2020 XC Bike Thread

What bike would you guys recommend for a triathlete with the stereotypical poor handling skills who wants to ride mtbs.

I would use it to get away from the noise of the city. So basically paved roads and then fire roads. Here and there I would like to ride some easyish trails. Though nothing super gnarly and sketchy.

I would also like to do some tours. Perhaps even some gravel events like DK.

For what it’s worth, I am considering the Canyon Exceed and Lux. Though only because I like their bikes.

Any advice is appreciated. :blush:

Canyon Exceed or Lux would be good bikes if you like the Canyon brand. Hardtail or XC full sus with modern geometry is what you want and the each fit that. The full sus (Lux) will be more forgiving and comfortable so I’d lean towards that. It will just depend on your budget.

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As much as I am typically very pro-FS (I made the switch and will likely never go back to a hardtail personally for my riding), I think in your case I’d probably want a hardtail just because of the type of rides/terrain it sounds like you’ll be riding most of the time with the MTB. I think coming from a tri background and not riding trails super often with the bike, I think the efficiency of the hardtail on pavement/fire roads/gravel is going to be something you’d want over the comfort of the FS on trails and rougher terrain. If your balance was going to lean more toward trails, then I’d probably go with an XC FS with modern geometry and a good dual lockout for a better balance of comfort and forgivingness with efficiency. So I’d say my advice would really come down to what you think the balance of trails/singletrack to pavement/fire roads/gravel will be, and let that guide your decision. The two Canyons you mentioned would be reasonable choices, but most brands will have good options for both, so if you aren’t married to Canyon, it may not hurt to shop around. Given the current bike supply situation, you may be in a spot where going with what is available now or soon is the best option (I ordered a new frame end of August that won’t be here until March, which works for my situation but would be a turnoff for many).


Pick the bike that will best suit the riding you have in mind. Based on your description, it’s not clear a MTB would be best. Have you thought about a capable gravel bike - for example, something that can fit 50mm tires?

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I ended up finding a Cannondale Scalpel SE in-stock at a bike shop in Utah (I was driving cross-country after an extended visit back east to visit family; driving seemed more practical and economical than flying, risking COVID exposure in the airport and then having to rent a car for two months).

Anyway i had been agonizing over the decision of whether to get an XC race bike like the base scalpel or a more “trail” focused rig like the SE, finally decided on the SE and found that . . . it is basically an XC race bike.

On the minus side, it is not as confidence-inspiring on the more-puckering gnar as I had expected, so it won’t really be a true quiver-killer. I think once i get my legs under me with it i’ll be able to ride quite a lot, but i won’t be bombing double-blacks, I don’t think. Rather i will be making careful line choices :slight_smile: like a person who has to go to work the next day.

But that is okay, because the thing is an absolute rocket ship. It is insanely fast. It pedals so much better than my old aluminum hardtail (higher-end stumpjumper HT, from a model year where it was like a low-end Epic HT) that it’s insane and I don’t know how it’s possible. It pedals better on chunder but also on pancake-flat roads on the way to the trailhead.

So for the real high-consequence shredding i might want something different, but i am extremely happy with what i’ve got.

Interesting, I’ve got myself a Scott Spark and have noticed a change. I’m still dialling it in, but it’s a rocket ship pointing back down. It’s slacker than the Scalpel SE I think.

It wants to gather speed and flow on the downs like nothing I’ve ridden. On the flip side it climbs super efficiently, but I am still getting used to the extra wheelbase and HTA around hairpins/low speed corners, plus the bottom bracket seems much lower (pedal strikes while I adapt) even though on paper the difference was negligible.

I don’t meant to imply the SE handles badly; it doesn’t, it handles great. Carving and linking turns is excellent and i think it’ll get even better once I fully dial in the position. I think it was more about expectations. I had thought this would be closer to my dedicated trail bike (35 pounds with 27.5+ tires) and that was just not correct: it’s squarely a marathon xc race bike.

But i couldn’t be happier. I expected it to replace my trail bike but instead it’ll replace my hardtail. I just went out for a ride on teh roads this morning (trails are too wet) and my out-of-shape ass got 16 or 17 PRs on roads where i regularly ride my road bike. Maybe this is just what it’s like to own a high-end carbon bike but even on pancake flat roads it is faster than my hardtail.

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Sounds awesome!

I’m still trying to work out my position etc on mine. I dropped my bars as it felt like is was sitting more upright (though the stack and reach was essentially the same as my previous Anthem). Now I’m struggling a bit with my row/anti-row and jumping. I’m not sure if I’ve put the bars too low, the bike just behaves differently and needs an adaptation period, or I’m just out of rhythm having been without a MTB for two months waiting for this one.

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light hands heavy feet baby. Funny coincidence, i was planning to go hit hte flow trails and work on that tomorrow morning if the weather cooperates :slight_smile:

for me, bar height also probably will be the thing i spend the most time dialing. My bars feel a bit high and i think i want them lower to get more weight on the front plus to gain a cm or so of reach (from moving down the angled steerer tube)

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I have the same. My stack measurement was actually 10mm lower on the Spark than the Anthem with the full stock spacer stack (30mm) but I felt like when climbing I could do with a bit more weight on the front, and on the downs it felt like my front was high. I dropped the bars 10mm and it feels good, but possibly a bit low. Annoyingly they gave me a 5mm and 2.5mm spare spacer, not enough to work in smaller increments than 10mm without shortening the steerer tube.

I’m looking at ordering some cheap carbon/lightweight spacers to have a play.

I should find a more appropriate topic, but what’s the key to jumping in terms of hands/feet or weight? I am landing super rear wheel heavy/barely getting the rear up on the new bike. My jumping skills have never been great, but towards the end of last year I was really able to let it fly on the Anthem. The Nationals XCO course has a gap jump (about a bike length by two feet deep) that shouldn’t be too much of a problem except so far I keep casing the landing with my rear wheel :man_facepalming:.

Per jumping, what is the approach/takeoff for terrain, and your actual body loading/unloading?

Different approaches may benefit from different preloading and/or body placement. Some cases you want to “bunny hop” vs other where you actual center/preload like a MX bike.

Generally speaking, if you are landing rear heavy, I wonder if you are pulling up too hard on the bars (in effort to clear the gap) and getting too much weight transfer to the rear, that ends with a heavy and low hit.

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i’m not a good jumper but would love an xc skills thread. this is also one of my goals for 2021 to get more comfortable with jumps and drops. Maybe looking into some of the courses from Lee LikesBikes or Ryan Leech Connection

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In the aim of not getting too off-topic, and after searching but finding no related topic, I created a new one.


That’s a good idea, we should/could set one up. There’s already the Lee Likes Bikes TR videos (which I’ve found very useful to change my flow/trail riding especially.

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“most likely MTB”



Ha, I wondered about adding that, but the basic approach works for things like 'cross bikes for things like barriers or other gaps :stuck_out_tongue:

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I can also confirm a 2019 Orbea Oiz doesn’t have the clearance for a Quarq.

Im sensing we both found this out the Expensive way!

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How can it not have clearance for a Quarq PM as that’s built into the spider?

This one won’t be a head-turner in this thread, but it’s my first MTB and I’m pretty pumped about it. I’ve been a long-time exclusive roadie, but wanted a hardtail to play around on this winter and be able to ride with a buddy from work. Picked up this 2021 Trek Marlin 6 and loving the MTB scene so far. I got this bike thinking “This will just be for fun, the road bike is for racing” but I’m sure it’ll only be a matter of time before I’m trying to upgrade the bike and sign up for the local marathon XC races.


Solid starter bike and kills what I had back in the day. First upgrade should be a dropper post. Other than that, ride, have fun, and work on skills.

Congrats! :smiley: