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  1. #1
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    Interesting article on Pinkbike

    The Argument For Short Travel Bikes - Opinion - Pinkbike

    Talks about the mass use of DH bikes by less than expert riders. I have to say I agree with this, as I am seeing more and more big bikes on my local downhills.

  2. #2
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    the essence of the article seems to me to be more "why pedal a 40 pound unwieldy behemoth when the trails don't call for it" than "hey fred, you don't deserve that dh bike".

    I would agree with the first premise.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by bing! View Post
    the essence of the article seems to me to be more "why pedal a 40 pound unwieldy behemoth when the trails don't call for it" than "hey fred, you don't deserve that dh bike".

    I would agree with the first premise.
    Yea, but I see it as both. They just opened up 3 DH trails near me, and anyone that rides legit DH would look at these as if they were XC courses. Yet, everyday, someone new shows up with a new DH bike. I'm all for getting more people into the sport, but it's a shame they don't get a more appropriate bike and learn to control and pick lines, rather than roll over everything and struggle to get enough speed to even gap a 5 ft table top.

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    its funny because I think about this all the time, I saw somebody with a bullit and a world cup boxxer going up phils trail with knee pads and a full face on.... why would you need that bike anywhere on phils? or why would you want to ride it anywhere on phils. seems like the mass amount of people want to follow this huge free ride area of the sport, yet.... there is not that much "free ride" in most areas.

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    It's the weirdest phenomenon. We get kids coming in to the shop with their parents wanting to buy DH bikes. They walk out stunned by the fact they they are physically too small to fit the bikes, their parents walk out shocked by the price of a DH bike.

    It's like 10 year old sonny watches Rampage with daddy and they decide a DH bike would be a good idea.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saddle Up View Post
    It's the weirdest phenomenon. We get kids coming in to the shop with their parents wanting to buy DH bikes. They walk out stunned by the fact they they are physically too small to fit the bikes, their parents walk out shocked by the price of a DH bike.

    It's like 10 year old sonny watches Rampage with daddy and they decide a DH bike would be a good idea.
    Haha. Don't get me wrong here, if I wasn't employed or could do my job in a hospital bed, and had the skill level that DH racers and freeriders have, then I would be into it. I'm not talking about going off trail and calling it freeriding either, I mean going out to Utah and riding that craziness.

    Atleast it's appealing to more and more people, getting them into biking, maybe making them realize ' oh, riding down the face of a mountain at 45MPH isn't as easy as it looks on TV', and then buying a more realistic bike and paying less hospital bills.

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    Define "short travel" bikes for me in relation to this article. The way I read it, they're talking about full on free-ride and DH bikes for general trail riding. I don't see any of those around here but, a Nomad was considered free ride material a few years ago.
    I think the hyper-marketing trend of the "All Mountain" category has been fueling the mind set in which this article seems to be pointing out. Go bigger and bigger.

    I have a 5" and a 6" bike and ride them on the same trails.Just because I CAN ride those trails on my 5" bike, does this mean that I shouldn't ride my 6" bike? Or even own one? I tend to have more fun on the bigger bike which is why I grab for it every other ride.

    If I look at the antithesis, so many riders around here are running 29ers, a good mix of HT and FS but also a good number of SS 29r. Does this mean that they should be riding 26ers because they're more challenging and require more skill? Granted a 29r SS rigid takes skill to ride regardless of the big hoops.

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    also the progression of skill in that article has a valid point... learning to ride, take lines and etc... then moving up. instead of having a 8 inch travel bike as your first bike, thinking you can just bomb over everything in sight and it will be ok...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mnigro View Post
    Define "short travel" bikes for me in relation to this article. The way I read it, they're talking about full on free-ride and DH bikes for general trail riding. I don't see any of those around here but, a Nomad was considered free ride material a few years ago.
    I think the hyper-marketing trend of the "All Mountain" category has been fueling the mind set in which this article seems to be pointing out. Go bigger and bigger.

    I have a 5" and a 6" bike and ride them on the same trails.Just because I CAN ride those trails on my 5" bike, does this mean that I shouldn't ride my 6" bike? Or even own one? I tend to have more fun on the bigger bike which is why I grab for it every other ride.

    If I look at the antithesis, so many riders around here are running 29ers, a good mix of HT and FS but also a good number of SS 29r. Does this mean that they should be riding 26ers because they're more challenging and require more skill? Granted a 29r SS rigid takes skill to ride regardless of the big hoops.
    What the author is trying to get across (IMO), is that these 5" and 6" bikes are the better tool for 98% of the people riding the trails they take they 8" DH/FR bikes on. The DH/FR bikes are only utilized their fullest extent by the gnarliest trails and the best riders.

    I get that everyone is different, and everyone wants to ride a different bike, and that if we can afford the biggest bike, go for it. But, entry level riders riding $6000 DH bikes on mediocre trails really don't push the limits of themselves, or the bike.

  10. #10
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    There is a lot more to it than travel if you ask me.

    I ride 2 very different MTBs, one XC/Trailish steel hardtail and one 6in coil dual suspension. Basically I ride the same trails on both bikes but some sections of my network are reserved for the 6in bike. I'm talking about skinnies, big jumps & drops essentially. One reason why I don't ride these sections on the hardtail is because it's handling is too nervous/twitchy because of the longer stem and narrower handle bars. Even if I was on a 150mm fork, it would still be limited by the cockpit parts choice. The same goes for geometry, a 100mm bike with a 68 degree HA rides very different than an 100mm travel bike with 71 degree head angle. It's not only about the travel...

    So even though I somewhat agree with the article (in the sense that many newcomers use bikes not suited to the trails) I think that as long as people are having fun it really doesn't matter at all. If those same newcomers spit on shorter travel then they are missing something and to me this is the essence of the article : there is fun to be had with different bike setups. People on my local trails find me funny when I use my XC hardtail but they also find me funny when I use my big bike... go figure!

    As a side note, MTBer spitting on roadies are also missing something, to the same degree as DHers spitting on XCers. There is fun to be had in clearing a 3000ft climb or riding downhills at 70 km/h or riding for 5 hours straight on peaceful roads. In the end, why limit ourselves to one style or segment of cycling as if it was the "be all end all"? To each his own...
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by PissedOffCil View Post
    There is a lot more to it than travel if you ask me.

    I ride 2 very different MTBs, one XC/Trailish steel hardtail and one 6in coil dual suspension. Basically I ride the same trails on both bikes but some sections of my network are reserved for the 6in bike. I'm talking about skinnies, big jumps & drops essentially. One reason why I don't ride these sections on the hardtail is because it's handling is too nervous/twitchy because of the longer stem and narrower handle bars. Even if I was on a 150mm fork, it would still be limited by the cockpit parts choice. The same goes for geometry, a 100mm bike with a 68 degree HA rides very different than an 100mm travel bike with 71 degree head angle. It's not only about the travel...

    So even though I somewhat agree with the article (in the sense that many newcomers use bikes not suited to the trails) I think that as long as people are having fun it really doesn't matter at all. If those same newcomers spit on shorter travel then they are missing something and to me this is the essence of the article : there is fun to be had with different bike setups. People on my local trails find me funny when I use my XC hardtail but they also find me funny when I use my big bike... go figure!

    As a side note, MTBer spitting on roadies are also missing something, to the same degree as DHers spitting on XCers. There is fun to be had in clearing a 3000ft climb or riding downhills at 70 km/h or riding for 5 hours straight on peaceful roads. In the end, why limit ourselves to one style or segment of cycling as if it was the "be all end all"? To each his own...
    I agree with your view about there is fun to be had in all aspects of biking, but the article is just talking about the right tool, for the right job. Yes, you can take a XC bike down a downhill, but its probably not going to be as efficient as a AM or DH oriented bike. Again, its not talking about riding a AM vs a XC bike. Its talking about individuals riding DH bikes in areas where AM bikes would prevail, given the right skill set.

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    Ride what feels good, who cares what anyone thinks. At least you are out exercising and not sitting on a couch watching tv and eating chips.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by tangaroo View Post
    I agree with your view about there is fun to be had in all aspects of biking, but the article is just talking about the right tool, for the right job. Yes, you can take a XC bike down a downhill, but its probably not going to be as efficient as a AM or DH oriented bike. Again, its not talking about riding a AM vs a XC bike. Its talking about individuals riding DH bikes in areas where AM bikes would prevail, given the right skill set.
    One man's "right tool" is another's "wrong tool"... My point is that is no perfect tool for everybody. Ever seen Martyn Ashton's trials videos where he rides a road bike? To me it's all about the fun you end up having. I have fun on the same trail on both my bikes but it's a different fun on different sections, so which bike is the "right tool" then?
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    Quote Originally Posted by PissedOffCil View Post
    One man's "right tool" is another's "wrong tool"... My point is that is no perfect tool for everybody. Ever seen Martyn Ashton's trials videos where he rides a road bike? To me it's all about the fun you end up having. I have fun on the same trail on both my bikes but it's a different fun on different sections, so which bike is the "right tool" then?
    I did see that video, the guy has insane skill. He could probably take a road bike on a DH course and beat most of us. But, he is within the 1% of skilled riders who utilize bikes to their limits.

    This isn't a rant against people on bikes (as you may see it). Its a discussion about DH bikes on courses that don't require them. I don't care what you ride, or what the next guy rides. I have just noticed a lot of big bikes around the local trails, trails for which I can't imagine pedalling those tanks around. Then I saw this article and realized it's not just the area. Just thought I'd share man, don't take offense.

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    2 cents

    My take on the article is very close to my thought process. When I got into mountain biking, i started on a Steel hardtail which i quickly converted into a singlespeed . I rode that thing everywhere!! After a year or so of complete misery/happiness on the SS, i jumped up to a 6" travel bike. I could not believe how the trails changed for me and how my riding improved, literally over night. Its not because the bike made me a better ride, its because the bigger bike let me take the skills I had learned on a SS hardtail to the next level.

    There are things you learn on a SS hardtail that you cant really learn on other bikes. For that reason, I still have the SS, but I have since made it fully rigid, which required even more finesse that having a little squish on the front. If I find myself getting a little too sloppy with my dual suspension rig, I hop back on the SS and bring me back to my roots. It help me remember what role my body plays in soaking up the trail, vs relying on my shocks to do it for me.

    I am not saying that if you start on a big bike you cant be a good rider, I just think you are missing some of the fundamentals that could make you even better
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by tangaroo View Post
    I did see that video, the guy has insane skill. He could probably take a road bike on a DH course and beat most of us. But, he is within the 1% of skilled riders who utilize bikes to their limits.

    This isn't a rant against people on bikes (as you may see it). Its a discussion about DH bikes on courses that don't require them. I don't care what you ride, or what the next guy rides. I have just noticed a lot of big bikes around the local trails, trails for which I can't imagine pedalling those tanks around. Then I saw this article and realized it's not just the area. Just thought I'd share man, don't take offense.
    Hopefully I'm not souding offended, I'm just adding to the conversation.

    The article seperates bikes in two categories: short and long travel. This is insane first of all as there is more to it that the amount of travel your bike has.
    Moreover, not everybody's tastes are identical and one might feel comfortable riding a trail on a 4in hardtail while it is inconceivable for another guy without his 6in mean machine. This might be because of skills or because of personal preference and really there is no right answer.
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    To be honest, I doubt I could tell the difference between at 5" and a 6.5" bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PissedOffCil View Post
    Hopefully I'm not souding offended, I'm just adding to the conversation.

    The article seperates bikes in two categories: short and long travel. This is insane first of all as there is more to it that the amount of travel your bike has.
    Moreover, not everybody's tastes are identical and one might feel comfortable riding a trail on a 4in hardtail while it is inconceivable for another guy without his 6in mean machine. This might be because of skills or because of personal preference and really there is no right answer.
    The article also mention slack head angles, and how unless you are really hammering down the corners they make handling the bike a nightmare. The article basically divides into big dual crown bikes and not. If you want to split hairs go ahead, but he refers to short travel as anything that isn't a downhill bike...

    And comfortableness is a side effect from learning on a specific bike. A shorter travel, or hardtail, will take much more skill to handle the rough than a DH bike. However, a DH bike in the hands of someone extremely skilled can be ridden in a way shorter travel bikes cannot.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by arkon11 View Post
    To be honest, I doubt I could tell the difference between at 5" and a 6.5" bike.
    I think the stiffness and overall "beefier-ness" of the 6.5" would show when you start to
    push the bike into harder terrain. Cruising the fire road? Not so much?

    I currently have a 5" FS bike and I am pretty glad I didn't talk myself into buying a bigger
    bike. The trails here (Phil's) don't seem to call for it. It's a great match for now.
    (I do wear knee pads though - I'm old and clumsy)
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    Back in the days 6 inches was downhill. V-brakes use to rule

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    i rode my full rigid on a pretty rocky trail in my local mountains. my joints hurt for 3 days and my kidneys hurt that whole afternoon.

    went back with my 6 inch bike a week later, wondered if it was the same trail. not dh, but i sure do like my 6 inch fs.

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    I started on XC hardtails in '94, then went to a dh bike for the local racing circuit, then quit racing and was riding an AM hardtail since '01 as my only bike. I just got a deal on a new '09 Norco Shore frame this summer to put my '09 Sasquatch parts on. Now I have a 6"-7" 40 pound AM bike which I do enjoy a lot more than my HT. Sure, would I had the same pice on a 5-6" bike like a Six or a Range, that would have been my first choice, but I didn't have the money to spend.

    And then, mid-summer, I took my old front-suspended steel Brodie on a 40 min technical loop that I did often. Every time, I was 1-2 mins faster overall on the 40 pound Shore than on the 27 pound HT.

    It all comes own to fun, and I do have a lot more fun on my new FS bike. In fact, I have ridden more this summer than avery other summer because I was totally enjoying the trails more and more with the added "comfort".

  23. #23
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    Anybody check out that video? That's some excellent riding.
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    While my Fox 40 was in the shop, I took my AM bike out on some of my favorite DH trails. The head angle was more of an issue than the travel. Really steep stuff is just scary on a bike that's not designed for it.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by guitarjohn21 View Post
    While my Fox 40 was in the shop, I took my AM bike out on some of my favorite DH trails. The head angle was more of an issue than the travel. Really steep stuff is just scary on a bike that's not designed for it.
    Agreed, travel is not the end all be all in this discussion. I have found that the super slack geo of a DH bike plays a bigger roll then just suspension travel. Could you imagine what a 8" bike with a 71 degree Head angle and 16.8 chainstays and a 16" bottom bracket would feel like..........

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