DH on a hardtail ? Will my bike be ok after doing it.

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  • DH on a hardtail ? Will my bike be ok after doing it.
  • james0706

    Hi, would anyone give me advice on if i did a dh track would my bike be ok after doing so, and tips, what to where etc when doing a DH track.

    Premier Icon Northwind

    It depends on the hardtail, the track, the rider, and how you ride it. I’d happily mine down the world cup course at fort william… But then I don’t “downhill”, I just ride down DH trails. Up the pace or throw in big jumps and drops etc and things get harder on bike and rider.


    I rode the downhill courses at Hamsterley yesterday on a hardtail with 100mm travel fork. Was ok but not as fast as full sus bikes.


    Thanks for the advice, could you recomend any tips, or what to where when doing DH ?


    Done a full days uplift at FoD on my Trailstar. Probably not recommended though, I was fooked by the end of it and was definitely the slowest rider there. Apparently my rear wheel hardly touched the ground over anything rough 😆 I also fairly regularly ride stile cop and woburn on it. It’s alright but I am going to get a full sus soon as losing my feet is getting annoying.


    Rear wheel will become a consumable.

    Went to Chamonix with my HT, it was the brakes I was worried about, not the lack of rear suspension!


    Ok, i have got Hydrolic Disk brakes so i aint to worried.

    I’ve down plenty DH courses on my hardtail, but like someone else pointed out, I merely ride DH rather than do full on DH on it.

    Great fun though.

    But seriously it depends on which frame, forks, wheels you have on the bike as to whether the bike will be fecked.


    Ok, i will take that in consideration.

    Premier Icon tthew

    Your bike right James?

    I’d not go giving it too much hammer, even with the Hydrolic brakes.


    seat down, weight back, “ride the fork” as in, let the fork take the hits, keep your legs and arms bent, pedal where you can, freewheel technical bits. ride the trail slowly first, get the feel of it. don’t drag your brakes, brakes on, slow, brakes off. don’t look at obstacles, you will hit them, look where you want to go.

    Most of all, remember, its just riding bikes down a hill.

    I’m wondering the same. Have been watching videos of the downhill track at Cwmcarn and it looks like you need a serious bike and skillz to match to get down it fast – lots of air! But if you ride slower and take the chicken runs round the bigger drops it doesn’t look too hard on the bike – maybe I’m deluded…


    Never ridden at Cwmcarn but from my experience on “normal” dirt jumps you don’t need a full sus as if you land on the down slope and are going fast enough, it’ll be really smooth anyway. Full sus actually slows you down on those as it sucks up some of your momentum. Also depends how bumpy the landing is as well I suppose. Proper DJ are really smooth, not sure about downhill jumps.


    So, wouldnt my bike be any good tthew ?

    Premier Icon Wookster

    mate your bike will be fine, just work up to full pelt so you get a feel for it you wont get away with as much as a full on dh bike.

    its better to ride away than get taken off in a NHS taxi bus! so no harm in chicken runs etc!!


    Ok thanks, that was the only thing i was nervous about. 🙂


    have you ever done any DH or trailcentre stuff? What do you currently ride how long have you been riding etc – Forget the bike for a minute what is your skill level? I could mince ride a hardtail down a DH course but I would rather not. A skilled rider will get down on any [decent]bike

    Hi James,

    Your bike will be fine, but buy a spoke key and check the spokes (especially the rear!) after every run!!!

    If you can buy a bigger back tyre and a super thick tube that helps as you can run them at a lower pressure which will make it faster and more comfortable (make sure it leaves some clearance between the tyre and the frame or if you clang it during a run and it buckles it will rub on the frame)

    Top tips, are very similar to riding to riding a full suss but :-

    1) Lay off the front brake, especially going into nasty stuff as you wont have as much travel on the front as a dh bike, using some of that up by grabbing the front brake needlessly will slow you down and wear your arms out! if you do need to drag a brake feather the back one to control your speed.

    2) lean back but not so much your not fully using your suspension forks! If you going over some bumps or rocks in a straight line you can try and deliberately use your suspension them to soak up some of the shock!

    3) Use the bikes lightness and nimbleness, you dont have the travel like a dh bike so you need to ride cleaner and smarter! Jump over stuff where you can and look for really cheeky lines that avoid bumps, even if it means taking slightly slower inside lines or getting in the grass! You probably wont lose much speed as smashing into a huge pile of holes on the brakes on a hardtail is going to be nasty and slow anyway so slow down a little more than you need and ride round them to come quicker out on the smoother flowier bits!!!

    4) Bend your legs and arms!!!!!!

    5) Either try and be floating over stuff or compressing into it, its when your hanging on to the bike and not controlling it that you will get bounced around like a be atch!

    DH hardtails rule!!!!!

    Christ I use loads of exclamation marks don’t I.

    Just re read your post James

    TOP TIP get a full face because you will stack it!


    Thanks for all your tips, and nice video !!!! and i have got a helmet but a full face one might be a good idea. Would a bag be a good idea to wear when going on a DH track ?


    I did a week in Morzine and Les Gets on a hardtail and it was fine. You can only go as fast as your skills let you so it’s fairly self regulating! You’ll quickly learn to pick smooth lines so your bike probably won’t get too hammered, probably less so than a full suss cos you can’t plough through everything.As long as you’ve got fairly decent wheels you’ll be fine.
    But the above advice is spot on, put some massive tyres on with low pressures and it’ll be sweet.

    I saw that video of the fella riding the Chromag in Whistler a while back on hardtailnation. Bollocks like space hoppers no doubt.

    Love that vid. Real punk attitude riding a HT hard like that. Love the vibe maaaan.

    Premier Icon cookeaa

    I’ve ridden and done the odd Race on HTs…

    NickyB’s advice is a Bob on.

    Just stay relaxed, pick your lines and braking points, think about how you can best carry speed through corners and trail features “path of least resistance” is a good phrase to bear in mind, pump and jump where you can, using the lower mass and natural nimbleness of the bike give it time and practice and speed will come.

    Riding a HT for DH can give you very handy skill set for DH, jumping straight on an 8″ DH bike can often mean some people never learn to pick a line properly…

    I’m hoping to try the red downhill at Cwmcarn this weekend. I’m planning to take the chicken run around the biggest drop (after the road near the bottom) and I won’t be attempting to go anywhere near real DH speed or getting big air off the jumps but I think it would be a nice challenge after doing the red XC route. I’ll be on a Boardman HT Pro with big tires and the saddle right down.

    There are quite a few videos of DHers going properly fast down it (especially the course designer), some that look sloooow and this one seems a nice pace (though I’d be flattening those jumps at the bottom more).


    Or is this way harder than it looks? I don’t mind taking a while to get down, I just want fun!

    Premier Icon lunge

    Right then, I hope to provide an answer to this by the end of tomorrow. The reason is that tomorrow I shall be taking my hardtail and my rather shonky bike skills to the Cwmcarn uplift day. Apologies for anyone up there tomorrow, I will be the tall guy with some second hand body armour holding everyone up.

    So how was it?!

    Premier Icon lunge

    Right then, slightly delayed reply.

    Firstly i’ve got to say that even with some very Welsh weather we had a great day, hard work but great fun.

    In terms of the bike I rode everything there including the road drop. I was not very quick but I suspect that was more down to me than the bike. The rocky bits were quite hard work but I found a little speed helped me ride it, it was much harder work for the first few runs when I was on the brakes a lot more. I would suggest investing in some BIG tyres (I ran a 2.7 Minion up front and a 2.5 Big Earl on the back), good brakes with lots of pad left (my old Deore’s were OK but nothing more, some more power would have been nice towards the end of the day when your hands start to ache) and some big forks (again, I had some 160mm RS Domains that were spot on).

    To conclude, it is very rideable on a hardtail, someone more skilled than me may even have been able to go fast, I just went slow because i’m not very good. I didn’t break myself or my bike despite a number of “incidents”. However, I would suggest that, at least to begin with, you think of it as riding down a hill rather than riding downhill.

    Hope this helps!

    Cool! What frame were you riding? Were you full-faced and armoured up?

    Premier Icon lunge

    I was riding a very old Planet-X Jack Flash frame, RS Domian forks and big tyres.
    I did have armour and a full face but there were plenty who didn’t. I felt more confident with them but again this maybe because I am a bit of mincer.

    I’m going to have to say, if you’ve never ridden DH before, beg borrow or steal a decent full sus bike to learn on. As a novice on a hardtail you’re likely to damage yourself, the bike, and most importantly the track.
    If you’re very comfortable with trail centre type descents then you’ll be okay on some smoother DH tracks, but when the going gets tough especially in winter conditions you need a big bouncy bike or a big bag of skills and bravado. By all means go back to your hardtail once you know the course and you’ve conquered the fear, but don’t expect to be comfortable.


    On the one hand…

    Riding a HT for DH can give you very handy skill set for DH, jumping straight on an 8″ DH bike can often mean some people never learn to pick a line properly…

    …but on the other…

    if you’ve never ridden DH before, beg borrow or steal a decent full sus bike to learn on. As a novice on a hardtail you’re likely to damage yourself, the bike, and most importantly the track.

    …but who is right? Although personally I would rate breaking my collar bone slightly more important than pulling a skid.

    @oliverd1981 I couldnt disagree more. It really really really is the rider not the bike. Thats not to say that an accomplished rider wont go faster on a full suss but that a decent rider will ride well whether it be on a tail or bouncer.

    I know you have kind of said that already but what you fail to understand is that most skills are easier learnt on a hardtail than a full suss. Jumping straight into a huge downhill bike for riding dh means you ignore the basic skills that you need to learn. Jumping, line choice, getting off the brakes etc as the bike does a lot for you and overcompensates but at quite a basic level. At first this is good but over time the slack angles, long travel and excess weight mean its harder to pick up such skills so ultimately your progress will stagnate and it can take longer to learn to use a big bike to its full potential.

    Like driving cars I suppose; anyone can tank it in a ferrari but its better to have experience in a lesser car first so that you can really make use of its performance!

    Having said that if your off somewhere fancy on hol or whatever then hiring a big bike for the day is great laugh just stay away from those stupid fat tired scooter things!

    edit: obviously, never steal a bike.

    I don’t disagree with learning on a HT at all, and like a lot of people her, I’ve gone back to using a HT more and more.

    However if the OP is determined to get straight on to a real DH track, I’d be doing a great disservice not to point out that these tracks can be more difficult than they appear, and that a big bike should allow you to stay safe and extract at least some fun from the experience.

    The DH track isn’t the first place id be going if I only had a hardtail and I wanted to improve my riding whilst enjoying myself, I guess that’s a better way of putting it.

    would a mongoose fireball do okay on a downhill/ mini downhill track? i want to get into downhill and i don’t want to put my self off the sport if i start doing it rouge!

    yeah it would be fine! As per the advice above get a fat rear tyre to smooth it out a bit and you will be grand! If you get more into it you can always upgrade the forks for something bigger to slacken the angles and give more cushioning etc.

    Premier Icon amedias

    seriously guys….

    It’s just riding a bike down a hill.

    Sure you might be quicker on a full sus, and more comfortable but there are very very few tracks you *can’t* ride on a hardtail.

    To the OP, just enjoy it, go at the pace you are happy with, If this is your first time on a decent DH track then it’s likely you will be the limit rather than your bike. As you get better and more confident a change of bike may be a good idea but for now just go have some fun!

    okay cheers! im going to go to the mini downhill track in the forest of dean on the 20th feb and see what its like! there is a comp going on there at the same date so i will see what people are riding and stuff like that! 😀


    depends on the dh track. Big tyres, big tubes and low pressures help as does staying back and letting the fork do it’s job. My advice would be to choose the smoothest line down and pick braking points ahead of time, as it can be easy to build up speed and become out of control, unless you mince down.

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