Snowed Out at the 2023 Sedona Mountain Bike Festival

The last time we reported from the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival was in November of 2021 and conditions were perfect with sunny skies, warm days, and cool nights. Bike demos and clinics were abundant; everything went according to plan. This year, however, with the festival back on its spring schedule during the first week of March, the weather wasn’t so cooperative. After a sizeable snowstorm caused the first day of the festival to be canceled, Josh and Spencer ventured up to the land of red dirt and vortexes to see how the subsequent days would be salvaged. Thankfully the event organizers, vendors, and festival-goers made the best of things and there were still plenty of bikes and products to show off along with abundant festivities to partake in. Let’s take a look below at what we found!

Sedona Mountain Bike Festival is usually a time for northerners to shake off the final throes of winter and imbibe some much-needed sunshine down in the desert southwest. Us Arizonans enjoy it too, as it presents a fun atmosphere to connect with friends from across the cycling industry and pedal fancy new bikes on Sedona’s world-class trails. Unfortunately, just days before the festival was supposed to kick off, a very large and late winter storm covered most of the state with piles of snow, rendering Sedona’s trails unrideable for most of the festival. This year, we had hoped to spend at least one solid day of the event demoing bikes from various brands, but since the first day was canceled due to massive melt-off, we decided to spend Saturday moseying around the festival grounds checking in on friends new and old.

At first, we saw a few bikes going out for limited spins around the nearby bike park, but as they came back caked in red mud most companies grounded their fleets for the day. With no riding to be had, we made a few laps around the crowded fairgrounds. Everyone was in the same boat, so hanging out was high on everyone’s priority list. Years ago this festival was essentially a huge bike demo where you’d go to compare various models in a somewhat controlled environment of the great trails close to the expo. Over the past few years, though, it seems to have developed a strong tradeshow component with cycling industry meetings taking place and brands launching new products. And it makes sense, both from a consumer and manufacturer perspective.

With the release of their new Irix headsets the day prior to the festival, there was well-deserved buzz around the Industry Nine booth. The headsets are available in all of the same eye-popping colors you’ve come to expect from I9 hubs and spokes, with Enduro bearings making sure everything is smooth. We’ve got one in for a long-term test, so look for our thoughts soon on their durability and performance.

Alongside all of their usual bikes and bling, Thomson had a few of their new Glacier Cerakote-finished products on display to keep your ride icy cool.

Rogue Panda had their redesigned dropper-compatible Ripsey seat bag to show off. With its new skid plate carrier, Rogue Panda has improved the bag’s clearance and rigidity. Spencer is currently putting the updated Ripsey through its paces, so stay tuned for his thoughts coming soon.

Forget your tires or inserts? Well, not to worry. Continental, Versus, Maxxis and others were on hand selling all sorts of knobby rubber while, at the same time, Cush Core was installing their inserts on-site.

Pit Viper had their newest offering, the Try Hard. With a modular frame, interchangeable lenses, and adjustable arms this is one of the more exciting offerings from Pit Viper. Hitting the mark of features of most cycling sunglasses with more flair and fun.

From Party Shirts to articulating pants, there was no shortage of wild and functional apparel to pursue. One of our favorites, Dharco, was super busy offering great deals on their MTB pants and shorts while Patagonia was showing off their yet-to-be-released Landfarer pant.

Winter Park, CO-based San Util Designs had a full offering of colorful and natural tone bags available. We were especially drawn to their rolltop fanny pack with great magnetic buckles from Fidlock.

And, without further adieu, let’s check out a selection of bikes that caught our eye(s)!

Esker Hayduke

Hayduke Lives! Esker is back with an updated Hayduke for 2023, embracing a redoubled focus on bikepacking and 29″ wheels. The frame still retains the ability to run 27.5×3″ as it was originally intended. With size-specific head tubes to maximize frame bag space and size-specific tube sets (quadruple butted) to ensure a proper ride feel.

You can also upgrade your build with their Wolf Tooth upgrade option in your choice of anodized color. This particular bike is representative of their top-tier build with a full suite of Fox Factory parts, matching gold Wolf Tooth components, and a custom frame bag from Cedaero. Cedaero and Rogue Panda both have full frame specs on file so you can get a custom frame bag that will fit perfectly with no issue.

Yeti SB 120

Yeti has redesigned its shortest travel bike, the SB 115, and are now calling it the SB 120. With an updated geometry and switch infinity system it is ready to break into the down-country category. Yeti says the SB 120 punches above its weight and, with a redesigned down tube shape, you’ll have even more ground clearance when you push it to the edge. The soft brown color of this Yeti got more than a few compliments as we wheeled it through the festival, but fear not it still comes in trusty Turquoise.

Seen here, the bike is sporting Yeti’s T3 Turq tier build. The Turq series carbon frames use a more complex carbon layup to optimize weight, stiffness, and durability. A full suite of Fox Factory with the exception of the dropper post keep things moving smoothly. Sram AXS keeps the cockpit lines looking clean and svelte.

Revel El Jefe

With the recent consolidation of Why Cycles under the Revel brand, the former Why Cycles El Jefe frame now comes emblazoned with a Revel logo on its headtube. Named after design collaborator and endurance athlete, Jefe Branham, the El Jefe retains all the features that have made it an amazing choice for bikepacking and shredding lightly alike.

The titanium El Jefe is suspension corrected for a 120mm fork and can clear thicc 29 x 2.6″ tires. Its sliding dropouts provide 420-435mm of chainstay adjustability and are compatible with the Universal Derailleur Hanger.

David from FSA’s Norco Range

The employees at the FSA booth had some truly dream-bike builds on display, but this Norco Range really stood out to us.

David did a number on this build and his enthusiasm about it was contagious. Everything was handpicked out down to the spacers and even the Sram AXS battery cover. Possibly the most eye-catching piece is the Bright Racing Shock, a truly custom-tuned fork handmade in Italy.

Haley from Revel’s Rail 27.5

When we snagged the new El Jefe from the Revel booth we couldn’t overlook Haley’s personal Rail 27.5 she had just built up. While Revel have a more recent 29″ version of this long travel bike available now, there is still a strong demand for the smaller-wheeled original, with Haley loving hers. The combination of gold, brown, and the Tang-colored frame really comes together in an easy-on-the-eyes kinda way. Push’s Eleven Six makes sure to get the most out of Revel’s much revered CBF suspension platform.

Fox Factory Kashima parts keep the fork and dropper looking extra classy especially with those root beer-colored lowers. With some sweet detailing from Yoshimura, 5Dev cranks, Onyx hubs, and TRP brakes it’s clear no expense was spared or overlooked on this build. Can’t forget those sweet carbon risers from whiskey as well!

Reeb Steezl

Reeb had quite the booth at the festival, definitely the sparkliest! Their newest creation at the show was the Steezl. A longer travel bike from the same DNA as their SST model. The Steezl is designed for 160/170mm forks with 155mm of frame travel.

Using the same CRT (Cool Ranch Technology) linkage from their SST, but this time with an added Horst Link. Reeb continues to expand on their steel fabrication prowess and mix of new 3D printing technologies. Safe to say they are producing some of the best-looking full-suspension bikes on the market at the moment and we can’t wait to get one in our review queue!

Mosaic MT-2

Just as the sun set on the day, we swiped this Mosaic from the lovely folks at the Hunt Wheels booth. They had this and a recently completed Bender (which you can see in the above gallery) on display. What a way to finish the day of shooting beautiful bikes. In a field of amazing bikes, this Mosaic is stunningly elegant. The color and texture of the paint allow for the beauty of the titanium to shine through without masking the precision of the welding and construction.

Seen here built up with Hunt’s XC Wide 29 MTB wheels, the build conveys a balance between XC efficiency and modern progressive hardtails. Mosaic’s bikes are a special type of perfection in their vision and performance.

Here’s to hoping we get to swing some legs over bikes and pedal some of that sweet red velcro and slick rock next year!