As much fun going up as it is going down" is wearing a bit thin as a cliché on 'All Mountain' type bikes. It crops up again on the website for the El Guapo (The Handsome One). Let's be clear - a 32lb, 6in (14.5kg, 152mm) travel bike is never as much fun going up as it is going down, even if it happens to be one of the very best 32lb, 6in travel all-mountain bikes on the planet. Which this probably is.
Frame - tough chassis with a well matched shock
The frame is beefy enough to take a beating, but not too heavy. So, while it's worth thinking about shaving a bit of weight with the componentry, a 30lb-plus build will feel more confident on the sort of trails where the frame can prove its worth. The tubes and forged parts are carefully designed and positioned to obtain optimal strength for weight, there's loads of standover room and we like the fact that the steepish seat angle sits you well forward and makes you really work the fork. The RockShox Pearl 3.1 is a good shock choice, with all the usual damping adjustments and a 'flood gate' dial that allows you to create a part-time hardtail if you want. The fine detail and finishing quality of the frame is superb but those with a 'knees-turned-in' pedalling style may find the tube-side cable/hose routing irritating.
Equipment - frame only in the UK, but we like that fork
Titus UK generally supply frames only so we won't make a big deal about finishing parts, although the Magura Wotan is a good fork choice. Its suspension action is superb and you can use a remote handlebar lever to reduce its length and steepen the head angle for climbing without changing its bump-eating efficiency.
Ride - downhill stability meets XC efficiency
The one time we ended up floundering in the undergrowth on the El Guapo was down to our own exuberance rather than the bike itself. This is a rock-steady platform for anyone who wants the durability, confident shock absorption and sofa king comfort of a bike built for radical downhill trails combined with the pedal efficiency and responsive handling of a hard hitting XC trail bike. You have to work a bit at the climbs because you're carrying a bit more weight than on the average XC bike, but the 68 degree head, 71.5 seat angle and 13.5in (static) bottom bracket height ensure handling, and the odd clumsy landing, is confident on all but the very steepest drops.