Downhill mountain biking is the freeride snowboarding or skying’s summer sport equal. In fact, many ski resorts, like the home of the 2010 Winter Olympics Whistler, BC Canada, offer mountain biking on their trails during the summer.
Tip: Shock absorption is very important for downhill bikes
Downhill biking is an inherently high-impact activity.
If your bike doesn't offer good shock absorption, your body is going to experience a nasty jolt each time you tackle a drop-off and in the long term, this may lead to joint or spinal injury. Make sure that your downhill bike is well-padded and of the full-suspension variety.
Downhill mountain biking is an adrenaline driving activity that requires sturdy high quality cycling equipment and safety gear, as well as a lot of guts.
If you're thinking about getting into to this high octane sport, know that you will spend a little more on your downhill mountain bikes, usually starting at around $2500 for new bicycles or $1000 for used bicycles, though you may find better deals if you're a good shopper.
Downhill bikes are dual or full suspension bikes that are actually over-finished to make them sturdy and reliable on steep, rocky terrain and can also be used on jumps, drops, and for tackling things like fallen logs on trails. They remind us of a dirt bike without a motor.
What You'll Need in a Good Downhill Bikes
Unlike commuter bikes or comfort bikes where you'll usually get by fine on a more economical model, your downhill mountain bicycle needs to be in top condition, well maintained and have quality parts.
- Frame - Downhill bicycle frames should be made out of a strong, reliable material such as steel, aluminum, or even titanium.
- Weight - Downhill mountain bikes are heavier than your average mountain bike, usually weighing around 40 lbs or so.
- Suspension - Downhill mountain bikes feature both front and back suspension with 7 to 10 inches of travel (shock absorption).
- Tires - Look for wide, gripping tires (up to 3 inches wide).
- Brakes - For best performance, these bikes come with disc brakes.
- Gears - Downhill mountain bikes have fewer bicycle gears than some regular mountain bikes.
- Saddle - As you won't be using the saddle as much as you would riding a bike normally, choose something narrower that is easy to lean back over.
- Pedals - Your bicycle pedals should grip your shoes well. You definitely don't want to risk slipping while riding a berm or landing a jump.
Before Buying Your Downhill Mountain Bike
Always test your downhill bike out before buying it secondhand. As these bikes are ridden hard and put through a lot you want to make sure you're not buying something that has been trashed and "jimmy rigged" back together. Make sure both front and back brakes work perfectly, as well as the gears. Things like a bicycle chain or brake pads can be replaced easily enough but once you get into derailleur, gear systems, frames and even a bicycle crank you'll be spending more than you bargained for.
We can never stress enough how important it is to have a good working bike for this sport. The last thing you want to be doing when you're in the middle of the woods somewhere and you're stuck pushing and pulling a heavy bike down to the base while you're friends are cruising by.
Downhill Mountain bikes Makers
Here is a list of our recommended downhill mountain bike manufacturers: