Marketed as Cannondale’s most versatile all-mountain bike, the Jeckyl is packed with advanced features intended to make it perfect for enduro racing and technical riding. This bike is a mountain goat on climbs, thanks to a switch that locks the shocks, and it's butter-smooth on descents, thanks to the shocks' 90-150mm on-the-fly adjustable travel. The Ballistec Carbon frame is light and very stiff, making this a superb go-anywhere, do-anything ride.
The Remedy is Trek’s answer to the Jekyll. Its frame is made from super-tough carbon fiber designed specifically for the rigors of mountain riding, and it has nifty features like friction-reducing Kashima coating on the front shocks and fork and the stiffest carbon bottom bracket on the market. Add to that Trek’s patented Active Braking Pivot system, which keeps your suspension supple even when you're braking, and you’re guaranteed precision control in any terrain.
This is SCOTT's take on the Speed Concept (see #9), so it's no surprise that it has many of the same high-end components of that aero bike. What sets it apart, though, is the proprietary IMP technology in which the toptube, headtube, seat tube and down tube are all produced together in a single step, drastically reducing frame weight. It seems to work, as evidenced by Marino Vanhoenacker's Ironman triathlon world record he set while riding one in 2011.
The first mountain bike with 29-inch wheels to win a World Cup event, the Epic Carbon makes a serious case for big wheels. Oh, and awesome components, like Shimano’s top-of-the-line XTR trail set and high-tech shocks with AUTOSAG (read: it automatically adjusts suspension to suit the terrain). Mountain Bike Action Magazine described it as “the best bike we’ve ever ridden,” which may help to justify the price tag.
The aptly named Scale has the distinction of being the lightest mountain bike frame ever produced, weighing in at mere 899 grams (just under two pounds). It's loaded with the best of the best components—SRAM XX, carbon rims and an SDS shock dampening system, to name a few—but it's still a hardtail (saves weight). Either way, with this space age frame, you're likely to lift off.
Trek claims this beast is “the fastest bike on the planet,” and while manufacturers are prone to embellish, the Concept 9.9 is certainly up there. Designed for time trials and triathlons, this aero bike has a carbon frame with KVF (kammtail virtual foil)-shaped tubes, Shimano shifting and integrated cables and electronics (yes, electronic shifting). More importantly, the price may be worth it for serious competitors—many have reported drastic improvements since clipping into it.
Cannondale’s premium road racing machine is supposed to strike the ideal balance between essential performance factors like weight, stiffness, strength, compliance, handling and aerodynamics. Made of carbon fiber and packed with nifty features like proprietary SPEED SAVE micro-suspension rear stays and fork, the SuperSix EVO is the next evolution in road bikes. In fact, it’s so good that Germany’s Tour Magazine singled it out from more than 2,000 bikes it tested last year as the “Best Bike in the World.”
It takes barely a glance to recognize that Specialized took a different approach to aero bike design than SCOTT and Trek; the Venge is elegant and refined where it’s competitors are technical and built like aerodynamic stealth fighters. According to its designers, the focus was on high-quality components, which is clear from Campagnolo’s Super Record EPS Group. It's a truly impressive bike, so it’s a shame only 99 of these limited edition beauties will ever be ridden (and, sadly, not by us).
The Aeroblade is probably the slowest bike on this list, but it has a ton of character. Spyker (a Dutch supercar manufacturer) and Koga-Miyata designed it as a demonstration piece, as indicated by the liberal use of titanium and high-quality leather. But it’s more than a piece of art: with Formula disc brakes and a Rohloff 14-speed internal rear hub, it’s clearly designed to be ridden. Unfortunately, only 50 of them were made, so only a select few will get the chance to do so.
In the words of KGS, each of its Tier 3 custom bikes is “a major commission that is a one-off work of rolling art.” Only a handful are produced each year, as every frame’s size and geometry is custom fitted for a specific rider. Exotic components are sourced from cycling R&D boutiques around the world (who knew those existed?…besides us, of course), and the bike is finally adorned with a custom paint job. In other words, your KGS will be painstakingly crafted, refreshingly unique, and unmistakably yours—as it probably should be for the price.
The One-77 is the product of collaboration between Beru F1 Systems (A UK-based company specializing in electronic systems for F1 cars) and Aston Martin, and it's widely regarded as the most advanced bicycle ever. Not built (read: restrained) to any cycling class standards, it incorporates racing technologies like hydraulic disk brakes, a sophisticated electronic system and display, LED running lights and a carbon fiber frame. It is, first and foremost, a demonstration of technological refinement and elegance in design, and in that role it is spectacular.
You can ride it, but you might not want to—a scratch could set you back a couple years’ pay. This bike is plated almost entirely with 24-karat gold and is embedded with 600 Swarovski crystals, not to mention the Brooks brown leather saddle and grips. Needless to say, it is not a performance machine; it’s a work of art. Excessive? Yes. Impractical? Definitely. But with only 10 made, there’s no doubt that it’s also something special.
This customized time trial bike was ridden by Lance Armstrong and was sold at Sotheby’s in a charity auction. Mechanically, it’s not so different from your typical Speed Concept, so what sets it apart is the custom paint job courtesy of famed Japanese artist Yoshimoto Nara. It’s unlikely that the illustrations of a UFO, children in boxing gloves and Livestrong logo make it any faster, but at $200,000, it’s certainly unique.
Another of Lance Armstrong’s bikes, this custom Trek Madone sold for a paltry half million in the same charity auction as the Yoshimoto Speed Concept. Armstrong actually rode it in the final stage of the 2009 Tour de France, but the design by Damien Hirst also sets it apart. The wheels and frame are adorned with an intricate pattern composed of hundreds of actual butterfly wings, and the result is an unexpectedly graceful and enticing aesthetic. It is worth as much as some of the world’s most expensive cars and, at $500,000, it deserves the prestigious title of "The Most Expensive Bicycle in the World."