The Cross-Country Rider: Jamis Dragon 650 Pro

Like the Yeti, the Dragon is a hardtail, meaning it has no rear suspension. Unlike the carbon Yeti, though, it's made of steel. Sure, that adds about three additional pounds and makes climbing more strenuous, but the bike overall is more forgiving and flexible. Its low-set sitting position and short wheelbase yield smooth – if not hyperactive – cornering. And despite its 26-pound-plus frame, this rig is spec'd with light wheels that reward getting on the throttle: Its all-out acceleration is actually on par with more expensive rigs. [$3,000; jamisbikes.com]