Ask Pinkbike: Shoes, Stems, and 180mm DH Bikes

Sep 7, 2016
by Pinkbike Staff  
Ask Pinkbike Header

Here at Pinkbike we get inundated with all kinds of questions, ranging from the basic "Can I have stickers" to more in-depth, soul-searching types of queries like if you should pop the question or what to name your first child. Ask Pinkbike is an occasional column where we'll be hand-picking and answering questions that have been keeping readers up at night, although we'll likely steer clear of those last two and keep it more tech oriented.

Clipless Shoes For Flat Pedals?

Question: @Nahguavkire asks in the Bikes, Parts, and Gear forum: So I ride flats but I always notice there seems to be a better selection of clipless flat style shoes available, and they always seem to be better value than bike specific flats. Is there a cleat blank available that would convert a pair of Shimano AM5 to a flat shoe for example?

bigquotesI've had the same thoughts about the limited number of flat pedal shoe options out there compared to the ever-increasing number of clipless compatible models. However, I wouldn't recommend trying to convert a pair of clipless shoes for flat pedal use. The rubber on shoes designed for clipless pedals usually isn't as sticky as what you'd find on a dedicated flat pedal shoe, and the soles tend to be stiffer as well, which will limit the amount your foot can contour to the pedal, and reduce the amount of grip.

Even though there's currently no flat pedal version of the AM5, Shimano does offer the AM7, the flat pedal version of their AM9 downhill shoe. It's a little more expensive, but it does have a Vibram rubber sole and a lace cover that comes in handy for those wet weather rides. - Mike Kazimer

Shimano AM5
It may look like a fancy skate shoe, but Shimano's AM5 is designed for use with clipless pedals.

Will a Longer Stem Make My Bike Climb Better?

Question: @aspski wrote in the All Mountain, Enduro & Cross-Country forum: I wanted to get your thoughts on longer vs. shorter stems. My rig right now has a short stem and I am contemplating going longer. The one reason I would think of going longer is to move my weight forward more for climbing. Would this help or hinder climbing, descending, etc?

bigquotesContrary to the mountain bike industry's overwhelming adherence to the belief that a 50-millimeter stem is perfect for every bike and every riding style, it is often advantageous to run a longer stem to eliminate the wiggle from the steering while you are climbing and, as you mentioned, make some room to move your body forward to obtain a more ergonomically correct climbing position over the bike. Also, the evolution of slacker head tube angles has exaggerated that tendency, which is why many bike makers are slipping 60-millimeter stems on trailbikes.

As far as descending goes, adding one or two centimeters to your stem will feel odd at first, but if your bike has a sufficiently long top tube and a head tube angle slacker than 68 degrees, then you should be able to adapt to your new position and be dropping the same downhills you were beforehand.

Before anyone starts crying foul. Nino Schurter - one of the most decorated XC racers of all time - can rip DH runs and air jumps with an extended seatpost and a 90-millimeter zero-rise stem. If that doesn't help. Steve Peat and Greg Minnaar - a couple of guys who know a little more about DH than Nino - used 70-millimeter stems on their Santa Cruz V10s during the peak of their careers.

There are some guidelines to follow. Short stems work best with wider handlebars because a wide-spread hand position forces the rider to stay forward over the bike and weight the front wheel. Longer stems work best with slightly shorter handlebar widths, because that compensates for the stem slowing down steering inputs, and also because a narrower hand position allows the rider move farther back for descending. Finally, if you own a bike with the new rider-forward geometry - a steep seat angle paired with an elongated top tube, you should keep your short stem and deal with it. A longer stem for that configuration would make all phases of riding more difficult. - RC

Commencal Meta 5 2015 Iron Mountain and Ted s
Commencal's Meta V4 Race used a 60-millimeter stem to boost climbing and acceleration without compromising its descending.

180mm DH Bikes?

Question: Pinkbike user @whey-dh asked this question in the Downhill Forum: Hey guys. I have been looking for an 180mm DH bike but haven't been too successful. I've found the Banshee Darkside, but I'm not overly keen on how the frame looks. Any other 180mm DH bikes out there?

bigquotesThe once common 180mm downhill bike has become the lesser spotted in recent years. Largely due to an increase in enduro type bikes whose numbers seem to increase every year, getting closer regarding suspension and geometry to full-on downhill bikes. But a long travel enduro bike isn't the same deal as a heavier, more robust and harder-hitting short travel DH sled.

The Darkside you suggested is a renowned beast, and you can read the full review from 2014 by Mike Kazimer. The Scott Voltage I reviewed last year is a good deal and flips with a chip between 170mm and 190mm. The Specialized Enduro Evo was a park rider's favorite, as well as a short-track downhill race machine, but seems to be no more, although the bikes in the new Enduro range now have 170mm of travel.

Commencal have a 190mm travel Supreme V3 Park that looks to be a good price from the Andorran direct sales brand. Finally, the Intense Uzzi promises, on paper, to be the best combination of bike park brute with 190mm of travel but with a suitable seat position for getting back to the top. - Paul Aston

Scott Voltage
The Scott Voltage is a good option, choose between 170mm or 190mm travel and a bunch of adjuments to tune in your perfect geometry.

COMMENCAL Purple Serie - Supreme Park DH V3 2016
Commencal's 190mm travel Supreme Park is currently on offer at 2699 euros.
Specialized Enduro Expert Evo
The Enduro Evo is no more, but there are a few used options out there. Hopefully, Specialized will reincarnate these beauties soon.

Intense Uzzi 27.5 2016
Perhaps the Intense Uzzi's 190mm travel, downhill geometry, and a suitable seat position might be what you're after?

Have some unresolved tech questions? Jump in the Pinkbike Forum and we'll look to answer it for next time.


  • 131 8
 Not keen on how the Darkside looks....what?
  • 28 3
 Yeah, I think that's the strangest thing I've ever read. I mean, sure, each to their own and all that, but damn, the darkside is one nice looking bike.
  • 11 2
  • 10 18
flag Marcusthefarkus (Sep 7, 2016 at 20:45) (Below Threshold)
 It's just ugly. That's all he meant.
  • 16 1
 Banshee bikes in general are nice. I love my spitfire.
  • 2 0
 @Grutten: maybe he meant Kurtis ?
  • 3 0
 I have a bansheee prime compared to other bikes they do look a bit fugly but it is the nicest ridinh bike i ever rode. Part of thr appeal for me
  • 6 0
 *not overly keen on how the price looks"... I'm sure that's what was meant

...Take the Commencal
  • 5 0
 First round of TR500's were a 180 "park bike"
  • 4 0
 I've warmed to it now actually, everybody praises it and in stealth black it looks ace.

That said it's gonna be a while yet before I go out an get a new ride, so who know's whats going to come out?

Thanks Paul and guys here, had a ton of suggestions so worth checking them all out!
  • 1 0
 @whey-dh: get the new Uzzi. the thing is sweet and smooth. its my everyday all around whip. and you can build it to ~30 lbs easy !
  • 2 0
 @snotrocket: they still have a 200mm - 180mm adjustment
  • 1 0
 @whey-dh: Check out the Rose Soul Fire as well.
  • 1 0
 @whey-dh check out the Kona Entourage
  • 2 1
 Consumers buy expensive bikes based on what they look like and the paint color. Go read any comments on the recent Eurobike show posts.
  • 1 0
 pole bikes had a 178mm dh bike. looks very nice.nice specd
  • 61 0
 2 beers in the riding pack (or the gut) will make your bike climb better...i've been testing this theory for a while now. pure doing a double blind study this weekend, will report back.
  • 19 1
 Six pack - triple blind is the scientific standard for that research
  • 28 1
 Sorry to hear you don't like the looks of a Darkside (LOL) cos it's a frigging awesome riding frame. Able to run so many different configurations by playing with shock lengths/stroke and the dropouts...Let me say how wonderful those things are.. 26"/27.5", 135/142/150 (and probably 148 soon if enough ppl ask) axles all available. I've run mine as a 203/180, 180/180, 180/160... so many possibilities...and all this without even mentioning how well the KS-Link works.

Like i said.. too bad you don't like it's looks. Big Grin
  • 25 2
 Knolly Delirium!!!
  • 17 0
 Yeah, the knolly for sure, process 167 too.
  • 2 0
 For sure. Amazing bike.
  • 3 0
 Liteville 601.
  • 16 0
 Uh, it seems to have slipped under the collective radar:
"Steve Peat and Greg Minnaar - a couple of guys who know a little more about DH than Nino - used 70-millimeter stems on their Santa Cruz V10s during the peak of their careers."
I know Steve retired, but Greg is still in the peak of this career. WTF, he came in 2nd LAST WEEK. He's the professor, he's tenured!
  • 23 0
 They are also both 6'3" and were apparently riding bikes that were too small for them considering there was a big article on this site about how they pioneered the XXL V10 for Santa Cruz just a few months ago.

I imagine that had something to do with their chosen stem length.
  • 6 3
 What pros are riding is quite irrelevant. What is relevant is what got their setup to where it is: their preference is based on the gigantic load of their own experience of trying many setups (and combinations of setups) in various circumstances. And that's something to learn from... test different sht for a prolongued record of time and then say this works FOR YOU better than anything else. What matters is position of your grips in relation to steerer axle. When we have so many different bar geometries, with numbers on angles being given in arbitrary manner, we cannot be talking of stem length alone.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: hear hear. Some one gets it.
  • 15 0
 Also check the new Propain Spindrift for a 180mm Bike!
  • 2 0
 Beautiful, light bike but...they dont ship to the Americas???. So disappointed!
  • 4 1
 Rose Soul Fire looks very nice too if you are in Europe. Crazy value too if I remember correctly...
  • 13 1
 Better question: why are there no flat pedal specific shoes with a closure mechanism other than laces? Make this shoe (preferably 5.10) and take my money!
  • 3 3
 With clips your foot needs to be cinched down as tight as possible (within comfort limits) so when you pull up you don't pull your foot out of the shoe. But with flats, you don't pull up much/if at all so laces are all that's needed to fit the shoe for comfort as other systems don't do this as well (and laces are cheap as chips so manufacturers like them).
Hope this helps
  • 2 0
 @lozzerbiker: The laces are just a liability to me. They get tangled up in stuff and soak up water, briars, etc. I'm not saying they shouldn't exist, but it's weird to me that there are no other closure options for flat pedal shoes. You can get any other type of shoe with a variety of closures, but not MTB flat pedal shoes.
  • 13 0
 Cube Fritzz is an almost-DH 180mm bike
  • 2 0
 raced in the EWS by some crazy dudes
  • 7 0
 So if your bike has a long top tube and slack head angle (both hallmarks of new trailbike geometry), then slap on a longer stem. However, if your bike has a steep seat angle paired with an elongated top tube (both hallmarks of new trailbike geometry), then deal with it.

Care to clarify the limits here? And yes, I'm aware of the possibility of going out & ride no matter what, but it would be nice to get this kind of fit info without having to buy & install 4 different stems.

Love that you guys tackle this question, just looking for a starting point.
  • 1 1
 Good catch, it made sense as i read it. You weight the bars more in your neutral descending position on newer bikes that are designed around short stays. Older designs you rode further back, on your feet, and it didn't matter so much where your hands were. Those bikes don't mind a longer stem so long as moving you hands forward isn't gonna move all your weight to the front wheel cuz the FC is too tight.
  • 7 0
 A nice tr250 would fit the bill perfectly, works great with a dual crown as well.
  • 2 0
 Tr250 was my favourite bike ever. Was very sad when I heard it was to be discontinued.
  • 5 0
 Tr500 can be run in a 180mm travel setting with a 64 deg. head angle and 435mm stays if running 26" wheels...basically a TR250 in slack setting and mid stay length.
  • 1 0
 I was going to say the same thing. Ive never ridden one but always thought they looked great and heard they were awesome 'mini DH' bikes from a few people that has them.
  • 5 2
 Sorry if this is rude, but every time someone answers a question on stem length the answer is absurd. Find 4 people that are the same height, and have the same inseam, to an accuracy of 5 mm. Odds are their arm lengths will vary by more than 5 cm. So, it is quite ridiculous to be giving people whose dimensions you haven't measured very carefully advice on appropriate stem length to within a few cm. If you change nothing else on the bike, changing to a longer stem will make it easier to climb because you can more comfortably get your weight farther forward, and changing to a shorter stem will make it easier to descend, because you can more comfortably get your weight farther back. Beyond that, discussions about whether a 50 mm or 70 mm stem is best for a particular person on a particular bike are stupid without some very detailed measurements and analyses.
  • 3 0
 The Cube Fritzz Race is a beast of a 180mm bike, I have last years model and its incredible on all downhill trails. Hard work climbing but worth the effort.
  • 4 0
 Knolly Delirium will work as a 180mm DH bike. I currently have a 2011 Cove STD and use it as a DH bike
  • 7 2
 100mm stems for me, I like to match my stem to my amount of travel!
  • 10 9
 How the hell can you expect anyone to show up at the trailhead with a stem longer than 40cms? Surely NO Pinkbiker would be able to take the verbal abuse he would undoubtedly receive for such a crime against the "Rad, gnar,send it, bro" tribes, even if it does boost acceleration.... Wait, a longer stem boosts acceleration? Who knew.
  • 22 0
 I challange you to find a stem that is 40cm or longer.
  • 2 1
 A longer syem will boost acceleration... r u srs?
  • 6 0
 Mate reckons he was lucky to get out of whistler alive after a few weeks of park with a 60mm stem...
  • 3 0
 @inverted180: That's what the caption under the photo says...
  • 3 0
 @davidsimons: it does.
  • 1 0
RC is a dinosaur he says all sorts of stupid shit like that.
But he designed that nishiki alien with the high chainstays so he gets an automatic pass.
  • 4 0
 Pole Evolink 176, a DH bike with great geometry and 176mm of travel. Highly recommend it!
  • 2 0
 Uzzi! Van be build sub 30lbs with dropper and coil. Can be run with an air shock as well. 64 HTA in the slack setting; excellent trail geometry on the steep setting. One bike quiver for real.
  • 2 0
 Every time I fall off my bike, as I'm laying on the ground nearly in tears trying to get my helmet off, my go to line is "just wait till you bitches see me when i get my five ten shoes"
  • 3 0
 180mm Bikes ? NS Bikes Soda EVO 180mm or 160mm rear suspension by changing the shock mount position on the rocker link.
  • 2 1
 The AM7 is one of the least grippy flat shoes available. Its downright dangerous to ride aggressively in. Please people do not endanger yourselves!! Stick to 5.10 until a better competitor arrives.
  • 2 0
 Really? I have the am41, and really like them.
  • 1 0
 Ive been riding this Uzzy in Finale Ligure and I can say that was one of the best bikes I have ever been riding. The bike pedals very well uphill and going downhill was a blast perfect geometry
  • 1 0
 Alot of dh bikes now have travel adjust settings such as the transition tr500 with 200mm and 180mm settings, best bet is to just look at dh bikes and see if they have travel adjust settings
  • 2 0
 Ive had a enduro evo for two years as my everyday rider, its an awesome bike that climbs pretty well to. Likes to go downhill though!
  • 2 0
 PB. . . That was not the latest Evo. It had boxxers and rolled on 27.5 wheels !
  • 1 0
 enduro evo is still being offered with those boxxers
  • 1 0
 @mate1998: made 2016 old stock but not 2017.
  • 2 0
 There is no bike that can be good in both.. Its can be ok in both but thats all ..
  • 5 3
 In terms of shoes, one option is to buy some cheap skate shoes and save like $100 over the MTB specific ones.
  • 6 0
 I did this for years and finally got some mtb specific shoes on clearance and it made a big difference. Look around and you can get a pair pretty cheap and you won't regret it
  • 3 0
 Skate shoes tend to be a little soft. Bike shoes will have a little more stiffness in the sole which helps support the foot on the pedals.
  • 2 0
 I had to ride a local route in South Wales a few weeks ago in skate shoes, because I forgot my Shimano riding shoes. I won't be doing it again in a hurry! It was 24 miles and sucked! Total lack of grip, soles were too soft and on the decent they ended up full of water! No substitute for a purpose made riding shoe in my opinion.
  • 1 0
 @sino428: I have clipped many a rock and root in my 5.10s that would have easily busted a toe in any other shoes. They are stiff, heavy, & hot but protect and stick like no other... I have no clue why anyone uses anything else for riding. Hiking down to the lift after blowing up a wheel, however, blister city.
  • 1 0
 @skidrumr: Yea I agree, I wasn't even thinking along the lines of the added protection they offer as well. I've tried skate shoes and it just wasn't comfortable.
  • 1 0
 @sino428: i've also found the alternative, i can't feel the pedals in 5.10 shoes, the sole is too stiff. Sure they are sticky, but to me it doesn't matter as much if I can't tell where my foot is on the pedal.

Shoes like the Giro Jacket and Teva Links are a bit stiffer than skate shoes, but not as stiff as 5.10s. Does anyone know others in this category? Seems like a happy medium.
  • 2 0
 @flagstaff: I use the older Shimano AM41 shoes. I much prefer them to 5.10's, they aren't as bulky.
They don't look the best, but most riding shoes look a bit special. I bought a pair of 5.10 Karvers and I didn't really like them. Shoes are a very personal thing though, I'm sure lots of people hate the Shimano.
  • 2 0
 @flagstaff: I hear you. I'm not directly advocating for 5.10's. I use 5.10 for DH but I actually do use Teva's for trail riding as the 5.10's can sometimes be a bit much. My only real point is that skate shoes to me are way to soft and for me are uncomfortable on the pedals as they have no support.
  • 4 0
 Morewood Kalula ? Smile
  • 1 0
 i got fed up of the lack of alright flat shoes, and use adidas trail running shoes, pretty much identical to their SPD shoes.
  • 2 0
 5.10 Maltese Falcons work great on flat pedals and very comfortable. Had mine for 2 years now.
  • 2 1
 Don't you EVER tell anyone to run clip shoes on flat pedals you goddamned idiot. Just because you dont know what the hell is going on doesn't mean you should try and subject anyone else to your misguided choices.
  • 2 0
 @jflb: The Falcons are made to be run either way. Try to have a nice day Smile
  • 1 0
 @garcmol: well played sir
  • 4 2
 I tend to love my Session for DH and Fuel for trail setup quite a lot.
  • 2 0
 Norco Truax came with 180mm travel F&R
  • 1 0
 Specialized still makes the Enduro Evo 650b, 2016 models and there are many in stock in their warehouses. Great bike.
  • 1 0
transition 500, you can run it both with 180 or 200, i've run both when i had mine and it's very good in both
  • 1 1
 IMO with modern geo on trail bikes if you are running a stem longer than 5cm you are probably on a bike that is too small for you.
  • 1 0
 Another 180mm travel bike is the NS soda. Check it out,1417,pl.htm
  • 1 0
 The AM5 doesn't look like a fancy skate shoe, it looks like a shit skate shoe from 1998.
  • 2 1
 no problem how you ride..just ride and f@ck all! full gas always!!
  • 1 0
 2008 TURNER HIGHLINE.... Transition TR500
  • 1 0
 I have a 180mm Dh bike for sale!
  • 1 0
 Session Park.

Or was it a Saison Park?
  • 1 0
 try the polygon collosus DFR you can alsoconvert to 27,5 inch wheel
  • 1 0
 Radon Swoop 190 is also very good value for the money...
  • 1 0
 plus: it's one of the last frames welded in the US by Intense.
  • 15 15
 I'll have an Uzzi please. But hold the aluminum, and add carbon please.
  • 14 11
 Nobody needs carbon. As long as the frame's stable and the suspension is dialed the rest doesn't matter
  • 20 5
 I get neg propped because I want a carbon Uzzi?! How dare I dream... How dare I.
  • 1 3
 buy my Canfield One, I'm selling it soon
Below threshold threads are hidden

Copyright © 2000 - 2023. All rights reserved.
dv42 0.037136
Mobile Version of Website