Downhill Bikes

Six downhill mountain bikes from UK brands

Best of Britain (and Northern Ireland)

When it comes to downhill riders, there’s none finer than the British. However, when it comes to bikes, we don’t have quite the same domination. Often our quickest riders will be lured by frames from the US or continental Europe, and not since the glory days of the Orange team of the early noughties, has a British brand truly been a class apart.

However, that’s not to say we don’t make a heck of a lot of gorgeous bikes, so here’s seven of the best downhill bikes made by brands from the British Isles.

Orange 324 Factory

It’s easy to look at the Orange 324 and write it off as a crude piece of engineering thrown together in a shed, especially when it’s pitted against the carbon superbikes of today. However, this is a bike that lets its speed do the talking.

Incremental improvements have given the 324 spot on angles and its aluminium construction gives the perfect balance of flex and stiffness. With the right spec this is a killer bike.

Saracen Myst Team

With race winning pedigree coming courtesy of Manon Carpenter in the World Cups and Matt Simmonds in the BDS, the Myst is a bike with serious pedigree. It’s the only bike in this list that’s available in carbon and offers one of the best packages for privateer racers.

The Myst made it into our 2015 Dirt 100 thanks to its meteoric rise to the top level of racing and great value spec. The introduction of carbon just makes it all the more enticing

Nukeproof Pulse

The other bike doing the rounds on the World Cup circuit is the Nukeproof Pulse. It too has claimed wins thanks to Sam Hill and remains one of the very best aluminium downhill bikes on the market.

Nukeproof has the sizing spot on with this bike, making it a great option for taller riders, which, combined with a slack head angle, give it great stability. This is a bike that has earned its place in the hearts of riders worldwide.

Vitus Dominer

Northern Ireland’s answer to the German direct sales powerhouses, the Vitus Dominer is a great value package from Chain Reaction Cycles. We’ve only ever ridden Vitus’ trail and enduro options but they offered a great ride at a highly competitive price, which leaves us confident to recommend the Dominer.

Empire VX 8

Empire bikes are always gorgeous pieces of art but they have no place in gallery. A love of engineering and downhill combined to create the VX8, a sculpted lump of metal that looks more fit for a NASA launch than a downhill race.

CNC’d, compatible with 26 or 27.5 inch wheels and available with a shock for only £1,600 make it a great option in our book

BTR Belter

Yeah, the BTR Belter is a hardtail, but if it isn’t the coolest and most capable hardtail in the world then we don’t know what is. It’s long, low, slack and full of attitude, if you want to shake up your local DH trails then this is the first arrow you should notch.

It may not be the most desirable or flashy downhill bike but, let’s put it this way, just because you buy ridiculously expensive dance shoes it doesn’t mean you’ll have more fun on the dance floor. You can either do the ‘moon walk’ or you can’t. Do you know what I mean?

Bonus! Millyard

DirtTV:Millyard Viper V10 a Mountain Biking video by dirt

We love men in sheds and Allen Millyard is one of our favourites. When his son wanted an eight inch downhill bike he set about creating his own, complete with a gearbox, nitrogen shock, single sided swingarm and sealed chain drive. It set one of the fastest times on our 1:04 test track with an amazing ride and it wasn’t until years later we were told that it only had 125mm of travel.

Millyard now focusses more on motorbikes but the “Railroad” bike will always have a place in our hearts.

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