Select Page

Trust Metrics


Written By Cycling Enthusiasts

Established in 2016

Top 100 Cycling blogs

Indepth Research


How to set your Mountain bike up for cross country races



Need some advice for setting up your mountain bike for a cross country race. Read Jack Martins tops tips on how to get the best out of your mountain bike.  Jack has been mountain biking for many years and has taken part in lots of races.  Read article on 5 tips for interval training, 

This blog will cover all of how you can adapt your mountain bike to make it more suitable for cross country races. If you are just getting into mountain biking, you don’t need to go and splash out thresholds of pounds on the latest carbon-framed superbike.

Mountain bike suitable for XC Racing


There are several things that you can do to make any mountain bike suitable for XC racing. In this blog, I will present a list of parts of your bike that can be changed or adjusted easily and cheaply to make the greatest difference in bike performance and riding confidence. 5 cycling routes in winchester.



Tyre choice


Tyres are the easiest item of your bike to change, and they will also have the most significant impact on speed, grip and general confidence whilst riding.


Changing your tyres for the characteristics of the route or racing you’re doing will significantly increase your cycling enjoyment and performance.


If the race is dry and dusty, then a smother tyre will provide the fastest option whilst still giving you enough grip in the corners.


However, if the course is wet, muddy and technical, then a larger volume tyre with more tread will provide you with more grip and improve your confidence in the technical sections.


One really good website for comparing the Performance of different tyres is Bicycle rolling resistance. The website provides data on all of the most popular tyres, including how quick the tyres are in a straight line, how much grip they offer and how much puncture protection they have.


However, my biggest piece of advice would be to try and test your tyres before the day of your race. The last thing you want to do is turn up on race day with new tyres that you don’t know how they handle and have no confidence in. So make sure to complete a few training rides on whatever tyres you choose to race on.

Tyre pressure


You can change your tyre pressure in a matter of seconds, but it has a massive impact on how your tyres perform and how your whole bike feels. A quick practical tip is if the course is wet and muddy, reduce your tyre pressure by about 4-5 psi on both wheels. For dryer dustier races, the opposite is true, and you should increase your tyre pressure by a similar amount. Mountain bike trails in Wales.



Hydration and storage


XC races are usually quite long, lasting 1-2 hours, and so you need to drink and eat during the race to keep your energy levels topped up.


So make sure to fit a bottle cage to your bike. However, you may find that due to the rough nature of off-road riding, you may need to adapt your bottle cages to stop your bottles from flying out when you go over bumps. 


Plastic bottle cages won’t work off-road, and so you should try using metal cages and bending them in slightly so that the bottles are harder to get out.


You can even put grip tape (similar to sandpaper) inside of your bottle cages to make it even harder for your bottles to come out.


If you are going on a long training ride or a self-supported race, then you may need to take a puncture repair kit with you.


A quick and simple solution is to tape everything you need and put it under your saddle or to the back of your seat post. However, you should aim to carry only the essentials. How to ride a technical mtb. 






Whilst comfort is a very individual thing and will depend on each person’s body shape and riding style. However, there are some basic tips on making your mountain bike comfortable for long races.


The three main contact points on a bike are saddle, handlebars and pedals, and they all heavily influence how you feel on the bike.



For longer mountain bike races, especially ones with long technical sections, using a slightly lower than normal saddle height will allow you to move the bike underneath you when moving through tight and twisty turns. how to make your mountain bike faster.


It will also make deciding a lot easier as you will be able to move your body weight backwards, having a more stable centre of mass and balance.  Downhill mountain biking tips.

The next thing that you may want to experiment with is having multiple hand positions. Spending a long time in the same position can put extra unwanted pressure on your hands, shoulders and back, making you very incapable.


So adding bar ends or thumb rest to your handlebars grips is a straightforward and cost-effective way of adding different hand positions. Just remember to regularly switch up your hand position to ease the stress on your upper body.


The final contact bike is your shoe and pedal set up. If you haven’t used clipless pedals before the day of a race is definitely not the best time to try them out.

Clipless Pedals



However, if you are used to using clipless pedals, then there are a couple of things that you can do to increase your comfort. Firstly, don’t tighten your shoes all the way.


Make sure your feet are going to fall out of them, but do not overtighten them to the point where you can’t move your toes.


At the end of a long ride or race, you want to be able to still feel your feet so you can pedal properly, so not over tightening your shoes will significantly increase your comfort.


Also, having arch support in your shoes can drastically improve how your feet feel inside your shoes. This will not only increase your comfort but will help you put out more power so you can enjoy riding your bike and be faster at the same time. Mountain biking guide.


Making your bike as light as possible



Most XC courses have lots of climbing and hills in them. So making your bike as light as possible will help in improving your average speed and how much you enjoy the hills.


First, start by taking off any unnecessary accessories like saddle bars, lights and reflectors. Then there are several cheap ways to reduce the weight of your bike. Look for carbon fibre handlebars and seat posts, as these can be found relatively cheaply and will make a big difference to the weight of your bike.



Top tips for XC bike set up


Lower tyre pressure for wetter muddier courses increased tyres pressure for dryer duster courses.

Select the right tyres for your course. Smother tyres for dry, dusty races and more knobbly tyres for wetter muddy races.

Add bar ends or thumb rest to your handlebar grips to give you multiple hand positions.

Remove all unnecessary accessories.

Slightly lower your saddle height compared to how you would typically have it set up.

Get bottle cages that will hold your bottles in place over rough terrain.




share your opinion – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

14 + 4 =