Santa Cruz Bicycles Highball R XC Complete Bike - $2,198.95

When Santa Cruz stepped onto the 29er playing field, it did so with highly refined geometries in carbon chassis. Those bikes quickly became the industry standard for weight, strength, and handling -- this came with a price tag, though. However, those days over. The Highball R XC Complete Bike shares the same geometry as its carbon cousins, only it uses aluminum to keep its ticket of admission more palatable. This isn't a cheap seat, however. Equipped with the R XC kit, the Highball sports Shimano SLX components, a tubeless wheelset, the Fox 32 Float 29 CTD 100 fork, and Avid Elixir 5 brakes. With this stellar package, the Highball will place a competent rider on any XC podium. And while the almighty black weave has become the favored medium for 'high-end' mountain bikes, Santa Cruz's renowned hydroformed-aluminum expertise results in a responsive and lightweight frame for these components to hang off of. At the rear end of the Highball, you'll find adjustable dropouts for either a single or geared use. They've been connected to shapely, large-volume-tire clearing seatstays and stout chainstays. This gives the aluminum frame excellent dampening on choppy trails and extremely responsive acceleration over multiple terrains. At the bottom bracket junction, you'll discover an asymmetric, forged chain stay yoke that provides maximum strength and stiffness while ensuring adequate tire and chainring allowances. Connecting the rear triangle to the front triangle are material-optimized, hydroformed top and down tubes. In addition to these, Santa Cruz also incorporated a stout, tapered head tube. This combination ensures the best mix of strength, weight, and stiffness. But, these design features would be useless if the geometry was cobbled from inexperience or archaic industry norms. Instead, its short 17.3 inch chainstays put your center of gravity over the rear wheel for a surprising amount of flick'ability out of a 29er chassis. - $2,198.95