Small DH bikes for big people?

Hey Lee, I am six feet tall and have been running large dh bikes for years. Would a medim be too small? I do come from a BMX background and like to flick the bike when possible. I was wondering if the smaller bike would be more unstable at speeds?

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Hi Don,

Quite a few 6-foot-something downhillers run medium and even small frames. A short bike is theoretically less stable than a long one, but modern DH rigs are dialed in every size. The shorter bike is certainly more flickable, and that’s what the riders seem to dig.

6-foot Curtis Keene flicks a small V10 through Schleyer at Whistler.

Dr. Keene railing a very-high-speed berm on A Line.

Jeff Bryson boosts a small SX Trail, which he rips all over Whistler.

5-8ish Brandon Sloan, Specialized product manager, runs small DH bikes. He can run any size he wants …

I’m 5-9, and I run a medium DH bike. Why? Because it’s a closer match my Enduro, and I’ve been riding a medium DH bike forever. But I spend a lot of time on a small P.3 … maybe it’s time to shorten the DH bike?

9 replies
  1. Justin Brown says:

    I am 6’3″ and I run a Yeti ASX Medium for exactly the same reason. I want to be able to put the bike where I want it, when I want it. Like you I come from a BMX background and I am use to smaller bikes. I’m sure my back will be cursing me in the future, but…Kyle Ebbett is about 6’5″ and he rocks a smaller bike…I think. And then there is Derek Knobman who is like 6’7″ or something like that…go smaller.

  2. leelikesbikes says:

    Here’s one way to look at this:

    – A bigger bike is always more stable than a little one.

    – You can learn to flick a big bike.

    – After you do that, you have a stable, flickable bike.

  3. liqwid says:

    Its also relative when you’re talking about large, med, or small. My Medium IH Sunday has the same vertical top tube length as a large Specialized Demo 8. If I were racing I’d want the longer top tube but because the smaller DH bike’s effective top tube matches my DJ bike it ‘s feels more familiar and more flickable.

  4. Paul says:

    For what its worth Don I run a medium Commencal super team and am 6,3. I still ride BMX pretty regularly and dirt jump a small frame so the transition is quite tight between all my bikes, which helps. I’ve ridden a few ‘correct’ sized frames for my height and they feel like gates!

  5. James says:

    I am 6′-3″ and I ride a MED Intense Socom. Stability is not an issue at all, I can go between that and my DJ hardtail all day long and also get out my FIT BMX bike and shred the skatepark in the afternoon for good measure. One of the guys I ride with regularly, Phil Ott, is the same size as me and rides the same bike, he just became Collegiate National DH champion. It works for him, and it works for me.

  6. zack says:

    I’m 6 foot and i ride a small SX Trail and I love the shortness of the bike. I can flick it where ever I want.

  7. nobody says:

    a ‘too small’ front end may actually gain some stability … by running a longer stem and bars rotated forward you may have more leverage against ‘180 bar twist’ that can happen in the big rocks .

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