Anonymous asked in SportsCycling · 10 years ago

All-mountain versus a cross-country mountain bike?

Can someone clarify the difference between these two types of mountain bikes? I was told that a cross-country bike with a full suspension is the same as all-mountain.

I'm assuming all-mountain means it can handle hard trails and a bit of downhill. Can a cross-country with full suspension do the same?

I need a bike that can handle long rides on flat trails as well as moderately advanced tough mountain trails.


6 Answers

  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    All mountain and cross country bikes are VERY different things...

    XC bikes are essentially the road bikes of the mountain world. Lightweight builds and maximum pedaling efficiency are the big factors. Climbing is also much more prevelant in XC riding so the angles are geared to match that need. XC bikes will generaly be VERY upright, 71-72 degree head angles for quick handling and agility, 74 degree or so seat angles for good power transfer and, at the very most, 100mm or just shy of 4 inches of travel. Jumps and drops will snap XC frames. Often times the shocks will also have lockouts to further assist in power transfer on climbs and smooth flats.

    All Mountain bikes are bikes which pedal well enough to handle XC rides but which have the angles and the strength to ride just about anything you'll come across. They're efficient pedalers but have more travel, usually 160mm or so, and are built to be great all around bikes. You can pedal it all day or take it to a bike park and hit most everything there but the really gnarly DH stuff. All Mountain bikes are perfect for people who dont want to have a 'stable' of bikes for their riding needs.

    As an example, take Trek's lineup...

    The Fuel is the XC platform; it has a 70 degree head angle, 73.5 seat angle, and 100mm travel front & rear. Those angles make it easy to pedal uphill and on flat but make it downright sketchy going back down or at high speed on rough terrain.

    The Remedy is their All Mountain platform; it has a 68 degree head angle but still a relatively steep 73 degree seat tube angle, and 160mm travel front and rear. This means it'll still pedal very well with the steep seat angle, though you'll suffer a bit more climbing with the extra weight and travel... and can descend with just about anything but a DH bike with it's slacker 68 degree head angle and longer travel.

    Modern All Mountain bikes are amazing in my opinion... If I had to own just one bike, it'd probably be the 2010 Giant ReignX0 or the new Santa Cruz Nomad carbon... an All Mountain bike like either of those and you can ride anything but DH and never worry.

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    Well, for your longer flat rides a cross-country bike would be better because it has less travel on the suspension, so you don't waste as much energy with your bike bouncing from having TO much travel. However a lot of bikes you can lock out the suspension, or add air to it so it's stiffer.

    All-Mountain would be better for rough riding. So really any kind would be fine. I ride a cross country, and have taken it on some Very rough trails, it does fine.

    Here's links to pictures of some of my favorite trails I ride with a cross-country bike...

    I posted all those pics of south saint vrain :)

    Its all a personal preference, my cross-country bike works just fine on these trails, I've also seen plenty of people using a hard tail on these trails, but an all-mountain would make things easier in some sections, and would be a lot smoother ride overall. All-mountain bikes do cost a bit more,

    HEres Konas full-suspension cross country bike followed by their all mountain bike..

    Oh another difference is sometimes the cross-country bikes will have a more flat top bar, and all-mountain bikes will have a more steep angle of the top bar going from the seat post to the handlebars, and you'll notice the front tire/front fort stick out more on an all-mountain bike, that steeper angle makes it a lot easier to go over steep/rough terrain.

  • 10 years ago

    Cross country (XC) is generally shorter travel than All Mountain (AM) which is shorter than Downhill (DH).

    The choice would be dependent on who much travel you need, how technical the trails are, how much downhill you ride and how heavy you want your bike to be. For instance I live in Florida so I don't need too much suspension and like a light bike so I ride a 22 pound Cannondale Scalpel XC bike.

    A hardtail would generally only be considered XC. (As Monster pointed out there are some hardtail DH bikes but I think they's be fairly scarce, maybe mainly for racing application just like a hardtail XC bike, not recreational).

    AM sounds good for your application.

    EDIT: Thanks for the correction Monster. I have a hard time keeping track of all the categories of mountain bike.

    Freeride, Slopestyle, Dirt jumper. Did I forget any?

    I guess I'd fall into several of your qualifications for XC rider - (occasional) racer, old and weight weenie. I should disclose that while I love my Scalpel, I rode my wife's 2008 Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper two weeks ago and it was absolutely phenomenal. I might have to have one.

  • 4 years ago

    Downhill (DH) bikes are heavy compared to a cross country bikes. Dh bikes being around 20 kg or just below and cross country bikes only being about 14 kg max. The gears on cross country bikes are placed on these bikes so you can pedal uphill easy and have good speed on flat and easier DH trails, DH bike are only geared for downhill so they are only designed to pedal on the flats and down DH trails and it is near impossible to pedal these up a hill for any decent amount of time. DH bikes have a slack head angle (angle of the front forks) for the DH tracks and cross country bikes have a more straight up and down head angle. If you have ridden a DH bike on the flat and compared to a cross country bike you will notice a large difference in how they handle this also make it harder to take a DH bike up hill. Go to a local bike shop and see if they have a DH bike and a Cross country bike for you to compare. If you like them because of their looks, which I must admit I also like the look of a DH bike compared to a cross country bike then there is no real point in getting a DH bike. Free ride bikes look similar and are ment to be more capable of riding cross country stuff but I wouldn't recommend it. The bike that would suit you would be an all mountain, something like a Giant Reign or if you want a bike that can do the cross country trails but still take on the bigger DH trails if you were going to go to a DH park then a Scott Genius LT or Cannondale Claymore would suit you if you were willing to spend the extra money on them.

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  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    The first guy was right except for two things, there are Freeride (FR) bikes between AM and DH bikes, and there are DH hardtails. XC bikes are for people who race, old people, and weight weenies. AM bikes are more of a fun all around bike. Also, bikes are classified in different ways than travel, there are some FR bikes with less travel than AM bikes and such. Get an AM bike - more reliable, funner to ride, and often cheaper (because of weight, not strength or goodness of parts.)

  • 5 years ago

    Mountain biking is a great way to get fit and healthy whilst having a fun and sociable time with other bike riders. Cycling has numerous health benefits, including building up your cardiovascular system and leg muscles, and is also perfect for those returning from injury as it is a non-load-bearing sport. Mountain biking makes for an ideal family activity, with child seats and trailers enabling you to bring your family with you at virtually any age. It's great for couples too, and is something you can do together.

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