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ALL-MOUNTAIN LUXURY With its upright geometry and five-plus inches of travel in front and rear, this bike is Barcalounger comfortable. But unlike other plush, slack-angled bikes, the Possum’s cushiness doesn’t detract from all-mountain performance. It let us charge nimbly on the windy and banked Chutes, a technical loop outside of…

Last year, consumers were buying $9,000 bikes and bad mortgages like there was no tomorrow. Then tomorrow showed up. The spendy bikes are still out there, and still worth it for racers who have the cash. But in a time of great frugality, it's nice to know you can get…

Road Fits Any Foot Thanks to its combination of a mesh tongue and underfoot vents for good airflow, the RLs proved to be impressively breathable, even on scorching rides in New Mexico. And while they fit most testers fine, you can get a customizable insole at…

The Ghisallo is a wake-up call for weight-freak roadies dutifully switching everything (even water-bottle-cage spacers!) to carbon: There’s another gravity-defying game in town. Weighing less than a box of Clif Bars, this all-titanium frame is not only the wispiest factory model available; it’s the lightest complete bike we tested.

WIN A TRIATHLON Lance-like speed, La-Z-Boy comfort. Well, almost: The 9.9 features the same basic design of Trek’s Armstrong-era time-trial bikes—the TTX foil shape, bottom bracket, wheel cutout, and fork. But thanks to longer head tubes and a slightly steeper, 76-degree seat-tube angle (a flip-flop head allows 74.5 to 79…

RACE-READY CARBON If you place speed above all else, consider this hardtail. The 986 may be Look’s first foray into the off-road world, but as their road bikes have proven, they know their way around carbon. With dramatically shaped tubing—faintly hexagonal in the top and seat tubes and broad in…

Plush Hardtail For years, carbon fiber and full suspension have been the driving forces in mountain-bike innovation. But the industry’s recent embrace of big-wheeled rigs has breathed new life into aluminum frames and hardtail designs. “This bike reminded me that aluminum hardtails are incredible climbers,” wrote one tester. “Extremely comfy…

The Modena is the first carbon-fiber stock road bike from Titus, a company known for its formidable custom-made machines. That may sound like a come-down, but consider this: For half the cost of most naked frames in the custom line, you get a complete bike (lighter than last year’s…

Meet the Houdini of bikes: On the trail, the Anthem is so smooth it feels as if the bike has disappeared beneath you. Giant brings Maestro, 2005’s award-winning suspension, to 3.5 inches of travel, creating a lightweight ride that thrives on all manner of terrain—especially fast, technical, roller-coaster singletrack.

A SMARTER WAY TO RIDE You know those glorious and rare outings when you think only about riding—and not about your bike? That’s what every ride is like on the carbon-fiber Epic. This year Specialized became the first major bike company to manufacture its own rear shocks, and their redesigned…

While most folding bikes compromise wheel size or frame design, Ritchey’s unique coupling system delivers a full-size race rig. Also available in a sultry mix of titanium and carbon. ritcheylogic.com…

Mountain Happy Trails The comfiest mountain-bike helmet in the test? You’re looking at it. The thumbwheel up top lets you snug a headband around your noggin via a cable for a pressure-point-free fit that every tester raved about. Bonus: enough vents for the hottest days. 9.8 oz;…

FREERIDE FUN Kona keeps upping the ante with its perennial freeride favorite, the Stinky, and this year’s version is the sweetest one yet. Designers added new swingarms to stiffen up the seven-inch rear shock (nice), but the big news is a brand-new rear brake system—dubbed D.O.P.E.—that allows the rear disc…

One of the most versatile bikes we tested, the 928 Carbon is comfortable enough for mountain centuries and quick enough for hard efforts on twisty courses. With its race-inspired geometry and compact gearing, the Mono-Q earned high marks as an efficient climber, though testers would have liked to see wider…

Mountain Off-Road Rambler On the bike, the M-161s are reasonably stiff, if a touch heavy. But if you're planning on doing any hike-a-bike, you can't beat this burly shoe. The uppers are well armored and the rubber sole and replaceable spikes afforded best-in-test traction. 1 lb;…

kona zing deluxe $2,000 Better known for its rock-bashing, mud-splashing models, Kona gussied itself up for 2006 with a series of new road bikes, including the Zing Deluxe. The teardrop-shaped 7005 aluminum tubing has more crackle than a box of Pringles, which made us grin on the uphills, where…

HIGH-PERFORMANCE HYBRID Cannondale, which built its reputation on top-end aluminum bikes, debuted its first all-carbon frame just three years ago. Fortunately, the company hasn’t forgotten its roots. By marrying a carbon front triangle (the top tube, head tube, and down tube) to an aerospace-grade-aluminum rear triangle (everything else), Cannondale delivers…

Worn by legends like Greg LeMond and Lance Armstrong, Giro has long been a preferred brand of top pros. And the new 21-vent Ionos is the company’s coolest lid yet, in terms of both looks and breathability. giro.com…

Versatile and Burly We gave GT top honors in our 2005 Buyer’s Guide, and the company’s underrated proprietary “Independent Drivetrain” suspension continues to impress. The design has been refined over the years; it’s lighter and more efficient. But the main benefit—isolating all suspension movement from pedaling forces—remains, as evidenced by…

Attention, bicycle junkies: Whether you replace that quiver of bikes clogging your garage or just add to it, the Zirkel is for people who maintain a bike fund the way others stock a 401(k). This three-inch-travel cross-country cruiser picks up where Moots’s now retired Smoothie left off, with a…

A BIG-WHEELED RACER There’s only one problem with a bike this beautiful: You may hesitate to inflict the first scratch. Fortunately, the feeling passes. We fell in love with the Mamasita’s exquisite skewers and gorgeous paint job, and then our affection deepened after we banged it around the desert trails…

How does Giro improve on its popular E2 cross-country race helmet? With an adjustable visor, an easier and more snug fit, and a lower profile that provides better coverage while increasing weight by less than an ounce. giro.com…

Carbon Comfort Carbon-fiber bikes in this price range are no longer an anomaly. To keep costs down, they’re constructed with a slightly heavier weave. The result is usually a significantly smoother road feel than aluminum-framed bikes have, though generally not quite as forgiving as the finest carbon cloth. The ultrastiff…

Arguably the most anticipated bike of 2009 (it was kept behind glass at bike industry trade shows last fall), the triathlon/time-trial-specific P4 hosts several radical advancements. To hide the rear brake from the wind, engineers tucked it inside the frame, behind a removable panel. They also designed a wing-shaped bottle…

Why It’s CoolThe R2000 is built with Optimo, a proprietary aluminum alloy that Cannondale says is 15 percent stronger than conventional blends. The result: a very durable bike built with less material—this one checks in at 17.5 pounds. It felt pert and spunky as I jammed around my favorite no-mercy…

A SHOT OF ESPRESSO This twitchy Italian racer just misses out on being the lightest bike here, but the weight is well spent. Bianchi added extra material along the drivetrain of this full-carbon frame to produce an all-arounder that excels under the heavy loads of climbs and sprints. Handling is…

It's nice to see carbon-frame bikes in this price range. But although the cost is a bit de-tuned, the performance certainly isn't. This is the same stiff frame used in Raleigh's top race bikes, and our testers found it surprisingly zippy on the flats and punchy on the climbs. And…

Ultimate City Bike Lance himself sells these at Mellow Johnny’s, his Austin bike shop. No surprise. This chromoly rig, our top pick here, uses a tried-and-true midcentury French “porteur” design, used to deliver heavy loads swiftly and agilely across Paris for decades. Our 100-mile test (transporting goods all over Portland,…

Produced by a Basque collective in the heart of Spain’s Pyrenees and raced by Iban Mayo’s Euskaltel-Euskadi team, Orbea bikes are like cask-aged single-malt: They’re all about small-batch quality. With the Mitis you get classic European geometry — a stretched-out cockpit and a glute-engaging position — freshened up with…

LIGHT AND STIFF “The 595 is less yielding than Dick Cheney on Meet the Press,” quipped one tester. It’s true: The naked-carbon tubes might appear a bit thin, but the integrated seat-tube/seatpost system takes out lateral flex under the saddle. And where stiffness counts—at the bottom bracket, in the head…

Surprisingly inexpensive despite its radical design, the fin-like Zuma cuts through the air but not your budget. rudyprojectusa.com…

A Classic Reinvented In an effort to lower the price of admission, Ellsworth offers up the Glimpse, its first-ever non- commuter bike not entirely made in the USA. The aluminum tubes are still produced here, but the shaping, welding, and assembly happen in Taiwan. (You probably wouldn’t have known had…

Why pack 27 gears when you can crush your friends with just one? The Diesel’s list of features reads like a single-speed mantra: slick Formula Oro Puro disc brakes, dual rear cogs (16 and 18) on back for gearing options if the terrain turns testy, and Paragon’s trick slider…

ALL-MOUNTAIN LIGHTWEIGHT Maverick is to the mountain bike what Apple is to the personal computer: the underdog that insists it knows a better way. And we’re not arguing with a Mac Pro, or the Durance. Designed by Paul Turner, creator of the suspension fork, the Durance combines Maverick’s brilliantly simple…

The Slinger isn’t as breathable as more ventilated, higher-priced lids. But the one-handed dial adjuster in the back gives the helmet a secure, confident fit, making it without a doubt the most comfortable $100 helmet we’ve worn. e-rudy.com…

Flexible Flier With race models like the Orca and Opal, this small Basque company has a well-deserved reputation as a maker of elite-level bikes. In an effort to get similar performance at a more attractive price for everyday riders, Orbea simply laid less-expensive carbon fiber into the same molds it…

Cannondale is now manipulating carbon fiber for high-end race bikes as well as anyone, but the company hasn't completely abandoned its deep aluminum heritage. The Six 5 weds a carbon rear end and fork, which minimize painful road vibrations, to a stiff aluminum front triangle for pedaling efficiency. The frame…

Why It’s Coolhen the Trek engineers responsible for keeping Lance Armstrong in yellow had lightened the man’s frame as much as they could, they turned to aerodynamics. Using a wind tunnel, the team refined the tubing on what would become the Madone to eliminate tiny drag differences that purportedly added…

HEAD FOR THE HILLS In 2007, the mountainous Giro d’Italia and the best-climber’s jersey at the Tour de France were both won on Cannondales. It is with that climbing pedigree in mind that the company launches its new SuperSix. This is the same full-carbon frame Cannondale’s top pros are on…

The fully-custom, carbon-and-titanium XS can save your ass, literally. One tester spent 19 hours on it—in a single weekend—and was still able to walk afterwards. Indy Fab, an employee-owned boutique builder in Somerville, Massachusetts, is known for its artistry (check the laser-cut lugs) and regularly pulls down awards at the…

Mr. Versatility Naming this sly cyclocross beast “Fox” (in Italian) was perfect: Whenever we got in a sticky situation, its big all-terrain rubber, triple chainring, and forgiving steel frame saw us through in style. And if you’re not riding your local trails or CX course on the weekend, you can…

Road This value-priced lid kept testers cool (28 vents!) on even the most sweltering days. www.louisgarneau.com Bummer: Not everyone will love the exposed-foam look.

A RACE-READY BARGAIN Raleigh reclaims some of its Tour de France-winning heritage with its new line of full-carbon, race-specific frames. The Supercourse is the most wallet-friendly of the bunch, but the cost savings come from the components. The frame is the same one Raleigh’s sponsored riders race, and you can…

At just nine ounces, the über-flashy S-Works is the lightest lid on the planet. Deep vents, Kevlar reinforcement, and an ingenious full-head fit system make it as sensible as it is light. specialized.com…

Cross-Country Comfort Though this aluminum cross-country racer doesn’t boast the exotic carbon fiber and secret build techniques of the bikes above it in the Spark line, it does have the same semirelaxed geometry and efficient 4.3-inch-travel design that have made those bikes popular endurance racers. “I know it’s a race…

ONE-GEAR WONDER If you think a four-bar linkage is a night on the town, the Lewis is for you. This aluminum-framed single-speed hardtail is all about simplicity, with one gear, a smooth, quiet trail manner, and no complicated rear suspension to maintain. But it’s not a complete Luddite. You still…

Deep channels and 22 vents keep the air flowing, but the three-way-adjustable retention system sold us on Bell’s top-of-the-line road helmet. Bonus: The included visor means the Volt can double as your mountain-biking lid. bellbikehelmets.com…

Versatile Starter If you’re looking for an affordable bike that can handle commutes and get you going on your first fitness or group rides, the Grand Sport is worth a look. If, like our testers, you’re already accustomed to riding light and stiff (and much pricier) bikes, you won’t be…

One tester spirited away the Apache as soon as it arrived and only returned it a few weeks later, after we threatened to withhold his pay—and even then it took a few days. The Apache is simply one of the most fun cross-country bikes we’ve ridden, especially for the…

STEALTH RACERScott checks in with one of the lightest competition frames on the planet—a blend of custom tubes and carbon welding that weighs a feathery one pound 15 ounces. For a frame this light, it’s surprisingly solid. When it was decked with Campagnolo’s midrange Centaur group, our test bike came…

CHEAP THRILLS With so many astronomically expensive bikes on the market, it’s easy to get the impression that entry-level bikes perform too poorly to warrant consideration. The Xenith Comp proves that’s not the case. The full-carbon frame offers about as stiff a platform as you’ll find at this price, and…

We have to break out the superlatives for this out-of-the-box racer. It's the lightest and stiffest frame that Giant has ever produced—the same one (albeit without the integrated seat mast) that was ridden to more pro wins last year than any other bike. Granted, the SL 2 is hung with…

Easy Rider Using the Ritchey Breakaway system, this chromoly touring bike’s frame splits, and the whole thing packs down beautifully into one checkable suitcase in about ten minutes. Upon reaching your destination, you’ve got a sprightly ride that takes full racks and fenders, comes with fat 35-millimeter Schwalbe rubber…

Road The Haxial’s mesh liner conforms to every head shape, and you get Italian panache to boot. www.trialtir-usa.com Bonus: The aerator plate blows cool air onto your noggin.

BIKE TO WORK Modeled after classic Dutch commuter bikes, the Amsterdam gives you everything you need for jetting around a city—and strips away everything you don’t. Its steel frame can handle the bumps and grinds of crowded bike racks and won’t buck you off when you hit potholes. And its…

The beefy visor and netted vents can handle the worst gunk, while its snug retention system and padded chin strap keep everything in place. uvexsports.com…

Up You Go “Rolled up the hills almost on its own,” wrote one tester. While that’s obviously an exaggeration, everyone agreed that the hardtailed, big-wheeled Stumpy was one of the most efficient climbers this year. But even more impressive was how it handled on the way down. Whereas most hardtails…

Thanks to a supple kangaroo-leather upper and this season’s best application of the wrap-around Boa lacing system, this cleat is comfy as a slipper but still stable and responsive. lakecycling.com…

Though the mechanical buckle on Mavic’s top racing shoe resists big fingers and super-tight ratcheting—we loved the secure fit of the carbon heel cup and the nearly seamless comfort of the bonded upper. mavic.com…

Lively All-Rounder This Massachusetts-based crafter of high-end carbon-fiber frames is renowned for its custom-fit geometry and expertise at mixing comfort, stiffness, and light weight in a single frame. Parlee’s now making more stock-size frames like the Z5—and so far our testers are big fans. “Intensely responsive,” said one. “But in…

ITALIAN FLAIR FOR THE MASSES Before carbon took over cycling, aluminum was the racer’s material of choice. And before Trek took over the Tour de France, Pinarello owned that event. While the Italians’ top offerings can cost more than college, the aluminum FP2—which comes with a vibration-damping carbon fork and…

SPORTS SEDANA champion’s philosophy underscores each LeMond rolling out of the Wisconsin plant: Comfort trumps efficiency. That’s how Greg LeMond won three Tours de France—atop buttery steel frames like this one. And the Buenos Aires offers something extra: carbon fiber. By mating carbon tubes in the top half of…

FORMULA ONE ON TWO WHEELS The purest racer in our lineup, the updated Tarmac shaves ten grams off its predecessor while delivering better drive-train efficiency. The tapered head tube widens at the bottom for increased stiffness. This also allowed designers to move the bearings up so that steering forces are…

From a world championship–winning race bike to a revolutionary all-mountain bomber, dozens of bikes took our abuse for months on trails all over the Southwest. Our verdict: Suspension technology is doing things we couldn't have imagined five years ago, and carbon fiber is changing our expectations of what bikes should…

SCOTT CX TEAM BIKE features a Shimano Ultegra build and ‘cross touches like wide tire clearance and a shaped top tube for easy shouldering. Tread is key, too.

Road Here’s a top-shelf road helmet masquerading behind a midlevel cost. The removable mesh interior, one-handed twist-lock adjustment, and scant weight (11.2 ounces) are the types of features normally found on models twice the price. www.rudyprojectusa.com…

The super-svelte, 8.8-ounce Actyum has two interchang-eable pads, one with a mesh protective net that aligns with the front vents to keep bugs from splattering your noggin. rudyprojectusa.com…

Heat the race-worthy, carbon-soled R220 in an oven at an authorized shop and a special vacuum will mold the shoe to your foot for a stable, slipper-like fit. bike.shimano.com…

Downhill Dream Trek’s redesigned aluminum Remedy pedals surprisingly well for an all-mountain, 5.9-inch-travel bike—especially with the Fox Float Rp2 rear shock in its firm Pro Pedal setting. And while it’s a decent climber, the point here is rolling past big obstacles on the climb and then flying over them on…

With a buckle closure and carbon sole, these have all the features of a top-end cleat—except the staggering price tag. bike.shimano.com…

To create our new favorite road shoe, Sidi took the slipperlike synthetic upper, full-carbon sole, and adjustable heel retention of its top-of-the-line (and rather narrow) Ergo 2, then reassembled it all for those of us with wider feet. sidiusa.com…

Climb Any Mountain The only difference between this frame and the one Cannondale’s pros are racing in Europe is the carbon fiber. The SuperSix 3, built up with Shimano Ultegra components, uses a less expensive weave, but the molds are the same. Given that, we were expecting it to handle…

BEAT THE CLOCK With a one-inch-wide head tube and bladed fork, the full-carbon B2 enters the wind like a dart. A multi-position stem adjusts for the sweet spot between aerodynamic crouch and lower-back comfort. Shaped tubes keep everything hidden behind the front end to minimize drag, and even the rear…

DISCOUNT TICKETThink of the Competition as a two-wheeled iMac: Pros may want more, but if you’re looking for a worry-free performance machine, clip on in. Raleigh is coming on strong for ’05 by combining cutting-edge frames with styling that harks back to the brand’s late-seventies/early-eighties heyday. Carbon tubing, aluminum lugs,…

CROSS-COUNTRY REVELATION The Mach 4 is the first cross-country offering from MTB-design legend Chris Cocalis’s newly launched Pivot brand. It’s built around the same dw-link platform as the Gear of the Year–winning Ibis but tuned a bit firmer to stay active while eliminating energy-sapping pedal bob. The bike blasted up…

Though built for aggressive trail riding, this bike dished up so much speed, we had to double-check its specs. The aluminum Trailfox definitely uses all 5.5 inches of its travel, but the general consensus was that it often pedaled as well as a short-travel racer. “One of the fastest rides…