Are DH Bikes needed in the UK?

PB Forum :: Downhill
Are DH Bikes needed in the UK?
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Posted: Dec 21, 2014 at 11:58 Quote
Hi

I realise I am new to Pinkbike so please be nice!
I have been riding around a load of trials in the UK mainly being Degla and Bikepark Wales. I do they on a very capable Lapierre Zesty with 150mm travel. And whilst I am currently looking for something geared a little less around climbs and a allot more DH..
I see loads of DH rigs around and my question is in the uk do we really need 200mm of travel?!

Really appreciate any thoughts here

Posted: Dec 21, 2014 at 12:53 Quote
It really depends on where you live. I can only speak for myself since I live in Surrey but the biggest bike you really need for around here is a 160mm all mountain bike, with most people I see either on hardtails, or up to 140mm trail bikes. I've only seen dh bikes at specific dh locations, and having tried my mates GT Fury on both on push up dh trails and general trail riding, I can determine that for the 95% of riding that I've experienced a downhill bike would be a hindrance, with a slack 140-180mm bike being as if not more fun for doing stuff on.

Just take into account that this is a sole opinion from one of the less mountainous counties and prefer a more interactive, lighter bikes most of the time. I've currently got a 2014 Giant Trance 1, and I find that to be ideal most of the time, and I've never really felt that my bikes is out of its depth. I'm also curious to hear what other people have to say Smile

Posted: Dec 21, 2014 at 14:34 Quote
You being from manchester the peak district is within travelling distance and looking online they hold some good trails,
but if you head north there are places like guisburn forest, cock hill and mentham.
but its up to you to justify travelling and where you would go to Smile

Posted: Dec 21, 2014 at 17:54 Quote
Seeing as most of the best DH racers come from the uk I'd confidently say yes.

Posted: Dec 22, 2014 at 2:39 Quote
All depends what you ride and how fast you ride it really , local hills to me don't need a DH bike , but I enjoy uplift days at places like hopton and rheola , sure you could ride them on a smaller bike but it would not be the right tool for the job unless you like just crawling down the hill on the brakes.

What is really pissing me off is that hardly any new ' proper ' DH tracks get built these days in the UK , so the market is being forced towards only needing a shorter travel bikes , we have plenty enough technical and steep terrain but most of it gets smoothed out and graded to be tame and a consistent , shallow gradient.

Thank god for local built , rake and ride , fall line tracks !

Posted: Dec 22, 2014 at 7:10 Quote
I'd say you only really need 200mm at Fort William if I'm being very honest just because of the sheer length of it. However I love my 200mm travel at some tracks it is over the top. However it is very forgiving if you do make a mistake and can ride anything in the UK easily enough. I wouldn't call Degla Downhill and certainly nothing there you can't do on a hardtail (even the black).

Antur Stiniog you will be much more comfortable on a DH bike but you can do the reds and the black at a push on 150/60mm, personally wouldn't like to do the Double Black but I've seen/ride with people who do it. Same with Llangollen and Revolution Bike Park. You can do them on shorter travel bikes but you'll find it a lot better on a DH rig. Especially considering the steepness of them both more so in Llangollen's case. I think you'd have a lot more crashes on a shorter travel bike.

Some tracks you can get away with 150mm better than others but overall you'd find the whole DH scene a lot more pleasant if you were on a DH bike.

Posted: Dec 22, 2014 at 7:13 Quote
The main thing that I would worry about with a smaller bike is how well it will last , got a habit cracking DH frames , so surely a bike that's designed for slightly mellower terrain , being ridden on the same terrain that is killing my DH bikes is only gonna end up in tears ?

Posted: Dec 22, 2014 at 7:36 Quote
bigburd wrote:
The main thing that I would worry about with a smaller bike is how well it will last , got a habit cracking DH frames , so surely a bike that's designed for slightly mellower terrain , being ridden on the same terrain that is killing my DH bikes is only gonna end up in tears ?

Very true and something you need to consider. With the rise of Enduro and Enduro specific bikes which more or less are riding very similar tracks to Downhill it might not be such a problem in the future.

Posted: Dec 22, 2014 at 13:55 Quote
I really appreciate the views..
While I am here.. I have been looking at the canyon Vertride which is 180mm front and rear and has an awesome set up.
I here it can climb well also so in my eyes I have a capable DH rig that can climb and comes in at a decent weight.

It's the Vertride or a Full on DH beast.

What do you think??

Posted: Dec 23, 2014 at 3:56 Quote
Again it depends where you are planning on riding. If you are going to be doing the black at Degla or Bike Park Wales you should be more than fine. And likely some of the blue/red trails at the venues I mentioned above you should be able to do comfortably enough. Can't say I know a lot about the Canyon so can't really give an opinion. But from what I saw on the pic it has a double chain ring on the front, which will possibly mean you'll spend more time putting on your chain than riding especially at some of the gnarlier trails. I'm also not entirely convinced the wheels will hold up too long particularly at a place like Antur, though that is true even for DH bikes at that place!

Have you looked at something like the YT Capra? Know plenty of people who show up at Antur/Revs with one and seem to get on okay at least on the red routes. Plus it climbs easy enough when I had a little go of my friends.

If you only have a budget for one bike, you need to ask yourself what and where you are going to be riding the most and buy appropriately. If you are only occasionally/rarely going to be going to DH centres and mostly riding at XC centres like Degla and the XC loops at BPW then stick with what you have. If the reverse is true then a DH bike will be the way to go. Like I said earlier it's possible to do it on a shorter travel bike,but you'll have a lot more fun on a DH rig and also like Bigburd pointed out your bike will last longer.

Posted: Dec 23, 2014 at 5:00 Quote
There was an article in Vital somewhere that said no downhill track in the UK needed more than 180mm of travel, although I agree at Fort William you would want the extra

Posted: Dec 23, 2014 at 5:06 Quote
Of course they are not needed we don't even need to ride our bikes so it's a silly statement really.

Posted: Dec 23, 2014 at 5:57 Quote
I had a chat with one of the staff at BP Wales and he told me that you really don't need DH bikes in the uk and most of the guys who buy them in the uk are well below the standard needed to make the most of a serious DH rig.

Something like all the gear and seriously no idea!

An interesting vie of not a little negative..

Posted: Dec 23, 2014 at 6:53 Quote
laramee wrote:
I had a chat with one of the staff at BP Wales and he told me that you really don't need DH bikes in the uk and most of the guys who buy them in the uk are well below the standard needed to make the most of a serious DH rig.

Something like all the gear and seriously no idea!

An interesting vie of not a little negative..

Then I'll just disagree... Smile

If I follow what the guy you talked to said, then you just don't need DH bikes anywhere in the world. I mean any of us could go down Fort William, Val Di Sole on a trail bike and we'd still make it down. Oh yes it wouldn't be fun, no brakes after 3 turns, fork and shock shot after a few runs, ... Yet we don't see many trail bikes there, because the big DH rigs just allow us to go much faster on these tracks than we would on a trail bike !

I've been 2 years in a row in Ffestiniog, and I was definitely a LOT faster the time I was on a big DH bike (and the weather was even worse), hitting bigger lines, more speed, more fun. The "small" bike I had brought the other time was just not big enough, not giving enough confidence (specs were similar)


So no, we don't "need" these bikes, but it's hellova lot more fun to ride these on most DH trails. Heh, even on my local DH spot (the tracks are like 45s-1min long MAX), I just enjoy more the big DH bike, it gives you more confidence, allows for more errors, miscalculations, just not giving a crap ...

A friend here who has always said "big bikes are useless, you can do it all with an enduro bike" has recently tried my DH bike, and understood right away why I was using it, even on the small DH trails. You just let go the brakes, point where you want to go, and the bike just goes there, sucking up everything you can throw at it, and I love that Smile

Posted: Dec 23, 2014 at 7:05 Quote
Ploutre wrote:
laramee wrote:
I had a chat with one of the staff at BP Wales and he told me that you really don't need DH bikes in the uk and most of the guys who buy them in the uk are well below the standard needed to make the most of a serious DH rig.

Something like all the gear and seriously no idea!

An interesting vie of not a little negative..

Then I'll just disagree... Smile

If I follow what the guy you talked to said, then you just don't need DH bikes anywhere in the world. I mean any of us could go down Fort William, Val Di Sole on a trail bike and we'd still make it down. Oh yes it wouldn't be fun, no brakes after 3 turns, fork and shock shot after a few runs, ... Yet we don't see many trail bikes there, because the big DH rigs just allow us to go much faster on these tracks than we would on a trail bike !

I've been 2 years in a row in Ffestiniog, and I was definitely a LOT faster the time I was on a big DH bike (and the weather was even worse), hitting bigger lines, more speed, more fun. The "small" bike I had brought the other time was just not big enough, not giving enough confidence (specs were similar)


So no, we don't "need" these bikes, but it's hellova lot more fun to ride these on most DH trails. Heh, even on my local DH spot (the tracks are like 45s-1min long MAX), I just enjoy more the big DH bike, it gives you more confidence, allows for more errors, miscalculations, just not giving a crap ...

A friend here who has always said "big bikes are useless, you can do it all with an enduro bike" has recently tried my DH bike, and understood right away why I was using it, even on the small DH trails. You just let go the brakes, point where you want to go, and the bike just goes there, sucking up everything you can throw at it, and I love that Smile

Pretty much this ^

All about rider preference at the end of the day, but for the average rider you'll be going a lot faster on a DH rig than you would a smaller enduro type bike. Any mistake you make is going to be punished on a smaller travel bike but you have a larger margin for error on the DH bike.

Admittedly you get a lot of weekend warriors who show up on there new DH bikes who won't be getting the most out of them. Well done for getting involved in the sport I say. But if they are trail braking and constantly on the brakes going at a very slow speed they might as well have stuck with their smaller travel bikes. They aren't going to benefit from the DH rig and nothing on the trail would warrant the extra travel at that speed. Once you start hitting things with a bit of pace then the DH rig comes into its own.

Like I say, it's possible but you will have more fun on a DH bike.

Wasn't Tom you were speaking to at BPW was it?

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