As many manufacturers pare down their bikes, Ventana goes gleefully big. Bouncing into the growing 29er fraythese mountain bikes sport XXL wheels for higher clearance and better momentum than you get with their 26-inch counterpartsthe El Cap is a handcrafted, dual-suspension aluminum rig that soaks up bumps like an off-road sponge. Skeptical? We were, too, until we hit the Chutes, outside of Catalina, Arizona, where we cleared ditches and rolled across sand pits that stopped small-wheelers. The El Cap even feels different from other 29ers (mostly hardtails), as the four-inch suspension rides like five. 30.3 lbs, 23 in; www.ventanausa.comBonus: In an age of strip-mall homogeneity, the crisscrossing top tube is eye-catching.Bummer: Big wheels are good, big weight is not.
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