Salsa Horsethief 3 Complete Bike - $2,549.95

As 29ers gain acceptance, we're seeing them move from a cross-country favorite to a trail bike essential. Modern geometries and new industry standards are encouraging a long-travel movement, and bikes like Salsa's 120mm travel Horsethief 3 are paving the way. The combination of smart component packaging with a technology rich frame enable this Horsethief 3 to offer a trail experience usually reserved for bikes costing twice as much. Key to this is a mix of hydroformed and shaped tubing that is custom spec'd with aggressive riding in mind for strength and durability. But that doesn't mean this 'thief is a porker -- the heat-treated 6061-T6 aluminum results in a sub-seven pound frame, and that, combined with Salsa's progressive geometry, offers a lively and rewarding ride. The frame fittings are all forged for incredible strength, and burly chainstays with an oversized main pivot result in an extremely stiff rear end. This translates to reduced wear on both the bearings and the rear shock. But, most importantly, it results in direct rear wheel tracking for excellent bike composure over rough sections and a reassuring, planted feel during high-speed cornering. Another standout feature of the Horseteif's suspension design is Salsa's one-piece rear triangle. Instead of bearings, Salsa uses deflection (about five millimeters) of the seatstays to allow smooth suspension action. By eliminating the pivot at the rear of the stays, the Horsethief's triangle becomes stiffer and lighter than traditional designs. The seatstays are shaped and sized appropriately to safely handle this small amount of deflection far beyond life of the frame. At the top of the seatstay is a shared pivot link design that reduces the number moving components and hardware even further. The bearings are located here, and while they're oversized for strength, they're still of a standard size, and use regular tools for installation/removal -- meaning they can be serviced by any qualified technician. - $2,549.95