Road to XC - what bike for long & hard?

As someone who got really into road cycling last year and comes from a trail running background, the next logical step in the progression is mountain biking. Based on the internet, it seems like XC would be my preferred style as I’d prefer to go long and hard rather than a lot of super-technical terrain. Right now I own a gravel bike but would need a mountain bike, and demoing is pretty hard with COVID. Would a XC HT be a better fit than a FS bike? Obviously my experience here is zero but I like the idea of riding long rides on dirt with some technical bits, but preferably not overly technical.

On a side note, I’m likely moving to the Boulder/Longmont area so if anyone has suggestions specific to the riding out there, it would be much appreciated!

Also for someone looking to go from road to mtb, if you have any killer tips, I’m not going to say no…

Depends mainly on your budget and the type of riding/terrain you’ll be on. A full sus will obviously be heavier and more expensive but allows you to ride trickier stuff and cover longer distance more comfortably.

Budget would be preferably in the $2.5-4k range if possible

I’m exactly the same as you (used to be an avid runner, got into road last year and mountain this year). Sounds like a hard tail is the perfect option for you. But ask yourself, are you going to get really into it and wish you could hit more technical trails at speed/take some risks? If so, consider a full suspension. It’s more money and maintenance but worth it if you think you’ll progress beyond gravel and mellow trails.

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As for tips, keep riding road/trainer for fitness and use mountain biking to work on skills for a while. You’ll get some free strength and anaerobic work while you’re at it but the best place to train is still on the road unless you have long easy climbs to hit on your mtb.

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Tons of info in here


Worth getting a full sus. You’ll likely do rides elsewhere in Colorado also - and most of Colorado has long climbs and descents. Full sus really helps on long descents.

But this also depends on budget. HT generally cheaper than FS.

Over time, you’ll start riding more technical trails as you get more comfortable on the bike.

Ride lots. And don’t be afraid to ride trails on the edge of your comfort zone. Eg after a trip to Moab, your home trails usually feel easier.


Full sus with 100-120 in front and back.

Agree. Also a full sus is more forgiving of errors.

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When you’re talking full sus that’s going to add a bit more to the price. A mid range full sus is going to be about $5,000. You will find some closer to $6,000 and others closer to $4,000. That’s not to say you can’t find a good bike for cheaper, I just wanted to prepare you for sticker shock. $2,500 would be a budget low end full sus.

Go full suspension. It’s faster in so many more conditions. Especially when your technical skills aren’t ingrained. A full suspension 29er will help you roll much faster when the trail gets rough.

The modern bikes are so efficient you lose hardly anything compared to years.

Scott spark rc team is $4000 and you get hell of a kit