Are today's entry level DH bikes as good as high end of the past?

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9/12/2018 4:28 PM

Are there any ex-racers (semi-pro/cat 1 type) that have been without a DH bike for a few years that have purchased an entry level DH bike recently? I raced pretty competitively from 2006-2012ish and most of my bikes were pretty high end (for the time). i.e GT fury, Giant Glory, WC Boxxers, cane creek double barrels, dee max etc. Is the time gap, 6+ years, from riding "high end" DH bikes enough that these new entry level DH bikes would be satisfying?

I've been riding pretty high end trail bikes the last few years,(current ride:evil following MB, Enve Wheels, Eagle etc.) so I'm worried even if I bought an entry level DH bike I'd start swapping parts out and defeat the purpose of getting an entry level bike.

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9/13/2018 7:06 AM

Maybe not as good but an entry level DH is plenty badass for any mountain.

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9/13/2018 7:14 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/13/2018 7:15 AM

i have no riding experience with a new budget-minded DH bike, so i can't address parts/spec performance. i cruised around some older bike photos on the site here and it seemed like in 2011-2012, things were pretty darn decent (materials and suspension). geometry was pretty dialed too if you were an "average-sized" rider. gwin's 2011 session. definitely shorter/steeper than what we see now, but seems manageable, eh?


if you're a taller rider, it seems like modern geometry/sizing would be the eye-opener of these new bikes. check out minnaar's world champs v10 from 2012!


going back to mid-2000's brings up bikes that seem super odd by today's standards. (2006 giant DH comp)


with that said, the prices of these new DH bikes are intriguing for sure.

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9/13/2018 7:15 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/13/2018 11:28 AM

I think the problem in your case is that you like/want to have a high end bike. So I think the answer, in your case, is no, it will not be satisfying because you will feel the need to upgrade to better parts like you said on your last sentence.
Performance wise I think an entry level DH bike of today would suit just fine since the geometry is one of the most important aspects and it tends to remain constant across the different specs (entry level to high spec) and is one of the things that really progressed when compared to the older bikes.


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9/13/2018 7:17 AM

If youre currently riding a high end trail bike you will probably notice things like the weight of the aluminum dh bike, the hub engagement points, and the difference and shifting betweent the eagle and whatever is on the dh bike.

A good test to the theory is to go to the local bike park and rent one of the entry level DH bikes and see what you notice for yourself!
I recently went out east and and rented an entry level gambler and was pretty impressed. I did notice the difference in shifting and hub engagement when compared to my personal DH bike (set up with i9s and saint drivetrain).

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9/13/2018 7:56 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/13/2018 7:58 AM

Good question.

In a word "Yes".

But this doesn't end with DH bikes, trail bikes, XC bikes, all bikes are more betterer (technical term) at a much lower price point than ever before. Part of the reason for that is technology is really getting to a place where it isn't getting that much better, so the next most logical place to apply engineering is "how to we make this rad thing better for less".

5 years ago I would notice a big difference in overall "ride experience" on a $10,000 bling machine and a $2500-3000 bike.

These days, so long as we equalize for tires, I bet money I'm going just as fast, at least in the gravity fed direction, on the "cheap" bike as I am the high end bike.

Sure, those higher end parts such as shifters, brakes with more adjustment, wheels with higher engagement, carbon fiber frames bla bla bla are nice, and have a "so choice" feel to them but they don't add up to much on the trail (my opinion)

David's comment about the new Tues Aluminum is spot on. Make Gwin build one and race one at a world cup. Just make sure he has the right springs, right tires. He'd go a little slower, but we're talking MAYBE 1%? Maybe!?

Fox's GRIP damper was so good they made GRIP2, just an IFP based damper with more adjustments, which most (myself included don't need).

RS's lower end coil shocks kick butt.

Bottom of the barrel Code brakes are some of my favorite.They just plain work.

Geometry costs nothing to integrate

Kinematics trickle down from the high end stuff.

Shifting, hub engagement, etc is kind of an afterthought IMO. I don't shift much anyway going downhill. I dump a bunch of gears, mash pedals, then I do the opposite when a hill comes at me. So long as it holds the gear and gets me there semi-fast, I'm good with it.

I'm a bike tester and would happily buy a sub $4000 bike these days. In fact, I'm okay having no sponsorships, running whatever the hell I want, and calling it a day. This coming from one of the most neurotic bike riders you will ever meet.

Good times we are living in.

To bring this full circle, and directly back to the poster's question. As a tall guy a 'bottom of the barrel' DH bike will outrun a full on bling machine from even 3 years ago. Most of the modern geo, with respect to reach, is fairly new. That stuff has been a game changer for me. Far more important than the other bits hanging off the frame...

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9/13/2018 7:56 AM

NHtoWA421 wrote:

If youre currently riding a high end trail bike you will probably notice things like the weight of the aluminum dh bike, the hub engagement points, and the difference and shifting betweent the eagle and whatever is on the dh bike.

A good test to the theory is to go to the local bike park and rent one of the entry level DH bikes and see what you notice for yourself!
I recently went out east and and rented an entry level gambler and was pretty impressed. I did notice the difference in shifting and hub engagement when compared to my personal DH bike (set up with i9s and saint drivetrain).

I think you nailed it.

If you are used to nice wheels/hubs that could be a disappointment when you jump on an entry level bike. That is one area where I think manufacturers save loads of money. The Formula hubs on the inexpensive Commencal Supreme or the SRAM hubs on the cheap Kona Operator are pretty bad. Crappy engagement leads to more chain slap and clunky noises when you get on the gas out of the corners.

I think the modern "entry level" suspension is pretty solid. If you don't feel like you must have HSC LSC HSR And LSR, the inexpensive options are solid. The 40 on that new AL Tues is rock solid.

Personally, I'm not a huge carbon vs aluminum guy. If the price and geometry are right, I'd be happy to ride an aluminum DH bike.

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9/13/2018 7:58 AM

matmattmatthew wrote:

Are there any ex-racers (semi-pro/cat 1 type) that have been without a DH bike for a few years that have purchased an entry level DH bike recently? I raced pretty competitively from 2006-2012ish and most of my bikes were pretty high end (for the time). i.e GT fury, Giant Glory, WC Boxxers, cane creek double barrels, dee max etc. Is the time gap, 6+ years, from riding "high end" DH bikes enough that these new entry level DH bikes would be satisfying?

I've been riding pretty high end trail bikes the last few years,(current ride:evil following MB, Enve Wheels, Eagle etc.) so I'm worried even if I bought an entry level DH bike I'd start swapping parts out and defeat the purpose of getting an entry level bike.

I can tell you that being off a DH bike for also 6 years and on trail bikes then finally buying one (2 weeks ago) was an outstanding decision. I bought a red Tues which a pretty solid spec but even if it had heavier wheels and a even more budget drivetrain I'd be happy. Is a fully budget DH frame better than a high end bike from 6 years back? Yeah almost certain of that. I'd also venture to say that budget suspension is as good to nearly as good as pre or early charger boxxers. My Tues as the 40 with the GRIP damper and I love it. Out of the box, garage push test felt better than my 34 with the FIT# damper.

I say buy whatever your budget can handle now then upgrade as things break or wear out.

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I'm Slow

9/13/2018 8:28 AM

NHtoWA421 wrote:

If youre currently riding a high end trail bike you will probably notice things like the weight of the aluminum dh bike, the hub engagement points, and the difference and shifting betweent the eagle and whatever is on the dh bike.

A good test to the theory is to go to the local bike park and rent one of the entry level DH bikes and see what you notice for yourself!
I recently went out east and and rented an entry level gambler and was pretty impressed. I did notice the difference in shifting and hub engagement when compared to my personal DH bike (set up with i9s and saint drivetrain).

One thing to mention here, rental bikes are usually HAMMERED. The rest I mostly agree with, but on a DH bike I just don't notice shifting or hub engagement all that much. Most stuff I want to ride on a 35-40 pound bike doesn't involve a lot of pedaling.

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9/13/2018 9:18 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/13/2018 9:20 AM

Geometry: even today's inexpensive bikes have better geometry than the bikes of 2010 or earlier

Kinematics: same goes for kinematics. We've learned quite a bit in the last 10 years.

Suspension: Low end suspension today was the high end suspension of yesterday. Take the guts of Motion Control. That was in the high end forks 10+ years ago and now it's the staple of the entry and mid level Rock Shox product line. That DHX Van RC has many trickle down parts from the RC4 of that generation, which was an expensive shock. Additionally today you have better air springs and production methods that make a bigger difference to ride feel.

Tires: Today's new DH tires with larger volume casings and larger knobs are better. Take a 2.5 Minion from back then and compare it to the new 2.5 3C MaxxGrip Tubeless Ready DH version today and you'll see there's a significant difference in tread size and volume. Paired with wide rims (even cheap ones like a SunRingle Helix TR29) and you have a much better riding wheelset. Cheap hubs haven't changed much (Zee for example) so it's still worthwhile to upspec here if you weren't happy with a hub at that level.

That $2700usd bike is far better than the $6500usd (10 years ago) bike from yesterday.

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9/13/2018 10:26 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/13/2018 10:27 AM

I am 44, raced expert/semi-pro NORBA and regional stuff mid 1990's to 2002 or so. The entry level YT just released is better in every way than bikes of that era. Brakes, geometry, tires, suspension, sifting, chain retention, etc. Bikes 6-10 years ago were starting to get the suspension, brakes and a few other bits sort. Geometry is the biggest game changer the last few years. I am hitting bigger, faster, gnarlier stuff now than when I was 25. Some bikes are crazy $$$ today. However, lots of killer bikes for good prices as well. Good time to be around.

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9/13/2018 11:26 AM

matmattmatthew wrote:

Are there any ex-racers (semi-pro/cat 1 type) that have been without a DH bike for a few years that have purchased an entry level DH bike recently? I raced pretty competitively from 2006-2012ish and most of my bikes were pretty high end (for the time). i.e GT fury, Giant Glory, WC Boxxers, cane creek double barrels, dee max etc. Is the time gap, 6+ years, from riding "high end" DH bikes enough that these new entry level DH bikes would be satisfying?

I've been riding pretty high end trail bikes the last few years,(current ride:evil following MB, Enve Wheels, Eagle etc.) so I'm worried even if I bought an entry level DH bike I'd start swapping parts out and defeat the purpose of getting an entry level bike.

+1 Ex-Pro here(shitty one at that). I sold my V-10 last year because the #enduro bike was getting all of the love. Plan is to get a budget DH frame like the Furious, early next year. I have most of the build already and the rest will consist of reliable aluminum parts like wheels and bars. No need to waste money on carbon components that change every season.

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9/13/2018 2:27 PM

As good or even better than. With all the improvements in geometry and suspension alone.

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9/13/2018 7:53 PM

Better and if you are taller than 5'10 they are moar betterer

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9/13/2018 8:32 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/13/2018 8:33 PM

I would ride my current trail bike over what I raced on at MSA in 2000 as a U19 racer. I can recall riding behind another athlete and always joking that our bikes flexed so much... we went through derailleur hangers routinely just from all the lateral flex.

Its like comparing a .50cal to a musket.

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9/13/2018 8:34 PM

Glad to hear all the positive responses. I honestly thought I'd never get a DH bike again, 1 because trail/enduro bikes have gotten so good, and 2 because I couldn't justify spending 5-6k for a bike that would get ridden the least of all my bikes (I have 7). But seeing the spec's and price of the YT Tues AL, Canyon Sender AL etc. has me thinkings an entry level DH might be in my future.

I'm also happy to hear the sizing is a large part of the improvements, I'm 6' 1" and always felt like the sizing wasn't quite right on my DH frames.

I really hope I can temper my upgrade fever if I do end up getting another DH bike.

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9/13/2018 9:04 PM

High end parts are high end parts. Like the guy said above, if you're a guy who likes high end bikes, you probably won't be thrilled with a low end DH rig. When you get your low end pig and pick it up for the first time, especially compared to your high end trail bike, you'll be hitting the "purchace" button on some new parts.

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9/14/2018 12:27 AM

I'd say better in some cases

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Callous Hands an Bloody Shins since 1979

9/14/2018 7:41 AM

This is a really interesting question. Personally, I like having all of the adjustments of high-end suspension today mostly because its fun to puzzle around with it but as far as having a DH bike that is easy to setup and ride there's a lot to be said for the simplicity given how well it works.

Spomer - What are the chances you can get a WC level bike from 2012 (like Gwin's trek) to do some back to back riding with a new entry-level bike? Feel like that would be interesting to get some back to back feedback. Over the weekend I was dialing in my new "enduro" bike at the bike park and was chatting with a dude on on older V10 (think a 2010 frame) and he throw a leg over my bike and felt that geo wise he'd be more comfortable riding my bike than the v10...

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9/14/2018 8:21 AM

MPH24 wrote:

This is a really interesting question. Personally, I like having all of the adjustments of high-end suspension today mostly because its fun to puzzle around with it but as far as having a DH bike that is easy to setup and ride there's a lot to be said for the simplicity given how well it works.

Spomer - What are the chances you can get a WC level bike from 2012 (like Gwin's trek) to do some back to back riding with a new entry-level bike? Feel like that would be interesting to get some back to back feedback. Over the weekend I was dialing in my new "enduro" bike at the bike park and was chatting with a dude on on older V10 (think a 2010 frame) and he throw a leg over my bike and felt that geo wise he'd be more comfortable riding my bike than the v10...

This!!!! Spomer, make this happen! 8-10 year old high-end DH bike versus New Budget friendly build, you could even throw in a high-end enduro bike from today to see if it's, in fact, faster than the old DH bike.

I also volunteer to be part of the test, since I possed the initial question.

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9/15/2018 4:57 AM

matmattmatthew wrote:

This!!!! Spomer, make this happen! 8-10 year old high-end DH bike versus New Budget friendly build, you could even throw in a high-end enduro bike from today to see if it's, in fact, faster than the old DH bike.

I also volunteer to be part of the test, since I possed the initial question.

I wouldn’t be surprised, if GMBN already has that YouTube video in the works!

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