Raleigh XXIX Pro

XC Race

    Photo: Photograph by Shana Novak

Yes, yes; 29-inch wheels are slower to accelerate. But once you get them rolling, they're so good at soaking up obstacles, it's like having an extra two inches of travel. That means this tricked-out steel hardtail—unencumbered by the weight or sag of rear suspension—held its momentum beautifully. It's not for bombing tricky 3,000-foot descents. But for rolling terrain with occasional technical sections, the smooth steel tubing and Mavic Crossmax wheels are hard to beat. "Love the ride quality of the Reynolds steel," said one tester. "This made me understand the allure of 29ers." $4,000; 26.1 lbs (medium); raleighusa.com

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