Things change... bikes change...
Trends for 2019
Wide Handlebars and short stems: Mountain bikes are getting more and more comfortable to ride at high speeds. Wheels are getting bigger, tires fatter. Wide handlebars give you control over the front wheel and help to keep rider weight centered with loose elbows. Short stems are now reaching the limit - they can't get shorter without putting them on backwards.
Slack Head Angle & Steep Seat Angle: Long, slack and low is the current bike design buzz-phrase. A slack head-angle pushes the front wheel further ahead which increases bike stability on descents and at speed. A Steep seat angle puts the rider's weight where it is needed on climbs. Part of the thinking here is that when you're climbing, you're seated. The rest of the time you are out of the saddle and handling the bike as opposed to seated pedalling.
Single front chainrings: The front derailleur is almost forgotten now. Many bikes starting around $1000 are equipped with single front rings. In many cases, the only people seeking front derailleurs are doing so because they are doing more than just riding mountain bike trails.
Dropper Seatposts: Dropper posts are getting more reliable, the actuation levers becoming more ergonomic, length of droppers is increasing and frames being built to handle longer droppers better.
More people riding mountain bikes: Trails are getting busier and more people are super stoked on bikes. Awesome.
Big Tires: Whether you buy into fat-tire or plus-tire bikes, there is no denying that tire technology, rim technology and rim width, bikes... basically everyone wants fatter tires than they used to... the only question is how fat!
Tire Pressure: Riders are paying way more attention to tire pressure. Now that running tires tubeless is the norm (for performance oriented riders), people are aiming to run tires softer to get better bump absorption, cornering and braking traction.
Bikes are getting better: We have a bike for $699 with Shimano 24 speed drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes: that is nuts. There are also a pile of bikes at the high end: Slayer, Altitude, Thunderbolt, Element, Trance, Reign, Wolf Ridge, Alpine Trail... that are so good it boggles the mind. What a time to be a rider!
Skills are becoming more appreciated: Skills coaches are getting busier as riders come to realise that riding a mountain bike really well is a skill that needs practice and coaching. No longer is mountain biking just toddling along on dirt, now people are trying to corner with more speed, handle technical climbs better, drops, jumps... so many skills to learn and practice.
Flat Pedals: We are seeing that more riders are choosing to ride on flat pedals - no clipping in. We see this both for newer riders getting into their first serious bike and from seasoned riders.