The bikes we have tested in the past nine months have been aimed at the South African marathon/stage-race market. They’re all lightweight full-suspension 29ers, but all with different characters. Here’s a summary of those bikes from Specialized, Yeti, Cannondale, Trek (x2) and Norco – with our test crew’s ratings.


There’s no doubt that the Yeti SB115 blurs category lines. But it’s more a master of many trades than a Jack of all and that’s very appealing. For mountain bikers that value great handling and comfort and love to attack a scrappy descent or a technical climb, the SB115 is a joy. That it comes with Yeti’s lifetime frame guarantee and shuns the ‘me-too’ crowd as a brand, add to the appeal. It’s sold as a frameset that you can spec as you wish or with two different build kits as per the local distributor’s website here.

PRICE: R109 750 (Build Kit C1) and R115 850 (Built Kit C2)

WEIGHT: 11.79kg (with tubeless and bottle cage; without pedals)

Read the full TREAD review here.


After 19 years with a series of design updates in line with developing technology and new standards and a race success list unmatched by any other mountain bike model, you already know the Epic comes with credibility. It looks fast and rides even faster. Our testers crushed loads of Strava segment PRs, many of which were unintentional/unexpected. The same segments we use for all XC/Marathon bike tests. The Specialized Epic Expert is simply the fastest XC/Marathon bike we have ridden. If performance is important to you and budget isn’t a constraint, look at this bike first.

PRICE: R117 000

WEIGHT: 9.98kg (with tubeless and bottle cage; without pedals)

Read the full TREAD review here.


You get light, fast XCO bikes that feel just right when you’re pedalling hard, either on a flat or up a climb; and the Revolver certainly feels just right in this regard. But what sets the Revolver FS 100 apart is how incredibly well it handles anything tricky at speed on descents and during transitions between obstacles. A true allrounder for the committed competitor.

PRICE: R169 900

WEIGHT: 10.22kg (with tubeless and bottle cage; without pedals)

Read the full TREAD review here.


We felt the fairly average wheels, less-than-ideal tyres and the lack of a dropper seatpost counted against the Scalpel 3, but It’s hard to ignore that a bike at this reasonable price delivers such impressive handling, comfort and climbing abilities. The two-bottle accommodation is a bonus and will likely be a deal-maker for any undecided potential buyers.

PRICE: R74 999

WEIGHT: 11.72kg (with tubeless, without Stash)

Read the full TREAD review here.


The TREK Top Fuel 9.8 has ‘allrounder’ firmly in its DNA. The handling is simply superb on all surfaces, it climbs comfortably and it descends with supreme confidence and control. It’s ideal for the rider that likes to race, but loves to ride – everything.

PRICE: R109 999

WEIGHT: 11.80kg (without pedals, with sealant)

Read the full TREAD review here.


The TREK Supercaliber 9.8 is unashamedly made to go fast. It’s a phenomenal climber and handles superbly. It’s ideal for the rider that’s physically conditioned and highly competitive, preferring a fast time to a good time…

WEIGHT: 10.46kg (without pedals, with sealant)

PRICE: R109 999

Read the full TREAD review here.


(turn mobile phone to landscape to view in full)

Bike Yeti SB115 Special-ized Epic Expert Norco Revolver FS 100 AXS Cannon-dale Scalpel Carbon 3 Trek Top Fuel 9.8 Trek Super-caliber 9.8
Climbing 8 10 8 10 9 10
Descending 10 9 9 8 10 8
Handling 9 9 9 9 10 10
Cornering 8 9 9 8 10 9
Comfort 9 8 9 10 9 7
Looks 9 10 9 9 9 9
Total 53 55 53 54 57 53