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A lot of people, over the years, have asked me what is a downhill mountain bike? How can you know it is a downhill specific bike? So, in this article I’m answering this question. I’m going not only to tell you, but also show you. And, hopefully, after you read this, you will now be able to recognize a downhill specific bike from other kind of bikes without any problems.

I’ve got two bikes of my own with me today. And I’m going to show you a little bit about what it’s all about. What’s the big difference between a full downhill bike and I’ll also talk a little bit about the other kind of bikes. So, let’s take a quick look at the first bike.

downhill mountain bike demo 8 2019

Downhill mountain bike specific

On this picture, you can see my Specialize Demo. As you can see, it has big suspensions. The front suspension or front fork has a disc brake. And, of course, it also has another rear shock or rear suspension in the back. Again, the rear wheel has a disc brake as well.

So how do you know if this is a full downhill bike?

Firstly, you should have disc brakes. That’s a good indicator that it’s at least a good mountain bike. Secondly, you’re going to have dual suspensions. As you can see, I have a rear suspension, and I have a front suspension. However, you ought to know that the suspension may vary in length. On a full downhill bike, they should have 190 to 205 millimeters each to qualify.

front and rear suspension length

If you look at it closely, you can see that this is about 200 millimeters. This bike is a 27.5” wheel, with a 200 millimeters front disc brake, a rock shock boxer in front and a fox shock in the back with a 180 millimeters rear disc brake. When you look at both suspensions you can see that they are pretty big. It’s not so obvious in a picture, but they are both 200 mm. So that’s the first way you would know that this bike is a full downhill mountain bike: the suspensions. But, as you can see, it also has what we call a dual crown.

dual crown suspension

The crown: the cross brace under the head tube of the bike to which the fork’s legs and steerer attach. Downhill bike forks are characterised by an extra crown above the head tube. Indeed, from the above picture, you can clearly see there is a dual crown. Just with this, it’s usually a no brainer, it qualifies immediately as a downhill bike. In resume, simply by looking at the crown and suspension length, you would immediately know if it’s a do full downhill bike or not.

Another example

downhill mountain bike Demo 8 2012

Let me show you with another smaller bike. On the above picture, you have another one of my bikes. But this is an older model than the first one. You know, it’s older, because this is a 26” wheels. However, it still has front and rear disc brakes, and it also has the full suspension. Again 200 millimeters of travel in the front, and same thing in the rear. And that makes it qualify automatically as a full downhill mountain bike. In addition, it has dual crown.

Here you have it. That’s how you would know if this bike is a downhill bike just by looking at it. Front fork and rear suspension length between 190 and 205 millimeters, and dual crown. Now, with this information, you could look at any bikes in any areas and if you see something similar it does qualify for a full downhill bike.

Hope you enjoyed this article. If you liked it, I invite you to watch my video episode of Sidetrack: What is a downhill mountain bike. In my next article I will talk to you about the lessons I’ve learned from my last crash. Also coming soon, the best mountain bikes for her.

If you have any comments please leave them below. And if you have any suggestions of topics or questions, do the same. I’ll do my best to bring that to you. Until then I will see you somewhere on a trail.

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