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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been thinking about getting a DH bike for lift riding and racing. Every time I start looking at various DH bikes I wonder if I really could push a true DH bike to its limits and start contemplating a smaller bike.

Thoughts? Does rider skill actual play into picking out the type of bike? Or should I stick with a bike and its intended purpose? If I can't push the DH bike, does it make sense to get one?

For what it is worth, this is what I've been looking at...

Small bikes. Santa Cruz Bullit, Intense Uzzi, Turner Highline

Big bikes. Intense 951 or used Socom, Older DHR, Ventana El Cuervo
 

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Sugary Exoskeleton
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How many riders can truly push a DH bike to its limits? If that were some sort of litmus test there wouldn't be many people riding big rigs.

The big bike makes big terrain easier to ride, no matter what your skill level. Go for it!

JMH
 

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maker of trail
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It depends on what you want to do.

Personally based on the bikes you listed I'd choose the frame more to suit the terrain you're going to ride/have access to. eg is it steep nasty technical WC type courses? Smooth fast jump lines? stuff like that.

For me:
If I had access to full DH courses, (eg MSA WC type courses) I'd go with a big bike.

If the trails were smoother then you'd probably have more fun on something like the UZZI/highline etc.
 

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wuss
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I think a bigger bike can make terrain easier, but it can also boost confidence. I have an Uzzi now which is a big bike for me. It makes rough sections feel smoother, but it's also gotten me to try things I would not have with my previous bike (but could have).
 

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maker of trail
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dropadrop said:
I think a bigger bike can make terrain easier, but it can also boost confidence. I have an Uzzi now which is a big bike for me. It makes rough sections feel smoother, but it's also gotten me to try things I would not have with my previous bike (but could have).
haha yeah I know exactly what you mean! A few years back when I first started hitting drops, I was crapping myself on my session 77 (7"+8" FR/DH bike) hitting like a 3ft to transition the first time. As soon as I did it I though how idiotic I was for being so scared because it was soooo smooth and uneventful, a couple weeks later went back hit the whole drop line (only wee ones) on my SS hard tail. :thumbsup:
 

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Rider skill trumps bike every time. A bigger bike can make terrain easier, but it can also get you in over your head quicker. Big moves with no skills = big injuries. I recently got my first DH rig after years of riding hardtails, shorter travel bikes, and rigids. The speed the DH rig is capable of is truly scary. If I did not have the skills from the other kinds of riding I have done, I can see myself being turned into hamburger on this thing.

The "small bikes" you mention are not all that small. If I was in your position, I'd not really bother with the full DH rig, as you can do everything you want to do and are likely to do on the "small bikes" you mention.

When I first started riding the Shore, I was convinced I needed lots of travel to ride. Now I do it all on the hardtail - Whistler too. Brakes are more important than travel. Skill is more important than the bike.

Of course this does not mean that I encourage the riding of crappy bikes. Your equipment does put a limit on what you can do with it. If I am going to be riding agressively, I sure won't be on a Wal-Mart special. Put a good rider on a crappy bike and it will do more than most people expect of it. Put a crappy rider on a good bike and you will have a banged up good bike.
 

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I much prefer the ergos and handling of a full on DH bike to everything else out there. Now that I am used to the DH bike everything else feels retarded to me. I also ride trails that require tons of travel as they're incredibly rough and many drops are right in the middle of 90 and 180 degree turns. The geo of a smaller bike wouldn't allow you to simply lean back on the bike to make the drop, but rather try and drop it with both wheels landing equally, and that is a good way to really hurt yourself on something like what I described above.

I was contemplating going with a AM or FR bike before getting the DH bike, but I'm glad I went with the DH bike. It really depends on what you're going to be doing with your bike, but with a DH bike you will never find yourself thinking "Man I wish I had more travel.". IMO it's better to have too much of a good thing than not enough. If you plan on doing minimal peddling, get the DH bike. If you want to ride around random terrain and not be dedicated to an elevation change, get something else.

I don't think "pushing the bike" is something you need to think about. Think about the type of riding you're going to be doing and buy a bike accordingly. You'd be hard pressed to meet someone at a resort actually pushing a DH bike to its' limits as they're built to blast through WC courses without any problem so don't worry about utilizing all of the bikes' travel.
 

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OldHouseMan said:
I've been thinking about getting a DH bike for lift riding and racing. Every time I start looking at various DH bikes I wonder if I really could push a true DH bike to its limits and start contemplating a smaller bike.

Thoughts? Does rider skill actual play into picking out the type of bike? Or should I stick with a bike and its intended purpose? If I can't push the DH bike, does it make sense to get one?

For what it is worth, this is what I've been looking at...

Small bikes. Santa Cruz Bullit, Intense Uzzi, Turner Highline

Big bikes. Intense 951 or used Socom, Older DHR, Ventana El Cuervo
Hmmmmm. I'd prolly steer you towards a HL or the Uzzi. You can probably pick one up for pretty cheap (my buddy is selling his Uzzi) and if you ride agro AM you will know pretty quick if you want to step it up.

I haven't had the need for a full on DH bike in quite some time and I'm just as quick as most or all of the guys that I ride with. Pick up a HL and if you are ready next year, it looks like the DHR will be back and fitted with DW link...and so will the RFX supposedly:cool:
 

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dropadrop said:
I think a bigger bike can make terrain easier, but it can also boost confidence. I have an Uzzi now which is a big bike for me. It makes rough sections feel smoother, but it's also gotten me to try things I would not have with my previous bike (but could have).
Spot on!

I now have taken a step back and all I ride is my "little bike" which is an SXTrail. As the DH rig have given me so much confidence to hit the big stuff, I do the same stuff with the smaller bike and I have realzied travel is not everything. Throwing the samller bike around is also less effort, I even ride a bit faster and most important, have much more fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the input, a lot of contradicting info, but it does help, and I see I need to do some more thinking.

essenmeinstuff said:
It depends on what you want to do.

Personally based on the bikes you listed I'd choose the frame more to suit the terrain you're going to ride/have access to. eg is it steep nasty technical WC type courses? Smooth fast jump lines? stuff like that.

For me:
If I had access to full DH courses, (eg MSA WC type courses) I'd go with a big bike.

If the trails were smoother then you'd probably have more fun on something like the UZZI/highline etc.
Right now, all we have in the area for lift accessed riding is Ski Bowl, which isn't too bad, but not great. It's very loose and rocky. There are plans to build a "World Class" bike park at Timberline, but I really have no idea what the plan is for trails. I'll probably decide based on what they put in at Timberline.

Techfreak said:
Rider skill trumps bike every time. A bigger bike can make terrain easier, but it can also get you in over your head quicker. Big moves with no skills = big injuries. I recently got my first DH rig after years of riding hardtails, shorter travel bikes, and rigids. The speed the DH rig is capable of is truly scary. If I did not have the skills from the other kinds of riding I have done, I can see myself being turned into hamburger on this thing.

The "small bikes" you mention are not all that small. If I was in your position, I'd not really bother with the full DH rig, as you can do everything you want to do and are likely to do on the "small bikes" you mention.

When I first started riding the Shore, I was convinced I needed lots of travel to ride. Now I do it all on the hardtail - Whistler too. Brakes are more important than travel. Skill is more important than the bike.

Of course this does not mean that I encourage the riding of crappy bikes. Your equipment does put a limit on what you can do with it. If I am going to be riding agressively, I sure won't be on a Wal-Mart special. Put a good rider on a crappy bike and it will do more than most people expect of it. Put a crappy rider on a good bike and you will have a banged up good bike.
This is kind of what I was thinking. I'm a pretty aggressive trail/AM rider and ride the lifts a couple times a summer, so the next progression seems to be the "Smaller" bikes I mentioned, but didn't want to get a FR (Bullit/Uzzi/Highline) type bike to outgrow it skill wise in just a short time, but I guess it would be better to out grow a bike than break my neck on something I can't handle.

nhodge said:
have you seen the price for the Cuervo on the Ventana website?
I did see the marked down prices for the Cuervo on the Ventana website, wish I could justify it right know.
 

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There is something to be said for smaller bikes however.
In my opinion, what your calling "smaller" bikes, can be just as hard to push to their limits as the DH rigs. To really push a bottle rocket, uzzie, or seven point to its limit requires a different skill set then DH.

In a nut shell, choose based terrain and price rather than which kind of bike you can push the limits of.

Just a thought
Good luck!
 

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Having a big bike is great since it does let you feel more comfortable and push you limits a bit more.

Personally, I've always had bigger bikes as my do it all bike since at the time I was only allowed to have one bike. I honestly think if you only have access a couple of times a year, you will have a lot more saddle time and enjoyment with the smaller bikes that you mentioned.

I've owned a Foes Fly, Demo 9 and 7, and Uzzi and now a Turner Highline. All of them were great bikes. The Fly and Demos let me progress, but the HL can handle everything they could and pedal up since it is so versatile. I can ride any of the trails, and it still rocks going down. You can turn it in to a big bike with more travel and a lighter rig for trail duty.
 

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On a side note, I did eventually get permission from the wife to have 2 bikes so having a big bike is nice too. I'm tempted to get a DHR to replace the HL since I have a 5 Spot that can handle the trails.
 

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Ive been riding skibowl for the last few weeks. Get a dh bike. The woods course could eat you alive on a am bike. Geometry is everything. As others have said you need the ability to back seat it and roll over logs and smallish drops which this course has alot of. If not for the slack head angle I could have taken a few nasty ones over the bars. Walk the course, it's the first left after you come down from the place where you catch the lift to the top. You'll get a better idea of what's in store. Personally I can freeride on a dh bike better than I dh on a freeride bike. That was a big part of my decision.
 

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I would only buy a smaller bike if I intended to pedal it up something. If you're only ever going down, why would you not buy a bike designed to do exactly that?

Big bikes are fun man, you will love it when you get on a bike that works so well for its intended purpose!
 

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killin clear creek
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Pslide said:
Big bikes are fun man
What he said!

You can always get an AM bike later, but a big bike is just such a different beast... I hardly even ride my trail bike anymore!! I turn down my ata to 160, drop my rear travel to 190, and play on my big bike if I ride other stuff!! (aside from uphill obviously)

I picked up a gambler last year, and thought the little adjustments were kind of silly. I've got to say I love the fact that I can adjust things from one type of terrain to another. At winter park I set a steeper head tube & lower travel, at Sol Vista, I slack it out & turn up the travel (takes about 3 min to set it up different front & rear). It's pretty nice to have the little bits of adjustability. Also may help you decide what you do & don't want to look for in the next bike. Thought it was silly at first, but I'm so glad I've got it now.
 

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OldHouseMan said:
This is kind of what I was thinking. I'm a pretty aggressive trail/AM rider and ride the lifts a couple times a summer, so the next progression seems to be the "Smaller" bikes I mentioned, but didn't want to get a FR (Bullit/Uzzi/Highline) type bike to outgrow it skill wise in just a short time, but I guess it would be better to out grow a bike than break my neck on something I can't handle.
I don't agree that you need to grow into a downhill bike. Yes, a background riding bikes that are less forgiving on technical terrain will improve your bike handling skills, however there's something to be said for having the right tool for the job. If you're riding steep terrain through big rock gardens you will likely enjoy it more on a DH bike. Use a little bit of common sense about the features you tackle and you'll be fine.

I did the one bike thing for six seasons in between DH rigs, riding a lot of lift days at Northstar and Mammoth on 5-7" AM/FR bikes. While I was able to ride everything on the hill it's definitely more fun for me on a DH bike (and always has been).

Remember, it's not just the travel. Going through a steep tech section on a DH bike with a 64-65 degree head angle and short reach is easier and safer then doing the same section on a AM/FR bike with a 67 degree head angle and longer reach.
 
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