By Josh Patterson. Photos by Justin Steiner, Adam Newman and Jon Pratt
I’ve raced a lot of super-D races in time, but full-on downhill is a new and inviting sport for me. I prepared for my first season of racing by watching the first two seasons of the Atherton Project. They make it look so easy. My DH racing comes at a much more sedate pace, with more crashing. Nonetheless, I’m enjoying myself immensely.
Rocky Mountain’s Flatline Pro is the bike that is introducing me to the world of park riding and downhill racing. Despite what the name may lead you to think, it is actually a budget-friendly bike, as far as downhill rigs are concerned. MSRP stands at $3,100.
The build is also very beginner-friendly. In the world of downhill suspension is king and it doesn’t come cheap.The Rockshox Boxxer RC fork and Vivid R2 shock are both good set-and-forget units. They lack the range of tuning options found on higher-end forks and shocks—this is not necessarily a bad thing; they let new riders dial in the suspension without being overwhelmed. I had my suspension dialed by my third run and was free to focus on developing my skills without worrying about how the bike would perform.
The current trend in downhill—actually, the trend with many longer-travel bikes—is long, low, and slack. Slack head tube angles, low bottom brackets, and longer wheelbases. “Plow bikes” is how I like to describe them. Stable, and able to conquer steep terrain at breakneck speeds. Perfect for World Cup-level racers, but not always the best choice for weekend warriors, and those who also spend a fair amount of time playing around in terrain parks.
The Flatline bucks this trend: It has a low-slung chassis, but a steeper-than-the-norm 65-degree head tube angle, and average wheelbase. It is quite maneuverable when riding in the terrain park, and, at the speeds I’m riding, the Flatline Pro doesn’t give up much in the realm of high-speed stability.
The first race aboard the Flatline was Gravity East Series #4 at Seven Springs Resort. The course was short, with numerous tight turns, and several pedaling sections. This seems like the type of terrain that best suits the Flatline’s nimble handling characteristics. This short video gives you an idea of the terrain.
Here’s how the racecourse looks from top of the mountain to the bottom. If you can stay off the brakes and stick the hairpin turns you can shave precious seconds off your time. Thanks to Dirt Rag’s Justin Steiner for taking the time to shoot this during one of his warm-up runs.
The Flatline’s ability to deftly maneuver though tight terrain should come as no surprise. This bike was born and bread on Canada’s North Shore, where tight, twisty, and technical trails abound.
Here’s the Flatline in its natural environment. Piloted by Rocky Mountain athlete Thomas Vanderham, who is eminently more capable of showcasing this bike’s capabilities than yours truly.
Look for the full review of the Flatline Pro in Issue #160. Order a subscription before October 1 to get the review hot off the press.
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