Best XC Mountain Bikes 2020 Review 

Cross country mountain bikes have become popular these days. Between trail mountain bikes and XC mountain bikes, the latter is designed for a variety of trails including open fire roads and narrow single tracks that would measure not only your endurance but also your technical skills.

Most of the XC mountain bikes that you see are hardtail bikes that don’t have the suspension at the back. The reason is that it is designed for racing rather than the daily commute. However, there are also those that have full-suspension systems. If you are looking for the best XC mountain bikes in the market, we’ve come up with some of the best in the market.

Best XC Mountain Bikes Review

Eagle Patriot Carbon Fiber Mountain Bike Series – Shimano Deore

Eagle Patriot Carbon Fiber Mountain Bike Series is a great lightweight option for people who want to take their biking endeavor to a whole new level. It is made of carbon fiber material frame and wheels to help make difficult trails easier for its users.

Eagle Patriot Carbon Fiber Mountain Bike Series made use of the Japanese 700 Series carbon fiber material known for improving maneuverability especially in technical trails. And with the Eagle XC50 carbon wheels, expect additional speed and great performance. Since carbon materials are known for minimizing the vibrations, it is something that can help especially in long hours of trail rides. In terms of frame geometry, the rider will be low allowing the least wind resistance.

This is arguably the best hardtail cross country mountain bike with its lightweight design and large 29-inch wheels. It prioritizes the experience of the user especially in tough rides.

The drivetrain is a standard in terms of xc mountain bike options in the market.You get the 1×12 Drivetrain that does well when it comes to going uphill. It also allows smooth shifting whether you need slower or faster gear. And since it is 100% assembled in the US, expect the highest quality of workmanship in this unit.

If you will look at its features and its price, you will be surprised that it is cheaper than most carbon fiber bikes in the market. Brakes are mediocre but it does the job well in most applications.

Pros:

  • Lightweight design
  • Geometry designed for racing
  • Carbon frame and wheels

Cons: 

  • Mediocre brakes

SAVADECK DECK300 Carbon Fiber

The Savadeck Deck300 Carbon Fiber Mountain Bike is another tough contender for the best cross country bicycle. Though some cross country mountain bike reviews consider this as an “expensive” bike, you have to consider the features of this cross-country mtb.

For starters, it made use of the T800 Carbon Fiber frame that is known for being lightweight and durable at the same time. And since carbon does a good job in minimizing vibration, this is also handy especially when you are descending.

As for the suspension system, this is a hardtail XC mountain bike. Compared to a full suspension xc bike, this design has been optimized to make the bike lighter. Instead of having a suspension at the rear, it has a carbon frame that can minimize the shock that you get.

This bike is available in both 27.5-inch and 29-inch models allowing riders to choose depending on their preference.

Next, it also features the Shimano M6000 Deore 3x10s derailleur system that adds appeal to serious riders. Plus, it has the Shimano MT200 Disc Brake System that offers superior stopping power regardless if you simply need to slow down or looking to make a complete stop. Upon testing the Savadeck Deck 300, the brakes do well in different conditions.

With these features, you can expect that this bike is priced above the $1,000 mark. We believe that the biggest drawback of the Savedeck Deck 300 is not its price but rather it was designed more for tall users rather than short ones.

Pros: 

  • Lightweight carbon frame
  • 5-inch and 29-inch models available
  • Superb gearing system
  • Great brakes

Cons: 

  • Designed for tall individuals

Steppenwolf Tundra Carbon Race/Pro/LTD Team LTD Hardtail 29er

The Steppenwolf Tundra Carbon Race Bike is the ideal xc hardtail mountain bike for a lot of pros. It made use of a carbon xc frame coupled with a RockShox SID XXWC fork that has a 100mm travel.

But what makes this a super light mountain bike is the fact that you get different parts that are made of carbon such as the Easton EC90 carbon seat post. With several carbon fiber parts, it has lessened the vibration especially when you have to deal with brutal downhill trails.

Now, going uphill is also not a problem thanks to the different gearing options available. You have the option of whether you want the 20-speed or the 30-speed option. The brake system is also superb regardless of the speed options that you choose.

If you are a serious XC racing enthusiast looking for the best xc bikes, the Steppenwolf Tundra Carbon Race Mountain Bike should be on top of your list. This bike costs twice the price of some of your high-end XC mountain bikes. With a $2,000+ price tag, is it worth it? If you are willing to spend on a high-performance mountain bike, then why not? But this is not a choice for novice bikers.

Pros:

  • Great suspension fork
  • Lightweight design
  • Carbon frame and seat post
  • Multiple gearing system options

Cons:

  • Expensive

Mongoose Men’s Tyax Sport 29″ Wheel

The Mongoose Men’s Tyax Sport 29” Mountain Bike is a great option if you are looking for a smooth ride especially in difficult terrains such as singletrack trails.

It made use of Mongoose XC aluminum hardtail that was coupled with the SR Suntour XCT hydraulic lockout fork. Though it made use of an aluminum frame, it’s not as heavy as you expect it to be. And with the help of the Shimano Acera/Altus 3×8 drivetrain and Altus shifters, it gives riders a tolerable experience uphill.

But of course, if you are going to compare it with top xc mountain bikes, you will realize that its gear system is not exactly the best in the market. Rather, it’s an entry-level option for those who are starting to explore the world of XC race mountain bikes.

But when it comes to safety, the Tyax is known for its superior quality hydraulic brakes that come with 160mm rotors. This helps provide reliable stopping power regardless if you are dealing with a dry or wet road.

Pros:

  • Durable aluminum frame
  • Decent gearing system
  • Strong brakes applicable on all conditions
  • The fork works well during downhill

Cons:

  • Designed for novice riders

Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive Hardtail

The Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive Hardtail mountain bike is a good option for those who don’t have the budget for a carbon XC mountain bike. But all things considered, this isn’t just a novice XC mountain bike. The Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive is also a good option for those who already know their cross country mountain bikes.

The Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive made use of an aluminum frame that is both durable and lightweight. It has been coupled with a RockShox Reba RL fork that with a 100mm travel helping lessen the shakes whenever you go downhill. And whenever you need to stop, you get the Shimano Mt500 hydraulic brakes that offer superb stopping power on both wet and dry conditions.

Climbing uphill is not that difficult compared to other bikes in its price range. The Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive offers an SRAM NX/GX 1×11 drivetrain providing broad gearing options whenever you are too tired pedaling on difficult terrains.

Now, there are several problems that you might encounter with this bike. For instance, you might want to bring it to your nearest bike shop for assembly because the instructions aren’t exactly simple. But the most frustrating about this XC mountain bike is the tires. Its tires are soft and it’s a struggle to use especially when it comes to tough terrains. But once you’ve replaced the tires, it becomes easy to use and something that can give you a good experience.

Pros:

  • Great fork to absorb shock
  • Broad gear options
  • Lightweight aluminum

Cons:

  • Soft tires

Montague Paratrooper Elite Larger 27.5″ Wheels

The Montague Paratrooper Elite is a solution to those who want to try XC mountain bikes but don’t have a large space in their home. This is a folding bike which means that you can easily keep it in small spaces. It is also an ideal option for those who are planning to commute using a bicycle. It allows you to carry the Montague Paratrooper Elite when you are riding the bus or the metro.

The frame is made of 7005 Series Aluminum that’s both lightweight and durable. It also has that power angle geometry allowing you to have that aerodynamic posture. The fork is a RockShox Reba RLT with 100mm travel perfect for going downhill. However, this foldable XC bike isn’t just perfect descending from the top. It is also a handy bike whenever you are planning to go uphill. It has 30-speed options that can help you especially if you are already tired.

You can also have your peace of mind in case you need to hit the brakes. It makes use of the Shimano hydraulic brake system that’s responsive regardless if you need to make a full stop or slow down.

If you’ve been following the Paratrooper series of bikes by Montague, you will notice that this has an updated folding mechanism. The previous model usually snags on clothes. With the Paratrooper Elite, the click mechanism was moved from the top to the rear part of the bike.

The downside to this bike is that it makes use of 27.5” tires which can make it a bit difficult to deal with rocks and other things that you get to encounter whenever you are doing difficult terrains.

Pros:

  • Foldable and easy to store
  • Lightweight
  • 30-speed option

Cons:

  • Harder to deal with rocks because of the 27.5-inch wheels

Mongoose Salvo Comp 29″ Wheel Frame

Mongoose Salvo Comp 29” XC mountain bike has attracted a lot of riders mainly because of its price point. However, you also have to consider all aspects of the bike before you decide on making your purchase.

This Mongoose XC mountain bike makes use of a durable trail frame coupled with full suspension system.  It has a 100mm travel fork along with a rear suspension keeping this bike comfortable especially when you are dealing with tough roads.  There is also a lockout lever that is responsible for a stable climb or when you have to go full speed downhill.

However, because of its aluminum frame and full suspension system, you can expect this bike to be a bit heavy. If you are dealing with few uphill terrains in your ride, this will definitely not fit in the category of best full suspension xc mountain bike. It’s a heavy bike that makes it difficult to climb uphill despite all the features that the company included in its design.

The Shimano Alivio 3×9 drivetrain also doesn’t help. It doesn’t provide broad options unlike other bikes.

As for the brakes, you get the Shimano M365 hydraulic brakes that come with 160mm rotors that offer reliable speed control whether you need to stop or slow down.

Pros:

  • Comfortable to ride in bumpy roads
  • Powerful brakes
  • Durable aluminum frame
  • Full suspension system

Cons:

  • Difficult to use climbing uphill

Diamondback Bikes Line Hardtail

The Diamondback Bikes Line Hardtail offers an extra-strong aluminum frame with a low slung geometry designed for trail riding. The 6061-T6 aluminum frame has been custom formed with butted tubing to help support larger riders. The front fork suspension is an SR Sun tour XCR with a 120mm travel that can withstand tough terrains especially when you have to deal with rough outdoor trails.

This 27.5-inch option is unique given the popularity of 29-inch wheels on some of the best cross country mountain bikes. But what is the reason for this? The Diamondback Bikes Line Hardtail was designed with a 27.5-inch wheel to take out as much weight possible from the bike. But despite decreasing the weight, you also have to pedal more to cover a certain distance.

When it comes to steep climbs, this bike isn’t as good as you expect it to be. Despite being slightly lightweight compared to other aluminum XC mountain bikes, you only have 9-speed options making it still difficult when you are already tired and you need to assault vertical trails.

The good news though is that the frame is compatible with internally routed dropper posts giving you the option to experience better comfort when dealing with bumpy roads.

Pros:

  • Lightweight aluminum bike
  • The frame is compatible with routed dropper posts
  • Front fork suspension allows smooth rides

Cons:

  • Poor performance climbing steep trails

Diamondback Bicycles Hook 27.5 Hardtail

The Diamondback Bicycles Hook 27.5 Hardtail bike is another aluminum cross country mtb bike option. With a hand-built aluminum frame, it offers durability that helps you withstand tough rides. It has a progressive and low slung geometry that allows the Diamondback Bicycles Hook 27.5 optimized for trail riding.

As a hardtail bike, the Diamondback Bicycles Hook relies on its SR Sun Tour XCM travel suspension fork to keep the ride smooth. This front fork has a 120mm travel giving you great performance whether you are headed downhill or you are riding flat and rocky trails. Its wheels are made of durable DB SL-7 Double-wall 27.5-inch wheels designed to make the bike lighter for an easier time riding difficult trails.

As far as its drivetrain is concerned, The SRAM single ring 1×8 drivetrain isn’t the best for climbing uphill. However, it has been designed for novice riders anyways.

When it comes to its brakes, you get to enjoy the powerful Tetra Aries mechanical disc brakes. Though it has decent stopping power, it isn’t exactly as powerful as the hydraulic brakes. On the bright side, you don’t get to deal with complicated maintenance.

The biggest issue with this bike is the overall craftsmanship of the bike. Some users complained about the paint job while others complained about the parts that are poorly made.

Pros:

  • Easy to use and maintain
  • Lightweight
  • The front fork does well in keeping vibrations to a minimum

Cons:

  • Poor craftsmanship on some parts

Merax 26″ Mountain Bicycle with Suspension Fork 24-Speed

The Merax 26” Mountain Bicycle has a rare design for an XC mountain bike. Rarely do you get to see a bike with wheels smaller than the 27.5-inch wheels. However, this may have reduced the weight of the Merax. As for the overall construction of the bike, the Merax 26” Mountain Bicycle is made of aluminum frame and equipped with front suspension forks.

It does well when it comes to withstanding tough roads and keeping the rider comfortable. And also, climbing uphill is surprisingly easy given the 24-speed selection from its 24-speed derailleurs and shifters. It also has dual disc brakes to guarantee the safety of its user.

And on top of this, the Merax 26” Mountain bike is sold below $400. It’s way cheaper than your pro-level cross country mountain bike. But as far as performance is concerned, it attracts not only the beginners but even those who tried different XC mountain bikes in the past.

The biggest issue is the fact that it isn’t exactly for tall individuals. Don’t be surprised if you struggle using the bike if you are over 6 feet tall.

Pros:

  • Affordable bike
  • Made of durable aluminum frame
  • The fork does a good job in keeping the ride less bumpy

Cons:

  • Not designed for tall individuals

Diamondback Bicycles Lux Women’s Hardtail

The Diamondback Bicycles Lux Women’s Hardtail mountain bike is specifically designed for the female user. One of the biggest struggles for female users is that they find cross country race bikes too big for their frame. Over the years, they’ve been the ones who adjust and a lot of times leaving them with no option but to settle for the smallest bike that was designed for male riders.

The Diamondback Bicycles Lux is a women’s mountain bike that has a low-slung top tube. This gives the rider extra clearance making it easier to maneuver. The wheels measure 27.5 inches making it easier to get on or get off the bike.

The frame is made of aluminum material and has been coupled with an SR Suntour XCM-HLO 100mm travel suspension fork. It’s the one responsible for smooth performance on the road. And also, this bike has the Shimano Acera drivetrain that offers 18 gears. This broad selection of speed allows you to find the right gear to help you deal with some of the most difficult hills on your terrain.

The brakes for the Diamondback Bicycles Lux are Shimano hydraulic disc brakes. It’s powerful and responsive enough regardless if you want to slow down or if you need to make a complete stop. We also noticed that the brakes are very responsive regardless if it’s on pavement or roads.

However, there is a slight issue when it comes to comfort. You might want to switch the saddle because it tends to be very stiff and uncomfortable for long rides.

Pros:

  • Designed for female users
  • Great maneuverability
  • Comfortable even in rough roads
  • 18-speed options for uphill climbs

Cons:

  • Saddle is uncomfortable

Diamondback Bikes Sync’r 27.5 Hardtail

Diamondback Bikes Sync’r is a hardtail XC mountain bike made of 6068 aluminum frame with a progressive geometry that was optimized for trail cross country mountain biking. You also get the RockShox Reco RL 140mm travel suspension fork that lessens the impact of dirt roads especially if you decide to go downhill.

You also get to enjoy the Diamondback AL35 27.5-inch wheelset that offers the best traction on most surfaces. And when it comes to its brakes, it has the Shimano MT500 hydraulic disc brakes that is responsive whether you need to slow down or to stop completely.

If you are going to take this bike uphill, you will notice how it is light because of the 27.5-inch wheels. And also, you get the extra push that you need with its Shimano SLX 1×11 drive train. It offers accuracy when it comes to shifting gears giving you the right gear for the right terrain.

Pros:

  • Decent gear options climbing uphill
  • Strong brake system
  • Fork suspension allows a smooth ride

Cons: 

  • The frame is a bit heavy

Aluminum Fat Bikes with Powerful Disc Brakes Gravity Monster

The aluminum fat bike is a great option if you are looking to have the best traction on dirt roads. Its tires also serve as suspension allowing the rider to experience minimal shock whenever they are going downhill. It is something that can perform well regardless if its sand or snow.

You also get 16 speed SRAM drive train components making it easy whenever you are climbing up. As far as compatibility is concerned, there are a lot of available sizes for this bike. You get 14” model for users 5’4” to 5’7”. And also, you get the size option up until 22” for those who are 6’3” to 6’6”.

Depending on the size of the bike that you are going to get, this bike weighs from around 30 to 40 pounds. It has an aluminum frame and steel fork that does well especially when coupled with the fat tires. What sets this XC mountain bike different from the other options that you see online is the fact that it was made by some OEM from China. It doesn’t exactly have a brand which can be a good or a bad thing. The good thing about this bike is that it’s cheaper than most brands given its specs. However, brands exist for a reason and that is to establish trust between the consumer and the company.

Pros:

  • Large tires offer superior traction
  • Multiple frame options for different users
  • 16-speed options

Cons:

  • Made by an OEM in China

Raleigh Bikes Talus

The Raleigh Bikes Talus is catered to a variety of users. It is available in both the 27.5-inch and the 29-inch options to match different heights. It makes use of an aluminum frame and coupled with an SR Sun Tour XCM-DS fork that has 100mm travel to help lessen the bumps whenever you are riding.

It has the Shimano 3×7 speed drivetrain giving you 21-speed options to choose from making it easy to go uphill even if you are already exhausted. Weighing approximately around 32 pounds for the smallest version, don’t expect this to be a lightweight bike.

When it comes to its geometry, it isn’t too aggressive or too upright. It’s an in-between for those who don’t want to do competitive racing but still want an aerodynamic experience. The Raleigh Talus’ brake system is a Tetra M275 hydraulic disc brakes that offer great responsiveness regardless if you are riding in a wet muddy road or you are using it on dry pavement.

This bike is a mid-range bike based on its price point perfect for those who want to have a mountain bike that they can use during the weekends.

Pros:

  • Powerful brakes
  • In-between aggressive and upright geometry
  • Mid-range price
  • 21-speed options

Cons:

  • Heavy

Royce Union Men’s’ Gravel Bike 27.5″ or 700c Wheels

The Royce Union Men’s Gravel Bike is available either in 27.5-inch or in 700c options. Apart from the wheel size, the 700c version of the Royce Union Gravel Bike has an 18-speed option in contrast to the 16-inch option for the 27.5-inch model. It made use of Shimano EZ Fire Trigger shifter that allows fast and reliable shifting of gears. Aside from the gear and the wheel size, there is a huge difference in its price tag. The 700c version is twice the price for the 27.5-inch model.

As for the brakes, both are also equipped with both front and rear disc brakes that offer decent stopping power. The frame is the same for both options. It made use of an aluminum frame that goes along with a rigid steel fork. Unfortunately, the steel fork doesn’t do a good job when it comes to lessening the bumps on the road.

Pros:

  • Two options available
  • Durable aluminum frame
  • Decent speed options for both models

Cons:

  • The steel fork is not as responsive as aluminum when it comes to bumps

Merax FT323 Mountain Bike 21 Speed Full Suspension Aluminum Frame

Merax FT323 Mountain Bike is a good option for those who are looking for an easier time climbing uphill. It made use of an aluminum frame designed for the toughest roads. Also, you get 21-speed options not to mention a full suspension system that helps lessen the impact on tough roads. Though it is light, you have to account for the fact that it made use of 26-inch wheels which means that you will have to pedal some more to reach your destination.

Pros:

  • Full suspension feature
  • 21-speed options
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Small wheels

How to Buy Good XC Mountain Bikes

If you are going to take a closer look at some of the best xc mtb bikes, you will notice that it has similarities to the typical endurance mountain bikes. The difference however is that XC bikes were designed for racing rather than just enjoying beautiful trails.

If you are somewhat a beginner and you want a cross-country mountain bike, here are some considerations that you might want to check.

Frame

First, let’s discuss the frame that you could use for your xc mtb. A cross country bike frame is usually lightweight. With the popularity of cross country bike racing, you get more and more models that used carbon on their frames.

It’s the gold standard of frames today. Carbon is known to significantly lessen the weight of your bike. Carbon bikes are also known for absorbing the impact especially when you need to deal with difficult roads. The downside to having carbon as your bike’s frame is its price.

The lightest xc mountain bike can easily cost more than $1,000. Unless you are spending this amount of money, you might want to go for the next best thing which is an aluminum frame cross country bicycle.

Aluminum might be a bit heavier than your carbon frame but it is significantly cheaper. And also, technologies have improved making aluminum frames significantly lighter than previous models and also durable at the same time.

Next, you also have steel. You get to see a lot of entry-level mountain bikes that have steel frames. Mountain bikes that have steel frames tend to be cheap but heavy at the same time. Though these models aren’t a candidate for the best racing mountain bikes, it is still popular among beginners.

And lastly, there are those bikes that have titanium frames. Though it is not as popular as the other materials that we’ve mentioned, titanium offers outstanding strength since it uses the same material used in building aircraft.

Suspension

The next thing that consumers should look for when buying cross country bikes is the suspension system. People usually debate online whether they should go for a full suspension xc mountain bike or should they have an xc hardtail mountain bike?

A lot of people prefer to have full suspension bikes because of comfort. It allows riders to conquer trail roads that have lots of rocks and roots. However, the downside to full suspension systems is the fact that it adds weight on your bike. Hardtail bikes are significantly lighter than full suspension bikes.

But because of improving technologies, you can now enjoy a lightweight full-suspension mountain bike. Typically, this type of bike has a lightweight frame to accommodate the additional weight brought by the rear suspension.

For the cross country hardtail, you typically get a suspension fork that has a 100-120mm travel allowing less tension on both your hands and forearms.

Geometry

An xc bike’s geometry has changed over the years. If you will look at the modern cross country racing bike, you will notice that the angles have fallen between 68 to 70 degrees. It keeps the weight of the user forward to make the bike more responsive while they get to stand when dealing with steep and technical sections of the road.

You also have chainstay lengths getting shorter while the wheelbases are stretched out giving stability on the bike.

Seatpost

Do you choose a rigid or do you choose a dropper post? This is another dilemma that consumers have when they are looking for the best cross country mountain bikes.

Rigid seat posts that are made of carbon are oftentimes the best choice for consumers who want to have the lightest cross country mountain bike. However, rigid designs can be unforgiving if you are gong downhill. On the other hand, dropper posts work well if you are dealing with demanding descents.

If you are going to use the dropper seat post, you will need to consider either a hydraulic or a mechanical option. The mechanical option is way simpler using a spring and bolt to move and hold the seat post. On the other hand, you have the hydraulic seat post that not only weighs more but also costs more. However, you can get to lock at any height that you need.

It isn’t just the weight that you have to look into. Because drop seat posts allow easy adjustment and have moving parts, you also have to consider the possibility of mechanical failure.

Wheel Size

29er cross country bikes are now popular. The advantage of having a 29-inch wheel is that it is easier to traverse difficult roads especially when you deal with rocks, roots, and other difficulties presented by outdoor trails. The downside when having large wheels is that it can be heavier.

But even today, 27.5 wheels aren’t exactly obsolete. There are still some consumers who prefer to ride using the 27.5-inch wheels because it helps with the weight. You also need to consider the material of the wheels. Carbon wheels are extremely popular among serious racers. If you are in the market for the lightest 29er then you might want to go for this. However, you also have to prepare your wallet. This type of wheel is expensive.

Alloy wheels are also impressive. And nowadays some models are close to the weight of carbon-wheels.

Brakes

Safety is another important factor that you have to consider regardless if you have an XC hardtail bike or you have a full-suspension model. The best cross country bikes for sale in the market are usually equipped with hydraulic brakes that offer powerful stopping power that can help you slow down when you need to.

If you are looking for a more affordable option, you can always stick to the mechanical type of disc brake. Mechanical brakes use a steel cable to stop the bike. However, if you want a contingency plan if you are dealing with problems with your bike, a mechanical disc brake is the ideal option since it is easier to fix.

Drivetrain

The standard drivetrain that you see on XC mountain bikes today is a 1×12 drivetrain. This setup is easier to maintain plus it offers the options that you need whenever you are going uphill. However, some models offer more speed options to their users. Apart from speed options, you also have to check if it can shift between gears smoothly.

Budget

Budget is an important consideration whenever you are buying a mountain bike. This gives you a chance to decide the features that you want to include in your XC bike. However, the cheapest isn’t always the worst option. At the same time, keep in mind that the most expensive cross country mtb isn’t always the best.

Conclusion

XC mountain biking has become trendy to the point that you see different types of cross country mountain bikes online. You get hardtail, full suspension, and even lightweight models that cost thousands of dollars. And sometimes, it can get very confusing at first.

The good news is that there are different bikes designed for all types of consumers. If you look close enough, you get to find the right one for you regardless if you want to race professionally or you simply want the best cross country mtb for a hobbyist. However, make sure that you compare at least three to five models first before you make the decision.