Freeride bikes are designed for aggressive riders who need one bike that can do everything. They’re a true ATV. This style bike can handle rides with your XC bro’s for hours on Saturday and then bomb lift assist runs Sunday without a hiccup. Granted, pumping a FR up hills be a chore, but it’s doable. Bombing DH runs with people on full blown DH rigs will also scare the wits out of you. The geometry will be a close relative to the DH bike, but with less suspension travel, six to seven inches and more gears, (18 speeds). Freeride bikes are usually very heavy, 38-45lbs. Some frames are designed sturdier than a DH, since weight is not such an issue. Very fun to ride, but you must accept the fact that these bikes are no good at any one thing.
DH Rigs are DOWN Cycles favorites, as if you didn’t know that already. They do one thing very well. They go down. Forget about pedaling up hills. Never mind the relaxed geometry; DH bikes have only 9 speeds in the rear with a single chain ring, encased in a special guide, up the front. They resemble motorcycles with pedals and will be the first bike that will attract your eye. The price tags are high and the technology, state of the art. The frames are built for battle and will inspire even the timid to let go of the brakes. Hydraulic disc brakes and loads of suspension travel will give you shivers. Chock full of testosterone, Evil Kinevil types fill flock. The DH bike is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a love/hate kind of deal.
All Mountain bikes tend to be heavier built and have couple more inches of travel when compared to an XC race bike. Full suspension is the flavor of choice with around five inches of travel front and rear. They could be lightened up for entry level XC racing, but you will never race the bike. Efficient at climbing, the All Mountain is definitely not a DH bike. The bikes overall weight should be within 28-35lbs. Expect to see SPV suspension as factory spec. “Lock out” or “travel adjust” forks also come in handy. The suspension will usually be air sprung rather than coil to help save weight, although it’s not uncommon to see a coil over in the rear. 27 speeds are useful, but sometimes riders replace the big ring with a bash for added ground clearance. An all mountain bike is the truest form of a mountain bike. It will be the bike you will reach for the most.
XC Race bikes are either short travel, (80mm), full suspensions or hard tails. You will find the lightest part spec. Bike weight can be below 20lbs (usually weighed with out pedals). Disc brakes are common, but some bikes are still sporting V brakes. Reliability is not an issue and frequent tune ups are part of the program. Fragile rims and tires, carbon fiber and triple butted tubing designs are not made to last the test of time. Expect some issues after a hard season of racing. Usually race bikes are retired after one season. If your tires never leave the Earth, you are of the racer type mentality and you weigh less than 180lbs, consider one of these bikes. Make sure the brand you choose to buy has a good warranty program. The ride will be short and exhilarating!
For some reason sadistic cyclists have developed a type of off season race called Cyclocross. These racers took modified road style bikes and race through an obstacle course in the race and snow in mud. The conditions are so poor; they usually carry the bike most the time. I’m not sure why riders put themselves through this agony, but it turns out, this type of racing has developed a very functional bicycle. A Cross bike is perfect for just about any type of terrain. It’s a more practical bike when compared too a road racer, especially in areas where you have poor road conditions. Compared to a road racer, Cross bikes have slightly higher bottom bracket height, wheelbase is longer and head angles are more relaxed. Staying with traditional “dropped bars” the cross bike bars look like a road bike, but the bars tend to be wider to help stability. Bar end shifters are common, but many riders favor traditional road trigger shifters. Frame designs incorporate mountain “center pull” brakes for power and mud clearance. Disc brakes are slowly gaining popularity. 40c knobby tires will fit with room left over. The cross bike is a go anywhere machine.