XC racing on a 6-inch bike?


Love your book! I haven’t found anything better out there as far as teaching bike handling goes.

Anyways, I have a Giant Reign, a 6′ trail bike [sic]. However, I have recently become intrigued with the idea of trying my hand at college XC racing. Would it be silly to even try to enter a race with such a beastly (though surprisingly efficient for its size) bike? I have a crazy urge to try it, but I wonder if it would just be pure agony to make it through a race on one these bad boys. I wish they had Super D at the collegiate level. That would be perfect for me, I think. Thanks for your help!


Hi David.

Whoa, your bike has six feet of travel? That’s crazy. If it was one of the Giant Reigns with six inches (6”) of travel, I’d say go for it.

Familiar is good. Ideally, racing should feel just like riding. No pressure: Just do your normal thing. If you love riding a 6” bike, then hone an efficient pedal stroke and learn to wring every bit of speed out of the downhills. Those skills will serve you well on race day.

Bigger can be better. If it’s a real MTB course, with actual turns and bumps and stuff, a longer-travel bike can be faster. For a while, Mark Weir rode a Santa Cruz Blur for XC, but now he rides his Nomad everywhere: trail, XC and even for 24-hour events. He’s used to attacking on a bigger bike, and he says his 6” Nomad is actually faster than the 4” Blur.

Feels like the first time. Give it a try. If you decide you want to focus on XC racing, you can always get a shorter travel bike. Maybe one with 4’ of travel!


PS: Anyone remember the Stonehenge scene in the movie This Is Spinal Tap?

5 replies
  1. Joss Dewaele says:


    Anyway, I just wanted to let David know that any XC race on any bike is going to be “pure agony.” I am not disrespecting XC racing with this statement; I love it. But while DH is much more of a sprint–much like running the mile–XC is far more masochistic. Whatever you do, smile.

  2. Matt Fisher says:

    I ride a Turner 6-Pack/RFX for all my cross country/Super-D needs. I have found it to be efficient and fun to ride, but it may be a bit much for really serious XC racing, but who wants to do that anyway. I would not worry about it though. Go race, have fun. Also, the more technical the course the better off you will be on the 6er. Pick a course that is traditionally more techy. If it is rough run it!

  3. matt says:

    Who cares what anybody else think’s or say’s do it because you want to, love to or need to. Just Ride It.

  4. Chris says:

    Hey man I am stationed over in Germany and I race XC on my 5″ Jamis Dakar XLT. Now it may not be as fast as one of those sub 20lb carbon fiber HT’s on those easy going fast flat sections, but I just love to see the expression on there faces when I go haulin balls right past them on the rough as hell DH sections. Afterwards there like dang that crazy American is CRAZY!!!!!

  5. Marz says:

    Ditto Matt Fisher. After someone stole my hardtail last year I took my Turner 6pack to a race this year. Other racers thought I was crazy, I’d be last or never make it. I knew I wasn’t going to win so the pressure was off and I just raced to have fun. I don’t know if it was because I was more relaxed or that the course had a gnarly downhill section in it that most of the roadie-xc guys couldn’t ride, but I managed 6th out of a field of 35.

    I ran a set of 1.9 Kendas and they look really weird, just too skinny.

    Have fun.


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