Q:

Which full-suspension mountain bike can also handle downhill action?

I'm looking for a full-suspension mountain bike that’s under $2,000. The ideal bike would also handle a little downhill action as well. What's the best bike for me in this price range? Dan Georgetown, Texas

Mar 9, 2007
Outside
Outside Magazine
Marin East Peak Mountain Bike

East Peak Mountain Bike

A:

Hey, for the price range you’re in, you can get a lot o’ bike—good suspension, well designed frame, and solid components. The only issue is that while a decent full-suspension, trail-oriented mountain bike will make a downhill run, it won’t be entirely happy about it. Downhill bikes typically are heavier, have more throw in the suspension, and have a geometry that makes them more stable on corners and rough terrain.

A good starting point is Marin’s East Peak ($1,899; marinbikes.com). It features Marin’s excellent (and recently improved upon) Quad Link suspension, which combines with a Fox Float R rear shock to give you a smooth ride that doesn’t suck up much energy when you’re pedaling up hill. The brakes are Avid Juicy Hydraulic 3 discs, and the running gear is reliable Shimano LX. It’s an excellent buy.

I also like Giant’s Anthem 2 ($1,650; giant-bicycles.com). It has a light aluminum frame with a slightly simpler rear shock setup than the Marin, with a Fox Float R rear shock, Juicy hydraulics for whoa, and Shimano Deore for go. So, it’s a slightly lesser-parts package than the Marin, but also a slightly lighter bike.

Here’s an interesting choice: Schwinn’s Rocket Limited ($1,700; schwinnbike.com). It’s a bike that does pretty well on trails but is happier than most cross-country bikes when you point its front wheel downhill and let gravity do its thing. The Rocket has a proprietary Schwinn rear swing-arm design that allows a generous 5.5 inches of travel, and it has beefy frame construction and oversized Moto Raptor tires. Its little brother, the Rocket Pro, downgrades the running gear a bit but retains the solid frame features and sells for $1,150, which makes it a great buy.

You might also troll around on eBay or Craigslist for a bit; you might pick up a Santa Cruz Blur (santacruzbicycles.com) or something like that for under two grand. Sweet!

The Gear Guy reports from 2007 Winter Outdoor Retailer, the bi-annual gearapalooza in Salt Lake City. Check out his top picks for gear to watch in 2007.

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