Race to Summer: Kick-Start Your Dream MTB Build

Bike park season is almost here. Is your mountain bike ready? With our Race to Summer event, you'll save big on frames, wheels, and components, so you can get your downhill or enduro rig dialed.

Race to Summer: Kick-Start Your Dream MTB Build

Written by
Bruce Lin

Published on

Posted in
Bikes

Downhill bike parks are opening soon, and this summer I plan to amp up my riding by shredding berms and boosting jumps. Of course, I’m going to need a burly new park bike to handle all the big hits and gnarly terrain. I could just buy a complete downhill or enduro bike, but where’s the fun in that? Building a bike up from a frame is one of my favorite pastimes, and it lets me get the exact components I want to achieve total downhill domination. Plus, if you hunt for deals, you can end up saving big. 

If you’re interested in building up a mountain bike frame, or just looking for some upgrades, check out our Race to Summer event, which features plenty of discounted MTB frames, wheels, and components. I’m giving my own dream downhill bike park build a kick-start by putting together a sweet “rolling chassis.” Here's what I came up with.  

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Evil Insurgent V1 Large Frame - $1,599.99 $2,799.99

Evil Insurgent frame

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For local bike parks, the Evil Insurgent is my weapon of choice. Since I’m not racing, a frame designed for smaller 27.5” wheels is ideal. It will keep the bike agile and playful so I can really get steezy on the jump lines. This Insurgent V1 frame has 151mm of rear travel, and the front end is compatible with forks up to 180mm. You can even run a dual-crown fork. This means I can max out the bike’s big-hit capabilities, and get an outrageously slack 63.8-degree head angle, essentially creating a mini-DH bike. This Insurgent already has some wear and tear to the paint, so I won’t worry about abusing it on downhill trails. Plus, it fits a 200x57mm rear shock, which I have a bin full of in my garage.   

ENVE M730 w/ i9 Hydra Boost Hubs 27.5" Wheelset - $1,887.99 $2,549.99

ENVE M730 wheels

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It wouldn’t be a dream mountain bike without some dreamy wheels so I’ve picked out some fancy carbon ENVE M730s for the Insurgent. They come with ENVE’s protective rim strip, a durable rubberized strip that eliminates the need for tire inserts. It extends over the rim walls, acting like a bumper between the rim and the trail to protect the rim from harsh impacts and prevent pinch flats. It’s also airtight, eliminating the need for tubeless tape. Of course, they spin on Industry Nine’s loud and attention-grabbing Hydra hubs, which will let all the groms know I’m coming up behind them.   

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e*thirteen LG1 Downhill Plus Semi-Slick Tire 27.5x2.35" - $30.99 $69.95

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I need two things from a rear tire: high puncture protection and low rolling resistance. That’s why I’ve chosen e*thirteen’s LG1 Downhill Plus tires with a semi-slick tread pattern. The tough casing combined with the ENVE protective rim strip should keep the air in the tire no matter what horrible lines I take. And the fast-rolling, semi-slick tread should help me get the speed needed to clear the biggest jumps.  

e*thirteen TRS Race All-Terrain Trail Tire 27.5x2.4" - $26.99 $69.95

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I tend to ride off the back of my bike, so I can often get away with a much lighter front tire. It just needs some big blocky knobs to help me get a grip in corners and under braking. E*thirteen’s TRS Race All-Terrain tires fit the bill, with a classic Maxxis Minion-inspired tread pattern and sticky rubber that will dig into loose dirt. 

Rockshox ZEB Ultimate 27.5" 180mm Fork 15x110mm 41mm Offset 2022 - $879.99 $1,019.99

[product-block handle="rockshox-zeb-ultimate-charger-2-1-rc2-27-5-180mm-grey"/]

I plan to put a 200x57mm RockShox Monarch Plus on the Insurgent frame, so to match, I want this beefy RockShox ZEB Ultimate up front. The ZEB has stiff 38mm stanchions which will help me plow straight through the chunkiest rock gardens. And with a massive 180mm of travel, it should give me the confidence to huck off the biggest features at the park. The Ultimate version has tunable high- and low-speed compression damping, so I can really dial it in for my trails.  

USE Vyce Aluminum Stem 31.8mm Clamp 0 Degree - $52.99 $110.00

[product-block handle="use-vyce-aluminum-stem-31-8-clamp-0-degree-black"/]

USE isn’t a super well-known brand, but it’s been making some interesting products that have caught my eye. The one component I’m keen on trying is the Vyce stem. This unique-looking piece is machined out of a single piece of aluminum, so it’s extremely light and stiff, and it provides a vice-like grip on the bars so they’ll never spin. Sounds perfect for downhill use. 

USE Nail Handlebar 31.8x780mm 20mm Rise Aluminum - $49.99 $95.00

[product-block handle="use-nail-handlebar-31-8x780mm-20mm-rise-aluminum"/]

Since I’m obsessed with having all of my components match, I’ll pair the USE Vyce stem with the USE Nail handlebars. They’re 780mm wide, which is what I already run, so they’ll require no cutting. I also prefer tough aluminum bars for bike park riding since they’re bound to hit the ground regularly. 

USE Helix Dropper Seatpost 30.9mm 125mm - $178.99 $356.00

[product-block handle="use-helix-dropper-seatpost-30-9-x-425mm-125mm"/]

For a dedicated park bike, I’d usually run a slammed rigid seatpost like you would on a downhill bike. But I can’t pass up this affordable USE Helix dropper which will match my USE cockpit. It has only 125mm of travel, so I’ll run it slammed to the collar, but that tiny bit of extension will be nice for the rare occasions I need to pedal uphill. 

Fizik Antares R5 Saddle 141mm Manganese Rails - $69.99 $145.00

[product-block handle="fizik-antares-r5-saddle-s-alloy-rails-black-grey-1"/]

My go-to saddle for all of my mountain bikes has always been the Fizik Antares because it’s thin and narrow, so it rarely gets in the way or gets caught on my shorts. Plus, it’s affordable, which is key because I expect it to get absolutely shredded from a season of use.  

Total cost: $4,777.91

At nearly $5,000, this “rolling chassis” has definitely entered dream build territory. As I said earlier, I already have multiple rear shocks that will fit the Insurgent frame, so all it needs to be ready to ride is a drivetrain and brakes. Luckily for me, I have a complete Shimano SLX drivetrain with four-piston brakes that I took off a Specialized Epic Evo I recently built.

Even if I didn’t already have these parts, a complete SLX groupset costs around $400. I want an affordable SLX group for this build because it will see a lot of abuse at the bike park and groupset weight doesn’t really matter for downhill riding. To me, a fast and capable park bike with ENVEs, a ZEB Ultimate fork, and a carbon Evil frame for just over $5,000 is a pretty screaming deal. 

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