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Designed with the sole intention of good times and big tricks, dirt jump bikes are an essential part of every mountain biker's arsenal. Usually hardtails made from aluminum or steel, a dirt jump frame is the incarnation of minimalist beauty. Short seat tubes, low standover heights, short chainstays and steep head angles make them the most maneuverable member of the mountain bike family. A relatively affordable way to improve bike handling skills and put the style back in your riding, dirt jump frames are well worth the money.
The two main types of dirt jump frames are hardtails and suspension frames. True dirt jumpers will choose a hardtail frame ten times out of ten. If the majority of your riding takes place at the local jumps or skatepark, then a hardtail is probably the way to go. Riders who occasionally venture onto slopestyle courses or dual slalom/4X racing may want to look into dual suspension designs.
The most common way to size a dirt jump bike is the horizontal distance between the center of the head tube and the center of the seat tube. This measure is called 'effective top tube length' and sometimes 'horizontal top tube length'. The taller you are, the longer the top tube you'll want. In general, riders more than 5'11" tall ride large dirt jump frames.
Most manufacturers provide suggested sizing charts, and because models vary so much between categories, we recommend searching for the chart specific to the bike you're interested in. It's important to note that everyone has different riding preferences, so it's best to test out a variety of sizes before making a final decision.General Dirt Jump MTB Size Chart
|Bike Size||Small||Medium||Large||Extra Large|
|Rider Height||< 5'8"||5'7"-6'||5'11"-6'4"||> 6'3"|
The overall feel of a bike is largely dependent on what material(s) the frame is made of, so this is an important consideration.
Aluminum - Aluminum is light, stiff, and affordable, making it the most commonly used frame material. Because it is so stiff, aluminum bikes are characterized by a slightly rougher ride than those made from chromoly or titanium.
Chromoly Steel - Chromoly (a steel alloy) is lighter than high-tensile steel, strong, responsive, and offers a relatively supple ride. However, it is heaver than aluminum, carbon, and titanium.
Shopping for a new dirt jump frame is like shopping for a new pair of running shoes - most of the available products offer similar performance, but it is the combination of fit and appearance that are the deciding factors. That being said, there are some technical differences to look into, such as frame material, geometry, dropouts and suspension that will affect how a frame performs and how much it costs. Riders looking to run a single speed drivetrain will want to choose a model with horizontal dropouts. Most importantly, look for a dirt jumping frame that suits your fancy and fits your body size.
Dirt jump frames range in price from $275 to $2500.
In the $275-$650 range, frames are available in steel, chromoly and aluminum with horizontal or vertical dropouts. Models in this range are a great choice for riders looking to expand their stable of bikes as well as increase their bike handling skills without having to break the bank.
Moving up to the$700-$1200 range, aluminum and chromoly frames begin to incorporate more sophisticated production techniques and more refined geometries, all in a lighter package.
Finally, the $1200-$2500 range of dirt jump frames offers dual suspension designs ready to attack slopestyle courses or dirt jumps with relative ease. These bikes are available in either aluminum or chromoly and generally use air sprung shocks.
Before buying, be sure to do your research and read product reviews. Reviews are a great way to find out specifics about a particular model, user impressions, and things to watch out for. After you've purchased a product and had enough time to thoroughly test it, we encourage you to leave a review for other people to see when they are researching bikes and parts on the web.
We hope you've found this information to be helpful. If you have a question that isn't answered in this guide, our mountain bike forums are a great place to get advice from knowledgeable riders. Your local bike shop is also a great resource.
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