1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Lots of questions from a Newb

    Hello!

    I haven't ridden a bicycle in 15ish years and have lots of questions...

    I've Google'd many; but can't find answers that are very sound, so I thought I'd try a forum to get some advice

    Basic info on me:
    Age:25
    Height: 186cm
    Weight: 75kg
    Gender: Male
    Location: Melbourne, Australia.
    Plan to ride: The main snowboard destinations in Australia and New Zealand.


    Firstly, I want to build a downhill bike. I will only be doing mountain/downhill. This is a necessity, I love building things - its half the fun!

    I've been considering a budget for the build and after browsing many, many models, I've come to the conclusion I don't know enough to put a price on it.

    I think $1k is about my upper limit for the frame(non-carbon).

    I like the Fox logo, so I'm going with Fox suspension unless someone tells me its worse than a legless dog... Prices online seem to float between $400 and $900 which I'm happy with anything between those. I'd expect to spend approximately $1-1.5k on all other equipment unless I've missed a big component?

    1. Disc brakes and Drum brakes. When I was younger I used to love drums because I could lock the wheels completely - can you do this with discs? Is there noticeable fade on disc brakes? Are there high quality pads (if yes to previous) that can prevent brake fade?

    2. Can I blast the bike with a pressure washer? Or are there sensitive components that I need to look out for, possibly remove, before I wash it? Bike's have changed immensely since I rode and, one side of me says if I can thrash a bike in mud, dirt, rain, creeks and stone it should be able to handle some pressure washing, the other side of me says there's more to it, lol.

    3. Bike size. How does it affect riding? Is it purely to fit your body size, or is it based on riding style/preference?

    4. Are there any brands I should avoid? Are there any brands I should consider more-so than others?

    5. Helmet. Whats some good brands? I'm thinking I'll go a full helmet too.

  2. #2
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    1. Hydraulic disc brakes are the only brake anyone will use for DH, better than anything else for a lot of reasons, yes you can lock up the wheel and metallic pads are the way to go

    2. You shouldn't wash the bike with a ton of pressure because you can spray water into sensitive areas and wash out the grease in pivots and hubs, light pressure and dry off with brushes and rags

    3. At 186cm you'll be looking at size large frames from every brand, personal preference comes into it a bit, especially if you're stuck between two sizes like me at 179cm I can ride mediums and larges so have trouble deciding haha

    4. Not really, with such a low budget you can't afford to be picky, I don't know much about what brands are popular in Australia

    5. I have had bell, Fox, kali helmets and they were all good. Troy lee designs makes the most flashy expensive full faces if you want to be cool.

  3. #3
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    Thanks a lot for the advice!

    You think the budget is tight? I don't mind spending more if its worth-while; I guess because I don't fully understand what I'm looking at yet I might not have it dialed in.

    Some of the frames go upwards of $2k - are they worth it?

  4. #4
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    I've found buying used complete bikes is he best bang for your buck. You can always upgrade parts as you see fit, but find a complete build on a frame you like and you'll be up and running a LOT quicker and cheaper. Then replace as you break stuff, cuz you will.
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  5. #5
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    my question is that you haven't ridden a bike since you were approx 10 yrs old. Why are you starting off with downhill biking? to me, unless you ride the brakes the whole way, it seems like you are going to go out and hurt yourself.

  6. #6
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    It is a good question MrMatt brings up, but this aside as only you can answer motivation wise... My advice would be ask this question in the Downhill forum as you will get better more specific advice from serious gravity riders.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by blaze182 View Post
    Thanks a lot for the advice!

    You think the budget is tight? I don't mind spending more if its worth-while; I guess because I don't fully understand what I'm looking at yet I might not have it dialed in.

    Some of the frames go upwards of $2k - are they worth it?
    IMO, it's not worth it to spend that much as a beginner on a frame, no way. You have no idea what you're really looking for in a bike with any degree of specificity. You could easily be throwing away a lot of dough on something that you'd find doesn't work for you.

    Also, as far as building up a bike, even a regular trail bike, you can run into a fair amount of compatibility issues/headaches as a beginner. This even more of a common issue when it comes to DH bikes. The actual assembly isn't rocket science, but collecting a pile of parts that are going to play well with each other is going to leave you spending a ton more money and wasting a shitload of time dicking around on internet trying to figure out what works with what instead of riding. In the end, your results are likely to be not so great when compared to buying a complete bike.

    Lucky for you, while mountain bikes in general depreciate really quickly, DH bikes depreciate fastest of all. I've been able to pick up a number of high end complete DH bikes (Kona, Intense, Turner) at about 2 or 3 years old for about 1/3 of their original MSRPs. Another great place to get a killer deal on a entry level rig is picking up one of the rental rigs when the local parks sell them off every couple seasons, specially since it seems you're not afraid to do some work on them. I've gotten some friends incredible deals on these in the past - like maybe 20% of MSRP.

    I'd go the cheap, complete route to start off with, learn a bit more of what you'll end up wanting, or if you're even going to stick with that aspect of the sport, then do a nice build after a couple seasons. You're going to absolutely kill your first bike anyway in the learning process. It hurts less when you didn't spend a ton of $$ on it.
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  8. #8
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    For a downhill bike, yeah, your budget it tight. Because you don't know what you're doing, I wouldn't build from the frame up to start. I am building a trail bike right now, and even with HEAVY employee discounts, am spending north of $3,000. Many downhill parts (especially suspension) cost much more. As mentioned, pick up a used one to start with, and change individual components as you learn how things work together.

    If this is the only kind of riding you are considering, you WILL break the bike (and yourself) as you learn. Your budget will be tested.

  9. #9
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    Is the Trek Brand any good? I've noticed a lot of local shops stock heaps of this brand..

    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    I've found buying used complete bikes is he best bang for your buck. You can always upgrade parts as you see fit, but find a complete build on a frame you like and you'll be up and running a LOT quicker and cheaper. Then replace as you break stuff, cuz you will.
    You may just be right on the money there; I had a quick browse and found a bike (actually i found 2!) I really liked off-the shelf at half price (Commencal Supreme and Nukeproof Mega!)

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmattjohnson View Post
    my question is that you haven't ridden a bike since you were approx 10 yrs old. Why are you starting off with downhill biking? to me, unless you ride the brakes the whole way, it seems like you are going to go out and hurt yourself.
    I really feel like you're taking a stab at me and assuming I'll be a wobbling nancy, stuck wavering on the bike in the wind...

    You'll hurt yourself regardless of your experience level, and regardless of the type of cycling that you begin in. I'm not out to hurt myself, but I do expect and accept that I'll probably be taking some hits - thus, I require a helmet!

    To answer your question directly; I like the concept of DH biking. The other forms don't entertain me.

    Cycling isn't challenging in a conventional sense, yes, if you're trying to be competitive but in general its not difficult. I might look at being competitive if I really do enjoy the DH scene, but for now its just something I can do on the weekends in summer

    As some sort of reference, I am an experienced rider, I track both a track-spec Desmo and a Panigale Superleggera. I don't take it to the bleeding edge for many reasons, the most obvious being the potential consequences. Of course they're different, but I don't see an issue with my ability in the DH scene for what I want to do.

    I understand and appreciate your concern regarding safety, and there's a good chance you're right, I'll probably go down the mountain on the brakes the first time, the second time too. But it won't take long to get going; the only way to learn is to start

    Quote Originally Posted by Phinias View Post
    It is a good question MrMatt brings up, but this aside as only you can answer motivation wise... My advice would be ask this question in the Downhill forum as you will get better more specific advice from serious gravity riders.
    Cheers!

    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    IMO, it's not worth it to spend that much as a beginner on a frame, no way. You have no idea what you're really looking for in a bike with any degree of specificity. You could easily be throwing away a lot of dough on something that you'd find doesn't work for you.

    Also, as far as building up a bike, even a regular trail bike, you can run into a fair amount of compatibility issues/headaches as a beginner. This even more of a common issue when it comes to DH bikes. The actual assembly isn't rocket science, but collecting a pile of parts that are going to play well with each other is going to leave you spending a ton more money and wasting a shitload of time dicking around on internet trying to figure out what works with what instead of riding. In the end, your results are likely to be not so great when compared to buying a complete bike.

    Lucky for you, while mountain bikes in general depreciate really quickly, DH bikes depreciate fastest of all. I've been able to pick up a number of high end complete DH bikes (Kona, Intense, Turner) at about 2 or 3 years old for about 1/3 of their original MSRPs. Another great place to get a killer deal on a entry level rig is picking up one of the rental rigs when the local parks sell them off every couple seasons, specially since it seems you're not afraid to do some work on them. I've gotten some friends incredible deals on these in the past - like maybe 20% of MSRP.

    I'd go the cheap, complete route to start off with, learn a bit more of what you'll end up wanting, or if you're even going to stick with that aspect of the sport, then do a nice build after a couple seasons. You're going to absolutely kill your first bike anyway in the learning process. It hurts less when you didn't spend a ton of $$ on it.
    Yeah, after Slapheadmofo's comment earlier I've had a look around, you're both on the money. I've found some great stuff that either is barely used or brand new at more than half price.

    I haven't heard of Kona or Turner, will check them out!

    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    For a downhill bike, yeah, your budget it tight. Because you don't know what you're doing, I wouldn't build from the frame up to start. I am building a trail bike right now, and even with HEAVY employee discounts, am spending north of $3,000. Many downhill parts (especially suspension) cost much more. As mentioned, pick up a used one to start with, and change individual components as you learn how things work together.

    If this is the only kind of riding you are considering, you WILL break the bike (and yourself) as you learn. Your budget will be tested.
    Nice thinking, I'll have a look at whats available; all the brands I've looked at seem to offer similar cycles at similar prices, so I guess I'll just go around to the shops and test them; for reference (encase I'm buying into hype), this is who I'm looking at: Giant, GT Bicycles, Commencal, Nukeproof, Specialized, Ghost, Santa Cruz, Devinici.

  10. #10
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    When you get into a downhill bike, your fork options are pretty narrow. You're looking at a travel between 180mm to 203mm of travel. I see deals on Fox forks all the time for $400-$600 but those are usually in the 100mm to 120mm range. Maybe even a 140 from time to time. It really depends on the frame you get, but say you need a 180mm Fox Float, they're usually around $800 on the low end and could get up to $1000 for a brand new RC2. That price goes up with a 40mm stanchioned 203mm travel fork. With decent components along with a nice sturdy set of wheels (+tires), you'll easily go over the $2K mark and it won't even be close.

    I would look for a used one as well, but you can also check out the Airborne Toxin which has gotten pretty good reviews for a bike in that price range.

    Airborne Bicycles. Toxin

  11. #11
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    It's been a number of years since I rode DH regularly, though I did manage a few hundred lift days in the early '00s, back when things tended more towards surviving fall-line gnar than leaving the ground on a regular basis for long stretches. Never great at it, but really really enjoyed it. There really aren't many things that are more fun than just bombing downhill on bikes with your buddies all day. Seriously.

    I'm not going to pretend to be able to specify any particular bike, brand or components to you. I only mentioned the particular brands as reference to good deals - both the Turner and Intense bikes I have are hand built and were well regarded performance-wise, and the frames alone retailed for somewhere around 2500 USD; I picked up the complete bikes that would cost in the neighborhood of 5-6K new for well under 2K with very low usage. Go pre-owned for sure - so many people buy sweet-ass rigs and barely use them.

    Do you know people that ride the stuff you're looking to get into? They're obviously gonna be your best source - there's no beating local knowledge. Other than that, yeah, scour the used market, do a little research, go to a local mountain and rent a bike for a day. I'm not sure what level of DH operations you have within striking range, but at one of our popular mtns, they offer introductory packages that include a bike, gear, a primer lesson and a couple guided runs. Spending a day on the mountain riding and observing and talking to people will really teach you a lot, regardless if you ride the brakes all day or nor (hell, that's what DHing is as far as I've ever been able to figure out).
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shakester View Post
    When you get into a downhill bike, your fork options are pretty narrow. You're looking at a travel between 180mm to 203mm of travel. I see deals on Fox forks all the time for $400-$600 but those are usually in the 100mm to 120mm range. Maybe even a 140 from time to time. It really depends on the frame you get, but say you need a 180mm Fox Float, they're usually around $800 on the low end and could get up to $1000 for a brand new RC2. That price goes up with a 40mm stanchioned 203mm travel fork. With decent components along with a nice sturdy set of wheels (+tires), you'll easily go over the $2K mark and it won't even be close.

    I would look for a used one as well, but you can also check out the Airborne Toxin which has gotten pretty good reviews for a bike in that price range.

    Airborne Bicycles. Toxin
    Cheers for the link! Looks a great bang-for-buck ride! Will definitely keep it for consideration as a budget option!

    I've racked up a rough build for everything (inc. wheels & tyres) at 1.8K, not including front fork or frame though. That said, I'll keep looking. Visited a couple shops today and got some insight, although neither dealt at all in DH bikes sadly.

    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    It's been a number of years since I rode DH regularly, though I did manage a few hundred lift days in the early '00s, back when things tended more towards surviving fall-line gnar than leaving the ground on a regular basis for long stretches. Never great at it, but really really enjoyed it. There really aren't many things that are more fun than just bombing downhill on bikes with your buddies all day. Seriously.

    I'm not going to pretend to be able to specify any particular bike, brand or components to you. I only mentioned the particular brands as reference to good deals - both the Turner and Intense bikes I have are hand built and were well regarded performance-wise, and the frames alone retailed for somewhere around 2500 USD; I picked up the complete bikes that would cost in the neighborhood of 5-6K new for well under 2K with very low usage. Go pre-owned for sure - so many people buy sweet-ass rigs and barely use them.

    Do you know people that ride the stuff you're looking to get into? They're obviously gonna be your best source - there's no beating local knowledge. Other than that, yeah, scour the used market, do a little research, go to a local mountain and rent a bike for a day. I'm not sure what level of DH operations you have within striking range, but at one of our popular mtns, they offer introductory packages that include a bike, gear, a primer lesson and a couple guided runs. Spending a day on the mountain riding and observing and talking to people will really teach you a lot, regardless if you ride the brakes all day or nor (hell, that's what DHing is as far as I've ever been able to figure out).
    That's exactly it! I enjoy bombing on a snowboard all day, I thought a bike has to be as good!

    Do you have any recommendations in terms of places to look for good deals or used/demo/seconds? I only know of Ebay right now.

    I have a few friends who cycle but they're all road, one is looking at jumping in on DH with me though, but not much help for the advice haha.

    Yeah in terms of mountains and tracks, there's quite a few, most offer rentals in the region of $100/4hrs + lift tickets. Might be worth heading up for a day at least and experimenting with what they have, from what I've heard they're not actually bad bikes.

  13. #13
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    Not sure if my shopping recommendations would do you much good - got a good few miles between us.

    Definitely a good idea to give it a shot w/ a rental before diving in.
    That $100 could save you thousands in the end.

    d
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by blaze182 View Post
    I really feel like you're taking a stab at me and assuming I'll be a wobbling nancy, stuck wavering on the bike in the wind...

    You'll hurt yourself regardless of your experience level, and regardless of the type of cycling that you begin in. I'm not out to hurt myself, but I do expect and accept that I'll probably be taking some hits - thus, I require a helmet!

    To answer your question directly; I like the concept of DH biking. The other forms don't entertain me.

    Cycling isn't challenging in a conventional sense, yes, if you're trying to be competitive but in general its not difficult. I might look at being competitive if I really do enjoy the DH scene, but for now its just something I can do on the weekends in summer

    As some sort of reference, I am an experienced rider, I track both a track-spec Desmo and a Panigale Superleggera. I don't take it to the bleeding edge for many reasons, the most obvious being the potential consequences. Of course they're different, but I don't see an issue with my ability in the DH scene for what I want to do.

    I understand and appreciate your concern regarding safety, and there's a good chance you're right, I'll probably go down the mountain on the brakes the first time, the second time too. But it won't take long to get going; the only way to learn is to start
    absolutely no stab, its just when you said you haven't ridden a bike since you were 10 yrs old there was some concern. I would recommend getting a cheap trail bike and hit up local trails to get used to the basics of cornering, maneuvering around objects, bunny hopping and taking hits, etc. Obviously if you are set on a DH bike, by all means go for it.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrmattjohnson View Post
    ...absolutely no stab, its just when you said you haven't ridden a bike since you were 10 yrs old there was some concern....
    You know there is something to his initial word of caution, it would be like saying I used to ride scooter as kid so I think I am going to jump on a ZX-14 and head to Laguna Seca for some fun. You are going to have a pretty steep learning curve. I think his caution sounds harsher then he meant but is well thought out. By all means go rent and get a feeling for this, but as a newer rider I will warn you also that there are techniques you will need to master in the flat before rocketing down a hill that big.

    Just stuff to keep in mind.

  16. #16
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    Meh....OP is only 25, rides regularly, snowboards, and is Australian.

    Throw on a bunch of old hockey gear and give 'er.

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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    Meh....OP is only 25, rides regularly, snowboards, and is Australian.

    Throw on a bunch of old hockey gear and give 'er.

    LOL! Cheers slaphead haha

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmattjohnson View Post
    absolutely no stab, its just when you said you haven't ridden a bike since you were 10 yrs old there was some concern. I would recommend getting a cheap trail bike and hit up local trails to get used to the basics of cornering, maneuvering around objects, bunny hopping and taking hits, etc. Obviously if you are set on a DH bike, by all means go for it.
    All good, I must have read it wrong.

    I will do, there's a nearby mountain that has a very good mix in winter for snowboarding, not intense slopes but there's a lot of trees, so it should be similar(?) for summer trails, its a big mountain. I'll check it out first and foremost, if the weathers good, I'll go this weekend.

    Regarding Trail bikes, is there a big difference between them and DH bikes? I've been trying to find some locally but haven't had luck yet so I can only compare with photos, and at the low-mid range (3-5K) they seem very similar in appearance.



    Quote Originally Posted by Phinias View Post
    You know there is something to his initial word of caution, it would be like saying I used to ride scooter as kid so I think I am going to jump on a ZX-14 and head to Laguna Seca for some fun. You are going to have a pretty steep learning curve. I think his caution sounds harsher then he meant but is well thought out. By all means go rent and get a feeling for this, but as a newer rider I will warn you also that there are techniques you will need to master in the flat before rocketing down a hill that big.

    Just stuff to keep in mind.
    Yeah, I think I read into it wrong. I look forward to the challenge Hopefully I can have some time on mountain this weekend and see how it goes.

    (Thanks for the advice/comments so far! )

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    Quote Originally Posted by blaze182 View Post

    Regarding Trail bikes, is there a big difference between them and DH bikes? I've been trying to find some locally but haven't had luck yet so I can only compare with photos, and at the low-mid range (3-5K) they seem very similar in appearance.
    Night and day, at least for 'true' DH riding, like what you'd see in DH racecourses, specially when ridden at speed. Though these days, many mountains tend towards building in a lot more 'flow' into their terrain; smoother, with more berms and jumps, and more groomed in general. Bikes referred to as 'all mountain' can bridge the gap between aggressive trail riding and DHing that tends more towards the newer-school style. Mostly depends on your particular style and where you're going to be riding.

    For example, in our area, you can go to one mtn and find yourself mainly riding steep and very rocky terrain, with nary a berm to be found; the type of place where riding a 'lesser' bike will beat you and your bike up quite a bit. Or you can go to a different mtn and ride the majority of the trails on a hardtail or short-travel 4x/slopestyle bike and have a great time railing giant berms and launching well built jumps all day long, almost like a downhill BMX track, where too much travel can almost feel like a hindrance.

    Again, I think you'll learn a ton from spending a day at a mtn.
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    Might have found myself a bike Anything I should be weary of when looking at buying a second hand?

    I won't actually buy it for a couple weeks, I'll wait till I've been on mountain and had a chance to test some bikes, apparently they rent a range of Intense and Pivot bikes on mountain, they both seem good brands so I'm looking forward to it!

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