Mountain biking in the Alps with an XC race bike?

hypernova Posts: 9
edited August 2018 in MTB buying advice
Hi guys,

I'm fairly new to mountain biking (or at least proper mountain biking with actual mountains) and I'm deliberating over which bike I should buy before I move to the alps for a year.

I was pretty set on an enduro bike or at least an enduro end of the spectrum trail bike (something like the Canyon Strive) but I kind of held off buying it for a while as I figured I probably wouldn't have any use for it in the UK after I return, because there isn't really anywhere in the UK to ride such a heavy duty machine, or at least I figured I would probably be looking for something a bit lighter weight after I return. Also I would like to do some XC racing when I'm back in the UK. (I currently race road crits, cyclocross and the occasional road race, so this is something I'm pretty keen on trying out to see if I can be any good at it.)

Obviously a 14 kg Canyon isn't really the right bike for this kind of stuff.

So I wanted to ask the forums if anyone has been to the alps (specifically places like Val D'Isere, Annecy) and taken an XC race bike? What was it like? Was it ridable or were you totally out of depth with short travel and race geometry? Most importantly: was it fun or just unpleasant and difficult?

Just need to make a decision about whether to buy a bike for a year and then probably loose over £1000 when selling it back in the UK, and then spend more buying an XC bike, or whether I should just buy the XC bike, spend a bit more now probably, but then keeping it to race the following year back in the UK.

If anyone would like to share their experiences that would be very helpful for me.



  • cooldad
    cooldad Posts: 32,599
    Plenty of places to ride bigger bikes in the UK, but unless you are doing pure XC stuff in the Alps, you'll need more than an XC bike.
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  • billycool
    billycool Posts: 833
    Having ridden an XC (hardtail) down BPW and Cwmcarn, it's not the best for that type of thing. Admittedly it was a HT, but the geometry was all wrong. Too far forward all the time and not enough travel. Felt very unbalanced.

    At the weekend I rode an Evans Ride IT event in the Peaks. It was bonkers. Some of the descents were certifiable. My mate was a on lovely Santa Cruz 29'er XC bike. He didn't enjoy it much as he said he kept feeling too much over the front wheel and the geometry wasn't right for it (just not slack enough).

    I was riding a 140mm Norco, which is more a trail/enduro bike and had a great time. Far more balanced and just better suited to the terrain.

    I can't see an XC orientated bike being very happy/enjoyable in the Alps.
    "Ride, crash, replace"
  • larkim
    larkim Posts: 2,474
    Mot a lightweight bike, but eldest son aged 16 was hammering down Morzine / Les Gets on a Canyon Nerve AL which is more XC / Trail oriented than anything. He didn't kill himself and wasn't riding slowly. Having said that, it was for only a fortnight and I doubt in all honesty the bike would have lasted a long period of time being ridden like that.

    But if you're in the Alps for a year a) I'd reckon you'd want to be on the right bike for what you're riding but b) you're not going to be on full on downhill trails all day every day. I might be wrong, but you could actually end up doing 12 months of XC riding in the Alps by choosing the right routes etc? Isn't that why France, Switzerland etc have great XC racing teams?
    2015 Canyon Nerve AL 6.0 (son #1's)
    2011 Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc (son #4s)
    2013 Decathlon Triban 3 (red) (mine)
    2019 Hoy Bonaly 26" Disc (son #2s)
    2018 Voodoo Bizango (mine)
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