It’s that time of year again, where we look toward the 2019 season and the bikes set to make an impact in the world of cross-country racing.
We’ve got some all new models, a real classic and an uber high-end bike you might not have heard of before. So, sit down, relax and feast your eyes upon some XC goodness.
- Last year's top 5 cross-country mountain bikes
- Top-spec vs value tyre compounds: is there any difference?
- Whyte is making one of our favourite trail bikes even better
Canyon’s previous full suspension Lux model had been around since 2014, so it came as no surprise when we saw some of its pro riders on what looked to be a new bike in 2018. It turns out it was indeed an all new, completely redesigned Lux, which keeps Canyon firmly planted in the cross-country game.
Highlights include a sub 2-kilo frame weight — including the rear shock and hardware — space for two 800ml bottles, and dropper posts equipped on all but the two cheapest bikes.
Typical of Canyon, there are also some neat touches you don’t find on every XC bike, with a simple, inbuilt chain guide, a knock-block style headset bump stop and hassle-free internal cable routing.
Known for doing things differently, Cannondale has updated its classic F-Si hardtail race bike for 2019.
The most interesting feature has to be the striking Lefty Ocho fork, which forgoes the older triple crown design for a cleaner and much lighter single crown.
This upside down fork runs on needle bearings, making it incredibly plush and sensitive to smaller hits. Cannondale has also answered mechanic’s prayers the world over and specced the Ocho with an easily serviceable cable lockout, instead of the older, decidedly fickle hydraulic model.
As you’d expect, this bike hardly troubles the scales, coming in at a claimed 8.4kg in it’s top spec.
Basque bike brand Orbea has released an updated full suspension bike for 2019 called the Oiz.
It has a number of interesting features, including the ability to run either 100mm of 120mm suspension, and custom paint options under Orbea’s MYO program. Keeping up with current XC trends, Orbea has made the Oiz a touch longer in reach, slacker at the head angle and shorter at the chainstays.
All this should hopefully make for a bike that handles as well as it looks.
Although it’s been around for a couple of seasons, Specialized’s Epic full suspension platform is one of the all-time classic XC bikes and had to be included in this list.
The Epic uses Specialized’s patented Brain suspension system, which is basically an automatic lockout that works via a clever inertia valve. This means no more messing with lockout levers, you just set the Brain’s sensitivity and away you go.
And, while the Brain may be polarising among the XC world, it certainly didn’t seem to slow down Sam Gaze when he bested Nino Schurter in the opening round of the 2018 World Cup.
FRM Anakin Cape Cobra
FRM is a small Italian brand that specialises in making some of the lightest, fanciest and most expensive XC bikes on the planet. Everything is made in-house by a small team that spends as much time riding and racing its products as it does making them.
This uber-bling Anakin Cape Cobra model is made using Zylon fibres, which mean it needs no paint or varnish. The fibres also make the frame incredible strong against impacts, as FRM founder Mirko demonstrated to our tech writer Jack a while back in the video below.
The Anakin has to be one of the most beautiful XC bikes around, but as you’d expect it doesn’t come cheap, with the highest spec Anakin setting you back around €12,000. Ouch!