Greatest crosscountry mountain bikes reviewed and rated by specialists

One of the best cross-country (XC) mountain bikes are all about uncooked velocity. However their gentle weight and glorious effectivity additionally makes then preferrred for quick, flowing singletrack in addition to racing.

Welcome to a lean, imply assortment of the most effective cross-country mountain bikes constructed for velocity, all put via their (race) paces by our professional crew of reviewers. Whereas all these bikes convey distinctively completely different approaches to what makes an XC race winner, there’s a thread that ties all of them collectively: all are rolling on 29in wheels. Time to don the Lycra and take away our helmet peaks to seek out out which one actually is the quickest.

Greatest cross-country mountain bikes: hardtails

Trek Procaliber 9.6

Trek Procaliber 9.6

twenty first century soft-tail with superb acceleration

Body: OCLV Mountain Carbon | Weight: 11.01kg (24.23lb) | Ranking: 10/10

Professionals: Comfy in addition to speedy

Cons: Lacks a dropper publish for contemporary XC programs

We examined the Trek Procaliber 9.7 a few years in the past and it blew the competitors away to take the highest step of the rostrum in our grouptest, and the present mannequin makes use of the identical OCLV carbon body with efficient, trail-smoothing IsoSpeed decoupler. After we examined it we have been blown away, writing: ‘From the primary pedal stroke the Procaliber took the lead on this check and by no means faltered. We have been immediately received over by its easy flip of velocity, partially due to the carbon wheels, nevertheless it’s additionally concerning the extra forgiving trip high quality of the body. Bumps simply didn’t chip away at our velocity as a lot as they did on the opposite bikes on check. And even once we have been out of the saddle, the Procaliber was nonetheless the smoothest bike right here.’

Learn our full check assessment of the Trek Procaliber 9.7

Giant XTC

Big’s XTC SLR 29 1 is dressed to impress

Excellent for XC racing or long-haul marathon munching

Body: ALUXX SLR aluminum | Weight: 12.29kg (27.09lb) | Ranking: 10/10

Professionals: Big Crest forks provides accuracy

Cons: Wants lock-on grips

First impressions are essential, and after the very first trip we knew the Big XTC SLR can be incomes a spot on our checklist of the most effective hardtails. Identical to the Scott Scale, there’s a sense of racing pedigree that’s trickled down from the pro-level fashions. Add Big’s glorious Crest fork for laser sharp steering accuracy, a purposeful wheelset and a few quick rolling tubeless rubber and you’ve got a recipe for a startlingly quick but forgiving aluminium XC hardtail. Sure, it’s a bit dearer than rivals, nevertheless it’s additionally probably the most focussed. In order an XC race bike or long-haul marathon mile muncher, Big’s newest XTC is a winner.

Learn our full check assessment of the Big XTC SLR 29 1

Scott Scale 965

Scott’s Scale has an enviable racing pedigree

A body design steeped in racing pedigree

Body: 6061 Customized butted aluminium | Weight: 12.97kg (28.59lb) | Ranking: 9/10

Professionals: Quick, quiet, composed trip

Cons: No tubeless-ready tyres

Some manufacturers use race groups for advertising, others concentrate on product growth; Scott clearly does each. As such, the Scale is a finely tuned XC race machine with an enormous trophy cupboard to show it. It’s a light-weight bike for the cash, and with a stance and match that may attraction to performance-minded riders, it should come as no shock that the Scott feels fast straight off the mark. Assisted little question by the extensive 92mm backside bracket shell and boxy, flattened chainstays. As such, placing the facility down out of the saddle feels each pure and rewarding.

The entry-level RockShox Judy fork is the weak hyperlink on the Scale because it’s simply not subtle sufficient to match the pure tempo of the bike, or its easy trip high quality. A fork is an costly element to improve, and whereas there’s no query that the Scale body deserves it, we’d advocate stepping as much as the Scale 960 at £1,699 which runs a stouter Fox 32 Rhythm.

Learn our full check assessment of the Scott Scale 965

Specialized S-Works Epic HT

Specialised S-Works Epic HT

For the uncompromising XC racer with deep (Lycra) pockets

Body: S-Works FACT 12m Carbon | Weight: N/A | Ranking: N/A

Professionals: Energy supply that doesn’t beat you loss of life

Cons: Leading edge prices cash

Think about our shock once we found that the brand new Epic HT wasn’t some nervy, neurotic race bike that you just want all you wits about you simply to navigate an easy path. Positive it’s loopy gentle; the body alone weighing 790g. And let’s pause to consider that for a minute. That makes the S-Works Epic body lighter than the common thin-walled path tyre. Extra spectacular nonetheless, the body used for the Knowledgeable, Professional and common Epic is barely 140g heavier. The actual fact it’s also extremely gentle, supremely succesful and surprisingly comfy make it a really superb XC hardtail.

Learn our full check assessment of the Specialised Epic HT

Voodoo Bizango Pro

The Voodoo Bizango Professional received our hardtail of the yr check in 2022

Superb worth 29er hardtail mountain bike

Wheel dimension: 29in | Body sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: 13.2kg (29.2lb) | Suspension journey: 130mm entrance | Ranking: 10/10

Professionals: Good geometry and superlative spec decisions. Low weight and cozy trip really feel

Cons: BB could possibly be a finger’s width decrease. Rear Rekon tyre wants beefing up

The Bizango impressed us from the get go along with its glorious flip of velocity and easy, silent trip. It reminded us of a excessive finish fashionable XC bike on the climbs, the place the low weight and roomy using place helped open our chests for max oxygen consumption. Lapping up the miles was quick and cozy due to these low-profile tyres and well-padded saddle to the purpose the place we reckon it will really feel proper at house competing in a cross-country race or taking over a long-distance path.

Learn the total Voodoo Bizango Professional assessment

yeti arc t1 studio pic

Yeti ARC T1

Channels the spirit of ’90s XC legends like Furtado and Tomac

Body: Yeti TURQ Collection Carbon | Weight: 11.38kg (25,11lb) | Ranking: N/A

Professionals: It’s onerous to not really feel particular once you sling a leg over the long-lasting ARC

Cons: Probably not a pure cross-country race rig with its 130mm fork

Bear with us right here. We all know this isn’t actually a XC race hardtail, however for some riders (of a sure age possibly) the Yeti ARC would be the bike that will get them across the XC race course the quickest. That is purely an emotional attribute. You possibly can really feel John Tomac and Julie Furtado watching you as you pilot this blue child alongside the paths. What precisely is that this bike for? Reality be advised, it has no logical place. Which is why we adore it. If push got here to shove we’d name it a dreamy Down Nation hardtail.

Learn our full check assessment of the Yeti ARC T1

Greatest cross-country mountain bikes: full-suspension

Vitus Rapide FS CRX

Vitus Rapide FS CRX

Discount velocity machine

Body: UD Carbon | Weight: 11.34kg (25lb) | Ranking: 10/10

Professionals: Fast up and down. Typical Vitus worth.

Cons: Just one bottle mount.

The Vitus Rapide is a pure XC race bike, simply not within the conventional sense. Sure, it’s acquired 100mm journey and the total carbon body weighs solely 2,080g, however take a more in-depth take a look at the remainder of its very important stats and also you’ll immediately see that the Rapide FS is closely influenced by the development of contemporary path bike geometry. It’s competitively gentle given the worth, and if Vitus was to launch an AMP model, it will simply search in underneath the 11kg threshold. It’s additionally a blisteringly quick bike and never simply in a straight line. The fashionable geometry and beneficiant sizing will let you assault more durable or get well extra simply on the descents, however the Rapide nonetheless climbs and sprints with the most effective of them, due to its steady however supple suspension so going quick has by no means been as a lot enjoyable.

Learn our full assessment of the Vitus Rapide FS CRX

Specialized Epic Evo

Specialised Epic Evo

Dialled choice from the Huge ‘S’

Body: FACT 11m Carbon | Weight: 10.70g (23.59lb) | Ranking: 8/10

Professionals: Ditching the chainstay pivot has solely improved its velocity. No extra Mind makes suspension set-up simpler.

Cons: Seat tube lengths are nonetheless extra in tune with street bikes than fashionable path bikes

The Epic Evo takes the quintessential XC bike and places it via boot camp to emerge quicker and extra succesful than ever. There’s an additional 20mm journey up entrance in comparison with the Epic, which helps slacken the razor-sharp steering to make it much less twitchy at excessive speeds. On the again there’s 10mm extra journey, which helps with consolation and traction. The carbon body is glossy with a basic form and a very good selection of sizes, so you possibly can remember to get the proper match. You’ll want tighter reins in comparison with a real down-country bike, however the Epic Evo is greater than able to profitable on Sunday, shredding on Monday.

Learn our full check assessment of the Specialised Epic Comp Evo

Scott Spark RC WC AXS

Scott Spark RC WC AXS

Ruthless in its effectivity

Body: RC Carbon HMX, 0/80/120mm | Weight: 11.12kg (24.52lb) | Ranking: 9/10

Professionals: Tremendous clear strains mirror the bike’s rapidity.

Cons: Suspension could possibly be a contact extra supple in Descend mode.

Quick, environment friendly and responsive, the brand new Scott Spark RC is an impressive XC race bike. With 120mm of journey, it has the suspension to deal with the hardest programs, however reserves a sharpness to its pedaling response that received’t depart you languishing within the finish-line dash. It’s stiff too, so in case you’re not underneath 65kg dripping moist, you’ll nonetheless have the boldness to cost onerous. Scott has missed a trick with it’s TwinLoc distant although, as we predict the Spark RC can be even quicker if the suspension was a contact extra energetic within the 120mm Descend mode. Even so, it is a scorchingly quick XC bike with a helluva pedigree that may nonetheless maintain its personal in the proper arms towards most fashionable path bikes on gnarlier terrain.

Learn our full check assessment of the Scott Spark RC WC AXS

Santa Cruz Blur XC CC X01 AXS RSV

Santa Cruz Blur XC CC X01 AXS RSV

Punches effectively above its weight

Body: CC carbon, 100mm | Weight: 10.41kg (22.95lb) | Ranking: 8/10

Professionals: So gentle it barely wants any human propulsion.

Cons: Rear suspension is just not the firmest underneath energy.

That is no common XC race bike. Sure, the Blur XC is gentle, solely has 100mm journey and the entire elements have been chosen with sturdiness and compatibility in thoughts. Stand as much as dash and it’s tight and reactive. Bomb down the descents and it’s remarkably composed. Spin alongside the flat or grind up a climb, nonetheless, and the rear suspension is, how can we put this, overly energetic. So except you employ the distant lockout, the Blur XC feels barely laboured on the climbs. It’s the bike’s solely shortcoming. However in XC racing, you possibly can’t afford to point out any weak spot. Should you’re not racing nonetheless and simply desire a quick bike for trails…

Learn our full check assessment of the Santa Cruz Blur XC CC X01 AXS RSV

What’s XC racing and what makes a great race bike?

In some ways, XC racing is the muse upon which our sport has been constructed. Sure, new types and disciplines come and go, or morph in the best way that 160mm-travel all-mountain bikes reworked into enduro rigs. Cross-country racing, nonetheless, has weathered the storms of style and stays ingrained in using tradition to today, and with the success of the Olympics and stars akin to Evie Richards, Tom Pidcock and Mathieu van der Poel now couldn’t be a greater time to attempt one in every of these addictively quick machines. If you would like one thing extra versatile, try our purchaser’s information to the finest down-country bikes as these convey somewhat bit extra suspension journey and will let you broaden your using horizons.

Like all survivors, XC racing has prospered by evolving. Lengthy gone are the three-hour mud-fests on non-challenging terrain. Programs are actually shorter and extra demanding, difficult riders and tools, whereas pushing the visible side to make it extra interesting for spectators.

A typical XC race loop now options punchy climbs, descents worthy of any EWS stage plus extra purpose-built options for the TV cameras. XC using and racing is thrilling to look at as a result of it’s not purely a check of uncooked health; it’s about pushing ability ranges and bike dealing with as a lot as coronary heart charges.

Pan shot of bike tester

We needed to borrow Lycra from our sister publication for this check

Full-suspension Vs hardtail: which makes the most effective XC race bike?

We love hardtails at mbr. XC race bikes have by no means been in a greater spot, the bikes rising to the problem of contemporary programs and the calls for of the following technology of racers.

And whereas a lot of the racing elite have easily transitioned to 29er full-suspension bikes, in case you’re simply entering into XC racing, a trusty 29er hardtail is a way more inexpensive method to get your arms on a light-weight, environment friendly bike. Which is why we’ve a number of XC 29er race hardtails chosen for this checklist.

Best XC race bikes: hardtail and full suspension

You possibly can nonetheless put on saggy shorts on cross-country rides

Greatest cross-country mountain bikes: full-suspension recommendation

As XC programs have developed, so too have the bikes. As such, fashionable XC races will most likely see only a few races received on a hardtail, with light-weight full-suspension bikes proving to be probably the most environment friendly over nearly all of race programs. Even on the highest degree of World Cup racing, the professionals have realised that efficient suspension and confidence-inspiring geometry can convey larger positive factors than simply weight saving and effectivity alone.

So for many riders, a full-suspension XC bike will scale back fatigue on a contemporary race course, permitting you to make use of that saved power to assault the competitors. And once you’re not between the tape, a full-sus race bike can even maintain its personal as a path bike, giving additional versatility.

Nevertheless, in case you’re toying with making an attempt a number of XC races, but additionally fancy the thought of a gravel bike, an XC hardtail would make a greater device. Why? Properly, they’re prone to be simply as quick as a gravel bike on most precise gravel roads, however with the proper cockpit and geometry for bombing off-piste when the chance arises. And who desires to spend their life grovelling alongside a gravel street when you might be ripping some prime singletrack?