There are many different mountain bike disciplines, which have given rise to a large number of different mountain bike types. Down Country Bikes is one such segment of mountain bikes which are relatively new, these bikes are short travel full suspension mountain bikes - that have been designed to be able to tackle ascents and cross country, whilst also being able to tick all of the boxes when it comes to travelling downhill. Down Country Bikes have most in common with cross country bikes - and use geometry and components as opposed to long travel full suspension to provide their downhill capability.
Where did Down Country Bikes come from?
Down Country Bikes have 29inch wheels, with a geometry which allows the rider to make rapid progress across varying terrain. As well as handling ascents and cross country work, these bikes have also been designed to tackle trail use - you can pedal these bikes all day, and head down the steepest and most technical trails you can find, once you are at the top.
Geometry of Down Country Bikes
Although the description of down country bikes can make them sound very similar to cross country bikes, there are a number of key differences. Although light and agile like cross country bikes, the geometry of these bikes is inspired by downhill bikes, so you can be as efficient as a cross country bike on the ascents, and you will be very comfortable travelling on downhill tails.
Although the geometry of a down country bike is important so is suspension travel, and down country bikes should have a suspension travel of at least 120mm. The rims and tyres of a down country bike should also be larger than that of a cross country bike, and able to put up with the extra impacts of a downhill trail.
One of the most important components of a down country bike, is a dropper seatpost - these seat posts allow for an effortless transition from a cross country machine, with a raised seat - to a lowered seat downhill ready trail bike. These bikes also require bigger brakes, and bigger brake rotors to account for downhill performance.
Are Down Country Bikes the Future?
Down Country Bikes certainly represent a growing market, and these longer journeys, but XC capable frames further show us that thanks to advancements in design and geometry - we can create new bikes, which are more capable than ever before.
It’s worth noting though, that a down country bike will not be able to rival a dedicated downhill bike on the trails. Down country bikes will also be heavier than dedicated cross country bikes - so if you are a Strava warrior after the best cross country times, a more lightweight cross country bike will serve you best.
One of the best things about down country bikes is just how cool they are, they are new - and they represent an important part of the future of mountain biking.