We round up 2014's best racing bikes
If you’re wanting to get into mountain bike racing, whether of the cross-country, enduro or downhill flavour, there are plenty of racing bikes that are ready from the shop floor or box. No changes necessary, these bikes are fully kitted out with the products that make each excel at its chosen discipline. So you can spend more time racing and less time setting up. That’s if you’ve got the funds, of course…
Cross-country: Scott Spark 900 RC
The Spark is a long-time favourite of cross-country racers, combing a tight suspension platform with a light build and fast handling. Scott lead the way with carbon fibre and the heart of the bike is a HMX carbon frame with a four bar suspension configuration.
Their TwinLoc technology, a remote handlebar lever operating the Fox Nude shock, lets you easily switch between the three available suspension settings on-the-fly. So you can flick the lever to lock out the shock on the climbs, open it up fully on the descents, or into ‘traction’ mode when you want it a bit firmer.
£5,599.00 is a shedload of cash but you do get a bike decked out with some bling parts, and that ensures the bike is pretty svelte on the scales. And of course ensures it is ready to race anything. The 23lb weight will give you a fighting chance on the hills. SRAM’s XX groupset offers slick shifting and Shimano XTR disc brakes handle the braking duties. Syncros XR RC 29in wheels are shod with Schwalbe Rocket Ron treads. It’s a package that offers you few excuses other than you’ve not been training hard enough.
More information: Scott Spark 900 RC
[part title="Lapierre Spicy Team"]
Enduro: Lapierre Spicy Team
Plenty of choice for off-the-peg enduro-ready bikes, but we plumped for the one raced by Nicolas Vouilloz, the brand new Lapierre Spicy. It’s been updated with 650b wheels - it seems manufacturers have decided this is the wheel size for enduro bikes, so we’re seeing a lot of updated bikes next year. And the Spicy is one of the better looking bikes.
The new Spicy builds on some solid foundations, with a new carbon frame featuring the OST+ suspension, a four bar layout that offers exemplary suspension action, which they’ve been using for a good few years now.
Sandwiched in the front triangle is something Lapierre are proud of, the new e:i Shock. It’s an automatic system for adjusting the compression and lockout of the shock. It uses a stem-mounted head unit and accelerometers on the fork and cadence sensors on the frame, all powered by a battery borrowed from the road Shimano Di2 groupset. It allows the shock to dynamically respond to the trail, so in theory you have the best settings all of the time, without having to manually flip a lever on the bars. I chatted to Nico at last year’s Megavalanche, where he was running an early prototype, and he seemed genuinely impressed with the system, saying how it kept the bike in the prime suspension settings across rapidly changing terrain, allowing him to just concentrate on pinning the trails.
The Spicy Team costs £5,900 and comes with a RockShox Pike RC Solo Air fork with 160mm travel, a full SRAM XX1 11-speed groupset and SRAM X0 Trail brakes with 180mm rotors, a Easton Haven cockpit with a 750mm bar and 55mm stem and SRAM Rail 50 wheels wrapped with Schwalbe Hans Dampf tyres. So virtually nothing there that needs changing, just slap a number board on the bike and hit the trail.
More information: Lapierre Spicy Team
[part title="GT Fury Team"]
Downhill: GT Fury Team
The totally redesigned GT Fury downhill bike came blasting out the blocks at the beginning of the world cup downhill season with a string of event wins, resulting in Gee Atherton nearly taking the World Cup overall title and sister Rachel clinching the women’s. A good advert for the new Fury, which GT gave a complete overhaul to, and in doing so produced undoubtedly one of the fastest downhill bikes currently on the circuit.
With three models in the range, splash out and you can get the same bike that Gee races. We’ve picked the middle offering, the £4,699 Team. It packs top-end kit that is ready for the race circuit. The frame is made from 6061 alloy and uses a revamped version of the company Independent Drivetrain suspension platform to prise 220mm travel from the Fox DHX RC2 shock. A Fox 40 RC2 FIT fork is fitted up front and a Shimano Zee groupset will provide durability over the season, with a 36t chainring and e.13 chainguide.
You can’t go wrong with Shimano Zee brakes with 203mm rotors at both ends, mounted to an All Terra wheelset with Continental Der Kaiser Projekt 2.4in tyres. A 50mm direct-mount Race Face stem clamps a 785mm bar in place.
More information: GT Fury Team