BikeRadar’s 2016 Most Wanted Awards are underway. You can cast your votes by clicking here.
Our editors assembled the list of nominees based on the following criteria: bikes with a proven record of success under our own testers; bikes that push the envelope in terms of technology and design for their respective categories; and last but certainly not least, bikes and gear that make us want to get out and ride.
Our team of sprocket junkies may have chosen the contenders, but it’s up to you, our readers, to make the final verdict on which bikes deserve the title of ‘Most Wanted’.
Today, we’re going to take a look at the cross-country race machines vying for victory.
BMC Team Elite
BMC leads the charge toward developing hardtails with a bit of give at the rear end. The Team Elite uses elastomers in the seatstays to provide 15mm of give — just enough to take the edge off rough courses and boost traction.
In addition to the compliant rear end, the Team Elite has progressive geometry in line with the more aggressive nature of modern cross-country racing.
The Cannondale F-Si uses what the company calls ‘System 29 Geometry’, which basically means building a bike with super-short chainstays, a relatively slack head angle (for a race bike, at least) and a long fork offset.
As part of Cannondale’s mission toward system integration, the F-Si relies on the very capable Lefty to guide this hardtail to the finish line.
The bikes of Canyon’s Exceed family are lighter than their predecessors with a focus on clever touches that make them stand out from the crowd.
Take for instance the use of the rear brake caliper as a structural unit between the seat- and chainstays, or the headset’s top cap that works with a bumper on the top tube to prevent the brake levers from swinging against the top tube in a crash.
The Epic has gone through many makeovers since its introduction in 2003, and the latest Epics are faster than ever.
The pedal-bob-busting Brain shock is still a critical element of the design and just like the first generation, today’s Epics can carry two water bottles in the main triangle, making this model a great option for marathon cross-country racing.
Trek Top Fuel
The Fuel had been a staple in Trek’s cross-country line for many years. For 2016 Trek brought it back and used many of the technologies it had developed for its longer-travel mountain bikes.
The Top Fuel features internal cable routing and Trek’s ABP suspension platform with the Mini Link. Remote lockouts at both ends mean the rider can stand and hammer with authority at the push of a button.
So which cross-country racer is your Most Wanted?
To vote, head to our awards page below and select the bikes and products you think deserve the title of ‘Most Wanted’.