Unless you live in New Mexico, where practically every trail in the state is closed because of high fire danger, it's the thick of mountain biking season—and the perfect time for a new bike. We tested these three bikes last winter and spring, and we're sure you'll enjoy any of them now that the summer trail-riding season has arrived.
THE SELL Big wheels meet big travel.
THE TEST With the longer travel 29er market beginning to fill out—thanks in part to lighter wheels, more choices in forks, and increased R&D—the Rumblefish exemplifies the high points of a 29er trail bike. With 120mm (4.7") of travel up front, 110m (4.3") out back, and generally slack frame angles, this bike hung tough on terrain that maxed out most XC rides, and it kept us comfortable while doing it. At the bike's heart is the DRCV Fox damper rear shock, which uses an internal dual-chamber design to provide an extremely plush ride even when the suspension was fully loaded. Surprisingly, the shock shined as much on the uphills, where the rear wheel gripped and tracked beautifully, as it did going down. In spite of a relatively short cockpit and the slack head tube angle, the Rumblefish was as responsive on climbs as a 28-pound bike can be and extremely nimble in tight switchbacks. The through-axles front and rear added stiffness that ensured the Rumblefish descended well enough, but the rear travel won't be enough for everyone. "On really loose chunky stuff it didn't always inspire confidence," said one tester, "but it did always get me through." And with a great parts pick, including durable XT components and silky Elixir R brakes, it will keep you riding all but the hairiest lines for seasons to come.
THE VERDICT A Solid, fast, and stable 29er that easily stomachs most trails. 28.0 lbs (17.5"); trekbikes.com
CLIMBING 4.3 (out of 5)