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  1. #1
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    Taking a XC Bike on a Downhill Run... Any suggestions?

    New to the forum but been riding a while. I'm currently on a Cannondale Jekyll, but old model closeouts got the best of me and I purchased a Cannondale Trail 5 for a phenomenal price.

    Perhaps I'm feeling a bit masochistic, but I'm going to take this bike on a fairly tame downhill run. The drops aren't that large (3 feet at most) and the trail is well maintained. The bike has SAVE support on the rear and is an aluminum frame - pretty strong and solid. The wheels are double walled and should withstand the punishment.

    Has anyone ridden downhill on this bike or a similar bike that can share some tips/ lessons?

  2. #2
    RideDirt
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    Yes , good luck and have fun

  3. #3
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    Thanks.. I'm probably going to need all the luck I can get haha

  4. #4
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    Lean back, stay off the brakes.

  5. #5
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    8" front rotor and DH tires/tubes would be a good start. I ride my 4X bike sometimes just for a change or if I have a newbi, I let them ride my DH bike. Just take it easy, let off the brakes when you need to and grab them when you have to. You'll probably end up buying a DH bike next season. Just have fun.

  6. #6
    North Van/Whistler
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    Its fine. Bike are tough. People that pigeonhole bikes into categories are stupid. Pick your lines and have fun.
    Locals' Guide to North Shore Rides http://mtbtrails.ca/

  7. #7
    humber river advocate
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    go for it and have fun... though i would suggest a full face and pads, you can never be to safe...

    is this downhill trail you speak off at a bike park?
    bolton trail info
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  8. #8
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    In my young years, I did some DH runs with a department store bike and I always came fine beside a bent handlebar in the end (it's just crappy steel). In the nineties, there is zero DH specific bikes.

    As long as you don't push too much on the bike, you should be fine and remeber that your suspension has less travel.

  9. #9
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    It's the pilot, not the plane. Stay relaxed have fun.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeL View Post
    Its fine. Bike are tough. People that pigeonhole bikes into categories are stupid. Pick your lines and have fun.
    ^ agree. I live in Kansas and brought my Blur classic to Colorado on vacation two weeks ago. Did some lift service for the first time and it was no problem on the beginner/intermediate trails. It's a 4.5" travel bike and definitely has XC geometry, but take a look at the travel offered on your average 29er... some companies' "all mountain" 29ers have the same travel as my bike.


    My suggestions:

    1. Buy or rent safety gear. Full face helmet, knee and elbow pads at a minimum. I didn't crash, but I was prepared for it and had that stuff plus armored shorts.

    2. Lower the heck out of your saddle or buy a dropper post. Assuming you have it optimized to pedal, 1.5" / 35mm lower is the minimum to get behind it efficiently. If your trails require little to no pedaling from the saddle then you can and should go lower.

    3. Know how to brake. Maintaining body/weight position and lever modulation are key, you can't just hammer the brakes when descending like you can get away with on flat ground. You also cannot just lean back and pretend you won't need to brake hard.

    4. Depending on just how XC your bike is, you might want to put a shorter stem on it. For XC riding, my stem is perfect. I can get real low and hammer in the saddle without crunching up my arms or torso. But when when I was hanging a foot behind the saddle and braking hard, I wished I had a shorter stem. It had nothing to do with steering feel, and everything to do with reach.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by VTSession View Post
    It's the pilot, not the plane. Stay relaxed have fun.
    defo agree,,
    comes down to rider not bike,,, stay relaxed, wide open stance and arms bent to allow the bike to move, your arms and legs will act as extra suspension, kkep it safe and have fun, point the front wheel down the hill and stay off the brakes ha ha ha,

  12. #12
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    There's a ton of good advice in this thread. Almost everything I had to say has already been said.

    One thing I will add is that what you're planning on doing is one of the better things you can do to improve your skills. Descending is part of the sport that you don't often get to focus on. One good day of downhill can make a world of difference.

    You're riding with someone, right? For safety of course, and also to have a more experienced rider to learn from. You'll be amazed at what you can do if you have a skilled wheel to follow.

  13. #13
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xilikon View Post
    In my young years, I did some DH runs with a department store bike and I always came fine beside a bent handlebar in the end (it's just crappy steel). In the nineties, there is zero DH specific bikes.

    As long as you don't push too much on the bike, you should be fine and remeber that your suspension has less travel.
    Not sure how to read your statement, but from 1998 and on there were plenty of DH specific bikes available to everyone. They obviously existed a few years before to consumers, but in smaller quantities. 1998 was the big year for the most part, with the boxxer and other DH specific parts becoming widely available and not just sponsored prototype or high-end chi-chi like Risse and Mr Dirt.

    In any case, this can go either way pretty easily. I have fun on some downhills on my rigid bike (with 4.0" tires). It's fun and as long as the trail is smooth, no problems. On the other hand, with a lot of bumps you can quickly get overwhelmed by the bumps, even if they aren't big, and your brakes can overheat because you're on them all the time to keep from going way too fast. Full face helmet, armor, DH tires, all these things make a big difference in confidence and being able to enjoy it more, but the bike can also make a big difference. Of course a rented DH bike with a shock that doesn't work for crap can also be bad. I think this would depend much more on the exact situation rather than any generalities like "go ahead, it''ll be fine" or "won't be fun and possibly you'll get hurt".
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  14. #14
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    Taking a XC Bike on a Downhill Run... Any suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Not sure how to read your statement, but from 1998 and on there were plenty of DH specific bikes available to everyone. They obviously existed a few years before to consumers, but in smaller quantities. 1998 was the big year for the most part, with the boxxer and other DH specific parts becoming widely available and not just sponsored prototype or high-end chi-chi like Risse and Mr Dirt.

    In any case, this can go either way pretty easily. I have fun on some downhills on my rigid bike (with 4.0" tires). It's fun and as long as the trail is smooth, no problems. On the other hand, with a lot of bumps you can quickly get overwhelmed by the bumps, even if they aren't big, and your brakes can overheat because you're on them all the time to keep from going way too fast. Full face helmet, armor, DH tires, all these things make a big difference in confidence and being able to enjoy it more, but the bike can also make a big difference. Of course a rented DH bike with a shock that doesn't work for crap can also be bad. I think this would depend much more on the exact situation rather than any generalities like "go ahead, it''ll be fine" or "won't be fun and possibly you'll get hurt".
    I did this in 1992-1993 iirc. I don't remember any DH specific bikes in that era. You're correct about latter years with the Yeti and a few others with a Y shaped frame.

  15. #15
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xilikon View Post
    I did this in 1992-1993 iirc. I don't remember any DH specific bikes in that era. You're correct about latter years with the Yeti and a few others with a Y shaped frame.
    Way more than just that. I had a '98 RM downhill bike, there were lots of others at the time. I think all of the big manufacturers had dedicated DH bikes they were selling to the consumers in '98, many had them in 97 and before. Giant, Specialized, Kona, Foes, Intense, RM, and many more. I seem to recall '98 being the magical year though, where it call came together in terms of brakes, suspension, wheels, tires, etc.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  16. #16
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    When I did the same thing a few times this was my key to making it unscathed.
    LEAN WAAAY BACK + HOLD ON TIGHT
    Two fingers on the breaks not just a single.
    Keep your speed up as you need a lot of inertia to floath over the drops and keep the front wheel elevated.
    Don't wear your self out before the heavy DH run or else your reaction time is delayed and lack of arm strength will cost you an injury or worse -> be no fun.

  17. #17
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    As someone who rides DH on an XC hardtail, my advice would be as follows:

    1) Get the biggest, most grippy tires that you can fit on your bike.
    2) Ensure that the brakes are perfectly bled and the pads in good shape
    3) Slam the seat all the way down
    4) Eyes up, pick your lines with care and focus on smoothness
    5) Stay loose & balanced and let the bike dance around and do its thing if it has to
    6) See 1) I can't emphasize enough how important big sticky tires are

    And yes, bikes are surprisingly capable if the rider knows what he's doing. My Norco Team 853 which was an XC hardtail survived countless runs down the WC courses at Bromont and Ste. Anne. I can't exactly recommend it and I sure as hell won't ride those trails on that bike now that I'm older and less crazy, but it can be done and I did it.

  18. #18
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    I took my 15'' Homegrown hardtail down some of the trails at Deer Valley when the Straight 8 was on the DL, hands hurt like hell but it still did the job and smiled the whole way down! as suggested above, pick a line, lean back and enjoy!
    '11 Jedi
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  19. #19
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    Full face helmet, knee and shin pads, drop the seat post. (these are just some of the basics)

    This weekend Singlesprocket and I took a friend to the local bike park and he rode his xc bike... although he is a very good xc rider, he failed at the above, overshot a turn and got a got a nasty shin burger. He retired for the day after only a couple of runs and felt a greater respect for dh.
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