You’d have to be living under that proverbial rock not to realise the boom in MTB riding, and all its various guises. We caught up with the experts, Yarra Valley Cycles, to get the low-down on what’s what in the world of MTB.
Enduro Vs Downhill
Much debate is taking place about the growing trends in MTB sports.
Long gone are the days where only two MTB events – XC (cross-country) or DH (downhill) - were available. These days the MTB community, fuelled by technological and industry based changes, have started a plethora of riding and racing to suit any age, skill level or fitness. MTB is now more accessible than ever!
You know you’re a DH rider if…
At Victoria’s longest-standing specialist MTB store, Yarra Valley Cycles has seen the comings and goings of the sport, and in particular DH racing. One thing remains true; the DH community pushes the boundaries just that little bit harder! There is perhaps just a wire or screw loose that allows these riders to attempt something unfathomable to most as they seek to shave a second here, or a tenth of a second there. For this reason the DH community has always attracted groups of fun and exciting people who will often join forces and hit up races, tracks and trails across the country.
The downhill hit
There is something about DH racing; when that clock counts down and you pedal like a mad person out of the start gate, time stands still for the whole three minutes and your fate is determined by the risks you take, the line you choose, or the effort you put in. Even after decades of racing, no matter what the result (or the screw-ups along the way) at the end of every race you’ll have likely had the best time with your mates, or you’ve maybe beaten your arch nemesis, or you’ve visited another amazing place, or you’ve done it all!
Gravity bikes – the line-up
Downhill remains at the cutting edge of technology, with the development of the fastest performing gravity bikes since the sport’s inception in the late 80’s. Even in nine years the team at YVC has seen a lot. The cutting edge 2003 Kona Stinky, the Stab, the Norco Atomik, A-Line, 2008 Glory all the way through to the Latest 2014 model Aurum, Glory and Operator.
The rapid-fire fast developments and ever-changing technology have created a worldwide sport that pushes the boundaries of what is possible on a bike, and has you covered with all the imaginable protective gear you need.
Down Hill bikes Yarra Valley Cycles recommends
Old DH Bikes: (Kona Stinky, Stab or Giant ATX DH)
New DH Bikes: (Kona Operator Carbon, Giant Glory, Norco Aurum)
But what about XC?
Whilst DH bikes were evolving almost as fast as they could fly downhill, the XC market was progressing at an equally flat-out pace. The industry was continuing to develop lighter, stiffer, more responsive XC race bikes and dual suspension marathon racing bikes with huge wheels that rolled fast.
The outcomes were amazing. Bikes rolled so much faster, were so much more lightweight, and came with efficient suspension that seriously worked. Yet whilst these bikes were amazing for XC, there was still a gap between XC and DH that needed to be broached to make the world a better place. Change was in the air, with consumer feedback along the lines of:
“I like riding for fitness, but I really enjoy the thrill of DH.”
“I can’t ride my DH bike on the local trails unless I push up.”
“The 29” Wheels are harder to control on the technical stuff.”
“DH is too scary for me.”
“I want a bike that is good going up and going down,” and on and on and on…
All of the major bike brands listened, and along came the birth of EnDuro… The Enduro scene has grown exponentially over the past two years, most countries around the world now have either club, state or national series races. There is now an Enduro World Series, Elite level teams etc.
So what does Enduro mean?
The name Enduro was conceived from both Motorbike and Rally Car racing. For years it was referred to as ‘All Mountain’, and it was kind of like Freeride too, but Enduro often sees competitors multiple timed for stages between one place to the next, with the lowest time winning. The take-up of Enduro in Australia has been huge, and fast due to the accessibility of the sport to a greater audience (it’s not as technical as DH, and not as long as XC), ease of training locations, and the development of bikes and products available. Yarra Valley Cycles was taken by surprise with the meteoric rise in popularity. They put this down to in part the inception of longer travel air sprung rear suspension, and 27.5” bikes that were lighter, more nimble and spec’d with Enduro Ready components.
Enduro bikes Yarra Valley Cycles recommends
New Enduro Bikes: Giant Trance, Kona Process, Norco Sight, Lapierre Zesty/Spicy
MTB – where to from here?
It’s safe to say that both Enduro and DH will always have a place in the MTB Framework. Most DH racers will always have an Enduro bike on which to train midweek. Enduro is expected to grow beyond belief, as new riders plus current and former XC & DH racers rush into this new racing scene. What does the team at Yarra Valley Cycles think? They reckon Enduro Racing is a whole heap of fun (no matter the age or ability), but they’re standing strong that there is no three minutes like a DH Race Run, where a few screws go loose, time stops and every second counts…
A big thanks to the Yarra Valley Cycles team for their invaluable insights and work into putting this info together!