Best For: Trail riders looking to push it.
The Test: A lot of companies are debuting longer-travel 29ers this year, and, dollar for dollar, the 4.7-inch aluminum Salsa was our favorite. “I didn’t think I needed big travel with big wheels,” said one tester, “until I rode the Horsethief. It skipped down stairsteps like a 26er but delivered that stable feel of a 29er.” The secret? The combination of burly Stan’s ZTR Flow rims and the thicker stanchions on Fox’s new 29er-specific 34 Float fork virtually eliminated the flex that can sometimes hold back big wheels in the rough. Salsa’s proven single-pivot rear suspension also made for surprisingly nimble handling uphill, but this is definitely more monster truck than mountain goat.
The Verdict: A bargain for such a well-equipped bike. 29.5 lbs