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Thread: Is DH dying?

  1. #1
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    Is DH dying?

    With enduro bikes becoming more capable to handle DH trails, and with the limited amount of trails to ride for DH, would yall say that the sport is dying or just evolving into a different beast?

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    An enduro bike will never replace a true dh machine. There is no uphill compromise.

    With that said a enduro bike can survive most of the dh tracks.


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    I would say for most people in most situations, a full DH bike is unnecessary. But on a real DH course and/or terrain (example Whistler upper mountain) a true DH bike is unbeatable. If I lived right next to a bike park, I'd have one for sure. But 99% of the riding I do involves climbing first, then descending, and the trails are not gnarly enough to warrant a DH sled. My enduro-style bike is just a lot more appropriate (and faster). But also, there is a trend in trailbuilding where everything is getting dumbed-down/paved to the point where everything these days has to be a "flow" trail and ridable by anyone. Kinda makes a DH bike pointless.

    The sport itself is not going anywhere, IMO. Racing is still pretty strong.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cookieMonster View Post
    But also, there is a trend in trailbuilding where everything is getting dumbed-down/paved to the point where everything these days has to be a "flow" trail and ridable by anyone.

    this is the real issue. You don't need a DH bike for the popular trails at parks these days.
    Last time I was at Highland; it was the busiest/longest lines I've ever seen at a bike park, but the only people I saw on any of the tech trails were a couple little kids. Similar situation last few times I've been to Creek - flow and jump lines are crowded, techy tracks no one's there. I'd say that's why Platty closed, because no one wants to ride real DH any more.

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    i blame strava.

    oh, and aliens...


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    Its happening at Windrock too. The berm, jump lines get a majority of the traffic. Is it instant gratification that lures the average rider to these trails?

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    Last year at Whistler I saw quite a few am rigs on the mountain (not to say dh was the minority) but I talkin to my friends that have enduro style bikes they say why have a dh bike when an enduro can handle do park and double back as a trail bike. They're using it as a one stop shop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joules View Post
    this is the real issue. You don't need a DH bike for the popular trails at parks these days.
    Winter Park trail crew don't ride DH bikes... focus is definitely on the "flow".

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    While flow trails are becoming the norm, the east cost still has some good DH. I will keep a DH bike as long as I am physically able to ride it and good DH trails stay.

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    Quote Originally Posted by profro View Post
    Its happening at Windrock too. The berm, jump lines get a majority of the traffic. Is it instant gratification that lures the average rider to these trails?
    Windrock is the closest downhill park to me at 5 hrs away. So I canít justify a full dh rig. Thatís why I bought a Canfield balance so it can do double duty. I saw that last time I was there also. I enjoy the techy stuff way more the. The flow jump lines.


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    One of the local DH courses is definitely ridable, and fast, on an enduro.

    But when you see Aaron Gwin riding the same course, you see why just because an enduro can ride the course fast isn't good enough if you want to win. So no, I don't see DH dying. I just see less people buying dedicated DH bikes.

    But the custom, one off bikes built for DH racers now will still sell an enduro bike, so the marketing is still there.

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    Agreed. I wonder if the demand for DH bikes goes down then manufacturers will make less, and driving price up. Who knows though.

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    This fall I got permission and led some work days to maintain some proper gnarly downhill tracks built in the early 2000s at my local system, which had been falling into disrepair. The result has been huge and a lot of the comments I've been hearing since revolve around 'the rebirth of DH.' I know this is just a local thing, but it just shows that people will get behind it if it's available to them. I'm still riding my trail bike, but I've heard a lot of people say that our recent work has made owning a DH bike well worth it again.

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    depends on your trails...we have mountains to shuttle and trails to make you pucker
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    Quote Originally Posted by scaryfast View Post
    Last year at Whistler I saw quite a few am rigs on the mountain (not to say dh was the minority) but I talkin to my friends that have enduro style bikes they say why have a dh bike when an enduro can handle do park and double back as a trail bike. They're using it as a one stop shop.
    If you can only afford one bike that makes sense. On a mountain like whistler, a dh bike is not replaceable. I demoíd an enduro bike during crankworx.... way too small for a big park like whistler.

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    Is DH dying?

    Quote Originally Posted by scaryfast View Post
    Agreed. I wonder if the demand for DH bikes goes down then manufacturers will make less, and driving price up. Who knows though.
    Thereís a lot of research/time/cost into frame design. If you donít sell enough DH bikes, companies stop making them.

    If you sell enough of them, they keep making them. You donít have as many players selling DH bikes, but thereís plenty of places that you sell them and people even use them.

    At Winter Park, you see a good bit of both. Most people ride enduros to hit the jump trails. I could ride either bike, but it depends on which runs. There are places like Angel Fire and Whistler I would only ride a dedicated DH bike.

    Also, the high price of bikes has a lot of people looking for that one-quiver bike.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scaryfast View Post
    Agreed. I wonder if the demand for DH bikes goes down then manufacturers will make less, and driving price up. Who knows though.
    I read a while ago that DH bike sales generally don't generally recoup the development cost; that companies like Trek or Specialized use it as advertising and R&D for other bikes. Sort of like auto racing.
    A number of smaller companies have already gotten out of it; Turner and Yeti come to mind. I suspect the time a couple years ago when you couldn't give away anything 26" had a lot to do with it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stripes View Post
    Thereís a lot of research/time/cost into frame design. If you donít sell enough DH bikes, companies stop making them.

    If you sell enough of them, they keep making them. You donít have as many players selling DH bikes, but thereís plenty of places that you sell them and people even use them.

    At Winter Park, you see a good bit of both. Most people ride enduros to hit the jump trails. I could ride either bike, but it depends on which runs. There are places like Angel Fire and Whistler I would only ride a dedicated DH bike.

    Also, the high price of bikes has a lot of people looking for that one-quiver bike.

    Very true. Manufacturers will always make them even if sales slow down. But dont expect to see new redesigned frames every year with the latest technology. expect old frame designs with updated shocks at best.
    Last edited by ALimon; 01-22-2018 at 07:29 PM.

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    I wish I lived where a DH bike was needed. I can ride everything around here on a rigid single speed.

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    If Downhill is dying it's probably because USAC customer service is horrible and their race classifications don't make sense.
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    I don't know if it's dying or not. Probably depends on how you define DH. If you broaden the definition to "gravity focused" riding, its probably more popular than ever, but that would includes DH, Park, Freeride, slopestyle, and maybe even enduro.

    If you are talking purely DH racing, and riding (whether in a park, shuttling, or pushing) with DH bikes then I would guess it has declined, but I don't think it will die.

    The advance of pedalable AM/Enduro bikes that can handle a good portion of what used to be the territory of DH bikes, and the change in trail building styles (inside and outside of bike parks) have both likely taken a toll.

    At the cutting edge of pros riding big lines and gnarly features, to an average joe rider pushing the limit of their ability, I think DH bikes will always have a place.

    At the local freeride/DH trails I ride at, I see a pretty good mix of riders pedaling up the mountain on AM/Eduro rigs and guys pushing up on DH rigs. Probably 70% pedaling vs 30% pushing if I had to guess. But, I have started seeing riders there on E-bikes. It had me wondering whether DH capable E-bikes will take a further chunk out of the DH bike market.

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    I forgot the obvious answer to this question.

    29er DH bikes = DH is dead.

    In all seriousness though, I do kinda wonder where the 29er DH bike trend will go, and what impact it will have. This time last year, all the talk related to World Cup DH (on pinkbike mostly) was that 27.5 is dead, 29ers were taking over, they'd win every round, and that 29ers were such an obvious speed advantage that nobody could be competitive on anything but 29, or even question the fact that 29ers were light years faster than any other wheel size.

    Well, that didn't quite pan out on the results sheets, with a mixed bag of some good results on the big wheels, and a fair number of pros ditching the 29ers part way through the season. This year, everyone seems to be taking a more measured approach to 29ers.

    But, back to the point of this thread, I have to think we'll see even more fragmentation in the DH bike market, with manufacturers pushing 29ers as DH race bikes, some offering a dual crown park bike alternative in 27.5, and some with bikes that can run either wheel size.

    I think that out of the already small market for DH bikes, there is a good percentage that don't race or care about being the fastest, but rather want a DH bike that is fun to ride on both tech chunder and smoother jump lines.

    From what I've seen at my local park, and a number of trips to Whistler, the jump/flow trails are far far more crowded that the black and double black tech lines. If you split up all the riders into 3 categories that 1) like jump lines only 2) like tech lines only, or 3) like to hit the jump lines and the tech, I'd guess the riders in Category 3 (both) would be the highest percentage, followed by category 1 (jump), and the riders who only like tech a distant last place.

    I could see a lot of manufacturers offering a 29er DH race bikes and a pedal friendly burly 180mm single crown Super-Enduro/Freeride/Mini-DH bikes (whatever you want to call them).
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    funny, iím 46 and been riding my whole life and iím just now in the market for my first dh rig. ironic how the bike that got me to this point was the bike thatís supposed to be the death knell of the dh bike: an enduro rig. they are so capable now that i ride bigger and bigger stuff every year at northstar, the park i ride every summer. i ride stuff now that i thought was impossible as a hair-on-fire kid. my canfield balace just kills the majority of stuff there, but i love the super chunk as well as jumps and iíve gotten to the point where i want that extra 40mm to charge the nuttiest stuff better and faster. so for anyone like me, in close enough proximity to a park, that had an enduro bike to thank for bringing them to the very edge of their and their bikeís capabilities, iíd say the trend toward enduro rigs is the welcome mat to a dh bike.
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  25. #25
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    Yes.

    *I still love my DH bike and my Dorado
    You have just been mentally Rick Roll'd. Yup you're thinking about it right now aren't you? Don't fight it.

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    According to Sam Hill, maybe it is dying. I found this video quite interesting: https://nsmb.com/articles/sam-hill-c...d-flat-pedals/

    By the sound of it, sanitization is making its way even into World Cup DH racing. I haven't really competed in DH for over a decade, but it makes sense that 29" DH bikes might be faster if the tracks are getting less technical and more open.

    Fast/Open/Non-technical/Easy are not reasons why I began racing DH years ago. I generally liked the courses that were as gnarly as possible. Perhaps the younger generation of mountain bikers just aren't into tech anymore?
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    All very good points. I think that in the coming years we'll see bigger wheels be the norm on DH bikes. I also think that we'll see a lot more AM bikes at our favorite resorts. With these bikes being more capable and with people wanting to consolidate their bikes, there will be less and less dh bikes.

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    I learned to ride DH in the east where there was a lot of techy runs. When I moved to the west coast and started started riding in Whistler, I noticed a lot of people preferred to ride the Flow and jump trails. Never understood it. Those trails are nice if you need a break during the day, but to ride them over and over again....not for me. I'll stick to the technical stuff. I'd love to try a 29er DH bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Robin View Post
    I learned to ride DH in the east where there was a lot of techy runs. When I moved to the west coast and started started riding in Whistler, I noticed a lot of people preferred to ride the Flow and jump trails. Never understood it. Those trails are nice if you need a break during the day, but to ride them over and over again....not for me. I'll stick to the technical stuff. I'd love to try a 29er DH bike.
    I'll admit, whenever I go to Whistler, I probably spend about 75% of my time lapping Freight Train, Dirt Merchant, and A-Line. Because I don't have anything like that where I live, and it's fun to hit actual jumps (we have some gnarly terrain locally, but very little in the way of big-air jumps with nice landings). It's just fun to hit that kind of stuff when it's available; plus, riding nothing but the tech trails all day is very exhausting.

    That said, I prefer technical riding that features drops and jumps in addition to the gnar. That's why, on a B.C. trip, I usually stop in Vancouver for the technical riding for a couple days and then go to Whistler where all the riding is considerably easier.
    Bikes belong in Wilderness areas.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by tim_from_PA View Post
    While flow trails are becoming the norm, the east cost still has some good DH. I will keep a DH bike as long as I am physically able to ride it and good DH trails stay.
    Agree.

    Tried an enduro rig on my local DH and it had no place being there. I'm using every bit of my DH rig on the hill. They tried to put in one flow trail a year or so ago, the rest is rugged.

    I dig the physicality of old school DH - its good feeling like you came out of a wrestling match. Took a friend there last year who's military and earned high honors in some sort of physical abilities competition, and he's is great shape. He shut down after 4 runs on the hill due to fatigue. He's new to full on DH, but still... I find a day there is much more physically demanding than trail riding/pedaling. Point is, there are still hills where a real DH bike is needed, not just wanted.

  31. #31
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    I don't think DH ridding is dying!

    but I think for a lot of people, myself included, the need for a DH bike is. At least 75% of my ridding (maybe more) is lift serviced and/or shuttled, I've kept a pass for my local hill 9 years straight (10 in 2018!) and hit the other lift serviced areas near me and travel to the PNW/Whistler/Squamish once a year.

    but last year I ditched the DH sled for a long, slack 150mm 29er and I don't think i'll EVER own another DH specific dual crown bike.

    I'm faster than your average recreational gravity rider, and i love ridding rooty/rocky/steep DH style trails, but i'm also not anywhere near fast enough to be in the top 10% of DH riders and I don't think i would be competitive in a racing venue (no interest in racing besides).

    Sam Hill aside... I think if your ridding DH trails at race pace and your fast enough to be in that top 10% of shredders, a proper full on DH race bike is not just an asset, but likely essential.

    For the rest of us average to above average riders, I think that DH race sled is more likely to be a hindrance than an aid, and that class of riders is likely faster and has more fun ripping it up on a badass enduro bike.

    Personally, I smashed ALL of my PR's on my enduro bike compared to my DH bike, and I find it more fun and less exhausting. Being able to comfortably pedal the bike i'm able to access more trails easier than before.

    So no, DH riding isn't dying, but I think the mass market appeal of DH's bike IS dying. For the fundamental reason that a DH oriented enduro bike is just a much better fit for most riders, even when ridden in anger on some of the burliest trails around.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LarryFahn View Post
    Just go ride your bike and don't worry about what other people are doing. Fahn
    Thanks Larry, we'll shut the forum down and call it done.
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    Quote Originally Posted by euroford View Post
    Thanks Larry, we'll shut the forum down and call it done.
    Thanks! It's about time. Maybe I'll see you on the trails now?
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    Quote Originally Posted by cookieMonster View Post
    ... Because I don't have anything like that where I live...
    that's what shovels are for...


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    I spent the latter half of last season with an AM bike only after selling my Giant Glory that I had owned for a few years. After riding Whistler on the AM bike, I immediately started DH bike shopping again. Owning a DH bike is so addictive...they just are so good at their intended purpose its awesome. Sure, I don't ride it nearly as often as my AM bike, and frankly I'm not sure I'll always be able to justify owning one, but damn they're awesome. It's kind of like owning a pair of true powder skis.

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    Quote Originally Posted by .WestCoastHucker. View Post
    that's what shovels are for...
    Agreed -- but building anything like that would be considered a crime where I live. It's been tried. Jumps are not allowed on any public trails. We even have a purpose-built downhill trail that the FS was pretty lenient with at the start, but as soon as any real jumps started to appear, they were cut down and "dumbed" immediately. So it's not actually a real DH trail, sad to say.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zhendo View Post
    I spent the latter half of last season with an AM bike only after selling my Giant Glory that I had owned for a few years. After riding Whistler on the AM bike, I immediately started DH bike shopping again. Owning a DH bike is so addictive...they just are so good at their intended purpose its awesome. Sure, I don't ride it nearly as often as my AM bike, and frankly I'm not sure I'll always be able to justify owning one, but damn they're awesome. It's kind of like owning a pair of true powder skis.
    This ^^^. And it's so much easier on the ol' body. I can do much more runs on a DH bike than I can on a shorter travel.

    It's a shame that it's not cost effective for many companies to make them. I'd love to see what smaller companies can do, but the bigger companies are the ones that have the money that go into that market segment.
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  39. #39
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    DHing is affordable more now then ever. Buy a used 26er bike. The prices have dropped so much on those bike it makes sense to have them around even if your riding them 15 to 20 times a year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by daisycutter View Post
    DHing is affordable more now then ever. Buy a used 26er bike. The prices have dropped so much on those bike it makes sense to have them around even if your riding them 15 to 20 times a year.
    This is a good point.

    I'm debating on buying a used small DH rig for my kid vs just renting one more year. At his age I think I can maybe get 2 years out of a small bike.

  41. #41
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    Downhill Dying?

    I don't think so, but some companies might want you to think it is, so you'll get an enduro rig.

    This will be season 2 on my Spartan - easily the best all around bike I've owned. Even got so confident that I considered ditching my DH rig (M9) and getting a dual crown for the Spartan, warranty-be-damned. But, had to put it to the test first. While my "enduro" bike handled marvelously on our local DH runs, there's just places I can't charge on it like I can the M9. No dual crown fork, fatter tires/wheels, or adrenaline will change that. Some might say I should just grown a bigger pair and deal, lol. Perhaps. But DH bikes do what they do very well.

    Either my riding isn't advanced enough to really put the enduro bike to it's limits, (which, is a totally fair proposition) or the advantage of the DH bike is real, for it's designated terrain. Almost sounds as if its just as much a terrain issue as it is a bike issue, in some places.

    Are DH trails dying?
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    If traffic on this forum is any indication, DH is already dead.
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    Quote Originally Posted by twd953 View Post
    If traffic on this forum is any indication, DH is already dead.
    That's most of MTBR. It's been losing traffic since FB's gotten popular a few years ago.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joules View Post
    this is the real issue. You don't need a DH bike for the popular trails at parks these days.
    Last time I was at Highland; it was the busiest/longest lines I've ever seen at a bike park, but the only people I saw on any of the tech trails were a couple little kids. Similar situation last few times I've been to Creek - flow and jump lines are crowded, techy tracks no one's there. I'd say that's why Platty closed, because no one wants to ride real DH any more.
    Youíve not been to Thunder? Many options for non jump trails, in blue, black and double black. Proper steep and rocky. Only one blue jump trail and one double black jump trail.
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  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Robin View Post
    I learned to ride DH in the east where there was a lot of techy runs. When I moved to the west coast and started started riding in Whistler, I noticed a lot of people preferred to ride the Flow and jump trails. Never understood it. Those trails are nice if you need a break during the day, but to ride them over and over again....not for me. I'll stick to the technical stuff. I'd love to try a 29er DH bike.
    Iíve been known to throw down 20 laps a day on A Line..... lol. I love the flow lines.
    When I need a break Iíll go hit Detroit Rock and no joke.

    I think a niner dh rig would be really fun in the whistler tech!

  46. #46
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    I own both because I live 1 hour from great DH'ing and go up every weekend during DH season. I'm definitely more comfortable on the DH bike at speed and on big jumps and tech. I think if more people were close to DH parks, you'd have more DH bikes out there. Pretty simple really. That said, the flowy trails will always be more popular because I think the average rider is drawn to them because they are easier, and you don't really need a DH bike for flow trails.

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    Smashing a really physical track with a purpose-built DH bike is just a different kind of fun. Different strokes kind of a thing, I think.

    Man, I hope it never dies. Weekends without Rob Warner... feels like a 90's revival band name... but seriously, nail biter commentary during race season is what I live for.

  49. #49
    mtbr member
    Reputation: kitejumping's Avatar
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    If places would stop neutering all their trails a DH bike would be required.

  50. #50
    mtbr member
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    Quote Originally Posted by kitejumping View Post
    If places would stop neutering all their trails a DH bike would be required.
    Srsly...

    ppl just want to ride a dirt-highway with girl jeans and a half lid these days...

    Gimme O'Sin to Goat's any day of the week!

  51. #51
    i like rocks
    Reputation: euroford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kitejumping View Post
    If places would stop neutering all their trails a DH bike would be required.
    Says the guy who smashes the gnar on his XC bike!
    Tim M Hovey

    Nukeproof Mega 290
    1950 CJ3a
    1999 BMW 540i
    1999 F350 PSD

  52. #52
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    Yeah man, it's dead. You might as well toss your DH bike in the bin - in fact, I'll come take it off your hands and dispose of it properly for you, along with all your 26" mountain bikes.

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by euroford View Post
    Says the guy who smashes the gnar on his XC bike!
    I'm going full enduro with a newmad this year. Don't think I can rock the goggles with a half lid though.

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