Best For: Anyone searching for the proverbial one-bike quiver.
The Test: The Element 970 is how a bike is supposed to ride: sprightly on the climbs, quick and playful on scary descents, yet relaxed enough to ride all day. That such a balanced bike is a four-inch, full-suspension aluminum 29er is a testament to how far big-wheel designs have come, as well as to the ever expanding range of quality parts for them. Case in point: the new Rockshox SID RL 29 fork melds lightness and rigidity not seen previously in this category. We would have liked a bit more for the money (a full XO drivetrain, perhaps), though performance-wise the parts pick ranged from perfectly fine to downright impressive (Maxxis Ikon and Aspen tires!).
The Verdict: “Just plain fun,” raved one tester. 26.8 lbs