Here are five bikes for a more discerning customer. If you don’t like an element of the spec of a pre-built bike you’ll have to replace it yourself and hope you get an alright price when you sell it second hand. With these bikes you only buy the frame (you even have to pay extra for the shock in some cases) so you can spec it whichever way you please from the seatpost through to suspension.
Of course, you can buy most downhill bikes as a frame only set up but we’re focussing here on those that are sold solely as two metal triangles.
Hailing from Poland, the Antidote Lifeline is a 26 inch, 220mm, fully carbon, handmade beauty of a frame. It weighs a feather under 3 kilograms in size medium and will set you back a cool €3,000 (without shock).
The frame is designed for bike park pinners who can’t get on with bigger wheels and need a light, yet durable, bike to chuck around the trails.
You won’t find many downhill framesets for less than £1,500 but the Pathogen blows this knowledge out of the water. Retailing at $994 (£850) including an X-Fusion Vector Coil shock you get an eight-inch travel monster on which to hang some Gucci kit.
Airborne traditionally make a range of affordable hardtails, so this really is a step away from the norm for them, at that price however, you can hardly go wrong.
Conceived, designed and made in Great Britain, Empire Cycles’ VX8 is the accumulation of both its creator’s passion for precision engineering, and deep-seated love of downhill mountain biking.
Empire make some of the most beautiful frames in existence so you can be sure to see them loaded up with equally amazing custom specs.
Nicolai Ion 20
Nicolai does offer its Ion 19 as a fully built bike but, as it stands, the Ion 20 is a frame only affair. The Ion 20 isn’t quite as wild as the 19 currently being raced by Jack Reading’s One Vision Global Racing team, but it still has some impressive numbers including 240mm of travel, a 63° head angle and a wheelsbase in excess of 1,250mm.
Nicolai also offers a huge amount of customisation with the G20, right down to what colour you want the individual chainstays to be.
Zerode are one of the buzz brands of the moment thanks to their limpet-like commitment to fitting gearboxes to bikes. So, calling this a frame only model would be a bit misleading as you also get a shifter, gearbox, tensioner, rear sprocket, spacer kit, axle and shock guard.
We rode an early incarnation of the Zerode and were mightily impressed with its weight distribution and ride. You can read that here.
The Diamondback DB8 may be a fairly dated design but you can still see them being raced at the BDS by the 44 Racing team. With 200mm of travel, 27.5 wheels and a rugged aluminium construction, the DB8 is a solid package and comes with a highly rated Fox DHX shock.
The frame will set you back over £2,000 but it comes with a headset, seatpost and even a rear mudguard.