Our testers were hard-pressed to resist the drop-dead looks of Intense’s Tracer.
The Juliana Roubion was the belle of the bike ball inside the garage at the Bible, its turquoise matte paint job and shiny parts beckoning from the racks. Its reputation as a kick-ass adventure-mobile had preceded our meeting, in no small part due to Juliana’s affiliation with ‘it’ brand Santa Cruz Bicycles.
Diving straight into steep, technical, unfamiliar trails can be a bit intimidating. Not exactly something that you would want to tackle on a bike that you just threw a leg over for the first time, but that’s exactly what happened the first time I rode the Rocky Mountain Altitude a couple summers ago in Whistler when the 27.5-inch-wheeled version debuted.
Trek’s Farley is about as ‘Wisconsin’ as a bike can be. The frame is named after the larger-than-life comic Chris Farley, who was born and raised in Madison; the wheels are named after the folklore animal, the Jackalope, which may not have originated in the Badger State, but has seriously deep roots there; and the tires are called Hodag, which is a fearsome mythological beast that resides near the town of Rhinelander in Northern Wisconsin. The only thing that could make this bike more Wisconsin is cheesehead-shaped hand pogies.
Specialized's Camber is like the aggressive rider’s cross-country bike... or maybe it’s the cross-country rider’s trail bike. I still can’t say which, but I can say this: it hauls ass up climbs and hangs better on descents than it has a right to, given how little squish it’s packing.
In a stable full of huge, temperamental stallions, this bike is like the little surefooted pony that could. Built not specifically for women but for smaller riders in general, it’s got plenty of features to tempt those of us with a little less heft. What it lacks is a stripper name or related sacrifices to quality, durability or capability.
This redesigned Rift Zone with 110 millimeters of travel out back and 120 up front joins the growing number of bikes with mismatched travel. Most bikes like this grey the lines between the trail and all-mountain categories, but instead this bipartisan bike crosses the aisle between cross-country and trail.
First, know this: The three bikes released today from Santa Cruz are nothing like the trail and all-mountain bikes the brand has become synonymous with in the last three years. There is no rear suspension on any of them, and no suspension at all on one. Instead, Santa Cruz has gone back to the drawing board on two models that will already be familiar to followers of the brand: the Highball and the Stigmata.
After a five-year absence, Specialized brought back the cross-country Era for 2015, redesigned with 29-inch wheels, women’s-specific geometry, top-shelf components and an all-carbon frame.
You might have noticed that we’ve already reviewed this bike. What gives? Well, you know that one guy who whips everyone’s asses on the climbs and the descents, bunny hops over a picnic table on the way home and then drinks everyone under the table that night? The carbon Remedy 29 is that guy.
“A bike for Bo and Luke Duke, maybe even Chuck Norris,” commented one tester. That seems about right. Bo and Luke can drive the wheels off a car, and the Phantom, like the General Lee, really shines with someone who can ride the wheels off it.