If you've been around the sport a while, you would be familiar with the Mountain Cycle brand. Mountain Cycle revolutionized the mountian bike world in 1991 when they introduced the San Andreas bike. This bike featured an aluminum monocoque full suspension frame, disc brakes and an upside down 2-inch travel suspension fork. The bike was so far ahead of its time that it served as a guiding beacon for many of the bikes we ride today.

Fast forward 20 years and Mountain Cycle is under new ownership and they are offering a line-up of bikes that are worthy of the Mountain Cycle heritage. What they're bringing to the table are excellent frames, coupled with a component spec that is world class. Add in the mix excellent customer service, industry-leading packaging and aggressive pricing and the customer should come out ahead.

The other popular bikes in the Mountain Cycle stable are:

29.13: $1000 inc. Turn M35 crank + BB, Cane Creek Angleset and post collar.

Zen II, 5.5" Trail: $1799 inc. Turn M35 crank + BB, Cane Creek Angleset and post collar.

San Andreas 2.0: $1950 inc. Turn M35 crank + BB, Cane Creek Angleset and post collar.

Shockwave Two: $2150 inc. Turn M35 crank + BB, Cane Creek Angleset and post collar.

We wanted to try what they had to offer so we in an order for a Twentysixandsix carbon hardtail. It's a carbon 26er hardtail that was spec'd to impress and available at $2499. Our goal was not only to evaluate this bike but also to see how the new Mountain Cycle conducted their business in delivering performance and value to the consumer.

Well the UPS man arrived and we were giddy with anticipation. We've unpacked many bikes well over $5000 but we've never seen one packed this meticulously. Care was taken to ensure none of the contents were damaged and the new owner has an easy time putting their new 'toy' together. The packaging and labeling reminded us of the fine job that Apple Computer does with their products. Every piece is protected and labeled. And the attention to detail is top-notch as every cable is the right length, every end cap, nut and bolt is complete and easy to find.

Some representative images of the packing job:

On to the assembly:

When everything is complete and nicely packaged, it's not hard to put a bike together. I incentivized my 'wrecking crew' kids and they were motivated to help put the bike together. It required about an hour of assembly with the cutting of the steer tube as the only 'involved' part of the project.

The handlebar was already completely assembled with the controls in place and the drivetrain was in place as well. The dreaded bottom bracket was installed perfectly as it just spun ever so smoothly. It's not hard but I consider the BB to be the heart of the bike and it has to be installed perfectly.

The Spec:

The spec on this $2500 carbon bike is rated A+ by mtbr. DT Wheels, Elixir CR brakes, FSA SLk bars and controls, SDG Saddle, XT Shifters and derailleurs immediately jumped out at us. I mean really? We've had several $7000 bikes that were not spec'd this nicely. It's easy to say XT or XTR everything but it requires a lot of thought and depth of knowledge to put together something this good for around $1500 for the components.

As we dug in deeper, we really appreciated the attention to detail with logo'd lock on grips and CNC'd stem cap and binder bolt. And finally, we really liked the Praxxis chainrings. We've heard so much about this company but this is the first time we've seen their product. The quality of these rings and the Aerozine cranks really offers a performance advantage as they are light and they shift very, very well.

There is the Marzocchi Corsa Superleggera front shock though and we were a bit apprehensive about it as we haven't used a good Marzocchi product in a long time. And after several rides, we still don't like the fork. The lockout is just too finicky as it was not easy to lock and unlock the fork. And the ride was ok but not really on par with a Fox. We would have been much happier with an XFusion front shock for example that would have delivered the hassle-free performance and still meet the price point demands.

And at the end of the day, the bike weighed in at 22.5 lbs and it looked awesome. It just baffles us that this was achieved at $2500.

And finally, the ride:

This review is not so much about this bike but more about Mountain Cycle and how they conduct their operations. The 29er hardtail was not available at press time so we gave this carbon rocket a go.

We're happy to report that this 22.5 lb performed as advertised. It shot up the hills as we were able to break some of our hillclimb records with it. The drivetrain is super efficient as this bike can climb all day long. The rear stays are comfortable too when descending or carving singletrack.

The spec is awesome so the wheels were snappy and the light Kenda SB8s just helped this bike accelerate. 1600 gram DT Swiss wheels is a pretty nice touch at this price point. The front shifting is something to note as it can shift well under power. It seems that the chainrings are so hard and nicely ramped that it will move the chain up and down the front rings without the usual flexing and searching common to front rings.

The head angle is a bit steep at 71 degrees and we just had no patience for the Marzocchi 80 mm fork. So we put on a 100 mm front fork and all was well.

In the end, we liked the bike, loved the spec and found a deep appreciation for the new Mountain Cycle brand.

MSRP: US$960 Frame | US$2000 Complete

Note: As of November 15, Mountain Cycle has dropped the price from $2500 to $2000.

Frame features:

Max Fork: 120mm.
Material: Full carbon monocoque front. Matte carbon finish.
Headtube: 1 1/8" Straight - headset included.
Rear Axle: 135mm QR.
Post Clamp (included standard): 31.8mm, MC Custom Woodman Deathgrip with Ti Bolt.

Weight class:

Sub 22.5lbs - complete build on Medium frame
FrameFull carbon fibre construction, monocoque front triangle. Matt carbon.
ForkMarzocchi Corsa Superleggera with remote. 1/18". Silver
HeadsetCane Creek ZS22. Black
StemFSA OS-150, 100mm 6deg. Black w/carbon face plate.
BarFSA SLK Low Riser, 660 wide, 18mm rise. Carbon w/red graphics.
GripsMC Speed Foam Race Grips. 'MC Red' ano with MC laser etch logo.
ShiftersShimano XT 3x10
F BrakeAvid Elixer CR, 160mm. Red levers
R BrakeAvid Elixer CR, 160mm. Red levers
F Derailleur**Shimano XT 3x10
R DerailleurShimano XT 3x10
CassetteShimano SLX 11-36T [CS-HG81-10]
ChainShimano SLX [CN-HG74]
Crank SetAerozine X-12. 'MC Red'ano with MC laser etch logo.
ChainringsPraxis hard anodized 26, 36, 42T
Btm BracketAerozine outboard, ceramic bearings. Gold ano .
Seat PostFSA XC-190 SB0, 400mm. Black
Seat CollarWoodman Deathgrip SL. 'MC Red' Ano with laser etch logo and Ti bolt.
SaddleSDG Bel-Air, Ti rails. Red/White with MC graphics
WheelsDT Swiss X1600, w/DT Swiss RWS QR.
TiresKenda Small bloc 8 1.9, Kevlar bead
Cable housingJagwire, Kevlar braid
Cable endsJagwire, sealed.
PedalsNot included