The do it all bike?

Last weekend I thought I’d test the ‘do it all’ bike theory, having not had much time to ride over the past month due to work being crazy busy, I booked myself into two events to get me back into the swing of things – a mini downhill race on the Saturday and a 50km xc enduro event on the Sunday. I set myself one rule, that I couldn’t change anything about my setup other than my pedals.

So I took along my trail bike, an Orange Five, weighing in around 28lbs with fox float 150 forx, stans flow rims on hope pro 2 hubs, sunline 50mm stem and 745mm bars, hope brakes and a 34t single ring set up to see how it faired at the two events.

The steel city downhill in Sheffield on Saturday was another great example of the new movement of mini push-up downhill races that are helping to break down the barriers associated with downhill and open up racing to a much wider spectrum of riders. The courses are less intimidating and people are encouraged to ride whatever their background. Props to the organisers, this is Sheffield who had done a good job organising the bash which was raising money to save the woods we were racing in. People were riding all manner of bikes from hardtails to downhill bikes but the five seemed a decent set up. The course followed a really mellow gradient so even the semi slick xc tyre didn’t seem too bad at first. It was wet and soft and even this easy looking course was proving tricky as the course cut up in the conditions.

Misty, murky and wet but still great fun, the Sheffield Steel Downhill on the Saturday


A steady first run preceded a stack right in front of the baying crowd in run two after I’d jinxed myself by saying that ‘you didn’t really need a lot of grip on this course’, schoolboy error that one. Bars and stem twisted I remounted and then wobbled off down the drop and almost into a tree at the finish, not a great ride! Thoroughly soaked through I loaded the van and hit the M1 for the 3 hr or so journey back home ready for the early start at the Wentwood enduro near my home in the morning.

It was a totally different crowd to the day before and there were many hardtails, much lycra and a few bikes with odd sized wheels! Despite the abundance of racing snakes I didn’t feel too over biked on the course which had a decent mix of technical terrain. After riding the first half with my mate I decided to press on and get my teeth stuck in slowly working through the pack from quite a way back to a decent finish. The organisers had done a first class job of the course with plenty of short technical ups and lots of flowing descents where time could be made up.

Not short of breath - honest!


Back at the car park – I had a look at the bike and thought ‘would I have been better off changing my bike/setup for either event?’ – probably, a light weight xc bike would undoubtedly have given me a better finish today, then I thought ‘would I of had as much fun?’ – I doubt it!

The five still reigns supreme in this household, xc, downhill, the works.

Check out the Goshawk 50km in 2012:

And for all things Sheffield check the blog:

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6 Responses to The do it all bike?

  1. Steve says:

    Have you tried any sort of dirt jumping with the five? Bit of a random question I know but I ride a 140mm hardtail for everything at the moment and I’ve been thinking about a five frame. I test rode one on my local mini downhill trails and loved it but the only thing is I do have a dirt jump session every now and again (not huge but deffo ‘BMX’ transitions) and due to other commitments 2 ‘decent’ bikes would be a bit of a pain.


    • rowansorrell says:

      That is where I would have to draw the line – you could get away with mellow transitions – i.e redhill or chicksands 4x but if you were to hit true jump trails with steep transitions then any trail bike will wallow too much to really enjoy it. If it’s once in a blue moon you could boost the shock pressure up to its max which would help but it’ll never feel like a hardtail. Cheers

  2. vintageairuk says:

    I thought that would be the case! Having come from a BMX background I’ve only really ridden hardtails so I had to ask! I’ve definately caught the downhill/trail centre bug though! Thanks for your reply, much appreciated!


  3. Adey Bennett says:

    Can’t agree more with your write-up!
    I’ve set my (2011) 5 up with Lyric 160 coil and DHX coil rear and the bike is a mini-DH beast. Brilliant for local trails; snappy and responsive. Then pedals sweetly back to the top.
    Going to put the air shock back on and lighter tyres for a Coast-2-Coast epic in July: Can’t wait! A true “Swiss Army Bike”

  4. Pete says:

    What kind of tires you were using? I guess you didn’t change them between the events either?

    • rowansorrell says:

      Good old Maxxis crossmark on the back which was very squirmy on the wet downhill course and a single ply minion on the front – that was one of the conditions I set, I had to use the same tyres both days and I didn’t fancy pedalling a pair of dual ply super tacky tyres for 50k’s

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