Let’s talk Downhill Mountain Biking!
When you think downhill mountain biking, what do you think of? The young guy recklessly bombing your local trail downhill? Going downhill on a mountain bike? An aspect of mountain biking for lazy people? Honestly, it’s all of that, but a whole lot more. For most riders we get excited about riding the downhill after a long climb. Now imagine skipping the uphill and going straight to the downhill. We don’t know how to think about it given the fact that our slogan is “Pedal, damn it!” Nonetheless, we are going to go over downhill biking and everything you’ll need to get started.
Downhill riding can be done almost anywhere. Whether it be a trail that you can shuttle with your buddies or going to a bike park. Here in Colorado, we have a plethora of bike parks located around the state like Trestle Bike Park in Winter Park. Where a chair lift takes you and your bike up the mountain and ride downhill only trails. In places where there isn’t lift access, they offer shuttles like at Windrock bike park in Tennessee. Shuttles can be done anywhere though if there is a road to take you to the top. Just watch out while shuttling though, some riders might get mad that you skipped the climb and went right to the fun part. Just be courteous and a
responsible steward of the shared trail networks.
Downhill might be quite fun but there are many risks that are associated with it that don’t come with regular trail riding. In downhill biking there are new components of trail that aren’t regularly seen on local trails such as jumps, berms, high speed sections, wood features etc. Which makes it more dangerous, but as bikers we understand the risks of an adrenaline filled sport. As riders we know that it’s not if you’re going to crash, it’s when you are going to crash. Which is why there’s a couple rules every rider should follow regardless of riding downhill or not.
- Warm up and learn the trails you are riding before blind sending
- Ride at a comfortable level and within your limits
- Don’t push it if you’re tired
- Never say “one more run” its bad luck, always use the saying, “2 more skip the last” instead!
While downhill does have its risks there are ways to lessen the risk and ensure that you are safe and have a good time. The easiest way to do this is by using the correct gear for the job. You wouldn’t use a hammer on a screw and if you do, damn, that’s impressive. The same logic applies for downhill equipment. You can use a cross country bike with no pads and a half shell helmet, but why would you, there’s better and safer options.
We recommend that a rider rides in at least a full-face helmet, goggles, downhill biking specific knee pads, pants or thick shorts, and gloves. That’s the bare minimum we recommend riding downhill in, but there are so many more options for safety and gear that you can add to your kit like a chest/back protector or neck brace. Just choose what’s best for you.
Now for a bike, most full suspension bikes will do the job just fine, but more cushion for the pushin’ is more fun. You’re probably thinking downhill bikes are the best option because they can take the abuse and have downhill in the name, but that’s not the case. The enduro category of bikes are taking over and are more than capable of handling downhill riding. Also, it eliminates the need for multiple bikes and are considered the swiss army knife of bikes. An example from our own fleet of sweet whips is the WFO 9 RDO or the RIP 9 RDO depending on the rider. The gear is a huge aspect of downhill MTB, and we think it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Overall downhill mountain biking is something that anyone can do and can be fun for everyone. Taking the right precautions such as gear, safety, and where you ride are huge parts of riding downhill. Now with all that said, get out there and ride some downhill!