Ellsworth Joker £699

The Joker of the pack has been Ellsworth's budget big hit bike for years now, but it's still a viable campaigner especially with some super aggressive new pricing.

BikeRadar score 4/5

The Joker of the pack has been Ellsworth's budget big hit bike for years now, but it's still a viable campaigner especially with some super aggressive new pricing.

It uses the same extruded front end design as the other Ellsworth frames here, but with a tougher thicker wall draw, and a long gusset under the throat of the neck end. The curved top tube also keeps standover height reasonable despite its long travel shock. Big D section tubes and CNC keystone sections are shared with the Isis and Distance frames, and again you'll need a CamelBak as the only bottle cage mount is under the belly in the filth. The Joker also uses the same rear swingarm with its extruded and CNC'ed components. The fact you're likely to be using a 7in travel bike with fat rubber also makes tight tyre clearance much more of an issue than with the shorter travel bikes. The bearings are exposed again too yet the stylish and tough laser etched anodised finish is a definite bonus.

Sizing is also restricted to the one 17in size but that's actually a relatively stretched chunk of frame. Full length seat tube means achieving a proper pedalling seat height for the climbs isn't a worry either.

The Romic Twin Tube shock makes light work of dialling out any pedalling bounce and, considering that normally costs £280 on its own, the complete bike is a bargain.

There's also the option of using a shorter shock in a rising rate position. The relatively long frame and slack 67 degree head, 69 degree seat angles mean it can feel slightly ponderous in tight twisty terrain, but it's lovely and stable at speed or clattering through boulder sections. Inevitably there's some kickback and brake/ pedal interruption from the swingarm suspension, but at least you get plenty of feedback about what's going on at ground level below.

Guy Kesteven

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