So when you like to ride like I do, you tend to have to make certain compromises when it comes to bike set-up. I love to huck everything in sight and ride my all-mountain bike like a downhill bike, but also don't mind earning those downhills by riding to the top of the trail.
If you ride the local trails here in the Valley, then you know what I am talking about. My favorite place to ride, Sals between Bethlehem and Allentown along the Lehigh River, has some of the fastest, gnarliest, descents you can handle short of riding a full on downhill rig. But if you've ever ridden there, you know getting to the top of the trail is equally as challenging.
So when choosing and setting up a bike to ride on these trails, you inevitably have to face the questions of weight vs. strength, geometry, gearing, tire choice, etc. Because the attributes that make a bike able to bomb downhill, also make it a pig to ride up hill. Without going into the engineering of the new breed of "All-Mountain" bikes designed to be able to ride to top of the mountain and rail everything on the way back down, I thought I would highlight some of the gear I use to let me do just that.
I Like Big Bars and I Cannot Lie!!!
One Thing I love to run on my all-mountain rig is some big 'ol, wide DH bars. I have gone through a bunch of different bars through my years of riding and for the past year or so have been running the all-mountain version of 'ol faithful...the Easton EA70 Monkey Bar.
The Easton EA70 is incredibly strong, relativley light, and if you know someone who has bent a pair, tell them to email me and I will send them an official LV/FR T-shirt, because they either huck like no other, or survived the gnarliest crash ever.
The Easton's measure in at a stable 685mm or 27" wide and to this point have served me well. Recently though, several companies have been releasing new downhill and freeride bars that boast the strength and width demanded by aggressive riders, but also come close to the weight of what a solid XC bars was just a few years ago. Knowing the advantages of wide bars, I figured I would set aside my beloved EA70's and try something new.
So, thanks to a recommendation from the guys at CUTTERS I picked up a brand spankin' new Sunline V1 OS bar to "chopper out" my all-mountain stead.
The V1 is Sunline's top offering of the aluminum variety and is right there with the new trend of low and wide bars that most of the best riders in the world are running on their DH bikes.
The V1 has a great look in Dark Grey with a bead blasted finish. The bar comes in 2 rise and width offerings. I went with a (low) 19mm rise and (wide) 745mm or 29" width bar. The V1 instantly transformed the feel of my bike to that familiar, comfortable, stable feeling you get when you ride a DH bike. The width of the bar provides the leverage and stability to allow me to really work the bike on downhills and slows the steering just enough to keep the bike more stable at high speeds.
While not a welter-weight at 311grams, the true DH strength provided certainly makes up for any gain in weight. Compared to the Easton EA70 at 265grams, the V1 is slightly heavier, but the gain in weight can mostly be attributed to the additional width.
While bars this wide are not for everyone and not for every bike, they are what works for me. I can feel the immediate difference in stability at speed and the extra leverage they provide really gives me the confidence to lay the bike over in turns and the ability to get it back upright in the blink of an eye. Full disclosure, the extra width most certainly slows down the steering of my Enduro. While great at speed and downhill, the difference can definitely be felt on tighter, slower sections of trail and when climbing, but for the most part is negligible.
But like I said, compromises need to be made in order to build the perfect all-mountain bike and the control, stability, and confidence these big 'ol bars provide when ripping the downs wholly makes up for any additional effort needed to get to the top of the trail.
While there are a lot of new offerings out there for DH/FR handlebars, the Sunline V1 is a great choice and gets the LV/FR stamp of approval. I know CUTTERS has a few of them in stock, as well as a selection of similar offerings to help you build your perfect all-mountain machine, so get over there, get yourself a set, and tell them I sent you.
As Specialized coined in a ad for their new Enduro, "DH Balls...XC Legs". Or something like that.
More on my all-mountain set-up to come. Until then...keep hucking the Valley.