Although I have tried downhill mountain biking, at my age I stick to cross country biking. I have no problem leaving the downhill style to the adrenaline junkies. You know how the trees form a blur when you look out your car window on the highway? Well, this is what it looks like while you are hurling down the side of a mountain on two wheels. Oh, and don’t forget, you need to navigate tight bends, swerve around unexpected obstacles, and be prepared to launch off a steep drop that could have you soaring as far as 60 feet. If this has your heart racing and you suddenly have the itch to ride, then downhill mountain biking is for you.
When Did the Sport Begin?
On October 21, 1976, in Fairfax, California, the first downhill race took place on what is now called Repack Road. Ten riders descended the treacherous 1,300-foot path on bikes that were called “klunkers”. By 1979, two previous competitors, Gary Fisher and Charlie Kelly had founded a company manufacturing bikes for this specific type of ride.
Where to Bike?
Many ski resorts get converted into downhill mountain biking venues in the summer. Fernie Alpine Resort and Whistle Mountain Bike Park is a couple of examples. Bikers ride trams, chairlifts, or gondolas to their starting point, so they don’t have to exert all their energy pushing their bike uphill. Some places use motorized vehicles to shuttle riders.
If you have ever pedaled a cross-country bike uphill, you know how hard it is. Well, downhill mountain bikes are a lot heavier, so it is at least twice as hard getting to the top. Check out the picture from our bicycle trip to Slovenia. Here we are climbing Mt. Petze; however we didn’t participate in REAL downhill mountain biking there.
Recommended Downhill Mountain Bikes
You definitely do not want to set out on your first descent without a really good downhill mountain bike. These are the sturdiest of all mountain bikes to ensure they hold their composure when faced with steep descents and hard landings.
These bikes generally weigh approximately 40 pounds. They are designed to welcome the unpredictable challenges of the trail. Mountain bike shocks and bicycle forks are a couple features that distinguish these bikes from the rest.
The first time I rode a Norco downhill bike that belonged to a friend I was surprised and a little taken back by the size and weight. At the time, I was riding a Rocky Mountain cross-country bike, which was incredibly light and nimble, compared to the Norco. However, I quickly realized that the bike’s weight and advanced suspension literally floated me over the boulder-strewn and root-tangled trail. Had I tackled those trails on my own bike, that tricky terrain would have sent me crashing.
One of the most important bits of information to keep in mind is that the selection of mountain bikes is very diverse. If downhill mountain biking is in your future it is crucial that you choose a bike that can handle this sport. More information about downhill mountain bikes can be learned here.
Downhill Mountain Biking Armor
A helmet is generally the only piece of gear worn by a large number of cyclists. However, when it comes to downhill mountain biking, you will need to wear a lot more than just the best bicycle helmet. To make sure you reach the bottom of the hill in one piece, you will need padded gloves and torso, shoulder, and wrist armors. Protective gear is an investment. Some facilities offer rental equipment, which is great when you are getting started. However, you will want to buy your own gear eventually.
Full Face Helmet – The Bell Transfer 9 Helmet is a prime example of a helmet you should be wearing. It will provide protection to your entire head. When choosing a helmet you need to make sure your field of vision isn’t blocked, and that it isn’t too loose or too tight.
Torso Armor – This is a vital piece of equipment. It helps prevent broken bones and scratches, and also protects your sternum should you suffer a hard fall.
Full Finger Bicycling Gloves – You definitely do not want your hand slipping from the steering wheel at high speeds. These gloves will help you control your grip.
Wear Downhill Bike Riding Shoes – To tightly grip the bicycle pedals, you will need a pair of these riding shoes.
You want to avoid kick stands, water bottle holders, and other accessories that can get caught on a root or branch. One downhill biking accessory you definitely want it a small cycling backpack. You will be able to haul your patch kit, tire pump, and outdoor first aid kit in this.
Downhill Mountain Biking Armor on eBay
Is this Sport for You?
Downhill mountain biking is not for everyone, but it is definitely thrilling. It is a good idea to borrow or rent the gear the first couple times to make sure you actually like the sport. Plus, if you rent equipment it gives you the chance to try a few different products to determine what you are comfortable with.
You will not find a more exhilarating rush than flying down the trails and launching over steeps. Downhill mountain biking will give you some of the most memorable rides of your life, but you don't want to even try it without the right downhill mountain bike and cycling accessories.