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?

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