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.
- You may also like: 15 Best Full-Suspension Mountain Bikes to Consider in 2023
Best Short-Travel Full-Suspension Mountain Bikes
1. Orbea – Oiz H20
Best XC Full-Suspension Mountain Bike of 2023
Aluminum / 12-Speed Shimano Deore / 29×2.35″
Fork: Fox 32 Float Rhythm, 120mm travel
Shock: Fox i-Line DPS Performance, 120mm travel
Wheels: Orbea OC1 25c
The Orbea Oiz H20 is a sleek full-suspension XC bike built for speed and efficiency. With a premium aluminum frame, quality components, and World Cup geometry, you’ll be smashing your PRs with the Oiz in no time.
It’s ideally suited to cross-country or long-distance trail riding, with a 12-speed Shimano Deore/XT groupset that includes a 10-51T cassette.
Fox provides both the I-Line DPS Performance shock and the 32 Float Rhythm fork. To complement the lightweight Orbea OC1 rims, you get 29×2.35″ Rekon Race EXO tires.
Head tube angle: 68º / Seat tube angle: 74º / Chainstay: 435mm
2. Santa Cruz Bicycles – Blur C S
Fork: RockShox SID SL Select 100mm travel
Rear Shock: RockShox SIDLuxe Select+ 100mm travel
Wheels: RaceFace AR Offset 29″
The Santa Cruz Blur is the famous MTB brand’s race-ready XC bike, designed to be lightweight, fast, and efficient.
The Blur C S uses Santa Cruz’s more affordable carbon grade, which has excellent stiffness and strength characteristics that help maximize power transfer.
A 100mm travel RockShox SidLuxe Select+ shock is enhanced by a patented SuperLight suspension linkage that keeps the weight low but enhances rear-end traction on trickier sections.
This build comes with a SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed, 10-50T drivetrain with Level TL hydraulic disc brakes. Other notable components include the fast-rolling Maxxis Aspen 2.4″ tires, an SDG Tellis dropper for extra descending control, and lightweight RaceFace AR Offset rims.
Pick the Santa Cruz Blur C S if you’ve got lofty XC ambitions and the budget to match.
3. Pivot – Mach 4 SL Ride
Carbon / 12-Speed Shimano XT/SLX / 29×2.2″
Fork: Fox Float 34 Performance Step-cast 120mm
Shock: Fox Performance Float DPS 100mm
Wheels: DT Swiss X1900 alloy
The Pivot Mach 4 SL Ride is a sleek full-suspension XC MTB by a lesser-know but high-end MTB manufacturer, perfect for racers who want top performance.
The full carbon frame is incredibly light and strong, built for 29″ wheels and DW-Link suspension that perfects anti-squat characteristics for a snappy, responsive feel and extra traction. This model comes with race-ready 2.2″ Maxxis Ardent Race EXO tires.
The Mach 4 SL Ride has 100mm rear and 120mm fork suspension. In addition, you’ll have ample gearing from the 12-speed Shimano XT/SLX drivetrain. Thankfully, Pivot includes a Fox Transfer Performance Elite dropper post with 100 to 150mm travel depending on the size.
Choose the Pivot Mach 4 if you want to take your XC riding to the next level with a bike that’s ready for aggressive riding.
4. Niner – Jet RDO 4-Star
Carbon / 12-Speed Shimano XT / 29×2.6″
Fork: Fox 34 Float Factory GRIP2 EVOL 130mm travel
Shock: Fox Float X Factory EVOL 120mm travel
Wheels: DT Swiss XM-1700 Spline 30
One of the more expensive offerings on our list, this Niner full-suspension mountain bike is a burly trail/XC bike with modern trail geometry and top-quality parts.
The RDO Carbon frame features Niner’s CVA suspension platform, integrated protection, and 2.6″ tire clearance. The 130mm travel Fox Float Factory fork and 120mm Float X Factory shock provide a plush feel on rough trails while the CVA design improves the pedaling efficiency of the system.
A 12-speed Shimano XT drivetrain comes with RaceFace Next R carbon cranks and a 10-51T cassette. 180mm rotor XT hydraulic disc brakes round out the groupset.
An unusual inclusion is the Schwalbe Nobby Nic Addix Speedgrip 2.6″ tires which are very versatile and tough but add a little more weight. Finally, you have a KS Lev SI dropper with 100 or 150mm of travel.
Choose the Jet RDO 4-Star if you want a highly-capable trail/XC bike with innovative design features, solid components, and long-lasting quality.
Head tube angle: 66.5º / Seat tube angle: 76º / Chainstay: 430mm
5. Rocky Mountain – Element Alloy 30
Aluminum / 12-Speed Shimano Deore / 29×2.4″
Fork: RockShox Recon Gold 130mm
Shock: RockShox Deluxe Select+ 120mm travel
Wheels: WTB ST Light i27 TCS 2.0 TR 29″ (27.5″ on XS frame)
The 29″ Rocky Mountain Element Alloy 30 is a cross-country/trail MTB with a do-it-all personality.
The FORM alloy frame has relatively aggressive trail geometry which pairs well with a RockShox Recon Gold 130mm fork, Deluxe Select+ 120mm shock, and Toonie Drop dropper post for confident riding on most trails.
The groupset includes Shimano’s Deore M6100 drivetrain with a 10-51T cassette with MT4100 hydraulic disc brakes. This setup and Maxxis Rekon 2.4 makes climbing easier and descending safer.
Head tube angle: 65º / Seat tube angle: 76º / Chainstay: 436mm
6. Yeti – SB120 T1 2023
Turq-Series Carbon / SRAM X01/GX Eagle / 29×2.5/2.3″
Fork: Fox Factory 34 GRIP2 130mm
Shock: Fox Factory Float DPS 120mm
Wheels: DT Swiss XM1700
The SB120 is a Yeti full-suspension MTB focused on cross-country and trail riding. This bike has an eye-watering price but has the spec and performance to match.
The Yeti SB120 T1 is built for speed and versatility with 29″ wheels and modern trail geometry. This is balanced by confidence-inspiring and premium 2.5/2.3″ Maxxis Minion DHF/Aggressor EXO tires.
A blended SRAM groupset consists of a 12-speed, 10-52t X01/GX drivetrain that provides reliable and durable performance and G2 RSC four-piston hydraulic disc brakes. The wide gear ratio allows for easy hill climbs while powerful brakes ensure safe descents.
Consider the SB120 T1 if you want a high-end trail bike for tackling a wide variety of trails.
Head tube angle: 66.5º / Seat tube angle: 76.5º / Chainstay: 433-443mm
7. Co-op Cycles – DRT 3.3
A reliable, affordable XC bike
Aluminum / 12-Speed Shimano SLX / 27.5 or 29 x2.4″
Fork: RockShox Revelation Motion Control RC 120 or 130mm
Shock: RockShox Deluxe Select+ 120 or 130mm
Wheels: WTB ST Light i30 TCS
The DRT 3.3 is a cross-country bike with plenty to offer beginner or intermediate XC mountain bikers. It features progressive wheel sizing and suspension travel based on frame size, Airsprung RockShox suspension, and premium Maxxis High Roller or Dissector tires.
This bike has a lightweight but strong aluminum frame that helps keep the price down without sacrificing too much performance. This is boosted by a Shimano SLX 12-speed with a 10-51t climbing cassette and powerful Shimano SLX disc brakes for controlled descending.
Head tube angle: 66/67° / Seat tube angle: 75° / Chainstay length: 433/441mm
8. Juliana – Wilder C R TR
Fork: RockShox SID RL 120mm travel
Rear Shock: Fox Float Performance DPS 115mm travel
Wheels: RaceFace AR Offset
Julianna’s Wilder is a race-ready trail bike designed to tackle the toughest trails with confidence. As Santa Cruz’s women-specific brand, Julianna takes advantage of its VPP suspension system to provide the Wilder with unbeatable suspension performance.
Large 29″ RaceFace AR rims and slack geometry allow you to roll over any obstacle on the trail. In addition, female-tailored geometry and a Carbon C frame ensure the Wilder is painless to maneuver.
Finally, this bike is built on an SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain and paired with grippy Maxxis Rekon Race tires and powerful SRAM Level T hydraulic disc brakes to ensure smooth climbing ability and controlled descending.
9. Marin – Rift Zone 1
Best value full-suspension mountain bike
Series 3 Aluminum / 11-Speed Shimano Deore / 29×2.3″
Fork: RockShox Recon Silver RL 130mm
Shock: X-Fusion O2 Pro R 125mm
Wheels: Marin Aluminum Double-Wall
The Rift Zone is a 29-inch trail mountain bike designed for speed over fast, flowy trails.
Multi-Trac suspension improves big hit absorption and delivers a more efficient pedaling platform for the 130mm RockShox Recon Silver RL fork and a 125mm X-Fusion O2 Pro R rear shock.
Vee Tire Crown Gem 29×2.3″ tires are durable but lack some grip in the corners and are slightly slow for this type of bike.
The Rift Zone 1 runs a typical 11-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain with Shimano MT201 hydraulic disc brakes and is finished off with a budget alloy seatpost instead of a dropper.
This is a solid XC/trail bike that offers excellent value for money in the entry-level category of full-sus bikes.
Head tube angle: 65.5º / Seat tube angle: 76º / Chainstay: 425mm
10. Norco – Fluid FS 2
Aluminum / 12-Speed Shimano Deore / 29×2.4″
Fork: RockShox 35 Silver R, 130mm travel
Shock: RockShox Deluxe Select, 120mm travel
Wheels: Stan’s NoTubes Flow D
The Norco Fluid is a full-suspension mountain bike with an innovative progressive frame design for enhanced fit and performance. It features 130mm of front travel and 120mm in the rear, with a reliable Shimano Deore 12-speed drivetrain and matching Shimano MT420 hydraulic disc brakes.
Norco chose Stan’s NoTubes Flow D rims with Maxxis Dissector 2.4″ tires for their excellent grip and durability. For a seatpost, you can rely on an X-Fusion Manic dropper. Every detail is accounted for on the Fluid FS 2, making it an excellent value trail bike.
Head tube angle: 66º / Seat tube angle: 76º / Chainstay: 431mm
11. GT – Sensor Sport
Aluminum / MicroSHIFT Advent X, 10-Speed / 29 x 2.3″
Fork: RockShox Recon Silver, 140 mm
Shock: X-Fusion 02 Pro RL 130mm travel
Wheels: WTB Aluminum rims
The GT Sensor Sport is a full-suspension trail mountain bike designed to handle almost any trail out there.
This bike can smash climbs and thunder down descents with ease thanks to GT’s LTS rear linkage technology which soaks up trail chatter and improves traction.
The lightweight, durable aluminum frame is fitted with a RockShox Recon Silver RL 140 mm fork and an X-Fusion 02 Pro RL 130 mm shock which offer decent performance for this price range.
This bike takes rolls along smoothly and corners confidently with 29″ wheels wrapped in WTB Breakout 2.3″ tires. Finally, you can rely on a MicroSHIFT Advent X 10-Speed drivetrain for smooth shifting and powerful but inconsistent Tektro HD-M275 hydraulic brakes.
Head tube angle: 65.5º / Seat tube angle: 76º / Chainstay: 435mm
12. Alchemy Bikes – Arktos 120
Carbon / 12-Speed Shimano XT / 29×2.3″
MSRP: from $4,699
Fork: Fox 34 29 Factory Kashima 130mm travel
Shock: Fox DPX2 Factory Kashima EVOL 120mm travel
Wheels: Industry Nine 29 Enduro S Hydra
The Alchemy Bikes Arktos 120 is a full-suspension XC/trail mountain bike that’s perfect for riders who enjoy charging uphill and thundering down descents.
The Alchemy carbon frame is ultra-lightweight and laterally stiff, and the seat tube allows longer dropper posts like the stock Fox Factory 175mm Transfer dropper.
The Arktos runs on Alchemy’s patented Sine Suspension dual-linkage platform. This system provides next-level performance through enhanced efficiency on climbs and improved handling and traction on chunky descents. The 130mm and 120mm Fox Factory Kashima suspension soaks up all but the most aggressive hits.
The Arktos 120 comes with a choice of three 12-speed groupsets (Shimano XT or SRAM GX/X01). Each has a hill-crushing cassette and 180mm-rotor hydraulic discs. Finally, burly Industry Nine enduro rims are fitted with Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR 29×2.3 tires, providing plenty of capability but adding some extra weight.
Consider the Arktos if you want high-end performance and an award-winning carbon frame at a reasonable price.
Head tube angle: 65.75-66.5-º / Seat tube angle: 77.75-78.5º / Chainstay: 437mm
13. Pivot – Trail 429 Pro
Carbon / SRAM X0 Eagle / 29×2.4″
Fork: Fox Factory 36 GRIP2 140mm travel
Shock: Fox Factory Float X, 130mm travel
Wheels: Reynolds Blacklabel carbon
Pivot Cycles is a relatively new bicycle company that has already won awards for its innovative design.
This can be seen on its Trail 429 Pro 29er full-suspension trail/XC bike, a lightweight carbon beast with top-level parts. It’s a professional XC bike for advanced riders, with modern trail geometry in the low flip-chip setting that provides confidence on steep descents.
The suspension is tight, with a Fox Factory 36 140mm fork up front and 130mm Factory Float X shock on the rear. The DW-Link platform and carbon fiber build kit allow you to get more power from each pedal stroke, making this a highly efficient climber.
Using the 12-speed SRAM X0, 10-52t drivetrain you get perfect shifting every time and plenty of gears for steep grades. In addition, the Trail 429 has powerful four-piston SRAM G2 RSC hydraulic disc brakes.
Don’t miss out on the Pivot Trail 429 Pro if you’ve got a huge budget and want unbeatable trail performance to match.
Head tube angle: 66-66.5º / Seat tube angle: 75-75.5º / Chainstay: 430-432mm
14. Santa Cruz Bicycles – Tallboy R
Aluminum / 12-Speed SRAM NX Eagle / 29×2.4″
Fork: FOX Rhythm 34, 130mm travel
Shock: Fox Float DPS Performance, 120mm travel
Wheels: Race Face AR Offset 30
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 29×2.4″Maxxis Dissector/Rekon EXO tires on Race Face AR Offset 30 rims.
The 12-speed SRAM NX Eagle groupset runs a wide-ratio 11-50T cassette for easy climbing and includes SRAM Guide T four-piston hydraulic disc brakes.
It’s finished off with a Burgtec Enduro MK3 stem, handlebar, SDT Tellis dropper, and Cane Creek 10 IS integrated headset.
Head tube angle: 65.7º / Seat tube angle: 76.8-76º / Chainstay: 436mm
15. Juliana – Joplin 4 C R 2023
Carbon C / 12-Speed SRAM NX Eagle / 29×2.4″
Fork: RockShox Pike Base 130mm
Shock: Fox Float Performance DPS 120mm travel
Wheels: Raceface AR Offset 30
The Juliana Joplin is a women’s full-suspension trail/XC mountain bike built for speed.
The premium Santa Cruz Carbon C frame is fitted with a RockShox Pike Base fork with 130mm of travel and a Float Performance DPS 120mm rear shock. These components are enhanced by the tailored lower-link VPP suspension that improves pedaling efficiency and traction.
The drivetrain is a 12-speed SRAM NX Eagle with an 11-50t cassette for steep climbs and for braking you have SRAM Guide T hydraulic discs.
Finally, the Juliana Joplin 4 C R has an SDG Tellis dropper and 2.4″ Maxxis Dissector/Rekon 3C MaxxTerra EXO tires to provide confidence when descending on fast, chunky trails.
Choose this women’s mountain bike if you love days on the trails with lots of elevation gain and a variety of trails.
Head tube angle: 65.7º / Seat tube angle: 76-76.7º / Chainstay: 430-433mm
16. Ibis – Ripley AF 2023
🏆 Best all-around mountain bike for every terrain
Aluminum / 12-Speed Shimano Deore / 29×2.4″
Fork: Fox Float 34 Performance, 130mm travel
Shock: Fox Performance Float DPS, 120mm travel
Wheels: Blackbird Send Alloy
Max Clearance 2.6″
Coming in at just under $4,000, this is one of those bikes that outperforms its price tag. Straight off the bat, the 12-speed Shimano Deore groupset is impressive with hydraulic disc brakes.
Naturally, it has a premium quality aluminum frame with superb DW-Link suspension technology, offering 120mm of rear travel from Fox Performance Float DPS shock. With a similar kit upfront, you get 130mm of travel on the Float 34 fork, and it’s all rounded off with Blackbird rims and 2.4″ Maxxis DHR II and Dissector tires.
Head Tube Angle: 65.5º / Seat Tube Angle: 76º / Chainstay length: 432mm
17. Yeti – SB115 C2
CARBON C1 BIKE
Carbon / 12-speed SRAM GX Eagle / 29×2.5″, 2.3″
Another top-class mountain bike 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 GX Eagle 10-52T cassette makes easy work of hills, while the Switch Infinity rear suspension technology combined with 130mm travel on the Fox Performance fork makes 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
18. Santa Cruz Bicycles – Blur
Carbon C / 12-Speed Shimano XT / 29×2.4″
Fork: RockShox Sid SL Select+ 100mm travel
Shock: RockShox SidLuxe Select+ 100mm travel
Wheels: Race Face ARC Offset 27
The race-ready Blur XC bike from Santa Cruz is designed for fast riding on cross-country trails.
The SuperLight suspension linkage combined with a 100mm RockShox Sid SL Select+ fork and SidLuxe Select+ shock provides plenty traction on the rougher stuff.
Fast-rolling 29er wheels, Maxxis Aspen 2.4″ XC racing tires, a stiff and lightweight carbon frame, and agile geometry give the Blur its high-performance personality.
The groupset is a 12-speed Shimano XT with four-piston hydraulic disc brakes and plenty of gearing from the 10-51t cassette.
Consider the Santa Cruz Blur if you’re ready to take your XC rides to the next level.
Head Tube Angle: 65.7-65.4 / Seat Tube Angle: 77.5-76.8 / Chainstays: 423-433mm
19. Cannondale – Habit Carbon 1
Every XC rider comes across an unexpectedly steep descent every now and again, leaving them in a precarious situation with an inadequate bike. The Cannondale Habit Carbon 1 rises to this challenge, offering an XC-specific bike that can tackle steep downhills with confidence.
It achieves this with the addition of a Cannondale DownLow dropper post combined with Cannondale’s Proportional Response Tuned suspension system. The RockShox Pike Select+ 140mm fork has slightly longer than usual travel for an XC bike, with the 130mm RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ rear shock to match. A wide-range SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain with a 10-52t cassette and SRAM G2 RSC hydraulic disc brakes make up a solid mountain-ready groupset that can tackle climbs and descents with ease.
HT: 66° / ST: 74.5° / Chainstay: 435mm
20. Evil – Following LS GX
Evil Bikes is known for making high-quality mountain bikes that push the boundaries of design and innovation. The ‘Following’ is its versatile XC offering – a high-speed MTB with 29″ wheels, semi-compact geometry, and mid-range travel that can tackle unusually harsh conditions
The proprietary DELTA suspension system and RockShox Deluxe Ultimate RCT shock are both highly tunable to adapt to varying conditions so if you feel like doing some downhill riding, simply adjust it to your needs and hit the trails. On this version of Evil’s Following, SRAM provides decent 12-speed gearing and instant braking with its mid-level GX Eagle groupset and G2 RS disc brakes.
Where Can You Ride a Short-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 provide a disadvantage on flatter terrain.No posts for this criteria.
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.
Other Factors to Keep in Mind
Carbon vs. Aluminum: Which is Better?
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 & Tire 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.
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 a wider, looser suspension to take heavy impact. If you’re riding mostly flat trails, 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 them according to your riding style. Different shocks have different settings, so it’s 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.
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.