How far can you drop?

Question: How far can I drop on my bike? Answer: It depends on your technique. Start small and see how high you can go without bottoming.

Hi Lee

Thanks for the help with the bike set up. The Enduro is a lot more stable now that I’m back using the original shock with the slacker head angle. But now I’m back with some more questions.

In your article “Drops: Don’t get bucked” you talked about impact force. I’ve been slowly working up the height on my drops to about 2 feet to flat ground off a ramp in my back yard — although this is as high a ramp I will build for my back yard. How big of a drop would you / should I consider doing on an 04 Enduro without having to worry about breaking it?


Kevin Hebert

Hey Kevin.

Glad you’re loving your Enduro. Dude, I got a new 2006 S-Works Stumpjumper FSR Carbon — and holy cow it’s sweet. Take your Enduro in the steep setting, give it a Brain shock and make it weigh like 25 pounds. A bit twitchy on the DH but awesome everywhere else … I’ll post a write-up soon.

OK, enough of that.

Drops: The height you can survive on any bike has everything to do with your technique. As you saw in the chart, a bad landing yields 3,000 pounds of force, while a good one produces only 600. On my 2003 Enduro I have dropped about five feet to flat and eight or more feet to downslope with no problems. But remember that I’m a pansy, and I try to be as smooth as possible. That bike is officially made for aggressive trail riding, which might include a four-foot drop to flat.

This might get me in trouble, but when Brandon Sloan (the Enduro’s product manager) was testing the prototype for that bike, he rode it on a very serious North Shore-style trail. One drop was eight feet to a very slight downslope — basically flat. He rode that bike way beyond its intended use, and the only failures were with the rims. (Remember: Brandon is a very skilled rider. Better than me and probably better than you.) When I found out about his testing, I called Trail Head Cyclery, gave them my credit card over the phone and paid full retail for that bike. Since then, my philosophy has been, “If Brandon rides it, it’s good enough for me.”

Back to you: Work on being smooth. Use O-rings or zip ties on your fork and shock to check the travel you use. Suck up the bumps as much as possible with your arms and legs, and see how little bike travel you need. The less your suspension moves, the smoother you’re landing.

Me, Lee, doing the drop thing on a 6-inch 2005 Enduro. A smooth rider could do this on a hardtail.

Here’s an idea: The Enduro frame is designed to withstand hard bottom-outs (within reason). If you weigh less than 200-something pounds and run normal pressure in your shock, the bottom-out force will surely fall below Specialized’s threshold. So run normal pressure in your shock and work on landing bigger and bigger drops without bottoming. If you can land any given drop without that metal-on-metal CLANK, you’re doing fine.

One more thing: I was teaching a clinic Sunday on my new Stumpy, and we were working on drops. I rode that lovely hunk of carbon fiber off the edge of a cliff and landed at least six feet down on a slight downslope. My Talas bottomed with a clank, and the shock quietly used full travel. So that’s about as high as I’ll go on that bike. 25-pound XC bike, flying off cliffs … too cool!

Man, what a brain drain. I hope some of it helps.


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