It’s an Olympic Year, Which Means XC Mountain Bikes Are Getting Sexy Again

New and updated cross country mountain bikes and lightweight components are here ahead of the 2024 Olympics. These are the highlights.
Photo: Jeff Barber

Gravel bikes remain a hot category in the bike world this year, but cross-country (XC) mountain biking is also having a moment. It is an Olympic year, after all, and many brands are rolling out new bikes and gear designed for their athletes to win gold at the Paris Games this summer.

Among the rules governing which bikes are allowed to compete, one stipulates that equipment must be available for purchase by the public for a period of time leading up to the games. With that in mind, many of these items aren’t necessarily intended for the mass market, but they’re all impressive nonetheless.

Maxxis Aspen ST tire

Maxxis is really hoping their nickname for the Aspen ST — “Fastpen” — catches on. Even if it doesn’t, there’s no doubt the Maxxis Aspen ST (shown above) is a fast tire, and it’s one that Nino Schurter has been using to win World Cup races for a while now. The shallow tread pattern is designed to roll fast as a front and/or rear tire, and the EXO Team Spec utilizes an ultra-lightweight and supple 170TPI casing.

Photo: Jeff Barber

Vittoria Peyote XC Race tire

The Vittoria Peyote XC Race tire just might give the Maxxis Aspen ST a run for its money. The center tread is designed to shunt dust and dirt away from the center of the tire on typically dry and dusty cross-country race trails. Vittoria also has a race version of their popular Mezcal tire for courses that require a slightly more aggressive tread.

  • Price: $99.99
  • Buy from Vittoria retailers
Photo: Jeff Barber

Pinarello Dogma XC

The Pinarello Dogma XC wunderbike has been raced in the World Cup since last year, and technically it’s been available for pre-order for a few months as well. However, it only officially debuted at Sea Otter last week, where we got a chance to take one for a quick test spin. It’s definitely a fast bike that’s been designed to win Gold in July.

  • Price: $13,000 as tested
  • Buy from Pinarello dealers
Photo: Daniel Palma

Shimano SH-XC903 clipless shoes

Shimano makes it clear in their product description that the latest S-phyre shoes are “designed for world-class cross-country and cyclocross racers.” These race shoes are certainly light and tight, with a stiff sole for maximum power transfer.

Photo: Daniel Palma

Berd XC Series carbon wheels

We don’t know if any Olympic athletes will be racing on Berd wheels, but with weights as low as 1,230g for a set with 25mm internal width rims, these wheels are a tempting choice. Not only that, the polymer spokes promise to reduce fatigue on the course.

  • Price: $2,195
  • Buy from
Photo: Daniel Palma

Fox 32 Step-Cast 2024

Brands and XC athletes at Sea Otter were quick to brag that they were among the first to get the new Fox 32 Step-Cast fork for their bikes. Not only is the mountain bike fork new and lightweight, but Fox is also offering the Step-Cast in a limited edition gold colorway in a likely nod to the upcoming Olympic games.

Highbar helmets

Eagle-eyed observers may have noticed pro athletes wearing helmets with an unusual chin strap system in races earlier this year. The design in question comes from Highbar, and the semi-rigid, plastic-like chin strap is said to be safer and also more aerodynamic than the floppy mesh straps found on virtually every other helmet on the trail. We got a chance to try the system, and despite looking uncomfortable, it feels pretty natural. Look for an official helmet launch utilizing this tech later this year.

  • Price: Unknown
  • Buy soon
Photo: Daniel Palma

Industry Nine Solix M hubs are lightweight but full-on

The new Industry Nine Solix M hubs are lightweight hubs designed for XC and trail wheels, delivering a whopping 605 points of engagement in a lightweight package. How lightweight? The rear hub weighs just 227g, and a set of Industry Nine Ultralite 250 wheels built up with the hubs weighs just 1,425g.

  • Starting at $695 for a hub set
  • Buy from
Photo: Daniel Palma

Yeti ASR

It’s been a few years since Yeti had a proper cross-country race bike in the line, and 2024 is a good time to jump back in. The lightest carbon frames skip rear derailleur routing altogether to save weight for those who choose to run electronic shifting.