There's only one problem with a bike this beautiful: You may hesitate to inflict the first scratch. Fortunately, the feeling passes. We fell in love with the Mamasita's exquisite skewers and gorgeous paint job, and then our affection deepened after we banged it around the desert trails outside Tucson. This hardtail 29er rolled over skull-size rocks that slowed up its smaller-wheeled brethren. And the rear carbon seatstays, combined with the plush ride of the larger wheels, make this bike incredibly forgiving for a hardtail. Just don't mistake soft for weak. The double-butted, super-durable scandium frame provides the snap and stiffness to pedal and climb like a true racer. 24.5 lbs; salsacycles.comBonus: With a proprietary carbon-fiber handlebar, a RockShox Reba SL fork, DT Swiss hubs, and a SRAM X0 rear derailleur, it's like getting a custom-built racer for slightly more than three grand.Bummer: Some riders might find this big wheel a hair slower than 26ers.
A BIG-WHEELED RACER