Heller Barghest NX
Heller Barghest NX: $2,999
Carbon frames usually come with a big price tag, but the Heller Barghest packs a solid-value punch—the complete bike costs the same as some frames. The brand is owned by parts distributor, QBP, so even though it’s lesser known than many, it’s backed by a company with an outstanding reputation (Quality also owns Surly, Salsa, Whisky components, and All-City Cycles).
The 27.5-inch-wheeled Barghest features a carbon front triangle and swingarm along with a carbon fiber rocker arm. It gets 130mm of rear-wheel travel through an FSR-style four-bar link design and a Manitou McCleod King Can shock. Like a lot of trail bikes, this one has a little more travel up front—the fork is a 140mm Manitou Machete Comp.
High-volume, 2.8-inch-wide Maxxis Recon+ tires enhance traction and add a little cush to the ride. A SRAM NX 1×11 drivetrain and TransX dropper seatpost round out this big bang-for-the-buck package.