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For smoother courses Trek Supercaliber. Shorter wheelbase, very peppy ride. For more technical XC races Specialized Epic is great for race day. When you are breathing through your eyes and can’t think straight, Brain suspension makes sure suspension is always open.

Scalpel is my favorite for Technical XC courses. More comfortable through the chatter, and has the best fork XC racing. A little longer wheelbase makes it more stable in the chunk, but slows it down in tight switch backs. Unfortunately the Scalpel has some proprietary bits, that affect the ownership experience. Offset wheels and it takes time to get the Lefty back from Cannondale for service.

My favorite overall, is Pivot 4SL. Very maneuverable, on tight courses, DW suspension makes technical climbing a breeze. Fast on the smooth trails and very good in tech. Goldilocks zone between Supercaliber and Scalpel. Great support from the manufacturer as well.
 

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A question that has no real answer.
You'll get lots of opinions on favorites, everyone will say their bike is the best.
But no one bike out there is the best XC bike.
Not to mention the fact that unless you are the pointy end of the pointy end of the pack, the slight differences between the bikes wont mean anything to you.
Look at the world cup scene. If the lefty were the best fork for xc, well maybe it would occasionally be on the podium. Or at least somewhat near it. The "best bikes" must be the Canyon Lux or the Scott Spark then, right?
Or are they what is ridden by the best athletes and those two would win on anything.
Any of the above mentioned bikes will be just fine for xc racing, as will many others. And they all have as much claim to the "best XC bike" as the above mentioned bikes.
Buy what you feel most comfortable with, but I would avoid the proprietary suspension stuff like the brain, lefty and iso strut just due to the fact they can be a headache and even though those that bought those bikes will tell you theirs is the best bike the world has ever seen, well, those things really mean nothing. Again, if any of those three were the best thing since sliced bread those bikes would be dominant in the hands of professionals. And they aren't.
Seriously, find the one you fit and feel best about and ride it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
A question that has no real answer.
You'll get lots of opinions on favorites, everyone will say their bike is the best.
But no one bike out there is the best XC bike.
Not to mention the fact that unless you are the pointy end of the pointy end of the pack, the slight differences between the bikes wont mean anything to you.
Look at the world cup scene. If the lefty were the best fork for xc, well maybe it would occasionally be on the podium. Or at least somewhat near it. The "best bikes" must be the Canyon Lux or the Scott Spark then, right?
Or are they what is ridden by the best athletes and those two would win on anything.
Any of the above mentioned bikes will be just fine for xc racing, as will many others. And they all have as much claim to the "best XC bike" as the above mentioned bikes.
Buy what you feel most comfortable with, but I would avoid the proprietary suspension stuff like the brain, lefty and iso strut just due to the fact they can be a headache and even though those that bought those bikes will tell you theirs is the best bike the world has ever seen, well, those things really mean nothing. Again, if any of those three were the best thing since sliced bread those bikes would be dominant in the hands of professionals. And they aren't.
Seriously, find the one you fit and feel best about and ride it.
In the running world you have people who are sponsored from other companies wearing their super shoes because they are such an advantage. Obviously not the case here As you pointed out the diversity of bikes on the pro circuit. This was intended to be a discussion on what makes (your opinion) the best racing bike the best. Just a discussion, no awards or trophies or official titles of worlds best bike will be decided here. You make some great points, thanks for sharing!
 

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If we're just going with a discussion and personal tastes, I'll throw in that I am less concerned with weight and like the 120 club for XC bikes. I totally dig my Sniper and its abilities when it comes to trails that party.
But for the weight weenies, it is sacrilege to call it my XC bike.
And I won't use the horrible term coined by pinkbike.
 

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The one with the fittest rider aboard.
This. When i look at my strava climb times on long sustained climbs, over say a 20 minute climb for me, there is about 30 seconds difference between my lighter hardtail and 35 pound trail bike with much more aggressive tires. Then I look at the times KOM and they are literally 1/2 my time. Any of the good cross country bikes tuned for the individual rider are interchangeable. Any of the top riders can win on any given day.
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Wait, you’re literally turning the OP’s question back on him. He asked what is the best bike AND what makes it the best in your opinion. You’re supposed to give your view not demand his.

Dan
It’s all good. I think light weight (but not necessarily the lightest) is important. Good stability & control; fast on the climbs & can handle some technical stuff thrown at you. Ultimately a bike that feels fast.

As previously stated, different race courses may require different bikes. So what do you race on?
 

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That Trek is pretty high on the list IMO. Their goal of reproducing hardtail power-transfer is a big deal IMO. I wouldn't buy it with my own money due to the proprietary-ness and not wanting all of my eggs in one basket, but if someone gave it to me, I'd run it :)
 
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