This year is brimming with blinged out, high-zoot, lightweight and thoroughly badass mountain bikes. Those adjectives, however, don’t always share real estate in the same sentence with words like “value.” So, what the hell, here’s a list of some bikes that I think present a good value. They aren’t “cheap,” they might not even be “affordable,” but they are all a hell of a lot of bike for the buck.
A split-personality trail bike, the Trigger rips uphill like an XC bike in short-travel mode and levels descents when flipped to full-travel. The tradeoff for this multiple personality is that it needs to be switched from mode to mode to get the best out of it, and comes with an attendant level of heightened complexity.
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.