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"The Death of Downhill"

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12/7/2011 1:15 PM

Would love to hear what you guys think about the points raised in this article:


12/21/2011 7:29 PM

Seems like the author has a pretty negative outlook on the sport. To me, it seems like the downhill segment has become more popular in the last few years. Maybe not the competitive side of the sport, but freeride/dh videos seem to be popping up with more frequency. Plus, I think the recent success of Aaron Gwin has brought attention of the sport to a new group of riders in America.

I think the biggest things holding the sport back are geography and the initial cost of getting started. There just aren't as many opportunities to ride downhill as say, cross-country, in most parts of the country. There are XC trails everywhere so most people are going to ride those more frequently and buy bikes that excel at that type of riding. I live in Ohio and we have about 3-4 DH runs in the whole state. It doesn't make it very convenient to get in some downhill riding. Combine the fact that you have to travel to ride, with the fact that downhill bike prices start around $3K and you have to be pretty committed to the sport to get into it.

I would love the sport to become more accessible but I'm not really sure what it will take to make that happen. Would love to see it happen though


12/22/2011 9:04 AM

Downhill skiing seems to be doing okay.


MRP - VP of Business Dev.

12/22/2011 3:15 PM

That seemed a little harsh. I agree with some or most of it but I really think mountain biking in GENERAL is taking a hit in this economy and its not fair to lump it all on the DHers. Granted, I haven't bought an XC bike in a while but from some of the prices I've seen online; most of them are just as much as a new entry level DH bike.

I will admit that for a while there DH bikes were very exclusive, hard to find (or test ride) and cost a fortune to keep in one piece whereas trail bikes were a fraction of the price, versatile and pretty easy to maintain. These days a trail bike can cost as much or even more than its DH equivalent. A Specialized enduro evo costs pretty darn close to a Demo 8 these days. The cost to entry is still pretty high but large bike companies are aware and now we are starting seeing noticeable changes to the price structure and durability of DH bikes. You also now have the option to buy used bikes in some shops or bike parks when they sell all of their stock at the end of the year to save a ton of money and still get a descent bike.

On the plus side though (something that this article does NOT cover), DH does seem to start to be coming into its own much like the sport of motocross. Standard sizes and geometry are now starting to become industry wide ex: 83mm bottom bracket, 150mm rear ends, 1.5 head tubes, 64 degree head angle, low bb/center of gravity and overall lighter weight. Whereas the all mtn/XC side of the sport seems to be in chaos; different chainring/front d set ups, adjustable seatposts/suspension, new tire treads and compounds and even different wheel sizes, when will it end?? DH forever is what I say


12/22/2011 10:37 PM

Completely agree with the 'lecherous cycle' mentioned in the first few paragraphs but so what......every sport with a professional athlete roster is like that.

But then I got to this.

"The western coast of British Columbia is the only place breeding talent and content while the same 20 names pop up in web, film and picture content while tiers of tryhards on a global level fight for a slice of the pie that just isn’t there. "

And realized pretty quickly that this person who won't list their name on their editorial is

1. A delusional canadian who honestly has no idea what goes on in the rest of the world, especially europe, much less just down the road in aptos

2. Is some richie schley worshipping kansas local who thinks everything in life went downhill with the demise of the ladder bridge and still holds on to 'freerding' as the hot new thing

3. someone with a hole in their head about the size of 3 ongoing international race series who fails to realize that this is happening because of a percieved interest.

Very north america-centric (they're obviously canadian), the author doesn't even touch on the one thing downhill mountain biking is finally catching up to compared to moto, skateboarding, and skiing/snowboarding: INFRASTRUCTURE. Snow sports are huge because ski areas are within reach to most people.....not next door always but within reach. Skateboarding is accessible anywhere there's concrete. Downhilling is just now starting to see regularly available venues where people can go try this stuff out themselves. We've never really had that before outside of one off events and trespassing. The more that grows, the more participants get interested in the upper tier. There are more dh bikes across the planet now than ever before. Just because other bikes are seeing an increase in sales that is greater doesn't mean there's not growth.

Besides.......who looks to canada for dh racing insight? (I'm gonna get a kokanee tossed at my head for that but whatever)


12/24/2011 11:52 AM

"The western coast of British Columbia is the only place breeding talent and content while the same 20 names pop up in web, film and picture content while tiers of tryhards on a global level fight for a slice of the pie that just isn’t there. "

Aaron Gwin is from Temecula California
Danny Hart, Gee Atherton are from Great Brittan

3 of the top riders in the world, not from B.C.


1/12/2012 2:26 AM
Edited Date/Time: 1/12/2012 9:58 AM

kidwoo wrote:

Completely agree with the 'lecherous cycle' mentioned in the first few paragraphs but so what......every sport with a ...more

"A delusional canadian" is there another kind?

Europe is florish i can see. Sweden get more bikers everyday, isuppose its not only Sweden, right. GreatBrit also.


3/18/2012 5:08 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:21 AM

"The World Cup circuit, the stalwart and golden boy series of the sport has yet to acquire a television contract and just went through a loss of the only good thing happening to it, a media contract with which moved to supporting another series. The beacon of light shines bright, with nobody to watch."

With nobody to watch?! Yes because nobody knows what RedBull TV is.

This guy deserves to get hit with a downhill bike.


3/20/2012 2:49 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:21 AM

The author is incorrect about the statement regarding western Canada being the only area with emergent talent. The statistics he uses also create false representation. There are millions more cyclist than downhillers - There are a thousand more rope climbers to every free-solo'er, There are thousands of skiers to every slopestyle skier. Those stats don't prove anything other than the fact that downhill is a unique version of out favorite sport, and if it downhill wasn't unique then those numbers would be irrelevant. The sport we all love is an exaggeration of the original intent of a bicycle. This is GOOD. We all love it and it can create a community out of nothing. The author is clearly mistaken about several things in his story. i.e." longer just a gorilla on a bike" - Sure there were days when hockey armor was worn and pounds of equipment made it so you could barrel down the hill faster. Times have changed, riders are getting better and better and choosing the equipment that best fits our happy medium. His innacurate social construction of Downhill mountain bikers misses the point, and only reinserts common stereotypes revolving our sport. No doubt we can perpetuate stereotypes belonging to the other facets of our sport but this of course would be counterproductive. None the less - Downhill is seeing greater heights than it ever has before in my opinion.

P.S. if you have nothing to say other than slandering someone else's country, shut your mouth instead of making yourself look like a fool.


3/25/2012 7:35 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:21 AM

dhmtb4life wrote:

"The World Cup circuit, the stalwart and golden boy series of the sport has yet to acquire a television contract and just went ...more

"This guy deserves to get hit with a downhill bike"

Haaaa Haaaaa! That cracked me up.



Transition TR450
Transition Bank
Santa Cruz Blur

4/3/2012 8:33 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:21 AM

The biggest problem I see with the state of downhill is travel expense. There are definitely excellent riders all over both coasts and the mountian states of the US, so I dont think that BC is the only place developing riders.

I live in Wisconsin; with the demise of the Jolly Roger Downhill Series due to poor attendance, I am left with two downhill races and one Super-D within about a 10-hour radius this season. Maybe Boyne Mountain will put up a race or two, but they are still 10 or so hours away.

When I was in college (Ball St., grad. in 2002), it seemed like there were more downhill races in the midwest, even excluding the East Coast races. We even had a NORBA national in Wisco in 2002. Now I would have to drive 18+ hours to catch a good race on the east coast or maybe something in Wyoming or one of the Dakotas. That means I'd have to take time off. Cost of gas + food + time lost at work + sleeping in my car = a good time that I can't afford more than once a year.

Just my .02.


4/4/2012 12:47 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:21 AM

Paying bills? Paying bills via riding/racing reflects reality no more than it does for F1 drivers, NASCAR, pro basketball or football. These athletes are at the pinnacle of their sports, and they are rewarded thusly. The UCI World Cup series was picked up for sponsorship/broadcast by Red Bull for 2012, how that reflects a sport barely treading water or loss of breath is beyond this author. The "reality" is that average riders can go out and purchase similar equipment at somewhat reasonable prices (new or used) and participate to their hearts content, much like hockey, tennis or motocross. In short, bill paying has little to with the status or longevity of any sport.

All professional sports experience ebb and flow/growth spurts. Especially the "extreme sports". Skateboarding, Snowboarding, and BMX all experienced the phoenix effect, coming on strong, dying out to near extinction, and then coming back so strong that they influence everyday popular culture. The inclusion of a sport in the X Games, while noteworthy, is hardly a barometer of longevity. DH is a logistic nightmare to set up and film, and the games happen very quickly on a very tight schedule. The adoption of the WC DH by Redbull this year could be a turning point for this, whether it matters or not in the big picture is unclear.

The mischaracterization that DH bikes don't do even one thing well is completely inaccurate. There is no better tool for doing what they do - they are highly specialized bicycles. To insinuate that they don't even turn well is also disingenuous. They corner very well actually, check out the some of the "Bar Drag Bounty" videos, they clearly illustrate the cornering abilities downhill bikes are capable of. Trying to analogize them to muscle cars is not only sensational, but false. Muscle cars do in fact turn and stop very well - they were originally designed and built exactly for that - racing rally courses, which have more turns than straights.

Product development and its results are actually outlined fairly accurately (the author confuses the term "crutch" and "crux" at least twice so far though!). However, while the price for entry in to the DH world is admittedly high, it is far from being inaccessible to the majority of cyclists. XC and Road bikes are also exhorbinately priced, yet there are NO shortage of either out on the roads and trails. As well, companies are aware when their price points are too high, and they respond. Airborne Bicycles is one example, and even the "Big S" has come out with what they call a budget minded DH rig for 2012. To insinuate that there is a belief that the absence of DH programs would result in a complete lack of advances in bike technology is another disingenuous reach.

Half a paragraph is wasted on sales numbers of 26 inch bikes, where the author makes no connection to the sales of DH bikes - because the data does not exist in a way he can manipulate it. Nobody is excluding "casual users" - they are not the market for downhill. It takes more than 7th grade bike riding skills (what most "casual riders" probably possess prior to purchasing their first bike) to appreciate what a DH bike can do. Not that anyone should be excluded from the DH market, but to be honest, it's NOT for everybody. As for the ability factor- my ride uses 100% of its ability 100% of the time, because I ride in appropriate terrain, rather than purchase a bike then try to make it suit needs it was not designed for (indoor bike parks?)

"Interior bike parks are a barometer for the DH market" ? This is almost too ludicrous to address. Really? A bike park is NO place for a DH bike. There is no "Field of Dreams" anomaly (in regards to DH) because there is no field in the first place. There is no attraction to take a 40lb, 8 inch travel bike to an environment where one has to pedal everywhere, with no gravity fed lines. This should be obvious! Across the United States, OUTDOOR gravity parks are INCREASING (and indoor too, Ray's, arguably the leader of indoor parks, has opened its second, and is rumored to be looking a third location). Looking beyond the "region where the essay was penned" is recommended. Highly.

"Lost in translation". Here is where the author shows their true colors. The essay could have started here and would have made much more sense, but would still be grossly inaccurate. The name-calling is a dead giveaway (gorilla on a bike), and again, false assumptions are used to support the premise that DH needs a makeover. Who's perception does the author speak of - his or her own? I say the author is the one who needs a realignment and attitude adjustment, and would benefit from looking beyond his/her own front door when formulating things. The point in DH is being able to navigate the trail fast and furiously as possible, this is what separates the 5 inch bikes from the 8-10 inch bikes - one CAN do it fast and pretty on the appropriate bike... Does this really need to be explained?

Where's the numbers (remember - numbers don't lie) that show the sport is not growing? Care to share those? What bike park managers and race series are you speaking of? More assumptions, is my guess. Harping on and on about realigning, rebranding, and more name calling (storm troopers - really?) is not an answer - actually, there is not even a question. Seems the Author would like DH to be a glamour sport, with shiny hero/role models for today’s youth look up to. The days of the glamorous major league sports role model are done. Too many have been found out to be "real people" with real people lives and real people problems. Extreme sports have, and are shaping the way we will move forward.

Extreme "stag" movies have been a sub-cultural staple for almost decades, most notably in skiing, but not to leave out BMX, snowboarding, or even motocross. They provide a celebration for those involved in the sport, and provide a window in for those on the outside, but they are not a measure of success. Fail to see where what they have to do with the western coast of BC, too. Again, the authors lack of vision shows through. While BC does produce some top talent, little of it is dominating the world cup circuit, in fact and American swept and won the series in 2011. And a Brit is the current World Champ. And, as mentioned above, a major media contract was reached with arguably the most powerful name in extreme sports - Red Bull. Seems again, the lack of ability to see beyond one's own front door has misinformed the author.

The article is biased, misleading, and based upon nearly countless imagined "facts", numbers and premises. While its main thesis is related to the death of downhill, what it really boils down to is that the author has a problem with their own perceived image of downhill (storm troopers, gorilla on a bike) and would like to change it, and homogenize it for everybody. Personally, I hope it never happens. Downhill and freeride are NOT for everyone. There IS a price for admission: passion, dedication, desire. It does not come automatically, nor should it. It is physically demanding and potentially very dangerous. It takes a certain mind to wrap around navigating a bike the one does in DH. It is not an XC mindset, not a road bike mind set. It is much closer to motocross, it is adrenaline and skill based, not endurance based. People involved in adrenaline based sports will always be looked at differently by the mainstream. Rebranding, realigning is not needed - understanding and respect are. There are a few bad apples in every bunch (road cycling? NASCAR? pro basketball? more?) Don't let them define things for you, walk outside your front door and look around with your own eyes, with no prejudice or preconception, and enjoy.


4/5/2012 5:45 AM

boom. ^ that's whats up


4/5/2012 12:35 PM

haha. sorta went off a bit. I read that when it was originally released and have wanted to responds ever since. Kidney stone had me sidelined so I finally had the time wink