What’s a Cross Country Mountain Bike, You Ask?

Cycling is an amazing sport. You can choose from gravel biking or road cycling as well as time trail riding and many other disciplines. That’s what makes cycling so special. You can make riding a bicycle exactly what you want.

Each discipline has its own bike type, which you will use for your particular purpose. It is quite straightforward until you begin mountain biking. There are many different types of mountain bike.

This article will explain what a cross-country bike is and why it’s different from other types of mountain bikes.

What are other types of mountain bikes available?

Randgruppe, Pixabay Image

To understand what a cross country bike is, it’s important to know about the other types of mountain bikes available on the market.

There are many types of mountain bikes. However, these are the most common categories we can use to categorize a bike.

Downhill bikes

Downhill bikes are just what their names suggest. They’re designed to go downhill quickly. They can go downhill fast and are capable of tackling the most difficult terrain.

The suspension can travel up to 215mm frontally and backwards. They are designed to be easy to control with wide handlebars and a dropper rail so that the user can reach as low as they want.

Generally, downhill bikes are pretty heavy, and you don’t worry too much about weight as it can be an advantage. These bikes are very aggressive because downhill courses are short.

Enduro bikes

Enduro bikes have a lot more power than road bikes and are built to go fast downhill as well as uphill. Full suspension is a common feature, and they can travel up 180mm. The handlebars are wide and provide control, as well as a dropper pin. This is similar to the downhill bike. Enduro bikes have a more aggressive geometry because they are shorter than downhill courses. Enduro bikes must be lighter than downhill bikes. Companies face the challenge of making great enduro bicycles that are light and agile.

Trail bikes

Trail bikes are basically a lighter and more aggressive version of an Enduro bike. These bikes can be purchased with a hardtail or full suspension, but most often they have a full suspension.

You can expect the suspension to travel up to 150mm and a trail bike to feel light and agile. These bikes are built for long technical rides and will have a slightly more aggressive geometry than an enduro bike.

We Think You’ll Like It: How much weight can a mountain bike hold?

What are Cross Country Bikes and how do they work?

cyclist rides a cross country bike
Image by Lingarto at Pixabay

Cross Country bikes are just what their names imply. They’re designed for cross-country riding. They are also known by the XC bike and are one of the most popular mountain bikes. They are not meant for off-road riding. They are capable of mountain biking on light trails.

Cross-country bikes are light and fast. You should be able sit comfortably for hours on them. Cross country bikes are unique in that they can be completely different from other mountain bikes and come in many sizes and shapes. This does make an XC bike harder to pick out of a crowd, but don’t worry. What makes a crosscountry bike? We’ll tell you. It is easiest to explain by breaking down the bike into smaller parts.

What exactly is XC Mountain Biking?

cyclist on an xc mountain biking
Image by Simon at Pixabay

Cross country racing is not like downhill and enduro racing. It’s more about endurance than technical terrain. It’s smooth racing on forest roads and gravel tracks. These routes can be done on a basic mountain bike but require some level of fitness. Some races are extremely short and some are very long. It depends on your level of racing. I highly recommend you joining your local cycling club and looking for information if you are interested in racing.

What makes a cross-country bike special?

cyclist on a comfortable cross country bike
Image by GioeleFazzeri, Pixabay


Cross country bikes are typically made from aluminum, carbon fiber, or steel. Carbon fiber is usually the most expensive, but it’s also the lightest and strongest. Steel is the strongest, yet the most flexible and comfy. Between the two is aluminum.

Full suspension, rigid, hardtail or hardtail

There are three types of cross-country bikes: rigid, hardtail or full suspension. A rigid mountain bike has no suspension. They are light and fast but not very capable on difficult terrain.

A hardtail bike is an all-mountain mountain bike with suspension. Suspension forks are used to make light bikes that can be taken on challenging off-road trails. 

A full suspension bike refers to a cross-country bike that has suspension on both the front and the rear. These bikes are capable XC bikes and will be used by advanced cross-country riders.


Cross Country riding isn’t all about going fast and the bikes being aggressive. Cross country races are often longer so we have to think about comfort.

Mountain bike riding doesn’t have to be about being the fastest. It’s about enjoying the ride, and this is what XC bikes are fantastic at. They are more comfortable than any other mountain bike discipline and can be used for longer days.


Cross country bikes can either have rear and front suspensions or just the front. The suspension will allow you to ride moderately off-road and give you approximately 130mm of travel. Cross country riding is typically not as technical as the other disciplines, so you don’t require suspension travel generally above 130mm.

It means that the forks are lighter which results in a bike that is faster, more agile, and still has off-road capabilities. Regular maintenance is required for the forks, which can cost anywhere from $200-$1700.

Tires and wheels

Cross Country bikes will have usually have either 29” or 27.5” wheels, older models 26″. They will be light and sturdy. The budget wheels will be made from aluminum while the high-end ones will be made from carbon fiber. Because they are likely to be used on trails, they must be strong.

Modern tires on XC bikes are generally around 2” to 2.3” in size. This is so they are capable of off road terrain and will keep you planted to the ground but also are not too laggy and won’t slow you down. These tires will not be as knobbly or rugged as a downhill tire or an enduro bicycle, because XC riding terrain is more technical.


The gearing of an XC bicycle is very different. A single, double, or three-piece front chainring is possible. You can choose a small or large cassette for the rear. No matter what the look of your XC mountain bikes, they will always have very low ratios that allow you to easily climb steep hills.

We Think You’ll Like It:
How to Build a Mountain Bike from Scratch
How should a mountain bike fit?

How much is a Cross Country Bike worth?

mountain bikes for sale in a bike store
Photo by David Hertle, Unsplash

Cross-country mountain bikes are an affordable entry level mountain bike. The cost to get started can be as low as $300

Cross county mountain bikes can also be found at the top end of this market. These bikes can cost as much as $6000 and are very light, quick, and capable. This is the bike a semi-professional would use, and it will be amazing.

We Think You’ll Like It:
How to Make Your Mountain Bike Ride Faster
Which are the Top Mountain Bike Brands?

What should you spend on cross-country bikes?

It depends on your level of commitment to the sport. A budget of $600 will suffice for a weekend ride or a decent XC bike. You might consider spending more if you intend to race and ride it every day.

We Think You’ll Like It: Why is mountain biking so expensive?


Cross Country bikes are mountain bikes that can be ridden on light off-road terrain. This is the most popular mountain bike on the market, and it’s a great way to get started in off-road riding. There is a huge community of cross-country riders, so I believe every cyclist can benefit from owning a cross-country bike. It can improve your cycling skills as well as get you out in the natural world. What’s not to like.

Leave a Comment