XC and All-Mountain MTB: The Cyclist House Selection
In this Article
Published on January 18, 2023
Cross-country, trail, enduro, downhill... The great diversity of practices results in a particularly vast mountain bike market! Adding to all of this is the distinction between hardtails and full-suspension, making it confusing when it comes to buying your MTB. To help you navigate a bit, The Cyclist House presents its top 5 best MTB models! Versatile, high-performance, and comfortable, these off-road bikes have everything to appeal to both novice and experienced mountain bikers. With these bikes, you can attack the times on challenging XC courses but also simply enjoy a leisurely ride on the weekends. For DH enthusiasts with a strong heart, their reliability and maneuverability also make them excellent descenders! In short, the best models from the best mountain bike brands in the world, plain and simple...
The Cannondale Scalpel: aiming for performance
If we wanted to make a slightly easy pun, we could say that the Scalpel is one of the sharpest MTBs on the market! 🪒 Shining at the highest global level, this full-suspension cross-country MTB is available in different ranges by the American brand Cannondale (whose reputation is well established in this field!).
Its efficiency is partly due to a record weight for a rear-suspension-equipped model: less than 2 kg for the frame! The material used is BallisTec carbon, an innovative fiber identical to that used in the brand's road range.
There is also a low travel, only 100 to 120 mm front and rear, in line with the best CX bikes.
The Cannondale Scalpel features the famous Lefty technology, a peculiar fork with a single arm. Even if we've seen it before (it has been around since 1999), it's still surprising! But the result is there: better sliding that offers better sensations and increased comfort, and a position closer to the steering tube, synonymous with more responsiveness. The weight savings of around 250 grams due to the absence of a second arm are also not negligible!
To cut through the times, discover all our Certified Pre-Owned Cannondale Scalpels!
Orbea Oiz: an XC bike to win
We stay at a very high level with the Orbea Oiz. Here too, the hunt for unnecessary weight pays off: the Oiz frame weighs 1.7 kg! The Spanish engineers have opted for the OMX carbon technology, the top of the range of the brand that is also found on Orbea road bikes.
In terms of geometry, the "broken" top tube allows the rear shock to be very naturally integrated into the overall design of this full-suspension cross-country MTB.
More globally, the chosen geometry is rather aggressive, with a head angle of 68.5 degrees and a seat tube angle of 75°. As a result, rapid speed gain in descents thanks to excellent mass distribution and stability in corners.
Particular attention has been paid to the aerodynamics of the frame tubes, which is not always the case with MTBs.
Regarding shock absorbers, the Oiz has 120 mm of travel both front and rear for the same weight as a 100 mm travel... There's no reason to pass it up! Its overall design allows it to offer sufficient rigidity so that each pedal stroke results in a strong forward push.
If you want to get the quality of the Oiz at a discounted price, take a look at our Certified Pre-Owned Orbea MTBs.
Orbea Occam: the all-around trail
Yes, them again... If Orbea appears twice in our top 5 best MTBs, it's because their models are truly above the rest in this field. The Spanish brand is regularly at the top of the World Cup rankings, and Orbea is a reference for any self-respecting mountain biker.
But unlike the Oiz, the Occam is clearly a bike for enjoyment, without (too much) worrying about times. With this trail bike, comfort, sensations, and maneuverability are prioritized.
The search for comfort is openly acknowledged with a 140 mm travel fork. Enough to absorb shocks well and allow for high-speed descents on steep slopes! For maneuverability, the rear shock is limited to a 50 mm travel.
To always offer mountain bikers unparalleled comfort and a custom riding position, the seat tube can accommodate a dropper post of up to 230 mm. It's worth noting that it is also possible to easily adjust the overall geometry with the QuickFlip system, which varies the pedal height by 8 mm and the head tube angle by 0.5°.
An ideal model for those who prioritize sensations on their MTB!
Specialized Epic: the MTB of champions
It's impossible not to mention a Specialized MTB in our selection of the best MTBs on the market. And for a good reason, the American brand was the first to market a mass-produced model in 1981: the Stumpjumper (which could also have made it into this ranking!). After more than 40 years of experience, Specialized off-road bikes are still among the best in the world in this field.
We chose to highlight the cross-country Epic, a model definitely oriented towards competition and chasing records.
This 11 kg carbon MTB is one of the lightest currently available. It has been designed to be efficient... almost everywhere! Difficult ascents, winding descents, technical courses... It's no wonder that the Specialized Epic is widely used by cyclists racing at the global level.
The travel is low, between 100 and 120 mm, because the goal is to go fast. However, this choice is not made at the expense of comfort because Specialized is a brand that innovates a lot. Thanks to their Brain system, the shocks adapt automatically to the terrain, without any intervention from the cyclist (who only has to focus on pedaling and steering)! This very efficient system can even distinguish shocks related to pedaling from those related to the terrain. Amazing, isn't it?
Finally, know that the Specialized Epic is available in several ranges: Hardtail (hardtail), Expert, and Pro (both full-suspension).
To find out everything about Specialized MTBs, and especially the very particular size system, we invite you to rediscover our article on the subject.
And if you want to discover our Certified Pre-Owned Specialized MTBs by expert mechanics 👉 it's over here!
BMC Twostroke: the best quality/price ratio
We conclude this top 5 with a hardtail XC MTB that combines high-performance levels and an affordable price: the BMC Twostroke!
This 12 kg carbon MTB is just below the 12 kg mark on the scale. A weight advantage that makes it a very good cross-country bike, especially on courses with significant elevation gain.
You can't ignore its particular and radical geometry: a top tube almost in line with the upper seatstays. A bold choice by the Swiss brand that allows for a seat angle of 75°! Thanks to this feature, weight distribution is optimal for steep terrain, and the MTB benefits from a lot of vertical flexibility.
The fork travel is 100 mm, with no possibility of adjustment. A little less comfortable than a 120 mm travel, but at this price, you have to make some concessions!
Because yes, the big selling point of this model is its price. Without blushing in comparison with its main competitors, it's available to you for around 2900 euros for the Four model and 2500 euros for the Five... An unbeatable quality-price ratio at this level!
But as you know, at The Cyclist House, we like to offer you quality at a reduced price, so we do even better! Our BMC Twostrokes are new and come with a one-year warranty for almost 30% less! Plus, if you're not completely satisfied, you have 30 days to return it to us, and we'll refund you 😉
It's never easy to propose a top 5. We inevitably want to add a few more. In addition to the Stumpjumper we've already mentioned, let's also mention the Cannondale F-Si or the Scott Spark, which are MTBs capable of accompanying you to the limits of your physical abilities without giving in... but that's already a bit of cheating compared to our promise of a top 5!