Making a DJ bike feel like a good trail bike

Hey there, Lee – how are things? I just have a quickie bike question for you. I don’t know much when it comes to DJ bikes, but I do know that I would like to be in the market. I’ve been going to Valmont Bike Park when I can (why is it so addicting?), and I have been annoyed that I can’t get my seatpost any lower on my trailbike. So I went over to The Fix and rented a dj bike for an hour. There was a pretty big difference…the right tool for the terrain I guess. Even though I need a lot of work keeping my weight on the flat pedals. Anyway, I was kind of into the Specialized P.2 pro (I believe, one of the P’s with front susp)….how do you think it compares to the Kona type version?

Not sure if you have any input – the only thing about the bike I rented was it doesn’t corner like my trailbike, it felt slow and wide, unless I just have to get used to the much wider bars or something. My trailbike feels great and sticks hard to those banked corners. I wonder if the Kona would feel any different than the Specialized? Thanks for any info!
Hope all is good –

Hey Dawn!

I’m glad you’re exploring Valmont Bike Park. It was fun having you in clinics out there.

Why is it so addicting?

Park is riding is addicting in part because the results are so obvious. While flowing down a trail is the ultimate (IMO), there’s something so … definable … about riding a clean pump lap or clearing a jump. Remember, one of the keys to Flow is an appropriate goal … and the bike park is full of clear goals!

An XC frame can be coaxed into some serious pump action, especially if it’s built like a DJ bike. Captain America on the Fox track.

Why does the DJ bike feel sweet, but funky?

Yes, a DJ bike is the right tool for that job. But consider:

• Most DJ bikes are built heavy for durability and inexpensive so groms can get them. (Hey kid, here’s a bike. The first one is cheap …) Few stock DJ bikes have the refined feel of a high-end trail bike because they have low- to mid-level components.

• A stock modern DJ bike has pretty wide bars. You are not a wide person.

• As I recall, a stock P2 comes with street/park tires, which work great on hardpack but have a very different cornering feel from the knobbies on your hardtail.

• The P2 might have a slacker front end than your trail bike. It’s definitely longer from your feet to the front tire and shorter from your feet to the rear tire. These are not bad traits. You will get used to them and eventually demand them!

This stock (cheap!) P1 felt great with an upgraded fork and some XC tires. My old back yard. No pressure with this guy watching!

If you want your DJ bike to feel as good as your trail bike

• Get the correct-width bars. Do some pushups. How far apart are your hands?

• Install knobby tires. Whatever you like for XC is perfect. My P3 has a very knobby Eskar 2.3 on the front and a low-profile FastTrack 2.2 on the rear.

• Learn to ride flat pedals. That’s a good idea in general. BUT: You can clip in if you want to.

• Specialized makes the best bikes EVER! But the other guys — Kona, Giant, Trek, Santa Cruz, etc. — all do a great job too. As a matter of fact, the new Santa Cruz Chameleon has my dream do-all geometry. Pick a bike you like from a shop you trust. The guys at The Fix take great care of me.

• If you want to go all the way, as I have, start with a top-range frame like the P3 and build it with great parts. My special “P.PUMP” has a P3 frame, Fox 831 fork, Gamut chain guide, Shimano XTR brakes and SRAM Rise 60 carbon wheels. Everyone who rides it says it’s the best hardtail they’ve ever ridden. This thing is a weapon!

Oh yeah baby! Day 1 on the P.PUMP

All bikes are rad. Get whatever you can afford, then ride the heck out of it!


Know more. Have more fun!

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9 replies
  1. zach says:

    I heard Tribe frames are a pretty sweet ride? Light, stiff and perfect geo. Not only that you can adjust the wheel base from 41in to 42.5in depending on the ride you are really looking for. Built as a single speed or geared they ride amazing. Give me a call sometime soon and maybe we can get our shred on out at Valmont.

  2. Wacek says:

    I pumped my 29er hardtail forn the first time 2 weeks ago – its interesting, but it seems it requires a bit more upper body action than 26 which can be pumped just by hips to a great extent. Havent managed to take it to the dirt jumps before the snow came.

  3. Feldy says:

    A very long story as to my opinion to DJ bikes on the trail:

    The fork on my “normal” bike (4″ FS 29er) broke when I was in Crested Butte last summer so I rode my DJ bike on a couple of trails. I built this bike custom and it’s got a seat tube that’s just long enough to get full extension with an x-long post and adjustable dropouts that allow the chainstays to go from 15.7-16.5″ and a fork that goes from 90-140mm. I normally run the fork at about 110mm and the chainstays slammed for riding park, but both were at full extension for the trail. Didn’t feel particularly weird on Strand Hill (tight swoopy trail in the trees), but I kept thinking “little bike” (think Chris Farley “fat man in a little coat”) while riding Doctor Park which is essentially like riding a speeder on the Endor Moon for several miles. This effect is no doubt magnified a bit by the 26 vs 29″ wheels I’m used to when going on fast downhills and the fact that I’m on the tall side of average at a little over 6′.

    Point is, it worked out fine but was definitely not as comfortable on the trail as a bike that fits me better. OTOH, it’s less bad on the trail than my trail bike is on the pump track.


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