Santa Cruz Bicycles Highball Carbon SPX XC Complete Bike - $4,449.95

No Santa Cruz model can match the balance of weight and stiffness of its signature 29er hardtail -- the Highball Carbon. And with those frame credentials matched up to the SPX XC build, sporting a Shimano XT build with hand-laced, tubeless wheels and a Fox Racing Shox 32 Float CTD, it's going to be hard for other 29ers to keep pace with this potent cocktail. The secret to the feathery weight of the Highball is a one-piece carbon lay-up and curing process, as opposed to assembling joints that require bonding or wrapping. In structurally important locations like the headtube and bottom bracket, continuous fibers flow around the junctions and spread throughout the frame. The layers are compacted from the inside as theyre applied, which eliminates voids, prevents delamination, and creates a smooth, stress-free interior with no waste -- in short, it cuts excess material while making the frame stronger. The resulting construction distributes lateral, vertical, and torsional loads throughout the frame to boost the Highballs performance. This design absorbs impact energy, while efficiently and accurately transferring bio-inputs like steering and propulsion. Translated into trail talk, this means the Highball will hit the bricks when you stomp on the pedals, dampen high-speed chatter, and hold lines like a cat on carpet. Complementing those inherent characteristics is Santa Cruz's performance-oriented SPX XC build. Starting out, a Fox 32 Float CTD with a tapered steerer tube and the 15QR thru-axle ensure 29ers dreaded steering deflection is a thing of the past. The CTD damper offers distinct settings for climbing, trail, and descending, which makes for a simplified user interface and performance. If you havent stood on the pedals of a carbon hardtail with a Fox in the climb setting, youre in for a g-force surprise. The meat and potatoes of the SPX XC kit consist of Shimano's reliable, performance-oriented XT components. - $4,449.95