The Pinkbike Podcast: Episode 49 - What's the Best DH Bike?

Feb 23, 2021
by Mike Levy  
Pinkbike Podcast
Art by Taj Mihelich.

While the majority of our reviews tend to focus on bikes with less suspension, there's no denying that downhill bikes have had - and still have - an outsized effect on the enduro, trail, and even cross-country machines that the majority of us spend our time on. In other words, 200mm-travel sleds make up a relatively small slice of the mountain bike pie yet manage to have a massive influence on everything else.
And if you've ever ridden or owned a proper downhill rig, you'll already know how undefeatable the near-endless traction (and suspension) and speed-friendly geometry can make you feel - that in itself is worth their singlemindedness price of admission.

February 22nd, 2021

They're cool and all, but where do I put a water bottle?

Specialized Demo Race Photo Kifcat Shaperideshoot
The Specialized Demo Race has 205mm of travel, weighs 37lb, and costs $6,800 USD.
Commencal Supreme DH 29 - 27 Photo Kifcat Shaperideshoot
Commencal's Supreme DH 29 27 has 215mm of travel, weighs 37.7lb, and costs $4,999 USD.

Canyon Sender CFR Photo Ga tan Rey Shaperideshoot
The Canyon Sender CFR has 201mm of travel, weighs 34.7lb, and costs $5,799 USD.
Cube TWO15 HPC SLT Photo Kifcat Shaperideshoot
Cube's TWO15 HPC SLT has 198mm of travel, weighs 35lb, and costs roughly $6,000 USD.

So it's about time for us to test some of the latest downhill bikes, which is exactly what our own Dan Roberts has been up to for the past few months with Specialized's Demo Race, Canyon's Sender, the Commencal Supreme DH 29 27, and Cube's cleverly named TWO15 HPC SLT. After countless back-to-back days of testing and more uplifts than he can remember (it's a tough life), you can read Dan's all of Dan's reviews and a head-to-head comparo where he breaks down the strengths and weaknesses of each bike.

Review: Specialized Demo Race
Review: Canyon Sender CFR
Review: Commencal Supreme DH 29 27
Review: Cube TWO15 HPC SLT
Review: DH Bike Group Comparison

Hosted by Mike Levy (usually) and featuring a rotating cast of the editorial team and other guests, the Pinkbike Podcast is a weekly update on all the latest stories from around the world of mountain biking, as well as some frank discussion about tech, racing, and everything in between.

Previous Pinkbike Podcasts
Episode 1 - Why Are Bikes So Expensive?
Episode 2 - Where the Hell is the Grim Donut?
Episode 3 - Pond Beaver Tech
Episode 4 - Why is Every Bike a Trail Bike?
Episode 5 - Can You Trust Bike Reviews?
Episode 6 - Over Biked Or Under Biked?
Episode 7 - Wild Project Bikes
Episode 8 - Do We Need an Even Larger Wheel Size?
Episode 9 - Why Are We Doing a Cross-Country Field Test?
Episode 10 - Getting Nerdy About Bike Setup
Episode 11 - Are We Going Racing This Year?
Episode 12 - What's the Future of Bike Shops?
Episode 13 - Are Bikes Too Regular Now?
Episode 14 - What Bikes Would Pinkbike Editors Buy?
Episode 15 - What's Holding Mountain Biking Back?
Episode 16 - Who's Your Mountain Biking Hero?
Episode 17 - XC Field Test Insider
Episode 18 - Electronics on your Mountain Bike: Good or Bad?
Episode 19 - The Hardtail Episode
Episode 20 - MTB Conspiracy Theories
Episode 21 - Stuff We Were Wrong About
Episode 22 - Does Your Riding Style Match Your Personality?
Episode 23 - Grim Donut 2 is Live!
Episode 24 - Why Even Buy a DH Bike?
Episode 25 - Fall Field Test Preview
Episode 26 - The Three Most Important Mountain Bikes
Episode 27 - The World Champs Special
Episode 28 - All About Women's Bikes
Episode 29 - Freeride or Die
Episode 30 - Would You Rather?
Episode 31 - Wet Weather Riding Tips & Tricks
Episode 32 - What Needs to Change in the Bike Industry?
Episode 33 - Behind the Scenes at Pinkbike Academy
Episode 34 - Grilling Levy About Field Test Trail Bikes (and His Bonspiel)
Episode 35 - Story Time - Stranger Than Fiction
Episode 36 - Grilling Kazimer about Field Test Enduro Bikes
Episode 37 - The 2020 Privateer Season with Ben Cathro
Episode 38 - Editors Defend Their 2020 Best-Of Picks
Episode 39 - Predicting the Future of Mountain Biking
Episode 40 - The Pinkbike Awards!
Episode 41 - Racing Rumours and Team Changes
Episode 42 - Mountain Biking's Guilty Pleasures
Episode 43 - Dangerholm's Wildest Custom Mountain Bikes
Episode 44 - Mountain Bike Suspension Decoded
Episode 45 - What Makes a Good Riding Buddy
Episode 46 - Episode 46 - The RockShox Zeb vs Fox 38 Deep Dive
Episode 47 - High Pivot Bikes: The Good, The Bad, and The Why?
Episode 48 - Rides That Went Horribly Wrong... & Why That Made Them So Good

Author Info:
mikelevy avatar

Member since Oct 18, 2005
2,032 articles

  • 25 0
 What’s the best DH bike? The one you got. Now go ride!
  • 7 1
 Having owned one of Aaron Gwins old race bikes and selling it, it’s the one that got away
  • 8 0
 Drop us some questions for next week's podcast here:
  • 3 1
 What’s the biggest ride y’all have been on? Vert? Miles/kms? Time?
  • 1 3
 Why don't more brands have machine made carbon? It would greatly increase profit margins and would likely make carbon cheaper and more accessible.
  • 3 0
 maybe more of a poll question, but how often are people riding at their limits: doing stuff that they wouldn't be able to do without a modern bike? physical, technical, speed limits?
  • 6 0
 Should chainstays be/ are they going to get longer for improved weight distribution?

When are rear center lengths going grow to match reach lengths?

Is more progressive linkage really faster? Considering that people such as sam hill and commencial riders are riding low progression bikes.

Would 29” en/am/fr bikes benefit from dual crown forks, and the lower stack height they can achieve?

Do dual position / talas forks increase climbing ability/speed/efficiency
  • 1 1
 @DAN-ROCKS: Like some type of 3D printed carbon parts, then into a frame mold and cooked... just spit ball'n nothing to back this up.
  • 1 0
 What about bike geometry and body proportions? Dive deeper in who needs what and why that could be...

Another one would be blind comparison of mtb products, especially suspension, tires and Frame suspension designs.
  • 2 0
 Who from the pinkbike team has the most crashes?
  • 3 4
 when will you admit bikes are solved?
  • 1 0
 @racerfacer: All the time? Im definitely not pinned 100% of the time, but I wouldn't be able to do most of the stuff im riding at pace with an old bike.
  • 3 0
 @owl-X: Lol bikes are most definitely not solved.
  • 2 0
 has geo reached the end? will we go back at all? new bikes being released with 65-67. less with 62-64.??
  • 1 0
 Would love to hear some professionals talk about the thing they are most interested in personally, both within racing whether it’s their bike setup at a race, their role in marketing their product or just seeing their friends, and what’s their biggest passion outside of their race life. Is it working with not for profits, learning language or studying something etc.
  • 2 1
 Since modern trail and enduro bikes are such good all around bikes, many people (like myself) tried to make one bike do it all. After a couple seasons of trashing my bike with shuttle and park days, I decided to pick up a used DH bike.
I'm now using the DH bike for the really smashy days, giving my trail bike and body a break, and having a blast. I have a couple friends that are considering doing the same in the name of mechanical sympathy.

Anyone see a possible rebound in DH sales just as a means to preserve their $5K + trail bikes?
  • 1 0
 How do you get started back country skiing? I live in Northeast Ohio so we get snow but not enough for a major investment and this will be a cross country affair. I have classic cross country skis but I don't love them. I pretty much have to set my own tracks and get hung up in the deep stuff when I have to make a downhill turn and crash. I'm wondering if telemark bindings would help me to be better attached and solve some of my problems without having to by all new equipment.
  • 1 0
 How to find a good riding coach. I’ve taken lessons before from an ex-pro but he moved. Are online courses enough? Do I need to do spend a few days at a bike work? What’s the best way to really advance riding skills.
  • 1 0
 Why do we not refer to bike weigh in relation to rider weight? Surely a heavier rider notices a heavier bike less than a lighter rider... for reference i'm 95kg in my birthday suit and ride a 41lb Murmur with coil F+R and proper tyres.
  • 1 0
 Ignore my skiing question. The snow melted last night.

I have been struggling with fitness since last January. Holidays and busyness at work followed by the shutdown, a wet spring and an injury on my first ride of the year ruined any fitness that I had in 2018-2019. Throughout the rest of 2020 I was riding about once a week, with no additional exercise. This culminated in an embarrassing painful first ride of winter with my riding buddy.

Since that experience i realized I am not going to get im shape riding once a week. I have the trainer set up and started doing yoga for flexibility and recovery. My weekly ride will be my reward.

We the trails dry up. Do you recommend going hard on the climbs to get over the hump or just spin and enjoy the ride?
  • 1 0
 let's talk warranty:
-are you less of a rider if you aren't destroying everything on your bike?
-are some brands more reliant than others on having a huge base of "dentists" who will buy bikes but not ride them hard enough to break things?
-what impacts do warranty claims have on increasing prices, increasing weights?
  • 2 0
 Would love to hear some behind the scenes of Pinkbike. How it started, how it’s now structured. Is there a single owner? How involved are they on the day to day operations? Do you guys get showered with swag and gear every day? Is everyone constantly tripping over the latest XX1 and XTR parts that litter the office? Does anyone there actually pay for their bikes? Is Adam the privateer still working there? It would be great to get him on the podcast.
  • 1 0
 Should bike companies invest more in building trail networks and public/affordable bike parks? Would it get more people on bikes? Would it result in more bike sales?
  • 1 0
 ^ that's interesting. How much % of their revenue different levels of the industry contribute to trail building/events/athletes. Manfucturers vs. Distributors vs. LBS
  • 7 4
 I’ve not listened but I will, I just want to jump in here early, can one of you come out and say the Norco Shore sucks? I’ve yet to hear anyone be positive about it, you compare it to a lot of things and it always loses. Cmon stop being industry shills and give us the truth!
  • 5 1
 I doubt it sucks. Its just a weird bike. It loses out in the high pivot podcast because its basically a park bike. Doesnt pedal that well and doesnt descend at race speeds. But I bet it's really good for giving confidence on tech descents, bike park jump lines, and learning new features. I spend a lot of time on my DH bike and when I go to a new pedal trail with harder features, i often wish I had my DH bike for the first scouting lap. The shore seems like a great option for that sort of thing. NSMB's review was pretty positive, and they are the only publication that seems to pull its punches less if they feel like a bike deserves to be called out. Just cuz these guys didn't gel with it doesnt mean it sucks.
  • 6 1
 As a cross-country bike it sucks. As a freeride bike for someone that doesn't care at all about weight? It could be a decent option. It's a lot of bike, which means that if you're not turning the dial to 11 on most of your rides, and don't have steep, fast descents then it's probably not the way to go.

I went over it in more detail for the Field Test if you haven't seen it:
  • 3 0
 @mikekazimer: Would it be able to compare a shore to something like a Commencal Furious or something similar? I feel like a shore with a boxxer is kind of aimed at that stuff.
  • 1 2
 @mikekazimer: “it could be a decent option” cmon kaz, just say it sucks!!
  • 2 0
 Read the nsmb review. With some tweaks the reviewer really like it when used for it intended purpose
  • 2 0
 To quote Levy: "I want to go at 85-90%, at a pace where I can go quickly, but still take stuff in if you know what I'm saying... These are big long things that I think you'll agree sometimes you'll want to ride them hard and aggressive to get the most out of them."
  • 8 1
 That’s what she said, Mike.
  • 1 1
 @jpwvy5: Or is that just her voice in his mind while perusing the non bike related websites?
  • 2 0
 Does it get to a point with a massively rearward axle path on a hight pivot, over choppy stuff or when you go deep into the travel where the rear wheel gets 'left behind', it seems in theory like the rear wheel needs to speed up to catch up with the bike and get back to a sag point in the travel
  • 4 0
 How does the Scott gambler compare?
  • 2 1
 I'm riding a Gambler now as my main bike. Put a dropper post in there, and it feels quite similar to the GG gnarvana. Pedals pretty good!
  • 4 0
 The Specialized Supreme V Session is obviously the best
  • 4 0
 @mikelevy I wish my new meta tr weighed 37 pounds...and not 39
  • 1 0
 i'm at 37 even with 1400g tires. weighty, but so good.
  • 1 0
 I wish my Murmur was 37 pounds and not 41...
  • 4 2
 Whatever bike Greg Minnaar happens to be on at any given moment.
  • 1 0
 I wish I was a better rider and stop blaming my DH bike for my shortcomings
  • 2 0
 Supreme by name..
  • 1 0
 I swear my Maiden is though
  • 1 0
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