YT Capra 29 CF Pro | $4,300
XTR derailleur and shifter, Next R carbon cranks, Code RSC brakes, DPX2 shock, HSC/LSC Fox Performance fork and a full carbon frame for $4,300. It maybe means going on a waiting list, and definitely means building and maintaining it yourself. But they had us at XTR.
Tested: Scott Ransom 900 Tuned | $7,200
The top-tier 'Tuned' spec isn't cheap, but you do get a lot for your money, including a full-carbon frame, Fox-Factory-level suspension, and the super sexy Syncros one-piece carbon bar/stem combo. Then again, you'll get nearly the same ride out of the next level down for $5,400. Go any lower, though, and you lose the Ramp Adjust, which is one of the coolest features of the Ransom.
Cannondale Jekyll 29 3 | $3,800
At well under four grand, the Jekyll 29 3 is a good value, but if what you value is rear suspension performance, it's worth forking over the extra $1,500 for the next model up, which features a Fox DPX2 shock, plus beefier brakes and a nicer drivetrain.
Nukeproof Mega 290 Pro | $3,465
Most U.S. buyers will be getting the Mega 290 mail-order, and it's a questionable value compared to other consumer-direct bikes. But it's got a smart spec, offers a unique experience, and will turn heads at the traihead.
Pivot Firebird 29 Team XTR | $8,300
The Firebird 29 is an expensive bike, but not the most expensive in the test and it uses its money wisely: Suspension, brakes and wheels are prioritized in all of Pivot's builds, placing an emphasis on discernible performance. It's hard to call a $8,300 bike a value, but it's money thoughtfully spent. Pivot also offers builds starting at $5,100, with the same prioritization of performance.
Devinci Spartan 29 Carbon XO1 Eagle | $9,000
This is an over-the-top build, you get what you pay for, but you’re paying a lot. If you want the utmost, this is for you, if you want a good value, look to the GX version at only 1.3 pounds more costing $5,200 rather than $9,000.