Places to ride a DH bike?

Hello Lee,
Your site is most helpful. I am considering buying a Demo 7. I live in Castle Rock, CO. Do you know of any close DH/FR areas in the Front Range (non resort) to ride it? Thanks for your help.

Moto-assisted shuttle at Left Hand Canyon OHV Area.

Hey Paul,

Downhill bikes are awesome, but they aren’t super practical. All I can suggest is:

1) You can ride on public trails. But you must be cool, follow the rules and NOT pin it when other people are around. The Front Range has shuttle possibilities, but I rarely shuttle for reasons of ethics and impatience.

2) You can ride in Off Highway Vehicle areas. OHV areas are completely legal, the trails tend to be gnarly and you aren’t gonna offend those trail users. I love Left Hand Canyon up in Boulder. You might explore Rampart Range. Many OHV areas are conducive to shuttles (wimp). Towing a DH bike uphill with a moto … now that’s cool.

3) The hills abound with bootleg trails. I don’t ride them, and I won’t suggest that you make friends and find out where those trails are.

I have to ask:

Why are you buying a DH bike? Can you ride it legally and ethically? If so, go forth and braaap. If not, consider a more practical bike.

— Lee

The riding in Left Hand Canyon is legal, ethical and SICK!

31 replies
  1. Christian says:


    I am not from your area but I would say that ,unless you are going to be racing or riding the lifts, I do not see a need for a full on DH rig. I would get something that you can still pedal up hill. I have an SX Trail, I can still pedal up hill and still hold my own with the XC group. On the down hills though, Braap! As for shuttle rides, it takes far longer to put together a shuttle than to hike and ride your bike to the top most of the time. Thats just my opinion though. I would venture to say that I can do most of the things that the average person can do on a DH rig but I can pedal/hike my bike back to the top.


  2. Paul says:

    Thanks for the insight sounds like a sx trail might be a nice bike, however I already have a 2007 enduro elite (not sl) would I really be upgrading that much?

  3. Paul says:

    Thats intresting however I am wondering the if differnce b/w the demo and sx trail is radical enough. the demos and the sxt has a 1 degree head angle difference and a few pounds between them. Besides that I already have a bike for xc I want something for gnar stuff my enduro isnt cutting it. further more If I got the sxt I would just be getting a enduro with a bit more travel. I can get a demo 7 2 for 2400 and i dont know were I can find a sxt. Sure the sxt might climb better but I bet I would be pushing it just as often.

  4. Christian says:

    1 degree slacker on your head angle will make a huge difference for decending. Low bottom bracket, shorter top tube, shorter stem, slacker = Jedi Knight Braap! On the other end though I full on DH rig is a lot of bike to throw around. Only way I would get one is if I lived right next to a bike park. Shuttling + people = unreliable ride time, in my experience. If you have the resources though I say go forth, throw down the bike Kung Fu and get the Big Hit Rig!

  5. dylan says:

    You are absolutely out of line I have ridden California trails on a dh bike for a long time.(DH bike No different than a single speed that you have to walk up the hill).All of them from legal single tracks in The Santa Cruz Mt’s to random shit in Lake Tahoe that the forest circus closed down. I also moto and quit that b/c gas is a rip off. Ride what you want when you want on bootleg trails or legal trails be courteous to people and they will respect you, whether you are in a ohv park or ridding the PCT. As for being a wimp for shuttling, i have riden toads wild ride from the bottom to the bottom 21 miles on a dh bike but would rather drive as far as i can walk the rest rip the downhill and then do it again in the same day totaling out at almost 28 miles of descending. Ride what you want, and a 7 inch bike is far from a dh rig

  6. Christian says:


    I was just offering my opinion, I did not lash at anybody as you have done. Thanks. As for Paul’s question I actually think a DH rig is great, I just offered my opinion to him, not you. As well I did not judge anybody! As for the forest circus, people build trails with no knowledge of erosion control, enviromental impact, and liability. In Europe and Canada they have so many great trails because people generaly take resposiblity for the consequences associated with DH and stunts associated with that. In the lower 48 it seems as though many are looking for early retirement (lawsuits) and therefore can you really blame the forest service?

  7. Eric says:

    I have a DH race bike and the reality is that bikes that big & fast are not that useful for day to day riding. You will really push your personal limits to find out the bikes limits, and likely end up hurting yourself. I also have a 6″ bike with a 50mm stem & chainguide that I call my “mini-dh bike” and I have a lot more fun on it on a wider variety of terrain. Sure, when you are in steep and deep, theres no doubt the big bike is better, but most of the time its overkill, and almost makes a lot of trails seem boring because they become so easy to ride. Go for a good 6″ or 7″ bike with a single crown. And most of all HAVE FUN!

  8. Sean says:

    Eric has a great point, I’d even push it further to say that if you want to make regular everyday trails more like the tracks you’d ride on a full DH bike, get something with 5″ or 4″ of travel, maybe even a hardtail, and learn to pick smoother lines.

    Riding a DH bike for XC is just plain dull IMO. If you want to do power work, go do some hill climbs on a road bike. That will do you more good than a dull XC ride on a huge DH bike, and will be more fun as well!

  9. leelikesbikes says:

    This is a great discussion on a topic I’ve been pondering.


    Fun happens when the demands of the situation intersect with the capabilities of the rider/bike. With a given amount of skill, too little bike is sketchy and too much bike is boring.

    We all have a different “sweet spot,” and that spot changes with mood, fitness terrain and time.

  10. Paul says:

    I think I am being misunderstood you see I have my enduro for AM riding I’ve done ten foot drops, wall rides, and jumps on it. I am riding the ragged edge of what the bike can take I am looking for something more beefy. Further more were I can ride such a beast. I will definatly consider that shock mod I agree the stock DHX is a POS. Also I will ride a demo and a SXT back to back and settle for which is better. Thanks for the input I will consider all your suggestions.

  11. Chris says:

    There is no right and wrong. The only wrong way to ride is to experience riding via Playstation. Let’s face it, we have all been through bike type and riding type ‘phases’, some last weeks, some lifetimes, some last until that new bike or experience makes you put that other bike away for good: singlespeed, full rigid, riding DH bikes on XC trails, riding XC bikes on DH trails, trials, BMX, DS, road, triathlon, fixie, cyclocross, recumbant etc. These phases we need to go through to make us that well-rounded rider that helps us make the best choice we can make for todays ride. When I was 20 I didn’t have the funds to buy strong AND light, but I could recover much better than I do now at 36. Not only was there no problem but no choice. Now my body is more precious than my bank balance so I’ll choose that carbon wheelset and reject that 40′ road gap.

  12. leelikesbikes says:

    Yup. You want some differentiation between your machines. Otherwise, you could ride your Enduro everywhere.

  13. dylan says:


    look in to buying a bike that meets the purpose you are looking to meet. If you all ready have a cross country bike by a dh rig and personally I would look in to different bikes maybe ride something in a shop or look in to reviews.

    to christian

    your bike is not challenged by pine nuts or what was a rad trail The King, and you can’t say that jackie chan or chianese downhill were poorly desinged trails that the forest circus shut down also king was shut down for what reason? my comment was also directed at lee who tends to be a little conservative being a strong voice for the cycling community and I thank him for that but were would we be if they had not built bootleg trails in BC? Probably not as far as we are now.

    as for me I ride a hard tail and a dh rig both single rings. In early 2000 switched to a six inch bike raced on that for seasons b/c race course were not challenging enough for a big bike. I started dh racing in 94 on a obed litespeed the old amp frame then a santa cruz heckler which i still have in parts. would much rather ride a big bike with others on a big bike but finding people who actually ride bikes instead of socializing on bikes but people mostly limit the bikes i ride so I spend most of my time riding solo at bike parks or on trail systems and build most of my trails on private property so I am the only one to answer to.

  14. Christian says:

    A little side note. All the trails that you list with the exception of Pinenuts are bootleg trails, actually not sure if Pinenuts is either, which makes me a hypocrite. Not going to stop riding them. If they closed them, I would be bummed, but would understand. I always try to look at both sides viewpoint on the circumstance (with the exception of the snipers planting boobie traps, they suck!). Building features on Forestry land is ILLEGAL! So when our trails get sterilized, pony up and rebuild it. Dylan, you make some great points, but dude! It’s a cycle of what happens and that is just the way it is. You are obviously quite the rider, Jedi Master. Big brother is always watching you! Challenge the establishment! Sorry Dylan, just can’t help it, just kidding man. Seriously though, Paul, you are completely right about being misunderstood, Sorry. If you are riding the edge of what your bike can do and have the resources to ride the Big Hit Bike, then rip it!

  15. dylan says:

    Then Christian let us both go forth and braap da braap braap out of the resources we have.
    I also apologize for being the bitter man that I am just may be from the Dark Side, I guess

  16. tom says:

    yo lee are there any spots to ride a dh bike in toronto me and my demo 9 got transfered there from fernie please help

  17. tom says:

    hey lee thanks for the tip turns out there are some really kick ass places to ride in TO (surprisingly) not lift accessed downhill of course but some cliff action and north shore stunts mabey you should come out here some time,

    or mabey not because you seem to have some great riding in boulder but if you are stuck at some random family reunion for a weekend consider bringing your bike

    P.S. people are actually not all snobs

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