Dirt Jump mountain biking is becoming more and more popular among both BMX and mountain bike riders. Since the discipline takes aspects from both BMX and MTB it’s not much of a surprise that many people find it easy to make the jump.
Dirt jumping and Slopestyle biking are both effectively part of the same cycling discipline though various things separate them. The changes start with the courses riders have to ride. Slopestyle events often feature bigger, more difficult obstacles. Slopestyle courses seem to be a mix between dirt jump and downhill courses, so you will often find these events dug into the side of a mountain or hill.
Dirt jumps are regularly placed on flatter or slightly slanted slopes, places where the course builder has much more control when building and refining the jumps. Dirt jump and BMX Tracks are very similar, the course requires the rider to gain speed through pumping trannies and landings. On the other hand, slopestyle courses try to rely on the angle of the slope it is based on to give the rider speed. While the jumps are bigger, they are often spaced much farther apart, giving you enough time to control yourself, gain enough speed and prepare for the next trick.
Due to the reasons I have mentioned above, the design of slopestyle and dirt jump bikes need to be different. Dirt jump bikes need to be twitchier and more controllable in the air. These characteristics prevent the bike from being as controllable at high speeds and less comfortable on bumpy, single track style tracks.
The best dirt jump bikes are nearly always hardtail with approximately 100mm of travel on the front suspension. The tires can be slicker than slopestyle bikes but no so much as BMX’s. The perfect tire will be entirely dependant on the type of terrain you ride most commonly but you want to be looking for something between full mountain bike tires and BMX tires.
1. YT Industries Dirt Love Mountain Bike
YT (Young Talent) is a very new bike brand. Markus Flossman, a German weightlifter founded the company as recently as 2007. In my opinion, YT has a lot of similarities to Tesla. They have been around the same amount of time; both companies were big disruptors to the existing market that had become lax with their dominance over the market and customers. YT has come into the world of mountain biking, created some great products and sold them at an even better price.
Although they were making a great product, YT didn’t break into America until 2015. This isn’t all bad though because as soon as they did Aaron Gwin was signed to the company and promptly won the 2016 and 2017 World Cup Downhill Championship.
Simply due to the sheer amount of bikes, frames and other designs that have been released over the years it’s hard for newer companies like YT to come onto the scene and be labelled as innovators. YT seems to have realised this and that’s why they’re doing such a great job taking proven designs and disrupting the market by making them new and great.
Flossman has managed to keep the bikes the same high quality offered by many other brands but at a fraction of the cost. He did this by cutting out the middle-man retailers.
YT began out of Flossman wanting to help kids that love to ride dirt jumps but couldn’t afford a bike that matched up to their skill level. The dirt love was the first full bike products by YT. I think that makes them a perfect fit for this article.
The Dirt Love 2020 jump bike hasn’t changed much from the original design many years ago. Bikes that have been iterated over for many years usually means it’s a brilliant design that works well. I believe that YT views the Dirt Love at its peak design and performance. That’s why they recently released the bike in a longer frame size for those that are taller or ride bigger slopestyle jumps.
As with many of the higher-end dirt jump bikes, you get a lot of similar parts added to the bikes. The Dirt Love has the super common but extremely high-quality RockShox Pike Fork. Not always as common but just as high quality are the DT Swiss 533D wheels that are fitted to the bike. They look great with the new black colour scheme.
As well as the new super dark colour scheme the 2020 Dirt Love Jump Bike has hydroformed steel tubes with internal gussets that reinforce several of the most vulnerable points of the bike.
- Frame: Dirt Love 26”
- Forks: Rock Shox Pike DJ
- Stem: Sram Descendant
- Weight: 11kg
- Saddle: SDG Pivotal
- Crankset: Sram Descendant
- Tires: Maxxis Ikon & DTH
- Bottom Bracket: Sram GXP
- Headset: Acro AIX-326
- Wheelset: DT Swiss / YT Division
- Brakes: Sram Level TL
- Bars: Sram Descendant
- Grips: ODI Elite Motion
2. Canyon Stitched 720 Full Suspension Slopestyle Bike
For a long time, I have known Canyon make some of the most popular dirt jump and slopestyle bikes on the UCI circuit but I had never come across the Canyon Stitched 720 before researching for this article. I truly believe this is one of the best looking slopestyle bikes.
The frame design with a unique rear suspension placement is the main factor causing me to fall in love with this bike. In my opinion, the best full-suspension frames are those that don’t deviate too much from the regular dirt jump frame shape. There are two main reasons I prefer this. The first is simply the aesthetic appeal of the bike. Full Suspension bikes that look like the regular hardtail are just gorgeous in my eyes. The second reason is the advantages you seem to get from designs like this.
Canyon and other brands that design like this also take a lot of measurements and geometry from their hardtail counterparts. As I have mentioned earlier in this article, the varying types of courses commonly mean that the bikes are actually designed quite differently. Having aspects of both of these types of bikes will give you the ability to switch between the two riding styles much easier.
When you get down to things like the forks, rear shocks, wheels etc. of slopestyle bikes you will quickly realise that there isn’t a tonne of difference
Depending on the price range, you will realise there isn’t a tonne of difference between the smaller parts of slopestyle bikes. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Canyon has used some brilliant, innovative parts for the Stitched 720.
Canyon has added 100mm of travel to the front and rear of the bike. The rear is fitted with a top of the range RockShox Monarch RT and the front a RockShox Pike DJ, a fork we have written about before.
If you look closely you can see this frame has some nice looking dropouts. Most full-suspension frames like this will have vertical dropouts so you can switch to riding gears should you choose so. The Stitched frames feature a BMX style horizontal dropout with subtle built-in chain tensioners. Horizontal dropouts are great for keeping your chain tight and allowing you much more customization.
- Frame: Canyon Stitched
- Rear Shock: RockShox Monarch RT
- Forks: RockShox Pike DJ
- Crank: Truvativ Descendant 7K 30T
- Chain: KMC Z510HX
- Brakes: SRAM Level T
- Wheel: Alexrims FR30
- Tire: Maxxis Ikon 2.3”/2.35”
- Stem: Canyon G5
- Bars: Canyon H42, 38mm Rise
- Grips: Canyon Stitched
Thomas Genon’s Canyon Stitched 720 | GMBN Pro Bike
3. Scott Voltage YZ 0.1 Dirt Jump MTB Bike
Ever since I first started to ride and get into mountain biking and dirt jumping, Scott has been one of the brands I have always come back to. They make so many types of bike all amazing quality.
Buying a Scott bike can always be considered a good option if you don’t know much about the type of bike you’re buying.
The Scott Voltage isn’t a new design, it has been refined over several years of production. Scott has kept the frame design near enough exactly the same every year. My first thought when seeing the frame is that the tubular shape isn’t that nice. The overall geometric shape of the frame is well thought out and perfect for a lot of riders but I much prefer circular tubing used continuously from the front to the rear. I understand that this type of design isn’t always advantageous when developing a low short frame like this.
When you get down to the nitty-gritty details like geometry and lengths, most dirt jump bikes don’t vary much more than a couple of degrees or millimetres. Brands like Scott have to do something different to distinguish themselves from the myriad of other great jump bikes on the market.
In terms of the Voltage, a couple of things stick out. The positioning of the seat tube is one of these. The vast majority of bikes have a straight seat tube that goes almost vertically down and attaches to the top of the bottom bracket shell. Instead of this, the YZ 0.1 has a seat tube that is angled and finished in front of the BB-Shell. The main advantage of doing this is the ability to have even shorter chainstays.
One of the instantly noticeable features of the Voltage frame is it’s super short back end, the angled seat tube is the characteristic making this possible. When riding this bike you’ll be surprised at how twitchy the rear end is. The bike loves being on its back wheel whether you mean to be there or not. It takes a bit of getting used to and you might loop out a few manuals but the bike is nicely dialled in.
As for the other parts of the bike, unfortunately, you can see the company hasn’t made an effort to use the very best parts possible. I’m not saying the bike is sub-par since it hasn’t got top of the range parts most commonly seen on custom bikes but some parts, such as the Tektro brakes may not be up to all riders standards.
Having said this, some parts like the Forks, chain and hubs are well renowned and high quality. I would have no problem buying a lot of these parts separately and adding them to my other bikes.
- Frame: Voltage YZ DJ 6061 Alloy
- Fork: 100mm Air X-Fusion Slant DJ
- Headset: Syncros OE Press Fit E2
- Brakes: Tektro 160mm Hydraulic
- Cranks: Scott Cr-Mo 3 Piece
- Sprocket: 170mm/25T Alloy BMX
- Bars: Syncros Hixon Rise 2
- Grips: Syncros Pro DH Lock-on
- Pedals: Wellgo B107 Flat
- Front Hub: Formula DC-51 / 15x100mm
- Rear Hub: Formula DC42-N
- Chain: KMC Z510
- Rims: Syncros MD25 32h
- Tires: Kenda K905 26x2.3”
- Weight: 12.8kg
4. Saracen Amplitude CR3 MTB
Saracen is another brand that is pretty big in the dirt jump market. They are by no means as big as Scott but they make some great bikes that definitely hold their own.
Saracen was started in the UK way back in ‘83. The founders were on the cutting edge of mountain biking. The Saracen mountain bike was one of the first complete mountain bikes in England.
We can’t deny the fact that the bikes were high quality as after just one year two Saracen mountain bikes were ridden to the summit of Kilimanjaro by Nick and Richard Crane. I can’t say if ever want to ride uphill for that long. Let’s hope they had a brilliant downhill ride at the end.
Achievements like Kilimanjaro and others with the bikes themselves made Saracen a widely known market leader throughout the ’90s.
2009 came and Madison Bikes, the premier bike seller in the UK bought the company, bought Saracen.
The Amplitude CR3 isn’t the most expensive dirt jump bike made by Saracen, that’s award goes to the Amplitude AL Team. Regularly the most expensive bike is considered the best but in my opinion, I’d still pick the CR3 over the AL Team. Simply due to the length of time, the CR3 has been tried and tested. The AL is very new and while it is probably an absolutely smashing bike I’d rather wait a few years for them to refine it to perfection.
The Amplitude CR3 dirt jump bike is designed and developed very much like a BMX would be. There’s no messing about with the spec of this bike. 2 piece cranks, a MID bottom bracket and a 25x12t gearing. All of these are things very commonly seen on the simple BMX bike.
Riding the CR3 will give you great control over your bike, allowing you to perform technical tricks on the bigger, bumpier tracks.
- Frame: Amplitude 4130 cro-mo
- Fork: RST Space Free 100mm
- Headset: FSA NO.8D
- Cranks: 4130 cro-mo 2pc cranks
- Chainring: 25T Alloy
- Bottom Bracket: Mid, Sealed, 48T Spline
- Chain: KMC K710
- Rims: Kore Rivera 32h
- Front Hub: Formula DHL-92 sealed, 32h
- Rear Hub: Formula DC-52N 32h
- Tires: Schwalbe Tabletop 26 x 2.25”
- Front Brake: Tektro MD-M300 160mm
- Rear Brake: Tektro HD-M275 160mm
- Bars: Kore Torsion M35, 800mm / 35mm
- Stem: Saracen 6061 3D
- Saddle: Amplitude Custom Dirtjump
- Pedals: Kore Rivera Thermo resin
- Weight: 13.4kg
5. NS Soda Slope Bike for Slopestyle
Photo by Jezrael Armando
The NS Soda Slope was the first dirt jump bike I came across when I first became interested in dirt jump biking. I thought the bike was gorgeous instantly, I was so used to the same bike design that multitudes of other bike manufacturers use for their mountain bikes. The style of having the rear shock nearly horizontal below the top tube was very new and exciting to me.
NS hasn’t been making bikes for as long as many other brands on this list but that just makes them even more impressive. Having only released their first frame in 2003, NS took some big risks and worked hard for the pay off they received.
The streetlegal was their first frame. A big and intimidating project that nobody believed could work. After all the doubt and disbelief the frames sold extremely well and persuaded the Szymon, the founder, to carry on making more bikes and bike parts.
The difference between the streetlegal frame and others being made at that time is the way it was designed. NS relied solely on real, hardcore riders for the features and specifications of the frame. In 2003 most companies we’re relying on designers that studied product design as a trade, while this is great for making things that are strong and making them with the right materials, it was plain wrong for something like a bike that needed a different feel when riding it. Professional dedicated riders are the only people that know what works and what needs to be done.
After several other products that went through the same story and iterations, NS really started to make a space for themselves in the mountain bike market. One of the best factors for the brands' success is the niching down the company has done. They serve a specific but dedicated group of riders.
The Soda Slope is perfect for a lot of riders in this niche. The bike can be run as a sleek single-speed slopestyle bike or with a derailleur for those riders wanting to go freeride and long-distance. If I were to buy this bike I would definitely get another wheel and derailleur so I can quickly switch them out whenever I want a change of scenery. If you take advantage of this great feature you’re effectively getting two amazing bikes in one.
The reason for the new rear shock positioning is the geometry. NS have tried to make the geometry and feel of the bike just like the hardtail metropolis that has already proven to be the favourite of many riders.
There has been a real effort to keep this bike as light, nimble and fast as the regular hardtail jump bike. The almost record-setting short chainstay and the geometry coupled with the high-quality dual suspension setup is great for those of you who are used to and enjoy a dirt jump bike but want to hit some larger jumps next time you go to the track.
- Frame: NS Soda Slope, 107mm travel
- Rear Shock: Rock Shox Monarch
- Forks: Manitou Circus Expert, 120mm travel
- Headset: GW Integrated Tapered IS42/IS52
- Stem: NS Quantum Lite 35
- Bars: NS Licence 35mm x 762mm
- Grips: NS Hold Fast Unlocked
- Saddle: Octane One Pivotal
- Brakes: Sram Level 160mm
- Rims: NS Fundamental, 32h
- Front Hub: Octane One 20
- Rear Hub: Octane SS Pro, 10T
- Tyres: Kenda Small Block 8 - 2.1”
- Crankset: Race Face Affect 170mm, 28t
- Bottom Bracket: Race Face Euro BB BSA
- Pedals: NS Nylon
- Chain: PYC-510HX
6. NS Metropolis 1 Jump Bike 2020
NS is another biking company that has dirt jumping nested deeply in their roots. We’ve already spoken a lot about the NS bikes history above in the NS Soda Slope section. If you want to get an idea of NS as a brand you simply need to look at their product range. Every product is obviously designed to rip up trails every time you ride.
The Metropolis 1 is one of the several dirt jump bikes made by the company. The Metropolis line specifically has three different bikes, aptly named the ‘Metropolis 1, 2 and 3’. These 3 bikes are in ascending order of price and intended quality. I believe, if you have the money, the Metropolis 1 is one of the best bikes you can buy to tear up the dirt jumps.
The slim, classic look of this bike is one of my favourite features of this bike. To keep the price down while over-delivering on the quality NS have opted to use the custom-butted 4130 Chromoly developed personally by NS. Unfortunately, this means the frame doesn’t allow a tapered headtube to be used on the bike. If you’re looking for a bike that accepts this then you will need to take a look at the Suburban frame, which features a Tange tube set.
A great thing about the highest-spec version of the metropolis is the own brand parts that cover the bike. A high percentage of bikes opt for cheap unbranded parts when building out the frame. This can sometimes be great but a lot of times the quality is bad and the replacement parts are almost impossible to find. Since NS make such a vast array of parts perfect for dirt jumping they cheaply and easily throw on some of their own great parts, making the bike extremely high spec but without the ungodly price tag that comes with using another brands parts.
A lot of riders, unfortunately, fall into the trap of buying a dirt jump or slopestyle bike with the intention of using it as a daily rider. The hardtail and full-suspension bikes listed in this article are often set up similarly to a BMX instead of a mountain bike. You wouldn’t enjoy riding a BMX to work or around a forest, every day so doesn’t expect to be able to use the Metropolis for these activities. Having said that though, if you’re wanting a bike specifically for dirt jumping then you should only concentrate on bikes like these. They’re perfect!
- Frame: NS Bikes Custom 4130 Cromoly
- Fork: Manitou Circus Expert
- Headset: GW Integrated
- Stem: NS Chemical 25.4
- Bars: NS Lick, 740mm
- Grips: NS Hold Fast Unlocked
- Saddle: Octane One Fat Seat Combo
- Rear Brake: Sram Level 160mm
- Rims: NS Fundamental, 32h
- Hubs: Octane SS Pro 10T / Octane One Orbital
- Tires: Kenda Small Block
- Crankset: Race Face Affect 170mm 28T
- Bottom Bracket: Race Face Euro BB BSA
- Pedals: NS Nylon
- Chain: PYC-510Hx
- Weight: 12.1kg
7. Dartmoor Two6Player 2020
Dartmoor is one of the lesser-known mountain bike companies but since I have been researching the best parts of dirt jump bikes I have come to really enjoy Dartmoor bikes and parts.
A few years ago Dartmoor made a bike called the Dartmoor Shine. It was absolutely gorgeous and I was dying to buy it. For some reason, they’ve stopped using that design and have developed the bike completely differently. This is upsetting but my initial find of the Shine turned me on to the other bikes that Dartmoor produced.
The Two6Player seemed like their flagship bike from the start. There are a fair few other bikes in the Mountain bike and dirt jump bike category made by Dartmoor but the Two6Player definitely stands above the rest if you want the best the company has to offer.
Professional riders from all over the world rely on the Two6player to perform at their best every year. The Sleek frame tubing design is probably the first significant difference you’ll see upon your first impression. The top tube of the rear triangle has been formed into a gorgeous diamond style shape that makes the whole frame look incredible.
The Pike DJ forks have been used here again but that isn’t much of a surprise. The cool thing about the forks though is the colour scheme Dartmoor have added to them. To keep in with the colour and style of the rest of the bike the forks have been painted black and with a glossy black sticker for the branding. This sticker is just shiny enough to break up the singular colour of the bike and add a new feature to look at when you first inspect the frame.
- Frame: Aluminium Matt Black 6061
- Fork: Rock Shox Pike DJ
- Headset: Dartmoor Blink
- Crankset: Dartmoor Chukka, 3-pc
- Chainring: Dartmoor Peacock 25T
- Chain: Dartmoor Core Black
- Pedals: Dartmoor Stream Pro
- Rims: Dartmoor Shield 32H
- Hubs: Dartmoor Reel Pro
- Tires: Schwalbe Table Top
- Bars: Dartmoor Tornado 750mm
- Stem: Dartmoor Beetle
- Grips: Dartmoor Maze
- Weight: 11.2kg
Dartmoor Two6Player Pro Bike
8. Specialized P-Slope Full Suspension Bike
Photo by Jerry Viola
I think the P-Slope has one of the coolest rear shock designs ever. It seems, within the creation of this bike the company had the same inspiration as NS with their Soda Slope. The rear shock and rear triangle design are simulating the regular hardtail jump bike frame as close as possible while still providing great travel with a rear shock.
In my opinion, the P-Slope is a slightly better design than the soda slope. They have gone one step further with the rear shocks being placed so far back. The rear triangle looks like it could almost be welded on to the main frame to create a hardtail version.
As I mentioned earlier in this article, these bikes simply aren’t designed for mountain bike trail riding. They might have all the relevant suspension but the riding position and shock setup are just all wrong. The rear suspension has been added to this bike to smooth out the landings, not absorb a rock garden at full speed. Landings will be easier to control with this bike but you won’t be able to take it to Fort William and compete at downhill.
The high-quality aluminium frame might not keep costs to a minimum but it sure does help on the weight. The added weight of it being a full suspension is near enough counteracted with the material it’s made from.
We all hate tightening chains it’s just something we have to deal with when putting our bikes back together. The annoyance of chain tightening is never as rampant as it is with single speed bikes. Specialized have included great quality chain tensioners to keep your wheel locked in place. You can ride massive jumps while feeling safe that your wheel isn’t going to twist in its dropouts and lock up on you when you land.
The P-Slope is another bike with the famed Rock Shox Pike DJ fork. The forks are fitted with the revolutionary Charger damper and solo air system. This may not mean that much to many people but it sure is helpful when taking tough landings and leaning hard into those berms.
- Frame: Specialized A1 Premium Aluminium
- Fork: Rock Shox Pike DJ 26
- Rear Shock: Fox Float 85mm
- Headset: FSA Orbit
- Bars:Specialized P.Series MTB Dirt
- Stem: Specialized P.Series MTB
- Grips: Specialized P.Grip Lock On
- Brakes: Sram Level T 160mm
- Cranks: Stout DJ Pro 170mm
- Pedals: Specialized Platform
- Chain: KMC K1SL
- Tires: Specialized Renegade Slopestyle
Chain Tightening Tutorial