Pinkbike Poll: Is it the Rider or the Bike?

Aug 2, 2013 at 2:00
Aug 2, 2013
by Richard Cunningham  
 
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What percentage of your performance and riding skills would you attribute to your abilities and what percentage would you bestow onto your bike?

"It's the rider, not the bike." It would be hard to count the number of times that I have heard or read that sentence in the context of mountain biking, but the truth is that the bike may play a lot larger role in our riding performance than many riders would be willing to admit. Aaron Gwin's recent fall from glory underscores that, at least in the rarefied air of pro DH competition, a different bike can have a dramatic effect on an athlete's performance.

Aaron Gwin and Mick Hannah stopped by the Fox booth for a last minute discussion.

Aaron Gwin's debut on Specialized at Fort William did not go as expected. The facial expressions on the Fox team mirror Gwin's as they discuss options in the pits. Mike Kazimer photo



Well, in real life, who cares about the loss or gain of three seconds on a shuttle run? Fair enough, but take that point to the outer margins for the sake of argument - leave your big bike home and shuttle some DH on your 120mm XC/trailbike and then report the results. Sure, top riders can rip DH runs on a 29er hardtail, but it ain't the same game, even for them. In fact, there is a widespread notion that a long-travel bike makes the terrain too easy for the average rider and that every good bike-handler should be sentenced to a year on a hardtail to learn true mountain bike skills. I think that is pretty funny, like forcing someone to eat at MacDonalds for a year to learn how to chew bad food before taking them to appreciate a good restaurant. The point is, if there is a broad consensus among mountain bikers that more suspension and slacker geometry equate to easier bike-handling, then there is an equally large margin of riders who agree that bike does make a sizable difference to their riding abilities.



Chromag Hardtails in action in the Pacific Northwest are strong evidence that a good rider can live happily without rear suspension - and a good argument, for some, that it may be the rider and not the bike. Watch the video:
Views: 141,140    Faves: 1,574    Comments: 101


Testing bikes for a living has afforded me the chance to put the bike-versus-rider theory to task. Few get the opportunity to ride as many different models in the same category, in addition to a variety of bikes from all the realms within the world we call mountain biking. I'd say the percentages are 50/50. I've traded bikes mid-way though rides and watched a mid-pack regular thrash the entire group. I've fallen apart on trail rides, wrestling with an ill-handling bike and then returned the next day on a different mount to ace the entire trail. I've ridden DH bikes for a month, and when I switched back to my five-inch trailbike, spider-manned into the rocks at mach speed on the first technical descent. Evidently I thought I was the reason - certainly not the Giant Glory or the Intense EVO that I had been testing - for my enhanced technical skills. The bike matters.

Thomas Genon rocking the 2012 Joyride at Whistler. Fraser Britton photo



Thomas Vanderham at the Rampage. Margus Riga photo


Arguably, there are thousands of park riders who reap the benefits of long-travel DH bikes - ripping descents and launching stunts that would not not be possible on lesser bikes, given their existing skillsets. Many of those rippers have never ventured into the gravity realm on anything other than a big bike. Consider how much the bike has improved in the past ten years, and then chart the development of riding skills. Both graphs have similar curves - with the glaring exception of Freestyle riders and their hardware. There is no dirt in the air, so jump design and rider skills play the key roles in that genre. Watch the Red Bull Rampage, though, where most of the trails are real and the terrain is sketchy, and you'll see a marked difference in the role that the bike plays in the freestyle equation. Would we be riding at the present level without the enabling improvements that the bike has lent us? I highly doubt it, but that is my opinion. Pinkbike posted this poll because we wanted yours.




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What percentage of your riding performance would you attribute to your bike?




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331 Comments

  • + 457
 I would love to see Pinkbike do a test. Get a World Cup Pro Rider, an Expert Class Rider, and a Beginner Rider. Also grab a top of the line DH bike, middle of the road DH bike, and a cheap entry level bike. Take them up to a resort and set a DH race course up. Let them freely run times on the three bikes all day, then just compile the results. Why answer this question with a poll? Let's get some empirical data.
  • + 19
 Thats not a bad idea. I just know that coasting through some straight sections on a group ride really show the differences the bike can have as some gaps are formed and others closed immediately. My hard tail 29er seems to slow way down on rough sections as it bounces more. On the smooth sections it seems to speed up more than the others. Obviously DH tracks aren't all smooth and straight, but one can easily see the effects of the bike on speed.
  • + 35
 Lol at trying to isolate the variables and actually make a valid test
  • + 20
 That is pretty much what ali and I did for the Empire bikes test on here a couple of years back, but we were using 3 high end bikes. I was blown away that after 2 runs I was faster on the v10 than my Sunday, the empire was not far off the pace. A bike is a recipe, not just a frame, with an rc4 on my scalp I am 2s slower for every 100s than with my vivid air on average, with a run to tun variation of 1.5 to 3 seconds slower. That included optimising setup front and rear to match the shock and only changing the shock, same day, same conditions and changing from vivid to rc4 then 2 verification runs on the vivid at the end of the day. 1 change, big difference. Troy is on a vivjd, as was sam, Gwin is on a an rc4. The frame was optimised for the rock shox combination, so it may play a part in the equation with Gwin on the demo.
  • + 8
 if this guy can shred harder than most on whats pretty much scrap metal on wheels then surly its down to the rider www.pinkbike.com/video/279045
  • + 7
 listen up pb, focofox37 has a great idea
  • - 38
 i would prefer this poll:

who is hottest?

1. mila kunis

2. megan fox

this poll's results would be more trustworthy and 'scientific' than your's poll...

ps. vote...1 or 2??? Smile
  • - 2
 Like how many sheets of toilet paper do you bring camping? 2 or 3?? What percentage of your daily paper route do you need 8" of travel for? These are tough questions hold on I get back to you. Must talk to the great Shantashi Master of all knowledge.
  • + 2
 Thats pretty funny considering that mountainbiking is a hundred million dollar industry and winning on a bike can lead to sky rocketing sales... Totally no one would be interested in what bikes are quantifiably "the fastest" Awesome sarcasm tho! Good job bro!
  • - 13
 i hope that this poll's participation doesn't resemble the average pb user's IQ...

:P Smile
  • - 3
 If you did this on three bikes with the same frame across the dh range for example a glory 2,1, and 0 the result would be the faster rider would win no matter what bike he was on. Unless the difference between the riders came down to less than 5s when they were on identical bikes.
  • - 14
 100 million please I spending more last year on maple syrup and toilet paper. You IQ should be divided by the number of teeth on that 9 tooth profile elite bmx hub with female bolts just for you lady.
  • + 5
 If we are talking DH, such test could be possible, especially using Specialized bikes like take the Status, base Demo and S-Works demo. But we all know that if we test them for many runs and take the averaged time, the best bike would win for each rider.

I think the best test would be to measure the progression of a certain rider. As the first step a DH comp would be organized, 3 runs, the result is averaged time. Target 3 slower guys with similar results that rode older second hand bikes. Preferably riders that live in same town and can train on same trails. Then give one of them a Status, a base Demo to the second and the S-Works Demo to the third guy. All dialed for those guys by a skilled rider/ suspension technician. Then tell them to ride twice a week for, let's say, three months. After that, organize DH comp for them on same track in similar conditions also three runs. If the bike makes a difference guy on S-Works Demo should make the biggest progress.

Another proposal: take those three guys of similar riding level and give them same bikes. S-Works Demo guy gets only a weekend lift pass in Whistler. Status guy gets weekend skills clinic. Base Demo guy gets weekend lift pass and spends the first day dialing his bike with a pro mechanic and pro suspension technician.
  • + 6
 @waki

i like your logic man, your posts are of interest.

one question though:

let's say that the experiment happens and the guy with s works makes the biggest progress.

is it the bike itself or the psychology of the rider riding that specific bike??
  • - 8
 A craftsmen never blames his tools. the rider has to have enough balls to hit stuff no matter what bike he's on
  • - 1
 His psychology has determined the result he got on the "auditioning" DH comp. If the bike can influence the psychology I assume it would work in a way that he would ride the SW Demo more than others by being so fkng stoked. However, taking into account that all of them got bike better than they used to have it is hard to foresee and thus should be eliminated as a variable. Eventually all of them might be given electro-shock therapy before the competition to level the field.
  • - 9
 the experiment is false...

i could be making better progress with the X bike and not the Y, not because it is superior in terms of function, but because i feel better on it.

this thing can't be measured....it is just a stupid poll.

unless we're talking of jumping from an enduro bike into a dh, in a full on dh track.

a better, still not perfect, way to see how the bike affects the results is this:

get 3 dh bikes in a dh track.

program 3 robots to ride them, in the exact same line.

continue the experiment by increasing the average speed by 1-2kmh increments.

the robot that holds its lines and doesn't fall from the bike, is ridfing probably the best bike.

do that for multiple line choices.

ingenious i guess Razz Smile
  • + 0
 I agree, that experiment is false logic, a result of troll misinformation, and it has no place in actual science! That true fact cannot be denied. Jump from DH bike on Enduro bike on full on Dh track, like James Bond?
  • + 3
 Oh I see you edited out the James Bond move Big Grin I think your experiment contains traces of true logic, I shall contact Giant bicycle Group to give you a grant for research and MIT to provide you with necessary facilities and scientific advice. I see you are writing with paragraphs between lines, excellent practice, MIT doctors will be able to print it out right away and add comments by hand on actual scientific paper.
  • - 4
 you will learn lots from me Razz Smile
  • + 5
 In reply to the original comment, can I be the beginner rider and go to whistler on the top of the range downhill bike?Smile
  • + 4
 get the Downhill worldcup on hardtails for one race that would be an interesting race/result?
  • + 4
 @Focofox, MBUK did this a few years ago with Rob Jarman as the pro, a guy from Moonglu as the expert and Guy Kesteven as the 'beginner,' the answer was that Rob on a £50 rigid with plastic brakes was still faster than the other two were on an Intense M3!
  • + 0
 Guy Kesteven as "the beginner"?! But I am buying everything based on BikeRadar reviews - nooooooooooooooo!
  • + 4
 I think the poll isn't very clear - how big difference between two bikes should we imagine? Let's take Tour de France for example.
If the cyclists got a 3 years old mid range road bike for 1/10 of the price of the bikes they ride, they performance would be more or less the same. But let them ride a single speed bike or a 10" DH bike and they won't have a chance.
  • + 4
 Riders with experience on different bikes will perform better on any bike than a rider who has owned only one bike. The rider who has the same amount of experience (theoretically speaking) on just one bike, will outperform the rider who has experience on several bikes on that one specific bike. If the bike is crap but the rider is used to it, the result will be better than when a rider rocks a 12000$ bike for the first time.

There are too many variables do determine the exact answer, or better said: this is no exact science. If you want to push your limits, do it on the bike you're used to ride.
  • + 0
 rider or bike? c'mon PB, if you have to ask.....
  • + 2
 From my point of view you need the correct bike, that's only a 25% of all you and your skills put the rest, I've seen countless times lots of rich kids with 1 trillion dorrah bikes that can't do shit and guys with walmart bikes ripping them
  • + 4
 There is simple one thing answering the question. You ride your carbon bike with many years of riding under your belt and someone guy on HT kicks passes you by... Or you ride a 6" bike behind a hardtail on a rough Dh track and he keeps on getting away... This feeling is the answer in a nutshell.

And you know all those people who will say, "a great and light bike is more fun to ride than bad and heavy one - period." Well, skills and fitness is what makes riding real fun - bla bla but those two don't exclude each other. Well, you either have money to buy a bike or time to ride a bike... at least in this universe there is an extremely high chance that if you bought a super bike, you suck on it, because you had little time to practise riding - you were busy earning money. Off course you may be broke and suck on bike. So yes you are having 10% more fun than you would on a cheap bike, guy that can ride has 100% more fun than you. Post-purchase rationalization is a bitch...

I am living proof with my freshly bought carbon bike. I suck.
  • + 1
 Ok, you are the living proof, still from my point of view if you have the latest bike and lack the skills to ride you wasted your money, have a bike according to your level and when you overcome your bike get a new one
  • + 0
 I was kind of saying that...
  • + 5
 I'm not a DH racer, so I don't really weigh my performance based on how "fast" I can get to the bottom. The biggest improvement I've noticed on my new bike (SC NomadC) is not my overall speed, but the ease with which I can manipulate it to point the bike down the lines I want and use the full awesomeness of the terrain in front of me.
  • + 9
 @OliRas: A craftsman doesn't blame his tools, but a craftsman buys quality tools, and maintains them so they work.
  • + 3
 Stupid question which reveals what industry-marketing channels (Pinkbike) suggest you to believe (that you will ride better with an expensive bike). Truth is that you can feel more confident on your bike but most stuff out there does the job and the differeces are only nuances... (just look into ergonomics and suspension setup and you're all set)
  • + 1
 Imagine using the Race Analysis guys here;

www.pinkbike.com/news/MTB-Sports-Video-Analysis-2013.html

to see exactly how much the extra £ takes you!
  • + 5
 Mythbusters, MTB version.
  • + 0
 Kustomango - thanks for sharing! That thing is awesome!

But you know... being aware of a right way of doing things doesn't mean you will do the right thing. I honestly think that there is no way that even a 1% of people who buy new stuff frequently will stop doing it after seeing such evidence that low-end bike is nearly as fast as high-end bike of the same kind. We humans are damn right stupid...
  • + 2
 Touché WAKIdesigns, Shiny bike parts seem to derail common sense!
  • + 4
 Kustomango - It must rely on the fact that, you learn to do some stuff in a wrong way for some period of time, and when you learn that there is a better way, you have already created a neurological highway in your brain, making you wired to act in a certain pattern. Bad habit is a habit, newly learn right thing to do must be first practised to become a good habit, and thoughts are lazy fkrs, they prefer to use once built highway than create new joints between different neurons and start the shit all over again, especially if you can't visualize it well enough. Right ways are usualy difficult to follow because they don't look as attractive as shiny stuff. And we are all slaves to emotions accompanying experiences. This is what all sorts of ads are selling to us: experiences and feelings, not products. Bike videos sell us visualizations of riding experience and connect them to products. You see it is easy then to visualize yourself "feeling the difference" because someone provided you with an example of such picture. And your brain is a homing missile, as soon as it sees something attractive it builds a neuron highway to and then through it. A bike as a way to recieve award in the form of better or rather: easier ride will always seem to us more attracitve than visualization of training, which almost no one shows us, and even if he does it will never look so good. Watching Rocky Balboa makes you feel like a man, but you get wet when you see Greg Minaar in Slow mo on a V10c.

There is no hope... everybody hide your conspiracy theories about PB polls, the problem is in our lazy heads.
  • + 4
 can we get something relevant that relies solely on opinion? best dher, best freerider, best after ride beer, worst bike park food and bathrooms? when's the sexiest bike of all time poll? it's friday.
  • + 0
 At the highest level of the sport, I think technology and equipment can give one rider an edge over the other. For the rest of us, developing skills is important, but good equipment gives you confidence, and confidence will make you ride better and faster.
  • + 1
 the better the rider gets, the lesser the influence of the equipment. although better equipment will always count even if it is just a little influence. look at gwin for example
  • + 2
 I think WAKI is really on to something, with the riders using (3) models of bikes within the same product line. The idea would be for The pro rider to log times on all three, the expert to log times on all three, and the beginner to log times on all three. Just time the runs, and build an average. This by no means would answer the question beyond all doubt, but would be a fun experiment that would be well worth the readers' time. If we did the Demo WC, Demo, and Status that is roughly $6k in price difference covered. I mean, we could even go all Top Gear and throw a 4th bike in for timing, a ten year old Big Hit just for grins.
  • + 2
 I also agree with wakimon, there is a guy on a hardtail just waiting to jump over your carbon 29er or blow your doors off on the trail. We are everywhere and ready to out perform anyone on any bike. It traces back to the bmx heritage then apply those skill to a "big bike" now you looking bad on a 8k carbon. Like I said bmx gives you super human powers!!! Jumping right over your car, head, house, cat, wife, anything.
  • + 2
 You can send me the bmx version profile elite with 110 spacing rear -9 tooth driver and 14mm axle - 15mm front. Ok I take the female bolts no problem. Can switch to gun drilled axle later. Any color is good, I not picky.
  • - 2
 What if the test showed that 650B schooled!?
  • + 2
 it's like asking can a shortboard work fine at teahpoo?
  • + 3
 Two things:1. Anybody ask the Super Market bike guy how his performance improved when he won the Giant Glory? 2. I think there are different thresholds. There are certain courses at my ability that I wouldnt even attempt on hardtail. That has mostly to do with my skill level but if you give me a downhill bike, I can blast through stuff that I had trouble on before. i know this from first hand experience. Now take a different guy with more skill. He blasts through sections on hard tail and then you put him on a dh rig and now hes even faster. I believe you can reach a limit for a specific trail, with a specific bike and with a specific skill set. Bike is everything and nothing.
  • - 1
 the poll choices should be in 10percent increments...people would still answer... Razz Smile
  • + 1
 The numbers are not exact numbers... They mean:
0%: the rider does it all
25%: the rider does most
50%: bike and rider are equal
75%: the bike does most to everything

Now, if PB would have used 10pct increments, some people would still believe it indeed.
  • + 2
 I volunteer. Pinkbike, send me to Whistler or Angel Fire with Levy and call in Gwin or Smith. I'll be happy to test all the bikes you want for this noble pursuit of knowledge.
  • + 1
 The problem is that you'll never know if a sponsored pro rider or even a unsponsored one isn't biased.
  • + 2
 i dont really care about accuracy here, i just the hubs.
  • + 1
 Ya bro those hubs make me drool!!! Soo loud and engaging. They race hubs so expect maintenence but very awesome Profile. This poll is all about playing with your poll.
  • + 2
 @ WAKI: I think your thoughts on the brains' involvement in the whole process is more relevant than most would like to admit. Witness our ego.
What percentage of it is in our heads?
And on that note...Is it the size of the ship or the motion?
Yes, I had to bring THAT up. No one else did.
  • + 1
 Calicopter, Waki, agreed. Last time I said that here, I got nuked to oblivion with negative comments and props. Hypocrisy is strong. hahaha
  • + 2
 Its all in your head!
  • + 2
 Yea! It's all in your head, just do it! You can set your mind to anything you want to! Motivational speakers have said it for years! They never run out of clients, how sad indeed. My favourite are psychologists who work with people having marriage problems. Half of the fkrs is divorced ahaha. Humans are awesome!
[Reply]
  • + 36
 How the hell do you put a number on somthing like that. Both matter rider more then bike. Unless the bike is a recumbant .. everyone sucks in a recumbant
  • + 8
 I agree... but win something for answering a poll!!!! Never thought id see this!
  • + 2
 I gotta agree, I think it's impossible to quantify the effect a bicycle has on performance.

The only way would be to have a baseline bike and measure the percentage change if specific characteristics are changed ( geometry, PSI, innumerably more things) and compare them. Even then, variables such as rider, course conditions weather, etc all come into play.

In short, different trails call for different bikes and riding styles?................. DUH!!!!!

"Some questions simply don't deserve an answer" -Richard Dawkins
  • + 3
 This poll is not about scientific quanitification, but about the opinion of regular riders. Which is fine for me.
  • + 1
 I agree kerberos and i think its a fun poll. The ansers should not have been percentages. Instead they could be vauge like kinda, a little, somewhat ,a bunch.
  • + 2
 My recumbent has 6" travel, carbon rims and an e-13 chainguide.
  • - 4
 Richard Dawkins? You mean the bloke that is a jillion times professor, yet could not get it that when they write in Koran: "salt water does not mix with sweet water" it was a fkng metaphore. I am surprised he did not send Mythbusters to get on the Bible...
  • + 1
 this poll is a joke... bike control is something every well balanced rider should possess, the bike has little to nothing to do with how you ride it. example... www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdIQ-zjHNs8
  • + 1
 I feel if your really comfortable on a bike however you can push yourself more rather than if you felt awkward on a bike and didn't have the confidence to push yourself.
  • + 2
 I do think that rider skill is most of what makes a rider good/fast; however, as I was in Whistler last year and chose to rent a Devinci Wilson rather than drag my Mongoose Black Diamond Triple (which I adore), I realized what a high end bike can do for your riding. I've got some decent stuff on my bike, and thought it was the shit, and because almost nobody from Flagstaff, AZ downhills, I really had nothing to compare that bike to. When I got to Whistler, I was shocked at just how fast I could go on the Wilson once I got it set up to my liking. Riding an XC for downhill, then moving to a halfway decent DH bike did alot more for my riding than I could have ever imagined. I was so nervous to be holding people up on the trails in Whistler, but I found myself passing or riding with locals, and boosting the tables higher than anyone else I saw (didn't end well on the Crabapple Hits). Having a good base as a rider is key, but you can truly unlock your potential when you ride some of the new, high end stuff.
  • + 1
 If you ain't crankin it, yer yankin it!!
[Reply]
  • + 13
 I say its not so much the bike, but how its set up, any professional rider can adapt to a bike and do well, but some may never feel comfortable with the set up, and the learning curve to adapt to the change takes longer for some riders then others. just my 0.02C
  • + 2
 I think its a lot mor bike than we think, at least to excel at a specific type of riding. If you try and win a dh race on a dirt jumper its not going to work out well and same the other way around. However if gwin were on an older heavier dh bike he would still be able to kick most people who ride their demos in the bike parks butts. Its a hard thing to decide on
  • + 3
 Set up is KEY. Always felt so awkward and uncomfortable on my bike before i knew how to set up suspension.
  • + 14
 This is all my opinion, so not tryna start something:

I put down 50% because I view the rider + bike as a "1/1" or a "Whole". And when you take away one part of the equation, you no longer have the proper definition of a Mountain Biker and any discipline underneath that. One without the other is nothing but just a human vs. a piece of alloy or carbon. It's not to say that the bikes make up so much of skill, but rather bikes define only the MAXIMUM available potential of a rider. Since, a rider with no bike can only run up to, say, 11mph, but with a bike and in skilled hands, the rider AND the bike together can suddenly achieve a top speed of 30-45mph+ and tackle various sketchy terrains at the same time.

This makes sense imo, because a new rider on a pro bike cannot push the bike at all as it was designed to do for Pro racers, but a Pro racer on a lower spec bike can still bring his skill into play and haul ass, but still will not likely go as fast/hard/etc vs. the Pro rider on his specifically fitted-tuned bike. In the end, I'm NOT saying that Bikes instantly give skill to an unskilled rider. As they are like tools for a specific job, and having the right tools for a job is one of the first key steps + actually having a well-experienced master to actually apply the tools are all equally important and absolutely fundamental.
  • + 5
 I guess the best way i can relate to the bike vs. rider "argument" would be like fitting road bikes, its essentially the same thing, everyone has their own preference to how they like the bike to feel and how to be comfortable, even the smallest things like saddle angle being off by 1 degree of moved back 2mm can completely change how a road bike will feel, even to the average rider. Same goes for suspension set up, cockpit set up, frame geometry and sizing, one advantage the pro riders have over us is the ability to get a custom frame, and most bikes are built around their needs for market (with minor tweeks and changes of course) you will notice that WC DH racers are extremely finicky about their set ups such as exact brake lever positioning, bar hight, sweep, tilt, shifter positioning, etc. its usually down to the milliliter. using aaron gwin as an example, he went from a motocross back ground, to DH, rode on the yeti team, and was pretty consistant, but a little later he moved to trek, started riding the session and suddenly he was unstoppable, so there is no doubt that the bike does play a roll, trek, vs. yeti, vs. specialized, all having different suspension platforms, all different handling bikes, obviously gwin felt a little better (comfortable) on the trek and how that was set up, moving over to specialized and an entirely different suspension set up (FSR) is a pretty big learning curve, the demo itself has been completely remade for gwin to his liking ( medium front triangle with a longer rear triangle etc) so the learning curve going from two completely different bikes is going to be huge. although i can for see gwin back on the podium before the seasons over, and back to typical form once his bike is dialed in for him and he is comfortable on it.
  • + 4
 50/50 for me - the bike puts out what you put into it.
[Reply]
  • + 14
 Speed, speed, speed... I still don't get it. Don't most of us ride for fun, not for the clock? So, measure the width of smile at the end of a run on different bikes? Ride what you've got, adapt as necessary, and have fun.
  • + 2
 Here f*****g here!
[Reply]
  • + 13
 It's both ways. Having the correct tool is essential for the user. But if you have no knowledge on the tool, then the tool is 100% useless.
  • + 1
 And even then. I brought a 145mm trail bike (with a slight DH twist to it) to a spot I thought the trails would be easy. They ended up being a lot rougher than I expected (similiar to DH trails in other resorts) so I decided to ride it as hard as I can anyway and see how much it would hold up to the abuse. I was really suprised by how the little bike performed. I could notice a difference compared to my full on DH rig but at the end of the weekend I estimated that I probably wouldn't have been all that faster on a DH bike. Admittedly, they weren't the craziest trails and I do not ride at a level where every little bits count but this proved me that most bikes can handle a lot more than the rider can and it shifted my perspective a little as to what I really "need".
[Reply]
  • + 8
 in F1, 50% is worth the engine, 40% the car, and 10% the driver. however, you still need michael schumacher to win the championship.

on this one i say it's 50-50 ... a good bike makes a difference, but the rider is the decisive factor.
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  • + 6
 This is my bike. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My bike is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My bike, without me, it's useless. Without my bike, I am useless. I must ride my bike true. I must go faster than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must out-pedal him before he out-pedals me. I will... My bike and I know that what counts in this war is not the wheels we buckle, the noise of our burst, nor the dust we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit... My bike is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its geometry and its suspension. I will keep my bike clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will... Before God, I swear this creed. My bike and I are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life. So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy, but peace!
  • - 2
 Thy shall not pass!
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  • + 5
 Its a bad question to begin with.

"Is it the rider or the bike?"

That does what, exactly?

Elite racing/competition, is so far removed from the average riders experience, it really shouldn't be included in the discussion - it's its own topic.

For the rest - its just not that black and white. The video with the hard tails is misleading. It just demonstrates that a couple skilled riders can manage a steep rooty trail on hard tails. Give those bikes to some groms visiting from Ohio or Indiana, and see how they do compared to a full squish bike on the same lines. In their case, it would be the bikes.

My experience is... it depends. Depends on where I'm riding, and what experience I want to have on that ride. I raced the BME Angelfire/Taos on my 29er. A week later I was there with my SX trail sporting a single crown 180 fork, and my dh rig with nice rockshox world cup dual crown. What I found is - I could ride the most difficult trail on my 100mm (rear) 140mm front 29er, cleanly and at a moderate speed. I was able to ride it faster on the SX trail, but I was to really "attack" it on my full DH rig. In my case, it was the bikes.
  • + 3
 The poll answers should have been as follows

1) 10%bike for 50% of the riders 90% of the time

2) 90% bike for 10% of the riders 30% of the time

3) 50% bike for 90% of the riders 10% of the time


.
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  • + 4
 I bet if Gee used the old carbon fury he never won recent WC. All new Alu Fury has different Geo and weight. Variables of these measurements reflects results in seconds. It's the bike.
  • + 3
 The bike just has to be good enough to the point where differences with other manufacturers are negligible. In the end, the rider has to make it happen. In the recent WC, Remy made it happen by picking the best lines and nailing them hard and well. Smile
  • + 2
 ^^^^^ If we combine these two posts, you have the answer!!! The best rider will win, if his bike is not holding him back. SOmetimes a new design can propel a rider a bit higher, like Bingelli with his KHS last year ( great rider, but the bike gave him some extra speed with the faster rolling wheels.) can give you a boost. The right mental state is important, and I suspect Gwinn for example lost his confidence, even though the bike may be better now.
  • + 1
 Keep in mind you're looking at the very top of the food chain, where every single little bits help to secure a win. Unless you're a WC top 10, I feel we often greatly overestimate how much the gear we ride makes a difference in our daily lives.
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  • + 3
 Back in the early 90's we killed it on complete hardtails with no front suspension. Now 22 years later we still kill it on the same trails with 6" suspension all the way around. The biggest difference is these days my body doesnt hurt as much the next day even though im old as dirt now! Suspension and faster brakes have helped to push my riding and you could say it gives a bit of an edge. If I still had my 1990 stumpjumper I would probably get to the bottom of the mountain a little slower than I do now, but I bet the time wouldnt be that much different.
  • + 2
 You'd just need more Advil after riding the HT. still need it anyway, just not as much with a DH bike. I'm old as dirt too!
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  • + 3
 If rider A is on a hardtail and is keeping up with rider B who is on a big bike on the same DH style trail I think both riders recognize who is the better rider. Sometimes its just fun to be the underdog even if not the outright fastest of the group.
  • + 2
 So you are also rider a Wink
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  • + 3
 I think it depends on the rider how much it depends on the bike. For example, send Troy Brosnan down a mountain on a Demo 8 II for one run and a Stumpjumper 29er for the next, there will be a huge disparity between the times. On the other hand, send a beginner/intermediate rider down the same mountain on the same two bikes and the disparity will not be as evident. The better the rider, the more the bike affects the riding; the worse the rider, the less the bike affects the riding.
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  • + 3
 a good rider can slay on any bike. a bad rider needs a forgiving bike as a crutch. Also, it absolutely blows my mind when I think about a gnarly trail that has been around for ages. People where sending those on hardtails with crappy forks, rim brakes, narrow bars, long stems, steep geometry, narrow tires and now we have optimized bikes, drop posts, big tires, wide bars
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  • + 3
 It's a mixture of both - but I would argue the better the rider, the quicker that rider will get used to a "bad" bike and the times will improve to where the difference would be negligible.

Case in point - I recently picked up a new bike and I was disappointed at how slow I was going, everything felt wrong. Eventually I got used to the bike and after changing up my riding style a little bit I am now a lot faster than I ever was on my old bike. Sure this is possibly growth as a rider as well, but after feeling like I was as quick as I could be on the old bike the new bike definitely had something to do with my speed increase!
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  • + 3
 I don't think it matters as much for the average rider, but when it's on a highly competitive stage like world cups, where its the fastest riders in the world that have arguably the best bike handling skills, the bike and how comfortable the rider feels on the bike, matters a lot.
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  • + 2
 I have a 150mm voodoo hard tail from halfords, but when I go to a trail centre I'm still faster than a lot of middle aged men on £4k top of the range bikes. So I believe the bike only has a minor part in your speed and ability.
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  • + 2
 What many who buy top of the line groupo from sram and other providing companies don't understand is its mostly the rider that has the potential to make it happen on a bike; sure there can be bad fine tune adjustment and faulty parts but Aaron Gwin lost his grip and it wasn't because of his bike. Take a good look at the people who still ride the 60 pounds Brooklyn Machine Works DH bike or the riders who go big off of an old bike with old parts and still shred; Even Aggy just follows along with Kona and rides their new bike and still rips. Theres even Cam Zink who rides for a company like Hyper; the bike was fit to his liking but in the last few years he has gone big and has shown a large impression. From flatland bikers like Terry Adams to Trials riders like Danny MacAskill or Chris Akrigg; this has shown that anything is possible on a bike and its because those riders had their determination and made it happen. Bikes today have so many options and it all gives the extra push and makes a lot achievable but its the rider that puts it in to play and makes the biking community a larger faction with what can be done on what used to be a way of transportation.
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  • + 2
 The quality of equipment or bikes play more of a part as the times get closer, for the average punter a 2 second faster bike down the trail is nothing but to a wc rider 2 seconds is the difference between 1st and 10th, The riders ability is easily majority of the performance, the problem is at a wc level all the riders are so highly trained the equipment stands out a little more because those little things make a difference.

The better rider will win most the time because most the time 0.1 of a second does not matter but at a wc level, having a bike that doesn't work for the rider can result in a top 20 rather than a top 5. A good rider will always be able to race a bike as fast as its possible but the potential of that bike might not match the others around them.

Its always going to be the rider who gets the most out of their equipment but the equipment needs to work with them and have the potential the rider is looking for, at the pointy end it does matter that a bike works with the rider when that .1 of a second counts.

It still takes the rider 100% to get that bike to the bottom without a rider the bikes going no where.
So how much do I put down to the bike. Probably 5% or less, in a race that last 4 min you might drop 5 seconds on a lesser bike, albeit that is a big number for a wc it only equates to a 2% loss in performance. The rider however makes up the big jumps and a simple mistake or not enough training will lose you more time than that.
  • + 2
 Keep in mind all world cup level bikes are comparable in performance, so the factor is very small, if we were to compare a hardtail to a dh rig on fortwilliam it will clearly be a bigger gap. My post is only in reference to worldcup bikes that can be compared between riders like gee, peaty, hill, smith etc.
  • + 3
 Since that is probably the wisest thing anyone will say on this thread, I will stop reading now.
  • + 1
 cheers mate.
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  • + 2
 This is a similar question that I see when it comes to racing motorcycles. Basically, the answer is 50/50 because at first, the rider is below the capabilities of the bike however, once the rider's skill improves the bike becomes the weak point. So, in the end it really is a 50/50 balance between rider skill and equipment.
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  • + 2
 I used to have trouble jumping my bike and popping over rough sections. I felt fine on the ground but as soon as I had to get airborne this would get sketchy. Then one day I bought a new bike and suddenly I could jump and pop and even whip and table a little. Turns out my old bikes rear shock lacked compression and would blow through its travel instead of providing the support I needed to jump predictably. Since then I've been on the podium many times and never looked back.
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  • + 2
 I am genuinely stumbled by this question. I like to think that my skills come from my riding and I think they do, if a completely inexperienced person hops on my downhill it doesn't mean they can shred a-line, right? But also if I were using a 20 year old bike with no suspension I would be a terrible rider compared to on my bikes. I honestly don't know what to say but to make myself feel better I went with 25% bike.
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  • + 2
 I see the bike as technology, the trail as nature, and the rider the interface between the two. The more the rider has to compensate for the trail the slower and harder she or he has to work. The more she or he can the better the rider. Thing is, the balance of that work is where the fun is. If you don't have to work at all then you are faster, but you might as well be road riding. If you have to work too hard (rigid ss) then for it is less fun too. That is why DH rigs have their place, but so do 120mm travel bikes.
The best WC tracks should be more demanding than a bike can make up for.
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  • + 2
 Ok so I'm on the 50% bandwagon here. No way I'm as fast on a rigid single speed bike down a hill as I am on my dh bike. On that note though give that rigid single speed to a top World Cup racer and he is going to give my mid pack expert level skills a run for my money on even the roughest courses. No way does the bike make the rider but the right equipment does make a huge difference.
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  • + 1
 No one has mentioned Bender yet!? That in my mind is a compelling argument for the bike doing 75% of the work... And they have been for a good number of years... Similar argument with snowmobiles, you can put a novice rider on a 165 horsepower sled and they can climb almost everything a seasoned guy can... Same with bikes, put a novice rider with some desire to go fast or hit big drops on a well set up DH bike and they will keep up if not go faster than good riders on lesser bikes... From what I have seen at least...
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  • + 1
 Rider first bike second. I just recently built up my chromag stylus and have taken it anywhere that i took my 951. Although I do agree that theres a certain geometry that can work wonders for certain riders and riding types but to all the big travel joeys out there i say hop on a 140mm travel hardtail and see how good you really are
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  • + 1
 The wording for this poll question is terrible! Technically everybody should be answering 0%.

The question asks "what percentage of YOUR riding performance would you attribute to your bike?", whereas yours and your bikes performance are two different factors in the terrain you are able to cross and the manner in which you do so.

Nice try Richard...
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  • + 1
 I have been thinking about this for awhile now. I would like to answer with more than one choice.
When we first start riding our bike choice is very important , it will help the beginner roll over and down all kinds of stuff that they would crash on without a great bike.

As we progress , the bike becomes less of a factor , but it still helps us out a good amount ( which is why I chose 25%).

At the pro level , the bike is 10%, but when races are won and lost in a couple of seconds, that 10% is more important than the 25% boost that the average rider gets from a great bike.

There are times when I just let the bike figure it out, other times when I know what the correct line is. A great bike makes either choice an option.

P.s. great idea to give away cool stuff for taking polls.
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  • + 1
 focofox37 has the best recipe to answer this poll but even then...everyone has good days and bad days. When it comes to a matter of seconds, it is hard to say wether ther bike made the difference or if the rider was just that much better or worse on a particular run. Easy to argue that a full high end DH bike will smoke a hardtail on a downhill run if used by the same rider so if major tehnology/engineering supposedly gives you a slight edge on even a minor component or bike and you got the money or backing to do it...just roll with it. If it makes you feel like a better/faster rider then you just may become one. A lot of being a better rider is all in your head. Have fun...Ride on!
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  • + 1
 Ask that 'Supermarket Bike' Brazilian kid who won the Giant Glory and a trip to Whistler how much of a difference the bike makes.
Ask my non-athletic girlfriend who was flying around Sedona and hitting little jumps on her first day on a mountain bike ever! "This bike makes it so easy" she said (Riding a SC Juliana).
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  • + 1
 the best way to set up the experiment of bike vs rider skill level is to get a total group of 12 riders 4 bigginer 4 intermediate and 4 experts. have them all practice a little first but then ride the same course timed 1st on a world class bike then the middle of the road bike then the one thats complete shit. do the same across the different disciplines of riding with bikes intended for such then mix but it is importand that the data is on the same courses with the same bikes appropriotly sized to get an accurate data pool. then you can cross examine to determine weather or not it was the bikes or just riding skill because you can see the difference as a percentage of times between the different bikes per rider.
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  • + 1
 Well a lot of people covered the rider-bike theme. Did anyone think if the changes that have gone through the last 10 years or so?
When Disorder I/II/III came out, the guy were shredding on pretty much standard bikes with today-wise quite average suspension, some almost without, and they were haulin'!
Today riders are on bladder control/PC/USB/Wi-Fi/Bluetooth frames and forks, that I doubt make all that much of a difference. Things have changed so much, that I find it quite hard to differentiate and somewhat justify the differences between a WC part and a FR part on a bike today, other than the price that is. It's not that much about the bike, as it is about how much the rider's ego wants to have awesome parts on his bike so he has that pro presence amongst the others and feel like a god and ride like a dumbass.
For me the essentials are brakes, cockpit and tires. If I feel comfortable, I don't give a rat's ass what it is. If it's mine, it's sturdy enough and can handle everything I throw at it, nothing more, nothing less.
P.S. I don't know where I went with this one Big Grin
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  • + 1
 Wheres the option for logarithmic? A bike helps, no ones going to disagree. But there comes a point in which the more money you dump and the more R&D is done for suspension and such begin to have diminishing returns for your average joe of a rider.
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  • + 1
 I think this is a very interesting debate. I believe that so much of it comes down to our own minds. If you feel good on what your riding you will ride better. When it comes to WC DH where milliseconds can bring you too 1st or 7th the bike will certainly matter. When editor compares a hardtail to mcdonalds I think this is funny. A hardtail will teach you how to work the terrain underneath you better than any other bike. Your legs are more of your suspension travel than anything else. You have to learn how to use that travel effectively and starting off on a bike with 5 inches of leeway will keep your skills from developing as fast.
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  • + 1
 Isn't it ironic, that the question of this post is " is it the rider or the bike" and the 1st picture is Gwin? Who has made excuses about 1st of all the bike, then they change his frame. Didn't make much difference, then he made excuses about "there is no places to ride like the tracks in UK that enable the bike to be set up properly" I put it in quotes. Although he said the same thing but not my sentence word for word lol, anyway. Yes I think possibly 30 to 40 percent is the bike.... The bike weight, geometry, tyres, even tyre pressure. The bars, the suspension set up. Frame size. All this is the balance of the bike... I prefer a shorter frame for more jumpy tracks and a longer one for faster tracks. But the bike won make much difference until the rider has hit his ultimate peak. If they are not fit, can't ride for toffee or don't really care about winning, no bike will change that. I don't think Gwin is a bad rider. I mean last year he was rapid, still is... But I don't think excuses should be made. Train harder. And request that specialised (multi million pound company) spend a few thousand to get ya to the tracks to set up properly... Gee is unstoppable now. But he lives here and in our area we have tonnes of tracks. If Gwin came here to train. It could help...but let's all remember why he left Trek. Possibly a bad move. Money over winning?now he doesn't win. He will eventually lose the money. Not all of it is the rider.
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  • + 1
 interesting poll since the first person i noticed is Gwin coming to read the article & he hasn't had much luck this year in the UCI... i'm going to guess both for him so far.

i feel my bike sometimes has to meet me half way according to the ridding discipline i choose to use that day. i'm not going to ride dh on an xc bike & expect to get the performance of a dh bike on an xc bike... right?

in the beginning it was mostly bike that gave me confidence enough to push my learning curve to gain the skills i have today. so the more i ride, the more i grow my skills, the less bike it will become, i just won't reach 100% rider.
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  • + 1
 There are so many variables : terrain, tires, fitness at the current time (like are you dehydrated?) that it makes giving a blanket answer of a percent so hard.

I know that riding at Willamette Pass (rough, unkempt "bike park") on my 6inch SC Heckler is do able down to the bigger drops and quite fast, but when I rode a Norco Aurum out there, it was a whole different ball game in that all of the many braking pumps were not gone, but muted significantly, the drops became smaller and high speeds much more stable. It was definitely much, much easier.

That being said, with enough handling skill, it's very possible to keep up and rip it on a much lesser bike.

Other places I have had experience shuttling with my friends on DH bikes. That same Heckler has let me keep up with most of them for the most part. One time, when my derailleur was snapped, I even popped over on my fully rigid 1996 kona bike. The course was smooth enough for me to keep up and actually allowed me to enjoy riding it with them on a flowy, fun course. The bike was capable of sending moderate drops (3+ feet) at high speeds, so long as I was willing to perform some skill to allow for the landings not to suck.
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  • + 1
 This was pretty simple for me to figure out on my own. I own a giant reign 6 inch travel bike that's built very aggressively. I also ride a single speed redline monocog that's rigid. I ride A LOT of the same trails on the rigid as i do on my big bike. Only the steepest of trails will you feel like youve gone too far. Drops, jumps, and rolls are all easily done on a rigid bike, Even ultra rocky, loose, or rutted sections. As long as you have the body language to fit the task at hand you can ride whatever bike you want. I found that for every one minute on an average trail I go 20 seconds more slow on my rigid bike. So a 2 min segment on my big bike would be 2:40 on my rigid bike. I was pretty surprised to so how fast I was able to ride that rigid. 6 inches of travel and a f*ck load of technology to go 20 seconds faster per min of downhill. At the end of the day its a hell of a lot harder to ride a rigid bike at that pace than an eduro bike at that pace. Then when you consider all the fun lines and stunts you can do with lots of suspension! Definitely the rider, but i'd also say the big bikes allow the noobs to let the bike control them! So inherently they can go down shit they wouldnt ever feel confident enough to do on a rigid bike. Ride a rigid and you will see where your skills stand, and you will see if its you controlling the bike or if you just suck at riding.
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  • + 1
 i think that some geometry will fit some riders and some other wont ride the same geometry as good as others. depends on riding style, so the bike can be a huge factor on the rider performance. i tried different frames and on some really slack frame, i was not as fast as the frame i was used too, even after a long adaptation.
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  • + 1
 The statement, using the example of a Chromag hardtail, saying that some would say that is an argument for the rider not the bike is unfair. There is a reason that people choose a brand like Chromag other than reppin' a rad lifestyle and rocking a sweet sticker on the back window of your car. There are definitely better hardtails than others. The bike is always a part of the equation. It's not about wheel size or necessarily about the amount of travel, stiffness or always geometry. It can be all of those things added into one, but it how comfortable all of those details, or lack there of, in the bike make a rider feel so that they can ride with confidence and not think about what the bike is doing, but think about what they are doing.
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  • + 1
 75% or more for sure - although I love riding anything. if it creaks & groans, I get mad and ride crap.
Need to be chilled knowing your kit works, I had profile hubs on my jump bike and they were mint for 5 years.
wish I hadn't sold it now! want some more of those bad boys for my SLAYER!!!!!
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  • + 1
 At a pro level them switching bikes could result in some loss of speed until they find a good set up which suits them. But ultimately there still stupidly quick no matter what there on i don't think I am any faster on my full suspension than my hardtail just a little more confident as i know its more forgiving so ultimately i would say the rider
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  • + 2
 Throw me on a giant glory and send me down a world cup DH course and I'm going to brake my legs. Put me on a schwinn from walmart and send me down and I'm going to break my legs. case closed
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  • + 1
 This is a super hard question. I think the bike can make a big differance but it has to be the right bike for you. For example Troy is out riding Gwin on the same bike. For Troy that bike helps him progress, for Gwin... Not so much. I think the bike only matters once u have the skill to ride it. Take skiing for example. An experienced person needs longer stiffer skis with a high DIN setting. A beginner needs softer shorter skis with a low DIN setting. Gear, regaurdless of the sport, can help or hinder your preformance. You have to have the skill to truly capitalize on this.
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  • + 1
 It's the rider definitely but the bikes make all the difference. You can ride a full dh bike on a dj track but you'll have a hard time... Give the guy a hardtail dj bike it'll do him wonders.. And same for when you're hitting up the mountain. But none the less, the rider needs to obtain the skills with hours upon hours of practice! So get out there and ride! Big Grin
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  • + 1
 From my VERY limited experience I think at a beginners level (ME) the bike has more of an influence on your riding than it does on a more advanced rider.The higher end bikes seem to be a lot more forgiving than your cheaper BANGERS do. I only say this as I have only recently upgraded and the difference is amazing.
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  • + 1
 I'm going 75% and my choice is simple: by "the bike matters" I understand the kind of bike, aka a 200mm DH beast or a DJ hardtail or a 8kg carbon 80mm XC bike, not it mattering between a Specialized Demo and a Trek Session (yes, it matters for Aaron Gwin or Sam Hill, but they'd still smoke any of us on brakeless tricycles, it does matter to them because they notice those small differences).

And anyone who says that they can ride the same trail with the same pace and in the same way with any bike are just lying. Yes, you can ride most trails on any bike, but it will be a pain in the ass to do an XC loop with a 20kg DH bike and you're very likely to case the f*ck out of the dirt jump on which you can tailwhip with your DJer on an XC 20er (again, Martin Ashton wouldn't but none of us is Martin Ashton, it's the same thing as with Gwin and Hill above).

That is pushing it to the extreme, but if you have moderate skills and a capable AM/enduro bike you're sure to leave well behind your more skilled friend riding a hardtail as soon as the terrain gets rowdy (rowdy meaning rocky and all sorts of uneven, not just steep and with jumps a la bikepark). And likewise, you can have all the skill in the world yet there's no way you get even halfway down Champery on an inadequate bike (pro DHers could maybe get down on an enduro/freeride bike if needed be, but grinding their teeth and grimacing all the way down). So yeah, skill matters, and matters a lot when talking about using the proper bike on the proper terrain, but bike is a huge part of the equation.
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  • + 1
 The purpose of the bike makes a difference, what doesn't really matter is any given difference from brand to brand. If Semenuk or some top DH racer (whoever the f*ck that is nowadays) rode for another company, the performance would be generally the same. Riders move around all the time. Cam Zink is a good example. He's changed spons so many times & now rides for a department store bicycle company where his sig' bike is in Wal-Mart for $200. His riding is more or less the same as it's always been. If anything he's added a few tricks to the bag & made a bit of progress all the while everyone shits on the bike he's riding. All the tech trendies obsess over all the stupid technological gimmicks in this industry like there's any difference. It's just a bicycle. It's too simple a machine for the hardware to matter that much. If it fits & is used for its intended purpose, or well within range of its capabilities then the rider will perform about the same. Sorge couldn't win Rampage on a hardtail, but he would've won last year on Trek's equivalent bike & Semenuk would've still not won on Giant's. The only people claiming (blaming) hardware for their f*ck ups, are the people that don't know how to ride.
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  • + 1
 As a hardcore hard tail rider I would say it takes a lot of skill and technique to ride a hard trail fast. But having had my 1st ride on a downhill bike last night my eyes were opened I pedalled in places I have never pedalled before on my local trail and found I could hit corners faster. So a good bike can help but I do think rider skill is paramount as you cant learn to pump and use you legs as shocks on a full sus. But in summery as long as brakes work I'll ride it fast and hard
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  • + 1
 im all for the its all the rider but really technology advances better bikes get built making things easyier. I mean i ride a mk1 v10 where the back end fails and comes loose mid ride due to being shit. i think id be much faster on a newer rig or something like a status. but i mean drivetrain has got better, brakes and suspension got better geometry has changed and lighter ect. so can brake later blah blah end result faster times. BUT unless the rider has the skills to ride and make the most out the bike its useless. put a pro on a bike thats 10 years old and see how much slower they will be. likewise in BMX the bikes used to be tanks whereas now there light as f uck and people just do whips off the floor. so a better bike can make all the difference, just makes things easy
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  • + 1
 I just came back from the downieville classic, a very hard all-mountain race with 3000 ft. of hot, exposed, gravely climbing in 7 miles straight to a 20 mile descent fit for a dh course if it weren't for the 1500 aditional feet of climbing. I saw racers on a massive variety of bikes, with 29er carbon hardtails to near-freeride bikes. But the most amazing thing I saw was the incredible amount of racers charging hard on rigid single-speeds. These crazy people were so fit that the winner of the one speed category finished only 10 minutes short of the likes of Carl Decker, Adam Craig and Jason Moeschler on this 2-3 hour long course, all of these pros on 650b and 29er, 1x10 or 1x11, carbon wonderbikes. So yes, I think that the bike does matter a bit, but when it comes down to it, an extremely fit rider could make do with literally any kind of bike.
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  • + 2
 First comment?!? Do I blow it, or say something profound?!?! OMG OMG OMG... Uhhhhhhhhhhhh
The bike absolutely matters- it's how much that is the question. Some riders the bike may matter more, others less.
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  • + 1
 After switching from a Cannondale Jekyll frame to a Knolly Chilcotin frame I can completely understand how frame geometry can help in riding progression. Certain bike's can definetly help boost confidence and riding ability with the right set up!
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  • + 1
 What they should have said was take the bike you have now (if its quality) or a very expensive bike go ride that, then take a pink beach cruiser with little tasels and ride the same trail, now answer. it should be 50 % or more unless you are Brandon Semenuk or something
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  • + 1
 Your assumption that any given hardtail is to any given long travel bike what McDonald's is to a high end restaurant is wrong. The argument that 'being sentenced to a year of riding hard tail will make you a better rider' is premised on bikes of comparable price. Money saved on the suspension in this 'sentence' is money reallocated to better frame design, materials, and components.
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  • + 1
 which bike? i have 6 (i know i can only ride 1 at a time!) & a trial bike is rigid so i culd put the wrong stem or innappropriat gearing on it but i cannot set the sus up badly. does this further expose my lack of talent?
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  • + 1
 Ever get "biked" a term where you are ejected because of the type of rig your on and how it responds to certain features or terrain, Could also include mechanical like chain skipping ect. I once went 8ft to face when I tried to wheelie drop doing urban and chain skipped.

Biked also happens when the bike, such as one with a old school xc long stem and you hit a jump, then the telegraphic nature of a long stem pre-loads your body into air without the bike. Biked. . .
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  • + 1
 I think the key point is how comfortable the rider is on their bike. Having a better bike wont always improve performance as if you cannot connect with the bike you will not have the confidence to throw it around. Some bikes make it easier to ride at a better level but it is down to the rider to learn how to handle the bike to really see an improvement in skills. I notice myself riding much better when I am connected with my bike and feel confident going into features, I think people ride worst when they are hesitant and cautious in approach due to not knowing how far they can push the bike. Once you become familiar with a bike you will certainly become a better rider no matter how poor the bike is, when those skills are obtained they can be transferred onto a better machine which will allow the rider to progress further. But with acquiring the core skills on a basic bike the rider will only ever go so far. I endorse the initial year on a hardtail policy.
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  • + 1
 I reckon its about 80% rider 20% bike, because you could have the best bike going, and ride terribly, the bike doesnt do all the work, but on the other hand you could have a tesco hardtail and ride amazing. obviously the bike does help alot, but only when you start getting really good and fast does it make a massive difference.
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  • + 1
 I think the way in which a bike handles can inspire confidence. I have a full suspension that has never inspired much confidence and now I'm back riding a Canfield hard tail 29er and my confidence is way better than it has ever been. Like Bush10 said - me and the bike we like each other!!
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  • + 1
 Takin my TransAM hardtail to Sandy Ridge today as the Lyric on my bigger ride is FUBARed. Hardtail life! I like the comment about all riders having a mando 1 year sentence on hardtails. I can't believe people today basically learning to ride on a DH race bike. Never truly learn to handle the bike or appreciate progression.
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  • + 1
 It's the rider, whether it's biking, surfing or what have you. Look at old issues of Bike Mag during the Shit bike series. This is a different sport but it still applies: To prove it is the surfer and not the board Rob Machado surfed a door to prove the point. You can have the best equipment on the planet but if you have sub par skills it does you no good.
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  • + 1
 Many years ago I recall a shop owner in his forties telling me why he went full suspension. He said his knees hurt and that without the suspension he couldn't keep up with the younger guys he rode with. At the time I thought that was kind of funny.

Now I am his age, without sore knees, I think I understand what he was getting at. My back has never been good, but without full suspension i would be missing out. The rider ultimately pilots whatever they ride, and great riders can do anything on pretty much any bike; but as you get older, the equipment becomes a bigger factor in your enjoyment. After all, it's not the improvement in fitness and skill that becomes a challenge, but overcoming the vagaries of age at the same time.

To me the advances in frame materials and geometry, along with suspension design are giving all riders an opportunity to advance their skills to new levels and more quickly. For those getting older, the enjoyment and opportunities as a result of these innovations have never been greater.
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  • + 1
 If you all haven't seen the Klunking video with Lars, I highly recommend it! I'm not saying anything about the bike vs. rider thing- it's just interesting to see how a pro handles the different bikes... His skills are solid, but the type of terrain and speeds he rides is kinda bike dependent.

vimeo.com/32425530

You can see the difference between the klunker and how he rides his DH rig or the double in other videos. such as these:

vimeo.com/50998782
www.youtube.com/watch?v=AeHc_Enmjuc
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  • + 1
 The answer to this is pretty simple - A better rider can push a bike closer to it's limits than a poor rider can. So all the average weekend warriors can go out and get 50% of a full on DH rigs performance and go faster a pro would on a hardtail because the maximum performance of the hardtail is only 50% of the DH (rough example, I'm not saying a hardtail is half as fast).

That's why racing is about having the fastest machine, and then having someone who can push it to it's limits. This argument has been had in F1, Rally, etc etc for years.
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  • + 1
 5 years on a Demo 7 crippled my riding and my confidence. 3 rides on a TR450 almost took those 5 years back. By the end of this season, I expect to continue progressing rather than regressing....for the first time in half a decade. Some bikes suit some people better than others. I thought it was me getting old. It was a bike that was just a poor fit for me, what I ride and how I ride.
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  • + 1
 Theres a guy who comes in top 3 in our local super d/enduro races aboard a single speed hardtail every time, and another fellow comes in middle of the pack or better on a single speed rigid bike. If thats not a good argument for rider not bike, I dont know what is
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  • + 1
 It is mainly rider skill somewheres around 85% rider because even though i can ride my hardtail down most of the dh tracks and keep up with most of the big bikes there still are trails that would just break me and my hardtail the reason a bike seems like such a huge factor in the wc's is that everyone is incredibly fast and that little bit that is the bike comes into play and also session > demo
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  • + 1
 Regularly stravad my home trail, bought new bike (old: stumpy carbon brain&f32, new:knolly endorphin&xfusion slant, both 140mm, same wheels, tires, transmission) am measurably faster on the new bike even with same or less effort (measurements courtesy of strava. What does that mean? Bike matters! K has more efficient suspension for the ups and stiffer frame and fork + slacker ha allows me to charge more on the downs. When your bike is taylored to support your riding you rip more than on a less fitting bike.
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  • + 1
 I don't think this poll gives us the whole picture at all. For a beginner I believe the bike would make a big difference, as a better bike would be more forgiving and compensate somewhat for a lack of rider skill more than poor bike would. But, the better you get the less the bike matters as it's more about the riders skill and fitness etc. Once you get to elite level however (or even just riders of a similar skill level), the bike and setup become vital again in helping to save that extra second. Aaron Gwin's performances this year highlight this point.
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  • + 5
 Bike +you =1. Divide by 2 . Answer is 50%
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  • + 1
 It's really down to how comfortable someone feels on a particular bike. What feels the best might not necessarily translate to the fastest times down the hill.

However when a bike that feels great, but is also fast, is when a bike could be 25-50%. On a bike like that its going to inspire confidence and make the rider at home taking bigger risks.
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  • + 1
 I ride a Trek Remedy 8 cuz that's all I can afford. I started on it and couldn't really ride anything. Now I've gotten to the point where I'm mobbing almost everything, hitting all tr big jumps, pumping the shit out of rock gardens and really progressing. I have a long way to go but I've learned so much from riding the same trail bike over everything. I wish I had enough money to get a nice DH bike and rip through the technical stuff with out a problem. Just to see what that's like. I try to go as fast as possible over everything on my Remedy. I look on the bright side of not being able to afford any other bike and that's that I will learn to ride trails as best as possible and develop my skills on it, and maybe someday when I can buy a new bike I can tear through things.
  • + 2
 Same thing budy but I am on a Hardtail Smile
Keep it up !!!
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  • + 1
 Question can not be answered due to number of variables and scenarios. But in a racing condition, it is very easy for a rider to become slower for 6 months to a year after changing bikes. I recently upgraded my bike from a 2008 model to a 2012 (stiffer, slacker but shorter), and for the first 3-4 months my results were severely impacted, going from a top 50 rider back to the 60-70 range despite more experience and better training. Now that I am used to the bike, I am riding top 40.

A lot of it is mental, and a lot of it has to do with whether the rider can adapt, or the bike is suited to a particular style. Riding with my friends I go from one of the guys in front with my 160mm bike, to one of the guys in the middle with my hardtail, on the same trails. Doesnt matter, it's all fun. But in a competitive race scene, I can lose 30 places because my wheelbase is 1cm shorter than what I was used to, and just didnt feel comfortable...
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  • + 1
 I think it's more important that a rider is comfortable on the bike they have. that way they have the confidence to rip anything. so it is mainly the rider that controls the outcome of a ride. however, I think the real answer to the poll is no one will ever know. there are too many variables and honestly, style plays a big role, and no ones style is the same as anyone else's, except for Brandon Semanuk and Brett Rheeder....
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  • + 1
 This is all BS to enforce the thinking that if you get new gear you will be better and happy. If you want to get really strong and fast pull a refrigerator on your Huffy. If you want to feel really tough an burly ride the crap out of that Huffy at Rampage. People will know.
  • + 5
 The amount of unhappiness inherited with a skippy chain disproves your argument.
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  • + 1
 When I was about 14 years old, we had a little set of jumps behind a bowling alley. There was a transfer jump that we figured out after building everything - that seemed impossibly long to make, but eventually one of us manned up hit the gap, and made it. It was a friend riding an old Hutch race bike I think. He even made it look pretty. Then along comes some neighborhood kid on a Huffy Pro Thunder. Kid can barely "pop a wheelie", and is also years younger than any of us. Without a peep, he comes barreling across this parking lot, blazes in to our wooded area, and hits the transfer jump, clears it, lands flat bottom and really stacks it hard. Blood, bruises, the whole nine. But he gets up and for the most part is ok. His Pro Thunder didn't hold him back at all. In his case, it's the rider.

There are so many - too many - variables to the open ended question "Is it the rider, or the bike?" - it's not a question that can be answered on it's own.

Fill in some variables, and come back with a revised version.
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  • + 1
 Growing up i rode a haro bmx, and we had dirt jumps in our neighborhood which were pretty decent size for us st the time.I remembet some of the neighborhood kid's from time to time would get brave and bring there Walmart specials out and tty and hit the jumps. Usually the rim was bent after the first jump,if not by the second one lol.Hell we even seen a few broke frames out there now and than.Those we're the days.; )
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  • + 1
 I think everyone knows the differences between a xc hard tail and a dh race bike are pretty massive. But ithink the real question is whether there is one best bike in each of those categories. Will the new gt fury make any pro racer or joe bo faster than if they were to ride a specialized demo for example. I think that is the holy grail of mountain biking thinking to many people. If i just owned that new carbon jekyl i would be twice as fast. Imo gwins losin isn't about the bike even though he wants to believe that and many others already do. He has just lost his mojo after smashing everyone for a season and being the clear champion. Where doyou go from there? But he will be back Soon before Sam I think too. And even though I can't help but want everynew 160mm travel bike reviewed here With the thought that I will be faster and have more fun, the reality is I wouldn't. My Giant Reign like most rocks.
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  • + 1
 Without a bike we'd be just walking about. The bike is essential to every level of riding and it's the all access key to rider progression. This is to say, no bike, no progression, no ability. The bike is were it's at! We only have to unlock its potential.
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  • + 1
 my own expirience from last two seasons:
- last year I visited the bike-parks at Levi and Ylläs on my 150mm trail bike. Levi is more about freeride (wooden stunts, wallrides etc), Ylläs is more about brutal rocks and endless berms. I felt comfortable on my Merida in both parks, there was no trail left unridden because my bike wouldnt let me do it - however for many sections I just lacked the skills to rip them right
- this year I visited THE SAME TRAILS IN THE SAME BIKE PARKS on my 200/170mm Status. It felt exactly the SAME comfortable nearly at every point of the trails, however handling the roughest rock gardens improved due to more aggressive angles and more travel on the rear.

so my take is: because I felt so little difference between two differently oriented bikes on same trails, I would estimate the bike input somewhere at a quarter of overall performance, or even less. But certainly, for 99% of us average riders - hardware matters.

PS: I also own a freeride hardtail, and in my local Estonian woods there is no difference: hardtail, trail bike, full-on susser - it all feels the same.
  • + 1
 Your comparison is not corect.You try two 150-200 mm full suspension bike on a bike park. You have to try some gnar dh track on a hardtail and after on a new dh sled to learn the difference.
  • + 1
 Your point is valid, and I agree, that the difference between 0 travel and 200mm travel would me immense. I have that kind of experience too, on local DH track at Kütiorg.

I guess my point is, that between two decent bikes, that differ in terms of geometry and components slightly, but stay roughly in the same category, changes You feel as a rider are extremely minor.

Having said that, I do not believe that switch between Trek and Spesh has something to do with Gwin's bad luck this year. Hope he can put himself back together.
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  • + 1
 I think it's affair to say the bike plays a big part as you can rip a dh corse a lot faster on a bigger travel bike. However a hard tail is going to be much quicker at the bmx track. Also if u make a big mistake on a dh track you have a lot more forgiveness with a dh bike wear as a hard tail make a minor error and it will kill u :-^
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  • + 1
 Ive always thought it was 10% or less. I remember the hype from the early 2000's about different suspension types; I finally understood that I had to peddle and balance the thing, and make all the decisions!

The bike experience exists because I am a giant shock absorber brain; I am the ultimate brain shock!
------

The hardtail question is a different animal, especially as I get older!

And all can be answered with enough money!
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  • + 1
 A good rider can demonstrate skill on any bike they ride. its all about making the most of what you have to work with. Anyone on here can recognize skills on two wheels when they see it. If all you care about is outright performance and quick times down a race run then you bet your equipment plays a huge factor.
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  • + 1
 I've found over the years that its a split difference between the two. As for what percentage, well that's completely up to the individual.

No two people are the same , but it should be noted that some bikes or more so setup of the bike, can attribute to an individual "feeling" they're riding better/faster. I'm very anal with the way I set my bike up & maintenance of it. I know if something doesn't feel right, then it plays on my mind when I'm riding.

Riding downhill, I've found three things other than the bike that will make someone a faster rider =

1: Balls. There's no denying it, you need balls to ride & bigger balls to ride fast.

2: Reaction time. I'll admit that I can ride a bike comfortably in most situations, but I know at high speeds hitting shit like I'm in a truck, my reaction time isn't as fast as others. I can run through my head an entire track, every rock, corner & line I "should" take, but my reaction time when in a real world riding situation vastly differs to what's in my head & that leads me to my last point..

3: Mind control. That ability to shut yourself off completely & only focus on what's in front of you is a very powerful thing.

Anyway, enough of my dribble. I really need to get out of work mode & enjoy the weekend!
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  • + 1
 My first thought when i read the title of the article was that of course it's the rider not the bike, didn't the author see the video of Wade Simmons and Thomas Vanderham ripping up the shore on XC bikes? However then i rembered that last fall I upgraded my 10 year old XC full suspension to a Slayer 70 and I'm definitely faster (I can now keep up with guys who use to smoke me on the decents), and more important, I'm having way more fun. Also there are some stunts that I won't try on my Slayer, but would consider and/or have done on my DH bike. Not because the Slayer couldn't handle, but because my DH bike has more travel and is more forgiving of pilot error.
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  • + 1
 Some years ago, in the amateur DH league in my zone, appeared a guy with a rigid bike, with a rock shox judy or similar and he race against all of us. It was his first race, we are a bunch of friends that organize some races from time to time (6 per year) just to have some fun. We are all 30+ guys with Demo, V10, Flatlines, etc -top notch bikes-. But this guy with a cadex frame and a rock shox judy beat all of us in 3 or 4 races.

It demonstrates that a mummy riding a V10 makes nothing and a guy with heart riding any bike makes the difference.
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  • + 1
 A timely Poll as a recent experience had me thinking about this.

My Bro has a fully loaded Specialized Enduro carbon, which he uses as a Trail bike. He also does alot of DH on his Morewood DH bike. In my opinion, he's a fast and capable rider and he's at a good fitness level.

So, a few weeks back, the Enduro was out of action for repair so he borrowed an 8 year old Orange 5 in order to keep his training up for an upcoming trip to the Alps.
The 5 is a good bike but this one is getting old and in need of a thorough overhaul, it has none of the latest and greatest kit, was a bit loose and rattly, it had a barely functioning rear shock, no dropper post, poor brakes, worn tyres, old school long stem and narrow bars, gears were hit and miss etc etc.

So we hit our local trails with the dreaded strava tuned on (we were training remember!), and guess what? He was hardly any slower on the Orange. We're talking 5-10% slower on the decents, and no difference at all enywhere else.

So what this proved to me is that a good rider will get a good performance from any half decent bike, and beyond a certain point the returns for £££spent on a bike get more and more marginal.
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  • + 1
 I don't think there is ever going to be a straight forward answer to this question...
I see it coming down to a combination of your abilities and how comfortable you are on the bike, bike setup being the key for me.

On a personal level - Different bike setups have changed my riding ability. I first got a DH machine that was a frame size two small, old geo, bad brakes, but it got me going and I had fun. However, since changing to a new bike, one that has "better" components, different frame geo and so on, my riding ability gets better each time I go out, simply because I now have the confidence in the bike.

Meh, who care's anyway, you need the bike to go riding and that's what we all love doing eye?
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  • + 1
 The point made about 'forcing someone to eat mcdonalds for a year so they can really tase good food' - try ditching the mountain bike for a while (maybe 6 months to a year) and ride bmx (street, trails, whatever you fancy)... absolutely no forgiveness, no margin for error and believe me, your bike handling and control will have improved no end once you get back on the big bike.So from my experience the bike does have something to do with it, however your own skills set will set the true course for how you fare on your rides.
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  • + 1
 When I read this pole, I though to myself "how badly will this be misunderstood?"

A faster rider will always compensate for equipment differences, up and to the point where the equipment slows him beyond the speed of the next fastest rider. I answered 75% in the pole, where I see the issue as all things being equal, how much difference does the bike make for one rider, in their performance, not in terms of making a slow rider faster?

Try this: time your best effort on your favorite trail. Now, do it again after clicking your rebound lighter 4 or 5 clicks. Time yourself again. You will be amazed. As soon as you are pitched over the bars, or get off line, you lost more than three seconds.

When racing moto, I went from mid pack in moto one, struggling with the bike on a tight course, then raising the fork 5mm and getting my usual top 10 place, 4th that moto if I remember.

A good bike won't make you a better rider, but a poorly set up bike, or a bad bike will definitely slow you.
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  • + 1
 It's just a Bike...no matter how expensive or advanced the technology it may have, it will still depend on the rider if he's gonna take advantage of it to further improve his skills, it will all boils down on determination....
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  • + 1
 I put down 50%. I rode 5 different bikes so far this summer with a wide variety level of components and raced at least 4 of the 5. I can assure you that the bike makes a big difference to help your riding skills. You don't need elaborate tests to find out that some bikes climb better, handle better and just are straight up faster.

From 3x7, 3x8, 3x9 and 2x10, from steel, aluminium to full carbon hard tails and 1 soft tail all for XC riding. I was faster on a 2x10 carbon 29er than all the other bikes I rode this summer. I would assume that as your skill level gets higher that the percentage would change but in the end the perfect bike with the perfect set-up will always give you an advantage.
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  • + 1
 Riding in general it's more mental than physical. Really think hard on what it takes to ride any bike in any conditions. Confidence is key.
So with that being said I'd say that it's 70% bike 30% rider.
The large part of that 70% is fit/size/comfort/mobility within the bike it self. But it also goes hand in hand with the riders mental confidence of being comfortable/confident in the those 4 trades mentioned.
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  • + 1
 Any good rider, can ride anything just as well. But only just as well. There is a bike performance, that suits one rider better than the other - but this is small. In terms of seconds in a WC race? Small can be a few seconds back. But this is at the Pro level.
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  • + 1
 I started downhill on a KHS FR1500 and I wasn't bad, but I wasn't good either. Then I got a used '03 Giant DH Team and the first race I competed in with that bike I got 5th. In my opinion, once a rider gets used to their bike, then it's up to them to progress their riding. So 10% or less seems like the good answer to me.
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  • + 1
 A good rider can ride anything however when all things are equal as In competition, its the little things that seperate winning and losing, at Gwins level all the riders have great skills, mentally though only a few possess what it takes to win ahead of the pack, then bike setup and bike become an Important component against those other riders that have the total package to win, so bike tool does become very important, Gwin had the total package with Trek, Fox, JTomac, Ryno etc, he won sea otter on a 29er suggesting his fitness and skills were fine, but this was no DH test of where he was with Specialised as that was not the Demo. Obviously the Demo/ Sram package suits Troy Brosnan, something's definitley not right with Gwins total package, his previous years lack of WC off season didnt hurt him so why is it different know, the only thing thats changed is the Trek Shimano DT for Specialised Sram DT still on Fox, ok TLD haha.

For any rider setup tuning and bike can help with confidence, some bikes work for a rider some dont. I had a bike last year I could slay but ultimately I still didnt gel with it, it just felt wrong for me, no matter what I changed, my current frame is not only the best Ive ever had, every ride is a great ride, just love it, you cant measure this in isolation, at Gwins competition level even a change in tires which also has occurred can affect performance, whether its his tires the bike or setup too far away. But for example to set the Demo up like his 9.9 would be a mistake and many make, they are different bikes you must learn the secrets of the frame and setup accordingly, just like a new girl shes not really the same person as your last!
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  • + 1
 When I had my hardtail I used to fall off my bike every day I went out on it, whereas when I got my dh bike it took me a good 3 or so months til I fell off it. Now i'm falling off it quite a lot more, but I feel its cos my riding has sort of caught up with the bike. I guess i'm trying to say that it depends how good the rider is.
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  • + 1
 I think this is just the same as cars are for drivers. Its more the pilot than the equipment. Put a pro driver in a street car and I bet he would beat almost any non competition driver in a racecar. It depends what you're up against but the more specific and tuned your equipment the better performing you will be.
  • + 0
 Yea but if we take the elite guys, you can't compare WRC to F1 in such respect. In MTB, brakes, tyre choice and suspension setup(ability) are factors that would make a difference. Brother on RS Domain and Alivio brakes with 6" rotors and Maxxis Ardents 60a won't make as good time as if he got Boxxer Team, Saints, and Minions ST. I think out of four main MTB disciplines XC, 4x, Enduro and DH, it is the DH where the bike plays the biggest role. In Enduro it will be quite big, but in XC it is minimal. In XC if you have racing skill, riding skill and power in your legs, you gonna do a top 10 result on a Wallmart bike.
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  • + 1
 the percentage changes massively depending on what kind of riding your doing
dh and enduro the bike technology is far more important than slopestyle or even bmx
but rider skill is always more than 50% of the job
slopestyle: 20-10%
dh-enduro: 35-45%
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  • + 1
 If you're a good enough rider, then it's the rider.
If you're more like me, it's DEF the bike!!
My bike is DEF better at downhilling than I am, but with an Atherton on board, my bike WILL go a hell of a lot faster than I can get it going...............................for now! ;-)
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  • + 1
 any post 2005 bike will have the capability in a good riders hands to do pretty my anything they want it to do.

imo, it would really depend on who/what/where. but in my experience, bike has almost nothing to do with it...
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  • + 1
 the right bike for the right rider... this is the answer... your riding style, your weight, your sensibility to various setups, can make it possible to do a choice, and you only have to do the right choice.
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  • + 1
 I've recently upgraded my wheels and tyres from stock and bought a 20mm longer front fork, the bike now feels more fun and my strava times have improved, parts definitely make a big difference.
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  • + 1
 Personally I have to say that 50% is my own skill and 50% the bike for riding at my max. my own skills may be enough to take on challenges, but the bike is what gives the confidence to charge ahead.
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  • + 2
 It depends if its the type of bike or the quality of the bike cause mid level dh bike vs high end dh bike is different than a trail bike vs a dh bike.
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  • + 1
 Its way less than 50/50 IMO Just went from a 100mm marathon bike to 150mm trail bike I am not 50% faster on the downs More relaxed and in control but I need fitness to go faster on the big bike too.
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  • + 1
 I'd be more convinced by the video if there were more than one featuring hardtails on hard trails. This one was already featured in the article about the argument for less travel.
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  • + 3
 All i know is that Gwin will still spank my ass on a Walmart bike regardless of what I'm riding...
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  • + 0
 I think to a certain degree it matters, say gwin rides a world cup track on his world cup tuned demo, then the same thing on a rigid fixie, the performance would be COMPLETELY different, so i think it does matter to a certain degree, thats my opinion
  • + 1
 Even with me I can only push myself to a certain level on my 04 Aline
  • + 1
 exactly, if you push your self any harder on a bike like that you'll break or it will
  • + 1
 I couldn't agree more
  • + 1
 a fixie isnt made for dh, so you can really compare it to a demo or sessions
  • + 1
 alright then an 04 aline like OS141121 was talking about
  • - 1
 the 04 aline isnt a bad bike, if a pro had it i bet his time would only be a few seconds slower.... 10% or less on the bike
  • + 3
 I don't think we should think of this like what if we rode dh on XC bikes or XC on a dh bike. Think of it like if you rode a really old crap downhill bike on a downhill course or a crap XC bike on an XC loop. You could still ride the trail, it would just be harder and would take time to adjust. I say 31.67% bike.
  • + 1
 It would definitely be different though if you took away at getting fury and gave him some old ass dh bike and told him to go win the World Cup, it probably wouldn't happen haha I mean skills definitely matter it's just not 100% it's. a huge factor though
  • + 0
 the bike doesnt matter, ive rode many bikes, if its for a certain type of riding, ride what it was designed for, it will work. if you are not a pro you dont need the best, lets not kid yourself
  • + 4
 I was thinking more 31.68%.. but thats just me i guess
  • + 1
 atherton could win a race on any other bike, its just he rides a gt
  • + 1
 @markunit10 maybe... he didn't win on the commencal v3... (and quiet down I have that bike)
  • + 1
 remi is now the best right, the gt was old news
  • + 2
 pretty sure remi won because it was his home track and gee had a bad day (that's gees own fault for the record) although you could argue he had a slick bos system going
  • + 1
 so now there is a percentage of the trail that we have to take into consideration.
  • + 1
 @finnrambo : Rémi is from Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, which is not exactly close to Andorra (check this out on a map). And I can tell you that downhill tracks are quite different between the two places, so you can't tell it's his home turf. Plus the track was created a few weeks before the WC, therefore he didn't know it better than other riders. And yes, he had a great run.
  • + 1
 Ya just look at his results last year on a crap bike that wasnt up to date compared to prior when commy made a bike for him. And then he starts to win again after gt updated and made a bike for him. Good logic homeslice
  • + 1
 @poussmouss my apologies then, I thought I heard one of the announcers say it was his home track... but yes that was an amazing run and seeing him so comfortable on the track made me think it was his home track as well, anyway hope he can get at least another win in before the end of the season
  • + 1
 hes placed in in the top 3 all over his career, check wikipedia haha, it is just this season he is the "popular one", just like sam hill, aron gwin, etc used to be
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  • + 1
 I think it's important to have the right bike at the right time. One that suits your evolution in riding . Bike parts, settings and protection are also a great influence or moodkiller
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  • + 0
 the bike does certainally make a difference. If you asked gee atherton to ride world cups on a xc hard tail he would ask if your on crack. I would not ride whistler bike park on a hardtail, you could do a lap of aline on a hardtail, but i would not dare to do a tech run like In Deep on a hardtail. id say its about 40%bike
  • + 2
 enjoy the braking bumps on aline...
  • + 1
 yea exactly, i ride a full dh rig in the bikepark. Actually riding tech riding is less painful on the hands then aline braking bumps
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  • + 3
 I'd have to say it's 100% because without the bike I wouldn't be riding at all...
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 I would say its 50/50 for me, but it really depends. A good rider can make due with a poor bike and a great bike can make a crap rider look legit.
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  • + 1
 Bike acts as an enhancer as long as it is more capable than the rider and a limiter when the rider is more capable:
beginners profit least from a top bike, intermediates get confidence boost and pros avoid being limited.
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  • + 1
 I don't know if anyone already said this but, a bad craftsman blames his tools. I say its 85% rider 15% bike, i notice a difference when i am on a bike that's not mine, but that's mainly because i am not used to it.
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  • + 2
 Geometry and specs and fork/shock setups are important, but a skillful rider can rock the bike much more than an average rider.
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  • + 1
 rear sus is a massive confidence boost, more comfortable and alot more fun so the bike has a large part to do with it. but ride a hardtail you will improve more because you have to find the lines to keep speed to enjoy it!
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  • + 1
 The bike only helps the rider (when WC level) to get the 0.5sec missing to win. Or in some cases, it leads to loose 0.5sec.

i'm pretty sure that for a lambda rider, a blind test would reveal aleatory results
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  • + 0
 I wish people could really get off Aarons case. Especially journos, you are certainly living off from this blurry goo surrounding him that he definitely does not deserve. Quiet, humble, hard working guy that happened to dominate the sport, minding his own business, doing his own thing and ever now and then someone has to dig and look for a sensation that obviously isn't there. Who (normal) cares? I'm stoked there is such personality at the world cup circuit, wish him the best just like all the others and thus I cannot care less if he comes first or 10th. I particularly don't give a fk what bike is he on. I enjoy the fact that Specialized is on WC circuit as well, but the combination, bike-brand? I think it is cool he rides a bike designed by a company from his own country, what else can anyone expect?!

It's mountain biking alright? Don't make a fkng street drama out of it at the cost of such a great guy. Make sure it stays North Shore not Jersey Shore. Higher the bar
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  • + 1
 Its all the rider. A good bike can make the ride more enjoyable but its not necessary to ride well. A good rider can kill on it on fully rigid single speed. A noob is still going to be a noob no matter how nice the bike.
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  • + 1
 Its definatley upto a certain point in your riding progression you notice your suspension bugging you. My basic 888s are coughing when comes to sharp turns and any drop over 3 flippin foot!?
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  • + 1
 It's all in the rider, i.e Filipe, but having the bike makes it a whole lot easier/faster to learn.
Having said that, once you get a bike that feels right, you go a whole lot faster again.
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  • + 1
 what a poll?
yes my bike does the main work on the terrain I ride but then I wouldn't attempt it on a raleigh chopper,the same as I wouldn't enter my washing machine in a formula 1 race
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  • + 2
 Not the bike, but maybe the tires. A great bike with cheap shoes is terrible, but a POS with good rubber is actually pretty good.
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  • + 2
 It doesnt matter what bike you have, all that matters is that your bikes clean and your kits brand new
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  • + 1
 Having the bike that you are comfortable on definitely plays a part but I would argue that the "right" bike gives one that extra bit where the rest of it is the rider's skill
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  • + 1
 Bike gives about 15-25% riding performance, but they can be critical, because impact on other 75-85% skill of rider, I think.
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  • + 1
 I would like to think it's my bike... Ya i'll just tell people I cant hit that line cause the bike will go nose heavy. Too bad :/
  • + 1
 gwin "I can't win this race because this bike is too sjetchy compared to my old one"
  • + 1
 But that "sketchy" bike put him back only a few seconds in most of the races this year. Overall, he still rips it
  • + 0
 finnrambo - did he actualy say it?
  • + 1
 @waki no not at all! I was just joking, be funny as hell if he did though and he might as well be from saying he doesn't feel confident on his setup
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  • + 1
 I would like to say the bike is important, but when a guy with his 1992 Specialized Stumpy passes me on the trail, I tend to think differently...
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  • + 1
 I think this is a hard one to put a number on unless you do back to back run's on a proven trail bike and a supermarket piece of s"*t.
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  • + 2
 I just bought a new pair of shorts and I was ripping it like never before. Can someone explain?
  • + 3
 It's obvious. The new waistband elastics curve around your waist better, flexing and contouring to your body movements. This allows for an 18% increase in efficiency of waist muscle movement. Hence the "ripping it like never before".
  • + 1
 Were they Troy Lee?
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  • + 1
 I'd say it's around 25% bike because it would be a challenge doing a slope style event with your mothers bike for instance...
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  • + 2
 Seen what most people can do with a hammer and chisel? Seen what a sculpter can do with them? Yeah, RIDER 90%.
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  • + 1
 As with any wheeled sport. Its the Rider/driver followed by the tires then the suspension then stopping then power. No more. No less.
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  • + 1
 I think it down to the rider as I have fallen off of every bike I've owned the present one being a stumpjumper which I'm told is an ok bike so I must truly suck.
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  • + 1
 I know people that are insane on hard tailed older bikes bombing past others on full suspension newer bikes. I think its mainly on the skill of the rider!
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  • + 1
 Most of you have made good points, but you've over looked the bigger and more important point.

Namely, does it look like a Session?
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  • + 2
 None of this matters - The best bike, is your bike. So get on it and go have fun!
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  • + 2
 if u scrolled down this far you definately have nothing better to do today... like me Smile
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  • + 2
 They implied mc-d's was a bad thing? to me it's a luxury, oh that salty fatty goodness
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  • + 2
 Having a better bike may not improve your riding but it gives you the confidence to improve your riding.
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  • + 1
 Its a combination of what you've got the skill to do and how well your bike can handle it, you may have the skill of Gee Atherton but you wouldn't ride Andorra on a hardtail.
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  • + 1
 Who remember the "supermarket bike" dude from Portugal? Best example that rider does the most part, till the bike exceeds it limit
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  • + 1
 There is no substitute for talent. And you need balls. A newby wont even be able to see me on the trail. Ill b too far ahead of em.
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  • + 1
 You learn different skills on different bikes that become rider skills that are transferable to different bikes. Nature and nurture.
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  • + 1
 My hardtail is a piece of crap and no way could I do any good at a bike park like Northstar compared to a good whatever-inch fullsuspension bike.
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  • + 1
 I think a bike it is just a tool that help you to acomplish a goal. So, it can help a lot but if you dont have the technic you can not do much.
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  • + 1
 when you first start biking your bike matters more but as you get better it becomes more and more you that is making it happen
  • + 1
 this is very true, I'll be damned if I'm not faster on an am bike then I was when I first started dh (when neds and cbc were actually hard trails)
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 Placebo effect. I get way better results by not showing up hungover to the mountain than showing up on a shiny new carbon fiber Sam Hill wannabe bike. Smile
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  • + 1
 JUST WHATCH THIS VIDEO : www.pinkbike.com/video/312784
it seems like in some parts he is faster with the old bike, doesn't he!!?
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  • + 1
 A better bike won't help you go fast enough to beat the field, but a poor bike will be enough to lose the race.......I'd say it's mostly the pilot; 80%-20% rider-bike.
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  • + 2
 This is like asking what's the best wheel size.
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  • + 2
 Nearly 100% rider. Montgomery flipped a road bike.
  • + 1
 and flip superman too)
but if u can do something,you may do this on the other bike.But imagine,that you learn flip superman on the road bike...
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 A pro level rider can make even a supermarket bike fly. I can't.
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  • + 2
 if it was all rider and no bike, DH rigs wouldnt cost £4k.
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  • + 1
 I am never as good a rider as my bikes make me look. But I do love having nice-ass bikes.
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  • + 1
 10% is a huge margin. 25% I'm guessing is way too big to compare similar bikes.
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 I've got an awesome bike. I ride like a goon. Read into that what you will.
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  • + 2
 It's the rider 98%. The better rider will always win!
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  • + 1
 it depends on what you ride with what bike. like a dh race bike for race bmx it doesnt work.
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  • + 1
 a good fitting bike just feels right and boosts your riding progression way faster
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  • + 1
 After seeing ACC won everything on any bikes she rode even Crapandale, I have to believe it's the rider.
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  • + 1
 Sessions are single pivot, Fury as well.There must be winning characteristic of SP that Four bars don't have.
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  • + 1
 A good bike adds lots of confidence, IMO. And a good bike is useless without skills, so 50-50
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  • + 1
 I think the bike probably only matters to the top 5 percentile i.e Pro Riders across any discipline.
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  • + 1
 Good publicity for "Profile Elite Hubsets" anyway. Someone should be happy.
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  • + 1
 100% Rider, Because i have an awesome intense M9 bike but i am still s**t it riding it and keep falling off!!!
  • + 1
 you think anyone would go first if he would ride an 96' DH bike ??
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  • + 1
 give CG a demo. hell give him anything and it will become apparent its all the rider
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  • + 1
 The more inches I have, the bigger my balls get. Which gives me a hard time sitting down.
  • + 1
 Like a hippity hop.
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  • + 1
 Rider 99%. It's not the bike that needs to have confidence and balls and handling skills.
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  • + 1
 It's comes down to the confidence the rider has in the bike more than the parts themselves.
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  • + 1
 Depends what you're riding. I've got such a crappy bike that i had to say 100% rider Razz .
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  • + 2
 Everyone should race UCI on the same session. See who wins.
  • + 4
 At least all the bikes would look like...no I can't do it.
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  • + 2
 This has got to be one of the most ridiculous PB polls yet...
  • + 1
 yeah i mean compared to ANY bike? Then my slack geo full suspension is doing a lot for me. But compared to other modern mountain bikes? then Id say the bike is doing 10% or less... but theres wayyy to much grey area for this to be a legitimate poll.
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  • + 2
 ill ride any bike as long as it gets me to the bar and back.
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  • + 1
 Did you mean what percent of your bike attribute to your riding performance?
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  • + 1
 the bikes always going to play a part thats obvious....but it will always come down to the rider in the end.
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  • + 1
 Ask shawn palmet or thinker juarez, lemond or eddi merkx.....the still have unbeatable records on ugli heavy bikes
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  • + 1
 I think you need the natural ability but people would no where near as good with a s**t bike.
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  • + 1
 Depends on how urself and the bike like eachother on the day :-p
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  • + 1
 I want to see protour's commen now Smile
  • - 1
 The rumour has it that he got seriously mugged by Aaron Gwins psycho fans. They went over the border, broke into his house and broke all of his typing fingers. They believed that he suggested Aaron to run longer chain stays in Andorra, which made him get even worse result than in the previous WC.
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  • + 1
 Can a bike be ridden without a rider. Can a rider ride without a bike?
  • + 2
 can the rider be a monkey?
  • + 1
 Sure, just don't let it race a bear...

www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYS1cu8F4vo&feature=youtube_gdata_player

And if it's a parrot you need a bicycle with extremely short chainstays:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qth3sOPfWA&feature=youtube_gdata_player
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  • + 1
 its not on the ride... its on the rider...
  • + 1
 So if i suck I can blame it on the bike? How convinient....
  • + 2
 i think hes sayin if you suck its your fault
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  • + 1
 Rider 50% Bike 25%, Location and your Country ,,,,.,150%. Total 225%
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  • + 0
 "Is the rider not the bike" and "Is the rider not the big wheels" long live 26" wheels!
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  • + 1
 Take a look at the artical where mike levey rode Brendan's demo for a day.
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  • + 1
 better the bike easier it gets
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  • + 1
 all the trail center monkeys are lieing!
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  • + 1
 Did anyone even win the hubs?
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  • + 1
 those gold hubs ore so sick. they are the perfect custom build!
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  • + 1
 I DON'T CARE I JUST WANT TO WIN FREE STUFF
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  • + 1
 youtu.be/2GE5dQwAgyI not a bicycle but sort of the same topic
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  • + 1
 It's all about the rider...
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  • - 2
 100% the bike. duh. what a great poll!
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