XC or All Mountain?

Discussion in 'Mountain Bikes' started by mrathwell, Jun 10, 2004.

  1. mrathwell

    mrathwell New Member

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    Ok... This topic has probably been beaten to death somewhere but I am just not able to find it. So... I will ask the question all over again.

    I know that a mountain bike is what you make it (as seen in other threads) but there are differences, albeit subtle. I can clearly see the functional differences between Freeride and DH bikes, but it gets a bit fuzzy with the all mountain and the XC bikes.

    I have been riding an '03 Haro Extreme X1 that I have put some upgrades into (Avid mechanical disc brakes and Manitou Axel fork) for quite some time now. This was a GREAT starter bike as it was good enough to get me seriously into mtn biking and show me what I like and don't like BUT wasn't terribly expensive. Now, it's time for a new bike, especially since the head tube is cracked at the bottom bearing and I am ready to spend enough money (1500 - 2000) to get a better bike.

    The Haro really sucks pedalling uphill. I know they have a somewhat poor bottom bracket and crank set aside from the fact that it is pretty heavy (and let's just leave the power source out of it for now, thank you). My g/f always kicks my butt going uphill (she's in great shape and rides a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Elite Disc). I am in pretty good shape, but I would like to give myself as much advantage as possible.

    I am quite sure that I don't need the functionality of a freeride or DH bike. I am just not into high downhill speed and big jumps/drops. Also, I want to PEDAL that damned thing up the hill. I like singletrack and if my wheels have ever been more than a foot off the ground, I'd be surprised even while I am often pretty fast on downhill parts of the ride. So, to my mind, this leaves the XC and the all mountain bikes.

    If I interpret what I have been reading correctly, the key differences between an XC and an all mountain bike (if there are actually any) are these:

    The all mountain is ok to pedal back up the hill being not too heavy yet retains some reasonably good ability for drops and DH use. It's certainly not as good for those things as the purpose built bikes, but still ok for most riders.

    The XC bikes tend to be suited to long rides, very good for hill climbing, small drops, and soaking up the bumps on the trail through somewhat lighter weight and suspension geometry that increases pedaling efficiency. They also often have suspension lockouts to make them into hardtails when needed for climbing and smooth sections.

    If I pick two manufacturers for examples (Specialized and Cannondale), from what I can see the Specialized Enduro or Stumpjumper FSR and the Cannondale Jekyll seem to fit into the all mountain category and the Specialized Epic and Cannondale Scalpel seem to fit into the XC category.

    My questions are these:

    Which type of bike would be the better one given my riding style and preferences?

    What would I gain and what would I give up with an XC bike?

    What would I gain and what would I give up with an all mountain bike?

    I THINK I am leaning toward an XC bike (however fine that distinction is from an all mountain bike), but I would like the opinions of others as well.

    Thank you in advance.
     
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  2. Hardtail

    Hardtail New Member

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    Choose a XC bike if you like going on long trails or only want to have some exercise... I've never heard that its called all MTB, but thanks to the examples, I know what kind of bikes your talking about. I'd say they're good if you wanna take short trips in the forests. But I'd choose a XC bike, because I think they are funnier.
     
  3. RubberSideDown

    RubberSideDown New Member

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    Sounds like you have the two types narrowed down. I think your next step is to test ride, then maybe test ride, and wrap it up with a test ride. I personally ride the Scalpel and love it a lot. It handles some downhilling... but nothing crazy. The Jekyll gives you more flexability with the adjustable shock and the Scalpel gives you the lock out abilities. You'll gain some weight advantages with a XC bike more than an all mtn. XCs are made for racing so they are lighter. An all mtn won't be as light, but not as tank-like as a DH rig would be.
    Like I said, it's a matter of riding all of your choices and pick the one that feels the best.

    Good luck

    RIDE ON!
    RubberSideDown
     
  4. hophead

    hophead New Member

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    Seems like you have a pretty good idea of what you want in your bike. I assume you are looking for a full suspension rig.

    Your definitions of XC & all mtn are fairly accurate. With stable platform technology, the line has become somewhat blurred. An all mtn bike typically has more suspension travel, disc brakes, and bigger tires than an XC bike. XC bikes are usually lighter and better climbers. These days many full suspension XC bikes could easily pass for an all mtn.

    I don't have enough info about you to make a recommendation as to a specific bike. I would recommend that you go to your LBS and tell them what you want in your bike. XC or all mtn, I would go with disc brakes. There are systems out there that are nearly as light as rim brakes, but will considerable reduce the pucker factor when going down hill. I would also go with at least 2.1" tires. Unless you're a racer, bigger is better. The 2.1" is a nice compromise. Tubes or no tubes is up to you. I use tubes, but most who have gone tubless swear by them.

    Good luck & happy riding.
     
  5. ibike73

    ibike73 New Member

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    If you are planning on getting into racing with the rig go with a XC bike. If you are looking to ride XC and not race then go with a all mountain. The all mountain will take a bit more abuse from the high speed downhills and small drops than the XC. They might be a tad heavier, but you are not racing it. Plus with the all mountain you have the option of the longer suspension travel for doing the occasional bigger drop or ski resort chairlift.

    Ron
     
  6. alex2004

    alex2004 New Member

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    I've come to prefer the greater efficiency that an XC has. While no racing bike, the Giant VT2 is pretty groovy. Giant NRS2?Maybe the kinds of bikes you want to check out?

    Keeping up with the Spec Epic will be tough. Good luck : )
     
  7. Mehrdad Wieske

    Mehrdad Wieske New Member

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    Do you seriosly want to race ? NO ?

    Than get yourselfs a Mountainbike and do not worry about XC- Bikes.

    U R in Tronto ? Chek out the Canadian Manufacturers. They don't know shit about Marketing but they know Building nice and solid MTBs.

    My favorites: "Balfa" and "De Vinci" bout built in Quebec, on real technical stuff they will beat the shit out of C-dale and Spezi.

    No, i am not from Quebec....and i do not even like this losers but they make nice bikes.

    Happy shopping

    Mehrdad
     
  8. mrathwell

    mrathwell New Member

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    I want to thank everyone who wrote in. This was a major help. I DO have a new bike now and it ROCKS! I ended up with an '03 Rocky Mountain ETSX-70 (made in Canada). I went to several LBSs and rode several XC rigs and some all mountain rigs including several that were noted here and narrowed it down to a few.

    Well, one LBS put me on the Rocky (was an 04 ETSX-30) and I was stunned. Rocky call this an agressive XC bike and it is but it has most of the good attributes of an all mountain as well. HOWEVER, it is so DAMNED efficient it felt like most of the full-on XC bikes i was riding but still with 4.5" of travel on the back and a very plush ride.

    After that, I went out on my old bike and wore myself out and then rode my narrowed field all over again to see what they felt like when I was tired. The Rocky still won. THEN, my g/f was in a bike store in Orange County in CA and found this 03 ESTX-70 for $1200 USD less than retail. I was going down that next weekend and I brought it back with me.

    I went out this morning and rode longer and farther than I ever have and even when presented with a surprise monster downhill, the bike gives me so much confidence that a) I rode it and b) I didn't crash.

    Again, thanks for all your help. Now, I just have to live up to the bike I have.
     
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