BIKES, LIKE CELL-PHONE PLANS, should come tailored to your needs. That's what you finally get in 2006: a slew of highly refined models suited to your riding preferences. Want a road ride? Now there are pure racers, comfort bikes built for speed, and everything in between. Mountain bikes, you say? You'll choose between single-speeds and 29ers and all-mountain machines.
Don't panic. We've done all the hard work for you. We loaded up 26 bikes and headed to Tucson, Arizona, where we logged laps in sandy arroyos, on jangling singletrack, and along ribbons of desert pavement until we settled on the finest rigs in each category. In the pages ahead you'll find two picks in each class: the rigs you lust afterdecked-out dream rides for cash-flush connoisseursand value-laden alternatives that are a must for anyone on a modest budget. And unlike with cell-phone plans, you'll never have to ration your time on these rides.