Joy Rides: Elevation Outdoors brings you our gear guide featuring the six bikes that turned our cranks this spring.
BEST FOR: Pounding singletrack
WHY WE LIKED IT: With a rash of 650B (27.5 inch wheels) bikes on the market, the Trance Advanced rose to the top because it excelled both at digging in for gritty Front Range climbs and offering up a stable, nimble platform on screamer downhills. And we could feel a difference with that new wheel size. The bike had all the extra roll of a 29er (the bigger wheels actually helped give us a bit more to ride up tough problems) but it did not feel like a boat when we navigated tight switchbacks. The frame weighs in at 5.1 pounds and build options go down in price and spec to the $5,350 27.5 1.
NOTABLE FEATURES: Composite frame with 5.5-inches of travel, RockShox Revelation RLT3 Dual Position Air with 15mm thru-axle OverDrive 2 steerer 120-140mm suspension fork, SRAM XX1 componentry $7,725
BEST FOR: Aggressive female riders
WHY WE LIKED IT: The Juliana line (named for legendary racer Juli Furtado) stands on its own now, rather than being one Santa Cruz model. And this bike is made for women who can hold their own on rollicking downhills. It’s not light—weighing in close to 30 pounds—but point it downtrail and it sucks up the singletrack. The big 27.5-inch wheels are the ideal step up for women who want a ride with the aplomb of a 29er in a smaller frame.
NOTABLE FEATURES: Women-specific saddle, RockShox Sektor Gold RL 27.5 130mm fork, Fox Float CTD rear shock, Juliana Mountain Compact Bar and Grip System, which offers a better fit for smaller hands $2,599
BEST FOR: The bike park, the local pump track
WHY WE LIKED IT: We just love belt-drive singlespeed bikes—they are hassle-free, respond immediately when you turn the cranks, and don’t make much noise. Combine that with the attitude of Oskar Blues’ latest REEB which was built for having fun at places like the Valmont bike park, and you have a bike that makes you feel like a kid again (with all the advantages of a grown-up body). The bigger 27.5-inch wheels give it just enough extra guts without sacrificing maneuverability.
NOTABLE FEATURES: Gates Carbon Drive, 650B wheels, made in America $1,500 (frame), $3,800 (full build);
BEST FOR: Roadies who want to take it up a notch
WHY WE LIKED IT: Here’s that ride for when you want to bring your racing up a level—but don’t want to break the bank. The responsive Addict 10 helps give you that extra edge, but it still feels stable and agile, even on all-out descents. It weighs in at 15.6 pounds.
NOTABLE FEATURES: Carbon frame and fork, Shimano Ultegra derailleurs and shifters, tapered head tube, oversized bottom bracket $3,699;
BEST FOR: Women who are serious about their riding, but don’t want to spend a fortune.
WHY WE LIKED IT: This 19.4-pound bike was ideal for everything from social rides to serious training, since its geometry was designed to make it more of an endurance bike (between race and comfort) as well as suited to the female frame. That made it ideal on everything from big climbs and descents around Golden to cruising the Morgul-Bismark.
NOTABLE FEATURES: Carbon frame and fork, Shimano Ultegra Di2 11sp drivetrain, women’s saddle, 20mm offset seat post $4,300;
BEST FOR: Hauling the family to the farmer’s market
WHY WE LIKED IT: Although this bike is all about function—it easily hauls everything from two kids and a small dog to the groceries, it’s also a damn fun ride. The stiff frame gives itthe power to lighten loads and to rail on the bike path a bit when your inner child calls.
NOTABLE FEATURES: A sexy bamboo cargo rack, a 14mm BMX hub, an electric-conversion-ready aluminum frame, disc-compatible rims and an integrated rear rack. $1,299