Will Ritchie

Will Ritchie is from Marin County but now resides at the bottom of California. He prefers semi-technical, mid-speed, trail riding beneath trees and lives for long, overwhelming rides. He'll take big ups and drawn-out descents any day he can muster the gumption or sneak in time—both of which seem to be eluding him, not hard to do. He prefers supportive suspension over goopy, long has been unyielding in his devotion to big wheels, likes 29+, deeply believes in bikepacking and someday aspires to own a golf cart. Ok, fine, some Astroturf too. Ok, fine, fine—and some plastic flamingos. Then he'll know he's made it—when he and his glowering hound dog can go on a walk without going on a walk, return to an evergreen patch of something and sip an overpriced coffee surrounded by a flock of birds that don't fly away. That's big time.

Favorite Bike: Scott Ransom 900 Tuned | $7,200

I've looked at bikes with bar-mounted switches with raised eyebrows for years. I get it, the switch helps, sure I'd use it, but c'mon man, design something that can pedal without the switchy. For the new Ransom, it doesn't need the switch, but it damn sure is nice.

And the Ransom does that thing countless bike brands claim: get two bikes in one! More adjustments for more trails! Wary over your spendy purchase? Adjust your way past financial remorse! Too much. I'm somebody who believes a bike should be designed with intent, the brand should stand behind it. One intent, not twenty.

But the Ransom's TwinLoc is perfect. In Trail mode, it almost felt locked out but maintained perfect traction scrambling over rocks—I had to actively watch it enveloping obstacles to believe it—it pedaled that well. I also found myself using it constantly, though never feeling like I needed it. It's an odd feeling, as though you're cheating—you don't want your fellow testers to see you do it. Must be what e-bikers think when they push a button then drop a normal rider on a climb.

What really seals it for the Ransom though is that, for the first time in my findings, it's a bike that does everything extremely well. The 2.6 DHFs and 64.5 headtube kill it descending, plus it's light so you can throw it around. You can climb it forever with TwinLoc. It has a short stay, is easy to pick the front end up, still is super steady at speed, rides supported in its travel. I see it as a bike you could ride up a massive alpine peak on, and boss your way through anything on the way down. And it's got a huge front triangle cavity that'd love to swallow a frame bag—TwinLoc and 2.6 would sing success bikepacking. It's an incredible bike.

Read the full review here.

Travis Engel

L.A. sucks for cycling. Normally in hashtag form, this common expression can be used in irony or in earnest, depending on whom you ask. Ciudad de Los Angeles resident, Travis Engel has 5,000-foot peaks, pristine private dirt jumps and the world's most star-studded brunch lines, all within a half hour drive of his Silverlake split-level. To Travis, L.A. does not suck for cycling.

Travis's home trails are raw, remote and rarely see any moisture. Some are wooded, soft and fast, but his favorites are barren, rocky and steep. The frequent exposure demands careful line choice, and the big scale forces wise time management. These trails have long kept Travis on his toes and thinking creatively, and they test his background in trials riding.

His dirt jumps, located in the foothills below those same trails, regularly pull him away from his testing duties for a weekend. Or, sometimes they'll pull him away for six-to-eight weeks while a bone or tendon slowly mends.

And the brunch. The brunch is great. Try the avocado toast.

Favorite Bike: Scott Ransom 900 Tuned | $7,200

I arrived at Summer Camp with this decision already made. My single best day of riding in all of 2018 was spent on a YT Capra. It is the perfect bike. It has the leverage curve I like, the geometry, the travel and I don't think I'd change a thing in its build kit. Most importantly, it is an incredible value across all of its price points.

But then I rode the Scott Ransom. It has monster truck stability and confidence on dry rocky steeps. I love dry rocky steeps. Also monster trucks. But at the same time, it's not unwieldy. It never feels like too much bike. On trails that are beneath its capability (most trails) its ramp switch turns it into the perfect plaything.

And then there's TwinLoc. Mistakenly branded a cross-country feature, TwinLoc belongs on the Ransom more than it does any other platform. Every bike in our test required us to reach down to flip a lever to properly climb in the steep-and-longs, but none do what Twinloc does. In its traction mode, the Ransom rides high and quick, but plenty sensitive to the small stuff. On long climbs, I'm not battling inefficiency, discomfort or suspension. Just gravity.

Read the full review here.

Ryan Palmer

Ryan Palmer is by far the best rider on the test crew, which when written in the third person, sounds almost believable. Anyone who’s actually seen him ride knows this isn’t true, but when writing in the third person, Palmer can say whatever he chooses to say about himself and it sounds legit. In reality, the only thing Palmer is better at than everyone else is getting wildly worked up about things nobody else seems to care about. Like, for instance, leaf blowing mountain bike trails. This is apparently a thing that happens, and it offends Palmer to his core. If people want manicured surfaces, get a friggin’ road bike and leave my–ahem his–trails alone. And while you’re at it, leave the rocks and roots too. As a longtime mechanic, he gets equally fired up about crappy cable housing and improper tire fitment, but might be more justified in doing so since he’s the only one who’s wrenched at the Olympics. Palmer prefers the obviously superior 29-inch wheel, likes tech over flow, thinks plus is fun as hell, and has nothing against e-bikes. Perhaps Palmer is getting old.

Favorite Bike: Scott Ransom 900 Tuned | $7,200

Sometimes it's a real struggle for me to do this whole favorite bike thing. I can't pick a favorite anything. Color? Green is rad. But, you know, so is blue. And there are some pretty dope shades of purple too. Music? Well, there's Led Zeppelin. But, then there's Notorious B.I.G. And Amy Winehouse had some serious talent. Choosing a favorite long-travel 29er, out of the six we had at Bible Summer Camp in Mammoth, though? That's easy as pie. The Scott Ransom stood out as my favorite before I even got around to messing with the new shock and its Ramp Control lever, which makes the Ransom ready for anything you throw at, with a flip of a switch. The Nude shock has been tuned for excellent bump control when descending and optimal pedaling support and traction while climbing, and the geometry makes the bike feels natural enough that there's no learning curve, other than discovering just how much it does well. I never would have guessed that a 170-mil-29er could be this rideable everywhere. But it is, and it rules.

Read the full review here.