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  1. #1
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    Bike Selection Help- Northstar

    Hi all. I am hoping that I can get a bit of guidance on the more downhill/freeride side of things. I am a 40 year old clyde rider (6' 230 pounds) who primarily rides cross country and trail. My 9 year old son is an avid rider and has started pushing over toward the downhill/dJ side of things. After successful trips doing the tahoe rim trail and downieville, we hit Northstar for the first time on Friday (I have been there before, but not for years). Well guess what, he loves it. Livewire, Gypsy, Pho Dog, he had a great time on then all.

    So here is the problem. I am currently riding a Turner 5 Spot, which will great for all mountain, feels woefully undersized to ride at Northstar. The biggest problem is that I am getting pounded pretty hard and my body is not very happy. I'm not really interested in going faster or bigger, but do want to be able to make it through the day comfortably, and more importantly, ride successive days in a row.

    So my question is how big do I go? I have been looking at used bikes and there are a ton of good downhill bike choices, i.e. the Turner DHR, Santa Cruz V10, etc. At the same time, there are choices that seem to fit my riding style better (I don't do big jumps), like the Nomad, Specialized Enduro, Santa Cruz VP Free, etc.

    So my question is, do I aim for the 160-170 mm bike range with a 36mm single crown fork or go up to the 200mm range dual crown downhill bikes? If I actually push it hard enough on something like livewire to clear the doubles (by that I mean land on the transition, not past it) is a 160-170 bike going to be heavy duty enough for my weight? I am smooth and gentle on bikes having started when everything was rigid and keeping that riding style through today.

    Thanks for any help and guidance.
    Riding slowly since 1977.

  2. #2
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    My opinion at 49.
    Go for the bigger bike.
    I just got my first DH bike - had been riding a 160-170mm for several years before.
    While it is nice on the jumpy-bermy stuff, it just beat me up on the tech.
    The big bike gives me much more confidence....not to push super hard, just that it does not beat you up anywhere near as much and it also carries a much bigger insurance policy against dumb-azz moves...

    my opinion is to get teh big bike.

    michael
    A Dirtbag since 1969.
    A Knomer since 2007.

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  3. #3
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    You are not old .....You are not old.... you not old....

    '11 Jedi
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  4. #4
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    Bike Selection Help- Northstar

    Thanks. I keep telling myself I'm not old, but the numb hands, neck pain, and back pain tell me my body doesn't always agree. I have paid a lot of attention to saddle setup, bar height, reach, etc. and unfortunately every year is a bit worse. That said, I'm not stopping and plan on riding till the day I die. A bit of comfort won't hurt. Leaning towards a DHR.
    Riding slowly since 1977.

  5. #5
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    A used dhr or highline with a proper set dual crown fork will keep you riding with your son.

    I have a dw spot and and highline with a dual crown fork. This combo has worked for me well for all mt- park assist riding.

    Adding just a 160 range bike to what you have gives you a lot of cross over.

  6. #6
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    The dhr is a great bike. I also really like the Canfield Jedi, V10 and Giant Glory. The glory is the best deal out of the bunch but all are very capable and cushy. But for overall smoothness, the Jedi with its rearward axle path are impossible to beat.
    tangaroo: What electrolytes do chicken and turkey have again?
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  7. #7
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    How about a long travel single crown free ride bike? Here's a list of popular bikes: Spec Demo 7, Transition TR250, Spec SX Trail, Giant Faith (newer model). Versatile for bike parks, jump lines and shuttle runs.

  8. #8
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    Your riding DH, so give yourself the right tool for the job, a DH bike. Riding the 5 spot at Northstar, or any 6 inch bike for that matter is like bringing a knife to a gun fight. It isn't an effective weapon for the job.

    At 6ft you will want basically any of the DH bikes listed in this thread in a size large. Make sure you look for dents in the down-tube, any play in the linkage and cracks in the chainstays.

    Of course, this is assuming you are keeping the 5 spot, and adding a DH bike to the stable. If you are looking for the magic bullet, I'd say the Specialized Enduro Evo from this year looks to be as close as you'll get.

  9. #9
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    For the elusive single bike to rule them all, have a look at the Canfield One. It will pedal better than any dh bike (comparable to bikes like the speshy enduro), and it has 8" of travel in back. If you have a dual crown fork for the big resort days and a 170 yo 180mm single crown, you are set for life. I am riding one now, and it is incredible. The 5 spot will climb a bit better, but as you found out, it won't handle the big stuff. The One feels like a full dh rig on the way down.
    tangaroo: What electrolytes do chicken and turkey have again?
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  10. #10
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    Thanks for the input. I am keeping my 5 spot and hardtail so there I don't need to compromise between pedaling efficiency and travel. I am targeting bikes in the 180-200mm range. A few questions, as I am finding as much as I know about XC and Trail bikes, there is a lot I don't know about freeride and downhill bikes.

    Is there a big advantage of going with a dual crown fork over something like a single crown 170-180 mm fork? Also, I am not clear, is there a big difference between something like the Santa Cruz 8 Driver, which is considered a "freeride" bike and a Turner DHR, both of which are 8" travel bikes? I am eyeballing a couple of Turner DHR's, but am also intrigued by the Giant Faith. Any thoughts between those two?

    Finally, I have decided it is time to get a full face helmet, looking at all those rocks at Northstar did not make me feel comfortable. I notice that many are riding with a hans neck retention device. Is this becoming standard?

    Thanks again.
    Riding slowly since 1977.

  11. #11
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    The dual crown fork is a huge advantage over a single crown for DH. Aside from the extra inch of travel, the main benefit is added stiffness, which creates a more planted and stable ride. For a big guy like you, I would go with a Fox 40.

    There is a difference between a bike like a Driver 8 and a DHR. The DHR is slacker, lower, probably longer(wheelbase) and has shorter chainstays. The DHR is a true DH race bike and the Driver 8 was a confused semi-freeride bike that never really caught on. The Faith is also similar to the Driver 8. It is a freeride bike, not a DH race bike. The DH bike is going to handle the rough better, and I think you would enjoy one of those more.

    I really liked my DW-DHR and I would not hesitate to get another.

    Oh and for neck protection, that is a topic of debate. I read the research and personally am not a believer, but I'd say it's about a 50/50 split now between people wearing them and not wearing them.

  12. #12
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    If you are looking for a Northstar specific bike, 8+ inches of travel with a dual crown fork is a no brainer. Unless they start giving a sh*t and doing maintenance that place is going to continue to be some of the roughest riding in California. The bigger your bike the better. NAYR is right about neck braces, some wear them, some don't. I wear one when I ride motocross, but not DH.

  13. #13
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    A full on dh bike will save your ass when you screw things up/get sketchy. More stable at speed, easier to ride when it gets steep sometimes. 8" and done.

  14. #14
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    Bike Selection Help- Northstar

    Looking on Pinkbike, MTBR classifieds and craigslist for a 8" bike.
    Riding slowly since 1977.

  15. #15
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    If you get a neck brace, look into Atlas neck braces . They are lighter, lower profile,and less expensive than Leatt braces. I think there is merit to them after seeing my brother crash riding mx with one. Saved his life for sure.
    tangaroo: What electrolytes do chicken and turkey have again?
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by NAYR751 View Post
    Your riding DH, so give yourself the right tool for the job, a DH bike. Riding the 5 spot at Northstar, or any 6 inch bike for that matter is like bringing a knife to a gun fight. It isn't an effective weapon for the job.

    At 6ft you will want basically any of the DH bikes listed in this thread in a size large. Make sure you look for dents in the down-tube, any play in the linkage and cracks in the chainstays.

    Of course, this is assuming you are keeping the 5 spot, and adding a DH bike to the stable. If you are looking for the magic bullet, I'd say the Specialized Enduro Evo from this year looks to be as close as you'll get.
    This. I rode my Ciclon (150mm travel) at Northstar this weekend since my DH bike was out of commission. Oh boy, did I regret it. I borrowed a friend's rental for a couple of runs and it was much better. Get a DH bike.

    Is it doable? Yes. Is it fun? Well, only on Easy Rider for me. Northstar has a lot of chunk, and having a big bike to swallow that chunk instead of your wrists, knees, neck, shoulders, etc. makes life much more fun and much easier. The longer wheelbase in addition to the increased cush make a HUUUGE difference in survival vs real fun at N* IMO.

    Also, N* is increasingly getting more torn up. Coaster used to be a bit more fun.. now it feels like pure sand and silt and you're just surfing through it. You want a long board for it

    And not sure if this helps you: it costs me $137 in repairs to my bike from riding it at N* (rotor and brake pads). It's $139 to rent a bike for the day.

    BUT--get a DH bike. You'll be happier.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stripes View Post

    And not sure if this helps you: it costs me $137 in repairs to my bike from riding it at N* (rotor and brake pads). It's $139 to rent a bike for the day.

    BUT--get a DH bike. You'll be happier.
    That's no joke...I always end repairing or replacing something after a trip to N*

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ikarus189 View Post
    That's no joke...I always end repairing or replacing something after a trip to N*
    Oh I remember those days. So frustrating.

  19. #19
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    Bike Selection Help- Northstar

    Thinking a Transition Blindside as I could also use it at Downieville. I appears to have a longer toptube and lower bottom bracket than the 2008 Turner DHRs. Any thoughts?
    Riding slowly since 1977.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDMC View Post
    Thinking a Transition Blindside as I could also use it at Downieville. I appears to have a longer toptube and lower bottom bracket than the 2008 Turner DHRs. Any thoughts?
    Would your 5 Spot be good enough for DV? Coz if you already have a trail bike, why get the Blindside? That bike is too tall if we're talking dh geometry. If youre looking at a dh bike, get a 'proper' dh bike. The Blindside isnt.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by boylagz View Post
    Would your 5 Spot be good enough for DV? Coz if you already have a trail bike, why get the Blindside? That bike is too tall if we're talking dh geometry. If youre looking at a dh bike, get a 'proper' dh bike. The Blindside isnt.
    This. Get the right bike for the right job.

  22. #22
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    By the way to the OP, whats your budget?

  23. #23
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    The specialized status and the Kona Operator are both good choices.
    Both are entry level DH , but got great reviews from Bike magazine's bible of bike tests.
    They are also listed as under $4k for the complete bike.
    The Jedi is an absolutely awesome bike, but the frame will cost $3100.

  24. #24
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    Bike Selection Help- Northstar

    Quote Originally Posted by boylagz View Post
    By the way to the OP, whats your budget?
    Trying to stay under $2k on the used market.
    Riding slowly since 1977.

  25. #25
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    ^ You can defo find large Glorys or TR450s with a 2k cap. Older Norcos are even cheaper. Good luck.

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