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  1. #1
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    How good at steep rocky descent are DJ bikes/frames/forks?

    I'm riding steep rocky trails that would suit FS AM 140-160 travel bikes best. I also do a fair bit of urban riding, up and down some stairs, long wheelies, endos etc, also would prefer to nail down manuals better and get better at jumping. I'd like to run 1x9 with a light chain guide. How good are urban/DJ frames such as Giant STP, Banshee Amp and Santa Cruz Jackal or something in between like a Charge Blender at steep rocky trail riding descents and occasional ascents compared with XC HT bikes, how good are DJ shocks such a RS Argle at trails? Would a longer travel fork 140-160 be OK on these frames? Would I be more likely to go OTB than on an XC hard tail? Any specific frames that would suit my purposes better with wheelbases on the longer side or with slacker head tube angles?

    I ask, because I'm debating going to a FS, like the idea of going bigger on the trails. I am put off by the extra cost, weight, maintenance cost etc associated with FS bikes. Like the idea of a HT that can take abuse and be good all-round.

  2. #2
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    I have a Transition Double w/ Argyle 409 and 1x8 and love it. Can't comment on rocky trails, but it eats up the rooty trails around here. I haven't had the shocks bottom once yet and I weigh 210. I went for a DJ/4X frame for fun and flickability. I ride some xc with it, and seated the bike is in cruise mode, once I get up on the pedals it flies!

    I noticed right away that this bike rails corners way better than ANY of my previous bikes that were more xc in nature. I also hit trail features at speed w/ no fear because the bike feels so solid, especially when in the air. You'll be the bunnyhop/manual king!

    pebbles

  3. #3
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    Pebbles, I like the idea of a Transition Double, seems like a mad, fun bike. Maybe a tad heavy for me, and I was thinking of maybe a hard tail just because of the maintenance headaches I already have with forks.

  4. #4
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    It all depends on your setup and what you like.

    my azonic hardtail dj/urban bike started life as a commuter with a long seatpost for seated riding. then it was my single speed cross country trail rig with better forks. now it is exclusively my park bike with a laid back post smashed all the way down. I've got a 130 mm dirt jump shock on it.

    Last summer I rode downhill in Winter Park on a rented FS beast. But I won't do that again because I more enjoy the direct connect feel of a hardtail with a long travel fork. I will just switch tires and take the Azonic. If I was going all mountain, it would be great with gears and a remote adjustable seatpost like a Joplin or whatever.

    what you are talking about is a freeride hardtail. check out Chromag or google freeride hardtail.

    go for it

  5. #5
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    Somewhere in between, a do it all bike like SC Chameleon maybe? Not sure bout the other frames you mentioned, but the Jackal can't fit a FD, but in your case, a 1x9 setup wouldn't be a problem.

    I'm looking for such frames as well and has been looking at the Chameleon & Komodos for something in between. Wanna learn some basic DJ, but I don't see myself going big like a tail whips & etc. Will a suoer short chainstay be good for steep uphills? Also will a DJ frame with short seattube be able to accommodate a seat post long enough for proper pedalling fit?

  6. #6
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    I have a DJ bike that I occasionally play with on my local trails that have some nice steep stuff. For really steep technical downhills (the ones that are so steep you basically just slowly work your way down them), a DJ bike is awesome because you can easily get your weight back and still have a lot of maneuverability and can bail really easy. Just make sure you're running trail tires (not your typical DJ/street tires because they usually don't have enough grip to keep you from skidding on the really steep stuff). DJ forks aren't great trail forks, but they do ok. I personally run an XC/AM fork (100mm Manitou Drake) on my DJ because I don't really go big with it and hated riding with a 6 lb DJ fork.
    It's on the flats and the uphills where a DJ bike will hold you back.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  7. #7
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    Kaizer, I was thinking about a SC Chamelon for a while too, still haven't eliminated it as a contender. Keep me informed on your thoughts, let me know which way you go. Not worried about proper pedaling fit, as long as I could have acceptable play height saddle and don't whack my knees into the bars if seated.

    Ganze, I had a Kona 5.0 before, which is described as FR HT. I found it too heavy for anything other than AM and light FR. Good at what it did, but too heavy for decent Urban work, bad at manuals and wheelies. Nice idea but want more manual friendly geometry and less weight. Like to keep in the 12-14kg range (27-31lb).

    Trailville, interesting you think that a DJ bike is good for steep trails, I can imagine that it would be pretty fun on a DJ bike. How do you think the bike would handle with a 120-140mm AM fork instead of an XC or DJ 100mm fork? I think it would help to prevent OTB type moments. Obviously a DJ bike will climb badly because of the geometry, but why specifically is it bad on the flat?
    Last edited by lew242; 12-09-2010 at 07:08 PM.

  8. #8
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    Lew242, I have a Chamelon and it is a great bike. It is awesome on steep downs and good at XC riding, even though a little harsh for an XC rig (like a DJ rig). I take it to the BMX track and pump track and it performs really well Ė I have a XX fork and the lock out is perfect for the track work. Manuals are easy.

    However, I have a friend that has a Jackal, 120mm Reba on the front and 1 x 9 set up. He XCs that all of the time. He jumps it all the time (and the old Reba is still going). I borrowed it for a couple of weekends and it rode really well on my XC trails. Itís not XC fast on the flats or the ups, but itís not impossible either. The shorter back end is harder to keep smooth over the bumps of the flats, so it tends get slowed a little more. But stand and sprint into the next series of corners and you'll be smiling...

    It was a lot of fun, very active, alive. Carves the twist stuff on the downs, loves the berms Ė itís so low and fast . Good for popping off things and generally a bunny hop king. Steep stuff didnít worry it as it was pretty slack with the fork. The Jackal (like many other DJ bikes) is a manual maniac,with the super short chain stays. At the pump and BMX track is where it shines through the most, just a great feel. It is so much more purposeful in this arena.
    I picked up my Chameleon as it was a cheap new frame, but I hesitated for a brand new Jackal frame at the time. After a lot of BMX track rides on the Chameleon, I now want to get into a Jackal or DJ. Having ridden both the Jackal and Chameleon, I think the Jackal is the way to go. The thrill of riding it is what makes it the business. And if I need to, I know that it rides XC trails okay. Good luck, it's always going to be a compromise.

  9. #9
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    I raced Downhill on steep rocky decents on my 100mm travel Giant STP. On a few different courses, and it was great.

  10. #10
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    lew242, I'm sure you could build a FS frame lighter, and with propedal its like a hardtail. I've been lucky and havn't ever really had shock problems. Seems like the RP23 is the benchmark. I really liked the Killswitch, but the bent seat-tube was a turnoff.

  11. #11
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    To be honest, I think DJ bikes are about as far as the ideal bike for steep rocky descents and you could get. I'm not trying to be negative, just honest.

    When I think of the best bike for steep and rocky, I think of slack, full suspension bikes with meaty tires and a good amount of travel.

    When I look at my DJ, it has a steep head angle, short seat tube, low profile tires, short fork travel.

    I'm all for make multi purpose bikes (my giant reign X is my do-it-all) but I worry that these purposes are so far apart that the bike will have to give up a lot to be either.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by lew242
    Trailville, interesting you think that a DJ bike is good for steep trails, I can imagine that it would be pretty fun on a DJ bike. How do you think the bike would handle with a 120-140mm AM fork instead of an XC or DJ 100mm fork? I think it would help to prevent OTB type moments. Obviously a DJ bike will climb badly because of the geometry, but why specifically is it bad on the flat?
    Again, I'm talking about the really steep stuff that you work your way down slowly. I ride this same stuff more frequently on my AM and XC bikes, and just feel more stable and in control when I occasionally hit it with the DJ bike. It's primarily due to all the clearance I have over the small DJ frame to move my body around.

    As to whether a DJ bike can handle a 120-140mm fork, obviously it's going to slacken the head tube angle but that's not necessarily a bad thing. And DJ bikes usually come with some seriously reinforced head tubes, so I wouldn't be too concerned that slackening the head tube angle is going to damage the frame. You may want to consider a fork with adjustable travel though based on the variety of things you want to do with this bike.

    On the flats, geometry is still and issue but so is weight. A DJ bike is a DJ bike, it's not designed to be an efficient pedaling machine and it's going to be heavy. My DJ bike only has a 12" seat tube, so even with a really long seatpost I still couldn't get full leg extension. And even if I could, it's kind of silly to get a bike specifically designed to give you plenty of clearance and maneuverability above the frame and then lose that by raising your seat to XC height. When I hit the trails with mine, I just leave it slammed and pretty much to the whole riding standing. But I just do it occasionally for fun, my primary trail bikes are trail bikes.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  13. #13
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    Sammysmc, thanks for saying why you don't think DJ bikes are suitable on steep rocky trails, but more realistically some good reasons why, food for thought.

    Pebbles, I live in China where there almost no such thing as a warranty, and there are no LBS guys that have a clue how to fix a fork or shock and no spare parts, which is why I am happy to stay as minimal maintenance as possible.

    Trailville, it's very interesting that you actually have fun riding steep stuff on a DJ bike. Maybe the weight and lack of pedaling ability are just too much penalties for me to have a DJ bike or frame.

    I am considering the SC Chameleon and Jackal ATM, but I want to fully understand any drawbacks with the geometry or weight before I buy.

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