Pedalable bikes for true downhill terrain- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Pedalable bikes for true downhill terrain

    I've been offered a job that would mean living at the base of Nevada's Bootleg Canyon, home to some pretty gnarly, steep, rocky terrain (like the kind that wheel companies use to advertise durability and Aaron Gwin shows up to race at). The downhill stuff is shuttlable, but I'm more of a pedal up kind of guy for most of my rides, so while I wait for my current job to make a counter offer, I'm daydreaming about what my ideal bike would be if I moved.

    A bit of background on me: I'm a fine bit not amazing mountain biker. I currently am on a first gen Santa Cruz Bronson with a DVO Topaz (and soon to have a 1 degree Works Components angleset). I ride everything from trail to park on it in the Northeast. I like it, but definitely feel the lower margin of error vs. a downhill bike when I'm at a bike park and pushing it. I'm 190cm (6'2"-6'3") and probably 195 geared up.

    So what are the current champs for pedalable big bikes? Particularly on a 2500-4000 budget (and lower is of course better).

    Options I've considered:

    1. Used downhill bike, keep the Bronson and ride it for all but the biggest terrain.

    2. New big bike that does most things as well as the Bronson. Add a short travel bike down the line.


    Big bikes I'm looking at:

    Transition Patrol (maybe Sentinel?) in NX builds
    Fuji Auric LT 1.3
    Guerrilla Gravity Megatrail Ride 2
    Canyon Torque AL (maybe Strive?)
    YT Capra
    Santa Cruz Nomad/Megatower R builds (or even the new, more descent focused Bronson)
    Spec Enduro 29 (this is what I rented when I went out to interview, though I didn't ride the really nasty stuff).
    Scott Ransom lower end build


    Anyone have any thoughts on what would best handle really rough terrain while not being impossible to pedal back up on?

  2. #2
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    Or option 3. Sell the bronson upgrade to a bigger hitting enduro bike and buy a second hand rig for the shuttle days.


    Put Rocky Mountain Slayer on your list. It will do everything the Bronson does, will weight slightly less, pedal uphill as good or better and is a monster on the down. Its insane what the slayer can ride through. I am typically faster on the slayer on my dh tracks that a rig for all but the stupedist gnarly lines. Even then over the hole track the slayer typically kicks arse.

    Pedalable bikes for true downhill terrain-img_20190420_145855.jpg

  3. #3
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    I'm just not sure I'd need two bikes bigger than that Bronson (though that would be ideal if I only rode Bootleg).

    The Slayer does look good. It starts above my price range though so I'd be dependent on finding a sale/used one.

  4. #4
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    The megatrail is perfect for what you want. Trail mode up, gravity mode down


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  5. #5
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    I have only ridden the Enduro, both the cheap Comp model (my '17) and the Coil edition (my new '18). I did a 7000' day on the coil Sunday. Pedals just fine for me. Definitely takes big hits pretty well. The cheap comp did just fine for me too.

  6. #6
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    Bang for the buck has to be the TY Capra, right?
    MERCY! MERCY! MERCY!

  7. #7
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    As long as this is still in daydreaming territory, how about a Tantrum Shinning? A big, plush, 160mm 29er that pedals well? Got to be something in that.

  8. #8
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    I'd go used DH bike.
    Ragley Big Wig, Sunday Soundwave (BMX), Nashbar CXSS (workout)

  9. #9
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    I pedal up for DH runs on my Remedy about as often as I do anything on it.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarcusBrody View Post
    I'm just not sure I'd need two bikes bigger than that Bronson (though that would be ideal if I only rode Bootleg).

    The Slayer does look good. It starts above my price range though so I'd be dependent on finding a sale/used one.
    Find the right bike and you won't lose anything to the Bronson on the up and flat but yourl gain grins on the down. So if you love to smash the down I don't see any issue having a bigger bike for your daily ride plus a cheap s/h rig for shots and giggles.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by stripes View Post
    The megatrail is perfect for what you want. Trail mode up, gravity mode down
    I do like the sound of Guerrilla Gravity in general. "Hey guys, one minute, I just need to change my shock mount"

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    I have only ridden the Enduro, both the cheap Comp model (my '17) and the Coil edition (my new '18). I did a 7000' day on the coil Sunday. Pedals just fine for me. Definitely takes big hits pretty well. The cheap comp did just fine for me too.
    This is what I rode when I was out interviewing and rented a bike. It handled everything I threw at it (though I didn't hit the big stuff). There were a few moments where I wouldn't have minded a bit slacker HTA as things got steep, but all and all a good bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by MOJO K View Post
    Bang for the buck has to be the TY Capra, right?
    It sure seems like it (along with the Canyon), but YT's customer service seems to have really gone to seed the last few years in the US.

    Quote Originally Posted by 93EXCivic View Post
    I'd go used DH bike.
    That's one option. Most of the videos of the gnarly stuff features people riding DH bikes. It would just mean limiting my daily rides to the non-hard core stuff (which is probably fine) unless I had the ability to shuttle. It's too bad Bootleg doesn't really have any good beginner stuff or it would be easier to get my wife to drive me over and meet her after one burly descent for some mellower riding.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    I pedal up for DH runs on my Remedy about as often as I do anything on it.
    I tried out a Remedy a few years ago and really liked it. I was attempting to buy a used Remedy 29 when a new Bronson popped up at a spectacular price and I bought that. The Remedy strikes me as similar to my Bronson: Capable of handling some really rough terrain under a skilled pilot, but less likely than a bigger/slacker bike to bail me out on my mistakes when things are really heavy.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarcusBrody View Post
    I tried out a Remedy a few years ago and really liked it. I was attempting to buy a used Remedy 29 when a new Bronson popped up at a spectacular price and I bought that. The Remedy strikes me as similar to my Bronson: Capable of handling some really rough terrain under a skilled pilot, but less likely than a bigger/slacker bike to bail me out on my mistakes when things are really heavy.
    The Remedy has changed quite a bit since they had a 29 version - longer travel, stiffer, more progressive geo... But I'd still say your analysis is pretty accurate. It's capable of literally anything in my opinion, but the margin for error leaves a little to be desired on the truly big hits. I ride it pretty damn hard (shuttle days, drops over my head to flattish, shit technique on gap jumps, etc) and have no need for more, but I can totally understand if someone felt more comfortable doing that stuff on a 170 bike.

  13. #13
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    Nothing at bootleg requires a real DH bike and you wouldn't want to pedal one anyways. Any enduro bike will work.
    Denver, CO

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    I pedal up for DH runs on my Remedy about as often as I do anything on it.
    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    The Remedy has changed quite a bit since they had a 29 version - longer travel, stiffer, more progressive geo... But I'd still say your analysis is pretty accurate. It's capable of literally anything in my opinion, but the margin for error leaves a little to be desired on the truly big hits. I ride it pretty damn hard (shuttle days, drops over my head to flattish, shit technique on gap jumps, etc) and have no need for more, but I can totally understand if someone felt more comfortable doing that stuff on a 170 bike.
    I love the Remedy and the new version looks great. The ground is just a lot harder and sharper where I'm moving to than it is in the NE, so I'll take all the help I can get in avoiding encountering it. ha

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Streetdoctor View Post
    Nothing at bootleg requires a real DH bike and you wouldn't want to pedal one anyways. Any enduro bike will work.
    That's good info. Thanks!

    I certainly wouldn't want to pedal a dh bike. If I went that route, it would be to shuttle the DH runs and ride my Bronson everywhere else. Most of the stuff I saw looked like a big enduro bike would be ideal, so I was looking for suggestions as to which ones were best for tough chunky stuff.

  16. #16
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    Stumpy Evo is more enduro than the Enduro and crushes climbs. Unfortunately sizing is limited for now so if you’re over 6’2”-ish you may be out of luck.

  17. #17
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    Here's something to consider, custom tuned suspension, get a 2nd hand coil shock like a small-shaft RC4 or Van and send it to Avalanche. Pick up an Avalanche cart for an older 40/Boxxer/Lyrik/Yari and run that. I swear it "bumps" my 6" bike a few classes up in terms of ability to handle gnar terrain and it saves my a$$ regularly when I land on my nose and the anti-bottoming cone kicks in to not cause an endo or when I land off-course and ride out through some unplanned rough stuff. It's hard to describe, it obviously doesn't make my bike feel like a DH bike completely, but it makes it feel like I'm giving up a lot less as far as the difference. Quality of travel always eclipses quantity of travel. This isn't radically expensive compared to the cost of a bike/frame, but it does make a pretty radical difference compared to OEM shock tunes, especially for achieving what you want.
    "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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  18. #18
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    Take my advice and ease into Bootleg.
    Ripping trails and tipping ales

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shredmonkey View Post
    Stumpy Evo is more enduro than the Enduro and crushes climbs. Unfortunately sizing is limited for now so if you’re over 6’2”-ish you may be out of luck.
    i am 6'2-6'3". I actually rented the Enduro over the Stumpy Evo when I went out to ride Bootleg as I wasn't sure if the Evo sizing would work. I talked to the shop guy about the Evo and he really liked it. Largely for it being fast. I asked if he the low bottom bracket was an issue in the really chunk stuff. He said "Not if you don't suck at mountain biking." I said "Hmmm, so where are the bikes for those people, just - you know - out of curiosity."

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Here's something to consider, custom tuned suspension, get a 2nd hand coil shock like a small-shaft RC4 or Van and send it to Avalanche. Pick up an Avalanche cart for an older 40/Boxxer/Lyrik/Yari and run that. I swear it "bumps" my 6" bike a few classes up in terms of ability to handle gnar terrain and it saves my a$$ regularly when I land on my nose and the anti-bottoming cone kicks in to not cause an endo or when I land off-course and ride out through some unplanned rough stuff. It's hard to describe, it obviously doesn't make my bike feel like a DH bike completely, but it makes it feel like I'm giving up a lot less as far as the difference. Quality of travel always eclipses quantity of travel. This isn't radically expensive compared to the cost of a bike/frame, but it does make a pretty radical difference compared to OEM shock tunes, especially for achieving what you want.
    The gen Bronson I have has a leverage ratio that seems a bit less tailored to a coil than the later gen versions. Some people talk about trying it online, but I can't find the after comments. Right now I have a DVO Topaz on it and have really liked it, but I could fine a used coil and try it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vader View Post
    Take my advice and ease into Bootleg.
    Ha, oh I plan too. On my visit, I rode Lower Lake View (from the bike path to where Upper Lake View starts), Upper Lake View (both ways), Girl Scout (both ways), Inner Caldera (loop), a navigational cluster**** of Par None Connector, Par None? Dessert Cruise, and maybe something else on my way out attempting (first) ensure I got a little more riding in then (second) hoping to end this ride as soon as possible.

    My only crash was on literally one of the absolute easiest sections of Inner Caldera when crossing a little wash, I mistook bunched up sand for a berm and sent the front wheel right through it. It was about the least consequential fall you could possibly take at Bootleg and the top of my calf/shin was still pretty scraped up.


    Anyway, I appreciate all the advice. I'm waiting today for my potential employers response to my counter-offer. Due to my current work place trying to retain me, it was somewhat aggressive. Which means that if they go for it, I'll have bike money.

  20. #20
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    I would personally go with the Ransom. Remote lockouts for climbing and is a definite big boy bike. Although, I think your bike can handle it all with some cushcore and dialed setup.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarcusBrody View Post
    I'm waiting today for my potential employers response to my counter-offer. Due to my current work place trying to retain me, it was somewhat aggressive. Which means that if they go for it, I'll have bike money.
    Sooooooooooo... You're buying two bikes now? Good luck!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stickyface View Post
    I would personally go with the Ransom. Remote lockouts for climbing and is a definite big boy bike. Although, I think your bike can handle it all with some cushcore and dialed setup.

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    I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't use lockouts for climbing. I don't even stiffen up the suspension AT ALL on my Enduro, full open. Even on a big climbing day. Only place I like a lockout is full sprinting in XC. Even then I find myself locking the suspension less and less even on my XC bike.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't use lockouts for climbing. I don't even stiffen up the suspension AT ALL on my Enduro, full open. Even on a big climbing day. Only place I like a lockout is full sprinting in XC. Even then I find myself locking the suspension less and less even on my XC bike.
    Fair enough. I dont lock out my bikes either but I dont have 170mm of travel lol.

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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't use lockouts for climbing. I don't even stiffen up the suspension AT ALL on my Enduro, full open. Even on a big climbing day. Only place I like a lockout is full sprinting in XC. Even then I find myself locking the suspension less and less even on my XC bike.
    I rarely change my compression settings for climbing on my current bike, but I do leave it on the medium setting a lot a lot for my everyday rides where I prefer a bit poppier/more supportive rear end as I don't really need to soak up anything too big.

    So while I'm not really a huge fan of flipping climb switches, the Ransom actually really appeals to me. From the sound of things, it's character does really change in the 120mm mode and it feels much more like a trail bike. If I was going to have one bike, it seems promising (though the most adjustment is only available on more expensive trims).

  25. #25
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    If I'm hammering the chunk on my 160mm bike I need to go to the middle mode or I'll get a lot of pedal strikes. There's nothing wrong with the bb height or shock; it just goes deep into its travel over moderate speed pedally tech. For this reason I'd prefer a bar mounted switch, just so I don't have to reach down. Even better with a Di2 like motor on the shock. Or wireless.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't use lockouts for climbing. I don't even stiffen up the suspension AT ALL on my Enduro, full open. Even on a big climbing day. Only place I like a lockout is full sprinting in XC. Even then I find myself locking the suspension less and less even on my XC bike.
    If you do a lot of tech climbing, lockouts or "climb" settings are ultra annoying, as your bike bucks and kicks on every little impact. This is why I'd rather have a good suspension design first, then I'll soften it up with a coil for terrain if the mfr can't nail the shock tune.
    "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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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    If you do a lot of tech climbing, lockouts or "climb" settings are ultra annoying, as your bike bucks and kicks on every little impact. This is why I'd rather have a good suspension design first, then I'll soften it up with a coil for terrain if the mfr can't nail the shock tune.
    I don't like full lockouts for the same reason, but I have few issues climbing with my Topaz on its middle compression setting. The Ransom's setup seems to be a further evolution of that (adjusting compression and travel, so the shock basically acts like it was on a 120mm bike). Most people I've read posts from basically don't use the full lock out and a lot have removed the lockout from the fork entirely, but they seem to love the rear adjustments.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by plummet View Post
    Or option 3. Sell the bronson upgrade to a bigger hitting enduro bike and buy a second hand rig for the shuttle days.


    Put Rocky Mountain Slayer on your list. It will do everything the Bronson does, will weight slightly less, pedal uphill as good or better and is a monster on the down. Its insane what the slayer can ride through. I am typically faster on the slayer on my dh tracks that a rig for all but the stupedist gnarly lines. Even then over the hole track the slayer typically kicks arse.]
    I do like these Slayers.

  29. #29
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    I was in the same boat recently and picked the YT Capra to replace my Santa Cruz Heckler. Went with the Al Comp as it has the component build I wanted and I don't need/want carbon. Pretty tough to beat the value they sell these at! I looked at the Canyons too but I demo'ed the Capra and was really stoked on it.
    I've had it for less than 2 weeks and still getting the suspension dialed in "just right" but it's a freakin' blast. Absolutely bombs downhill! Uphill it's a slight bit more work than my Heckler was but it's not too bad at all. I don't concern myself with uphill speed - I'd rather get max enjoyment on the downhills and parks. Happy with my choice.
    Also, this week I did PR a climb that I've been riding for over 5 years. Maybe I was just trying to convince myself the bike can go uphill too! Who knows, but results are results, and having ridden that climb so many times previously it must mean something

  30. #30
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    I am running a two-bike stable that includes a mid-level coil GG Megatrail. My other bike is a high-end Ibis Mojo3 (140/130) set up as a plus bike. The MT destroy the Ibis on the descents. Where the Ibis feels harsh, the MT floats. The longer wheel base of the MT also makes a significant difference cornering - very stable with no twitch.
    Initially I couldn't really tell much difference between the modes on the MT but now on long ride days switching between climbing and descending really makes a difference. Just this last weekend I pulled off a 40 mile ride with 5,500 ft of climbing and descending on the MT. I would never have thought the MT would handle that as well as it did - blew me away. I suspect the climbing position on the MT may be better than the Ibis and it 'almost' makes up for the 7lb weight penalty. The Ibis is still way more poppy than the MT.

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