Just what is that bike?

When Jolanda Neff, the reigning world champion, races for a relatively unknown brand, maybe we need to know a little bit more?

Cross country is seeing a resurgence and if the first round of the 2018 UCI XCO World Cup is anything to go by it looks to be providing some of the most exciting racing to date. If you didn’t manage to catch any of the action from Stellenbosch then make sure you check it out here because it was epic.

Nino was finally beaten by a rampant Sam Gaze. Photo courtesy of UCI.

But one thing keen eyed viewers will have probably noticed is that for every recognisable Specialized, Trek or Scott on the start line there were an equal number of brands that you might never of heard of. It seems that XC is on the frontline of the battle between the established brands and the underdogs.

Here’s the low-down on five of the less well known bike brands we are likely to see at the front of future World Cup races.

Jolanda Neff pushing the Kross Level TE.

1. Kross

Poland’s largest bike brand Kross has a complete line-up of bikes spanning all categories. The Level is Kross’ hardtail with an emphasis on cross country racing. Consisting of fifteen models ranging from the aluminium framed, Shimano Tourney equipped Level 1.0, through to the carbon framed and Eagle XX1 equipped Level TE. It’s the Level TE that Jolanda Neff, Maja Włoszczowska and the rest of the Kross Racing Team put to good use.

For MTB Kross also has five other ranges:

  • Dust; a slack angled aluminium hardtail with a 140mm fork
  • Grist; a more trail oriented aluminium hardtail based around a 120mm travel fork.
  • Trail; a modern looking Reynolds 853 steel framed hardtail, again based around a 120mm fork
  • Soil; 130/130mm full suspension trail bike range
  • Moon; Kross’ 160/160mm enduro machines

bh lynx race

BH’s Lynx Race, 100mm carbon XC machine.

2. BH

BH is a popular brand in its home country of Spain and we can now get them here in the UK. This year BH should be even more popular on these shores thanks to Britain’s Annie Last who has changed over to the BH/SRSuntour team for 2018. Annie had an amazing season last year culminating in a World Cup win at Lenzerheide and medalling at the world championships. Annie’s team will mostly be riding BH’s carbon framed,100mm full suspension Lynx Race (lower models get an aluminium frame) and Ultimate 29in carbon hardtail bikes.

BH also produce:

  • Expert 29″, an aluminium cross country hardtail
  • Lynx 5, 130/130mm trail full suspension
  • Lynx 4.8 and Lynx 6, longer travel full suspension bikes

The RN team with their Thömus Lightrider.

3. Thömus

Swiss bike company Thömus provide the Flückiger brothers and the rest of the Thömus/RN Race Team with their super light, carbon framed Lightrider. This is configured around either a 100mm or 120mm travel fork matched to the 100mm out back. When they want to ride hardtail then it’s the Tomcat CT 29in they’ll choose.

As well as an aluminium version of the Tomcat, Thömus also produce a good looking enduro machine called the Upper Rider. Travel can be adjusted between 150-170mm, it’s also built around 27.5 x 2.8″ tyre sizes.

american eagle atlanta 2.0

American Eagle Atlanta 2.0

4. American Eagle

Not to be mistaken for wheel makers American Classic, American Eagle is well recognised at world level XC. Also to make things a touch confusing American Eagle actually hails from Holland. It’s currently owned by Bart Brentjens, who won the first ever gold in mountain bike cross country at the Atlanta Olympics and who still commentates and plays a big role in XC racing to this day. Our very own Grant Ferguson races an American Eagle in the CST Sandd American Eagle team.

American Eagle only produce a carbon race hardtail, the Atlanta 2.0 currently but plans are afoot to launch a full suspension machine later in 2018.

Annie Last piloting the Silverback Superspeed in 2017. Photo: OMX Pro Team

5. Silverback

Silverback are another huge German brand who has yet to break the UK market. Their bike catalogue is vast and varied with everything from commuters to eMTB. You might have spotted Silverback being raced in 2017 by Annie Last. It was the Superspeed SBC carbon hardtail that she took to victory at the World Cup at Lenzerheide. This is a frame with some pretty cool features such as its ‘floating’ seatstays. A concept that provides a bit of comfort for the super stiff race frame.

Being such a large brand, Silverback has a considerable amount of mountain bikes, including:

  • Sesta, a full carbon 100mm travel XC race full suspension machine.
  • Synergy, 120mm travel trail bike.
  • Slider and Slider LT. The Slider is a 140mm travel trail/all-mountain model. The Slider LT ups the travel to 160mm.

So there you have it. Five new bike brands to put on your radar.