Schwalbe-sponsored teams started cutting up existing tire frames to create their own, I can’t imagine the marketing team was very excited at first. Leading riders were looking for cornering support from Big Betty, but they rolled faster than Magic Mary. The engineers at the German tire brand listened to the characteristics their riders needed and set to work on building a very specific tire. Enter Taki-chan.

With a large gap between the center and shoulder knobs, it takes a little more precision to lock in turns, but once there, it remains solid. There’s less drag than the other Schwalbe tread options mentioned, making it an excellent front and rear tire combination choice in the hands of a calculated rider – an undeniable fact, as Tacky Chan has taken several UCI victories. The World Cup downhill circuit this season.

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Full review


Why was he nominated?

What gives? Strings for speaker? Yes, that’s exactly it. The unique composition of Ultra Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) in Berd Hawk 30 wheels provides a strength-to-weight ratio 12 times steel. Carbon rims naturally tend to hold their shape and this is great for keeping the wheel round and straight, but this can often lead to unwanted stiffness.

These woven spokes provide a lot of compliance to what can be an incredibly stiff wheel. You end up with a rim that elastically absorbs 200% more vibration than steel bars, Bird said. Furthermore, the rim bead is extra thick to handle impacts well enough to survive several days in the Whistler Creekside area – a complete enduro bike workout.

Of course, the carbon rims and high-tech fabric spokes aren’t cheap ($2,295) and may not be suitable for the “set and forget” type of rider, but their impressive light weight (1360g) and shock-absorbing properties mean they could be a good fit for riders looking to To save some weight while increasing performance.

Full review


Why was he nominated?

Going back to an 11-speed cassette seems like a step back in drivetrain evolution, but what if it came in favor of a huge leap in longevity? That’s what Shimano’s Linkglide XT is all about – the cassette is 300% more durable than the 12-speed Hyperglide version.

You can still shift in either direction under full power on the full cassette. In fact, Mike Casimer found the transmission to be smoother than the Hyperglide+ when shifting under load. The workhorse drivetrain still benefits from replaceable derailleur hangers and 11-speed which means less finicky alignment. As Henry Quiney said: “You can really do what you want and you won’t miss anything.”

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It’s not the lightest or widest gearset (since the HG cassette is limited to 11-50 teeth) however, it does everything you need in a drivetrain for just $343. This is approximately a third of the SRAM GX drivetrain and will not require a specific chainring, although there is an improved version of the LinkGlide.

Full review


Why was he nominated?

When SRAM dropped the T-type drivetrain or drivetrain, shifting performance was noticeably improved over their previous options. That’s not to say the previous Eagle’s 12-speed system wasn’t up to scratch, but the transmission offers the ability to shift under load, even at the torque produced by eMTBs.

Unparalleled durability was another key feature introduced by a new but universal standard bearer, the UDH. Perhaps most important of all, the derailleur components are replaceable, something often lacking in the mountain bike world. In case you didn’t understand, the system works electronically, of course without the mess of any wires.

All of these selling points meant a premium price, until the $1,099 GX version came in with a price tag 30% lower than the X0 line.

As usual, there is a weight penalty incurred when sliding down the cost scale. There’s more steel in the cassette, less material extracted from the cranks, and the GX group isn’t as discreet as the X0, however, we didn’t find any of these details to affect shifting performance or durability.

Riding impressions


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