Do the pros ride the same bikes we ride?

I was wondering if when I see for example Darren Berrecloth in ROAM, does he really ride on Spec SX trail? That SX trail which I can buy from my local dealer?? or is it kinda special SX- only Darren- trail?;) The same for example with Gee Atherton rockin’ on Reign in Anti Gravity 2?…couse..if it can handle Gee or Darren for sure it will handle me;)
Greetings for new year from Poland 😉

Pro downhiller Curtis Keene rocks a stock Enduro in 2003. Until you’re faster than Curtis, please don’t email me saying, “Dude, I’m so faaaaast … I need an extra-awesome biiiiike …”

Hey Szczepan,

As far as I know, yes, the pros are riding the same bikes we ride. They might be on next year’s model or some prototype parts, but, for the most part, we can ride the same stuff.

– That’s one cool thing about mountain biking. While pro auto and moto racers are using custom equipment that we’ll never touch, pro bike racers are using the same high-end parts that we can buy (if we have the money).

– That’s one reason high-end bikes are so expensive. A top-end DH bike costs the same as a stock 250 motocross motorcycle. That might seem like a rip-off (and it might be), but get this: A $5,000 M6 or Demo 8 or V10 is as good as it gets — that’s the pro standard. A $5,000 CRF250R is just the beginning. Pro riders invest $10,000-$20,000 or more to make them extra competitive.

– Pro bikes are dialed in. Suspension setup is massively important, and most of us “Average Szczepans” have no idea how to set up our bikes. Most bike mechanics make it worse.

– And, of course, pro riders know how to ride. They can rip on anything — especially if it’s set up for them!

In conclusion:

Every high-end mountain bike from a good company has been tested and proven by riders greater than us. I’ve seen SX Trails in action in Whistler, and — wow — just wow.

Shoot, I’ve seen people do amazing things on hardtails and road bikes.

Brian Lopes rails a wet, rocky, rooty corner in Whistler — on the same bike you can buy.

Get a decent bike. Get it dialed in. Learn how to ride it. Have fun!

— Lee

22 replies
  1. JImmy says:

    Hi Lee,

    I suspect 99% of the pros ride what we can buy. I do remember riding an article an about Cedric Gracia’s Cannondale Gemini when he rode for Cannondale. It was suppose to be a medium size with a lower than stock top tube. I suppose the lower top tube made it easier for him to style while getting air but did nothing to make him any faster. I don’t style while in the air. My best and only trick is a dead sailor so my stock Gemini is just fine with me.

  2. dylan says:

    The only product I can think of is the old honda bikes, you may have been able to buy them but it cost your first born, second and wait a minute, not have my kids around sure would give me more time to ride. That actually sounds like a good deal. The hondas are abought the only bike I can think of you can’t buy, MSC, nicolais,all are super expensive but total buyable.
    There may be more X-c bike that are coustom then DH?

  3. jimmy says:

    “My favorite trick is the “everything” — where I hold on tight and tense every muscle.”

    I think I did that once. I don’t remember because I think I landed on my head when I did that.

  4. Rob says:

    I remember an article in Dirt Mag about a rebuild on Sam Hill Ironhorse and that the frame is custom and some of the parts to.

    The same goes for Pete when he rode for Orange and now with SC (frame).

    With regards to suspension, I seem to remember that a lot of the guys and girls running boxxers were running custom set-ups and some were riding air versions 1-2 years prior to release to the general public.

  5. whiteBuffalo says:

    I talked to Peaty and Rennie when i was at the 48 Straight this past summer in Utah. Their bikes and Minar’s bikes are custom geometry to each of their bodies. They also probably have some different components depending on their sponsors to

  6. Chris says:

    Jared Rando raced the 2010 version of the Glory DH this past season (an Aussie MTB mag showed photos). So next year stock will be the same as pro.

    That seems to be the way Giant do things: Adam Craig will ask for a custom ride, Giant will build it, it then goes into production. The Anthem Advanced, Anthem X and XTC Advanced (for Beijing) are such bikes. Note the aluminum Anthem was less ‘race’ than the carbon Advanced as Craig likes his head angles steeper than what Giant thought they could sell.

    So for Giants, either the pros bike are stock or soon will be.

    An old Enlgish MTB mag reported that Peaty’s Orange had thinner tubes to make it lighter. Orange said that Peaty was smooth enough not to need the stock burlier frame.

    Lee, do you want those tires? Email me please.

  7. Chris says:

    A quick search of the Goracle (I just made that up, feel free to use it) finds this interview with Bear Claw about his bike. Either he rides a stock bike or he is not letting on he doesn’t. Relevant bits only:

    Tell us about your bike?
    It’s the Specialized SX Trail, some funky colours and don’t know if you’re aware of it yet but this is the best bike on the planet.

    Have you made any modifications to the bike?
    No not really, the bike is dialled in as it is.

    Any top secret stuff on your bike?
    The new Hayes brake it kicks a$$.[No mention of frame tweaks].

    What do you think is the most important part on your bike?
    The frame design of course.

    Do you ever run the Demo 8?
    Ya when I wanna go fast and big over the chunder.

  8. Richo says:

    There will never be a day when the bike is more important than the rider.
    It’s a bicycle, it requires balance, skill fitness and strength to ride in rough terrain. Duh.

  9. Becki says:

    MBA spotlights a pro and their build in every magazine. Cool stuff if you want to see what components the top riders rock. Every so often I see a prototype part or something, but usually they’re parts that Joe Average can buy from the LBS (as long as he’s rich…one pro’s Epic was estimated at over $17,000).

  10. Marshall says:

    I read that Gee’s DH rig has 1 1/2″ longer than stock chainstays. I thnk at that level you have to expect it. Sam Hll also had a custom 6″ mini DH at the Sea Otter.

    Companys also have to look at sales as what the masses will want. One or two rippers that would love a low bb on a trail bike will not over ride a thousand hacks that complain of pedal smack.

    Im all for custom pro bikes. Its the trickle down that we all benifit from.

    Little insde scoop on moto. MC had a plastic 4 and 5 fake gears in his 250 SX bike because he never used them and it made a few extra ponys.

  11. Geoff says:

    “Pro bikes are dialed in. Suspension setup is massively important, and most of us “Average Szczepans” have no idea how to set up our bikes. Most bike mechanics make it worse.”

    That is what the buys at PUSH are for!!!

  12. jimmy says:

    I blew my ROCO WC and had it rebuilt by PUSH. I chose the low end rebuild rather than the factory tuning cause I figured a below average Szczepan like me can’t tell the difference.

    Funny the setting recommendation by Push was identical to the settings Marzocchi adjusted for me when I went to the Marzocchi tent at Crankworx before I blew the shock. Having the Marzocchi guy adjust my shock made my bike behave like night and day. The bike felt way more controllable.

  13. Marshall says:

    You can feel the Push difference at any level. Figure most shocks are set up for a general 185ish size/weight rider. So if you are 130 or 220 it can make a huge difference even to the average Szc. Dont get me wrong, modern shock are pretty darn dialed but when tuned to your style/level/suspention design, it is a smile maker 🙂 its that old saying “You never know how much better it can be till you try”

  14. Eric says:

    “Most bike mechanics make it worse.”
    Thanks Lee.
    Those of us practicing our trade accurately and effectively aren’t in the same game as the 15 year old stripping bolts after school. Why the poor attitude towards mechanics? That is one of the most ignorant statements I’ve ever witnessed on your site.

  15. Eric says:

    I guess that came off a little harsh. Sorry.
    I am just very passionate about what I do, and I took your statement as a personal attack. I think its beneficial to point out that a good bike mechanic can be an exceptional tool and resource for someone to have a positive riding experience. A bad mechanic can be downright dangerous. Its good to realize that there is a difference.

  16. leelikesbikes says:


    Apologies for the lazy statement.

    Most of the bike mechanics I’ve encountered are in the after-school bolt-stripping category, and many other, more experienced, mechanics aren’t competent with suspension. But no doubt: A quality bike mechanic is worth his weight in gold (or ti?).

    When I need something done, and it must be done better than I can do myself, I take it to Trail Head Cyclery in San Jose or The Fix here in Boulder. Heck yeah, I respect (and pay) great bike mechanics.

    So let me rephrase:

    – Pro bikes are dialed in. Suspension setup is massively important, and most of us “Average Szczepans” have no idea how to set up our bikes. Working with a qualified bike mechanic — one who knows you — is the best way to get your bike dialed. Pros have access to great mechanics. If you develop a relationship with a great local shop, you can too.

    Thanks for the heads-up!

    — Lee

  17. leelikesbikes says:

    Funny! We were both editing ourselves at the same time.

    Point taken.

    There are some great bike mechanics out there, and I bow to them.

    All the rest of those guys … stay away from my bikes! 🙂

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