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  1. #1
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    Is the need for a full DH bike the same as it used to be?

    I currently have a 13 Firebird and 14 Jedi (both 26ers). I only rode the big bike for about two weeks (two trips and a few days local) this summer. I have been toying with the idea of replacing both with a new Firebird or Nomad or Delerium etc. As I rode the big bike at Whistler, I thought multiple times about how I would have liked to have my Firebird rather than than the Jedi (on trails like Freight Train, Dirt Merchant, A-line). FWIW, I was very happy I had the Jedi on trails like In Deep (steep roots and rocks for those unfamiliar).

    I used to think that anything less than a full dh bike would be less than desirable at the bike parks but noticed more single crown riders than previous years. I like riding a bike I know when traveling but, maybe I should just rent if the 6 - 7 inch bikes (built on the burlier side) haven't become a legit option for everything but the gnarliest of lines.

    btw, not looking for bike recommendations (at this time), just thoughts on whether the full dh bike is as needed as it was in the past.

  2. #2
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    I don't know, I just bought and invested into a used GG/DH at the end of this season. I'm pretty new to lift served DH but knew enough that I liked it.

    I was taking my 575 out but realized quickly that it wasn't enough, mainly that it was going to get beat to snot riding trails I liked to ride. Which are trails as you described as In Deep, I guess natural features rocks, roots steep and fast etc.

    Thoughts on paper:
    So for the trails that I seek out I guess it makes sense. It is a dedicated 40lb beast of a bike that can take the beating that I want to dish to it. In my mind to build up that 6-7" to do the same it will probably weigh about the same so I still would not want to pedal it any more than the DH bike. So might as well go for the full DH bike anyway.

    However if I want to slow down and be a bit less smash through and built the bike up for more regular trail rides then it would come down to how much abuse I want it to take. If it was the only bike I took to the park and was also my ride for regular riding(built like I like, which is burlier): I plan on 2-3 trips every other week to the park next season. I again think that bike is going to get beat to snot and will let me down on a regular ride.

    Cliffs Notes:
    I guess it really comes down to the person doing the riding and what they want.
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  3. #3
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    The stuff I have close by is very much full on DH bike material.

    Depends on where you DH.

    Then again, if you are getting a lift to the top not sure there is much benefit to not going full DH sled. Maybe the single crown fork crowd is using their bike for non-lift assist as well.
    Last edited by Miker J; 11-08-2017 at 04:44 PM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hel Mot View Post
    thoughts on whether the full dh bike is as needed as it was in the past.
    I'd say it depends on how close to the limit of your abilities you want to go. The closer you get to that ragged edge, the more you probably want to be on a DH bike.

    If you're cranking out laps on trails you know well, that are within your comfort zone, the DH bike may be overkill.

    I find I'm willing to test my limits a lot more on my DH bike than I do on my 160 mm bike.

  5. #5
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    Can't disagree with anything said (except for survey dude). I'll just add that bikes like a nomad are almost 7 inch of travel, i think. Given how new stuff keeps coming out, why not buy a nomad and beat the crap out of it. I certainly agree that a week at whistler on single crown bike is gonna beat the shite out of the bike and me. You guys are making me think I should upgrade the bike I ride most and rent a dh for the infrequent park trips.

  6. #6
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    Ride what you got Iíd say. Nothing worse than a busted bike killing your plans when you couldíve been riding if youíd kept the old bikes.
    I like bikes

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by twd953 View Post
    I find I'm willing to test my limits a lot more on my DH bike than I do on my 160 mm bike.
    This. Even if I know I can do something on my 160mm bike, I have far less hesitation or fear on my big bike.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hel Mot View Post
    I currently have a 13 Firebird and 14 Jedi (both 26ers). I only rode the big bike for about two weeks (two trips and a few days local) this summer. I have been toying with the idea of replacing both with a new Firebird or Nomad or Delerium etc.
    I can relate, as I had originally intended to get a Hightower + V10, and instead got a Nomad. I originally thought having one bike would be a compromise, but changed my mind after testing a 28 lb Nomad for a week.

    Bike parks have been focusing their efforts on groomed flow/jump trails for over a decade now, which suit the 6-7" bikes better than the full on DH bikes.

    There's also the topic of quality of suspension travel rather than just quantity. I got my Nomad with an air shock so that down the road, I can get something like a Push 11-6 and go back and forth on the shocks depending on where I'm riding. I'd imagine a Nomad with a Push shock could give lower spec'd DH bikes a run for their money.

    As for "abusing" the Nomad, I've got SC's lifetime warranty on both the frame and the Reserve wheels, so I'm not losing any sleep there.

  9. #9
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    It depends on the rider.

    Back in the day DH bikes were built for DH. Steep, loose rocky trails with boulder drops and big consequences.

    Today, "Park riding" is totally different. It has berms, smooth tabletops, perfect transitions right where you want them and pedally sections where you're not concerned about hitting rocks with your pedals.

    If you're into the groomed stuff, no, you don't need a DH bike. If you're into hitting the steep rocky stuff and want to push your limits, then a dh bike will be better.

    Ttyl, Fahn
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  10. #10
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    I tried to do this by buying a SC Bronson. Short story is, I still have my DH bike with no plans to sell. It handles the big stuff much better and makes the ride more fun. The Bronson is a great trail bike but I would need to invest in better suspension, chain guides, better brakes, etc to really make it equivalent to the DH bike.

  11. #11
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    I'm not the best rider, and I have the budget to have a trail and dh oriented bike, and I have the space to keep several bikes. Sure you can ride a park with any bike, and I've seen guys kill it on bikes like an Ibis or Nomad. But I'm not those guys. The guys I ride with get slammed on dh tracks with their enduro rigs where my Jedi just flies.

  12. #12
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    I have the 27.5 Canfield Balance (31 pounds) with a DVO Diamond and a 27.5 V-10 DVO Emerald (just under 37 pounds) . I love the Balance. Nimble, quick. Takes a beating but nothing compares to a DH bike after a lond day of riding. First off you are more confident. Because if you make a mistake, a lot of times the bigger bike will save you. Second you don't get beat up as much, so at the end of the day you don't have as many aches and pains (this is reality when you are an old dude).


    Yeah it is nice on smooth groomed trails to have the smaller bike, but at speeds the DH bike is more stable. It comes down to preference for every rider. I would love to ride the lighter bike, but I am never selling the DH bike.
    the trick is ENJOYING YOUR LIFE EACH DAY, don't waste them away wishing for better days

  13. #13
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    as others have said, it just comes down to each person's choice.
    to me, i could ride everything on smaller bike, but its just way more dam fun with a bigger bike. even the smoother flow jump trails are better on a bigger bike for me (longer, like a couch when you land, bigger DH tires, etc,more stable at speed).

  14. #14
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    I ride a '17 Canfield Balance and a '16 Canfield Jedi. The Balance is so good at just about everything that the need for the Jedi has dwindled significantly, especially at places like Trestle which is mostly flow trails where the Balance just shines.

    I keep the Jedi because of the times where the Balance is simply not enough. Angel Fire, Bootleg Canyon, Ride-a-ho Springs (OMG). In those few places the Jedi really earns it's place.

    As others have said, it's about what you like to do and how you like to ride. For most, the new 160mm travel bike are more than enough. If you really like to pin it and get rowdy, the full DH bike can make your time more enjoyable.

    Also... how many bikes can/do you have?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRage43 View Post
    I ride a '17 Canfield Balance and a '16 Canfield Jedi. The Balance is so good at just about everything that the need for the Jedi has dwindled significantly, especially at places like Trestle which is mostly flow trails where the Balance just shines.

    I keep the Jedi because of the times where the Balance is simply not enough. Angel Fire, Bootleg Canyon, Ride-a-ho Springs (OMG). In those few places the Jedi really earns it's place.

    As others have said, it's about what you like to do and how you like to ride. For most, the new 160mm travel bike are more than enough. If you really like to pin it and get rowdy, the full DH bike can make your time more enjoyable.

    Also... how many bikes can/do you have?
    how many bikes you ask, well obviously not enough! Ok, three currently.

    Part of why I am thinking about the big bike is while the jedi and firebird are still in decent condition, they are approaching 4 and 5 years old and the newer bikes are better. Nothing wrong with a five year old bike but, if i were to upgrade, thinking what reasonable options are and do i want a big bike.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRage43 View Post
    I ride a '17 Canfield Balance and a '16 Canfield Jedi. The Balance is so good at just about everything that the need for the Jedi has dwindled significantly, especially at places like Trestle which is mostly flow trails where the Balance just shines.

    I keep the Jedi because of the times where the Balance is simply not enough. Angel Fire, Bootleg Canyon, Ride-a-ho Springs (OMG). In those few places the Jedi really earns it's place.

    As others have said, it's about what you like to do and how you like to ride. For most, the new 160mm travel bike are more than enough. If you really like to pin it and get rowdy, the full DH bike can make your time more enjoyable.

    Also... how many bikes can/do you have?
    Pretty similar experience here, since I have the same 2 bikes. I picked up a '17 Balance this spring and rode all my local trails all season, did a week in Moab/Grand Junction/Fruita, one trip to the local bike park (Mt Bachelor) and 12 days in Whistler. I am very, very impressed with what the Balance can handle.

    This fall, I saw the closeout price on the Jedi, so I picked one up in late September, built it up as fast as I could and headed back to Whistler for the 3 day closing weekend.

    On the Balance, I rode every single black diamond trail at Whistler, and a majority of the double blacks as well, and I felt like I got pretty close to my limits on the balance in some of the really steep double black chunder. But, I went back and hit some stuff on the Jedi that I wouldn't do on the Balance.

    Now, having ridden some of those lines on the Jedi, I'd go back hit them on the Balance for sure, but I don't know that I ever would have done them on the Balance first. I also found myself charging into stuff on the Jedi that I was much more tentative (and slower) on the Balance.

    Like you said though, the balance is more fun on the easier jump/flow trails. On the bigger jump trails (e.g. A-Line and Dirt Merchant) I did find my corner speed to be much higher on the Jedi, in part because some of the corners were so blown out that my vision literally went blurry when riding the Balance. Hard to stay off the brakes when you can no longer see.

  17. #17
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    I have a 2017 27.5 Canfield Balance. 160mm travel is plenty for me. I recently rode it 3 full days of enduro type trails in Quebec (lots of roots, rocks, small drops etc). I had no problem. I managed most of climbs and it was smooth and nimble on the descents.

    Like others have said, ride what suits your style.
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  18. #18
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    wow ,....many many people starting to ride the Balance....Canfield boys hit the bullseye on this bike...If you have not ridden a Balance, you don't know what you are missing
    the trick is ENJOYING YOUR LIFE EACH DAY, don't waste them away wishing for better days

  19. #19
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    So if it's time to sell the bird, does anyone recommend a balance? Ha!

  20. #20
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    living in an area with zero downhill, I've always thought that I would never sell my DH bike due to the fact that it is just not fun for me to go up to the resorts the 10 times a year I may get out and punish myself on a smaller bike!! that being said my DH bike just got stolen a few weeks ago, and now I'm torn between replacing it or going the enduro route as I don't see a need for a DH bike at the resorts around me anymore, I'm interested in the balance also as I can use it for a few enduros I may do and DH as well.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbnickles View Post
    living in an area with zero downhill, I've always thought that I would never sell my DH bike due to the fact that it is just not fun for me to go up to the resorts the 10 times a year I may get out and punish myself on a smaller bike!! that being said my DH bike just got stolen a few weeks ago, and now I'm torn between replacing it or going the enduro route as I don't see a need for a DH bike at the resorts around me anymore, I'm interested in the balance also as I can use it for a few enduros I may do and DH as well.
    I have a Riot, for 140mm it's very capable. I'm going to get a Balance for bigger/faster/park stuff. They make very capable bikes that peddle well. The 2017 Balance can take a 170mm dual crown.

  22. #22
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    Balance all the way! That is until the Bros release their newest quiver killer...

  23. #23
    NWS
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    I'm not a fan of rocky/rooty tech trails where only a DH bike will suffice, but I am a fan of fast flowy trails. On one hand, they're less than half as rough as tech trails... but on the other hand, I ride them more than twice as fast as I ride tech trails. So I appreciate the extra travel enough that I don't mind the extra weight. Especially when the berms get chewed up with braking bumps.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cerberus75 View Post
    I have a Riot, for 140mm it's very capable. I'm going to get a Balance for bigger/faster/park stuff. They make very capable bikes that peddle well. The 2017 Balance can take a 170mm dual crown.
    Dual crown on the balance is what I'm eyeing up for DH days just to give me that little extra courage I may need....I also picked the riot up a few weeks ago but have had zero time to build it up yet

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by NWS View Post
    I'm not a fan of rocky/rooty tech trails where only a DH bike will suffice,
    I.e. "I'm not a fan of downhill trails"

  26. #26
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    FR/"super enduro" bikes have gotten a lot closer to DH bikes, but there's no substitute for a dual crown when it gets rowdy. However, there's a few good options that can do both now. I sold my dedicated DH only rig a few years ago and now I'm riding a Knolly Delirium that I can setup 180F/170R with a single crown, that I can also setup 200F/185R by running a dual crown, longer shock, angleset and offset bushing. For me it's the best of both worlds and gives me a ton of options based on where I'm riding.




  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbnickles View Post
    Dual crown on the balance is what I'm eyeing up for DH days just to give me that little extra courage I may need....I also picked the riot up a few weeks ago but have had zero time to build it up yet
    I'm eyeing Canfield to see if they put something else out early 2018. But this is the route I'll most likely take. The Riot is a really fun bike.

  29. #29
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    Iíve got a riot balance and epo. Did my first round of lift assist riding this year at windrock and snowshoe. I took the riot to windrock (didnít have the balance yet ). The riot did awesome there and it kept me from writing checks my ass couldnít cash. Move forward to snow shoe I take the riot again road it one day then opted to ďdemoĒ the balance the rest of the time there and bought the balance after the trip. I wonít get to enough parks to justify a Jedi so I got the balance for those days. Itís such a bad ass bike


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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by NWS View Post
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    Unless you're riding at rampage, freeride is dead bro.

  31. #31
    NWS
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    Wait, what? I'm having fun the wrong way?

    OMG, so embarrassing.

    I knew something was wrong when I was the only guy at the park on a 26er.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hel Mot View Post
    Is the need for a full DH bike the same as it used to be?
    No. All mountain bikes are becoming the norm and are way overbuilt for XC riding.

    But when I hit an old school, steep, rocky, rooty, mess.. I'm very happy to have big coil suspension, dual crown forks, and an overbuilt DH frame. But I think that makes up a much smaller percentage of what many people are doing at bike parks these days.

    DH resorts in my area are starting to cater to beginner and intermediate level riders which means buffed out, berm'd up trails that you could ride on a hard tail. I'm seeing guys do one, maybe two days a year of DH, and they spend 90% of their time doing super buff greens and blues. They might venture over to that double diamond gnar fest once, have a really hard time with it, and then go back to their buff flow. So for those types, today's all mountain bikes are plenty.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raleighguy29 View Post
    Iíve got a riot balance and epo. Did my first round of lift assist riding this year at windrock and snowshoe. I took the riot to windrock (didnít have the balance yet ). The riot did awesome there and it kept me from writing checks my ass couldnít cash. Move forward to snow shoe I take the riot again road it one day then opted to ďdemoĒ the balance the rest of the time there and bought the balance after the trip. I wonít get to enough parks to justify a Jedi so I got the balance for those days. Itís such a bad ass bike


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    I've got my Riot set up twitchy, I'm in between sizes so it's a size small. Short stem. It's ideal for most the trails I ride. Really chunky,twisty with drops. I love it but With this set up its a bit of a handful wide open over 25mph. I'll be setting up the balance to be my no brakes bike.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cerberus75 View Post
    I've got my Riot set up twitchy, I'm in between sizes so it's a size small. Short stem. It's ideal for most the trails I ride. Really chunky,twisty with drops. I love it but With this set up its a bit of a handful wide open over 25mph. I'll be setting up the balance to be my no brakes bike.
    I absolutely love all my Canfield bikes. Or as me and a buddy who has a epo and nimble like to say skullbikes

    Just got these on to lace up to some flow mk3 rimes for the balance


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  35. #35
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    I went through this debate this year, after renting DH bikes at Highland and Whister and having a blast. Then I started telling myself that I was really pushing my 150mm bike when I ride it at Highland so why not get an enduro bike? But...rhen I had a good year, and really started getting back to where I was riding a few years ago. My last two rides ar Highland this fall, for the first time in years it wasn't me holding me back nut the bike. So I am going full DH, likely picking up a V10 today

    I think the other consideration on a DH bike is, do you ride park enough to get an ROI on one? I'm 45 minutes from Highland, so for me the answer is yes. But for many people, just renting might be better.

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    I would say with bikes like the Firebird and new nomad 4 (I own) I would say for most the answer would be no, that said I donít nearly push my limits anymore (too old and work requires me non injured). That said even with my new Nomad I wonít be selling my 26 v10, partly because it would be a huge $$ loss. I can say there still is a difference between the two but not nearly like it used to be.

  37. #37
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    My balance with a 170mm 36 is my park bike. I split trail time between it and a riot. I sold my DH bike because it dumbed down the trails that I ride too much. I spend most of my time at Keystone and Winterpark over the summer and both mountains are all rideable on a 170mm bike. I take the riot to winterpark mostly because 29er wheels are a blast on wide open berms.
    So for me the DH bike is not needed for much these days since I only get down to anglefire a couple times a year. So long story short, for me no a DH bike is no longer needed for what I am doing as far as riding.

  38. #38
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    Id say it depends on the rider, and the skills / flow / how smooth you are. If you're a complete hack, get something big and beefy.

    I rode lift-access trails @ Trestle in CO last year with my buddies. I was on my 15' Trek Slash 8. They were all on full-on 200mm Dual-Crown DH bikes.

    I was right with them, and mid-to-front pack on every run in the "line" of guys bombing the trails. I was catching the same air as them, taking the same drops, and all.

    Not saying Im better than them.. just saying I personally felt completely confident in my bike, and had a freaking blast riding double black diamond trails with the guys....
    You in Oklahoma City? If yes, come ride with us.

  39. #39
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    So this brings up a question then. Would anyone here run a dual crown slammed down to say 180mm travel to run it on an enduro bike? Iíve seen people do that in the past on the Ibis hd and a few others.


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    Quote Originally Posted by stripes View Post
    So this brings up a question then. Would anyone here run a dual crown slammed down to say 180mm travel to run it on an enduro bike? Iíve seen people do that in the past on the Ibis hd and a few others.


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    It depends on rear travel and quality of it. I personally don't like the feel of an over forked bike. 10mm maybe 15mm more in the front is tops for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stripes View Post
    So this brings up a question then. Would anyone here run a dual crown slammed down to say 180mm travel to run it on an enduro bike? Iíve seen people do that in the past on the Ibis hd and a few others.


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    I'd consider doing it on something like a 170mm Nomad 4 if your local trails have enough gnarly steeps.

    A Boxxer at full 200mm travel and equivalent axle-to-crown (as a 170mm fork) would slacken the head tube from 65 deg to 63.5, which happens to be the same as many DH bikes. You could also choke up the axle-to-crown a bit and bring the head tube angle back to around 64 deg.

    And of course as you suggested, you can reduce the travel to not change the geometry at all, so you have quite a few options.

    The only thing to consider is the extra 500ish grams you'd be adding to the front end.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by stripes View Post
    So this brings up a question then. Would anyone here run a dual crown slammed down to say 180mm travel to run it on an enduro bike? Iíve seen people do that in the past on the Ibis hd and a few others.


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    Chris Canfield has been running his Balance as a mini-DH with a 200mm DC up front. You can run a 160 up to a 200 fork. I'm currently looking for a 180 fork for mine, will probably go with a Metric again, absolutely stellar fork!

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by monkies View Post
    I'm not the best rider, and I have the budget to have a trail and dh oriented bike, and I have the space to keep several bikes. Sure you can ride a park with any bike, and I've seen guys kill it on bikes like an Ibis or Nomad. But I'm not those guys. The guys I ride with get slammed on dh tracks with their enduro rigs where my Jedi just flies.
    I agree with this. I have a Cove Shocker for the lift assisted stuff. It glides over everything and is stable at high speeds. My '08 SX Trail is fun for messing around on the local mountain trails or even urban free-ride. Pedaling is slow but I don't care.

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    I've been riding DH for 14 years. This past July I had a pretty severe crash at a local mountain. I broke my back, sternum and 3 ribs.(and a few other small fractures) Doctors say I'm lucky that I'm not in a wheelchair. I'm back on my trail bike and slowly getting stronger.
    Sold the DH bike but still have the itch to get back to lift assited riding. So Im going to build up a new Nomad4 and use it for what will be considered my rowdy days. I will be going back to the parks but will be dialing it WAY back. No more big drops or super chunk.
    Will be sticking to the flow stuff and I think the new 160-170mm bikes can handle that kind of riding all day. It boils down to what you want to do. I need to dial it back at this point in my life and I think 170mm will be just fine.

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