Heading to the races with the intent on being as fast as possible? We’ve picked
10, make that 11 of the hottest Marathon and XC race bikes of 2020 to get you flying.
TREK Supercaliber 9.9 AXS
A unique short-travel race bike to own the races
Trek has long been known for its premium mountain bikes but the new Supercaliber is perhaps the most innovative approach to full suspension race bikes yet. The Isostrut linkage system which was created in partnership with the engineers at FOX suspension features all the adjustability of any full suspension race bike but in a far lighter system. The linkage-free design with pivotless seat stays – which are designed to bow vertically – provide massive weight savings to this 60mm bike. You will love the 30mm inner diameter rims on the Bontrager Kovee XXX wheels which add stability and traction in all conditions, not to mention they weigh a mere 1 290grams! The Supercaliber features fully modernized geometry, a 31.6mm seat tube inner diameter which is dropper post friendly and of course, racer friendly dual water bottle mounts. At a claimed 9.4kgs – with sealant – it is one of the lightest race bikes that money can buy. IF YOU BUY IT you are getting hardtail-like efficiency in a package that has been proven on the gnarliest World Cup tracks.
TITAN RACING Cypher RS Team Carbon
Incredible value with racing DNA
This is the flagship fully-fledged race bike from Titan Racing intended for XC and Marathon racing and there is no compromise on the build kit, at all. A RockShox Sid Ultimate fork is coupled with a RockShox Deluxe Ultimate rear shock with the Onelock system for dual remote lockout. You are getting the SRAM AXS wireless electronic shifting, SRAM XX1 DUB cranks, chain and cassette. SRAM Level TLM brakes with a 180mm front rotor and 160mm rear. A Fizik Taiga saddle, carbon seat post, 760mm carbon flat bars and a 60mm Promax stem. Vittoria Brazo 2.25 tyres front and rear, DT Swiss 350 hubs with 25mm inner diameter, 28 spoke TR carbon rims. IF YOU BUY IT the dual water bottle mounts – inside of the mainframe – is part of your ticket to marathon and stage race success.
MERIDA One Twenty RC 9000
Cape Epic Masters Category Winner
This top of the line, Masters Cat winner from the 2019 Cape Epic, is a feathery 11.46kg – that’s with a dropper post! The build kit is pure bling with a short offset Stepcast 34 fork, XTR brakes and drivetrain, plus an incredibly fast-rolling DT Swiss XRC 1200 wheelset which is a mere 1 412grams. The front and rear suspension lockout, coupled with a 67.8-degree head angle are major contributors to its versatility. It is a race bike which can handle the gnarly trails like those encountered on the Cape Epic, but is also lightning fast on smoother trails like at the Sani2c. IF YOU BUY IT you are getting a proven race machine that is a lot of fun to rally on.
LIV Pique 29 2
A lightweight aluminum bike built for racing
There are a lot of performance-enhancing features jammed into this Pique 29 2 which you will love. It is a 100mm travel race bike, equipped with the same linkage system as used on the Giant Anthem. This is a system that is known for its efficiency under power because the pedaling forces are isolated from the suspension action. The Pique has shorter stems throughout the size curves which match the shorter reach numbers. It is an all 29er package and you will love the stability that the 68.5-degree head angle provides. The Fox 32 Stepcast fork equipped with the Grip damper is a lightweight bomber ready to shred any xc loop. IF YOU BUY IT you are getting one of the lightest aluminum frames on the market.
SCOTT Spark RC 900 World Cup AXS
The XCO weapon
Another chassis which runs on the pivotless concept to reduce weight, the Scott Spark is one of the lightest 100mm frames on the market. It is a 100mm travel race bike that features a dual lockout system, a superlight (220gram) one-piece Syncros bar/stem and the SRAM AXS wireless electronic shifting. The DebonAir air spring equipped RockShox SID fork is very sensitive on small bumps and courtesy of the carbon crown and steerer tube is very light. IF YOU BUY IT ask your bike shop to fit an AXS dropper post on to complete the race-ready package.
SPECIALIZED Epic Expert EVO
Just go for the Evo, bro
They say what wins on Sunday sells on Monday and there is truth in that statement. But, if you are a 9 to 5 citizen racer and are pushed for time to train it is likely that your skills are not as sharp as, say, Alan Hatherly. You are then ripe for a bike with a bigger fork, like this Epic EVO. You are carrying about 240grams more by moving to a 120mm fork but the upsides are plenty and that’s precisely why Specialized and many other brands are offering models like this EVO. As a result of the 120mm fork, the EVO has a marginally higher BB, a 68.5-degree head angle and a higher stack height which increases the bike’s technical capability to enable you to ride fast (dropping your mates on full XC whippets) whilst staying safe. IF YOU BUY IT don’t fuss about the saddle setback being changed with the bigger fork – the okes at Morgan Hill have specced it with a zero-offset dropper post to bring your hips back into the power zone.
GIANT Anthem Advanced Pro 29 0
UCI Marathon World Champ
The Anthem Advanced Pro is one of the lightest race machines on the market. With this model, you are getting a state of the art electronic suspension system which monitors the terrain at a rate of a thousand times per second and via a controller system, adjusts the suspension to optimize handling. Developed by FOX, the system is designed to ‘do the work for you’ so you just have to concentrate on dropping watts. The Anthem is the chassis that Leonardo Paez piloted to the rainbow jersey at the UCI Marathon World Champs in 2019 and quite frankly that does not surprise as with or without the electronic damping, the Anthem has an incredibly efficient linkage system. The Anthem is a 90mm rear bike. IF YOU BUY IT there is not a single ‘throw-away’ item on this bike and you are good to go!
TREK Top Fuel 9.9 XX1 AXS
Stage race specialist & singletrack crusher
The new Top Fuel is a highly versatile race bike. It has the ability to keep you flowing on singletrack, even in those awkward sections where stalls and dismounting occur. The Top Fuel has incredible small bump compliance which will keep you fresh during long endurance days or stage races. With this 9.9 model, you are getting the complete race package with all the bells and whistles including SRAM AXS wireless electronic shifting, a Twistloc dual remote lockout, 30mm inner diameter carbon wheels from Bontrager, a 170mm dropper post, bigger volume Bontrager XR3 tyres, carbon bars, carbon cranks and the dope looking rainbow/oil slick finish on the cassette and chain. The actual weight of 11.4kg with a dropper post, sealant and big volume tyres is exceptional. IF YOU BUY IT you will love the small bump compliance which gives it a magic-carpet like ride, smoothing out the trails.
CANNONDALE Scalpel-Si Hi-Mod World Cup
Light and lively
The Scalpel runs on 100mm of travel (front and rear) using the unique Lefty Ocho single-sided fork. The Lefty Ocho is a full carbon fork, which features internal and external adjustability to achieve the ride dynamics you prefer and weighs a staggering 1 446grams. The other build kit highlights include an Enve rim, bar and seatpost lineup with the Schwalbe Racing Ray / Racing Ralph tyre combination. The Scalpel is available in four sizes, with the size small built around 27.5″ wheels. As a thoroughbred race bike built for speed it has a 68.5-degree head angle, carbon link, remote actuated shock and the Eagle AXS drivetrain. IF YOU BUY IT you will love the lockout override on the Lefty which is designed to unlock the fork in the event of a larger impact. This lockout blowoff threshold is temporary and the Lefty will return to its fully locked mode moments later.
CANYON Lux CF SLX 9.0
Ready to race
The German-based direct to consumer brand Canyon has constructed their full cross country race bike around the pivotless seat stay concept. The stays are under tension when the bike is static, but when on the trail and in sag they are in a neutral position; ie: without tension. This design is said to improve longevity and ride quality. Skilled riders will love the super direct steering of the 70-degree head angle. The CF SLX 9.0 is a 100mm travel, dual remote lockout bike with a full carbon frame. It has space for two water bottles inside the mainframe, is dropper post equipped and has a super svelte Reynolds wheelset. IF YOU BUY IT there is a Stellenbosch based office and showroom which is onhand to walk and talk you through the purchase process and assist with any other queries you have.
SANTA CRUZ Blur C S with Reserve Wheels
VPP with a pedaling focused tune
The Blur is a 100mm rear, VPP link driven suspension layout bike which is focused on racing. We like this C S model with Reserve wheel option because the package is a little more wallet-friendly than the ‘CC’ version but only a couple hundred grams beefier. The value lies within the weight saving of the carbon Reserve wheels and it is precisely that rotational weight which impacts the ride feel, by around ten-fold more than frame weight. You are getting remote lockouts, DT Swiss 370 hubs and GX Eagle shifting with the Santa Cruz lifetime warranty on the frame, linkage bearings and Reserve wheels. All the Blurs are sold without a dropper posts, so unless you have skills like the Pinner, consider adding one to your basket. The frame is compatible with 100 to 120mm forks. Before you YOU BUY IT have a look at the Blur TR version, it features a Rock Shox Reverb Stealth dropper post and 110mm Stepcast Fox 34 fork (which can easily be bumped up to 120mm by your bike shop) which is a far more stable ride.
See you on the trails!