It's taken Yorkshire suspension and frame fanatics Pace nearly two decades of development to finally get their XC full suspension bike honed to their satisfaction. Yet it seems the best things are worth waiting for.
Can handmade titanium still fend off budget rivals?
The unshakeably confident, hard-hitting Shore Two shows Norco's design preference for bikes that can tackle the most extreme riding on an everyday basis.
The fact that Rocky Mountain were the ones to scoop www.bikes.com as their company URL shows how quick they are to push new technology. It's the same with their attitude to bikes and new riding styles too, with the ETS (Energy Transfer System) still at the cutting edge four years after its launch.
Ventana’s supreme all rounder
With a website that looks more like the official site for the latest techno geek sci-fi blockbuster than a bike builder, Nicolai take every part of their obsessively detailed operation to the Nth degree.
Kona's Stinky line is their full-on freeride family, but triple-crown forks limit their versatility. The single-crown Coiler gets an inch less travel, but it's a great bike if there are also pedalling and cross-country style trails on the agenda.
What better way to welcome Bulgaria into the EU than by getting one of their full sus bikes into this test, courtesy of Ram Bikes?
Scott's MC bikes pack in more innovation than almost any others out there. Unique frame design features and homegrown shock and suspension system create a remarkably adaptable multi character ride, though.
Scott's Boulder boot family is a long running one, but this evolved version is probably the best trail shoe they've made yet. While the All Mountain is broader than most shoes and the Urban is narrower, the Boulder sits somewhere in the middle.
Scott clothing may not show up on most rider's immediate choice clothing radar, but it makes some really thoughtful, stylish threads that are worth hunting down.
Rocky's ETSX suspension bikes are now in their third year and their combination of hand-built Canadian quality and smooth rolling, widely adjustable suspension makes them a top contender. Frame quality and rarity means you have to
Removing anything likely to get ruined by winter has always been a great way to build an all-weather bike. Charge has helpfully got rid of everything already, leaving its Stove 'pub bike' ideal for short blasts on hibernating trails.
Crank Brothers' steel and alloy Cobalt crankset looks gorgeous, but its ISIS bottom bracket looked a decidedlydodgy feature of the design. However, that was before we spent months riding it.
The Big Earls are Bonty's heavy duty 32-spoke wheels but they're still light enough for all-day action. The flat, broad 32mm rims are tough and they offer enough girth for any tyre.
The Oro Bianco delivers outstanding control in all conditions. The 180mm rotor power is plentiful and the soft feel is beautifully progressive. It stayed that way right through the dyno cycle, despite some serious smoke and insane temps.