Shock Therapy

Rocky Mountain ETSX-30 and the Marin Rift Zone

    Photo: Michael Darter

ROCKY MOUNTAIN ETSX-30

Those first three letters stand for Energy Transfer System, which purportedly uses suspension movement to help drive the bike forward when you're pedaling over rough terrain. There aren't any free rides in physics, but what the 29-pound, 12-ounce ETSX does remarkably well is limit unwanted vertical motion when you're using the small and middle chainrings. Stand up and hammer the bike on rolling terrain and the rear end holds stable, yet with 3.5, 4, or 4.5 inches of movement, it still soaks up even small bangs for incredible climbing traction. Tool-free adjustable travel, quality parts from Race Face and Shimano Deore LX, and a reasonable weight make the ETSX-30 a fine all-mountain pick. Where to find it: Rocky Mountain, 604-527-9993, www.bikes.com $2,300

MARIN RIFT ZONE

At first blush, the Rift Zone looks like our venerable friend the single-pivot bike—one of the longest-lived suspension designs— but closer inspection reveals two pairs of short links that combine to furnish four inches of vertical movement. Acting together, they amount to a virtual pivot point, but the 27-pound, five-ounce bike still suffers from some bobbing on climbs. That said, it shines on steep descents, and the large-diameter aluminum tubes resist lateral flex while keeping overall weight to a minimum (in our test, bested only by the more expensive Santa Cruz Blur, reviewed on page 104), making it a great value. The Manitou Skareb Elite fork isn't quite as burly as we'd like it to be—especially on descents—but other bonuses, like the Hayes hydraulic disc brakes, are a hit. $1,700. Where to find it: Marin, 800-222-7557, www.marinbikes.com

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