Saalbach is without a doubt my favourite spot for riding Mountain bikes around Salzburgerland. There are just so many trails and different types of riding to be had. From freestyle lines with big jumps and wallrides, to technical rocky, rooted downhills, to wide open smooth singletrack and everything in between. I love Leogang as well, but Saalbach while a little further to drive just has a bit more to offer. There was such a wide range of bikes being ridden too, everything from hardtail 29ers to full on DH bikes. From guys and girls (I am always amazed how many girls ride DH and enduro!) in lycra to body armour and full face wearing DH guys (and girls!).
Initially I was not sure if I had made the right choice to take my 130mm travel Transition Bandit 29er XC bike, especially as my friend was on a Scott Gambler full DH rig with 200mm of travel! As it turned out the Bandit handled everything amazingly well. From wallrides, to drops, to tabletops, doubles, singletrack, and even the technical downhills. Those big wheels are for sure a little tricker to move around, but they just seem to roll so well over a lot of the big rocks and roots.
At the end of the day my buddy was tired from riding his heavy DH bike all day so I went for a last solo blast on the freeride line at Hinterglem with Strava on and was amazed to find I got the 8th fastest time out of 87 people. There was a group of guys blocking the track at one point too and I lost at least 10 seconds while I braked and they moved out of the way, without which I would have been even higher up in the rankings. I’m not saying this to show off, just to illustrate how competent a 29er with well dialled geometry can be at riding a fairly gnarly DH line with some jumps and drops thrown in!
Having said that there is no question the ideal bike for a day out at Saalbach would have 160mm + travel and 26 or 27.5 wheels. There are lifts to take you up, and while you can go off pedalling further into the mountains you don’t really need to, so a little extra travel and smaller wheels would be of benefit. Anyway, if you ever get the chance, hit up Saalbach for an epic day out mountain biking!
We took a few iPhone photos, but it was hard to stop when the trails were so good!