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Can a Quiver-Killer Mountain Bike Do it All? What Is a Quiver Killer Trail Bike?

"Quiver-killer" trail bikes have the geometry and suspension to handle everything from XC, to trail, to enduro. But can one mountain bike actually do it all? I decided to buy one and race it to find out.

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:Bikes

Mid-travel mountain bikes are getting so capable that you might hear riders describe them with a catchy buzzword: Quiver-killer. This type of trail bike is supposedly versatile enough to handle any riding discipline, making it the perfect option for riders with room for only one mountain bike in their garage (or shed, kitchen, bedroom, etc.). But can one bike really do it all? What is it like riding XC and enduro on a mid-travel trail bike? I decided to buy one for myself and go racing to find out how versatile these so-called quiver-killers really are. 


What is a quiver-killer trail bike?

A quiver-killer is a jack-of-all trades. It won't be the best at any one discipline, but it will be just capable enough to keep up with XC bikes uphill and enduro bikes downhill. It sits right in the middle when it comes to suspension travel, weight, and geometry. To me, that means it has 120-140mm of suspension travel to provide a nice balance between pedaling efficiency and big hit performance. It will weigh more than a featherweight XC whippet (>25 lbs), but not as much as a beefy enduro brawler (<35 lbs). It will also have geometry that is stable and confidence-inspiring, but it's not too long or slack so it still feels playful on mellow trails. 

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After shopping around I eventually settled on a 2020 Canyon Neuron CF 9.0 SL. If we compare the numbers with the other two mountain bikes in my current quiver, it slots pretty neatly in between my current XC hardtail and my big-travel enduro rig. 


Cannondale F-Si

Canyon Neuron CF

REEB Sqweeb V3

Suspension travel




Head angle




Seat angle








Stem length




Weight (with pedals)




2020 Canyon neuron CF quiver killer mountain bike trial bikeThe Neuron in enduro mode with downhill casing tires and inserts.

To really get the full quiver-killer experience, I used my Neuron for everything from mellow gravel rides to downhill trails at my local bike park. However, I would change the wheels and tires to suit the different extremes, which is a tactic many riders employ to maximize their bike's versatility.

With lightweight XC tires and carbon wheels, the Neuron felt fast and efficient on cross-country trails. For gnarlier terrain, I would swap to a second set of wheels with downhill tires and CushCore Pro inserts. This added nearly 2.5 pounds to the bike but gave me a lot more grip, impact protection, and confidence on tough trails.  

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The best quiver-killer mountain bikes

I went with the Canyon Neuron, but there are a lot of options that might kill any mountain biker's quiver. Like the Neuron, these are all 29” trail bikes with 120-140mm of travel that weigh in the 27-30 pound range and have more progressive trail-focused geometry. 


Suspension travel

Head angle

Seat angle

Reach (Med)

Santa Cruz Tallboy





Specialized Stumpjumper





Trek Fuel EX





Cannondale Habit





Pivot Trail 429





Ibis Ripley





Orbea Occam





Yeti SB130





Rocky Mountain Instinct






Can you race enduro on a quiver-killer trail bike?

Canyon neuron enduro race quiver killer mountain bikeHanging on for dear life through a rock garden. Photo: Eddie Clark Media

For the enduro half of my quiver-killer experiment, I raced a Session Series event at Floyd Hill, Colorado. The event takes place on a purpose-built downhill trail with plenty of drops, jumps, rock gardens, and technical features.

At the start, I had the least amount of travel (not counting the one guy on a hardtail) and a few racers expressed concern for my safety after seeing my bike. My race run went well and I rode all the A-lines until halfway down when I went off the trail and fell into a bush. I managed to stay upright to nab a modest 17th place finish in my age group. 

I was super glad I beefed up the tires and added Cushcore inserts before the race. It gave me extra confidence to push hard in the gnarly sections without fear of punctures. A nice benefit of the steeper geometry compared to a true enduro bike was that it felt pleasantly agile in tight hairpin corners.

Ultimately, I felt the biggest limiter was the suspension. Riding at race speed, I bottomed out several times and got bucked around too much to carry a competitive amount of speed through the rock gardens. Crossing the finish, my hands ached. I survived, but I was further down the order than I wanted to be and I found myself wishing for a bigger fork and a shorter stem so I could charge harder downhill. 

Can you race XC on a quiver-killer trail bike?

Canyon Neuron XC cross country race quiver killer mountain bikeGaining time on the descents. Photo: FinisherPix

I’ve done a lot of cross-country races in my life, but never one longer than 60 miles. To really test myself and the Canyon, I decided to race Sunrise to Sunset at Elephant Rock, a 12-hour endurance race

Most racers at the event used 100mm XC bikes, but I was surprised to see several others also riding mid-travel trail bikes. I battled riders all day and actually didn’t feel like I had a huge disadvantage on climbs. On descents, I was able to push the Neuron and attack the trail much harder than many of my competitors. This is where I made up the most time on my bike. After 12 hours of racing, I managed a sixth-place finish in the solo category, riding over 100 miles and climbing over 10,000 feet. 

When I was extremely fatigued, I really appreciated the extra comfort the Neuron’s 130mm of suspension provided. I can't say I noticed the extra weight of my bike, but I was very jealous of dedicated XC bikes that could carry two bottles. In the extreme heat, I struggled to stay hydrated and ended up borrowing a hydration pack halfway through the event. 

Is a quiver-killer MTB right for you?

Canyon Neuron xc cross country race quiver killer trail bike mountain bikeThe Neuron shined as an XC racer. I'll stick to the enduro bike for enduro racing though. Photo: FinisherPix

If you want one mountain bike that can handle everything, mid-travel trail bikes with 120-140mm of travel might be the perfect solution. They’re efficient uphill and capable downhill. But should you really use one bike for both XC and enduro? Well, that’s up to you. 

I’ll probably never race enduro on the Neuron again. Riding it fast on gnarly terrain required extreme focus and I had a lot of close calls. An enduro bike increases your margin for error and makes a huge difference in your speed and confidence. Fortunately, there are plenty of versatile trail bikes with bigger forks, longer reach, and slacker head tubes. If you lean more toward the gravity side of riding, then that’s what you need. 

However, I was very pleased with how well the Neuron worked as an XC race bike. Sure it’s heavier than a true XC bike, but my opinion is that weight doesn’t really matter, and fast wheels and tires make the biggest difference. Ultimately, the engine turning the pedals is the most important component. 

In a surprise move, I decided to sell my XC hardtail and will continue racing next season on the Neuron. It’s so much more comfortable over long distances, and it descends much better. Will I sell my enduro bike too? I'm not quite sure yet. But a bike similar to the Neuron with a slightly slacker head tube and a bigger 140mm fork could be the exact thing I'm looking for. 

What do you think of quiver-killer mountain bikes? Do you ride one bike for everything? Let me know in the comments!

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