What the Heck is a Down-Country Bike? - Opinion

Apr 12, 2018
by Mike Levy  
Mike Levy



What if I told you about a type of bike that's easier to ride faster in many (but not all) settings, allows you to cover more ground, maybe even have more fun while doing it, and all with less effort required than what you might be riding now. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Would you believe such a thing exists, or does that sound like a pitch line from an out of touch marketing department?

It's not a sham, I swear, and there aren't even any motors involved, either. What it is, however, is an emerging category of mountain bike that's a strange, hard to define fusion of cross-country, trail, and possibly even the all-mountain segments.

For lack of a better term, and because I like names that are easy to remember, I've been calling them 'down-country' or 'fun-country' bikes with the aim of making things as confusing as possible. My other option was the obvious 'black-diamond cross-country,' but I don't think the sarcasm shines through quite as well with that one. As dumb as it sounds, the tongue in cheek down-country tag also does a pretty decent job of explaining the intentions of these rolling contradictions.


The men s U23 field blazes off.
Looks like fun, right? No, probably not, but the bikes these guys are on can be turned into properly capable, fun machines.


So, what exactly is a down-country bike?

It's not a downhill bike with a full-length seat tube that some goober has bolted a 100mm stem onto, but rather a bike that approaches riding from the opposing point of view. They're short-travel, quick handling rigs with a large majority of their DNA coming from the cross-country family but with a clever component spec that adds to their descending and technical abilities without also adding too much weight. A doped-up cross-country bike? Sure. The idea is to create a package that, while sporting a minimal amount of travel, quick handling, and maybe even race-day intentions, is still far more capable than what the classic view of cross-country-ing would have anyone guessing.

This is not a new concept, of course - clever people have been piecing together such things on their own for many years - but it's only in the last few seasons that we've seen big-time brands look at cross-country in the same light as these forward-thinking riders.

If you've read any of my drivel before, you might already know that I'm a huge proponent of all-around short-travel bikes that are built to cover ground quickly while also being able to take some abuse, which is exactly what I'm getting at with this whole down-country spiel. I'm fully aware that I'm an ass for suggesting that we need another category of bike, but keep an open mind for just a few more minutes while I try to make my case here, and then you're more than welcome to call me names in the comment section.

If we're talking hard to define short-travel bikes, we can't go any further without giving credit where credit's due.

There's always been a small handful of forward-thinking 'little bikes' to choose from over the years, but Kona's genre-smashing Process 111 (pictured at right) is a somewhat recent example of a bike that made a lot of people sit up and take notice.

The stout 111 wasn't perfect (it was heavy-ish, there was no bottle mount inside the front triangle, and the seat tube was actually too short for some riders), but it was an eye-opener for a lot of riders who had assumed that more suspension equals more capabilities, a fallacy that's easy to go along with.
Kona Process 111 Photo by Amy McDermid
It didn't fit into any single category, but it was fun as hell.

With a long (for the day) reach of 460mm for a large-sized 111, but a relatively slack (for the travel) 68-degree head angle, a short seat tube, and more standover clearance than a Razor scooter, Kona's under-sized 111 was capable of some very up-sized riding. There were other companies who used the same basic recipe before Kona, no doubt, but Kona was among the first to use the right ingredients, at the right time, to offer an off-the-shelf short-travel rig with the now de rigueur progressive geometry.

The 111 outclassed its travel and outperformed expectations, but it was also a hard bike to pin down in 2013. I mean, what the hell was it? With cross-country travel, angles from an all-mountain bike of the day, and a porker of a frame and build kit, the 111 was difficult to categorize. Then again, that's partly what made it so special at the time - it was a niche bike that didn't neatly fit into any particular section of Kona's catalog. When other riders asked me what it was at the time, I called it a down-country or fun-country bike, shrugged my shoulders while looking just as confused as they did, and then went off to do a bunch of skids and manuals on it.

Sure, the 111's frame was about as cross-country as an e-bike is a real mountain bike, but it's an important benchmark because it underscored the fact that travel doesn't need to define intentions, and that unruly intentions don't require a bunch of travel. And now, in 2018, we have off-the-shelf bikes that have cross-country race intentions (and weight) but with angles and sturdiness that allows us to be as unruly as we dare.


Santa Cruz Blur CC X01 Reserve Photo by James Lissimore
Santa Cruz Blur CC X01 Reserve Photo by James Lissimore
A light, racy bike no longer has to be sketchy on the descents. It's never been easier to earn those turns.


It's hard to believe that the 111 debuted five years ago, but many riders have seen the light since then and pieced together their own oddball down-country bikes by choosing parts that make the most sense and hanging them on a cross-country frame. That's exactly what many in my 'hood have been doing for years now. If you were to show up for one of our local rides, you'd see what looks like a herd of pure cross-country race rigs under a confusing mix of Lycra, baggy shorts, platform pedals, and maybe even some goggles. Take a closer look, however, and you'd see that our steeds are anything but flimsy, lightweight off-road road bikes with deathwish semi-slick rubber, high posts, and stems so long that they're bordering on assisted suicide.

Picture a Specialized Epic, Trek Top Fuel, Rocky Mountain Element, or Cannondale Scalpel; all bikes would be at home toeing the line of a cross-country race. And now picture them with wide handlebars, 50mm stems, long-stroke party posts, and big rubber inflated to maybe 20psi on relatively wide rims. In other words, capable cross-country instead of cross-country chintzy. The result of that admittedly irresponsible blending is a bike that you'd still be happy to hammer out a new PR aboard up your local monster climb, but it'll also be just fine absolutely railing the descent, taking all the silly lines, and just being a hoodlum in general.

If you've ever spent any time on a lightweight cross-country bike, you already know that their low weight and sharp steering can make them unbelievably agile in the right hands, and their capacity for tomfoolery only increases when you choose your components wisely.


Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
You decide: Did I ruin a perfectly good cross-country bike, or does it actually makes sense?


The irresponsibly modified Rocky Mountain Element that I featured in my Staff Rides article last summer is a good example. While designed as a 100mm-travel cross-country race bike, the addition of a set of relatively wide rims, burly tires, and a cockpit that you'd usually see on an enduro bike created a machine that's ready for whatever you might want to do on it, within reason, of course. One needs to be smart when it comes to suspension - the less travel you have, the better it has to be set up, and this type of bike definitely requires a much firmer spring rate all around if you're riding it above and beyond what it's intended to see. Sag? No, not much. Or any.

And that brings us to one tiny issue: less suspension and steeper (than a true enduro bike) angles means that there isn't a lot of bike under you to save your ass when you make a dumb decision. The line between getting away with something dumb and getting scorpion'd so hard that your shoes come off is thinner than a North Shore skinny, and a rider has to be smart and precise when it comes to his lines. It's a matter of constantly micro-managing the bike; while an enduro rig can be left to do its thing beneath you while you plan well ahead, a down-country bike requires much more awareness. Factor in some rowdy terrain or low traction conditions and things can get dicey. But it can also get really, really rewarding when you do make it look easy or, depending on what you're doing, simply just survive.

A win is a win, but it can feel like an upset victory for the championship when you pull it off while over-confident and under-gunned. And when you do get tossed, at least you can use your silly monstrosity of a ''cross-country bike'' as an excuse; it's a win-win!


Santa Cruz Blur CC X01 Reserve Photo by James Lissimore
Santa Cruz's Blur is new-school cross-country bike that can do far more than your typical cross-country riding.


Of course, it'd be careless of me not to mention that fact that most companies don't intend their purebred cross-country race frames to be home to the components required to turn them into down-country bikes, and especially not the type of riding that big rubber, a longer-travel fork, and the obligatory enduro-style cockpit allows. At least not yet, anyway. I'm picturing more than one product manager cringing while reading this, and warranty departments everywhere shaking their heads while using words like ''irresponsible,'' ''reckless,'' and ''Levy is a f*cking idiot.'' Hey, I won't disagree with them, either.

Bike companies are catching on, though. Santa Cruz's new, 100mm-travel Blur is just one example of a cross-country whippet sporting longer, more relaxed geometry that's able to shrug off abuse that might have killed a flimsy race bike from a few years ago. Scott's Spark is also a decent specimen of an off-the-shelf short-travel rig with geo that makes sense for a hooligan who wants a sporty bike that won't kill him on a rowdy trail, as is the just-released Yeti SB100. Again, this is far from a new phenomenon, as riders have been building their own fun-country atrocities for many years, but it's only recently that we're seeing stock bikes become a real option.


Yeti SB100
I have Yeti's new SB100 in for a long-term review, but the handful of rides I've put on it so far can be summed up like this: Small travel, real tires, and much fun.


I propose the silly down-country label only to mock how two-wheeled world tries to be neatly classified, but I do believe that we are seeing the emergence of a new type of bike. Maybe it's brands finally applying what they've learned from developing their all-mountain and enduro designs over the last few years. Maybe they're simply responding to the ever-evolving skill sets of riders. Maybe this is just the evolution of the trail bike, minus 4lb and with a whole lot more sportiness. Whatever it is, it's clear that a cross-country bike doesn't have to only be a cross-country race bike anymore.

Truth is, I'm mostly just taking the piss with these down-country and fun-country labels - the last thing any of us want is another slogan or catchword - but I do believe that there really is something to these souped-up cross-country bikes. Call them whatever you want, but I think I'll just call them fun as hell.


376 Comments

  • + 176
 Not interested if it does not come with a new wheel standard... /s
  • + 6
 Nailed it
  • + 10
 32"?
  • + 71
 I'm only interested if it comes with some trash to dig around in. Does it come with diggable trash? I like to dig in the trash.
  • - 52
flag TightAF (Apr 12, 2018 at 15:56) (Below Threshold)
 @IamTheDogEzra: I despise online Rpers. Please remove yourself
  • + 17
 @TightAF: Ezra is a good dog!
  • + 38
 Maybe 28.25". We can split the difference again and again and again until we finally settle at... You guessed it! 28.99"
  • + 2
 @Brightside: with a 2.75'' tire width!
  • + 1
 I was talking about my rug.....
  • + 74
 As soon as I read the title of the article I knew it had to be about the Yeti eventually... Can't blame you though, I'd shave my legs and go uphills for that beauty.
  • + 40
 Had to include that SB100 - she's good look'n, too. I did write most of this before I rode the new Yeti, though, and only added it in later on.
  • - 10
flag Waldon83 (Apr 12, 2018 at 14:19) (Below Threshold)
 @mikelevy: Writing any articles on the new Alldowndurocountrail-c bike yet?
I've heard they are a new thing, boasting 28.2 wheels, lower slacker steeper higher angles, appropriate for no helmet, but full body armour, one flat and one clipless pedal...

Sounds like a real POS if you ask me
#newtrends
  • + 7
 @mikelevy: i dont know dude. I rode 2013 anthem x 29er and that thing ripped tech gnar. not like a dh bike. but scary and fun af
  • + 2
 @makripper: Bruh, put a 34 step cast on that biotch, DHF's and you've got the latest a greatest!! Wait, its not boost.. You're a loser!
  • + 6
 @mikelevy: continuing on the 111 legacy, including the new Hei Hei line would have paid off. Kona was again ahead of the times when they launched them.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: I think you should also mention adding offset bushings to older XC bikes. I added them to my 2013 Scalpel (which slacked the headangle by about 1 degree and lowering the B.B.), along with moving the lefty spacer to the bottom, it made it much more trail worthy and almost 2 degrees slacker overall. Easy and cheap conversion, just slam the seat forward to compensate for the seat angle change and you are set.

Of course, it may gather dust as I play on my new Ripmo for a bit, especially as the Ripmo climbs better than expected. But that thing is still dang fun and makes easier trails a little more dicey and challenging than an Enduro bike and will make one hell of a gravel bike for easier spin days.
  • + 9
 SB100 fits the bill, but the Banshee Phantom has been around for at least 5 years (Mine is a 2013). 105mm rear, 120-140 up front. I call it a NOS-country bike.
  • + 1
 @WrenchRy87: Have to agree with you on the Phantom, absolutely love mine, but have to correct you on it's age, was only released in early 2014 ;-) Was sposed to have been release late 2013, but delays in production held it back.
  • + 1
 @whambat: Hi, did the Scalpel ride a lot different when you made those changes? Doesn't moving the spacer make the B.B. higher? I'm thinking of doing it to my '14 Scalpel.
  • + 1
 Whoa! No one said anything about shaving legs!
  • + 64
 Surprised the Transition Smuggler didn't get a shout-out in this. 115 rear travel, 130 front, AM geometry. Seems like exactly the kind of bike this article is written in reference to. Can already see in the comments people getting hung up on new labels and where it fits in. It's just a fun kind of bike that will be super suitable for some people and in some areas. For others it probably doesn't make any sense and that's fine too. It seems to me it's like a freeriders cross country bike. A cross country bike for people who don't race XC and like skids.
  • + 54
 Ah, that's a perfect example that I missed. Good call-out.
  • + 13
 I see the Smuggler as a short travel enduro bike with piss-poor clearances. I want a burly XC bike, with Trail Bike geometry, XC bike weight, and Enduro bike clearances. Travel might not help save a bad line on a lightweight, short travel bike, but bigger tires and proper geometry will help.
  • + 17
 Not a word about a Banshee Phantom, either!
  • - 7
flag da-yeti (Apr 12, 2018 at 16:17) (Below Threshold)
 @RBWebb: o ya banshee performance of a turd but I saved $ on the frame
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: So nice of you. I'd say your 111 example made the point. Good read! People discussing this everywhere anyway so why not puke it out.
  • + 33
 Yeah so PB and Evil reeeeally need to work on their relationship #thefollowing
  • + 8
 @PHeller: one of the coolest things about Transition? they don't give a f*ck about your opinions.
  • + 5
 @Yahh: Following, Tallboy, SB4.5, Smuggler, Primer, are all "Cross-Bro" category.
  • + 6
 @RBWebb: +1 for the phantom, released in 2015 with a 68 degree head angle, 75 degree seat angle, clearance for 2.5" rubber and a 485mm reach in the XL. Have raced short-course and marathon xc, north shore/squamish/whistler gnar and bike park all on the same build.
  • + 1
 mine has been a real eye opener. So much fun and capable.
  • + 11
 @Yahh: can we arrange a sit down between PB and Evil? Its starting to get weird?
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: or the new 27.5 Giant Anthem. It has a 120mm Fox 34
  • + 6
 @mikelevy: what about the rowdy hard tails out there??? Wouldn't that be down country????
  • + 4
 The Phantom would've been gold had it had a more competitive weight. Nearly 8lbs for frame and shock? Enduro weight with cross country travel. It is however, one of the most versatile frames on the market. If it weighed 6lbs it would be dreamy...
  • + 3
 @MikeAzBS:

+1 for "Cross-Bro"
  • + 4
 @RBWebb: Loving my Phantom with 27.5 plus wheelset. Loved it as a 29er too! Just an awesome trail ripper!
  • + 3
 @Endurahbrah: It’s easily been my favorite bike I’ve ever owned. Definitely overbuilt for the amount of travel..... Anxiously awaiting the arrival of my MRP Ribbon Coil TODAY!!!
  • + 3
 Transition Double Smile
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: I would say the Devinci Django 29, too. It is very similar to the Smuggler.
  • + 54
 A true "down country" bike is an xc race frame with a dual crown fork.
  • + 57
 Lowered to 120mm
  • + 28
 @ibishreddin: or is it actually a dh frame with a 100mm fork?
  • + 7
 @nfontanella: haha that would be the most stupid looking bike ever. 200mm travel back, 100mm in the front. 2,6 Minion back and 2,1 Ikon front. Bar ends, water bottle, (...). I'm surprised Peter Verdone hasn't come up with that idea yet
  • + 23
 XC racer here: I'm fine with some bikes becoming more trail from an XC starting point, just as long as XC race bikes continue to evolve for XC racers: clearance for 38T+ rings (totally usable with Eagle), sub 900g HT frames, sub 20# FS rigs, good pedalling rear geo without relying on lockouts (weight/hassle/distraction at 200bpm), FS rigs with 2 bottle cages for Marathon events, aero tweaks for marathon/gravel-heavy events, etc.

My concern with the trailification of XC bikes is that we'll be left with 2-3 true XC race bikes left to choose from. Right now that Yeti and Blur are a bit porky to race when compared to the Epic, Top Fuel, Spark RC, & Scalpel.

Oh yeah and Long Live Gripshift Smile
  • + 9
 I don't think you need to worry since XCO still trumps everything for support and dollars. As long as theres that, companies will support it. Neither santa Cruz or yeti seem to care much about those things, so you can see why they aren't designing bikes to grab gold medals.
  • + 7
 @davidccoleman

I'm looking forward to when the bike you described isn't a competitive option in an XC race. Bring On The Gnar.
  • - 1
 Sorry, but is should be that way, because XC racer : XC non-racer ratio is like 1:100. So why would it be other way round for bikes?
  • + 2
 I think the new Intense Sniper fits the bill. Good trail geo but still light and snappy enough for races. If I could replace my Scalpel right now for XC, that would be the bike. With a bike like that, the only thing holding you back from the podium is yourself and you will have way more fun.
  • + 2
 I'm on an Epic with fat-ish tires and a dual position air Pike, 120-150mm. Great set up for trail XC and with the fork open to 150mm my head tube is around 67 degrees. Heavy fork but the bike does what I need with it.
  • + 21
 I had a realization about short travel when I demoed yeti 4.5 and 5.5 back to back. Pumping through the trail and pedaling efficiency were so much better on the 4.5. Couldn't feel anything on the 5.5 "monster truck" has it's place on steep chunder but if you can only afford 1 bike I personally opt for shorter travel.

On a 2017 process 111 now with fork raised to 140mm and it feels perfect. Ridden everything from dirt merchant to schleyer to xc on it. Hoons all around.
  • + 5
 Thats funny...I tried my buddy's SB5.5. Did one DH segment and handed it back. Said it felt like a monster truck, and I couldnt feel anything.
  • + 3
 @SenorMartillo: Yeah people's perceptions are funny. Really good to go demo a bike or something when you get a chance (especially when free at events) I never would have gone short travel if I didn't try one.

Seems like lots of folks are still stuck in the 160/160 27.5 'trail-duro' phase... I was in that rut for a long time.
  • + 18
 We've been calling it BCXC for ages. Small bikes for dirt roadie activities are different from short travel bikes in technical terrain.
  • + 2
 Paific NW XC is very different from So Cal XC racing. I put a 120-150 dual position Pike on my Epic. Bit more travel up front and it slacks the headtube, 69.5 to 67, with the turn of a knob. BCXC is it's own bread.
  • + 13
 @mikelevy I was surprised you didn't mention your time on the Honzo CR. Maybe your downcountry definition only includes full suspension bikes but man that Honzo likes technical descents; albeit not as fast as with some squish but the geometry/angles sure differentiate it from any twitchy XC hardtail
  • + 4
 @mikelevy: shit yeah Honzo is a blast
  • + 11
 Why is everybody acting like they need one bike for everything? What happened to N+1?

It's all about having a quiver of bikes. Then you can pick and choose what bike to ride depending on the trail and mood.

I've taken my 29'er hardtail down our burliest DH trail and taken my DH bike on the in-town XC trail. It's fun to mix it up.

Short travel/hardtail bikes are fun and challenging. Long travel bikes let you mob over everything. Variety is the spice of life.
  • + 4
 sometimes you can only decide on one bike, til you can save enough to buy more! i dont believe in "quiver killers" i just believe some bikes are more versatile
  • + 2
 @lyleo: I agree. My Canfield Balance is pretty much a quiver killer, but I still have a DH bike, a 140mm Nickel, a 29'er hardtail and a vintage 90's 26 Fat Chance.

My problem is I ride my bikes till they have no resell value and I end up keeping them.
  • + 10
 I'm not sure how I feel. I have a Fuel EX, and while I could do most of the riding I do on a Top Fuel, I think the EX pedals so darn efficiently I'm not entirely sure that I see the point of giving up the travel. And there are plenty of other 5" bikes out there that pedal really well, too. But, I suppose, it would be nice to shed 5lbs off the bike. So maybe - if I could drop 5lbs of bike weight, and gain "something" in terms of pedaling efficiency, that might be worth trading in 1" of suspension travel. I'd certainly like to try that bike and see.
  • + 19
 Here's a reason that made sense to me: too much bike makes easy trails boring. Sometimes you can only get out for a quick pedal after work at the local XC loop. You'll enjoy it a lot more on a bike that forces you deal with the few technical features on that trail, than on a bike that can steamroll everything.
  • + 2
 @groghunter: I think on paper that sounds true - but I also have a hardtail, and on the dirt I basically don't know of any situation where my hardtail is more fun than the Fuel EX. I think a great bike is a great bike. Of course, it's a "trail" bike. Perhaps if it was 160mm+ travel mini-DH rig then maybe the over-competence might get boring on smooth trails. But I basically only ride my hardtail if the EX is broken ;-)
  • + 0
 @groghunter: Saying a big bike will make easy trails boring is never a valid excuse to choose a shorter travel bike. There is SO MUCH you can do on a "big" bike to make even the tamest trails fun: Manuals, Wheelies out of corners, bunny hopping over any trail obstacle, endo turns in tight corners, etc.

I recently got my first "enduro" bike (160f, 155r) and still have a ton of fun on the subset of my local trails that tend to be "easier". Having a shorter travel and lighter XC-ish bike would not make my experience any more enjoyable
  • + 9
 @pinhead907: Different strokes then, I guess. There's trails around here that I hadn't had much fun on in a decade until I got a hardtail.
  • + 2
 I think a lot of it comes to ergonomics as well. The top fuel puts you in a much better biomechanical position to do xc type things than the regular fuel, at least in the larger sizes.
  • + 5
 @groghunter: Sort of agree w/you. While I can see the options for manuals and bumps and hops on my Spartan, I could't have predicted the rush and fun I get trying to push my hardtail to the limit - and the bumps/hops/manual options are still there.

An overbuilt xc is fun, but I'm not responsible enough to keep myself out of trouble - there's too many options to be "bad", relative to the small bike and ultimately I'd be worried about destroying it. For me, the hardtail I built up fills the shoes of the "downcountry" bike, and is slowly becoming my go-to bike.
  • + 6
 @jerryhazard: the bumps/hops/manuals are generally easier/bigger & more fun on a hardtail as well... DJ bikes aren't 99% hardtails for no reason...
  • + 15
 Smuggler?
  • + 2
 Smuggler is slept on, I always liked it better than the process 111
  • + 3
 And the JensonUS--- whooops I mean Intense Sniper- another XC bike with slacker angles this year.
  • + 5
 Smuggler! I forgot that one Frown
  • + 8
 I love my Smuggler, it's incredibly fun and playful, but I'm not so sure it's in the same category. It feels much more all-mountain to me and doesn't have the efficiency as the bikes on this list. Granted mine has a Lyrik on the front, but to me it's definitely square in the "trail" category.
  • - 2
 @mikelevy: butt smuggler
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: optic
  • + 4
 Devinci Django is also a contender for that category.
So "down country" and short travel trail bikes are essentially the same.
  • + 5
 @mikelevy: the first gen Ripley? way ahead of its time and lead to the LS and Evil following? or do we not talk about the E word on PB
  • + 10
 It’s why UK always has and always will have a strong contingent riding ‘hardcore’ (hate the term) hardtails.

Back in the day you’d even be practising sketchy trials manoeuvres. I’m disappointed people don’t spend time on proper skills any more. It’s all about wearing goggles and how much suspension you have, scrubbing and pretending you huck to flat.
  • + 4
 Yep. I have a carbon santa mcwunderbike, and a chromag hardtail. The mcwunderbike is lighter, and faster in 90% of of cases. The chromag is heavy and rough, but there is something about it. Doesn't matter if it has the latest shock tune or the latest and greatest of anything. You just get on the pedals, shut up, stop thinking, and hold on for dear life.


The hardtail is an antidote for this paralysis by analysis, always wondering if you have the right "class" of bike for the trails you ride and your skill level, or if maybe they will invent a new class that will finally allow you to reach bike nirvana.

Talking about tech and ogling the latest gear is fun, and riding the Santa and feeling wrapped in the technology is cóol, but I'm really glad I have the chromag because it forces me to forget all that stuff and just play in the forest. I need that sometimes.
  • + 9
 I don't care what you call it. I call it fun as hell, and I cant wait for more efficient and responsive 'trail' bikes to hit the market. Something to train on when I don't want to take out the enduro sled, but also don't want to ride home like a baby.
  • + 33
 Maybe instead of down-county, it should be called FAHST bikes (Fun As Hell Short Travel).
  • + 5
 @Dabomb684: That's a good one. I like Up-Country
  • + 0
 FAHST agreed. But it's hard on the body. You get arm pump and feel like you been rolled down a set of stairs if you do it too long.
  • + 1
 @Dabomb684: I'm in!
  • + 8
 My 2017 Element is set up for 'down-country'. This really hasn't gone so well for me from a durability standpoint. Broken main pivot bolt, broken linkage washer, small crack in downtube from a rock jumping up from my front tire and most recently a cracked seatstay from falling over at slow speed. This all makes me sound like a shitty rider, but I blame a light bike and really technical trails.
  • + 8
 Ive had a Cannondale Scalpel SE for the last 3 months and it is a freaking riot. Actually, I can’t believe Mike Levy doesn’t have one because it has TWO bottle cage mounts in the front triangle and is a textbook “down country” bike.
  • + 2
 That bike certainly is the first thing I thought of when reading this. I am definitely grabbing one soon to compliment my big bike.
  • + 8
 Way more fun to ride a small bike beyond it's capabilities than a big bike under them.

In my opinion, most riders (including myself) far underutilize the bikes they have. Lots of people buying Nomads to take off 2ft. drops out there.
  • + 12
 Yet another marketing term for a mountain bike. How inventive.
  • - 14
flag JAVIGUTZ (Apr 12, 2018 at 12:03) (Below Threshold)
 this
  • + 46
 I agree, as I said four or five times, but there's certainly something to the bikes.
  • - 36
flag scott-townes (Apr 12, 2018 at 12:14) (Below Threshold)
 @mikelevy: Oh yes, you are pushing the stupid marketing term pretty hard alright...
  • + 16
 @mikelevy: i don't think people actually read past their first emotional response....you were clear, and are right! Next summer it is a Blur 3 for me with 120 fork and middle weight tires and wheels!
  • - 15
flag scott-townes (Apr 12, 2018 at 12:17) (Below Threshold)
 @teenwolf: I read the whole thing. To summarize, "I think this term is dumb but let me repeat it a million times and define what it is and give it context but again, I think its dumb"
  • + 14
 @mikelevy: The tongue-in-cheek thing aside - how is any of this news? You had the Tallboy opening things up quite a bit on that front already ages ago - and even more so the Tallboy 2. The 111, in contrast, is just a very specific niche bike in there (just like the Smuggler, its local rival with the same intentions, and then the Following), aimed at guys like me who want something stout and bombproof that makes a great one bike quiver for people who like to get a bit rowdy sometimes but have no need for mondo suspension because we don't go mach chicken through rock gardens or huck to flat. But for what you're describing, the Hei Hei and Hei Hei trail are really a better fit.

Seems to me like the sorts of bikes you're talking about are the sorts of things people would ride for those multi-day epics. Bikes efficient enough to cover huge distances, nimble enough to get through tight stuff, burly enough not to get you killed when it's a little steep.
  • + 24
 Lightweight hardcore hardtail FTW.
  • + 13
 You can ride any MTB down any mountain! Anyone that says they don't have the right bike for it probably talks more about MTB than they ride it. One of my bike messenger mates went trail riding on his fixie ffs.
  • + 18
 Yeah lets just call them all "mountain bikes" and not be so judgy judgy.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: Nevermind...
  • - 3
 Here's another newsflash for all the sheeple buying into this bullshit. How your bike pedals has more to do with suspension design and quality of the shock bolted to it vs. the amount of travel. I'll take a well designed longer travel bike any day of the week.
  • + 0
 it's official, the bike industry has gone "full"
.
.
.
.
"never go full"
  • + 12
 @g-42: This is an opinion article. Literally says so in the title. And then he proceeds to talk about trends (e.g., not news) and express opinions.....as expected.....as per the title.......
  • + 2
 A new marketing term means my old Blur TRc that's set up a little bombproof is back in style. When 26 inch wheels come back I won't have to buy a new bike to hang out with the cool kids.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: If you're within 5 feet of a miracle... claim it as your own Wink
  • + 7
 So here's my situation: I had two versions of the previous generation Tallboy which were built up as pure XC bikes. I loved those bikes for the speed and agility they delivered. I ended up with a Tallboy 3 as a warranty replacement and I really like it but I long for the light weight and speed of the previous generation Tallboy.
I've ridden the heck out of the TB3 and enjoyed every minute of it. Then along came a Hightower LT into my bike stable. Hmm, pedals just as well as the TB3, is much smoother on choppy trails and weighs only 1 lb more. So I don't reach for the TB3 anymore because the HTLT is as good, or better in all situations. Now I have my eyes on a new Blur to complement the HTLT.

I guess my point is that a jazzed up XC bike may be a decent do-it-all machine, there are bikes with a bit more travel that do it better.
  • + 6
 hm... I am ahead of the curve. Bought a 160 bike before Enduro got cool. Sold it and bought an upforkable short travel bike before it got cool. Sold it, waiting for Enduro to become cool again. All those short travel muppets with big fork and minions make me laugh. It will take some time for the hype to go down, but as soon as they realize they have a big bike build which throws all effecivness and climbability to the garbage, defying the purpose of having little travel in the rear, they'll come back to the juice. And well Mike, there's more to life than BC race. Your Down Country bike is nothing more but a materialization of what a cross country bike should be. There are cross country bikes and XCO racing bikes. They are hard to motivate just as well as DH bikes for people who live far from the lifts. Waiting for 140mm bikes to become the hottest thing.
  • + 68
 You mean, like, a trail bike? For riding on trails? What a concept!
  • + 4
 I basically did this to my Pivot 429sl over the course of a couple years and in the end it think it leaned more towards the worst of both bikes than the better. It wasn't a cross country bike anymore, but it was still sketchy pointed down and too fragile to take the abuse. I'm sure these new designs are much better than my cobbled together bike, but if your not racing I just don't see the point in avoiding a 120mm trail bike. On the other hand, I do know lots of cross country guys who will never go over 100mm because the last thing in the world they would want is for their buddies to say they have too much bike.
  • + 0
 take my money
  • + 2
 I think every year bikes are getting closer and closer to the point where we don't have to compromise. Bikes that climb well, descend well, handle well on moderate trails and rowdy trails...maybe not but man it would be awesome if you only had to buy one bike instead of five
  • + 10
 @WAKIdesigns : Ahead of the curve? It is no curve, it is circle. Just like fashion. There is no point staying in sync, ahead or being bothered being slightly behind. Maybe take a full lap to have a taste of everything but then just pick what suits you. Every now and then you can enjoy being "ahead of the curve".
  • - 5
flag makripper (Apr 12, 2018 at 14:38) (Below Threshold)
 this is why i just ride my trails on my old (2016) aluminum trance with 140mm rear and 140-160 mm front and watch the trends go all over the place. I couldn't fathom a 170mm forked trailbike!
  • + 13
 Modern Short travel bikes make lots of sense, they are descendands of Blur 4X. But don’t think for a moment that you can put on Minions and with this happy puppy geometry you are good to go fast into rockgardens of hell or for big senders on giant flow lines. Because what they do there is they become this shitty friend that will encourage you to take more shots then you should, then he will get you into a fight and have a great laugh posting pics of you being taken by the Police. You will feel: I can do this! Yeah, yeah, then you get off the line or get a bit blown by the wind or come short and they won’t have your back. You’ll eat sht where more travel and a bit slacker geo would save your arse.

You have been warned!
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: nahhh depends on the bike. I had a 2008 sx trail and i've done the biggest moves i've ever done on it. i sized it down to just under 160mm of travel too with a shorter air shock to slacken out the head angle. it's all relative.
  • + 1
 @makripper: sx trail was what Enduro bikes are today. Just lik it’s been with Nomad or Reign X
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: i wonder how a nomad would hold up with big drops and a season at whistler
  • + 1
 @makripper:

but some of us can.... moohahahaha!
  • + 6
 @WAKIdesigns: i own a 2012 SX Trail, and it's basically a 2018 YT Capra on 26 inch wheels in terms of Geometry and Suspension Travel, it's quite heavy and a bitch to climb for long periods of time, also it does feel like too much bike on most trails because of that i tend to look for the sketchiest way down instead of "clean lines, good line choices"
it's the only bike i have and i bought it used, but that doesn't stop me from having fun
also whenever i meet other mountain bikers, especially the Dentists on their $9000 bikes, they keep telling me that it's the best bike ever and that they regret selling their SX trail (happened to me 3 times, must be a universal fact)
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns:

Not everything descended from the Blur 4X, Waki.

Other claimed descendants according to Waki (fake news):

-Carbon Jack
-new Ripmo
-DUB 28.99
-giant overdrive
-super b 157
-2.8 minions
-Geometron
  • + 2
 My first full suspension bike in 2009 was 120x90mm and a 68 head angle. Then I snapped it in half.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Those bikes encourage you to search for your limits as a bike handler. Just look at it as a challenge.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I wouldn't say the Blur 4X nor the SX trail would be at the start of the whole thing. The 2003 Specialized Enduro SX was earlier than at least both of them. You know, the bike Matt Hunter used to herd the cows in The Collective movie as well as the bike Anneke Beerten raced to second place in the Lisboa Downtown 2004 urban downhill race. Behind ACC, but ahead of Sabrina Jonnier. The next generation of Specialized Enduro bikes was based on that one (before they split the "Enduro" and "SX trail" line up).
  • + 1
 @XIVXV: That's the problem - there are enough challenges on enduro or xc bike. This downcountry bikes is a niche which will not become mainstream, because those are bikes for very skilled and strong riders. Any other guy who will buy it will realize that: a.) somehow short-travel bike with minions did not make him Nino b.) somehow short-travel bike with minions does not forgive shitty line choices. Enduro bike is much more convenient for average guy because a.) you do not have to be fit, since you know, this bike will never climb as fast as xc, so why bother b.) it can save your arse down the hill. XC bike is also more mentally convenient for uphill-oriented riders because a.) it is sooo fast uphill b.) it descends poorly, so I have an excuse not to learn how to descend properly
  • - 2
 @XIVXV: Yeah, yeah, I’ve been there and wrote a book on that until I realized that my friends on 160 bikes still make me suffer on climbs and now they completely leave me behind on downs.

Progress is reserved to those who work on progressing their skill and fitness. That’s it. Introducing a handicap is a good method of improvement if you do it with a particular purpose/ practice in mind. Otherwise it’s a myth.

@makripper why are you talking to me as if I said Nomad or any other Enduro bike can replace a DH bike for a whole season in Whistler? I talked about taking it to a bike park occasionally. It will do damn well. If you go to Whistler often then you would be much better off having a DH bike.

What people do is they sell their 2-4yr old Enduro rig, and instead of buying a nee better one they go: oh a modern 120 trail bike has as aggressive geo as my old enduro. So they ride it on local trails and it’s quite fine, especially when riding alone. Then they go for a trip to a bike park with the boys on enduros. You go for first warm up laps and think, hmm I am still on their backs. Wow. Now as the day continues you go on gnarlier and gnarlier stuff your trail bike bounces off tops of obstacles nicely. And then you go: I’ll open the gas now! All fine, bam bam bam, one mistake, you get off the line and get gang raped by rocks wtching your friends riding away.
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns:
Totally agree with your argumentation. But the same can be applied to Enduro bike vs DH bike. A 200mm bike can save you when you do mistakes that would throw you off on a 160 bike whatever the marketing says. So the optimum is to have a short travel trail bike and a DH if you do more than 10 days of lift assisted riding per season.
  • - 1
 @mikaeljc: it depends on your lifestyle, sure. However even in Sweden in our rock, root and mud infested woods where speed is never for free, it seems that 120 bike would be the bestest. Well, it isn't. That extra travel in the rear takes the edge of rolling through microwave sized rocks for hours. Every single fast dude in Gbg has a 140-160 bike as their main bike. 99% of local KOMs including many uphills are made on such bikes. Then those dudes go Järvsö, Hafjell and put most folks on DH bikes to shame. It is a matter of skill 99%, sure, but it says something about how good rear suspension has got over the years for climbing and how good geos and suspension has got for descending. In a park, same rider will be faster and possibly have more fun on a DH bike than on Enduro bike (especially in Scandinavian rocky crap), some of them have both (apart from DJ bikes, maybe even some form of roadie), but as a function of convenience, if you want one bike to deal with most of the stuff, 160 just cuts it.

It is however beyond me, how people from BC or Alps, Scottish Highlands, possibly even Wales, can justify 120 bike as their main bike due to big differences in altitude, most trails being gravity fed, while climbs are mainly fireroad. Climbing on a singletrack is a utopia, since in proper mountains they vary so much and many of them will have unclimbable sections that are too steep or too techy for too long. I can climb the techiest, steepest stuff in Gbg, there are no more than 5 climbs I didn't pull, but they are 30-80m long and peak my heart rate to max in some instances. Try that for 500 vertical meters. Everytime someone tells me they go for 2000 vertical meters on a singletrack I roll my eyes because that means they have hit the bullseye with location. Such singletracks happen rarely, very rarely. In my hometown in Poland with mountains at 500-1200m I know maybe 2 fully climbable ones over a rather giant area. And once I do them I'm freaking done for the day and want to take the fireroad down.
  • + 2
 @lkubica: That's one way to look at it, but I don't agree. People would be more comfortable riding a WC XC race if the spec would be tailored towards more control. Wider bars, shorter stem and more grippy rubber give you that. So if you do not need the flat out speed a WC racer requires, why sacrifice comfort and control. Sure it would slightly harder work on the climbs but I doubt it would hold anyone back who really wants to. Maybe those used to WC level XC bikes may experience it as a drag. But if you're coming from a more average bike, a very light and efficient bike like these with just some heavier rubber would still inspire. So a "DC" bike would actually be a better choice for the average XC type rider who isn't necessarily into racing.

It isn't any different to what you see in road cycling. Not everyone goes for the fastest sharpest handling bike. Quite a few go for these "Roubaix" type bikes. Not because they prefer riding cobbles. It is just that they like the comfort and control. And even though it won't be as fast as a true racer, it will still feel quite quick compared to the commuter bike they ride the rest of the week.

I get what you're saying. One other approach is to use that same bike in more challenging terrain. See, there will always be a limit to your skill in relation to the material you're using. If the "DC" bike feels to easy on a WC XC trail, you may take it towards something more challenging until you enter the zone again where you want to be. Push it too far there and, well, you'll find out. It is what comes with exploring and expanding your limits. There are limits to a DH bike too. Not everyone can ride one of these down the Hardline.

@WAKIdesigns Yes fair enough rear suspension helps with traction and obstacles on the climbs, even I noticed that. But it also depends on what goals you set. To many it appears the climbs are merely a goal to an end. To ride the descends, to complete an epic ride before sunset, or just as part of a race. Call me silly (or well, let me do that myself just to get it out of the way) but if I can ride a climb on the fully but not yet on the hardtail, I want to work on that. Sure it would be cool to descend like Wade Simmons, but more than anything I would love to be able to climb like Ryan Leech or Chris Akrigg. Sure I may never get there, but it is a goal to strive for. Just pedaling hoping for the rear suspension to suck it up doesn't sound exciting to me. Now the other day I joined a couple of XC riders on a training ride on my "DC" bike (apparently). 25 minutes, straight climb up, gravely descend. I must have been the only one who did that standing with a low saddle. Until I wrecked the rear mech on a climb (broken pulley and broken cage). I'm not going to fix that (new frame in few weeks) so until then I'm on the fully again. Feedback I've had is I'm way too aggressive over the front end, which is apparently why the rear end doesn't stay put. So that's what I should work on apparently, be less aggressive over the front. Riding with more travel definitely doesn't make it easier for everyone.
  • + 1
 @vinay: well said sir!
  • + 5
 I think one person’s opinion (Mike Levy) and semi-tongue-in-cheek at that hardly counts for a new category being created in the MTB sector.
Let’s calm down a bit PB commenters!
He’s just making a point.
I don’t think we are about to see the YT DC
viral advert.
Bikes companies spend all their time trying to sell us shit we DoNT need!
They are hardly going to waste valuable marketing resources trying to sell us something actually good and useful and fun, that actually makes sense to people. God no.
  • + 5
 I had a 2014 Kona 111 and loved it, but it wasnt quite right so for the gnarlier trails so I put on a pike on and was considering wider rims, bigger brakes and an offset headset. Thankfully I decided that if i wanted a burly bike I was better off buying one. Capra is my new love and the only downside is climbs take a bit longer.....oh well.
  • + 4
 How about just giving modern XC bikes larger tire clearance and let the consumer decide whether they want to size up for smaller stems or run a longer fork up front for slacker angles? We can't do anything about tire clearance but everything else is open.
  • + 4
 so a trail bike then! just like all the xc/trail bikes of old that we all used to bolt short stems, dh tyres and an mrp onto and then go take on an epic loop and mix in some drops and dirt jumps till the frames snapped! my recntly built banshee phantom is basically the same setup as this `new` trend
  • + 0
 Im glad others see through this nonsense.
  • + 4
 @mikelevy I'm surprised nobody has mentioned this, but what about a bike like the Ibis Ripley with a 130mm fork on 'er? I guess my question is, as a non-racer but someone who rides a lot of singletrack and "notoriously xc" trails, why wouldn't I have a Ripley for my local "fun-bike" and a big burly enduro bike for my shuttle days or any trips to the heavier stuff? I guess my point is a trail bike is the perfect blend of both the AM world and XC world. These little down country guys may get you up the trail a bit quicker, but like you mentioned, the idea of getting Scorpion'd so hard that your shoe falls off doesn't totally appeal to me, which is something you have to be wary of with the standard geometry in that class.
  • + 3
 Yup, I was running that setup with 2.4'' tires on their 941 rims, a 150mm dropper, and a short stem/wide handlebar. Good fun. I raced that bike a ton, too.
  • + 4
 So the bike industry goes full circle... again. Nothing new here. People need to ride some classic mountain bikes and get in touch with the roots of the sport. Bikes in the 80s and 90s were guess what? short travel if any at all and steep angles. They didnt correct your line and wipe your ass for you they hurled you to the ground when you phukt up.

Its obvious bikes are going to go this way. You can only add travel and kick out the front end for so many years before you hit the end of what's feasible. We've been there for a while now. New bikes need to feel different compared to what everyone has to drive sales. Simple. Nothing new.
  • + 5
 This is NOT full circle. Short travel and steep angles is a completely different thing when your 26'er almost has toe overlap. This is modern geometry making XC bikes a viable option for people who see mtb as more than an outlet for their fitness addiction. This is something different and wonderful.
  • + 1
 @scottzg: Sure, ok. Run down to your bike shop and buy a down whatever bike. I'll just pick from my collection of classics and go ride. Gravel bikes are new too... you know because road racing didnt start on gravel mountain roads in Europe and nobody ever toured on gravel on any road bike before the bike industry "invented" the category a couple of years ago. Its funny how guys who weren't around at the beginning riding the original XC bikes as trail bikes are the ones who think any of this is new. Keeping lapping up what ever recycled ideas the industry comes up with. its the best way to ensure they won't make the effort to do something actually new.
  • + 3
 @davemud: I've been around a long time; i rode all the old garbage, and knew it was garbage. You haven't been paying attention. At this point your expectations and riding technique are so out of date you may never catch up. Enjoy your classics.
  • + 0
 @scottzg: Walmart bikes don't count. Saps like you lap up whatever the marketers tell you.Do some critical thinking. This guy is talking about trail bikes as has been pointed out by most of the people posting here. Believe what you need to to justify your next purchase.
  • + 1
 @davemud: I'm not going to buy one, i build my own frames. Modern geo is such an improvement i taught myself to braze so i could ride it a decade ago.
  • + 4
 I traded up to the 120mm travel Cannondale Scalpel SE from a standard 100mm version this year and the SE is an absolute killer on the trails! It certainly could have been included in the list of bikes in this article. I would also imagine that a Santa Cruz Blur with a 120mm fork would be pretty clutch.
  • + 3
 2018 Giant Anthem Advanced. 110/130 travel and bought this for where we ride in Malaysia as you will see everyone riding enduro bikes for maybe 2 weeks, then for sale online as they bought too much bike for the trails. Don’t think any more categories are needed but as riders, we evolve the bikes to what and where we ride. We don’t need more names and categories. The anthem though ticks most of the boxes and is fast and by adding on DHFs to it (from standard Forecasters) it feels like a really solid fast ride. No new names/groups required ????
  • + 3
 I've been climbing and hucking a Tallboy 29 with a 140 fork. Then got a Hightower LT with the works. The Hightower is great but I actually prefer the Tallboy with the 140 up front. Fits the bill for an all around fun machine for both going up and ripping down.
  • + 3
 I'm not sure it matters, other than making for good rants in the PB comments. I pray that people are buying bikes based on their specifications, not based on their category. When was the last time you heard someone say "this ALL MOUNTAIN bike is exactly what I'm looking for, specification-wise, but i'm in the market for an ENDURO bike so I don't think it'll work." Actually, nevermind, people do say that...
  • + 3
 A good rider (not me, then) doesn't lose a whole lot of time on the downs with bikes like these unless things get really, really rowdy. And they're sure a hell of lot quicker uphill and when things get a little tight and twisty--I don't care what anyone says. Smuggler is just a little too bulky for this category. I think a Ripley is just on the edge. AM carbon hardtails like the Kona and Canfield EPO can fit, too. Fun is the operative word here. I think my closeout EPO might even come close to making the $2000 bike challenge budget.
  • + 1
 Chilliwack is awesome
  • + 3
 When I'm selling bikes I just differentiate between a xc race bike and an xc bike. A santa Cruz Tallboy is still an xc bike but I wouldn't call it an xc race bike. Specialized epic is a race rig. And the new blur. People seem to get the idea, If you aren't lining up at races regularly then you'll have more fun on a different bike.
  • + 3
 Easy solution to these Shenanigans people! Build / Buy multiple bikes. Ya don't take a Ferrari FXX-K to a local mud bog race and expect to win. You also don't take a 800hp lifted F350 on 64" Michelins and I-Roc axles to Laguna Seca and expect to set lap records.

My point: Bikes are tools for the job. The job might be a DH Run. The job might be a neighborhood XC loop that's fast and flows.

Own a lightweight hardtail, own an AM Rig, and if you live in the steep mountains own a DH Rig too if you so desire.

Choose the right tool for the job.

Quit trying to make a bike that's a "Jack of all trades, master of none". Those types of bikes just simply... suck at everything... all at once.
  • + 6
 I'm just waiting on the "cross-hill" super DH climber, so I can climb up the mountain while my buddies take the lift.
  • + 14
 I once bought an Orange 223 (and then a 224) specifically because it had a long, uninterrupted seat tube. I ran a wide-range cassette and would pedal that dumb abomination up the mountain like an XC bike. Ugh.
  • + 6
 So there’s a lift and your buddies are on it but you want to climb up? Oh...you’re that guy.
  • + 3
 I don't know if Down-Country is the term, but I am riding a Cannondale habit SE (Technically it's a carbon 1 but I put a 130mm fork up front). 130 up front and 120 in the back. I love it. It's not really a "trail" bike, but it is more capable than what I think of as a traditional XC bike. I still race XC on it. I don't have thousands of dollars to drop on 2 or three different bikes so I am all for this shorter travel, more capable Swiss army style bike. That new Yeti and the new Santa-Cruz Tall-Boy have really caught my eye.
  • + 3
 i think the devinci django 29 falls squarely into this sub category as well. tested one down 3 runs at a bike park, and it changed my perception of 29" wheels. this was immediately after taking 2 runs on a devinci troy. the django won, hands down! considering it for my one bike (til i can afford a true enduro bike as well), which i will try to decide on this week! lifetime frame warranty doesnt hurt either
  • + 1
 I picked on up in May. It's a killer bike and checks a lot of boxes.
  • + 1
 @danoiz: i actually opted for the alloy 27.5 model in may as well... just sticking to smaller wheels for now while i work on fitness and skills, first real modern trailbike and its incredible! just got 11th in expert 30-39 yesterday in a long pedaling 30+ mile /5000ft climb enduro! it was a perfect weapon for the long climb and smooth, fast pedaling stage trails. it is a killer bike!
  • + 6
 @Mikelevy WTF Levy - I thought we had just got it all sorted - XC, Enduro, DH.

Now you have to throw in Down-Country?
  • + 14
 Jokes
  • + 7
 XC, Trail, AM, Enduro, freeride, DH, DJ, street, trials, cyclocross, monstercross, gravel, adventure, bikepacking, trialscross, AMduro, XCventure, Endurostreet, monstertrailstreettrials!
  • + 5
 @mikelevy: yeah I was being sarcastic. This kind of bike really appeals to me.
  • + 4
 Up-hill?
  • + 8
 @mikelevy: Your article just describes what XC bikes should have been from the start: light weight, short travel bikes with decent geometry as opposed to "fat roadbikes".
  • + 1
 @seraph: AllCross-EndurRide for me plz. Building up my dream ACER bike right now.
  • + 3
 @SintraFreeride: Agreed, but they've sure evolved slowly.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: extremely slowly for sure. Glad to see they are finally getting there though!
  • + 2
 Well I for one dont want to go back to light weight shit that cant handle whatever is thrown at it. I am extremely happy with my long travel 'enduro' bike that I have not had to make any warranty claims with. So much better heading off for a ride without that thought of wondering what might break today. I can live without those days thank you very much. Long live the Taniwha
  • + 4
 I've been running a 140 DVO Diamond on my Trek Superfly HT for a while now and its way more fun than ever before, call it what you want it's just plain fun.
  • + 4
 I call it voiding Trek's lifetime warranty. Also fun.
  • + 2
 2016 Kona HeiHei.Trail 29er with the Fox34....basically fixed all the weight issues of the P111. I don't understand why they turned them into straight up XC bikes. No one is buying the small-wheel version and the Satori is a spec-nightmare.
  • + 2
 This is what the trend in bikes should be.
Sure I have a 170mm 29" Enduro monster but I recently put a short travel Pike, wide bars , wide-ish rims with decent meat and a short stem on a cross country hardtail frame. What a frigging blast!

I've since upgraded the frame to a Canfield EPO because I was scared of snapping the XC frame.
For many, many trails this set up is more fun and FASTER than my enduro sled.

When you do jump on the big bike in some serious terrain it somehow feels just a tad easier once you get more squish.

If I had the $$'s I'd likely spring for that new Blur.
  • + 6
 So its a short travel trail bike?
  • + 1
 Not even. Just a trail bike.
  • + 2
 LOL this has been around for a very long time. I had an old 26" SC Superlight that I threw a 140mm fork on with a 90 mm stem back in the early 2000's. I was a size larger than I needed so in effect I had a long top tube and a short stem back then with a fork that slacked it out. That bike was a blast and even more so with coil suspension front and back. The only thing I was missing were the wide bars, but where I was riding the trees were tight so narrow bars made sense.
  • + 5
 I think these bikes make a lot of sense. Most people are over biked and faster climbs means more descents.
  • + 2
 I bought a used 2016 Trek Top Fuel 9.8SL. Thought I was gonna love it... Hated it after the first few rides. Felt super sketchy on the descents and made my right hand go numb within ten miles. Made a few tweaks with saddle positioning, stem length, grips, etc. Nothing worked. Was on the edge of giving up and putting it back up for sale. Then someone threw out the suggestion of putting a 120mm Air Shaft in the Rockshox Sid up front. Absolutely transformed the bike. It is actually pretty fun and loose on the descents, lost very little in terms of climbing prowess, I finally felt good about purchasing it. I would classify it as "Down-Country" now, she's a little ripper!
  • + 2
 @mikelevy what if I told you that if you put quality intermediate tyres on a 140-160 bike you’ll cover more distance, climb like a goat and have an absolute blast on the way down? And then you can install meaty knobs and thick sidewalls and do almost anything what dh bikes can do? All in one bike?

And what if I told you that if you put Minions on Process 111 it will climb as “badly” and cover as little distance as process 153 Wink
  • + 5
 @WAKIdesigns

If my name were Mike Levy and you told me that "you can install meaty knobs and thick sidewalls and do almost anything what dh bikes can do? All in one bike?" then I'd ask how many times you've ridden a DH bike and on what courses. 'Cos....that's nonsense.
  • + 0
 @WAKIdesigns that would be an Up-Duro bike. Another category to add to the list.
  • + 5
 @pancakeflatted: "almost anything" is a good margin isn't it? Considering most DH bikes in the world are used on trails one could ride a DJ bike on. But if you must ask, very few DH bikes, but does DH track in Hafjell count? that's my top, but I rode my Enduro bike on 2 roughest Polish DH cup tracks too. I'm one of the last to say that Dh bikes are obsolete so give me a break, because saying you can race XC on a Process 111 is even bigger stretch... Wink
  • + 3
 @pancakeflatted: not to mention that I wrote that Enduor bike with XC tyres will climb like a goat. Appropriate me approprietaly
  • + 2
 I like how after all these years of experimentation and specialization and categorization of mountain bikes (remember when a mountain bike was just a mountain bike?), we're finally starting to hone in on a bike that does everything well again. It's been fun to witness.
Now if only the prices would come down to what they used to be in the early days...
  • + 2
 I'm only now realizing, after 25 years of mountain biking, that people ride for different reasons than I do. I've only ever pedaled uphill, expressly for the the joy of going downhill, seeking as much gnar, jumps, and steez, and sometimes speed, as I am capable of. Downhill is the only reason I have ever ridden. If there was no such thing as riding downhill I wouldn't have taken up the sport I love so much. That said, kudos to those who ride for other reasons. To each their own. I would never have a use for such a bike tho. Give me as slack a head angle and as much suspension as possible on a rig that still pedals up steep stuff and I'll only buy that bike.
  • + 3
 I love my chromag surface, with a 140mm pike and wide rims with intermediate tires It’s still fun on flatish xc trails and also great to ride in Squamish or on the north shore.
  • + 2
 A proof: if the ideal number of bikes is n+1 and the ideal average bike weight is y, then the weight of bike n+1 will be the inverse of the difference between the weight of bike n and y plus adequate error to ensure a bike n+2.
  • + 2
 My 2013 Element BC Edition is similar - that bike definitely punched above its weight. But it doesn't climb that much better than my Ibis, and it beats me up a lot more on the downhills, so it sits most of the time.

It's set up with some real rims, big Magic Mary/Hans Dampf tires, came with a dropper, short stem, wide bars...fits the category exactly.
  • + 1
 Back in the day when 26” wheels were still king I built up an Intense Tazer as a “down country” bike. It did have some short comings (seat tube length especially) but with a angleset -2 a Fox 36 @130mm burly wheels and tires it was surprisingly cabable as an all a rounder.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy I couldn't agree more with this article! Downsized my travel and pieced together an "over built" Spark last spring ( burly/wide rims 2.5 tires, 40mm stem and wider bars) and it has been the most enjoyable bike I've owned to date, constantly looking for bigger and longer rides as it shreds in all directions.
  • + 1
 I love how the bike industry can take something that people have been doing for years, maybe throw a useless new standard or two in there, slap a catchy name on it and consumers will go bonkers and throw their money at it. It makes me think of intermittent fasting. If you've researched how lose weight lately you'll know what I'm taking about. It's all the rage and apparently revolutionary! It used to be called "don't eat after dinner fatty!". This down country bs is from the past as well. It used to be called "guys that couldn't afford a free ride bike slapping big tires, a short stem, riser bars and a bash guard on their xc bike and riding gnarly shit".
  • + 1
 I think this is pretty hype. I biked the whole colorado trail on a Spesh Enduro, it was rad as hell but one of these bikes would be dope. Seems to be feckin ideal for crazy backcountry trips which are the raddest thing out there at least for me. Now I just need some money.
  • + 1
 Nah got it all wrong. A down-country bike is a pretty slack hard tail , wheels at least 2.35 but never plus. Dropper is a must and beer bottle cap mount on stem cap. It's (here we go again) put together with class and a lot of thought. Usually a thing of beauty. It can be steel or Aluminum but never carb. It's like the craft beer of bikes. Brewed right. Damn thing can burn through xc single track and bomb some steep stuff. This bike is known also as a Tennesse hard tail or Pisgah Pistol. Sorry folks but that's a down-country bike.
  • + 1
 2014 Scott Scale 940, 760mm wide Renthal bar, 35 mm stem, dual Minion DHR’s, and adding a Fox dropper post soon. Utter blast.

Stupidly, especially from an engineering and safety standpoint, my friend and I through his 140mm Fox 34 on for a few hours. That was the most fun I’ve had on this bike in a long time.
  • + 1
 Sorry @mikelevy but Down-Country has already been appropriated for the use of describing a riding genre: Shuttle to the top and still bank some climbing meters on the way down. Ask Dre about this.

Also the OG: Element 970 RSL BC Edition, www.bikes.com/en/bikes/element/2013
  • + 4
 Every single Canadian "high end brand" has been making trail bikes for a while now... Get with the times man.
  • + 1
 STB: Svelte-Trail Bike. or Reverse-Mullets rather than Trail Whippets (since it's party-up front, business out back).

Where would the SC Superlight fall?

I have equal amounts of fun riding my 111 as I do my Bucksaw, but on my 111 I have a 140 Pike that I really appreciate when things get a little hairy.

How would you define FS fatties? Party-rigs? Party Pigs?
  • + 1
 111 with Pikes shit that’s the dream - awesome ride dude
  • + 1
 Always looking for something new,aren't we? Fatbikes,Plus bikes,enduro,e-bikes...every year has to bring the Next Big Thing.
But to me this "trend" is just stupid. Pick a 22lbs race bike,add 3 or 4 lbs of trail bike equipment,just to have a short travel trail bike. I get that many people are waking up from being "overbiked",but doesn't the market offer real trail bikes? Or are all the 120-130mm bikes these days trying to be short-travel enduro more than long-legged XC?
  • + 1
 Back 9n 2013 I purchased a Niner Jet9 RDO frame on clearance. I slapped a Fox 32 140 on the front. 40mm stem and 800mm Wide bars. I railed that thing. Sure the back end was always under-gunned but it was so light it loved to be in the air
  • + 2
 You really dont need 160mm of travel at all for 5 foot drops or even more; its complete over kill.
  • + 1
 Lets talk more about the upsides and downsides of more travel. I’ve always been in this shorter travel camp (with wider bars and shorter stem), using tire selection and suspension tuning to make the bike more all-mountain or more xc depending on what I’m riding. I kind of want to buy a bigger bike just to know what all the fuss is about... but I have yet to find a trail I can’t ride because 100-120 isn’t ‘enough’ ... and I love how this new breed of shorter travel rigs handle (for reference I’m on a Tallboy3, and also a SS Honzo ti)

On the other hand I definitely feel like less travel is limiting top speed in really rocky dh sections (like upper Black Mountain in Pisgah). I suspect a bike like the nomad or process 153 might be more fun on flow trails with bigger doubles etc.

I wonder if rider weight and riding style are big factors for this preference?... any 200+ lb riders loving ‘down country’?
At 150lbs, with a big red volume spacer installed I seldom bottom out my TB3, even on 4-5ft drops to flat (though I do currently stay away from the 7ft+ drops).

Thoughts?

Great article
  • + 1
 I'm 210lb and on a burly 120mm 29HT (I only have one bike atm) which is all I need for the trails in SE UK (rooty, clayey and not a lot of rock).

I have been toying with buying a new FS bike for a few years but it is hard to justify (the expense) because it doesn't add anything extra to the riding experience - in fact it probably makes the trails a little easy. If and when I do get another bike it will probably be a short travel 29FS. Most of the guys I ride with are on short / mid travel 29FS bikes so it probably works with the local terrain.

Maybe this would change if my local trails were different.
  • + 2
 What a "strange" coincidence! The minute three XC-trail capable bikes have been presented to public, an article "defending" the new category appears to media! Strange things....suspicious....
  • + 1
 @mikelevy I shred my 100mm xc race bike 99% as hard as my 150mm trail bike. Honestly I don't even know why I have both, you probably wrote an article that convinced me I needed them. How does one of these fit into my bike system. (ie convince me to buy a Yeti SB100 please)
  • + 1
 And second thought, it's always a balance between weight, travel and handling manners. I got a fuel ex, the first thing, no dropper/50mm stem/810mm bars. Before that change she reminded me of an xc bike sans the twitchyness. I am demoing the. Sniper next week, just gotta decide 100mm or 120mm.
  • + 5
 Please let the next type of bike to be "invented" be 26 inch park bikes.
  • + 1
 This is what cross country bikes should’ve been from the beginning. No sensible person wants to ride something with a 71 degree head angle and a 100mm stem (in a race or otherwise) when we know the advantages of modern geometry. However I think more needs to be done to distinguish these bikes from short travel trail rigs. Yeti’s new bike, for example, weighs the same and sports the same geometry, as their SB 4.5, with probably an indistinguishable difference in climbing ability.
  • + 3
 reminds me of my old 2008 stumpjumper size medium. short bike 26" wheels 120mm travel. really flickable corners nice and handles small jumps and drops on the trail
  • + 1
 @mikelevy Your Element is probably the type of bike that 90% of us should be on. I capable bike that still is razor sharp in twisty single track. How much of a difference do you think the amount of travel makes? Is 120mm the sweetspot? Did it feel undergunned when you ran it with the 100mm SID?
  • + 1
 I get this. I've only just moved to full suspension after 25 years of hardcore trail and downhill riding on ridge and hardtails bikes. I'm currently riding a 120mm bike I've put some old old dirt jump parts on. I love it. I don't feel I need more travel as I'm still riding like a hardtail rider. I pick my lines though rocks and use my legs as shocks. I have rode a few friends 180mm+ bikes a few times but felt like I was riding lazy as an excuse to utilise all the travel. Just look at skills with Phil he chose one of evils shorter travel bikes to keep him on his toes and make riding more fun
  • + 1
 How about the hard-tail category @mikelevy? Currently running a Canfield YelliScreami w/ a 150mm fork, Magic Mary 2.5/Minion DHF 2.4 combo. Fast (up & down!) & rowdy AF!

Previous to that I had an old Dekerf/Marzocchi Z-1 bike set up the same way!
  • + 1
 So I have a process 111, with a converted to 150mm pike, DD rear casing tire, with super short stem and wide bars,,,, and it’s the first bike in the past 10 years that I don’t feel like getting rid of. Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s me getting sick of flipping bikes, or maybe it’s just me finally realizing it’s more about the ride, and this type of bike definitely embodies exactly that!!!
  • + 1
 The element BC edition from last year is a good example of a xc bike coming stock with a "down-country" spec. Hopefully the include one in the 2019 lineup as they took a step in the other direction this year with the element xco. But they did kind of split the difference with the forecaster tire coming stock on the normal models.
  • + 1
 Cross country hardtail= cross country hardtail
Cross country fs= cross country fs
“Down country”= aggressive cross country
Trail= trail
Long travel trail= enduro
Long travel enduro= freeride (debatable)
Downhill= downhill
DJ/slope= dirt jumper
Fatbikes= fatbikes
E-bikes= unwelcome
THIS IS HOW WE’RE GONNA DO THINGS FROM NOW ON, OK?!?
  • + 1
 @mikelevy "The line between getting away with something dumb and getting scorpion'd so hard that your shoes come off"
Funniest line I've ever read on this website, I'm lying here unable to sleep, trying to stifle my out loud laughter so I don't wake my girlfriend.
Great writing, keep it up!
  • + 1
 @mikelevy The yeti from ASRC has been around for years, and it's basically on par with what santa cruz just came out with (blur). Same thing with the 429 SL, but those bikes are still a whole different bread than say a process 111, pivot 429 trail, yeti 4.5 which have a much slacker geo and about 110-115mm rear travel. I'd love a SB100 but is it really XC race capable like the ASRC? My ASRC is sub 23lbs and is a rocket, and a much more capable bike than a scott spark (tried it, stack height is low and doesn't give the GEO it has the opportunity to shine through). The one bike I'm super pumped about is the INTENSE SNIPER.. have you tried it?
  • + 1
 You might be joking @mikelevy , but some marketing hack is gonna take this and run with it.

Next thing you know we're all on mid-travel bikes with balloon tyres and phrases like "climbs like and enduro bike, descends like an enduro bike" and spending stupid amounts of money on things that have steep head-angles and EWS-approved geometry.
  • + 1
 I’ve done this exact thing since I started riding. I didn’t get into Mtb riding till in my 40’s. My first bike was a C-dale HT racer. Kept breaking stuff on it and every time upgraded to heavier duty parts. A friend gave me an old barely used Raven frame that I’ve built the hell out of including a custom made shock and a 140 Lefty Max out front. It’s completly pumped up on Spank spike rims, Hope and i9 hubs, Saint derailleur with oneup cage, Thomson dropper etc. The thing absolutely rips on tight gnarly PA trails. My next move is to slacken the HA by 2 degrees with and offset headset and a 321 steerer tube. I’m just having fun seeing how far I can take this thing.
  • + 1
 I call them "micro downhill" bikes since when enduro bikes were not called that way but "mini downhill" bikes.

The pitfall with these XC based short travel bikes for rowdy riding is that they won't hold up to the abuse. I tend to go the other way around and built an Intense Tazer VP (long TT frame) with a 120 mm fork, dropper post and light-ish parts. Still a bit porky, but if you come by some dirt jumps on a trail ride you can hit them w/o having to worry that you might have to push your broken bike home.
  • + 1
 Pivot Mach 4, anyone hear of it? If 27.5" wheels don't make the cut then the Mach 429SL or 429 trail. My 2015 medium mach 4 with pedals weighs 24.71lbs. 2.35/2.25 hans Damph, dropper, RWS enduro BB bearings, NOX skyline wheels etc make the bike very reliable and capable while still being very good for endurance races and gnarly trail segments (Pacific Northwest).
  • + 1
 thanks for that! I saw the light when I first got the Process 111 5 years ago and found it capable even on our rocky Santa Barbara trails like Tunnel and Saddle Rock. After selling it and going back to a traditional squishy Process 153, I have felt like I have had a hole in my stable of bikes ever since. Can you tell my wife that I need one more bike?
  • + 1
 Yawn. When are consumers going to do their own critical thinking and buy the proper bike for their terrrain, goals, and expectations? Oh yeah, that’s asking too much. Duh. Well, if you do your homework, and pick the bike that’s best for you, good on ya. If you follow marketing trends and the latest fads, and purchase a less than suitable bike in the end, sucks to be you. But, if you ride the wheels off what you got, or get, and have fun doing it, then bang on. “Down Country,” please don’t make this a thing, for the love of god.
  • + 1
 I got a chance to ride another bike that fits this mold with the Intense Sniper Trail... Light, nimble, climbs great, and begs to push harder coming down... Really fun bike. Call them what you want, I call them mountain bikes...
  • + 2
 Pivot 429 Trail. Done. Well, I threw a Lyrik dual air 160/130 on there for good measure... but still. haha! Its MY down-country dream bike. 116mm in the rear for good times up and down the hill, it's all I need!
  • + 3
 I like when people modify their bikes sensibly, but calling it a trend, when it's only natural to get rid of flimsy components? Nah, i dunno...
  • + 1
 an XC bike that isn't nervous, less focused and more of an all rounder is a "trail bike" in my mind.
Where as a Big Bike that's light enough to pedal all day is an "enduro bike"

Both of these two could be used to describe a "proper mountain bike". ie: Never going to win any races XC or DH, but will serve the owner brilliantly across the widest range of terrain, both types allowing big XC days one day, and local DH tracks the next.

Ive always been a fan of Giants, and generally consider their range to be a sliding scale of the same bike: as the travel goes up the bike gets slacker and heavier.

Choose your travel point between 80mm and 200mm in 20mm increments.
  • + 1
 Pivot Mach 4, anyone hear of it? If 27.5" wheels don't make the cut then the Mach 429SL or 429 trail. My 2015 medium mach 4 with pedals weighs 24.71lbs. 2.35/2.25 hans Damph, dropper, RWS enduro BB bearings, NOX skyline wheels etc make the bike very reliable and capable while still being capable for endurance races and gnarly trail segments (Pacific Northwest).
  • + 1
 Short travel trail bike. That's it. It's a trail bike. Not really XC - if you take XC definition as spandex wearing racer. I think trail riding is still defined by riding anything for fun. And that's what these bikes are...design around fun.
  • + 1
 If I could afford to have more than one bike this is something I would interested in. Maybe not the 100mm travel bikes but definitely something like the new Intense Sniper Trail with 120mm front and rear. I can really only think of one section of trails that I ride most locally where a bike like that might be a little under-gunned. But I see two problems with this kind of bike (at least for me). 1. Making trips to rougher and steeper terrain (like Pisgah) make these shorter travel bikes less feasible, While I know you could ride one of these bikes there, I don't think they would be as fun for any rider who prioritizes downhill. 2. Since I haven't been under 200lbs since high school I'm not sure a bike this light would feel as solid or be as reliable for long term ownership. If the geometry of the bike encouraged me to hit things like I would with a longer travel/burlier bike I'm not sure it would hold up. I'm not a bruiser but I'm not the smoothest rider out there either. These bikes are cool and I think the new SB100 is the nicest looking bike in Yeti's lineup right now but unless the buyer lives to far away from any rougher trails to enjoy, it couldn't be their only bike.

Only being able to have one bike means I have to compromise a bit. My aluminum frame '14 Trek Remedy 27.5 seems to be the best middle ground for me. I have it built up pretty burly with a 150mm Fox 36, Flow Ex wheels, Minon DHF and an Aggressor for tires, wide bars and all. There isn't a carbon part on the bike and it surprisingly weighs just a hair over 30lbs. I could probably shave some weight lower the rolling resistance by going to less aggressive tires. With 140mm rear and 150mm front I have never felt the bike to be under-gunned. I run out of skill and ability before the bike does. It is probably a little too much bike for most of my local riding but it also never really feels like I'm pushing too much bike around either. I think for those of us who like to push our bikes hard but also don't frequent bike parks most of us would be best served with today's crop of 130-140mm travel bikes if we can only have one bike (Obviously folks who ride in the steepest and the roughest or flattest and smoothest would be looking elsewhere) but I know that wasn't exactly the point of this article.

TL;DR These bikes seem cool but I don't think they could be most riders only bike. The 130-140mm bikes seem to fit that bill better.
  • + 1
 If you want the Intense just wait until the fall It will be 75% off
  • + 1
 Ah the Franken bike many of us have been putting together for decades is starting to become produced as an out the box rig. The Transition Bandit deserves props in the new fangled category. Still going to be way over engineered for light riders like myself.
  • + 5
 Or 15 years ago it was known as a Blur 4x
  • + 1
 Exactly like the orange segment to me, 110 rear 120 front and sporting suggestive geo, really took a hammering the one I borrowed and will be picking one up once money allows.
  • + 1
 Banshee Spitfire circa 2011. I almost bought one, but the bushings were receiving mixed reviews. I still like a relatively short travel frame with a bit longer fork. Makes less technical trails come alive.
  • + 0
 We can totally relate @mikelevy!

We’ve been referring to this category for over 10 years at EB! Lol

Some people got it, some didn’t. We’ve even got reference to it up on some old photos in the shop!

It’s a great category but prob only makes sense to seasoned riders.

DB@EB
  • + 1
 Pole did this with the Evolink 110 - 110mm travel, 66deg head angle, 77.5deg seat angle, massive reach, tiny stem - two years ago, but have since stopped making it. Maybe now they'll bring it back..
  • + 1
 Did this out of necessity in the mid 90’s. Put a 4” Z3 on my Stumpy m4. Also hit it with a new fangled riser bar, 2.2 “ rubber and xt v-brakes. Then took it to The Dump for some tech!
  • + 3
 Mocks arbitrary classification system. Creates new arbitrary classification.
  • + 1
 These sort of bikes do exist. In the UK we call them trail hardtails. Bikes with 130+ forks on them and for want of a better name enduro geometry. Bikes like the Cotic Soul or BFe depending on your preference.
  • + 1
 So true - let’s just get back to mountain biking - the industry is slowly segregating us - there is a mountain bike apartheid created by media and bike companies who want us to believe we can’t just ride our bikes and have fun unless we are ‘enduro’ or ‘downhill’ or whatever the f!!!
  • + 2
 Devinci Marshall. All mountain specs, burly Devinci frame quality, 110mm travel, boost, plus or 29, well priced. Fun as shit.
  • + 1
 Totally agree. One brute of a bike
  • + 2
 I have been having good fun on a SC Nickel with a short body shock (7.5x2 CCDB) and 27.5 front wheel on a metric fork decreased to 125mm travel its low slack and fun
  • + 3
 What happens if we call all of them just "bikes"? A lot of marketers would lose their jobs haha
  • + 2
 All these articles about shorter travel bikes just keep reinforcing my thoughts on the trek fuel being a great all around bike.
  • + 0
 Mountain Bike Categories: Hardtail, DJ, Long-Travel, Mid-Travel, Short-Travel. Done. Any of these bikes can be used in the other categories, they just won't be as efficient. All of this other jargon requires too much explanation. Just hop on whatever you got and go rip it.
  • + 2
 What about a crossdownhill bike designed for ultimate speed downhill and able to be pedaled to the top again a few times in a day. Would be a great race format too.
  • + 0
 You mean enduro?
  • + 1
 @b-mack: shhhhhh
  • + 1
 Hell yeah - send that idea to the UCI Wink
  • + 1
 @b-mack: so you worked out his sarcasm - good work sir
  • + 4
 Santa Cruz Tallboy has been quietly doing this for years.
  • + 5
 I have been playing with different tires on my TB3- from 2.5Dhf down to Maxxis Forekaster. It’s a super capable bike that strikes a great balance between climbing, descending, and just outright fun. It’s amazing how much just a tire swap changes a bike’s personality and suitability for different terrain.
  • + 1
 @vaedwards: so true. Incredible bike. Bought mine as a 27+ but mostly run it 29. I’ve got a set of Ardent and Crossmark 2 for some summer lovin. Not fitted them yet though... What’s the max size tyre you’ve run at the back?
  • + 2
 Norco revolver FS with 120mm travel fork. This was a common comment in the bike reviews back in 2016 to give you a good play bike.
  • + 3
 Am I the only person who wants to see a bike with XC travel (100mm) but enduro angles (66° HTA)?
  • + 1
 No. That would be dope. But on the other hand, I have never heard anyone say less travel for the same weight is just as goid
  • + 3
 23 lb. hard tails with long-travel forks are where it's at. Skills required.
  • + 4
 Guess the term enduro was getting old lol
  • + 4
 So it's a trail bike. Awwww
  • + 2
 Great bikes, especially if your local trails are not ultra gnar. Fast all around and easy to get airtime on small trail features
  • + 1
 I love these types of bikes. Im on a Spec Camber Evo with upgraded longer forks, Kings on carbon rims, 4 pot Zees, a 50mm stem, wide Renthals, 1 by set up with a guide.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy : when are yall going to do an article on the Jamis/Chris Currie 3VO design?

reviews.mtbr.com/jamis-bikes-releases-new-3vo-suspension-platform
  • + 2
 I hope you are right about this so Kona can have an excuse to bring back the 111.
  • + 2
 It’s very easy to still get one
  • + 1
 T R A N S I T I O N S M U G G L E R
  • + 1
 @kelownakona: i know, probably going to get a clearout freshie to replace mine!
  • + 1
 @barnz0rz: yup - check the Kona online store close out options on 111 frame only
  • + 1
 @nfontanella: awesome bike
  • + 3
 its funny how the Blur, sb100 and intense sniper all came out this year
  • + 2
 I have a banshee phantom with 29x3 minions and ita beast despite its 105 of travel.
  • + 2
 I've been eyeing up a Top Fuel with Wide bars and dropper for this very purpose. I'm into it.
  • + 1
 Cool idea, but must include Super Boost in the formula. Seriously, I still miss my 120 x 120 Fuel EX from 2016. I'd buy it again, new, esp with that fancy new Fox SC 120.
  • + 4
 Intense Sniper?
  • + 2
 Short travel rippers are awesome, especially if you already have a nice hardtail and a big crusher.
  • + 1
 Yeti asr5 any one? And of course other bikes and brands.

This type of bike has around for years let’s not try and give it a flash new name please.
  • + 3
 I've been riding 25 years my crumbling spine needs all the cush I can get
  • + 2
 ...or you could just get a Giant Reign and have the best of both worlds - mostly.
  • + 2
 Banshee Phantom, I am throwing that into the mix also. I had one and am now a big wheel short (ish) travel convert.
  • + 2
 my specialized enduro sx w/dropper post, SID xc fork is the most fun bike ive ever ridden
  • + 2
 so i should keep my yeti ASR 5C with 150mm float 32 in front and moerately wide litebike wheels... good to know.
  • + 1
 they can call you wathever they want, I call you: funny, shameless and inspirational ( whoa).
And i still ride my 2010 Xprezo super D with 26`` wheels...
  • + 4
 So...a trail bike?
  • + 1
 To me, I always made a distinction between XC and Marathon bikes. XC is steep and sprint distance, Marathon was fast over the long and rugged haul.
  • + 2
 I'm only buying a down country bike if it has 128.99mm of travel on it. #Standards
  • + 3
 Xduro machine will be next. Otherwise known as Trail/AM category.
  • + 3
 Ahh, yes, a Trail Bike. #youhavetoomuchtime
  • + 1
 This is hilarious! I must have inhaled some funny gas and read an article about yet a new type of bike we must have hahahahahaha
  • + 2
 Another example would be the million options of Sparks haha They pretty much are a hybrid for XC/Aggressive Trail riding.
  • - 1
 I have a hard time believing that we need another category besides XC, trail, all-mountain, and Enduro. Frankly, I’m not even sure we need AM and Trail. But hey, we gotta convince people they need an XC bike AND one of these, in addition to their other 3 pedal bikes, right? Heaven forbid we use descriptions like “an XC bike that descends well” like we always have.
  • + 3
 Mike, can you get a "Down-Country" tattoo, please.
  • + 2
 One of the originals. The banshee spitfire.
  • + 0
 This category exists already it's called a mountain bike. Another shitty article trying to force "journalism" in an industry with nothing meaningful to discuss apparently.
  • + 2
 Mountain bikes are for mountain biking.
  • + 1
 "a downhill bike with a full-length seat tube that some goober has bolted a 100mm stem onto"
That sounds interesting!
  • + 2
 KONA Hei Hei 29er, so good in this category.
  • + 2
 The Intense snipper sounds like an obvious illustration!
  • + 1
 Has anyone heard a model called as Trance from a small brand called as Giant ?!? Smile
  • + 2
 Contentment is priceless...
  • + 2
 #DOWNCOUNTRY #ENDURO #BROWNPOWBRAH
  • + 1
 Actually just love this direction for a 2nd Bike. Swipe the Credit Card and get me DownCountry ASAP.
  • + 2
 Is that like XCing with Ebikes on Lycra? or Roadie bikes with FATIRES?
  • + 0
 I guess this would be perfect for training, but i don't think pro's gonna use it to race. I have the feeling might not be fast enough, but i might be wrong.
  • + 1
 "the 111's frame was about as cross-country as an e-bike is a real mountain bike". Loved this one!
  • + 3
 Pffft, Alt country FTW!
  • + 2
 Geometry>suspension travel
24/7
  • + 1
 I'd say my 160 forked 26" steel hardtail is more downcountry than anything mentioned here...
  • + 1
 What are the effects of global warming producing seat posts that long? Is it even ethical?
  • + 1
 Giant did this in 2015 - Giant Anthem SX 100m rear travel, 68.5 degree head angle :O

I am all on board with Levy
  • + 1
 So I read some of that article until I realized that they are talking about trail bikes...
  • + 1
 Remember the 2009? Specialized Epic EVO? That bike was living in 2018 (besides the 26" wheels thing)...
  • + 3
 Camber
  • + 4
 Great bike, I’m riding a 2017 Pro Carbon, efficient climber and can handle itself well.
  • + 2
 still riding a 2012 camber comp 26 til next week, i wouldnt really say im thrilled to be on it the last year, it was what i could afford from craigslist at the time, but its held up with some upgrades, and its a bike i can ride up efficiently, and shred down on our not very rocky, fast flowy trail network. camber is totes a down country bike, in any incarnation. not a bad bike at all
  • + 3
 Jupp. Thats what he is talking about this guy: Mike Levy. We should tell him.
  • + 3
 @MagnePange: lets do it, i dont think he understands the long standing prevalence of this concept in areas with less intense, fast flowy terrain... beefing up xc bikes has always been a thing where i live, because some of the best descents, and loops are only accessed by pedaling up, and the speeds of the trails going down warrants stronger componentry
  • + 2
 I think a carbon Knolly Fugitive would fit the bill nicely.
  • + 1
 Definitely. Doesn't even to be carbon. The soon-to-be-released fugitive seems to fit squarely in the middle of this category. I am waiting for Knolly's long travel 29er though. No D.C. bike for me!
  • + 0
 The great thing about having a bike you really like (Enduro with 165 mm of travel) is that you don’t really care what the trends are.
  • + 1
 So dual slalom bikes of 2009 with longer reach and bigger wheels are a new category?
  • + 1
 fun kuntry is just another term the industry will use to jack up the prices I m sure.
  • + 2
 So.......... a trail bike..........?
  • + 2
 Why not upduro, or climbdh instead.
  • + 1
 here, back in the days, we use to call it "aggressive xc"
  • + 2
 So like... it's a bike.
  • + 1
 The intense spider has been doing this for a few years
  • + 1
 If it wasn't before, MTB is now officially dumber than the car industry.
  • + 2
 Down with down-country.
  • + 2
 up the Enduro
  • + 1
 so sick of all this industry / bike journo marketing shyte.
  • + 1
 Trail bikes. We call these trail bikes. Nice try Mike.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy no mention of the Intense sniper?
  • + 1
 I had a Titus Rockstar 29er with a 120mm fork! It was a fun bike!
  • + 0
 No mention of plus sized wheel bikes? They're the best for ups and downs as GMBN said. /s
  • + 2
 Canfield.
  • + 1
 Two words Intense Sniper.
  • + 1
 Guess I'll be dusting off my 2012 Stumpjumper
  • + 1
 mikelevy: Is this not just a full sus slopestyle bike with a dropper post?
  • + 1
 Label: Fun Bike
Change out the wheels, changes the category.
  • + 1
 No sag...Float like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee.
  • + 2
 Hey Kona, where's 111?
  • + 1
 Anyone know what the stand being used to hold up the sb100 is?
  • + 1
 They used to be called Scorpion, but now they are sold by Feedback Sport.
  • + 1
 Get rid of that picture. I’m sick of looking at it as I screw through PB
  • + 1
 Short travel, light bikes with really capabal geometry is really fun
  • + 1
 I would use one where I live.
  • + 1
 All these comments and not one orange 4 mentioned?
  • + 1
 The important difference here is with win/win/win, we all win.
  • + 1
 Still weird to me they cancelled the process 111
  • + 1
 Whyte t-130
  • + 1
 Triple x c
  • - 2
 Let me guess. These down country bikes are absolutely, certainly, nothing else will do be the new 'half-boost 145a-beta' standard won't they.
  • + 1
 Cannondale Rush?
  • + 1
 I have waiting for this.
  • + 1
 Transition Scout.
  • + 1
 Cross-Bro
  • + 1
 Ep-Duro vs Down-Country.
  • + 1
 “Clever people”
  • + 1
 Do you even DC brah??
  • + 0
 The Transition Sniper sums this article up perfectly.
  • + 1
 XC, Trail, Freeride, DH.
  • + 0
 Up with Up-country.
  • - 1
 Serious question.. Is lycra required to participate in this fad?
  • + 5
 This ‘fad’ is basically 80% of what people do on mountain bikes 80% of the time.
They just think they need a better bike to do. Mountain biking is becoming the ultimate in consumer bullshit.
  • - 2
 @kelownakona: not as much as other things, but yeah. A really good mtn biker could take a dh bike and use in xc if needed. This though, is something I would buy if I was looking for a new bike.
  • - 1
 Mike Kazimer is woke AF.
  • - 1
 Mike Levy is work AF
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