Do I need a DH bike to ride DH?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Do I need a DH bike to ride DH?

    Hi Everyone,
    I'm a Florida mountain biker here and typically ride the Florida trails that are carved into old phosphate mines (Alafia River State Park and Balm Boyette) and I've ridden mountain bike trails in Northern Alabama (Oak Mountain and Coldwater) and in Northern Georgia. I have a 26' Specialized hardtail mountain bike that suits me just fine.

    If I were to venture up to Bailey and Beech Mountain downhill parks in North Carolina, would I be able to use my non-downhill bike if it was just for a few days? I don't intend on being a speed freak on them, but I am curious to see what the DH parks have to offer.

    Thank you in advance for any responses.

  2. #2
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    DH bike, no. Full suspension, yes. If it's a quick day trip for you then maybe it's worth a few lift service runs on a green run to get your toes wet. But even a blue run will probably result in a lot of walking around stuff on your bike...or breaking it A waste imo. If this is a bigger trip for you just rent a bike for the park.

    Can a human ride a 26 hardtail in a bike park? Sure but you'll be missing out on the reason for going in the first place which is to just smash and fly through everything. A dh bike will be a ton more fun and you wont need to worry about breaking it.

  3. #3
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    Get a full suspension. An AM bike will work. But a DH rig will be more fun.

  4. #4
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    If you go to Beech, rent a bike. You'll have much more fun. Lots of braking bumps and chatter there. In my opinion, a HT would be no fun.

  5. #5
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    I rode with Lance Canfield last year in Whistler....he blew a shock out and went and changed bikes to a 29er hardtail....I thought our crew would be able to keep up....but he slayed the trails and crew....

    that being said....he is an advanced rider. ...if it was me in your shoes...I would give it a try with your bike....if you feel you are getting bounced around too much or a little out of control...then rent a bike...

    BUT....do your self a favor and rent a dh bike...you will have a way more fun....you will love the difference
    the trick is ENJOYING YOUR LIFE EACH DAY, don't waste them away wishing for better days

  6. #6
    Keep on Rockin...
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    Rent a DH bike.

    The cost will be offset by not needing to replace the brake pads on your HT.
    Last edited by Miker J; 04-11-2016 at 03:47 AM.

  7. #7
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    I've ridden my hardtails on downhill trails before I bought a DH bike and I'll tell ya it's generally not as much fun on most real downhill trails. I'd just rent a DH bike.
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  8. #8
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    I live close to both of these places and would tell you the same thing. Rent a DH bike. I don't consider myself a DH rider and don't own a DH bike, but I have ridden Beech on my 29er Hardtail with 140mm fork and Bailey Mtn on my 650b 150mm travel full suspension bike this past weekend (for the first time). I had a great time at both places, but I definitely held back on my riding. I cooked my newish brake pads at Beech after about 12 runs and haven't checked my brakes yet after this past ride, but I imagine they will need to be changed soon as well. Bailey is STEEP and I actually don't think they will let you ride a hardtail there unless the owners know you. Both places rent and next time I will definitely rent a DH bike. There a TON of other great places to ride your hardtail though. Check out Bent Creek, Dupont, Rocky Knob Bike Park (Boone), and Kolo Bike Park for trail riding.

  9. #9
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    Thank you very much everyone. Your answers addressed my question very well! I appreciate it.

  10. #10
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    The question is always: do you want to be fighting the bike down the run the entire time, or do you want to be enjoying the ride? The less optimal the bike is, the more you'll be fighting it, and bikes downhill gain speed FAST, much faster than one might think on their local trails that have ups and downs, the speed just keeps adding up on a true DH run. You can wipe out a set of pads in one day of hard riding, as said above, not to mention pinch flats and rims, etc.

    Now, that said, the negative is that often the bikes you rent at the resorts are set up like crap, in that they have NO alternate springs to set up the fork or rear suspension, so you could be a 140lb guy on a 600lb spring that is totally inappropriate. The suspension on the lower-end stuff they rent is usually of a nature that gets more harsh the faster you go. This gets even more ridiculous when renting a "demo" bike, as they don't do shit to set it up for you, unlike how they set up skis and other "demo" equipment. At a minimum, all DH rental bikes should be set up with shocks like Vivid Airs and air-spring Fox 40s or Boxxers. At least then they could set up the equipment somewhat to your weight. To counter this, I usually try to rent the best equipment or go to an alternate rental place near the mountain, which often-times you can find. I will usually rent, but the DH bike rental also has a ways to go in terms of customer service and setting the bike up for you in a way that won't be dangerous.

    This might be one reason people bring their own bikes, but in some cases they are just trying to save some $$$ and they don't really consider that having fun all day may be more valuable than saving a few bucks by not renting a DH bike they can launch off of all the features...
    "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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  11. #11
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    How much does a used downhill bike typically cost...let's say a lesser expensive one? At $100 per day bike rental, that could add up quickly if you will be going a lot.

  12. #12
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    I really only ride ht downhill for ninja traning.

    I switch bikes alot between shuttles and the difference between a ht & dh bike is crazy!

    Used dh bikes are like 2k-4k plus or minus. Used dh bikes are a little scary imo. No warranty transfer.
    Hardtail downhill
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    Quote Originally Posted by SHIVER ME TIMBERS
    tresspassing, thievery and poaching is all part of a DH'ers life

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by #1ORBUST View Post
    ...Used dh bikes are like 2k-4k plus or minus. Used dh bikes are a little scary imo. No warranty transfer.
    If you're going to spend $2-4K USD you could fly to BC, buy a used bike in the 2011-13 range for ~$1000 USD, ride it at Whistler for a few days, then fly back with the bike. But yeah if you're buying used make sure you know the ins and outs of bike maintenance.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Peternell View Post
    How much does a used downhill bike typically cost...let's say a lesser expensive one? At $100 per day bike rental, that could add up quickly if you will be going a lot.
    I've ridden Alafia quite a bit - there's some chop there into and out of corners that you will appreciate if you do decide to wander into more DH-oriented terrain. Where there are gaps in demanding riding at places like Alafia River - and cardio endurance introduces itself - DH will be nearly entirely terrain and variances of said-riding.

    Your trail bike may pass muster, then again it could hold you back. Ride it, if you know you can push further between sections then consider stepping up in DH-specific designs.

    This is my all-around bike. Road it at Alafia, and also rode my Hardtail there. Both were a great ride, I ride in New England out of Vermont exclusively.

    Do I need a DH bike to ride DH?-dscn1434.jpg
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  15. #15
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    And, am set on the Markham 360 for next january too.
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  16. #16
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    I ride my 160mm full suspension carbon frame AM bike at the DH parks in Austria all the time and have a blast on it, but I don't go off of big drops, only rollers and table tops for me. I plan on renting a DH bike this year just to compare the difference.

    That being said, I wouldn't recommend riding a hardtail at a DH park, not only would it not be as much fun, I think it could be downright dangerous (ok, it's dangerous no matter what bike you ride, but I think a hardtail would be very hard to control at speed on a DH course).

  17. #17
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    I just when to a DH bike park this past weekend. (Natural terrain and 5% to 20% avg downgrades) I brought 2 bikes. One was a 7" freeride bike. It is set-up about like DH bike, but has a single crown fork. Definitely enough bike. I also brought a Santa Cruz Solo (5010). That is a 5" bike with 68 deg head angle and a dropper post. Not really ideal, but I wanted to see how it would do.

    While the 7" bike was better suited to chair lift riding, more plush and more than durable enough for the trails I was actually more comfortable and in fact faster on the Solo. The reason was in large part due me being mostly an XC rider vs a DH type. It was my first visit to a DH park in 15 years and I have not developed the skills to fully utilize the capabilities of the 7" bike. I don't do jump and am still not comfortable on large drops. So given my personal limitations the 5" Solo with the dropper was very capable. In order for me to fully use the capabilities of the 7" bike I need push my mental confidence and skill set. Plus I need to learn to dial in the suspension as the rear felt both really soft and did not seem to hold traction well.

    Point is that just by renting a DH bike does not mean you will be able move from "Green" trails to "Double or Triple black diamond" trails. Sure the bike can, but can the rider? I do think bringing a HT to DH bike part is an exercise in frustration, but you can still have fun on a medium to long travel "trail" or "AM bike" also. You may not be able to hit all the big lines, but even trying them is probably high risk for a first time.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  18. #18
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    If you are riding real dh trails, its 100% worth it to rent a dh bike. The guy who posted his "do-it-all" bike above, is a Iron Horse 6 Point. I have a 2007 6 Point that is build up with all modern components, a RS Vivid Air, RS Lyrik, it rode it as a trail bike. I am looking to sell for $1700 shipped if you would be interested. You can see pics of it here 2007 Iron Horse 6 Point - csermonet's Bike Check - Vital MTB

    if you are a one-bike kind of guy, a nice trail bike will be perfectly fine for riding downhill. If you can afford to have a DH specific bike and have progressed enough as a rider to reap the benefits of a big travel, slack, low, long dh bike, then you will definitely enjoy it. Really all comes down to what you are willing to spend

  19. #19
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    The problem is you are asking this question on the DH forum so naturally you are going to hear that you need a DH bike. If you are happy with your bike and have never ridden at a bike park, you will have plenty fun on your bike. You'll be slower, but who cares as long as you're having a good time. Do you think the Marin boys riding the Repack didn't have any fun because they were on fully rigid bikes? Sure once you get into it, you might want to step it up, but don't worry about it.

  20. #20
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    please help urgently !!! yesterday broke the fork race soon !! BUT there is no money even for most of fiscal !!! Tell me what to do !! It's a shame trained tsily year !!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ihor22 View Post
    please help urgently !!! yesterday broke the fork race soon !! BUT there is no money even for most of fiscal !!! Tell me what to do !! It's a shame trained tsily year !!
    ok. so what do you want us to do?

  22. #22
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    Tell me what to do

  23. #23
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    buy a new fork

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