Salsa Horsethief - $2,064.30

The recent introduction of long-travel 29er forks has given frame manufactures like Salsa a chance to explore what larger wheels are really capable of. Salsa has taken full advantage of the new potential with a 120mm travel frame that'll happily run forks in the 120 to 140mm range the Horsethief. This bike opens up possibilities and terrain never thought to be in the 29er's realm. These long travel bikes need to be light, yet rugged enough for aggressive, all-day riding. Salsa's engineers and designers have developed a unique suspension design that reduces moving parts and hardware, effectively dropping weight without sacrificing durability. The standout feature is the one-piece alloy rear triangle with flexible seatstays. The highly manipulated seatstays are designed to offer just over five millimeters of horizontal deflection. Notice how the stays are slightly flattened' This allows vertical flex, without hindering lateral stiffness -- encouraging a plush ride with responsive acceleration. If you're hesitant to throw a leg over a frame which purposely flexes aluminum, keep in mind this isn't a new technology or approach to suspension design. Flexing stays has been used in many mediums, including carbon, Ti, and steel. Salsa pioneered this technique with an aluminum alloy in its Dos Niner almost seven years ago. The design has evolved after extensive R& D, and Salsa engineers have gone to great lengths to ensure this pivotless design will outlast the frame itself. Tying the one-piece rear triangle to the hydroformed front are a forged 'dog bone' link and oversized cartridge bearings at the main pivot. The link's been optimized, like the bearing-less rear, to reduce needed hardware and to enhance the Horsethief's ride. The link shares its pivot where the seatstays and shock meet the link, making use of a shock pin redundant, and keeping the link light and rigid. A custom-tuned Fox Float RP2 with Boost Valve controls the rear suspension motion. - $2,064.30

Save