When venturing out to ride a downhill mountain bike park, you may be asking yourself the question above. “Do I need a full suspension mountain bike? I already have a bike in the shed with front shocks. It works just fine!!”
To put it simply, YES! A full suspension mountain bike is worth its weight in gold out on the trails. If your bike does not have a rear shock, usually found between the seat and the pedals, and a front fork with at least 120mm of travel (that’s just about 5 inches) then you are going to want to rent a full suspension mountain bike for your day of downhill mountain biking in Vermont.
Renting a Mountain Bike at Stratton
Stratton offers full suspension mountain bike rentals right at the base of the mountain. This makes your day as convenient as showing up with a pair of pants on. Mountain Bike Rentals can be made online in advance of your trip to ensure rentals for you and your group. Every bike rental includes a full-face helmet, elbow pads and knees pads. These pads are all recommended for first time, novice, and experienced riders to help inspire confidence on the trails.
The beauty of renting a bike where you plan to ride the bike is the ease of transportation. For the most part, bikes can be transported in one of four ways. In a pickup truck. By taking the front wheel off and trying to ‘Tetris’ it into your sedan. By a car-mounted bike rack (usually expensive). Or strapped sketchily to the top of your vehicle to then be forever viewed as a menace to society by the local community. Your face may even end up on the front page of the newspaper if you’re not careful with the last option. OR, you can rent a bike in the Stratton Village and ride it over to the lift. The choice is yours.
First Run in the Stratton Village handles all of the bike rentals out of the Junior Mountain Sports School. You’ll find three different options available for a variety of riding styles and skills. While 120mm of travel (this is how much your shocks move up and down) may be the minimum amount of travel you want, the rental fleet contains bikes with 160mm and 170mm of travel, ideal for Stratton’s trails. Think of travel like hitting a large pothole in the road. Would you rather absorb it glide over the pothole in a lifted Jeep (large amounts of travel), or send your head through the ceiling of your new Corvette (low amounts of travel)? More travel equals a smoother ride on mountain trails.
Remember how easy it was to show up and ride? While it’s just as easy to check out of the park for the day. Roll your bike back to the Junior Mountain Sports School and place it in the rack when you’re done riding the trails. Drop off your pads and you’re finished. Now it’s time for dinner at Mulligan’s or an apres at Bar 802 or Green Door Pub in the Village. You can hit all the spots if you want because you’re going to feel the need to tell everyone about how incredible your day of sending it was. When you rent there is no need to mess with getting a dirty bike back in your car or truck, or end up on the front page of the newspaper.
Benefits to a Full Suspension Bike on the Trails
When you rent a full suspension mountain bike, not only are you going to look cooler, but the bike itself offers so many benefits on the trail that we could start a new blog post on tires alone. Let’s cover a few, for now, to get you started.
Enjoy a Smoother Ride
Riding a full suspension bike with the proper amount of travel is critical in ensuring you have the best day on the trails. Travel helps the bike to roll over features and maneuver through corners and various obstacles. Think about the Jeep and the Corvette. More travel, more smooth. Our bike techs will also set the suspension to react specifically to your weight and ability level. Thus, making the bike truly unique to you that day. Riding a full-suspension bike makes your whole day a lot smoother, quite literally.
Better Traction & Braking
Full-suspension mountain bikes offer many advantages in traction and braking too. By allowing the bike to compress into the dirt, more traction is gained by transferring your weight and body movements from the frame and into the tires, giving you more contact on the trails. More contact, more grip, more traction, more control.
This is a big one, especially for newer riders. Unlike that old bike in the shed, you will notice a metal ring on the inside of your wheels. This is a rotor for your disc brakes. Mountain bikes are equipped with hydraulic disc brakes to give you enhanced braking power at higher speeds, in wet conditions, or anytime you don’t feel like hugging a tree. Having disc brakes allows for more confidence, better bike techniques and becomes especially important when riding in a group. Disc brakes and stopping power are often underlooked but are both huge benefits when deciding to rent a proper mountain bike over bringing an older trail bike.
Better Body Position
By now you may realize that all bikes are not created equal. Stratton’s selection of full-suspension mountain bikes are made for downhill riding. Each model was chosen by our bike techs as the best fit for our trails. The angles built into the bike (angle of the seat post, angle of the front fork, down tube angle, etc) allow for the best body position, cornering techniques, braking power, balance and overall flow through the Stratton Bike Park. If all these concepts sound like a different language to you, consider pairing your bike rental with a Mountain Bike Lesson. Here you’ll work on all of the skills listed and increase your confidence as a rider, and fun on the trails.
Each full suspension mountain bike rental comes equipped with downhill mountain bike tires. One of the most noticeable upgrades any rider can make to a mountain bike is new tires with fresh tread and loads of traction. Think about how important your snow tires are in the winter. The same holds true for mountain biking. By riding a bike with a specific set of tires with specialized lug patterns, tuned air pressure and various compound constructions, you will notice an increase in handling, traction, rolling speed and braking power.
Taking a lesson in the Bike Park with our Mountain Sports School is the quickest way to excel on your bike. An instructor will give you tips and tricks to the sport. Many of these may take you a long time to figure out on your own but can be subtleties that add up fast and help improve your riding.
Did you know that you always ride with just your index finger on the brake levers? This allows quicker braking, and the ability to modulate your brakes through corners to control speed and take better lines.
During a lesson in the bike park, instructors can work with you in real-time on techniques including braking, body positioning and foot placement. You’ll work on descending various features like rock gardens and flows sections. Instructors will teach proper trail etiquette and so much more. A lesson will give riders an abundance of fundamentals to build a foundation upon. As you go on more freerides through trail systems, and road trips with your friends, you’ll be proud of the foundation you have from lessons to build new skills upon.
Posted August 9, 2021 by Andrew Kimiecik
Grab more tips for the trails in our Mountain Bike First Timers Guide