We as riders have more choice than ever when desiring a bike. We get "ideas" thrown at us by marketing departments and the "ideas" keep coming. Some "ideas" stick and get adopted by riders that get a real benefit from using the said "idea". This is the point where the "idea" moves from being a "want" to a "need". "Ideas" only get better if they tip over this "need" point. There has to be a "real" reason (or need) for other riders to be persuaded to follow and start a trend. Riders change and adapt their bikes to suit their favourite trails and to get the best out of their ability.
On reflection we have evolved Mountain Biking from rigid forks, cantilever brakes and some gears that had lower gear ratios than road bicycles. With the "idea" of suspension, mountain biking as a sport started to divide into DH and XC. If we stick with XC, we have a multitude of "needs" to choose from to suit your local terrain. Hardtails are still getting podiums, however the 26inch wheel has made way for 29 inch and 27.5 inch (650b) tyre sizes.
Here are my top 5 "ideas" that have turned into "needs":
1/ 29er wheels - Until you try 29 inch wheels; you will not understand. 29ers are faster when climbing and rolling over things. Tight and twisty courses stick to 26 inch
2/ disc brakes - Does anyone still run "V"-brakes? In most mountain biking conditions disc brakes are a real benifit for control and handling.
3/ spd pedals - For XC clipless pedals are a real benefit for power and control.
4/ maxle forks - This really allows you to point the wheel where you want it without wheel twist.
5/ dropper posts - These are on the edge of being a luxury, however on difficult unknown terrain, dropper posts help confidence and climbing ability.
We are all part of this ever evolving world of mountain biking.
Now to create the best mud plugger...Snow fork up front, 26x4.0 inch tyre on front with 29 inch on the back and this has to be singlespeed belt-drive (of course).