In Issue #116 of Singletrack Magazine, Wil and the crew tested three new generation full suspension XC race bikes.
Is XC dead? Or is it just a little out of fashion?
For Issue #116, we focussed our magazine group test on full suspension XC bikes to find out. We picked three of them – all with 29in wheels, 100mm travel (or thereabouts), and lightweight carbon fibre frames. There was one from Giant, one from Scott, and one from Specialized, and we put them through the grinder to determine which offered the best balance between climbing, descending, technical ability and dependability.
As part of that feature, we got the video camera out to film some action, and you can now check out the video reviews below, along with a short description of each bike and a link to the full review.
The Giant Anthem 29er is brand new for 2018, and builds upon the success of the 27.5in version that we tested and reviewed last year. But whereas the Anthem 27.5 is pitched as a lightweight trail bike with a dropper post, wider tyres and a 120mm travel fork, the 29in version has been fully stripped back to its XC racing roots.
Though it has bigger wheels, the Anthem 29 features less travel; just 90mm on the rear with a 100mm travel fork. It uses lighter and leaner tubing, along with a more compliant 27.2mm diameter seatpost for all-day pedalling comfort, and a dual-remote lockout affords a fully rigid sprinting machine at the flick of a button.
It is a highly refined XC race bike, and as you’ll read in the full review, a well-rounded one at that.
Scott’s Spark has been a staple of its XC lineup since it was first released in 2007. It’s also been a staple of World Cup racing for just as long, and is a crowd favourite amongst competitive XCO and marathon types.
Ten years since its release, Scott relaunched the Spark with a new suspension design and fresh geometry that aimed to shake off some of the twitchiness and nervousness of older models. The Spark still utilises a handlebar remote for controlling the suspension, though it’s now working alongside Fox Racing Shox on the clever Nude shock, with a brilliant Traction setting that limits travel and steepens the geometry for wicked climbing performance.
If you’d like to read about all the other bells and whistles Scott has built into its latest Spark RC, check out the full review here.
The last bike in our threesome comes from Specialized, and it has one of the most recognised names in the mountain bike racing world. As the longest standing model here, the Epic comes with a swathe of racing accolades, including the lofty title of being the very first full suspension XC bike to capture an Olympic Gold medal and a World Championship victory. So when Specialized decided to bring out an all-new model for 2018, to say it had some big expectations would be putting it extremely lightly.
Thankfully, the Epic more than lives up to its expectation. It isn’t without its quirks, but as you’ll find out, it’s the Epic’s love/hate relationship that makes this such a captivating bike to ride.
Like what you’ve seen? then you can check out the full feature on our XC full suspension bike test from Issue #116 right here.
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