It’s not all about the quantity: Equally
important as the amount of travel a
bike has is the geometry of the bike.
This is prevalent across the spectrum
of riding genres. It’s not purely the
lack of travel that makes cross-country
bikes feel less comfortable on DH trails
than purpose-built gravity machines.
It’s the fact that XC bikes have steeper
and tighter geometry, which makes
these racehorses feel skittish on fast
downhills, but also gives them the
superb pedaling ability that they’re
known for on climbs.
features result in a bike that feels long and
low but allows riders to get over the back
of the bike for tackling all types of trails,
especially steep ones. This geometry gives
the bike a stable and planted feel that
increases confidence on technical trails.
While these bikes won’t win any XC races
due to their heavier weight and less-peppy
pedaling nature, if we could only own one
type of bike, we would make it one from
the all-mountain category.
Out of all the riding disciplines, perhaps the one that most requires the right
steed for the job is downhill (DH). The
consequences of trying to ride DH on a
bike that isn’t suited for steep terrain can
be dangerous. These bikes are quite a bit
heavier feeling, much slacker and a whole
lot plusher than the other types of bikes.
As a result, DH bikes pedal poorly but allow
riders to take on trails that would otherwise
not be possible. The surplus of suspension
makes these bikes very forgiving, which
Extravagant rides: Trail and
all-mountain bikes can take riders
to some truly magnificent areas.
Although these machines don’t kill it
on climbs like cross-country bikes,
the efficient platforms of these bikes
make for awesome adventures by
giving riders the best of both worlds.
can really save you when you’re on a trail a
little over your pay grade. The head angle
on DH sleds hovers around the 63-degree
mark, which makes the bike handle poorly
at slow speeds; but, as the mountain points
downward and the pace picks up, the head
angle creates a stable and confidence-inspiring ride.
When it comes to finding the right bike,
it’s all about which characteristics bring out
the most fun for the type of riding you do.
It’s not always about suspension numbers.
Although the amount of travel plays a significant role in defining a type of bike, there
is much more to it. With the number of
offerings these days, we can choose bikes
that straddle the thresholds between riding
disciplines. By knowing the type of riding a
bike is designed for, what features make up
how the bike handles and what type of riding you want to do, it’s possible to choose
a bike that fits your exact preferences, even
if you land in between riding categories. ❏