Coming straight from their factory in the Thuringian Forest, small German brand Crossworx present their latest trail bike with an added portion of pedalling efficiency. Offering 140/130 mm travel (f/r), and rolling on 29″ wheels, it should be capable of taking on any moderate trail. The build can be configured to suit your preferences, with prices for the 2023 Crossworx LITE 290 starting at € 5,640.
Shortly after presenting the Crossworx DASH 290 in July this year, the small bike brand follow it up with the LITE 290. As the third option in their portfolio, it’s meant to fill the gap between their trail hardtail and their heavy-hitting enduro bike. To that end, it comes with a 140 mm fork (with the option of a 150 mm model in the configurator), paired with 130 mm travel at the rear. Though it’s difficult to distinguish from the DASH 290, it features different geometry and a new rocker link, which is said to provide a more progressive leverage curve. This should provide the ideal compromise between climbing efficiency and downhill performance, perfect for local trails that aren’t that demanding.
The 2023 Crossworx LITE 290 in Detail
If you look closely, you’ll see that there’s more of a difference between the DASH 290 and the LITE 290 than the geometry and shock length. The linkage driven single pivot design of the rear end allows for two bottle cages or one bottle cage and a tool mount in the front triangle. The bosses are located on the downtube and under the top tube.
The cables are routed internally, except for the area around the rear linkage. There’s a small stainless-steel plate to protect the rocker link from getting scratched by the cables, which looks nice, though it simply fights the symptoms rather than cure the cause. At the rear, the cables are routed through a channel in the frame. That keeps them nicely protected and quiet. The chainstay protector is made of a soft rubber and held in place with the help of two cable ties. There’s an additional rubber patch stuck to the seat stay, making sure the bike stays quiet on the trails.
Crossworx Cycles – Handmade in Germany
The frames get welded, and the bikes built in Rudolstadt in the Thuringian Forest, and they get painted in a neighbouring village. The machined section around the bottom bracket also gets made just a stone’s throw away – 100% made in Germany. Moreover, you can configure the build to suit your preferences easily thanks to the configurator on the Crossworx website. For a more in-depth look behind the scenes at Crossworx, check out our review of the big brother, the DASH 290.
The Crossworx configurator for complete builds and kits
At Crossworx, customisation is easy and affordable. Of the components available, there aren’t many that cost extra, and if they do, it’s not much. So, you can often choose from a selection of components without paying a single cent more for any of the alternatives. Any of six different colours? SRAM or Shimano drivetrain? Acros or Renthal stem and bar in different lengths and widths? Or your favourite grips from Ergon, Renthal, or BikeYoke? It’s on the house! Well… whatever you choose is all included in the basic price, at least. There’s a wide range of options to choose from and the online Crossworx configurator is easy to read.
The components of our 2023 Crossworx LITE 290 testbike
Weighing in at 14.46 kg in size L, the 2023 Crossworx LITE 290 on test came sensibly specced despite having just three upgrades that came with an additional charge: the fork, tires, and dropper post. At just € 75 – the added cost of the upgrades is hardly worth mentioning. For the upgrades, we got the FOX 34 Factory fork with the GRIP2 damper, providing maximum adjustability up front, and MAXXIS DISSECTOR tires featuring the MaxxTerra compound and EXO casing at the front and rear instead of the standard ONZA IBEX tires. We also opted for the 185 mm BikeYoke Divine dropper post rather than sticking with the 160 mm model.
Once you’ve worn down the tires, you might want to go for the softer MaxxGrip compound on the front tire and the more robust Doubledown casing at the rear.
Instead of the standard FOX FLOAT DPS Factory shock on our test bike, which only allows you to set the rebound and choose one of three compression settings, we would recommend upgrading to the FOX FLOAT X Factory shock – easily distinguishable thanks to the reservoir. The reservoir keeps the performance more consistent since the oil in the shock doesn’t heat up as quickly, and the shock gives you better adjustability. At € 200, however, it’s quite a large investment.
For another € 200, you can get the burlier FOX 36 Factory fork with the GRIP2 damper up front, not just increasing stiffness but also providing 10 mm more travel – perfect for all those whose focus is on the downhill performance.
The carbon Renthal FatBar handlebar is the only component you won’t find in the configurator. Paired with 180 mm rotors front and rear, the MAGURA MT5 brakes provide sufficient stopping power for moderate trails and light riders. Heavier riders that ride on steeper and more mountainous terrain should upgrade to a 200 mm rotor on the front, at least. As you’d expect, the complete Shimano XT drivetrain provides crisp and precise shifting, and thanks to the various multi shift functions, you can quickly get into the right gear. The tires are fitted to a pair of robust aluminium NEWMEN EVOLUTION SL A.30 29″ wheels. These also get built in Germany and add to the bike’s German made character
Fork FOX 34 Factory GRIP2 140 mm
Rear Shock FOX Float DPS Factory 130 mm
Seatpost BikeYoke Divine 185 mm
Brakes Magura MT5 180/180 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT 1x12
Stem Renthal Apex 40 mm
Handlebar Renthal FatBar Carbon 800 mm
Wheelset Newmen Evolution SL A.30 29"
Tires MAXXIS Dissector MaxxTerra EXO/Dissector MaxxTerra EXO 2.4"
Size M L XL
The geometry of the 2023 Crossworx LITE 290
The 2023 Crossworx LITE 290 is classified purely as a trail bike. As such, the 66° head angle is one degree steeper than that of its enduro brother, the DASH 290, whereas the seat tube angle is one degree slacker. Paired with the relatively steep seat tube angle, the 475 mm reach of the size L frame put our 180 cm tall test rider in a rather upright riding position. Thanks to the short 430 mm seat tube length, you should have unrestricted freedom of movement. The bike is available in 3 sizes from M–XL, catering to riders from about 165 to 198 cm tall.
The geometry of the 2023 Crossworx LITE 290
|Seat tube||400 mm||430 mm||460 mm|
|Tob tube||556 mm||588 mm||620 mm|
|Head tube||110 mm||120 mm||130 mm|
|Chainstay||447 mm||447 mm||447 mm|
|BB Drop||40 mm||40 mm||40 mm|
|Wheelbase||1206 mm||1240 mm||1275 mm|
|Reach||445 mm||475 mm||505 mm|
|Stack||625 mm||634 mm||643 mm|
The 2023 Crossworx LITE 209 on trail – How much is enough?
When you swing your leg over the eye-catching Crossworx LITE 290 in Yawning Yellow for the first time, you’ll immediately feel ready to tackle some climbs. With the 185 mm dropper post extended, the rather steep seat tube angle puts you in an upright riding position, placing sufficient weight on the front wheel. While this isn’t too comfortable on level terrain, it makes for efficient climbing. This is where the trail bike excels thanks to the fast-rolling tires, minimal bob from the rear suspension, and relatively low weight for an aluminium bike.
Once you’ve reached the summit and make your way back down well-earned descent, the LITE 290 proves to be fast and playful. The bike puts you in a central riding position and the long dropper post provides ample freedom of movement once dropped. This allows you to throw the Crossworx around beneath you, chucking it from one corner to the next. Considering the amount of the travel or lack thereof, the bike feels predictable and composed. It wants to and can be ridden fast. If you push it too hard, it’s the tires that reach their limits first in muddy conditions and on loose terrain. It offers a plush ride without feeling vague, which was a point of critique on the DASH 290. The LITE 290 seems to have found the progression sweet spot on the rear end, making it a fun bike to pump through rollers on flow trials. It certainly can’t generate as much traction when things get rough, and you’ve got to be a little more careful with your line choice – it’s up to you to decide whether that will do on your favourite trails.
Easy local trails and quick post-work jaunts are precisely what Crossworx envisioned for the new LITE 290. This is where it feels at home, motivating you to pump it through dips and berms, catching air off small jumps, and hitting fast switchbacks. For very rough, alpine terrain or bike park shredding, you’ll be better off with the bigger hitting DASH 290.
Our conclusion on the new 2023 Crossworx LITE 290
With the 2023 LITE 290, Crossworx can now fill the gap in their portfolio, providing the perfect tool for those who want a bike that’s fun on the less demanding kind of trails you’ll find in your local woods. This trail bike makes easy work of the climbs, and it invites you to get playful on the descents, turning every feature into a jump or obstacle. The LITE 290 also scores for its solid, freely configurable spec, it’s made in Germany, and reasonably priced.
- good performance both up- and downhill
- sensible configuration options
- handmade in Germany
- cable routing under the shock
For more information, visit Crossworx Cycles.
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Words: Julian Schwede Photos: Peter Walker