Emo or indie? Back in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, it used to be so easy to label our peers – and it was the same for mountain bikes too. But now those days are way behind us, and no one would deny that the industry’s constant hunger to innovate, rethink and reinvent – just take wheel sizes and the frequent hype of new standards – has led to confusion and frustration for consumers. Right now, however, the industry is in a state of consolidation: genuine innovations are being channeled, and over-hyped BS is disappearing. The bikes awarded below are proof of this. Technical innovations make sense these days: 29ers are back on the rise, geometries are more specific, and some frames even boast compatibility with all three standard wheel sizes. For the consumer, this means better handling, more fun, and peace of mind that they won’t have to constantly chase the next new trend every twelve months. The coveted Design & Innovation Award is only awarded to bikes that work as a whole – simply stamping a brand name on a new standard doesn’t suffice. The award recognises the best do-it-all bikes, pedigree specialists, and exotic rarities. Not every bike will suit every rider, but every rider will find their ultimate bike in the list.