BMC Agonist ($7,499 as tested)
The 29-inch carbon Agonist yearns to be a new-wave cross--country steed, with sounder trail manners, thanks to a little extra travel (110 millimeters front and rear), a slightly taller headtube, and a slacker head angle. Indeed, we found the rig easier to push around in rock gardens and a bit more relaxed for long-haul riding than a typical racer. But it’s still more European than American in its sensibilities, with narrow 720-millimeter handlebars and fairly skinny DT Swiss XR1501 rims. All that helps account for the bike’s feathery 23.6 pounds. As does the SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain, including a big 34-tooth chainring, which on a heavier bike would feel sluggish but works here given the gossamer build.
Ibis Mojo HD4 ($8,400 as tested)
This is the tenth iteration of the Ibis Mojo, and the beefed-up, full-carbon rig is the most refined and assertive version yet. It’s a fully modern 27.5 enduro bike that features a long front center mated with a stubby stem and a set of linebacker-wide 800--millimeter bars, a low bottom bracket, and a slack (64.9 degrees) front end, all of which creates incredible stability and responsive steering at speed. What really helps the bike come alive are the new 2.6-inch Maxxis DHF WT tires, which pushed through rocks and chunder but didn’t feel heavy or squirmy like plus-size tires can. Ibis’s 742 carbon wheels provide about as big and as sticky a contact patch as you can get from these treads. With 160 millimeters of travel from Fox’s plush DPX2 piggyback shock and buttery Float 36 fork, this bike pushed us to the limits of our capabilities—then helped us smash through them.
Intense ACV ($4,700 as tested)
Many plus-size bikes feel enormous and halting. The completely carbon ACV is so well balanced, the only thing to remind you that you’re riding 2.8-inch tires is the Velcro-like traction and laugh-out-loud confidence it gives you on the trail. The bike switches between 115 and 130 millimeters of rear travel, courtesy of a dual-eyelet system that adjusts the suspension. We preferred the shorter-travel setting, as the high bottom bracket provided better clearance in rocky terrain. With a beefy 150-millimeter RockShox Pike fork, the ACV lives up to its name (Air Cushioned Vehicle) with a combo of supple suspension and high-volume tires that provide a pillowy, predictable ride. It’s one of the smartest specs we’ve seen, too—the Fox Transfer dropper post is smooth and reliable, and the Maxxis Rekon+ tires are tester favorites. The entire package is a great value and a reasonable 29 pounds.