I’ve always loved technical single track riding – and if there was a bit of a downhill involved so much the better. We also lived in the right place – Howick in KwaZulu Natal and just a few kilometres away is the Karkloof, home to some of the most fabulous single track riding in the country. At the height of my single track life, I got myself a Morewood Shova ST and fitted a set of double clamp Maverick DUC32 forks which lifted the head and increased the available travel. What a lovely combo… Then we got into ebiking, buying ourselves a pair of Haibike SDURO FullNine RX trail bikes and while I still rode single track when the opportunity arose, particularly with mates, Howard, Dave, Bruce and Tony, for Pat, not so much. Our riding has morphed into touring and trails and we are having a blast (hence this web site).
We were then invited to write up some of the mountain biking routes in Van Wyksdorp in the Karoo (read about it here) and friends, Howard and Debbie, decided to join us. There was one condition: Howard had to bring along his new, VERY desirable 2018 Haibike XDURO Dwnhll 10.0. I had seen the videos and read the reports. But what was it really like? Would I like it? And would it perform as well as I expected?
Howard very proudly lifted his xDuro off the bike rack of his car at Paddagaste Cottage in Van Wyksdorp and I was astounded – almost needing a cold shower. There is nothing subtle about it. It’s imposing. Bright red. And the forks seem to go on for hours… I couldn’t wait to try it out.
The riding we were doing on this outing was largely district and farm roads, the surfaces varying from excellent gravel to minor ruts and bumps. The Dwnhll felt like a Land Rover Series III at Le Mans. It just didn’t work and really, it’s not supposed to I suppose. The short cranks felt weird and the riding position was at odds with what we were doing. Look, it wasn’t bad, just not our SDURO FullNine RX trail bikes.
Before heading back to KwaZulu Natal, Howard and Debbie decided to spend a few days with us in George on the Garden Route. So, we headed up to Witfontein on the slopes of the Outeniqua Mountains to the north of the town to ride trails there (read about other George rides here and here). “What about single track,” asked Howard as I rode along on the Dwnhll, a little more in its element? “Ah, hang on….”
There is a downhill route at Witfontein that I hadn’t ridden – maybe I could find it… And we did.
It started off so sublimely — gentle berms, well manicured. (Thank you Hillbillies) It was just the sort of thing to lull you into a false sense of security. And then it got a little more technical. Not a problem. I even tackled one of the jumps, adding a little power and lift to give me some air. The landing was text book — so gentle and controlled. (This is more, much more, to do with the capabilities of the bike rather than mine.) Then, suddenly, there were 3 large, rocky drop offs, one after another that REALLY got my attention. And I survived. (re-read the bit in brackets above). When we reached the bottom, puffing like an express train from the adrenaline and exertion, one of us (not I) suggested that we find another downhill section. So up we climbed (one of the dudes on a conventional bike that we passed mumbling something about cheating 🙄🙄🙄) and we picked another run. It was marginally less daunting and something, right at the end, on one of the huge berms, went pop in my right shoulder. It’s better now but that night, in the early hours of the morning, Pat woke me…. I gather I was screaming “no, not another drop off…”
What I liked:
- The Bosch Performance CX drive system – so very different to the Yamaha PW system that I’m used to, and so appropriate for the Dwnhll.
- The function display and power controls – so easy to use and so easy to read.
- Its a bit like a Lamborghini Sesto Elemento – there's nothing subtle about it…
- Love the detachable battery making it lighter, easier to transport on the back of a car.
- It’s as plush as a downhill bike should be.
- High spec components
- It makes me a better downhill rider than I am.
- It’s built for downhill riding – nothing else.
What I liked less:
- Not much really
- The battery cover attachment was a little engineered – it kept falling off.
- It’s not much of an all rounder (but then I guess it never was meant to be one).
The 2018 Haibike xDuro DwnHll 10.0 geometry.
- Frame size: 44cm.
- Wheel Size: 27,5″ Schwalbe Magic Mary, 2.6″ tyres.
- Fork: FOX 40 Float Factory, air, Travel: 200mm.
- Shock: FOX Float X2 Factory.
- Brakes: Shimano Saint M820 203mm, 4 piston.
- Rear derailleur: Shimano Deore XT Shadow Plus, 20-Speed
- Drive Unit: Bosch Performance CX, 250W, 75Nm, 25km/h Limit
- Battery: Bosch PowerTube, 500Wh
- Power Modes: Off, Eco, Tour, Sport and Turbo.
- Mass: 25.1kg
- Battery Mass: 2.5Kg