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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm not exactly a beginner but I'll put this here as it's kind of a beginner-type question. I have been wanting to go to a downhill park for a while, but between the distance and having to rent a bike I just haven't been. Recently my wife has gotten into riding her bike in town around the school's track so I've been going and riding with her. This is 2 different extremes. If money was no object I'd probably just a buy a downhill bike, use it once a year, and let it collect dust until I pulled it out the next year.

But I want to maximize whatever I buy so I feel like I don't need a true downhill bike. I want something that can handle a downhill park but at the same time be comfortable to ride a trail or around town. I really like the Trek Fuel EX5, and it fits at a nice price around $2500. But it only has 140mm of travel up front and 130mm in rear. Part of me feels like if I get the Trek I'll basically be in the same boat that I'm in now...not having enough bike to take to the downhill park.

My second choice is a Norco Sight A3. I don't really want to spend the extra that the Norco costs but the travel seems to be more what I was thinking I'd need (or should have). The problem with the Norco is availability. Nowhere around shows that it is in stock, and the local bike shop I went to yesterday says they have no idea when they'll get anything from Norco.

I kind of like the Trek Remedy too which is a step up in travel over the Fuel, but once again availability is an issue. The LBS told me yesterday their computer is showing 2024 for a Remedy!

My friend has been to the 2 closest downhill parks to us and has told me that both are rather tame by downhill standards. Also, I plan to stick to the easy trails at either one, at least for a while.
 

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As you up the speed and technical characteristics of a trail you have to be really talented to ride bikes with low end suspension like the RL fork on the EX5. Its Motion Control 'damper' overloads fast, the stanchions at 32mm are flexy and it can't be upgraded. You'd have to spend $1k for a capable fork. The Yari on the Sight can get a better damper.
You should rent for the first 3 or 4 trips. Good first hand info you need.
 

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My advice is to buy the bike for what the terrain you're going to ride 90% of the time. I've been riding 26" bikes since the 90's. got back into mtn biking just before COVID and decided to get a new bike. bought a ragley mmmbop frame (aluminum hardtail, 64 deg head tube angle) and built it up with my friend's old components. the new geometry is so much better. i took it to to the local resort (snow summit) and had a blast on it. my skill is the limiting factor, not the bike. get comfortable and skilled on whatever bike you get, then run what you brung at the bike park. if you get a new bike, i suggest a head tube angle of 66 deg or less.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
As you up the speed and technical characteristics of a trail you have to be really talented to ride bikes with low end suspension like the RL fork on the EX5. Its Motion Control 'damper' overloads fast, the stanchions at 32mm are flexy and it can't be upgraded. You'd have to spend $1k for a capable fork. The Yari on the Sight can get a better damper.
You should rent for the first 3 or 4 trips. Good first hand info you need.
If I have to rent I think that would deter me from going. I know that makes sense but every time I think about going and think about having to rent I end up backing out and not doing it. Paying $45 to ride is not bad. But paying $200 total for a day of riding makes me reconsider... especially when I have to drive 3.5 hours to get there.

My friend has told me my 120mm travel bike would be enough for one of the parks.

I really like the Trek, but right now I think I will wait to see what happens with the Norco or if something else comes along that catches my eye. Downhill season is about ready to end around here in the next couple weeks and it will be ski season at both places. And once cold weather gets here my wife will probably stop going to ride as well. I guess I'll have until April or May to see what's going on with availability. In the meantime I will keep riding my current 29er.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
My advice is to buy the bike for what the terrain you're going to ride 90% of the time. I've been riding 26" bikes since the 90's. got back into mtn biking just before COVID and decided to get a new bike. bought a ragley mmmbop frame (aluminum hardtail, 64 deg head tube angle) and built it up with my friend's old components. the new geometry is so much better. i took it to to the local resort (snow summit) and had a blast on it. my skill is the limiting factor, not the bike. get comfortable and skilled on whatever bike you get, then run what you brung at the bike park. if you get a new bike, i suggest a head tube angle of 66 deg or less.
That's the thing; I don't really have a terrain that I ride. What will I ride most? Probably just around town with my wife, in which case my current bike would get the job done. Part of me says keep riding my 29er and get a dedicated downhill bike. The other part of me says if I'm going to spend ~$3000 then get something that I can ride all the time. If I had someone to ride with I might be more inclined to get back into trail riding/singletrack. But I don't care to do the uphills to get to the little bit of fun downhill sections we have around in our trails.
 

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I have this same problem (sort of). I've ridden XC bikes with 100-120mm of travel for a while. I've always wanted a second bike but could never justify the couple times a year I rode bigger terrain.

At this point I don't have the time to dedicate to racing like I used to, but ride the same trails and it's taxing on my body, so I want something with more travel for tech trails.

130mm-140mm would be great for where I ride.

But, if I get minimum 150mm I can go to the bike park a couple times a year and not rent. Which, like you said, makes it justifiable over spending $200 a day renting.

Right now I'm leaning toward the longer travel since I have another bike if I really want shorter travel.

The thought of riding 150mm bike with minions on it to the trail head makes me not want one though...
 

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I went through this process a few months ago. I sold my bike before moving from Massachusetts to Montana. I had no idea what the trails were like here so I rode my daughter's hardtail a couple of times. Lots of up... but the down made it all worth it. I found a norco a1 and even though I had no intention of spending that kind of money, well I did. I almost went for the optic. I'm so glad i didn't. I have no need to fly up the mountain. So I did not care much about weight. The Sight climbs incredibly well. As for going down, wow. That bike does everything well and some things great. It eats up drops and jumps, at least the ones I have the guts to hit. I'm a big fan of get a much travel as possible. They are just more fun. I'm 54. I have not been to a bike park for over ten years. That's about to change :)


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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I have this same problem (sort of). I've ridden XC bikes with 100-120mm of travel for a while. I've always wanted a second bike but could never justify the couple times a year I rode bigger terrain.

At this point I don't have the time to dedicate to racing like I used to, but ride the same trails and it's taxing on my body, so I want something with more travel for tech trails.

130mm-140mm would be great for where I ride.

But, if I get minimum 150mm I can go to the bike park a couple times a year and not rent. Which, like you said, makes it justifiable over spending $200 a day renting.

Right now I'm leaning toward the longer travel since I have another bike if I really want shorter travel.

The thought of riding 150mm bike with minions on it to the trail head makes me not want one though...
Yes, you seem to share my dilemma as well. I don't have to worry about riding my bike to a trail head. If I were going to ride trails I can drive and park and be right at the entrance. I may be naive thinking I'd be OK on a 160mm travel bike riding around town.

Of course, this could be a passing fad for me and if I wait a few months as I said I was, I may not even be interested any more. I like my current bike, but the geo is a little steep, and it has a 1 1/8" head tube. So I don't have a lot of upgrade options.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I went through this process a few months ago. I sold my bike before moving from Massachusetts to Montana. I had no idea what the trails were like here so I rode my daughter's hardtail a couple of times. Lots of up... but the down made it all worth it. I found a norco a1 and even though I had no intention of spending that kind of money, well I did. I almost went for the optic. I'm so glad i didn't. I have no need to fly up the mountain. So I did not care much about weight. The Sight climbs incredibly well. As for going down, wow. That bike does everything well and some things great. It eats up drops and jumps, at least the ones I have the guts to hit. I'm a big fan of get a much travel as possible. They are just more fun. I'm 54. I have not been to a bike park for over ten years. That's about to change :)


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This is good to hear. Because another part of my dilemma is that at being 47, I feel like I'm at the end of my "career". :D So I feel like I shouldn't even be thinking of spending that much on a bike. I've been wanting a Side x Side, but those are about impossible to buy right now as well, at least the one(s) I've been eyeing.
 

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I actually think a 140 trail bike like the Fuel EX is a good option for an all-arounder, but as someone else noted I would step up to a model with better suspension and components if you plan to take it to parks. If you have to be in that $2500-$3000 range there are better value options than the EX5 IMO, but a modern aluminum trail bike with 130-150mm travel will give you a lot of versatility.

I wouldn't buy a true downhill bike unless you've ridden the park a few times and know for sure it's something you enjoy. You certainly don't need a DH bike to ride most bike parks (at least the ones I've been to) and it will be completely useless anywhere else.
 

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I ride a 140/130 trail bike for all my rides. It’s a little overbuilt for a trail bike with DT Swiss 511 wheels and 4 pot brakes (plan to upgrade to 200/180 disc as well). It does do everything pretty well. I can ride XC trails for miles and then hit a black tech decent with it. I don’t have a DH park close enough that I want to go ride one. But if I went to a park once a year, I’d take my bike. I may be under gunned, but I’d just slow down a bit and still have tons of fun.
 

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I haven’t been to a downhill park but I ride some steep descents, some longer rides, dirt jumps, pump tracks on my tallboy. If you are a beginner I think you need to walk before you run so I would say just get a decent trail bike like a tallboy, trance, trek whatever and go as far as you can on that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I actually think a 140 trail bike like the Fuel EX is a good option for an all-arounder, but as someone else noted I would step up to a model with better suspension and components if you plan to take it to parks. If you have to be in that $2500-$3000 range there are better value options than the EX5 IMO, but a modern aluminum trail bike with 130-150mm travel will give you a lot of versatility.

I wouldn't buy a true downhill bike unless you've ridden the park a few times and know for sure it's something you enjoy. You certainly don't need a DH bike to ride most bike parks (at least the ones I've been to) and it will be completely useless anywhere else.
I didn't see it until last night, but the Trek Fuel EX7 steps up to a RockShox Gold fork and a Rock Shox rear shock instead of X Fusion. I always thought X Fusion made decent stuff but I was reading here last night where someone made the comment that X Fusion stuff is hard to get service and parts.

I asked the guy at the shop about "trading in" the fork that comes on the Fuel and he said he had a Rock Shox Pike fork that he had ridden twice while he waited on another fork to arrive. That could be set up with 150mm of travel. But then would that be OK with the 130mm of rear travel? Trek lists the max travel fork compatibility as 150mm.
 

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I got an Orbea Oiz H10 TR this year as my first 'proper' bike having ridden an updated 2006 Cannondale F5 for a year or so as I got into the sport. As others have suggested I picked a bike based on 90% of my riding, which is New England single track with lots up small ups and downs and plenty of rocks and roots. I do take it to the bike park (Highland, Sunapee, Cranmore) but I'm not sending big features. If I wanted to start going bigger then I'd rent bike for the few times a year I need one.

I do get what the OP says about being fine spending $45 for a lift ticket, but being put off by spending $200 for ticket + rental, but think of it the other way around, you can get a lot of $155s out of the $3K+ you would be looking to spend on a long travel bike, and you're always going to ride a well maintained, current model year bike and even get to change it up each ride. As an example Highland's rental fleet includes Kona Operator, Trek Session 8, Santa Cruz V10, Rocky Mountain Slayer, Yeti SB165 etc... and as I recall with a full day rental you can actually demo a second bike for 2 hours.
 

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I'm not exactly a beginner but I'll put this here as it's kind of a beginner-type question. I have been wanting to go to a downhill park for a while, but between the distance and having to rent a bike I just haven't been. Recently my wife has gotten into riding her bike in town around the school's track so I've been going and riding with her. This is 2 different extremes. If money was no object I'd probably just a buy a downhill bike, use it once a year, and let it collect dust until I pulled it out the next year.

But I want to maximize whatever I buy so I feel like I don't need a true downhill bike. I want something that can handle a downhill park but at the same time be comfortable to ride a trail or around town. I really like the Trek Fuel EX5, and it fits at a nice price around $2500. But it only has 140mm of travel up front and 130mm in rear. Part of me feels like if I get the Trek I'll basically be in the same boat that I'm in now...not having enough bike to take to the downhill park.

My second choice is a Norco Sight A3. I don't really want to spend the extra that the Norco costs but the travel seems to be more what I was thinking I'd need (or should have). The problem with the Norco is availability. Nowhere around shows that it is in stock, and the local bike shop I went to yesterday says they have no idea when they'll get anything from Norco.

I kind of like the Trek Remedy too which is a step up in travel over the Fuel, but once again availability is an issue. The LBS told me yesterday their computer is showing 2024 for a Remedy!

My friend has been to the 2 closest downhill parks to us and has told me that both are rather tame by downhill standards. Also, I plan to stick to the easy trails at either one, at least for a while.
Why would you buy a bike to use once a year? Get a bike you’re going to ride. Then just pay the $200 once a year.

And why trash your bike? Just rent and save your baby.
 

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For me, an all round bike is a light built 165-180mm enduro bike.
I can hit up crazy ass steep super tech one day, go for a easy ride with the missis and my kids the next day.

Oh yeah.

However I love the steep tech. So I have a bike the is set up for that.

But the bike for the riding you most enjoy.
 

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I have ridden the Sight and concur it is an amazing bike, especially on the downhills. Although, if you are going to be doing a lot of pedaling, and still want enough travel to get rowdy, I would suggest to look at the Ibis Ripmo. It has basically the same travel compared to the Sight, but a better pedaling platform IMO. I have been on the Ripmo AF for about a year now and I think it's a great trail bike with the ability to also hit some downhill. with an All-Around bike you will always have to make sacrifices, but I think the Ripmo strikes a great balance. Good luck bike hunting!
 

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I'm not exactly a beginner but I'll put this here as it's kind of a beginner-type question. I have been wanting to go to a downhill park for a while, but between the distance and having to rent a bike I just haven't been. Recently my wife has gotten into riding her bike in town around the school's track so I've been going and riding with her. This is 2 different extremes. If money was no object I'd probably just a buy a downhill bike, use it once a year, and let it collect dust until I pulled it out the next year.

But I want to maximize whatever I buy so I feel like I don't need a true downhill bike. I want something that can handle a downhill park but at the same time be comfortable to ride a trail or around town. I really like the Trek Fuel EX5, and it fits at a nice price around $2500. But it only has 140mm of travel up front and 130mm in rear. Part of me feels like if I get the Trek I'll basically be in the same boat that I'm in now...not having enough bike to take to the downhill park.

My second choice is a Norco Sight A3. I don't really want to spend the extra that the Norco costs but the travel seems to be more what I was thinking I'd need (or should have). The problem with the Norco is availability. Nowhere around shows that it is in stock, and the local bike shop I went to yesterday says they have no idea when they'll get anything from Norco.

I kind of like the Trek Remedy too which is a step up in travel over the Fuel, but once again availability is an issue. The LBS told me yesterday their computer is showing 2024 for a Remedy!

My friend has been to the 2 closest downhill parks to us and has told me that both are rather tame by downhill standards. Also, I plan to stick to the easy trails at either one, at least for a while.
Depends what you're riding at said bike parks. My buddy just sticks to beginner/intermediate flow trails so 140mm on his trail bike is more than enough. If you're riding steeper tech trails and hitting jumps, then yeah, you'll want more travel.

If it were me, I'd rent my first time or two and go from there. That once a year trip might turn into five or ten.
 

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Depends what you're riding at said bike parks. My buddy just sticks to beginner/intermediate flow trails so 140mm on his trail bike is more than enough. If you're riding steeper tech trails and hitting jumps, then yeah, you'll want more travel.
I don't really understand this mindset. I've ridden black flow trail on a 15 year old 100mm hardtail and it was loads of fun. Blue tech trail on my 120/120 Oiz TR is also perfectly rideable. Double black tech, I can see you want 150mm+ travel, but it doesn't sound like the OP is ripping down that sort of terrain.
 
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