freeride / dh bike for trail and all purpose use?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    freeride / dh bike for trail and all purpose use?

    i'm thinking about buying a nice freeride / dh bike. I do mostly trail and ride pretty hard so would this style bike (transition blindside) be appropriate? I don't mind the weight, want something that will take a beating, and am switching over from bmx so intend to take some drops etc...

    what specifically about a downhill bike makes it hard to pedal UP hills? I would think that with the frame geo being designed with weight more over the back wheel would make it easier to pedal up. Does your front wheel coming off the ground really become a big issue, even when you're standing?

  2. #2
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    The biggest issue for me is the seat position in relation to the pedals. Even with a tall seat and good leg extension you end up using mostly your quads to pedal which tires you out a lot faster.

    If youre just climbing a couple of miles then I dont think it matters too much. Just pedal slow or walk.

  3. #3
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    I ride the same sort of trails and recently upgraded from a Nomad to a Delirium.

    The front wheel popping up can be controlled via seat height, stem length, and body english. When I switched from a XC bike to Nomad, I had that issue all the time. Wider bars and adjusting my balance solve the problem.

  4. #4
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    My wife rides a Transition Bottlerocket for the same purpose your looking at and while it weighs a little more than a "trail" bike it makes up for it. There are lots of -in between- bikes.

  5. #5
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    to the OP:



    have you actually RIDDEN a downhill or freeride bike? Other than around a friend's yard, etc? before you think about buying, you should check out some DH/FR park near you and rent a bike there. See how it works out. Sure, it's gonna set you back $120 or so, but that's alot better than dropping $5000 on a bike you aren't ready for.
    Go ride your bike.

  6. #6
    Shred...it's the new drug
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    check out the Cove STD!!! So nice...7" of travel, full seat tube, killer geo, pedal friendly...

    The Bottlerocket is a great economical choice too.

    I know a couple guys that rip their older gen. Giant Reign X's to shreds

  7. #7
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    If this is your first full-sized bike (you say you've just ridden bmx before), I would recommend an AM bike. I couldn't tell you what would be best when all you tell us is that you'll be "taking some drops". Most AM bikes could probably take a good hit, as long as it's a quality build. If you're planning on doing a lot of pedaling, consider a rear shock with a lockout.

  8. #8
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    Can't go wrong with an SX Trail.

  9. #9
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    SC Nomad does it all.

  10. #10
    LWP
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    Quote Originally Posted by sambs827
    Sure, it's gonna set you back $120 or so, but that's alot better than dropping $5000 on a bike you aren't ready for.
    There's no such thing as "a bike you aren't ready for".

    If you can get up your local climbs with the 1x9 that's on most DH and FR bikes, that extra 5 lbs. isn't going to stop you and the geometry is just a matter of adjusting to what you have.

    I've seen people say in this forum that if you can ride your bike up the trail, you don't need a FR/DH bike for the trip down. I'm not sure where that logic comes from. We have many (granted, relatively short) runs around where I live that have fairly easy XC trails up (and down) but you can take alternate trails down that include big drops, jumps and lots of rocks. The trails may not require a FR/DH bike but they include obstacles that are every bit as valid as many you see on the big runs... it just doesn't take nearly as long to get to the bottom. I personally would feel better chugging a FR/DH bike up the XC trails than taking a XC bike down the alternate trails.
    Last edited by LWP; 05-18-2010 at 10:22 AM.

  11. #11
    SamIAm
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    +1 Sxt.

    really any fr/dh bike that has fullish steep seat tube will be somewhat ok. especially if you get a wheelset just for trail use. lighter wheels tubes tires makes any bike WAAAAY easier to move around.
    <(*-*<) Go Ride (>*-*)>

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by sambs827
    to the OP:



    have you actually RIDDEN a downhill or freeride bike? Other than around a friend's yard, etc? before you think about buying, you should check out some DH/FR park near you and rent a bike there. See how it works out. Sure, it's gonna set you back $120 or so, but that's alot better than dropping $5000 on a bike you aren't ready for.

    Quoted for best advice so far...

  13. #13
    Calm like a Bomb
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    Quote Originally Posted by cobaltn
    i'm thinking about buying a nice freeride / dh bike. I do mostly trail and ride pretty hard so would this style bike (transition blindside) be appropriate? I don't mind the weight, want something that will take a beating, and am switching over from bmx so intend to take some drops etc...

    what specifically about a downhill bike makes it hard to pedal UP hills? I would think that with the frame geo being designed with weight more over the back wheel would make it easier to pedal up. Does your front wheel coming off the ground really become a big issue, even when you're standing?
    generally a DH bike has 1 ring up front which would make it difficult to climb anything of significance

    they usually weight over 38lbs

    They usually don't have lockout on the shocks and 8" of plush travel can get tiring when pedaling up

  14. #14
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    +1 on the Knolly DT. Climbs great and goes downhill even better. It's been my main bike for the past 2 years. Use it on all day XC rides, burly AM rides, and park rides. The extra weight and burl don't slow me down at all.
    Come stay and play at da Kingdom Trails! - http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p3486813

  15. #15
    Now with More Wood
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    It's not really the weight (overall or distribution) - it's the geo of the frame that is the biggest limiting factor when it comes to climbing/pedaling. But since it's that very geo that provides all the fun when the trails turns downwards, it's the price you pay...

    Most pure DH bikes will have an interupted seattube with an angle intended to put the saddle in the right place for proper DH riding. In other words, NOT for any kind of extensive seated pedalling. You end up standing or pushing up any significant climbs.
    FR bikes generally tend to get you a bit closer to a proper seated position (OK not all of the "FR" bikes do, but a much larger portion), being a bit steeper in the geometry overall and often with an uninterupted seattube (or at least one with an angle more likely to allow you to at least run a telescopic post that gets you close enough), but they are still typically quite short in the TT/wheelbase, which again is not perfect for extended amounts of pedalling.

    The long and short of it ( ) is that you will suffer a bit or a lot more on climbs with these kinds of bikes. Exactly what YOU mean by climbing (how steep, long, etc), and also what YOU mean by "riding hard" will be the most important factors influencing your choice.

  16. #16
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    Couldn't agree more on the Cove STD.

    Its superseded my Nomad MKII as my all round bike. Its a little harder & definitely heavier going up but absolutely no comparison on the way down.

    Geometry is spot on and its the perfect jump/hucking bike couldn't be happier with mine.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWP
    There's no such thing as "a bike you aren't ready for".

    If you can get up your local climbs with the 1x9 that's on most DH and FR bikes, that extra 5 lbs. isn't going to stop you and the geometry is just a matter of adjusting to what you have.

    I've seen people say in this forum that if you can ride your bike up the trail, you don't need a FR/DH bike for the trip down. I'm not sure where that logic comes from. We have many (granted, relatively short) runs around where I live that have fairly easy XC trails up (and down) but you can take alternate trails down that include big drops, jumps and lots of rocks. The trails may not require a FR/DH bike but they include obstacles that are every bit as valid as many you see on the big runs... it just doesn't take nearly as long to get to the bottom. I personally would feel better chugging a FR/DH bike up the XC trails than taking a XC bike down the alternate trails.
    There is no true DH bike that you would want to ride on the flats for too long, let alone spend half of your miles pedaling UP anything. DH and FR are not the same thing.

    The quote, "a bike you aren't ready for" may have been poorly worded, but the OP should know a little more about DH bikes before assuming that the only penalty is weight... there is overly active suspension, poor seated riding position, and lack of granny gears, all of which could be a very significant issue on most people's "trail rides".

    Suggesting to someone a rental before a purchase is very sound advice when the bike being considered is a DH race bike and the person has little experience.

    To the OP: I'd point you towards a bottlerocket before the blindside.... or a nomad/firebird/el guapo/enduro.... really, there are a lot of bikes that can still take a beating, rip the descents and stunts pretty well and be a lot more versatile. Good luck with the search.
    You better just go ahead and drop that seatpost down to the reflector... the trail gets pretty rough down there.

  18. #18
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    Thanks for all of the feedback, it's tremendously appreciated.

    I currently own a Cannondale hardtail that I rarely rode in college but have been pretty actively riding and replacing parts within the last year, it just seems that I'm really thrashing the thing with my riding style.

    I'm leaning toward something just short of a downhill bike, which seems to be the consensus. I can get a 2010 GT Sanction 1.0 for $2700 and get 20% cash back in the form of points through Performance. I have the tools to work on the bike myself so think getting full sram x9 with a hammerschmidt crank, fox dhx air 5, among other things for under $3000.00 isn't a bad deal. What do yall think?

    I don't really care about racing, my ride style is more pedal mashing rather than constant cadence, and I try to huck and jump whenever trails give the opportunity. I don't care to get into racing anytime soon, so don't mind dragging the weight - as some in this thread have mentioned - to be able to aggressively take the downhill portion of my rides. If the frame geo really turns out to be an issue, which was my primary concern when making this post, then I'll just return the bike or switch to a different frame.

    Thanks again for all of the input.

  19. #19
    SamIAm
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    will you be doing lift access?
    <(*-*<) Go Ride (>*-*)>

  20. #20
    LWP
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    I wasn't disagreeing with any of that. My point was, if I really need (or really think I need) a DH bike for the descents I do but the only way up where I ride is to pedal or push then I'd rather suffer chugging up than suffer flying down. If I was doing that type of DH frequently but also did XC and could only have one bike, I'd rather work harder on the XC trails than avoid the descents that I'd like to be bombing. I'm not saying that's the right logic for everyone, I just wanted to throw another way of thinking about it in the mix.

  21. #21
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    Sanction is a sweet bike. I use it as my "xc" bike. It's seen its share of DH runs, 20+foot doubles, 10 ft drops, etc. Definitely a good all arounder that won't hold you back much anywhere.

  22. #22
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    will you be doing lift access?
    Probably not, maybe on an occasional vacation/trip.

  23. #23
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    Having faced the same dilemma I will share my thoughts and the bike I ended up with.

    I wanted a bike that can take full on DH and FR, but still pedal well enough to use as a trail bike.

    Basically the trails I ride/build have steep DH, decent size free ride stunts but require pedaling to get there. On top of that the bike needs to deal with trips to bike parks.

    So I wanted:
    Slack HA, max 66 deg
    Top tube to suit me 24"
    Low stand over.
    Full seat tube (to raise and lower seat).
    Steep seat tube angle (so when you raise your seat, the horizontal distance between seat and cranks does not change much).

    Basically for pedalling efficiency the cranks can't be too far forward of the seat. Since the seat gets lowered for DH, and I don't sit on it to go down steeps, I'd rather have the seat in the right spot to pedal than a super slack seat tube angle.

    I ended up with a Canfield lucky, which on paper looks like a beefy AM bike. 66deg HA, 72deg seat tube, 24" top tube, continuous seat tube, 8" travel, 13.8" bb.

    So far this has worked out really well. I won't win XC races, but I can hold my own on trail rides.

    with teh exception of handling, the diff between a 40lb trail bike and a 30lb trail bike for me is a little less than 4% total mass change, so my up hill speed is a little reduced... but I can destroy all teh guys on "trail" bikes on the rock gardens (even climbing them!), down hills and free ride sections, which is what I care about.

  24. #24
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    Sounds like you want more of a freeride bike than a downhill bike. If you want to pop and drop everything on the way down then you'll probably enjoy a freeride bike more since it'll jump better and be more playful. A downhill bike is designed to get you down fast not really for playing a ton on the way down. I think you'd be happy with a 6-7" travel bike depending on what it is.

    I made the mistake of getting an all-mountain bike (an SC Heckler) as my first bike. I had tons of fun on it and it pedals great, but I realized I had no interest in pedaling. Now I have a Norco Shore which doesn't pedal well, but has been amazingly fun once you get it rolling downhill. Way more plush and comfortable on bumpy stuff/harsh landings and lots of fun on the jumps, drops. Wouldn't want to go back to the Heckler now. I could go down the same stuff on it, but it wasn't as enjoyable.

    If you get an all-mountain bike make sure you ask yourself "Am I pedaling just to go for a ride, or only to get to the top of a hill so I can go down?"

  25. #25
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    I definitely agree that until you (OP) have actually ridden a DH/FR bike on the type of terrain you are planning to ride, you won't really know how functional it will be. I would suggest, as others have, that you look more toward the aggressive all mountain or possibly freeride categories rather than full on DH. Several good bikes have been suggested. You might check out some of the Canfield Brothers offerings like the One or Can Diggle as well.

  26. #26
    DAM
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    TR Bottle rocket! This bike is a lot of fun. Nice lines, great rear suspension (I prefer the coil) and if you put a Talus fork on you can lower the front end for climbing. Bike handles well on the climbs (a little heavy), great on the descends and is super fun in the air! Great company and lifetime frame crash replacement.

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