Singletrack Issue 121: XXC: Cross Country Extra

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Three bikes that take the short travel full suspension bike to another world.

Words Chipps Photography James Vincent

It’s a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up mountain bike world these days. We have long travel 29ers winning enduro races, 27.5in trail bikes that are slacker than downhill bikes from a mere few years ago. Even how and where riders are riding is changing. Road bikes are going off road, enduro racers are riding to the tops of mountains… and have you seen the state of cross-country World Cup racing these days? Those tracks are gnarly!

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Singletrack Editor

Chipps wasn’t around for the dawn of mountain biking in the UK, but he likes to claim that he arrived in time for second breakfast (about the time he shows up for work, then…) starting in the bike trade in 1990 and becoming a full time mountain bike journalist at the start of 1994. Over the subsequent quarter century, he has seen mountain bike culture flourish and diversify and bike technology go from rigid steel frames to fully suspended carbon fibre (and sometimes back to rigid steel as well.)

His riding style is best described as ‘medium, wheels on the ground, trail riding’ though he’s been spotted doing everything from endurance downhill racing to 24 hour cross country racing. He favours mid-travel trail bikes and claims to be wheel-size, gear, brake and tyre agnostic. In fact, his garage spans most bicycle flavours, taking in steel hardtails, carbon trail bikes, even a mountain bike tandem, along with road, touring and gravel/cyclocross bikes.

While he’s happy to chat about bikes all day, his real interest is in the people and places that bikes can introduce you to and he talks as fondly about the trails he’s ridden and riders he’s met as the bikes that took him there.

Comments (2)

    There’s too many of these bikes for my wallet to handle! After having a series of 150mm travel bikes, I’ve just gone to a Scott Spark RC and it’s a revelation!

    I’ve not missed the extra travel as the speed everywhere else more than makes up for it. The fact that this sort of bike is seeing a rise in popularity doesn’t bode well for my bank balance (or credit score!). I can be a bit of a serial bike swapper, and have yet to keep a bike for longer than 12-13 months!

    Hello Singletrackworld Team, how are you ?
    We have another bikes that checks the 100 mm rear travel / 120 mm front:
    Orbea oiz TR , Santa Cruz Blur TR and Pivot Mach 429 Sl.
    Do you intend test these bikes soon ?
    Best regards and congratulations for the Great article.

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