The most exciting downhill bikes of 2018
© YT Mob
Fancy upping your gravity game next year? Here are five top machines you should be considering.
There is no doubt about it; downhill bikes make no sense whatsoever. They don’t go uphill, they take up space and if you want to ride one, you’ll first need to push it up to the top of whatever hill you want to ride it down. It’s a lot of effort to get what sometimes is only a 30-second riding buzz.
That said, there's simply nothing like downhll bikes. They push you to go faster, even when you're at the very limit of your own abilities. For anyone looking to up their gravity riding next year, we've picked out five of the best DH rigs that 2018 has to offer.
1. YT Tues AL – £1,999
The leader in the pack when it comes to bonkers-low direct sales pricing, German brand YT Industries raise eyebrows with every new bike they bring to market. The Tues has been around for a few years now though, and if its bargain price tag wasn’t enough of a draw in the first place, Aaron Gwin’s two DH World Cup titles aboard its carbon version (in 2016 and 17) is pretty much the best affirmation of the bike’s ability that anyone could wish. If that isn’t enough, then the likes of Andreu Lacondeguy and Cam Zink sending to infinity at Red Bull Rampage should seal the deal.
Stacked with well-selected components – from the RockShox BoXXer RC fork and Kage shock to the SRAM Guide R brakes, right through the mix of SRAM GX DH and RaceFace drivetrain, solid E*13 wheelset and Maxxis High Roller 2 tyres – the aluminium Tues is a true bargain that comes with only a few gripes. A victim of its own popularity, the first of those is that you’ll be hard pressed to find one available in your size – they sell out fast. And as a direct sales-only brand, you won’t get the level of support that comes with a bike purchased at a shop. Finally, for the taller riders out there you’ll have to look to the more costly Tues CF, which adds an XL sizing to the AL’s S, M and L.
2. Propain Rage Comp – £2,242.49
What better testament to a bike’s worth than the lunatic antics of Phil Atwill tearing apart British tracks and trails, then getting serious and sneaking onto a World Cup podium (in Lenzerheide, 2017)? Atwill looked at ease from the moment he moved to Propain, and it is no surprise – the Rage has had rave reviews across the board.
Another German direct sales brand, Propain manufacture to order, meaning that there are sometimes lengthy waits, but it is worth it. This bike flies, plus it is reliable and stacked with quality parts. The components list includes RockShox’s pricier Vivid R2C shock, powerful SRAM Code R brakes and combo of GX DH mech and shifter with Truvativ Descendant crankset. There is little of concern with this bike’s kit list.
3. Cube Two15 Race – £2,299
The Two15 introduces some alternative products to our group of value bikes, with its Marzocchi Bomber 380 fork and Fox Van RC shock taking care of the hits, the superb Schwalbe Magic Mary tyres front and rear and Magura’s ultra-powerful MT5 brakes dealing with stopping. Elsewhere, a mix of solid components and a few own-brand finishing parts make this bike a great deal, worth every penny.
4. Radon Swoop 200 8.0 – £2,428
An in-house brand of the German behemoth online store, Bike Discount, Radon bikes have started to feature more regularly across Europe and not least in World Cup racing, with their factory team taking to the circuit for the first time in 2017.
This bike features Magura’s MT5 brakes combined alongside a selection of equally solid components – Shimano’s notoriously bombproof Zee mech and E*13’s LG1 cranks and wheels are joined by a number of solid RaceFace Atlas finishing products. A RockShox BoXXer RC fork and Kage shock handle the rough with ease. The Schwalbe Rock Razor semi-slick rear tyre won’t be much good in UK mud though, so the extra cost of a replacement tyre should be considered.
5. Commencal Furious Origin – £2378.59
There are few brands with such prestige as Commencal – the French-Andorran company’s founder and director, Max Commencal, has more DH World Cup titles linked to him than probably anyone else in the sport. But this bike isn’t the brand’s fully-fledged DH race rig – they have taken a different approach and the Furious is an alternative line that offers a simpler frameset, tellingly favoured by Rampage veterans Kyle Strait and Pierre-Edouard Ferry.
Ride Alpha is the company’s in-house components brand, and you’ll find a number of their products on this bike. That’s not a bad thing – these are solid pieces and they allow Commencal to bring the overall costs down. This is the only bike in this list to feature an air shock – RockShox’s Super Deluxe R, which means ease of adjustability and reduced costs of finding the best spring rate. SRAM’s Guide RE brakes are developed for e-bikes, but their excellence in slowing heavier mules makes them a great choice for massive stopping power on the Furious.
6. Bergamont Straitline 7.0 – £2,499
For several years Bergamont have had a World Cup team with a strong presence on the circuit – with Eddie Masters’ exploits drawing a lot of attention to the German brand. This has helped them to develop this Straitline frameset with progressive geometry. It is also the only bike in this list that offers four sizes.
A Marzocchi Bomber 380 fork and X-Fusion Vector shock offer dependability in terms of suspension, but perhaps where the kit list lacks is in the choice of SRAM Level TL brakes, which are probably better-suited to trail bikes. Otherwise, a mix of some own-brand components and others from well-known manufacturers ensures great value-for-money, plus it comes with a set of pedals – most of the above don’t. With this frameset, you could gradually upgrade components until you have a truly World Cup-worthy race bike.
7. YT Tues CF Pro – £3,899
Young Talent Industries don’t mess around. For a couple of years they simmered away producing well-specced machines around an online sales model. Then they hired Aaron Gwin and won the UCI World Cup at the very first time of asking. It boasts a carbon fibre front triangle, Fox Racing Shox air-sprung suspension and a flawless spec sheet for the price some rivals will happily charge for a frame. Did we mention Aaron Gwin rides one? Aaron Gwin rides one.
8. Specialized Demo 8 I Alloy – £3,000
Fancy a full-factory World Cup race rig without the wallet-melting price tag? Of course you do. Well, here it is; the alloy version of Specialized’s Demo 8 as piloted by Loïc Bruni. You still get the much-coveted asymmetric frame architecture and a hard-hitting build all in an arguably more attractive green paint job. Tidy.
9. Canyon Sender CF 8.0 – £3,499
One of the big unanswered downhill questions of 2016 is whether or not Canyon will launch themselves into UCI World Cup racing. Rumours rumble on, but having developed a missile like the new Sender platform it looks like a decent bet that they will. Priced combatively with the YT Tues in its crosshairs, the German contender relies on RockShox suspension and looks fast even at standstill.
10. Giant Glory Advanced 1 – £3,899
If you’re the kind of rider who wants a DH bike for the annual pilgrimage to the Alpine chair lifts and values hardiness over finely-balanced racing apparatus then the new Giant Glory Advanced 1 model may be for you. You get the carbon fibre composite frame, but there aren’t as many frills and baubles. However, what there is, is tough enough to take a week’s worth of braking bumps and doubles in its stride.
11. Scott Voltage FR – £3,799
Scott’s Gambler may be the big-name race machine, but its often overlooked stablemate, the Voltage FR, might be the UK’s perfect DH/fun rig. Slightly shorter and steeper than the full-on locomotive that is the Gambler, the Voltage FR focuses on whips and ruts with 170mm of travel. It’s never going to be an all-day XC machine, but it has a wide enough spread of cogs to get you up the nearest fire road and into the thick of the action.
Like this? Try these: