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Best Short-Travel Full-Suspension Mountain Bikes – 100 to 130mm

Trail and Cross-Country mountain bikes offer limitless fun on various terrains. There are quite a few different mountain bike types out there, but in this review – we’ll be focusing on the lighter end of the spectrum, bikes that are considered as short travel full-suspension mountain bikes.

What is a short travel mountain bike?

Generally, bikes with 100-110mm travel on the front are considered as Cross-Country (XC) bikes, while short-travel Trail bikes have around 100-130mm on the front. Next up is the so-called mid-travel mountain bikes with a range of 130-160mm, mostly known as Trail, and Enduro bikes. The last up is the downhill/gravity – that provide any heavy-duty bikes with a range of 160-200mm+ suspension on the front.

mountain biker


 

Best Short-Travel (100-130mm) Full-Suspension Mountain Bikes

XC / XC Race / Trail

100mm front
120mm front
130mm front


 

Related: Best Full-Suspension Mountain Bikes – Under $3,000
Related: Best Electric Mountain Bikes – Of 2020

 


 

100 mm f

100/100
100/90

 


 

Orbea – Oiz M10 ‘2021

Best XC Full-Suspension Mountain Bike of 2020

grey full suspension mountain bike with a dropper post

Carbon / 12-Speed Shimano XT / 29×2.2″

The Orbea Oiz M10 is an ultra-light full-suspension XC bike, weighing in at an average of only 10kg depending on size. With a full carbon frame, DT Swiss carbon rims, carbon handlebar, and carbon seat post, it’s no wonder!

Fork: Fox 32 Float SC Factory FIT4, 100mm travel
Shock: Fox I-Line DPS Factory, mm travel
Wheels: DT Swiss XT-1650

It’s ideally suited to cross-country or long-distance trail riding, with an extra-wide 12-speed Shimano XT groupset that covers 10-51T on the cassette. Fox provides both the DPS Factory shock and the remote-adjustable 100mm travel fork. To complement the lightweight rims, you get 29×2.2″ Maxxis tires, Ikon on the rear, and Ardent up front.

Head tube angle: 69º / Seat tube angle: 75º / Chainstay: 435mm

MSRP $4,699

Full Specs & Availability – JensonUSA


 

Giant – Anthem 2 ‘2021

Best full-suspension mountain bike under $3,000

29 inch mountain bike full suspension

Aluminum / 12-Speed Shimano Deore / 29×2.35″

The Anthem is a solid mid-priced Giant full suspension mountain for those who want good quality without breaking the bank. The ALUXX aluminum frame is strong and relatively light for an MTB, with extra-large 29″ wheel spacing and tight suspension on the rear. It comes standard with 2.35″ Maxxis Recon tires but can fit larger if desired.

Fork: RockShox Recon Silver RL, 100mm travel
Shock: RockShox Deluxe Select+ RT, 90mm travel
Wheels: Giant XCT 29

It uses the Maestro system with 90mm of travel and a RockShox Deluxe shock on the rear plus a 100mm travel Recon Silver fork up front. This is ideal for XC, along with an ample 12-speed Shimano Deore system for the drivetrain with MT410 hydro disc brakes and a Praxis crank and BB.

MSRP $2,300

Full Specs & Availability – Giant-Bicycles.com


 

Cannondale – Scalpel Carbon 2

Carbon / 12-Speed Shimano XT / 29×2.25″

One of the more expensive offerings on our list, this Cannondale full suspension mountain bike is a professional XC carbon racer with aggressive geometry and top quality parts. The BallisTec frame even features a ‘Stash’ built-in repair kit section. The 100mm travel Lefty Ocho fork is a strange component that some might find a bit odd at first – but it works well!

Fork: Lefty Ocho, 100mm travel
Shock: Fox Float DPS Performance Elite EVOL, 100mm travel
Wheels: Hollowgram 25

The HollowGram crank merged with a 12-speed Shimano XT drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes couldn’t be better, not to mention 29″ HollowGram tubeless-ready rims. On the rear is an adjustable Fox Float Performance shock and the tires are 2.25″ Schwalbe Racing.

Related: Cannondale Habit (140/130mm travel) Review (Opens a new tab)

Head tube angle: 68º / Seat tube angle: 74.5º / Chainstay: 436mm

MSRP $6,000

Full Specs & Sizing – Aventuron


 

Intense – Sniper XC Expert

intense full suspension mountain bike in black and red

Carbon / 12-Speed SRAM NX Eagle / 29×2.25″

The 29″ Sniper XC Expert from Intense Cycles is a blend of downhill and cross-country features combined to create a unique riding experience. The lightweight full carbon frame has aggressive downhill geometry juxtaposed against Fox Performance suspension with only 100mm of travel. 

Fork: Fox Performance Float 32 Stepcast, 100mm travel
Shock: Fox Performance Float DPS, 100mm travel
Wheels: Stans’ Crest Alloy

For the groupset, it matches SRAM’s more trail-focused NX Eagle drivetrain with Shimano’s downhill-ready M500 hydraulic disc brakes. This makes climbing easier and descending safer, plus you get a Recon dropper seat post for added downhill capabilities. The wheelset fits Maxxis Rekon 29×2.25″ tires on Stan’s Crest alloy rims.

Head tube angle: 66.5º / Seat tube angle: 73º / Chainstay: 439mm

MSRP $3,999

Full Specs & Availability – JensonUSA


 

Niner – RKT 9 RDO RS 2-Star

orange full suspension bike

Carbon / 12-Speed SRAM SX Eagle / 29×2.25″

The RKT 9 is a Niner full suspension MTB focused on cross-country racing with a lightweight carbon frame, Fox Float suspension, and SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain. It uses Niner’s CVA (Constantly Varying Arc) suspension design for subtle yet stable movement, with 100mm of travel on the front and 90mm on the rear.

Fork: Fox 32 Float Rhythm GRIP EVOL, 100mm
Shock: Fox Float DPS Performance EVOL 3-Position, 100mm
Wheels: Niner Alloy Boost

The wide gear ratio (11-50T) allows for easy hill climbs while SRAM’s Level hydraulic disc brakes ensure safe descents. The wheelset combines standard 29″ alloy rims with 2.4″ front and 2.25″ rear Maxxis Rekon tires.

Niner RKT 9 RDO 2-Star ‘2020 – $3,900
Niner RKT 9 RDO 3-Star ‘2020 – $5,100
Niner RKT 9 RDO 4-Star ‘2020 – $5,900

Head tube angle: 71º / Seat tube angle: 74.5º / Chainstay: 440mm

MSRP $3,900

Full Specs & Sizing – JensonUSA


 

120 mm f

120/110
120/100

 


 

Rocky Mountain – Element Carbon 70 ‘2021

Best value full-suspension mountain bike

black mens full suspension mountain bike

Carbon / 12-Speed Shimano XT/XTR / 29×2.4″ & 29x.2.3″

Canadian manufacturer Rocky Mountain are known for their quality bikes and this 29-inch full suspension mountain bike is no exception. It’s a pure XC bike, designed for speed over rough but mostly flat terrain. The Smoothwall carbon frame is fitted with a 120mm Fox Float Performance fork and matching 100mm rear shock, which holds excellent traction along with the 2.4″ Maxxis tires.

Fork: Fox 34 SC Float Performance Elite, 120mm travel
Shock: Fox Float DPS Performance Elite, 100mm travel
Wheels: Race Face AR 25 Rims

The Element Carbon 70 runs a typical 12-speed Shimano XT drivetrain with matching hydraulic disc brakes and is finished off with top quality RaceFace components. This is a beast of an XC trail bike and in all black, it’s got the looks to match.

Rocky Mountain Element Carbon 50 ‘2020 – $4,599
Rocky Mountain Element Carbon 50 ‘2021 – $4,599
Rocky Mountain Element Carbon 90 ‘2021 – $7,499

 

Related: Rocky Mountain Bikes Overview (Opens a new tab)

Head tube angle: 69.8º / Seat tube angle: 75.3º / Chainstay: 438mm

MSRP $5,799

Full Specs & Sizing – JensonUSA


 

Specialized – Epic EVO Expert

Not available online!

Epic EVO ExpertCarbon / 12-Speed SRAM SX-Eagle / 29×2.3″

The Epic EVO Expert is a Specialized full suspension mountain bike with a full carbon frame, progressive XC geometry, and RockShox SID Select+ suspension. It features 120mm of front travel and 100mm or rear, with a top-of-the-range SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain and matching G2 hydro disc brakes.

Fork: RockShox SID Select+, 120mm travel
Shock: RockShox SID Select+, 110mm travel
Wheels: Roval Control Carbon

To keep weight down, Specialized have chosen Roval carbon rims on DT Swiss hubs and 2.3″ Roval tires with GRIPTON technology. Right down to the spoke and X-Fusion Manic seatpost, every detail is accounted for, making for the perfect XC trail bike.

Head tube angle: 66.5º / Seat tube angle: 75.5º / Chainstay: 438mm

MSRP n/a

Full Specs & Sizing – Specialized


 

Trek – Top Fuel 9.7

Not available online!

trek full suspension xc bike

Carbon / 12-Speed SRAM NX-Eagle / 29×2.4″

The Trek Top Fuel is a full suspension XC mountain bike designed to flatten out the mountains, decimating climbs and thundering down descents. The stiff, lightweight carbon frame is fitted with a 120mm RockShox Reba fork and 115mm Fox Performance shock, which is an interesting combination.

Fork: RockShox Reba RL,120mm travel
Shock: Fox Performance Float, n/a travel
Wheels: Bontrager Kovee

Some nifty Trek-specific features include a highly responsive Straight Shot downtube, protective Knock Block headset, and Mino Link adjustable geometry. SRAM’s NX Eagle sorts out the 12-speed drivetrain, with Shimano supplying the hydraulic disc brakes.

Related: Bontrager Brand Review

Head tube angle: 68-67.5º / Seat tube angle: 75.5º / Chainstay: 434mm

MSRP $4,000

Full Specs & Sizing – Trekbikes


 

Yeti – SB100 TURQ T1

yeti turq short travel fs mtb

Carbon / 12-Speed Shimano XT / 29×2.3″

The SB100 Turq T1 is a Yeti full suspension mountain bike that blurs the lines between XC and downhill. The carbon frame isn’t overly stiff and the seat tube allows longer dropper posts, but the redesigned Switch Infinity pivot on the Fox Factory suspension is specifically designed for 100mm travel. This combination provides an XC bike that seems intended for more intense, rougher terrain than usual.

Fork: Fox Factory 34 SC, 120mm travel
Shock: Fox Factory DPS, 100mm travel
Wheels: DT Swiss M1700

For power, you get the top-class Shimano XT drivetrain with a 12-speed 10-15T cassette and XT hydraulic disc brakes. The DT Swiss rims are fitted with 29×2.3″ Maxxis tires, a Minion up front, and Aggressor on the rear.

Yeti SB100 Turq T2 ‘2020 – $6,999
Yeti SB100 Carbon C1 ‘2020 – $5,099

Head tube angle: 67.8º / Seat tube angle: 74.2º / Chainstay: 437mm

MSRP $6,499

Full Specs & Availability – JensonUSA


 

Pivot – Mach 4

Four Different Designs

Pivot - Mach 4 SL Carbon Pro X01 Eagle Mountain Bike - Deep Lake Blue

Carbon / SRAM X01 Eagle / 29×2.2″

Pivot Cycles is a relatively new bicycle company but has already won awards for its innovative design. This can be seen on its Mach 4 SL 29er full-suspension mountain bike, a lightweight carbon beast with top-level parts. It’s a professional XC bike for advanced riders, just slack enough to handle big drops but tight enough that you won’t lose pedal power on flats.

Fork: Fox Factory Stepcast 34, 120mm travel
Shock: Fox Factory DPS, 100mm travel
Wheels: DT Swiss M1700

Suspension is tight, with a Fox Factory 120mm fork up front and 100mm shock on the rear. The aggressive geometry places you higher over the pedals for more power into each stroke and with a 12-speed SRAM X01 drivetrain you get perfect shifting every time.

Head tube angle: 68-67.5º / Seat tube angle: 75.5º / Chainstay: 434mm

MSRP $6,999

Full Specs & Sizing – Backcountry.com


 

Santa Cruz Bicycles – Tallboy C R-Kit

santa cruz black full suspension mountain bike

Carbon / 12-Speed SRAM NX Eagle / 29×2.3″

The Tallboy is of the most popular Santa Cruz full suspension Mountain Bikes and this version has a tighter, more grounded feel, perfect for attacking bumpy terrain at high speed. With the Santa Cruz Flip-Chip upper link, you can fit 29″ or 27.5″ rims and tires, although it comes standard with 29×2.3″ Maxxis tires on WTB STi25 rims.

The 12-speed SRAM NX Eagle groupset runs a wide-ratio 11-50T cassette for easy climbing and includes SRAM Level hydraulic disc brakes. It’s finished off with a RaceFace stem, handlebar, and seat post with WTB saddle and Cane Creek headset.

Fork: Fox Rythm 34, 120mm travel
Shock: Fox Float Performance DPS, 110mm travel
Wheels: WTB ST i25 TCS

BUILDS

Santa Cruz Blur C S-Kit – $4,499
Santa Cruz Bronson C R-Kit – $4,399

Head tube angle: 68º / Seat tube angle: 73º / Chainstay: 432mm

MSRP $4,199

Full Specs & Sizing – JensonUSA


 

Diamonback – Atroz 1

🏆Best Cheap & budget full-suspension mountain bike

aluminium 27.5 full suspension mountain bike

Aluminum / 24-Speed / 27.5×2.35″

This Diamondback full-suspension mountain bike is one of the most affordable on the market and it still comes with decent parts. The aluminum frame is fitted with an SR Suntour XCM fork with 120mm of travel and a 100mm rear coil-sprung shock, both adequate for heavy trail riding.

Fork: SR Suntour XCM, 120mm
Shock: ,100mm travel
Wheels: DDM-2, 32h – Double wall

The drivetrain is a 9-speed Shimano Altus with sufficient gear ratio for steep climbs and for braking you get trusted Tektro Aries mechanical discs. None of the parts are top quality by any means but they fit together well to provide excellent value for money. If you’re on a tight budget but love hitting the mountain trails, this bike will do you fine.

Atroz 2 – $1,200
Atroz 3 – $1,600

Head tube angle: 66.5º / Seat tube angle: 72.5º / Chainstay: 435mm

MSRP $950

Unfortunately Out of Stock! Full Specs & Availability – Amazon


 

130 mm f

 


 

Ibis – Ripley ‘2021

🏆 Best all-around mountain bike for every terrain – there’s nothing to add or remove about the bike

ibis ripley 2021 full sus

Carbon / 12-Speed Shimano SLX / 29×2.35″

Related: Ibis Ripley ‘2021 Overview

Coming in at just over $5,000, this is one of those professional level bikes for serious riders. Luckily, it has the goods to match. Straight off the bat, the 12-speed Shimano SLX drivetrain is impressive with matching hydraulic disc brakes. 

Naturally, it has a premium quality carbon frame with superb DW-Link suspension technology, offering 120mm of rear travel supported by a Fox Float Performance shock. With a similar kit up front, you get 130mm of travel on the Float 34 fork and it’s all rounded off with Ibis rims and 2.34″ Schwalbe Hans Dampf/Nobby Nic tires. 

Fork: Fox Float 34 Performance, 130mm travel
Shock: Fox Float Performance, 120mm travel
Wheels: Ibis S35 Aluminum & Ibis Hubs

Max Clearance 2.6″

BUILDS

Frame – $2,833
Deore – $4,199
SLX – $5,099
GX Eagle – $5,399
XT – $5,799
XX1 Eagle – $10,899

Seat Tube Angle: 76 / Head Tube Angle: 66.5 / Chainstay length: 432mm

MSRP $5,099

Full Specs & Sizing – JensonUSA


 

Yeti – SB115

CARBON C2 BIKE 2021

grey yeti full sus mtb

Carbon / 12-speed SRAM GX Eagle / 29×2.5″, 2.3″

Another top-class MTB from Yeti, this combination XC and trail bike attacks both the hills and the drops with equal vigor and aggression. The lightweight carbon frame combined with the 12-speed SRAM GS Eagle’s 10-52T cassette makes easy work of hills, while the Switch Infinity rear suspension technology combined with 130mm travel on the Fox Performance fork make downhills a breeze.

You get added support from a thick 2.5″ Maxxis Minion DHF front tire and 2.3″ Aggressor on the rear, wrapped around DT Swiss rims. Oh and let’s not forget the Fox Transfer dropper seat post for added ease and enjoyment!

Head tube: 67.6 / Seat Tube: 74.1 / Chainstay: 437mm

MSRP $4,900

Full Specs & Availability – JensonUSA


 

Santa Cruz Bicycles – 5010

santa cruz 5010 29er full sus mtb

Carbon C / 12-Speed SRAM GX Eagle / 29×2.3″

This XC bike from Santa Cruz is designed to excel along flat trails while also tackling the occasional steep descent with ease. The lower-link VPP suspension on the full carbon frame combined with increased travel on the Fox 34 fork provides better confidence on the downhills.

Fork: Fox Float 34 Performance, 130mm travel
Shock: Fox Float Performance DPS, 120mm r travel
Wheels: Race Face AR

For more stable charging along flatter terrain, you get slacker geometry combined with only 120mm of travel on the Fox Float rear shock. The combination results in a lively, responsive ride with strong traction and efficient climbing ability. The groupset is a 12-speed SRAM GX Eagle with G2 disc brakes on RaceFace rims and 2.3″ Maxxis Minion tires.

Head Tube Angle: 65.7 / Seat Tube Angle: 76.7 / Chainstays: 430mm

MSRP $4,999

Full Specs & Sizing – JensonUSA


Where it’s best to have a 100-130mm travel mountain bike?

Short travel mountain bikes are ideal all-rounder bicycles for fast and zippy trails, whether it is flat or hilly.

Downhill mountain bikes with lots of travel are ideal for extremely rough terrain with big drops and large obstacles, but actually provide a disadvantage on flatter terrain. 

The less stiff your suspension is, the more speed you lose when riding fast on flat terrain. So you need to choose a bike that best suits the type of riding you intend to do. For most All-mountain, Cross-country, and Trail riding, you shouldn’t need more travel than 100-130mm. MTB bikes with travel between 140-180mm are intended for intense downhill and enduro-style riding.

Of course, many of these bikes have adjustable suspension, so in some cases, you can change it for the terrain of that day. However, if you don’t intend on ever tackling extreme downhills, big jumps, or huge drops, then there is no need to spend the extra on advanced suspension with unnecessarily long travel.

What Else?

 

Carbon vs Aluminum

Which is better: Carbon or Aluminum for a full-sus. MTB? Well, carbon has taken over the whole cycling industry for a while by now, and it is not different from the mountain bike scene. As carbon-tubing gets better each year, there is a reason why mountain bikers prefer carbon over aluminum. Carbon simply has the right ‘feel’ to the whole ride, while providing enough durability and ways to form a bike.


Tires & Pressure

It is recommended to use more air in the rear tire when on trails.

  • 29″ – 18-28 psi. Plus-size tires or on wider wheels (Ibis) can be run on lower,11-18 psi range
  • 27.5″ (650b) – 16-30 psi.

Lowering your tire pressure means you create more contact with the ground so if you have thin tires, less pressure will provide more grip. However, while this may be a bit more comfortable offroad it comes at the sacrifice of speed on flatter ground. Depending on your weight, you should try to find a perfect balance that isn’t too low or too hard.

Tubeless tires can usually run lower pressure since there is no tube to pinch. Similarly, wider rims can also accommodate lower tire pressure. These are all factors to consider when pumping your tires.


Suspension set-up

You should always tune your suspension correctly to accommodate your weight and riding style. This can be done by rocking up and down on the bike to measure your ‘sag’ rate and then adjusting the air or spring pressure accordingly.

If you’re going to be hitting big jumps or drops, you’ll need wider, looser suspension to take heavy impact. If you’re riding mostly flat trail, you’ll want it stiffer so you don’t over-compress and lose speed on each little bump.

Compression / Sag / Rebound

The Sag, as mentioned earlier, is important to measure and set accordingly before heading out on the trails. Once that’s done, set the rebound damping by pushing on the front suspension and seeing if you get any ‘bounce’. Tighten it until it only rebounds once, doesn’t bounce up and down.

For the compression settings, you’ll need to specify it according to your riding style. Different shocks have different settings, so its down to your style and preference. Basically, add more compression damping if you want tighter traction on corners, or less if you want more absorption on big drops.


Rider Weight

It’s important to get the correct weight distribution on a full-suspension bike otherwise you could injure yourself on the trails. The longer wheelbase a bike has, the more stable it will be, so heavier riders should consider this factor. 

Bottom bracket height is also important, as the higher the less stability you get but it can’t be too close to the ground either for obvious safety reasons. Generally, these measurements can all be perfected for you in-store when you buy a new bike. It’s always a good idea to have a professional fit your bike for you.


Where to get the best deals on full suspension mountain bikes?

These are the sites places to buy full-suspension mountain bikes online:

  • REI – Cannondale, Salsa
  • JensonUSA – Best selection online, most high-end, and mid-range bikes available to order online. Jenson USA is one of the oldest online cycling stores.
  • Competitive Cyclist – High/Mid-range bikes, awesome deals for frames and previous year models, too.

Best Full-Suspension Mountain Bike Brands


 

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