You've read Mike Levy's article on why he feels shorter travel bikes make more sense for most riders, and now you can can read the flip side to his thoughts. Dylan Sherrard and Mitchell Scott collaborate on an argument about why long travel bikes trump their smaller stroke siblings. Remember, all of us here at Pinkbike ride for the very same reason that you do: fun. Despite what it might read like below, they are not trying to rain on anyone's parade. With that in mind, the words beneath this disclaimer are a rebuttal to the recently aired 'Argument for Short Travel Bikes'. Have a read of Levy's Argument for Short Travel Bikes
before taking in Sherrard and Scott's words, then weigh in with your own thoughts in the comment section below.
Words by Dylan Sherrard and Mitchell ScottTalent vs. Travel
Bigger equals better. Plain and simple. That is, if you’re not holding back, and actually riding aggressively. Sure, certain essential bicycle skills are better learned on a shorter travel, easier-to-ride bicycle. And yes, newer riders may indeed find themselves in over their heads on a big travel downhill rig. But when it comes time to take those essential skills to the big leagues, when the buttercup in you wants to buck up, it’s time to go deep.
Big bikes exist for one simple reason - pushing limits. It’s that passion to ride in directions very few have ever dared to venture. Often times, this means getting in over your head and relying on your chosen tool to guide you out of the darkness. If you want to write checks that your ass can’t cash (which is really a fun thing to do
) then a big bike is the buddy you’ll need to stand up against a dead pine’s punch to the face.
You’re Not a Bro
So, you think my bike is overly aggressive and limiting my riding experience? I bet you think my jeans are too tight and my music is too loud too. But you can hold your breath, because I do what I want. And that’s who big bikes are for – riders who want to get loose and do whatever they please.
Modern big bikes are slack enough to turn off the fear factor on even the steepest of slopes. Their combination of extra low bottom brackets and crazy short chain stays lets them corner on a dime. Sitting back into the flickable cushion of a big bike when approaching the scariest part of your local track simply feels confidence inspiring. You're at the helm and approaching the storm full tilt. Nothing to fear, the captain will go down this trail gracefully aboard his ship.
Get sideways, go too deep, learn things the hard way and garner a wealth of real-world shred knowledge that no mortal can scribble in a novel for you to study. If you’re against this way of thinking, it is foreseeable that if we were to one day meet in a parking lot at the bottom of a shuttle road we would not become bros.
Opening up possibilities on a long travel bike makes tame trails more fun.
Sorry Bro, My Trails Are Way Too Fun
I agree that if your shuttle trails are flat and featureless then perhaps a big bike is overkill. It is highly likely that without some sort of challenging terrain a bicycle with longer stroke suspension will rob you of your optimum cycling experience. That being said, while the trails my friends and I ride on big bikes may not be the burliest, and we could obviously ride them on smaller bikes, we have a total riot smashing them to smithereens aboard our longer legged companions.
We adapt and push forward at an ever increasing pace, learning to ride with more speed, style, and fluidity each time we hit the trails. Rather than throwing down pedal strokes and clipping our feet as we’ve so wrongfully been accused, we find ourselves lost in the art of pumping and popping and feeling the explosion of speed created between our ankles when 200mm of finely tuned suspension flows through corners and sucks up the backsides of endless transitions.
And jumping? Everything is a jump and anything is a landing aboard a big bike. With suspension that makes short work of the sketchiest obstacles and the most abrupt transitions, we point our front wheels toward whatever we choose and take flight across the least likely of spaces. It takes quick calculations and elevated handling skills, but our bikes always make up for what we lack. Aboard these long travel marvels of engineering we find ourselves free to make tracks further up banks and lower down hillsides than a smaller bike would ever be able to.
Why Not a Big Bike?
Why limit ourselves? Why waste time arguing amongst each other about who has the most technical attack and who is most fluid? This is freeriding, remember? We should leave our scorecards and biased judgements at home.
Obviously, we are all undoubtedly capable of riding our trails on smaller bikes. Who knows, maybe we would become comfortable on these less adequate steeds and need to remove another inch of travel and steepen the head angle another touch further. And then someday, years down the line, we would find ourselves celebrating the use of bikes like we rode in the 90’s, slapping modern bicycle technology across the face, all for the sake of bragging that we did it with less.
While you are damn right in believing a smaller bike to be quicker handling, more efficient pedalling and snappier around tight turns, each of these characteristics shares an inverse relationship with speed. You cannot feel the surprise of pulling G’s around turns, dropping into lengthy manuals or losing what you thought was traction without the help of speed. It’s not one or the other; it’s both speed and surprise in unison that makes a ride exciting. But, once the trail turns to tunnel vision, quick handling translates to sketchy and nimble sounds a lot more like just plain twitchy. So why should I choose to ride a bike that doesn’t inspire confidence in myself? Why resist innovation? Evolution? When there is a bicycle available that will allow me to reach that sought-after state, I will choose it over its less able competitors without a second thought. Big Bikes Going Big
Filmed and edited by Silvia FilmsSkill, Elevated by Suspension
I firmly believe that larger bikes with more suspension will not hinder a rider’s skills. They will not betray us and leave us lonely on the trailside while our friends blast off down the trail, whooping and hollering about the greatness of their proper short travel bicycle. A bigger bike will help celebrate your finely tuned skills and allow your riding to push forward with more speed and more power than you may expect yourself to be capable of. Everyone has a limit, but often times I feel that riders can benefit from a slightly more aggressive bicycle. Learn how the longer stroke behaves and take time to become familiar with its characteristics. Get acquainted with twisting the red and blue knobs adorning your dampers and rediscover your trails with a sense of confidence and capability you never realized you had.
Life is short, trails are even shorter, and I don’t believe there is a single moment spent on the trail when it is acceptable to settle for mediocrity. We should all ride the bikes we find most comfortable, and enjoy them without worrying about what others think.Have Dylan and Mitchell proven their point that long travel bikes make more sense for most riders? Or does Levy's argument that shorter travel bikes are the ticket for the average rider hold weight?