Before the rope has gone up each fall, our bike shop team has already begun the long process of evaluating and choosing the best available bikes to build the next season’s rental and demo fleet. It’s a process we take very seriously, and it requires us to take a lot of factors into consideration. Beyond just wanting to find what we consider the best-performing bikes, our criteria focuses on durability and serviceability.
During the season, our expert mechanics inspect and tune each bike every time it returns to us from the hill. Shifting, brakes, and suspension are all dialed in, bolts are tightened, and wheels are trued. Each bike is then wiped down, the drivetrain is lubed, and the suspension is set for the next rider’s weight. Durable and serviceable bikes allow our mechanics to keep all of our rental- and demo-riding guests on the hill with a lessened possibility of mechanical issues. All told, we simply won’t put our guests on bikes that we ourselves wouldn’t ride.
We are proud to work with a wide range of manufacturers in order to build a rental and demo fleet that can support riders of all ages and ability levels. From our entry-level Find Your Ride program to standard rentals to high-performance demos, there are over a dozen models in our 2020 fleet. With so many options available, how do you know where to begin?
For many years, the only bikes that could hold up to gravity mountain biking at Highland were downhill bikes. Built to be abused and go where gravity led them, theses bikes were single-purpose brawlers. They were burly (and heavy!) with lots of travel, designed to take on the biggest hits, jumps, rocks, and drops on the mountain. Over time, new designs and materials gave us lighter weight, better performing downhill bikes. Still remarkably durable and designed for riding with gravity, downhill bikes offer the most “insurance” against rider error over the gnarliest terrain. But what if that gnarly terrain isn’t your only focus?
Enter the enduro bike. A much newer addition to the gravity mountain biking game, these versatile steeds evolved out of full suspension trail bikes and have since become a core part of Highland’s Find Your Ride program and overall rental fleet. As regular riding trails got more technical, offering higher speeds and more challenging features, trail bikes needed to adapt. The enduro bikes we ride today took cues from downhill bikes, adopting more travel and a more forgiving geometry while maintaining just enough efficiency to pedal on natural trails and go uphill. This blend of attributes makes them perfectly suited to gravity mountain biking at Highland. Easier to learn new skills on and handle at moderate speeds, these bikes are still capable of riding all of our terrain. Enduro models are a preference for many of our coaching staff because of their versatility.
Our rental fleet spans three price ranges: Find Your Ride, Standard Rentals, and Premium Rentals. We think of them as “Good, Better, and Best.” Here’s what you’ll be riding this year:
Find Your Ride
This year’s Find Your Ride model comes from the largest bike manufacturer in the world: Giant Bicycles. Long known for their high-performance and durable gravity bikes, Giant has taken their versatile and proven enduro Reign model and beefed it up for bike park life. More fork travel, stronger wheels, and better brakes lead us to the Giant SX. We couldn’t find a better Find Your Ride bike to support you while you develop your skills and start exploring Highland’s terrain.
For our standard rentals, we combed the industry to find the strongest-performing downhill and enduro bikes from the best manufacturers. This year, we are excited to parter with Kona, Specialized, Rocky Mountain, and Rossignol to build our standard rental fleet. These bikes have all the performance and capability you need to push your riding to the next level on all of our terrain.
Standard Downhill Rentals: On the standard downhill side, we have two well-known and respected DH race bikes: the Specialized Demo 8 and the Kona Operator. With over eight inches of travel and bomb-proof components, these purpose-built missiles are designed to ride through anything on the mountain. If you bring the skills, nothing will hold these bikes back. What they give up in lightness and versatility, they make up for in unmatched stability.
Standard Enduro Rentals: For standard enduro rentals, we have three choices for our adult riders. The Rossignol All Track 27.5″ is a versatile enduro bike that combines efficiency and handling with lift-service capability. The Kona Process 153 is a bike that blends lightness and stable handling into a potent all-mountain ripper from the company that has helped define freeriding for over two decades. Last but not least, we have the brand-new Rocky Mountain Slayer 30. The heaviest-hitting enduro we could find, this bike blurs the line between enduro and downhill with long travel and relaxed handling in one nimble package.
For the Kids: We start with the Rossignol All Track 20″ and 24″ full suspension bikes. These are the younger siblings of the 27.5″, and are just as capable and ready to rip. For any of our young riders who are still a little too small for a full-sized bike but are ready for adult-level performance, we have the 26″ Rocky Mountain Reaper. The Reaper was a Highland rental favorite last season, and we have a brand new fleet of them ready to go this year.
These high-performance demos are the kinds of bikes most riders drool over. Carbon frames. High-performance suspension. SRAM Eagle 12-speed drivetrains. The good stuff. If you could choose one brand to build your dream bike, which would it be? For us, it’s a no-brainer: Santa Cruz Bicycles.
We offer both downhill and enduro Santa Cruz bikes in two wheel sizes: 27.5″ and 29″. Smaller-wheel bikes, like the Nomad with carbon wheels (enduro) and the V10 (downhill), offer a bit more of a nimble feel. The “big wheel” Megatower with carbon wheels (enduro) and V10 offer more speed and ease of control when rolling over obstacles in heavy terrain. Our Santa Cruz High Performance Demo Center gives you the chance to ride a range of the best bikes on the planet. Treat yourself for a day, or come out and try before you buy. You can’t go wrong.
Whether you’re planning a Find Your Ride for your first time riding at Highland or demoing a Santa Cruz as you prep for your next upgrade, we have options for you. We pride ourselves on giving you access to the tools you need to have fun and progress: amazing bikes that are looked over and serviced by some of the best mechanics in the industry. Reserve your rental or demo online, and your bike will be here waiting for you when you arrive. Want help choosing the best bike for you? Call or email the Highland Bike Shop for answers and guidance. You can reach us at (603) 286-7677 x 112 or [email protected]
We’re looking forward to getting out on the hill with you soon!