Cross Country Bikes – the fastest mountain bikes in the world

Cross Country Bikes – the fastest mountain bikes in the world

Light, fast, sexy! Cross country (XC) bikes are the purest of all mountain bikes. And that’s exactly why these race bikes are surrounded by a magical aura.
Cross Country Bike Comparison
Anyone who has ever ridden a cross country bike with less than 10 kilos total weight has a problem. Because the absolutely light-footed feeling when pedaling can be addictive! And that is precisely the charm of cross country bikes. With purist 100 millimeters of suspension travel, the sporty seating position and lightweight carbon frames, they are fully stacked for propulsion. You can not beat the speed on the road, on gravel or on easy trails than that of a XC race bike. But the mercilessly trimmed to propulsion concept of cross country bikes also has its pitfalls. The sporty frame geometry with low handlebars and high saddle, low-profile tires and the low suspension travel requires extremely good riding technique as soon as you go off-road. The pros in the Cross Country World Cup, with their stylish driving maneuvers in the downhill, sort of distort the reality somewhat. Because, as a normal biker, you don’t take jumps with such bikes and usually take the chicken line on steep descents. The extremely narrow range of application of cross country bikes has ultimately led to the fact that downcountry bikes are becoming increasingly popular. The “tuned race bikes” are simply more fun downhill. A complete buyer´s guide for downcountry bikes can be found here.

Features of cross country bikes:

  • 100 millimeters of suspension travel at the fork
  • low total weight
  • frame mostly made of carbon
  • good rolling 29er tires

What you should look for when buying a cross country bike

If you want to buy a cross country bike despite its weakness in the downhill, you should above all consider the following points.
  1. 29er wheels only make sense in the cross country area of use. Through the better rolling behavior of the large wheels, the puristic suspension travel of 100 millimeters is compensated.
  2. starting from 2000 €, cross country bikes should have a carbon frame.
  3. good rolling tires and a low total weight are essential for riding enjoyment in this category.
  4. in racing, a high-quality shifter circuit with at least 500% bandwidth is necessary to always have the right gear ready.
  5. the chassis should be lockable from the handlebars.
If these points are met, you can assume that it is a good cross country bike. Point three, of course, raises another question. How much does a good cross country bike weigh? In order to better estimate the weight of cross country bikes, we have prepared a weight table for you. The weight table is based on data we collected after analyzing the entire market. And yet there is still one crucial question to be answered.

Do I need a cross country fully or a hardtail?

In no other mountain bike category does this question arise as dominantly as in this one. From a technical standpoint, everything shouts: fully. Racefullys are more efficient, more comfortable and offer more safety when riding than hardtails. However, they are also more expensive and heavier. Good racefullys can actually be bought from a price of 3000 € and above. Below this price limit, we advise to get a hardtail. With good riding technique, you are not necessarily slower down the hill than with a fully. Many bikers also like the purist feel of hardtails, which is why you can partly ask the question of principle here. A detailed article about the advantages and disadvantages of Racefullys compared to Cross Country hardtails are here for you to read.
Carbon Hardtail review
With no other type of mountain bike the question of fully or hardtail is as present as with the race bikes. The price and weight of hardtails are unbeatable, but…
Cross Country Fully review Action
…with a Racefully you simply have more reserves in the downhill.

The price regulates the offer of cross country bikes

The question of whether you should buy a Racefully or a Racehardtail unfortunately depends significantly on your willingness to spend big or not. As described above, we advise in the under 3000 € price range to get a hardtail. Because here you can already find excellent carbon hardtails with high-quality equipment. Current 1×12 drive trains are already standard. Sometimes good suspension forks from Fox or Rock Shox are installed. Even in the affordable price range, the weight can be below 11 kilos in hardtails. Cross Country Fullys in or around 3000 € are usually still too heavy to really meet the intended use. So you can say: For 2000 € you can already get very good carbon hardtails. A really good Racefully costs 4000 € and more. A detailed article on the question of how much a good mountain bike should cost can be found here.
Cube Elite C:62 One Carbon Hardtail below 3000 €
The Cube Elite C:62 One is a classic example of an extremely well equipped carbon hardtail under 3000 €.
Rock Shox SID SL Cross Country fork
With 100 millimeters of travel, the Rock Shox Sid SL fork is not hugely comfortable. But the fork can be blocked from the handlebar. This is extremely important for racers.
Our innovative approach to mountain bike testing allows us to provide you with a complete market overview. Only provides non-biased information on all available bikes on the market. Under these quicklinks you will find the best cross country bikes in the different price ranges:

The best cross country bikes under 3000 €

The direct mailer Radon and Orbea have extremely good bikes in the price range up to € 3000. As a rule, there are already carbon frames here. 1×12 gears are definitely standard. all cross country bikes under 3000 €

The best cross country bikes under 4500 €

In this price range, you have the choice between fully and hardtail. Because argumentatively, both systems can be justified in this range. While the hardtails already have carbon rims and electronic gears, the fullys still have to make concessions in terms of equipment. all cross country bikes under 4500 €

The best cross country bikes under 6000 €

Between 4500 and 6000 € will fall with most bikers a decision right Fully. Because in this price range there are for the first time also extremely well equipped Fullys. Especially the Racefullys of Cube, Giant and Orbea convince in a holistic view. all cross country bikes under 6000 €

The best cross country bikes under 8000 €

The luxury begins. For under €8000, there are already bikes with an electronic gearshift and electronically controlled chassis. There is hardly any more reason for criticism in this price range. For the first time, high-end manufacturers like Santa Cruz and Trek are also coming around the corner with attractive offers. all cross country bikes under 8000 €

The best cross country bikes for more than 8000 €

You can no longer speak of reason here. This is the noblest material, which is also moved in the Cross Country World Cup. It does not get any better than this! all cross country bikes above 8000 € For hardtails under 1500 € we have a separate article with the best offers of the 2023 season.


“Cross country bikes are the purest of all mountain bikes. With low weight and a sporty riding position, you can really rack up the miles on these things. At least as long as the terrain is not extremely rough. Because in steep descents or jumps, these bikes reach their limit pretty quick. But, with these wheels you are well equipped for a cross country race or at a MTB marathon. The carbon frame is almost standard in this bike category. The question of whether to buy a fully or a hardtail usually gets settled by the price tag. Under 3000 €, there are hardly any reasonable cross country fullys, but already very good carbon hardtails.”
In this article, the author Ludwig Döhl has his experience from over 100,000 kilometers in the mountain bike saddle let flow.

About the author


... has spent more than 100,000 kilometers in the saddle of over 1000 different mountain bikes. The essence of many hours on the trail: Mountain bikes are awesome when they match your personal preferences! With this realization, he founded to assist cyclists in finding their very own dream bike.

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