What is uphill anyway? As a true park rat, you won’t expend any energy to reach the trailhead, relying on the lift or the back of a pickup truck instead. The only thing that counts for you is laps, laps and more laps. You find your flow on all the trails the bike park has to offer and love styling it up as you fly through the air.
Bike park ≠ bike park! What you might consider a good trail to warm up on could be a trail with big jumps to someone else. Bike parks are melting pots of vastly different skill levels. However, good bike parks still allow all of these different riders to have fun together thanks to a wide range of trails and a reliable classification system to indicate the degree of difficulty. Flow line, jump trail, steep tech line or World Cup downhill track? For you, it isn’t either-or as you can flow on any trail! As a true park rat, you know the trails better than anyone else, combining official trails with secret lines to make the perfect lap that includes all the features you love. You’re rarely seen outside of the bike park. If you are, you’re on a freeride mission or digging at your home spot: as long as there’s something there to get your adrenaline pumping.
When riding in the park, you’re always out to have a good time, not a fast time. Doing a party train with your buddies, you surf the trails playfully and look damn stylish doing so, cheering each other on. “Send it, bro!” A cocktail of adrenaline, fear, peer pressure and weightlessness on the jump line makes you push your limits and write the occasional near-death experiences off as heroic. At the end of a day of countless laps – a big thank you to the inventors of the chairlift – it’s not just your forearms that burn but also your face from grinning so much.
If the drop is too high, you just need more experience or courage. The ideal bike can handle much bigger trail features than you could ever imagine. To push your limits as safely as possible, self-confidence is key! And that’s exactly what a composed bike with lots of reserves for those, “Oh shit!” moments can give you. In addition to downhill-oriented geometry, the performance of the suspension, brakes and tires is equally critical in the bike park, whereas things like the drivetrain and seat post play an insignificant role. Regardless of your weight, powerful brakes with large rotors are a must to avoid overheating on long runs. On top of that, good brakes can prevent arm pump. By the way, it isn’t all about the amount of travel your bike has. Instead, what matters is that it has plenty of reserves and offers enough support for pumping and jumping. Not every tire is suitable for the bike park either and, regardless of the tread or brand, it must have a thick and sturdy casing so that it stays on the rim through berms and the rim is protected when smashing through rocks. With bike park bikes, reliability is king! Thanks to the lift or shuttle, you can do countless runs throughout the season, which demands a lot from your bike and its components.
Our recommendations for park rats
Like long queues in front of the lift, crashing is sure to put a damper on the fun of bike park riding. However, it’s often just a part of the deal. Our tip on avoiding lift queues: take time off during the week to ride and catch up on work at the weekend. Unfortunately, there’s little you can do against crashing now and then… shit happens. Fortunately, crashing properly is an art form that you can learn! Protectors are mandatory in the bike park – knee pads are the absolute minimum. Our group test of the best heavy-duty knee pads tells you what to look for.
Dual crown forks aren’t only for downhill racers. There are some super exciting, long-travel eMTBs threatening to put lift operators out of work. Our battle of the gravity kings finds out whether eMTBs are suitable for the bike park.
Do you live in Central Europe and want to rock its alpine bike parks all summer long? In that case, the Gravity Card might be the ideal remedy. With just one season ticket, you can get access to 23 bike parks across six countries.
Your personal profile – Recommendations and tips from our website
Bike recommendations for park rats – read our reviews to find out more!
How about an eMTB?
Maintenance work got the lift shut down?! With the right eMTB, long queues at the ticket counter and overcrowded shuttle pickups can be a thing of the past. Our sister magazine E-MOUNTAINBIKE has reviewed a bunch of exciting bikes that you can use in the park. Spoiler alert: these eMTBs love catching air on huge jumps!