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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
TL;DR what does a freeride bike give up compared to a true DH bike?


I recently had my first experience on a DH bike and had so much fun, it made me want to get one. I rode a Scott Gambler at Northstar near Lake Tahoe in Northern California.

The problem, however, is that I'll likely only be able to get out to a lift served park like that once a year. So it doesn't make sense for me to buy a DH bike, unless I can ride near home. There are a couple of spots near me where I think I'd like a DH bike, but would have to do 1.5 - 3k feet of climbing.

On the DH bike, I loved the stability, the lack of a beatdown on my body, the added margin for error, and the way I could just let go of the brakes, knowing the bike could handle it. I did wish it was a little easier to get up in the air, but I guess that's the trade-off for the stability and "plantedness" that I loved. I don't race, and don't plan to, so I don't care about seconds on the clock.

If you were in my shoes, would you:

A) Pick up real DH bike and just suffer a little on the climbs. I enjoy single speeding, so I don't mind out of the saddle climbs, mashing a high gear at low cadence. Is there any problem with adding a larger cassette than stock (e.g. a 12-34T 7-speed)

B) Go for a freeride bike like a Knolly Delirium or Commencal Supreme Sx. I'd set them up with a 200mm dual crown fork. Also like that I could get the gearing of a trail bike, and have a long dropper post on one of these bikes. How much do you think one of these bikes sacrifices in terms of stability and margin for error compared to DH bike? Any other bikes like this that should be on my radar?

C) Quit shopping, and just ride my super capable trail/enduro bike (Transition Sentinel) for the rare occasion that I go to a lift served park?

Obviously, option C makes the most sense, but it doesn't result in me getting a sweet new bike.
 

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My call. Get a 170/180mm trail bike. Set it up with light wheel set and dh wall heavy wheel set.

The light wheel set 170mm bike will do everthing your 140mm bike does and it will own the downs better and be closer to the rig in performance. Then when you slap the dh wheelset on you will be 95% there as far as performance goes compared to a rig.

You can also go a second hand rig. They are cheap as chips!......
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the replies. Yeah, renting probably makes the most sense. But there were a few things that I didn't like about renting.

-It took about 45 minutes to get set up on the rental and I was first in line. That's at least 1 more run I could have squeezed in.
-I'm a lightweight at 140 lbs, and the coil suspension wasn't set up for my weight. While it felt good, I'm sure it could be better.
-I don't think the rentals are in great shape. On the first bike I had, the rear hub stopped freewheeling and became a fixie after landing a jump. The replacement bike wasn't shifting great and the brakes needed a bleed.
-It took me until the afternoon to figure out the bike handling and really get comfortable on it and trust it.

I think riding my own bike would solve all of those problems.

What are you currently on? I am pretty damn happy with my 160mm bike at the bike park.
Currently on a Transition Sentinel (160mm front travel, 140mm rear, 64 deg HTA). Set up pretty burly with coil front/rear suspension, cushcores, Shimano Zee brakes 203/180mm. As I write this, I think this bike will actually do pretty well at this park, and my move is to just pick up some DH casing tires, and ride the Sentinel next time I go.
 

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140mm isnt really enough for the really roudy stuff. I notice it with my capable buddies who have 140 rear. They are rocking it up until its gets black run gnarly then they struggle to keep up or simply have to bow out of a feature because the bike isnt up to it.


If you want a one bike to rule them all then 160mm at the back will make a huge difference at the park. Perhaps look to upgrade to the patrol.
 

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Canfield One... one bike to serve them all
 
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If I were doing just once a year I wouldn't bother with a DH bike. Sure, your bike isn't the best tool, but it can handle it, and it will help your skills.

I do about 10 park days a year on a 150/160 Bronson. I shy away from the really gnarly stuff but otherwise it's fine.

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I started riding DH, used to push/ride up, then moved somewhere much flatter and the bike just became a pig. If you have the funds to have multiple bikes then go for it. Or as the others have mentioned, maybe get a trail bike with slightly more travel.
My bike is 170mm and is almost bang on 30lbs with mostly normal parts. I would simply change tires for a day of uplifts. Which is what I do, I have a set of 2.5 Minion Super Tackys that are gross to pedal but brilliant for shuttles. Get back home and put the 2.35s back on .
 

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I started riding DH, used to push/ride up, then moved somewhere much flatter and the bike just became a pig. If you have the funds to have multiple bikes then go for it. Or as the others have mentioned, maybe get a trail bike with slightly more travel.
My bike is 170mm and is almost bang on 30lbs with mostly normal parts. I would simply change tires for a day of uplifts. Which is what I do, I have a set of 2.5 Minion Super Tackys that are gross to pedal but brilliant for shuttles. Get back home and put the 2.35s back on .
Solid advice. I have a whole second bike set up with supertacky dh minions, pedals like a dog but man does it slam over the chunk. I personally find my enduro bike more fun for all but the stupidest tech on the gnar. So 90% of any given black trail more fun on enduro with dh tires than the rig. 10%... the rig owns it.

Im rolling dual rocky slayers. As stated one in light weight general trail mode and the other in heavy wheelset dh tyre park mode. Both awesome sets up in their own right.

This set up is pretty decadent. You could achieve a similar thing by changing tires or having a spare "heavy" wheelset.

Tire Bicycle tire Wheel Bicycle wheel Bicycle wheel rim
 

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Pedal a DH bike as an everyday rig? Um no.
If you timed your enduro rig against a DH rig, your Enduro rig would be faster on most downhill trails, never mind the actual trails.
Either rent a bike, buy a spare DH bike, or just buy some spare tires for DH days.

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Solid advice. I have a whole second bike set up with supertacky dh minions, pedals like a dog but man does it slam over the chunk. I personally find my enduro bike more fun for all but the stupidest tech on the gnar. So 90% of any given black trail more fun on enduro with dh tires than the rig. 10%... the rig owns it.

Im rolling dual rocky slayers. As stated one in light weight general trail mode and the other in heavy wheelset dh tyre park mode. Both awesome sets up in their own right.

This set up is pretty decadent. You could achieve a similar thing by changing tires or having a spare "heavy" wheelset.

View attachment 1263969
Sweet set-up! The new Slayer seems like it would be quite a capable park bike (especially since it's compatible with a 200mm dual crown fork).

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I got a Rocky Mountain Slayer as my down hill bike. It has the adjustable geometry, mine is set up on step from full slacked out. Can handle the trail and the mountain and come winter I can change the geometry of I want and make it more trail. It don’t peddle up as well as my Evil Calling bit it is doable.
 

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As for "need"? Rent. Practicality? Rent. Emotion? Get a cheap DH'er of about the same quality as a park rental. I get joy out of just looking at mine in the garage when I'm not using it. If you can afford that kind of frivolity, buy one.

I do a bike park day about three times a year. I do shuttled runs about ten times a year. I'm a little embarrassed to be on my DH'er sometimes on the shuttled runs, so I use my enduro... but the DH'er is a nicer ride when I don't care what the uphill riders on their XC bikes think of me for not earning my turns, but I am over 50 now, and don't have all time left in the world to spend 3/4 of it climbing. You build your skill descending. I am courteous to them though. No need to needlessly make them hate gravity riders. And for fitness and conditioning I run, rather than climb uphill on some featherweight expensive bike.

-Peter
 

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OP,
If you can have only one bike, you want it to cover 90% of your needs, terrain and riding style. For these rare occasions where you need to push the extra 10% you should manage with it or you can rent a bike for a day if you really feel the need.

other options are:
- Upgrading your Sentinel to coil suspensions (looks like you already did this) + second set of DH tires & wheels
- Get used DH bike for cheap
- Upgrade to freeride bike like Nomad, Patrol SB165 or maybe long travel 29er like Megatower

This year i found myself spending may days at the park, from tech to fast autobahn freeride lines on my Bronson v3, let say that so far the limit was me, not the bike... that been said, for next season im thinking to get used DH rig (thinking of YT Tues) for park days, or maybe just upgrading to coil shock... :)
 

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One of the biggest advantages of the DH bike (aside from the fun, speed, stability, mistake-forgiving factors) is that they can take a hell of a lot more abuse. I get 30+ DH days a year, I used to have a stout enduro ride, but brakes, shock forks etc just needed so much more servicing and replacing than the full on DH ride. Everything just lasts longer on the big bike that makes zero concessions to going up hill.
 
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