What is the difference between an XC and Trail bike?
What is the functional difference?
What type of riding is best suited for either bike?
What are the advantages/disadvantages of each?
Names can be misleading… it might be better to list some specific bikes that you are looking at so that we can see the build specs, geometry, etc. Two brands may mean something completely different by “trail bike.”
in a nutshell?
xc has steeper angles, shorter wheelbase, less travel (if any) built for weight savings, acceleration and climbing. not so stable or forgiving on the steeps or technical features like log overs or rock gardens. basically they are built for racing on groomed trails.
trail bikes are a bit more relaxed and have a bit more travel, and are usually full suspension. they still climb well, but are also fun to play around on when hitting rocks and logs and going down.
the spectrum from light, twitchy and rigid to heavy (although not that much anymore), stable and plush is pretty much xc>trail>all mountain/enduro>freeride>downhill
if you aren’t going to be doing a lot of racing, a trail bike will be a lot more fun and give you a lot more riding options.
thanks for your help! this may be a long way off, but im looking at getting a bike to replace my monocog. im just getting back into mountain biking, but would want something that i dont have to replace for a while. i like the idea of bikepacking/backcountry touring. i was doin a bit of that with a 90’s giant rincon. racing is not my thing at all.
the bikes i have been looking at are the khs bajada and yuma, specialized camber (base model), and salsa’s el mariachi. the latter being more of a bikepacking bike from what ive read.
I love the monocog, but id like to have something with gears, disc brakes, and a suspension fork. its also getting pretty old and rickety. The seat post has been stuck for about 4+ years now and i cant wrench it out. the wheels are also getting to be a bit out of round and the rear cassette is starting to go. i feel like by the time i replace all the stuff id have a hefty investment on my hands anyway.
i dont think id ever get rid of the monocog and would keep it in my stable for a loaner or easy cruiser. this bike has been awesome and served me well since 2006.
650b bikes seem like they have some cool advantages, but their prices tags are super high. id also worry about tire/tube availability.
I’m running 650b now (conversion from a 26″ frame/fork), tire availability is getting better by the week. I’m tubeless though, so tubes don’t really matter to me that much.
There will be PLENTY of 650B tires available soon, but they won’t be cheap. Tubes? just use 26″. That’s about all I buy these days, can fit whatever size wheels I might be on.
how do you like the 650b wheel size? i like my ability to roll over stuff with a 29er, but the 26er is more nimble.
I think the cburch nutshell nails it on the higher end… on the lower end (looking at Trek’s models specifically) they seem to be practically indistinguishable. I don’t think that you could go wrong with either.
For my style of riding, a hard tail is sufficient (and I can’t even imagine riding in the woods without a front suspension fork). Not only do I prefer riding fast through the woods, but I personally detest highly technical mtb paths with lots of large rocks and logs placed in the way.
If you want something to double as an off-road touring, I’d definitely lean towards something marketed as XC. I imagine that any bike that includes rear rack mounts should be more than up to the task.
I would only go 650B if a given bike geometry led to my oversized toe constantly rubbing the 700c front tire. It never even crossed my mind to replace a 26″ with a 650b. I did have a desire for a larger tire, but I ended up going the cyclocross route instead of getting a 29er. I think that the 26″ is ideal in the woods and I don’t imagine that it would make that big of a difference… but you know what kind of trails you’ll be riding. The trade off is a slight increase in speed and comfort at a cost of a little maneuverability? I’d go with what ever you can get the best price on.
They do make 650b specific tubes; as Eric stated, most just use 26″ tubes.
Of the bikes you mentioned so far, the KHS Yuma seems like the obvious choice. The Salsa lacks front suspension which takes a lot of the fun out of a ride off road. The Bajada and the Specialized both lack the ability to add a rear rack? (do any full suspension bikes have rack mounts? I don’t see any, although they could be the “hidden” style).
Perhaps get a full-suspension bike for play and pick up a second hand C-dale or maybe a Specialized rockhopper or something and outfit it specifically for touring? Even something like a Kona Dew would work well for this with standard mtb tires… if you don’t want a front suspension fork. If you try to satisfy two distinct needs with one bike, odds are you’ll never be happy with what you choose.
I’ve only ridden it in the snow so far, so I’ve been more concentrated on not eating it than riding at speed, and I’m far from an accomplished MTB rider. Also, in the snow, since snow naturally compacts around the roughness, it feels smooth.
The only other MTB I owned was a Trek 29er, and I found it to handle clumsily. Even with a fork upgrade, it was still meh. Steering was vague and it wasn’t confidence inspiring on tighter sections.
I think 29ers can work well, but I’m 5’6 and I’m not convinced it was thought out well for small people.
drewbacca, you bring up some good points about trying to satify two distinct needs with one bike. the el mariachi 1 does have a suspension fork and ive seen it outfitted with those special bikepacking bags that keep popping up. i was worried about getting a full suspension because i could only maybe afford a lower-end model that may not have the quality id like. hardtails seems to be a little more cost-effective.
rice rocket, im short as well (5’8″) and it def took some time to get used to riding 29 after being used to 26. now i dont seem to have too many problems with it. the 650b option seems like it could be a happy median.
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