Price: $3,300
Weight: 38.5 pounds
By Ryan Palmer

The Specialized Status II may not offer the bling factor of some other steeds in this category, but it'll line up and smoke bikes that cost twice as much. This isn't just another solid bike for the price—it's simply a phenomenal bike. The fact that it is affordable is merely the icing on the cake.

Specialized built the Status II from the ground up to fit into a specific price range. Even though the Status is Specialized's 'budget bike,' it could easily be another company's flagship model. With sleek, simple lines, a proven suspension platform and solid build, this bike destroys the Demo 8 from five years ago. If you're still skeptical of the Status' burly credentials, consider this fact: Darren Berrecloth chose a Status as his rig of choice for his line of death-defying drops at the 2012 Red Bull Rampage near Virgin, Utah.

Most of our testers were stunned at the ride quality of the Status II and instantly felt comfortable on it. At 38.5 pounds, it's certainly not the lightest of the bunch, but that didn't keep it from feeling very lively and playful. The cockpit felt spot-on and the bike's intuitive geometry lends it a stable, yet maneuverable feel.

Specialized didn't skimp on the Status’ components, either. Its 2.3-inch Butcher DH tires are fast-rolling and instilled confidence in dry, wet, hardpack and loose conditions. The RockShox Boxxer RC fork and Fox Van RC shock are also solid choices.

Suspension setup was easy and damping control was simple yet effective, with a wide range of adjustability, from pogo-stick fast to molasses slow. Improvements? More powerful brakes would have been nice. The Elixir 5s are powerful for trail brakes, but not sufficient for downhill rigs. Also, with the vast majority of downhill bikes using
150-millimeter rear-end spacing, we were a little surprised to see 135-millimeter spacing. Nonetheless, the Status II still won the hearts of all our testers, price be damned.

For more info, go to www.specialized.com