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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
G'day. I am an experienced AM/XC rider, but new to downhill. I currently ride a Specialized Enduro with 160mm travel and have begun riding light DH. When I got the Enduro my skill level increased immensely, and now I would like a DH bike so I can confidently ride DH tracks on a bike that is far more capable than me, and therefore build my skills and confidence further. I have found a VP Free with Fox 40's and the stock 5th element shock in excellent condition and am interested. My only concerns are the high bottom bracket and steep for DH head angle. Specs are 215mm rear travel, 200mm front, 66 or 67 degree head angle. I would like to learn to jump bigger, do big drops and ride fast through snot on DH tracks. I would also like to race DH at club level (when I am good enough) in the old farts class (I am 39). I will never be a top level rider, but just want to be able to ride DH confidently. I was wondering whether the VP Free would be the bike to help me become a downhiller, or should I look for a dedicated DH bike with its DH geometry. I have read that the VP Free can be pedalled reasonably well, and this would be a bonus, but going down hill would be my priority.

Thanks for your help

Lee
 

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I'll be interested in reading the replies you get to this thread. I just picked up a used 2006 VP-Free this winter off of pinkbike's classifieds. I also hope to race local DH events in the old man's class as I turn 42 on Thursday. :cool: If it happens, it will be my first racing action since my BMX days back in the 80's.

The 67* head angle is far slacker than the geometry I've had on my previous trail bikes; which were 69.5-70.5*...and it used to be the old DH standard so you can surely work with it.

Thanks to this brutally long Minnesota winter, I have yet to do any more than some light urban riding with it though, so my opinion on this bike is largely influenced by the excellent reviews it got back in the day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
G'day SeaHag. My Enduro has a 66.5 degree head angle and it rides fantastically, but wonder if 67 degrees will be slack enough to charge through the rough at a pace a 200mm plus bike is capable of. How do you find the sizing? I am 6'4" ish with long legs. My Enduro is XL, but the VP Free I am looking at is large. I have read that it sizes large, and due to me wanting to ride it down rather than up was thinking I might get away with the large.
 

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My other bike's are all sized medium in the 17-18" range. My newest was a GIANT Yukon FX which was a 17" and it felt like a tight cockpit to me but still handled pretty well. I am 6' tall but with a long torso and only 30" inseams. I feel more naturally comfortable and stable on my size Large VP-Free than any other bike I have. I can do track stands far longer on it than my other bikes. As I said, I have very little riding experience with it yet; but the cockpit feels more natural to me than any bike I've owned.

I know a guy who moved local from Oregon where he had more of a freeride/DH scene and he said most guys like a slightly smaller frame for riding that stuff, so maybe it will work out well for your lanky self...especially since as a DH bike you'll want your seat low, so the height of the frame will be in your favor and since you have more of your height in your legs, perhaps the top tube length will work well for you also. If you're getting a good price on it as I did, I'd buy it. The frame is super burly...so much so the 35mm stanchions on my 888 look slimmer than the 32mm stanchions on my other trail bikes. As a clyde rider, I finally feel like I have a bike that can stand up to the abuse I like to give it.
Clay - Mtbr Mountain Bike Photo Gallery
 

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VP Free is still a great bike to learn to ride DH on.
It's very forgiving and that frame can take a ton of abuse.
Also, you can still get suspension parts from Santa Cruz.
The head angle you are referencing is a static/unsagged measurement. It can be quite a bit slacker when you've got the sag set correctly and you are on the bike.
It's slack enough for high speed and it allows for good low speed control when you are picking your way through steep rocks or creeping up on a blind drop or steep roller.
The high bottom bracket is where most people find fault with the bike. However, if you are new to DH and not just riding smooth manicured bike park terrain, that high bottom bracket will eliminate/lessen a lot of pedal strikes until you learn to pick good lines through rocks and chunk.
It's an old bike that still performs well.
It was far ahead of it's time when it came out. I still see a lot of them at the bike park.
I've had a few over the years.
I wouldn't spend a ton of money on it initially. If you can get a well maintained one for cheap, it would be a great starter bike.
Whatever you pay for a used DH bike is just the price of admission. The upgrades, replacement parts, and maintenance will come soon enough.
 

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The VPfree is a nice bike, but why not get an actual DH bike instead? You say you want to start DH racing, go bigger+faster, etc- nothing will help that goal like an true DH race bike. VP Free, as in Freeride- when that bike was designed, 'Freeride' meant pedal up a fire road then pedal-drop off cliffs on the way back down.

Unless you're getting an awesome deal on it (or getting it to replace the Enduro, not in addition to) I would skip it and go for a full-blown DH sled. If you're going to spend the money might as well do it right, instead of starting off with a compromise.
 

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That's the quitter way. The REAL man's way is to machine a longer lower link. It makes the bike 10x better. Luckily I still have mine lying around somewhere if someone wants it...for the right price.

If you want a lower static HA (- 1 deg) and lower your BB, you can do this:

http://forums.mtbr.com/santa-cruz/vp-free-short-shock-merged-thread-168401.html

I don't know the head tube diameter of the VPs but if they're 1.5 inches, you can reduced it even further by using an angleset (up to -1.5 deg). I think Works components have external headsets that can do -1 deg.
 

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G'day. I am an experienced AM/XC rider, but new to downhill......I have found a VP Free with Fox 40's and the stock 5th element shock in excellent condition and am interested.....I would like to learn to jump bigger, do big drops and ride fast through snot on DH tracks. I would also like to race DH at club level (when I am good enough) in the old farts class (I am 39).....I was wondering whether the VP Free would be the bike to help me become a downhiller, or should I look for a dedicated DH bike with its DH geometry.....Thanks for your help

Lee
I'll be interested in reading the replies you get to this thread. I just picked up a used 2006 VP-Free this winter off of pinkbike's classifieds. I also hope to race local DH events in the old man's class as I turn 42 on Thursday. :cool:.....
Hey Guys,

I emphasized your ages because I'm turning 64 this summer and this bike has allowed me to move into FR/DH while saving my ass on a number of occasions. I've been riding one since 2007 and have enjoyed it at Whistler as well as numerous years at Northstar Bike Park. There are modern straight DH race machines that will go faster in the chunder but this bike will allow an easy learning curve on rock drops and rolls as well as tabletop and gap jumping. It also shines on low speed technical riding.

I love mine and upgraded it to a Fox 40 as well as a Fox DHX 5.0 coil. Here are some shots of it taking care of me at Whistler as well as my home bike park:

Clothing Tire Wheel Bicycle wheel Mountain bike


Tire Wheel Bicycle wheel Bicycle frame Mountain bike


Take care and have fun however you get dirty!

Michael:thumbsup:
 

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Hey Guys,

I emphasized your ages because I'm turning 64 this summer and this bike has allowed me to move into FR/DH while saving my ass on a number of occasions. I've been riding one since 2007 and have enjoyed it at Whistler as well as numerous years at Northstar Bike Park. There are modern straight DH race machines that will go faster in the chunder but this bike will allow an easy learning curve on rock drops and rolls as well as tabletop and gap jumping. It also shines on low speed technical riding.

I love mine and upgraded it to a Fox 40 as well as a Fox DHX 5.0 coil. Here are some shots of it taking care of me at Whistler as well as my home bike park:

View attachment 886108

View attachment 886109

Take care and have fun however you get dirty!

Michael:thumbsup:
OMG... 64??? you and Crossup inspire me!

I thought I was washed up at 45 (turning 46 this year)... came in too late in the game (started DH 2 yrs ago) but now you guys give me hope that I can shred for 2 more decades! 64 is the new 34!

Hope to see (and ride with you) @ N*, Mike.

BTW, where are you? You wouldn't happen to live in the Bay Area would you? =P
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks guys for all of your opinions/experience and suggestions. I agree with norton05 that a pure DH bike would be better for racing, but I have read that the VP Free is an easier bike to jump/drop on, and because I am learning was wondering if it will enable me to improve my skills and confidence faster than a race DH bike would. I have never ridden a DH bike so I don't know. What do you guys reckon? Also, my budget only allows me to look at mid to late 2000s bikes, and I have read that a few DH bikes in this age group have been known to have frame failures (I was looking at a 2008 Kona Stab Supreme until I read about all of the frame failures). Also I have read about some bikes having extremely low BBs causing inexperienced riders to dig pedals into the ground and cause major getoffs. I have only heard good stories about the frame strength of the VP Free, and that parts are still available. I am a big unit (115kg) so frame strength is important to me. It might sound like I have made my mind up to buy the VP Free, but that is not the case. I am still seeking advice from people who know more about downhilling than me (which is nearly everyone).

Thanks again

Lee
 

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Hey Guys,

I emphasized your ages because I'm turning 64 this summer and this bike has allowed me to move into FR/DH while saving my ass on a number of occasions. I've been riding one since 2007 and have enjoyed it at Whistler as well as numerous years at Northstar Bike Park. There are modern straight DH race machines that will go faster in the chunder but this bike will allow an easy learning curve on rock drops and rolls as well as tabletop and gap jumping. It also shines on low speed technical riding.

I love mine and upgraded it to a Fox 40 as well as a Fox DHX 5.0 coil. Here are some shots of it taking care of me at Whistler as well as my home bike park:

View attachment 886108

View attachment 886109

Take care and have fun however you get dirty!

Michael:thumbsup:
awesome love the riding at 64...I am 50
 

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The VP Free is an excellent bike...never understood why SC got rid of it....It is a great bike for am and does really well for dh....if you get a great deal it is a great bike to start the transition to DH
 

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Hey SMT,

Thanks for your kind words!

I've seen your riding pictures and you being 50 is no big deal because you have skill and ability!! :)

Thanks again,

Michael:thumbsup:
I am trying to get back to where I was...the last 6 years broken wrist, lost spleen and problems with breaking or getting use to 3 bikes plus remodel hose and getting married has hampered me....been riding a lot this last year though....just need to get a little more confidence on rocky, crunchy steeps and all will be good....Love life and riding. Maybe we can meet up in NorthStar when it is open...will be at opening Day this Friday and Saturday at Big Bear
 

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i have officially heard it all now...
Hey Mr. Hucker,

If you want to give SMT some grief you can always just consider the source of the compliment. From an ancient never-did-well it may be faint praise indeed. However, to those of us without a scintilla of talent he's done some big stuff!:eekster:

What's that old line? "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.";)

Take care and have fun however you get dirty!

Michael:thumbsup:
 

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Hey Mr. Hucker,

If you want to give SMT some grief you can always just consider the source of the compliment. From an ancient never-did-well it may be faint praise indeed. However, to those of us without a scintilla of talent he's done some big stuff!:eekster:

What's that old line? "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.";)

Take care and have fun however you get dirty!

Michael:thumbsup:
no worries....WCH is a friend...smack goes back and forth
 
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