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Carbon MTB rider

Best Carbon Mountain Bikes

Carbon fibre mountain bike frame technology has come a long way in recent years and the best carbon mountain bikes are tough enough for aggressive riding on the most challenging downhill and enduro trails. Of course, the advantages of carbon fibre technology aren’t restricted to the toughest MTB disciplines and you can experience these benefits on cross country (XC) and trail bikes too.

As well as being tougher and stiffer than aluminium, a carbon mountain bike deliver a distinctively smooth ride. Carbon can also be moulded into more complex shapes and forward thinking manufacturers have taken advantages of this by offering radical new carbon mountain bike frame designs. Yeti have used the versatility of carbon manufacturing to offer an innovative suspension design while Specialized have managed to open up the down tube to offer a trail storage solution that lowers your centre of gravity for a more assured ride.

In this review, we focus on the best carbon fibre hardtail and full suspension mountain bikes for cross country, trail and enduro riding, with both 29” and 27.5” wheels, from top brands including Giant and Cube.


Cube Reaction GTC SL 29er

Cube Reaction GTC SL 29er
Cube

£1,899.00



Quick look

Frame CTC Twin Mould carbon


Wheels 29” Fulcrum Red 66


Suspension 100mm travel Fox Float fork


Drivetrain Shimano XT 2x11 speed


Brakes Shimano XT


Best for XC riding and racing


Review

Built for rapid cross-country riding the carbon frame on the Cube Reaction GTC SL is built with a sophisticated twin mould, monocoque construction technique that makes the frame stiff, strong and lightweight. Cube’s Agile Ride Geometry offers a race oriented riding position with nimble handling characteristics. The tapered head tube and 12mm thru-axle add stiffness while the slim seat post adds extra comfort in the saddle.

The 29” wheels are ideal for hardtail MTBs as they carry speed much better over rough sections. You get a Fox 32 Performance fork up front which offers 100mm of plush suspension travel to smooth the trail ahead and features a remote lockout switch for more efficient climbing on smoother trails. The Reaction is spec’d with a full Shimano XCT groupset with a slick shifting 2x11 speed drivetrain and powerful hydraulic discs.




This carbon framed bike is light, smooth and effortlessly rapid, even on rough trails - Bike Radar.


Specialized Camber Comp Carbon 650b

Specialized Camber Comp Carbon 650b
Specialized

£2,900.00



Quick look

Frame Fact 9m carbon with alloy rear stays


Wheels Roval Traverse 650b


Suspension RockShox Revelation fork / Fox Float shock, 130mm front and rear


Drivetrain SRAM GX 1x11 speed


Brakes Shimano Deore hydraulic discs


Best for XC / trail


Review

Combining lively handling with climbing prowess and playful trail manners, the Specialized Camber Comp Carbon is a lightweight trail bike that offers 130mm of full suspension travel to tame rough tracks. The FACT Carbon mainframe is lightweight, durable and includes the SWAT door for storing your trail essentials in the downtube instead of in your Camelback.

The fully active FSR rear suspension platform offers efficient performance that keeps on working even while you are pedalling and braking. The RockShox Revelation fork up front gives you plush control up front while the smooth performing Fox Float rear shock offers three compression damping settings, so you can adapt its performance to suit the trail conditions ahead. The SRAM GX 1x11 speed drivetrain is ideal for trail riding as it combines a wide gear range with the easy shifting simplicity of a single front chainring.

The Camber featured here rolls on 650b (27.5”) wheels. This the most popular wheel size as it offers the perfect balance between nimble handling and rapid rolling. For those who prefer the faster rolling speed of 29” wheels, the Specialized Camber Comp 29er is available at the same price.




A superbly thought-out high-speed, low-stress all-rounder for fans of traditional handling – Bike Radar.


Giant Trance Advanced 2

Giant Trance Advanced 2
Giant

£3,249.00



Quick look

Frame Advanced-Grade carbon fibre composite


Wheels Giant TRX1 27.5”


Suspension RockShox Yari RC, 150mm front / RockShox Deluxe RT, 140mm rear


Drivetrain SRAM GX 1x11 speed


Brakes SRAM Guide R hydraulic discs


Best for XC/trail/enduro


Review

An incredibly popular trail bike, the Giant Trance Advanced 2 has been redesigned for 2017 and is now more capable than ever. The Advanced-Grade carbon composite frame is both stronger and lighter than its predecessors. While retaining the same amount of travel the already very impressive Maestro suspension platform has also been improved and now offers improved traction with plenty of big hit ability.

The RockShox Yari fork is stiff, capable and offers 150mm of plush suspension travel up front while the RockShox Deluxe RT shock takes care of the 140mm of rear travel. Boost hub spacing front and rear adds wheel stiffness for a more confident ride. The SRAM GX 1x11 speed drivetrain is perfect for all types of trail riding as it offers a wide range of gears with easy shifting and great chain security on rough tracks.

With carbon rims on the Giant TRX WheelSystem the Trance advanced is both quick to accelerate and assured on gnarly terrain.




...this new Trance gets us even closer to that perfect do-it-all trail machine – Bike Radar.

Specialized Enduro Elite Carbon 29

Specialized Enduro Elite Carbon 29
Specialized Logo

£3,700.00



Quick look

Frame Fact 9m carbon with alloy rear stays


Wheels Roval Traverse 29”


Suspension RockShox Lyric RC, 160mm front / RockShox Monarch Plus 165mm rear


Drivetrain SRAM GX 1x11 speed


Brakes SRAM Guide R


Best for Enduro / trail


Review

Effortlessly fast and built to take on the most challenging descents, yet still ride comfortably up-hill and down all-day-long, the Specialized Enduro Elite Carbon 29 is one of the most capable long travel trail bikes currently on the market. Combined with the 29” wheels, the 165mm of fully active FSR rear suspension travel means that the Enduro can soak up almost anything on the trail while still pedalling efficiently.

The updated frame design features longer, lower and slacker geometry that offers composed handling on challenging terrain. Also new is the SWAT door that allows you to keep your trail essentials tucked neatly away in the down tube. The 160mm travel RockShox Lyric fork is burly enough for the gnarliest descents and is perfectly matched to the Monarch Plus rear shock. High performance Roval Traverse wheels and wide 680mm bars round off the spec on this dialled MTB.

It is the 29er enduro that we feature here (as it’s the one we like riding most at Tredz) but the Specialized Enduro Elite Carbon 650b is also available and rolls on more nimble 27.5” wheels.




An authentic legend, the Specialized Enduro hasn’t just lent its name to the discipline but also majorly influenced the direction of trail riding – Pink Bike.



Yeti SB6

Yeti SB6
Yeti logo

£4,999.00



Quick look

Frame High Modulus carbon


Wheels DT Swiss/Shimano


Suspension Fox 36, 160mm front / Fox Float X 152mm rear


Drivetrain Shimano XT/SLX 11 speed


Brakes Shimano Deore


Best for Enduro / trail


Review

The Yeti SB6 is arguably the fastest enduro mountain bike on the planet. A bold claim we know, but there is no denying Richie Rude’s dominance of the Enduro World Series for the last couple of years, all aboard an SB6. Lighter than it looks and far more capable that its 5.2” of rear wheel travel would suggest, the Yeti SB6 is the dream bike for many trail riders as well as aspiring enduro racers.

The full carbon frame is made with high modulus fibres and offers stiffness and strength with lightweight and plenty of standover clearance. Combined with the stiff chassis and dialled geometry, it is the Switch Infinity suspension system that really makes the SB6 stand out from the crowd of accomplished enduro machines. The SB6 offers capable confidence on almost any trail and just gets better and better as the trails get steeper and rougher.




I can’t remember ever descending a trail as aggressively, or as fast, as I did on the SB6C – Bicycling.com.