Downhill is as primitive and unrefined today as it has been for many years. In many areas it’s a sport considerably further away from the Formula One game that many people perceive it to be. Yes, its much more exciting than F1 but the equipment and the mindsets are a mix of madness and insularity and not necessarily in that order.
Let’s not make grand generalisations here though. There IS innovation and there IS athleticism aplenty that mixes with the feral beasts and machines. Yes the machines. Air and coil has ebbed and flowed between Fox and RockShox for many years on the top ten machinery. For 2017 the Swedes at Ohlins look set to march into this territory and they’ve already upset a few people.
Carbon is still vying with aluminium as the material of choice but real performance is difficult to prove with so much marketing involved. Both materials are presented in chassis designs of wildly differing flex and stiffness characteristics. Stiff has come to be associated with fast but that’s much further from the truth than many care to believe. Dig deeper into the body of fine design and you’ll find heart’s way more elastic than the tense marketing would have you believe.