The Dirt Works Piranha DH - tough enough?|
Team DirtWorld's DH Squad
Thursday, January 11, 2001
With all the downhill bikes to choose from today, it's hard to decide which one will best fit you needs. But, if you're in the market for serious downhill ride that will carve the sharpest corners; soak up the biggest drops and pedal like a champ, the Dirt Works Piranha may be the one for you. All Dirt Works frames (4 in all) are designed and made in the USA. Their attention to detail is impeccable and their commitment is to quality, is bar none. Although they may not have the big name recognition of the other guys, they stand their own ground by pushing the envelope in technology and innovation.
After months of research, our team of expert, sport and beginner riders chose the Dirt Works Piranha frame to use for the 2000 season. We have had 9 months to pound these bikes and see just what they are made of.
The Piranha has two key adjustments that allow you to tackle just about anything you throw at it. The frame's adjustable seat mast allows the cockpit to shorten or lengthen depending on your situation. You can either kick it back for the super steep courses or push it forward for those tight pedaling courses. The top tube length on a M/L is adjustable from 23" to 25.6" and 22" to 24.8" on S/M. You also are able to adjust the rear travel from 6 to 8 inches. Both of these adjustments are made easily by removing the allen bolt and moving it to the desired setting.
The 67-degree head angle gives the bike a somewhat "chopper" appearance, while the 46-inch wheel base yields a stable ride at high speeds. Its main triangle is joined by massive hydra-formed gussets that give the frame superior strength and rigidity. An over-sized rectangular tube forms the lower swing arm that is attached to a beautiful CNC 20 mm drop out for maximum rigidity. Although the 20mm axle isn't very practical, it is by far one of the stiffest designs out there. You have your choice of Razor Rock's 20mm hub or Hadley's 14mm with adaptor. We opted for the Razor Rock hubs because of their high quality workmanship.
Our bikes came standard with the RCR T-2 rear shock with adjustable rebound and dampening. We have had mixed reviews on them so far. When the shocks were working, they were very responsive and absorbed the big hits nicely. The main problem we noticed were that the bushings wore extremely fast and created a very sloppy rear end. We had one rider who went through two sets of bushings and is now on his third set. Not to mention the dampening adjustment is now defunct. I would certainly consider another shock option in the future, but overall it proved to be satisfactory.
The 8 sealed bearings worked flawlessly through out the season while the grade 8 steel bolts used were less than attractive after a ride in the rain. Stainless steel would have been preferred. An occasional tightening of the bolts was necessary from time to time. In some cases the bolts were only held in by a few threads. The use of an eight inch rotor is required on these frames for good reason; when your pushing a 40 lb rig down the hill at 50 miles and hour, eight inches of rotor is still not enough. Dirt Works also made a point for their bikes to only accept Hayes brakes. It would be nice to have a choice, but given Hayes' rep and performance, it's not so bad.
The frames come in two sizes, S/M or M/L. This was a bit of a concern when we were considering the frames, but we soon realized that with the adjustability, it wasn't necessary to have micro sizes. The only issue we have had is that some riders feel the bikes have a very high ride height. This is due to the tall 14.25" bottom bracket height and the placement of the seat. This isn't a huge concern, but for short-legged riders, you may want to consider the S/M. Like most Dh great frames, the Piranha accepts 3.0 tires as long as their seated on a 24" rim. The Gazzalodi Jr 2.6 knobs just barely fit inside upper swing arm. But the Maxxis 2.5 Mobster fit like a dream. The Maxxis has a fatter print and a lower profile than the Gazzalodi's tall skinnier profile. The frame retails between $2,300.00 to $2,600.00 and comes with a choice of a rear shocks.
When the bike is set up with eight-inches of rear travel, it will handle anything you can throw at it, from the huge wheelie drops at "the Shore", to landing 40-foot doubles in Whistler. You won't be disappointed in it's performance! We found the six-inch set up to be great for pedaling situations and smaller stutter bump trails. In either set up, the bike actually reacts to your pedaling force! Sure, it's no 22 lbs hard tail, but for a 40 lb bike, it will surprise you.
There has to be something bad about this bike? Right? Well honestly, we have been very happy with our frames with very few exceptions; A couple riders noted that the slack angle created not only a chopper look, but also a chopper feel. For example, when going into a wide-open corner, the bike's front end would have a tendency to wash out and leave you with that feeling of "am I coming or going". Coincidentally, the riders who noticed this (the author included) were all running the new XMO XL-70 7" fork, which by our standards is a tall fork. I believe this aided in the bike having a "chopper" feel. Once I switched to the shorter Manitou Xvert Carbon, the washing out subsided. The frames black powder coated did not fair well. The black became scratched and dulled after minimal rides. The powder coat is durable but certainly won't win any beauty contests.
This bike can take on any of the large contenders. It may not have fancy paint and pretty decals, but it gets the job done right and for a reasonable price. If your thinking seriously about getting into the racing scene and don't want to spend your life savings, give serious consideration to this bike.
This bike is a bit too much for the less experienced rider on a tight budget. They also offer a lighter, more versatile version called the Termite. This "freeride" frame is similar in design but allows for a triple front derailleur and is adjustable from 4" to 6" of travel.
For more information, check out http://www.dirtworksusa.com.
Who is this for?
Those looking for top-shelf performance at a reasonable price
Who should pass?
The new inexperienced DH'er on a tight budget