|I'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
|Contrary 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
|The 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
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