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Old 03-15-10, 06:12 PM   #1
anm89
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Bikes direct bike for serious downhill

I'm looking to get into downhill on a budget. I'll preface this by saying that I've only ridden downhill once, but I'm a life long bike rider and XtREmE SPoRtS participator so I picked it up relatively quickly and was hitting jumps and drops and whatnot.

My question's are

1) How can I tell if a bike is a downhill specific bike
2) At what level do the bikes direct bikes become acceptable for serious abusive downhill riding
3) Are all the shimano component levels reliable enough for downhill riding. Would an LX bike be ok or would it not be able to take the abuse in the longterm?

Any other bits of advice are welcome.
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Old 03-15-10, 06:20 PM   #2
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one more thing is that it is absolutely irrelevant to me if the bike is "light weight" or "fast". I have no intention of competing. Just looking for reliability and usability on downhill trails
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Old 03-15-10, 06:35 PM   #3
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None of the bikesdirect bikes are designed for downhill use, their xc bikes.

It's not a cheap section to get into.
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Old 03-15-10, 08:45 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by anm89 View Post
1) How can I tell if a bike is a downhill specific bike
2) At what level do the bikes direct bikes become acceptable for serious abusive downhill riding
3) Are all the shimano component levels reliable enough for downhill riding. Would an LX bike be ok or would it not be able to take the abuse in the longterm?

1) Short answer: if the manufacturer classifies it as such. Loosely speaking you're looking for a single front chainring and 7" or more of front and rear suspension travel via dual crown fork and coil shock.
2) none
3) LX shifting components are suitable for beginner dh use IMO. I would be leery of the longevity of LX cranks or brakes for more than occasional outings though. A lot depends on the nature of your trails and your size/riding style.

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Any other bits of advice are welcome.
There are certain bikes classified as "all-mountain" that, with thoughtful setup, are capable of dh service, e.g. banshee rune or specialized sx trail. These are nice because they're somewhat trail capable as well. If you're looking for something that will endure heavy pounding on a regular basis, though, a dedicated dh (or freeride) bike is the only way to go.

DH is fun! Hope you enjoy it. Do you have a local lift/shuttle serviced riding area? Many mountains have rental bikes available which is a handy way to sample the goods before you buy.

Last edited by cryptid01; 03-15-10 at 08:48 PM.
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Old 03-15-10, 10:26 PM   #5
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DH is a rough sport - rough on the body, rough on the pocket book. However - it is incredibly awesome. If you do get into it - find a good LBS, and buy your bike there, because you will go though parts - and use warranties. And, no matter what the other guys are doing - wear a bunch of pads. I have hit hard - with and without pads - I always wear my pads now.
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Old 03-15-10, 11:03 PM   #6
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Many mountains have rental bikes available which is a handy way to sample the goods before you buy.
It's also not a bad place for a beginner to pick up a good deal on their first bike - - at the end of the lift season on the rental returns. Just keep in mind that many of those resort bikes have a season of very hard use on them. Still, depending on the resort there are often some good deals to be had.
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Old 03-16-10, 10:37 AM   #7
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I don't ride downhill, so you can probably disregard my opinion, however I felt compelled to share it. There are certain hobbies and activities that I feel you should consider carefully when working with a budget. For example, I wouldn't want to learn to skydive on a budget. I wouldn't build an airplane on a budget. I wouldn't buy the cheapest tank for scuba diving that I could find. Downhill is one of those hobbies. Sure, deals can be found. But make sure you seek them out. Don't jump at the cheapest thing labeled a "downhill bike" that you find without doing your due diligence.
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Old 03-16-10, 11:07 AM   #8
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I don't ride downhill, so you can probably disregard my opinion, however I felt compelled to share it. There are certain hobbies and activities that I feel you should consider carefully when working with a budget. For example, I wouldn't want to learn to skydive on a budget. I wouldn't build an airplane on a budget. I wouldn't buy the cheapest tank for scuba diving that I could find. Downhill is one of those hobbies. Sure, deals can be found. But make sure you seek them out. Don't jump at the cheapest thing labeled a "downhill bike" that you find without doing your due diligence.
I don't recognize you when you write truthfully.
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Old 03-16-10, 11:40 AM   #9
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^^ I think his GF got on the computer and posted that. Can't be our junkyard.
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Old 03-16-10, 02:24 PM   #10
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What was I thinking? Yeah, you guys are right. Most downhillers are so toked up that a little slam into the ground doesn't hurt. I suggest getting a WalMart bike so that you can afford more weed.

P.S. The helmet industry has convinced cyclists that helmets provide protection, when they are in fact a hinderance. You put a piece of styrofoam on your head, you sweat more, become dehydrated and are more apt to make life threatening mistakes. Don't give them your money because the lie will only feed upon itself.
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Old 03-16-10, 03:06 PM   #11
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^^
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Old 03-16-10, 05:14 PM   #12
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I pretty much figured wal mart would be fine...

so what would you classify these bikes? All mountain? Would would be the intended use for something like the xtr or xt bikes with 5 inches of travel?
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Old 03-16-10, 05:32 PM   #13
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Trail riding.

You seem to still have questions even after you've gotten solid answers. So I ask: Are you just wanting to buy a BikesDirect bike or do you truly want a downhill bike?
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Old 03-16-10, 07:52 PM   #14
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Keep in mind that cryptid01 isn't suggesting that the number of gears or the suspension travel is THE defining factor, just that modern downhill bikes are likely to have those features. I raced downhill before anybody even offered more than 4" on a front shock. The most important part for you is that the bike is beefy enough to not snap after hours and hours of abuse (I like junkyard's budget skydiving example). Light weight is generally not a consideration in downhill bikes. As cryptid01 said, bikes designated as "downhill", "freeride", or "all mountain" bikes are generally strong enough to handle the abuse. How well they ride and handle is another story.

Also, consider where you plan to ride. Some places restrict the use of "downhill specific" bikes, even in downhill races, apparently for "ecological" reasons. Here's an excerpt from Snow Summit's rules in Big Bear, CA.
Quote:
1. Bikes must be less than 35 pounds.
2. Designated tire size must be less than 2.5.
3. Front shock must have less than 6 inches of travel.
4. Bikes must have three chain rings unless they are single speed.
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Old 03-16-10, 10:39 PM   #15
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Big Bear sucks. I know they blame it on the Forest Service but they could have figured it out.
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Old 03-17-10, 01:07 AM   #16
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Yeah, I would like to buy from bikes direct but I'm not going too if it's not whats right for me.

That being said, I didn't realize how many divisions mountain bikes there are... I though it was pretty much XC or DH, I didn't realize there are in betweens. I'm trying to figure out exactly what's gonna work for my intended uses. On top of that, I realized that there's no really hardcore riding in my area and I'm sure it will be a while before I'm doing any huge drops or anything like that.

Again I'm not gonna buy a cheap bikes if its not gonna work for me, but I just want to understand exactly what makes a bike good for a given application
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