Issuu on Google+

ST-S BRITAIN’S BE

E

BIKING M IN A T N U O M LLING

AGAZINE

ISSUE 33166 20 DECEMBER

T S E W E N UK’S PARK BIKHEAVE TO RIDE WHY YOLYUUP 417 TRAILS THE F

our Y t s o bo

s l l i sk FIDENCE N O C H IT W TER G RIDE FAFOSR MORE SPEED G PUMP ISE AN UPLIF T DAY G MA XIM

IN T ER W T S E B E H T IDAYS RIDING HAOBLUDGET ON

THE E V A H O T HOW L AST E V ER ON BEST B E X T NIGH T R IDE YO U R N

DERBOESPT DZROOPNPEER

15 OF THSTS YOU CAN BUY PO

! D E T N A W ST

EST T E K I B 7 201

MO

T S O M S ’ R A E Y T X E N F O SIX

E D I R W E N T IMPORTAN

S

T S E L O O C E WHY THIN BIKING IS BRANDKING E-BIKES B AC


MADE TO LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL...

OVER EVERYTHING! When you want the maneuverability of a trail bike to take on the technical drops, balanced with the stability that a 29er brings over the rooted, rocky and rutted sections of your local trails, you can find it all in a Plus bike. GT’s newest addition for 2017 is the Pantera 27.5”+, with oversized tyres that are ready to rock every type of terrain you can throw its way. The increased traction gives you the type of cornering and pedalling control you need to ride in almost any condition, putting your skills at centre stage – over everything! Check out the 2017 GT Pantera lineup in GT dealers now – and at GTBicycles.com FUN IS SERIOUS BUSINESS #SRSLYFUN


› GT Pantera Expert £1,399.99 Pantera models from £799.99 to £1,399.99


ULTIMATE VERSATILITY 29er or 27.5+ - It’s Your Choice

29�/27.5+ 120mm

29�/27.5+ 150mm

NINER JET 9 RDO

NINER RIP 9 RDO

Custom Builds from ÂŁ5,399

Custom Builds from ÂŁ5,599

0% FINANCE FROM

JET 9 RDO XT

ÂŁ5,399

 

  

   

0% FINANCE FROM

ÂŁ127.48

RIP 9 RDO

PER MONTH

XT AM

*

min 15% deposit - ÂŁ810.00 36 monthly payments

0% APR Representative

ÂŁ5,599

ÂŁ132.20* PER MONTH min 15% deposit - ÂŁ840.00 36 monthly payments

0% APR Representative

FULL RANGE OF MODELS AVAILABLE, IN EVERY BUILD IMAGINABLE! www.stif.co.uk * 0% Finance subject to terms and conditions, minimum 15% deposit required, choose from 6, 12, 18, 24 or 36 monthly payments, 0% APR Representative


29”/27.5+ 110mm

29”/27.5+ 135mm

SANTA CRUZ TALLBOY 3

SANTA CRUZ HIGHTOWER

Custom CC Builds from £5,099 Complete C Bikes from £3,499

Custom CC Builds from £5,099 Complete C Bikes from £3,499

0% FINANCE FROM

TALLBOY C R AM

£3,499

0% FINANCE FROM

£82.62

HIGHTOWER C

PER MONTH

S AM

*

min 15% deposit - £525.00 36 monthly payments

0% APR Representative

£4,599

£108.59* PER MONTH min 15% deposit - £690.00 36 monthly payments

0% APR Representative

Stif - New York Mills - Summerbridge - N. Yorks - HG3 4LA 01423 780 738 www.stif.co.uk


a p. e h c t ’ n e r e s a t i f y ex t r a k i b w e n “We knotwhat tr ying to jusly trick y…” A n d is incr easing spend R S LETTE EDITOR’ e may be heading into the gloomier months but the big, shiny

W

beacon keeping us all perky here at MBUK is the amount of 2017 gear we’re getting our hands on ready for testing. When we’re out at the big trade shows and launch events through the summer and autumn months, we get a glimpse (along with a load of marketing gumpf) of how good these new products might be. But we really want to decide for ourselves, which is why these next few months are so important as we put them through the MBUK wrecked and rated treatment. We’ve just completed the first big test of 2017, looking at some of the most interesting bikes about to hit shop floors (see page 104). This is where our test team really show their mettle. They’re relentless in analysing the specs and riding the bikes over a variety of terrain in different conditions, constantly sharing opinion across our range of experienced testers but also calling upon their years and years of accumulated bike knowledge. Then we can feed back our verdict to you. We know these bikes aren’t cheap. And that trying to justify extra spend as new standards or the latest tech comes out is increasingly tricky. Which is why we want you to be confident in the buying choices you make. By reading our biketest you’ll be able to do that. And if you’re not in the market for a new bike just yet, then the same applies to the huge amount of other gear you’ll find tested in MBUK. Happy reading!

THIS MONTH CALL OF THE WILD Learn how to properly get away from the stresses of modern life in this Swedish mountain adventure – page 64 DROPPER POSTS It’s the must-have component for all serious trail riders but which one should you go for? We’ve tested 15 – page 122 417 BIKE PARK We head to Cheltenham to launch ourselves down some of the newest trails at this highly anticipated ride spot – page 146

GET IN TOUCH!

D

IN E R E D ITO R T L A W Y N AN

C H IE F

mbuk@immediate.co.uk http://twitter.com/mbukmagazine www.facebook.com/mbukmag

Mountain Biking UK 11


contents #336 DECEMBER 2016

You can’t beat a bit of remoteness, well away from the madness of the modern world

S E R U T A FE CALL OF THE WILD p64

TROY LEE p72

DUNOON’S NEW DAWN p74 ALPINE ADVENTURE p81

Dan Milner escapes his spamfilled inbox on an overnight adventure across Sweden, and finds he’s not the only one trying to get away from it all

The man behind some of our sport’s coolest kit talks helmet design, the changes he’d like to see made to racing, and why he’s stoked on e-bikes

We find out how mountain biking is helping to put this former holiday resort and submarine base in southern Scotland back on the map

n

SEND it!

Smashing out bike park laps is all well and good but there’s nothing like a proper mountain epic. Hannah Barnes heads deep into the Swiss and Italian Alps

1

n

& win!

nn

p16

p25

p36

p42

p52

p59

Risking it all at Red Bull Rampage Enduro World Series Chased by the champ at Red Bull Foxhunt MRP Ramp Control cartridge Greg Williamson’s amazing downhill season

Winter riding getaways Casual trainers How to roll with the downhill clique Chasing the Northern Lights Production Privee’s race-car styled rides

Your name up in lights. This month featuring a bike shop straight out of High Fidelity, an impressively smashed helmet and some great autumn riding snaps

This month’s quartet of new bikes are the refined Stanton Switchback Ti MK II, the battle-ready Evil Insurgent, the playful Turner RFX v4.0 and the Canyon Stitched 720º slopestyle rig

The hottest new gear, from Giro’s Switchblade MIPS convertible lid and TSG’s Presto goggles to Cane Creek’s DBcoil [Il] shock and Specialized’s 2FO ClipLite Lace shoes

We get up close and personal with Grant ‘Chopper’ Fielder’s GT La Bomba, a jump bike with plenty of personal touches

Mountain Biking UK 13


n

nn

T FOXHUN L L U B D RE

Photo: Saskia Dugon

THE CHASE IS ON! Reckon you could beat a DH world champion down the hill? The Red Bull Foxhunt provides the perfect opportunity to find out. It’s a mass start, women-only downhill race that sees Rachel Atherton attempt to overtake as many riders as possible. With well over 200 entrants, this year’s event was one of the biggest women’s MTB races in the world. The new venue of Melmerby Scar, in the Lakes, provided epic views and a course that combined slippery singletrack, rock features, steep off-camber grass, a rhythm

20 Mountain Biking UK

section and a final drop to the finish, plus enough slick mud to scupper most of the uplift vehicles. Luckily this didn’t diminish the high spirits at the finish line – every rider crossed to cheers, applause, and high-fives. Atherton flatted near the start but still managed to overtake over half of the field and place 80th, while Rosie Holdsworth took the win after a pitched battle with Roslynn Newman. At the sister event in Northern Ireland, it was Rachel’s brother Gee doing the chasing. Colin Ross won for a third time, though Gee managed to overtake nearly 400 riders and finish second.


e n j oy r e s p o n s i b ly


n

nn

MSON A I L L I W GREG

For many racers, departing one of the most successful downhill teams out there and finding a seat aboard a rookie outfit would have seemed like a nightmare, but for Inverness’s Greg Williamson it’s turned out to be just the move he needed. “I’m very happy with my 2016 season,” Greg told us, sat in the Cube Global Squad pits at the World Championships, where he was representing Great Britain for the first time. Aside from the honour of racing in Val di Sole (where he’d finish an impressive eighth), Greg also won the National Champs this year. “It’s definitely a career highlight,” he said. “It was a big one off my list.” Greg’s former team, Trek World Racing, was known for developing

22 Mountain Biking UK

young riders but he somehow slipped between its cracks. “I sort of plateaued a bit,” he said. “2014/15 was a big learning year. It pays to keep things simple sometimes and things got a bit too in-depth and serious for me.” Faced with finding a new deal, Greg took a big risk by signing with Cube, who were new to the DH scene and had an unproven bike. The gamble paid off and Greg now has a chance to wind down after his best year to date. “My plans for this off-season are to go jet-skiing!” he laughed. “I just bought a new stand-up jet-ski so I’m just really looking forward to riding that and doing some motocross to relax.”

Photo: Lukas Hennecke

DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK!


GOTTA AY? GET AW Is wet-weather riding getting you down? Fear not, dry and dusty trails are only a short budget airline �light away THE CLOCKS HAVE gone back, the nights are dark and the trails are descending into a slopfest. Sounds like a pretty bleak outlook, right? Instead of feeling gloomy about the next few months, why not give yourself something to look forward to and book a trip to the sun? Here in the UK we’re just a short flight away from some amazing riding spots where you can get your fix of dusty descents even in midwinter. We’ve picked out four, to help get you inspired.

THIS MONTH Winter getaways, how to blend in at a DH race, 153kmh on snow, bikepacking across Iceland, Production Privee Mountain Biking UK 25


ILS. THERE’S A R T Y IT L A QU THESE ARE HERE FROM FLOWING G EVERY THIN EEP, ROCK Y GNARL CK TO ST SINGLETR A World-class enduro riding in Finale followed by beers on the seafront sure beats slogging through mud!

For those who fancy heading off the beaten track, the Atlas Mountains are worth considering. Marrakech is only a three-and-ahalf-hour flight from London but it feels more exotic than Morzine! Freeride Morocco run week-long tours on natural singletrack and donkey trails. The riding is described as ‘hardcore XC’, but shuttle uplifts can be arranged. There’s a good reason why Malaga in southern Spain is one of the top winter destinations for pro downhillers. The technical, dusty and rocky trails are uplift-accessible and you can hammer out descents until you can’t hold on any more. British-run companies Roost DH and Switchbacks can show you the ropes here. If it’s trail riding you’re after, then Switchbacks also run enduro holidays from Bubión in the Sierra Nevada mountains. If smashing out back-to-back downhill runs in the sun sounds like your cup of tea, then Portugal could be for you. There’s Ponte de Lima Bike Park in the north and the popular race venue of Lousã is just

26 Mountain Biking UK

Top Sweeping down the mountainside to the beach makes Finale Ligure appealing Above left Portugal’s got some great trails for gravity fiends Right Keep an eye out for the pro downhillers in training if you head to Malaga Opening page The stunning Atlas Mountains will give you an MTB holiday you’ll never forget

a few miles south. Even further south, Ride Portugal run shuttleaccessed riding holidays out of Lagos in the Algarve region. Both have a varied mix of technical hand-cut downhill trails to give you an off-season adrenaline buzz. The fact that Finale Ligure hosts an Enduro World Series race each year is testament to the quality of the trails on offer. There’s everything here from flowing singletrack to steep, rocky gnarl. The mountaintops sometimes get dusted with snow over the winter but there’s still a huge network of trails lower down to ride.


Oi Oi! It’s not every day you get to ride with a freeride legend like Richie Schley

Pro’s L ife

BEN DEAKIN Our special guest columnist samples some larger-thanlife riding in the USA Rewind a couple of years and I was sitting in a war-torn country with bullets coming over my head. Now I’m sat sipping cocktails on Laguna Beach with one of the pioneers of freeride mountain biking, Richie Schley. Riding your bike can take you to some amazing places! All this came about off the back of Red Bull Rampage, after Sam Reynolds and I decided to have a small holiday as a treat for digging in the desert for a week. I went out to help build Sam’s line, which unfortunately he didn’t ride due to one feature being a little too intimidating. And when I say intimidating, I mean that if you fell off you’d be lucky to survive with just a few broken bones instead of falling 150ft into oblivion. Big-mountain freeride is really pushing the limits of man and machine, but how much further can it go? Every year some of the best freeriders in the world participate at Rampage and every year there’s a serious injury, and for what? A short period of glory or a life-changing injury with a long recovery pathway. It’s important to remember why you ride and not be scared to walk away if you’re not fully committed and save it for another day!

Deaks collects some air miles in-between digging duties at Rampage

A to Z Z

ZHANGJIAJIE You’ve probably never heard of the Chinese city of Zhangjiajie but you may be familiar with the Red Bull Sky Gate race, which is held nearby and is, frankly, downright mental!

Surf’s up! The boys have a go at our Jimmer’s favourite sport, stand up paddleboarding

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN The format of the event is a bit like that of a DH race, but that’s where the similarities end. Instead of following a trail through the woods, the riders start from a cave in the cliffs of Tianmen Mountain called ‘Heaven’s Door’ and hurtle down a flight of 999 stone steps and into a massive wooden step-down.

CALL 999

SPEED & STYLE

The ridiculously steep course only takes 30 seconds to complete, but there’s little margin for error. At the inaugural event in 2015, Kiwi freerider Kelly McGarry (RIP) took a huge slam when his brakes failed. He flat-bottomed a stair set, blew up his front wheel and hospitalised himself, thankfully only with minor injuries.

In 2016 the weather gods didn’t look down kindly on the race and the course had to be cut short, but that didn’t stop the riders throwing down. Brazilian whip master Bernado Cruz won the DH and American Nicholi Rogatkin flipped his way to the slopestyle win. Cool or a gimmick? Either way, Sky Gate is pretty mad!

2

3

Mountain Biking UK 27


1 2

3

4

28 Mountain Biking UK

5


Want T hat!

S K C I K L CASUA r the pub or, fo d e d a e h e ’r op Whether yorouund your local bike sfhy in style a mooch a ers will keep you com these train

RCHIVES A K U B THE M

Baggy downhill kit may not be very aerodynamic but it may just have saved Rob’s nuts

1 Saucony Jazz ’91 Made from cow suede, the Jazz ’91s mix modern functionality with old-skool looks. The super-cushioned sole is thick enough to let you float across even the roughest of trail centre car parks but the shoes won’t look out of place gliding around town either. £75 www.sauncony.com/uk

2 New Balance 1500 Synthetic These classic-looking running shoes won’t feel out of place being used as casual trainers and they fit like a glove, with plenty of support. The lack of lairy colours mean you might be able to wear these around your gran’s house, too! £110 www.newbalance.co.uk

4 Five Ten Dirtbag Famous for their riding shoes, Five Ten also make casual kicks, like these classy-looking, ankle-high suede numbers. Super-comfy off the bike, they also have the famous Stealth sole, though it’s the durable ‘Marathon’ version, not the super-tacky ‘Mi6’ compound. £65 www.fiveten.com/uk

3 Vans Transit Line Iso 1.5 Classic Vans looks disguise a modern pair of trainers, with a pig-suede and textile upper and an ‘UltraCush Lite’ sole that helps make them a lot lighter on your legs than the waffle-soled Vans of old. £80 www.vans.co.uk

5 Merrell Solo The Solos combine running shoe comfort and support with hiking shoe functionality and casual styling. With an air cushion in the sole and a cow-suede and breathable mesh construction, they’ll look and feel good in the town or on the mountain. £70 www.merrell.com/uk

IT AIN’T SNOW JOKE Could a Yorkshire bloke on a DH bike break the world snow speed record? We took Rob Jarman to the Alps to �ind out Having raced on snow at the infamous Megavalanche Alpe D’Huez, we can tell you how scary it is trying to go flat out down a glacier. Now imagine trying to go over 100mph on the stuff! When the idea of a British challenge on the mountain bike snow speed record came up, we knew there was only one man for the job – downhill racer turned stuntman Rob Jarman. In 2004, when Rob went for his attempt, the existing record was held by Frenchman Eric Barone, who clocked up a blistering 222.2kmh in Les Arcs in 2000. He did this aboard a prototype carbon Sunn bike with aero wheels and wearing speed-skiing gear. Rob, on the other hand, rocked up in his downhill baggies, aboard a stock Santa Cruz V10 and armed with just a pair of 3in tyres and a pack of wood screws. To have any hope of getting near the record, the snow needed to be rock hard, which meant a 5am start and a cramponclad hike up the piste before the sun had risen. With limited time before the snow started to melt, he was thrown in at the deep end. With each attempt, Rob went faster, the speeds pushing him further and further off the back of the bike and the suspension bottoming out like crazy. On his third go he got a little too familiar

with his spiked back wheel, which ripped through his trousers. After nearly losing his tackle, Rob decided enough was enough and settled for 153kmh. He may not have broken any records but he’s almost certainly the fastest man to have ridden through a mogul field with his balls hanging out! Since Rob’s attempt, Barone has cemented his place at the top, increasing his record speed to 223.3kmh in March 2015. But we can’t imagine there are that many challengers keen to take up the gauntlet...

Mountain Biking UK 29


#4 DOWNHILL RACER

Trail Spotting MBUK’s guide to the different types of rider you’ll encounter out in the hills

Downhill racers like to think of themselves as the alpha males of the MTB community – faster, gnarlier and cooler than everyone else. Of course not everyone is like this, but turn up at a DH race as a noob and there’s a tangible air of snobbery around the pits. Becoming an accepted member of the gang isn’t easy and requires you to not only be fast as hell but look the part too. If you want to roll with the clique, here’s how to do it…

GET KITTED OUT

GO RIDING

LOOK THE PART

GO RACING

FLOOD SOCIAL MEDIA

You need to be riding the latest bike and technology to be taken seriously. Buying your full-carbon race machine with custom-tuned suspension may require you to sell a kidney, but it’ll be worth it. That is, until it gets scratched to bits crashing in a rock garden. A better option is to get mummy and daddy to buy it. You need to look ‘factory’ (in other words, look like you ride for a World Cup team), so your riding kit should be full racer pyjamas, colour coordinated with your bike. Get your name printed on the back so everyone knows it’s you coming down the hill.

You’re going to have to leave your days of clocking up big miles in the hills behind you. As a UK downhiller, your weekends will now consist of standing about in a muddy field waiting to be shuttled up the hill for a three-minute descent. Make the most of these few runs though, because you’ll be paying nearly £100 for the privilege. Going biking outside of race weekends should not be referred to as riding any more, but rather ‘training’. Everything you do should now be focused on making you faster – having fun is secondary and Strava is your new best friend.

You’ll be laughed off the uplift truck if you make any style errors. Having any skin showing between your knee pads and shorts is a big no-no, known as the ‘gaper gap’. Never wear a full-face with the peak down or without goggles, and going bullet (aka peakless) is a cardinal sin. Body armour should be avoided, because a sense of self-preservation ain’t cool. Roost guards are OK though, as they look ‘moto’ and that’s ontrend. Don’t talk to anyone you perceive to not be as quick as you. Instead, treat slower riders with an air of disdain and elevate your status among your mates by mocking their riding style and wearing of last year’s kit.

Race locally and practise the track in secret beforehand – that way you’re more likely to get on the podium. Avoid the big races on harder tracks and against faster riders because you’ll get beaten and that’s not going to attract sponsors. In the uplift queue, be very vocal about the wild inside line you’re doing, that you claim is five seconds quicker than everyone else’s. After the race, if you find yourself midway down the results table, fabricate stories about crashes and mechanicals to hide the fact you just got scared and grabbed the brakes.

30 Mountain Biking UK

Whenever you’re not riding, your face must be glued to the screen of your phone, shamelessly self-promoting yourself on Instagram. Turn your Facebook profile into an athlete page and film a ‘sick edit’ (video) with your wannabe videographer friend, talking about your goals for next year and your dream of being a pro rider. It’s absolutely imperative that you hashtag everything for maximum exposure. Photo suggestions include posing with a sponsor’s product, or topless on a turbo trainer. #training #recovery #livetoride #thelocalshopwhoare givingyou5%offfullretailprice


It’s the gift of missing nothing

Change someone’s world this Christmas Get a whole new perspective with the pioneering Nikon KeyMission 360, 170 and 80 degree action cameras, then relive your adventures in up to 360 degrees to never miss a moment – wherever it happened.

RANGE STARTS FROM

Order online at jessops.com or visit one of our stores nationwide

LEARN IT

£249

+ 12 MONTHS INTEREST FREE FINANCE

Right there with you ·

TAKE IT

·

LOVE IT

·

PRINT IT


ENTURE V D A C I ICELAND

CHASING THE NORTHERN LIGHTS A winter bikepacking trip across Iceland proves to be a magical experience for Huw Oliver Iceland is a strange place – it’s tiny, but looms enormous when you look behind the façade. After getting hooked on its wide open spaces and solitude in the summer, we decided to return in winter to ride across the island on fatbikes, crossing the Kjölur plateau on the Kjalvegur mountain road. It was a step away from the norm (I’ve never needed to strap a snow shovel to my handlebar before), but sitting in a warm sleeping bag and watching the aurora borealis whiplash across the sky was utterly magical. At first the lights were just a green smudge overhead. Soon they rose like a tide, flashing from one space to the next with the fluidity of a rippling shoal of fish. We sat and watched the purples, pinks, blues and greens dance their silent dance until we couldn’t bear the cold and then climbed back into our bags to wait for the sun. Trying to describe Iceland to someone who hasn’t been is doomed to failure, because it just looks like Iceland, which is a strange place indeed. Geothermal steam against a backdrop of frozen mountains was the sort of surreal

It was amazing watching the aurora whiplash across the sky

32 Mountain Biking UK

contrast that we found again and again as we crossed the island. When even the faint tracks in the snow disappeared on the highest section of the route, we felt a little lost in all that emptiness, but soon we were laughing in the sunshine. The weather gods even smiled for us when we needed them to – after a week of strong headwinds and a snail’s pace, hundreds of kilometres of the frozen plateau spread out to the north under a still blue sky. There was hunger, cold and uncertainty, yes, but the trip was a perfect reminder that your bike can take you to surreal places with a little planning, imagination and plenty of chocolate raisins!


B ACK DROP A T S IN A G AL STEAM A WAS THE SORT OF M R E H T O E G MOUNTAINS ND AGAIN AND N E Z O R F F U O AST WE FO HE ISL AND R T N O C L A T SUR R E E CROSSED W S A IN A AG

Mountain Biking UK 33


Damien Nosella’s definitely not your regular suit-clad company owner. This is a brand run by riders for riders

e Meetktehr ma

E E V I R P N O I T C U D O R P hen Damien Nosella and David George left their old jobs as designers for Commencal in 2010, they had both the freedom and time to turn the ideas in their heads into steel and aluminium. The only thing holding them back was a lack of funds, until their friend Cedric Gracia, the legendary French DH and enduro racer, stepped in to support them. Production Privee was formed in early 2011 and their first products were a downhill handlebar and direct-mount stem, developed with input from Gracia. At Commencal, the pair had worked on the Ramones hardtail, but felt they couldn’t take the design as far as they wanted. This was their motivation to build their own frame. The resulting bike was the Shan, an aggressive-angled hardtail designed to take a super-long (for a bike with no rear suspension) 160mm fork. Made from 4130 chromoly, the frame had a heat-treated front end but not rear triangle, in order to retain a desirable amount of flex. Like all

34 Mountain Biking UK

This Andorran bike brand may be small but they’ve got big ideas

Profile Founded 2011 Key personnel Damien Nosella and David George (co-founders), Cedric Gracia (field tester) First product 548 direct-mount stem and downhill handlebar Best-known product Shan hardtail In the pipeline Shan GT hardtail, prototype full-sus

of Production Privee’s products, the Shan reflected the duo’s love of 1960 and ’70s racing cars, coming in a range of two-tone paint jobs inspired by the likes of the Lotus Esprit, Renault Rothmans F1 and Ford GT. Following the success of the Shan, Production Privee’s Japanese distributors asked them for a shorter-travel, more pedalling-friendly bike for longer days in the saddle and the Oka (‘hill’ in Japanese) was born. It shares the Shan’s genetics, focusing on downhill fun, but has a steeper seat tube and smaller, lighter tubes. They’re also nearly ready to go into production with the Shan GT, a 29in/650b+ bigger brother to the Shan. The duo are now developing their first full-sus bike, a 130mm, single-pivot machine. They plan to release 50 pre-production frames this autumn, collect feedback and then put out a production bike in spring 2017. Damien says the addition of rear suspension isn’t going to change the ethos of their brand – to build bikes that are simple to set up and maintain, yet still high-performing.


PRIVEE PARTS Shan & Oka The Shan is a slack (65.5-degree head angle) hardtail, built to take a 160mm fork and some serious abuse. The Oka is a more trail-orientated bike designed around a 120 to 140mm fork. Both run 650b wheels as standard but dropouts are available for 26in wheels. For plus tyres or 29in wheels, the Shan GT has you covered.

R2R Enduro stem The shape of this stem echoes the curved wings of the Chevrolet Corvette. The laser-etched stripe graphics have a purpose too, helping you line the stem up with the matching LGB bar.

CR35 grips Production Privee’s CR35 lock-ons have an offset design. By rotating them, you can adjust the backsweep and upsweep of your bar. The grip pattern matches that of a Dunlop Formula 1 tyre.

� The paint jobs are inspired by classic cars – in this case, the 1979 Lotus Esprit S2 John Player Special

The new Shan GT is designed to cover long distances at high speed, in distinctive Production Privee style

ND ISN’T A R B E H T F O THE ETHOS TO BUILD BIKES H A NGE � GOING TO C PLE TO SET UP AND IM THAT ARE S IGH�PERFORMING ET H MAINTAIN Y

Mountain Biking UK 35


! WINNER T! STACK I

I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H

send it!

Don’t follow John Mulcahy into a jump – in the past 18 months it’s resulted in two of his mates breaking bones and this impressive helmet smash on BikePark Wales’s A470 Line

and win!

YOUR MAIL, PHOTOS, IDEAS AND RANTS

Patrick Lowry started riding 20 years ago on a 26in-wheeled steel hardtail. Here’s his Stanton Slackline during a sunny ride near Belfast

! WINNER TTER STAR LE NEW RELATIONSHIP Ever since I started cycling 25 years ago, I’ve used local bike shops. I was lucky enough to have an excellent LBS, where the staff were always friendly and helpful, offering advice on everything from maintenance to where to ride and the price of coffee. My monthly visits and purchase of a bike (or two) led to a useful discount, which made them better value than many online shops, and with no P&P costs or waiting time. My loyalty also led to the rather convenient perk of queue-jumping for a workshop slot, which meant my bike was always ready for the weekend. It was all good until recently, when they changed the mechanic, and now the shop is a two-wheeled version of Championship Vinyl (the record shop in Nick Hornby’s book, High Fidelity), where the customer is patronised, their choices are sneeringly mocked and they’re made to feel stupid. With continued bad mechanical advice, my perseverance has worn out, so I’ve moved on to another shop to start building a fresh relationship. It’s not the same though – it doesn’t feel like a comfy old jumper, I haven’t earned a discount yet and there’s a three-

WIN ALL THIS! I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H

36 Mountain Biking UK

STARR LETTEWINS... DMR Vault pedals worth £99.99

Simon Hart’s daughter Bethany captured this snap. Looks like she’s a natural behind the lens – maybe one day we’ll see her work on the cover!

Derbyshire’s Hope Cross looks more like Mordor in this moody shot by Lee Hesslewood

T! STACKWIINS... Effetto Mariposa tubeless kit worth £49.99

THATH’S URT O G TTA WINS... Lezyne Port-A�Shop tool package worth £99.99

OF SHOTON TH THE M WINS... Lezyne CNC Dirt Floor Drive track pump worth £89.99


week wait for a workshop slot! It’ll take a while, but I know it’ll be worth persevering with. Michael Merrel, via email

It’s definitely worth building a relationship with your LBS. Rather than starting afresh, maybe you should suggest to the old bike shop that they track down all the customers who’ve left them and find out why, as in High Fidelity...

START ’EM YOUNG I thought you might appreciate knowing that the next Rachel Atherton is already gearing up. This is my six-month-old daughter, Eleanor, and this morning she took the MBUK beanie off my head and attempted to get it onto hers. Not quite having the dexterity yet, I thought I’d help her achieve the look she was aiming for. Having been an avid mountain biker for as long as I can remember and knowing the many benefits it can bring to your life, I’ll be getting Eleanor on two wheels at the earliest opportunity. Hopefully in a few years I’ll be able to send in another photo of her shredding our local trails. KEVIN DISKIN, via email

Simon Venn gets airborne during an early morning ride in Tavistock Woodlands, Devon

Dave Wrath and his eight-year-old son Reuben having fun on their fatbikes on the Lady Cannings trail in Sheffield

! WINNERF SHOT OONTH THE M

Great pic, Kevin. We’ll let Rachel know she’s going to have to watch out in a few years’ time! Maybe we should be giving out MBUK babygrows for the future generation of rippers?

USE YOUR HEAD

Martin Crompton’s son Matteo takes on the 40ft ‘Juggernaut’ jump in Wharncliffe Woods, Sheffield. We’ve seen this thing in the flesh and it’s a beast!

! WINNER ’S T THATA UR GOTT H Nik Young’s first night ride of the year, in Tegg’s Nose Country Park, near Macclesfield, was cut short when he took a digger in the dark. A front-end washout sent his bike bouncing off the trail and his left arm dragging over the cobbles. The crash resulted in two days in hospital, one operation and a lot of swearing, but most importantly, his prized Mondraker was unscathed.

I wanted to thank you for highlighting the dangers of head injuries (‘Head Case’, MBUK 334). In 2011 I came off while riding by myself. I was knocked unconscious and left concussed, but went home as if nothing had happened. When I finally went to hospital they found I had whiplash, head trauma and had severed the nerve to my inner ear. I’m now disabled but still try to ride when I can. If I’d known how serious a concussion could be, I never would have ridden alone and would have gone straight to hospital. STUART WOODBURN, via Facebook

That’s a tough rap, Stuart. It really is vital to get yourself checked out if you smack your head. If you turn out to be fine, at least you get to impress your mates by telling them you crashed so hard you had to go to A&E!

FLAT ATTACK When the latest MBUK dropped through my letterbox, the cover line ‘Fly on flat pedals’ caught my eye, the irony being that I’ve just starting using SPDs after years of riding flats! Since switching I’ve had people telling

Mountain Biking UK 37


S AGAZINE GEBR N A B K U A T INSTAGRAM.COM/M M INS

WHAT YOU COULD WIN… Tag your Instagram pics with #mbukletters. We’ll pick four each issue and the best one will win a set of CrankBrothers Stamp pedals worth £116.99, courtesy of www.crankbrothers.com. Usual TandCs apply. Immediate Media Company Tower House, Fairfax Street, Bristol, BS1 3BN Tel: 0117 927 9009 Email: mbuk@immediate.co.uk Web: www.bikeradar.com Blog: www.bikeradar.com/blog/mountain-biking-uk Facebook: www.facebook.com/mbukmag Twitter: http://twitter.com/mbukmagazine

! WINNER

Ten-year-old @franksta_mtbkid mid race run at Cannock Chase

@scrunks_mtbdad celebrates with a beer at the 25-year anniversary Coed-y-Brenin enduro

Art Editor James Blackwell james.blackwell@immediate.co.uk Deputy Art Editor Matt Orton matt.orton@immediate.co.uk Operations Editor James Costley-White james.costley-white@immediate.co.uk Workshop Manager Jonny Ashelford Bike tester Guy Kesteven Cartoonist Jo Burt

EDITORIAL Editor in Chief Danny Walter danny.walter@immediate.co.uk Technical Editor in Chief Robin Weaver robin.weaver@immediate.co.uk Features Editor Alex Evans alex.evans@immediate.co.uk Staff Writer Ed Thomsett ed.thomsett@immediate.co.uk

CONTRIBUTORS Hannah Barnes, Steve Behr, Chris Borgman, Russell Burton, Dave Caudrey, Laurence Crossman-Emms, Max Darkins, Saskia Dugon, Jacob Gibbins, Aoife Glass, Lukas Hennecke, Siobhan Kelly, Chris Kilmurray, Mick Kirkman, Matti Lehikoinen, Ric McLaughlin, Dan Milner, Andrew Neethling, Huw Oliver, Ben Plenge, Joe Rafferty, Phil Sowels, Kyle Stekker, Seb Stott, Jessie Wild ADVERTISING Group Advertising Manager Claire Hawkins 01173 008128 claire.hawkins@immediate.co.uk Advertising Sales Manager Adrian Miles 01173 008138 adrian.miles@immediate.co.uk Key Account Manager Andy Nelson 01173 008137 andy.nelson@immediate.co.uk Key Account Manager Jo Penny 01173 008144 joanna.penny@immediate.co.uk MARKETING Marketing Executive Philippa Turner philippa.turner@immediate.co.uk

@nickvail155 getting steezy at Gawton Gravity Hub. Pic by @wardy052

Beautiful view out from Sutton Bank in North Yorkshire, taken by @thelostshoe1977

CIRCULATION Subscriptions Marketing Owain Jevons Trade Marketing Manager John Lawton PRINT and PRODUCTION Production Coordinator Ian Wardle Production Director Sarah Powell Production Manager Louisa Molter/Rose Griffiths LICENSING International Director Tim Hudson

me SPD-related horror stories and that I’ll be falling off all the time, but I haven’t regretted changing. I feel more confident and more in control, I can climb more efficiently and I’m cornering faster and not grabbing the brakes at the last second. My feet feel stable and I’m not finding them chattering around through rough sections. The fact I’ve used flats for years means I have all the experience of riding flats with all the advantages of riding clipped in. I’d say to anyone thinking about giving them a go, just practise clipping in and, more importantly, out. NATALIE HAMMERTON, via email

Glad you’re liking your clips, Natalie. With pedals, it’s horses for courses, but it’s always good to learn new skills on flats – it’s easier to bail, and you can’t cheat by pulling up!

ROCK ’N’ ROLL I trust you will not mind my drawing your attention to some factual errors. You’d probably like to ensure that the information you print is correct, even on the smallest detail. In the article ‘Flypast’ on Beinn Eighe in the October issue, your knowledge on the geology should be corrected. In the paragraph under ‘Heat and

Dougie Moorby snapped this epic view from Dollywaggon Pike in the Lakes

IMMEDIATE MEDIA COMPANY Managing Director, Sports David Maher-Roberts Publishing Director Alison Worthington Group Art Director Matthew Hunkin SUBSCRIPTIONS Phone our UK hotline on 0844 844 0387 Subscribe online at www.buysubscriptions.com

Printed in the UK by William Gibbon and Sons Ltd on behalf of Immediate Media Company. Distributed in the UK by Seymour Distribution Ltd, 2 East Poultry Avenue, London, EC1A 9PT. Tel: 020 7429 4000

NEXT ISSUE ON SALE 7 DECEMBER The ABC combined print, digital and digital publication circulation is

A member of the Audit Bureau of Circulations

28,992 Jan-Dec2015

Print 26,641 Digital 2,351

Chairman Stephen Alexander &KLHI ([HFXWLYH 2IÀFHU Tom Bureau Tel: 0117 927 9009 (Bristol) www.immediatemedia.co.uk © Immediate Media 2016. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used or reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. Immediate Media Company Bristol Limited (company number 05715415) is registered in England and Wales. The registered office of Immediate Media Company Bristol Limited is at Vineyard House, 44 Brook Green, London, W6 7BT. All information contained in this magazine is for information only and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Immediate Media Company Bristol Limited cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. Readers are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price of products/services referred to in this magazine. If you submit unsolicited material to us, you automatically grant Immediate Media Company Bristol Limited a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine, including licensed editions worldwide and in any physical or digital format throughout the world. Any material you submit is sent at your risk. Although every care is taken, neither Immediate Media Company Bristol Limited nor its employees, agents or subcontractors shall be liable for loss or damage.

Dust’, the dark rock to which you refer isn’t Lewisian gneiss but Torridonian sandstone, while the white rock is quartzite. Additionally, the base rock on the Triple Buttress is sandstone and the upper rock is quartzite. Andrew James, via email

Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Andrew. In future we’ll ensure our contributors undertake a full geological survey before submitting their articles! Perhaps you could advise us which tread pattern works best for each rock type?

Competitions For your chance to win, either (a) text your answer to the number specified or (b) email your answer/entry to the email address shown on the relevant page or (c) go to the website shown on the relevant page and click on the link to send your answer or (d) go to the social media website shown on the relevant page and tag your entry with the specified hashtag. By entering any MBUK competition you are agreeing to be bound by these competition rules and you confirm you are happy to receive details of future offers and promotions from Immediate Media Company and carefully selected third parties. If you do not want to receive this info text the word STOP to the relevant number or at the end of your email entry or untick the appropriate boxes on the competition website. Texts will be charged at £1 plus standard network tariff rate. Ask permission from the bill payer. All entries must be received before the closing date specified. Entries must be submitted by an individual, not an agency or similar. One entry per household, unless otherwise stated. The prize is as stated and no cash alternative is available. Prizes may be provided by a third party. Immediate Media Company reserve the right to substitute any prize with cash or a prize of comparable value. Competitions are open to GB residents only, unless otherwise specified. No employees of Immediate Media Company or any company associated with the relevant comp may enter. The winning entry will be that which has met the entry criteria and which most closely meets the specified competition criteria, or will be drawn at random from all correct entries after the closing date. Where you are offered the chance to subscribe for a free newsletter or other service, you are not required to do so, and failure to do so will not result in disqualification. Immediate Media Company accepts no liability for any loss, damage or injury caused by any prizes won except by its negligence. Publicity may be given to any comp winners and/ or entrants and their names and/or photos may appear in MBUK. All entries become the property of Immediate Media Company, may be republished and cannot be returned. Any moral rights or similar that you have over the entry are waived. Entries must be wholly original and must not have appeared in any other publication. Entries must not defame, cause injury to, invade the privacy of or infringe any law, intellectual property or regulatory rights of any third party. Unless otherwise stated, Immediate Media Company is the promoter of the competition. Where competitions are run by third parties (eg. through advertising), Immediate Media Company cannot be held responsible for any failure to provide prizes as specified. Additional information may be required from the winner (inc. proof of age or identity). Failure to provide it may result in disqualification. No purchase necessary. Winners lists available by written request (including SAE) up to three months after the competition closing date. Receipt of prize is conditional upon compliance with the above rules. If any rule is deemed illegal, invalid or unenforceable, it shall be deleted, but unaffected rules will continue in full force and effect. The Editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Submissions Letters/texts/pic messages cannot be answered individually. All correspondence becomes property of MBUK. We abide by IPSO’s rules and regulations. To give feedback about our magazine, please visit www.immediate.co.uk, email editorialcomplaints@immediate.co.uk or write to Danny Walter, Immediate Media Co, 2nd Floor, Tower House, Fairfax Street, Bristol, BS1 3BN.

Write to: MBUK Send it! Tower House, Fairfax Street, Bristol, BS1 3BN Email: mbuk@bikeradar.com Visit: www.bikeradar.com/forums 38 Mountain Biking UK

Immediate Media Company Limited is working to ensure that all of its paper is sourced from well-managed forests. This magazine is printed on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper. This magazine can be recycled, for use in newspapers and packaging. Please remove any gifts, samples or wrapping and dispose of it at your local collection point.


SHOCKINGLY ADVANCED. The Digital Shock Drive is the new standard in shock pump technology, accuracy and portability. The incredibly compact DQGOLJKWZHLJKWGHYLFHIHDWXUHVDQLQWHJUDWHGORZSUR¿OH Digital Strip Gauge that accurately provides up to 350 psi (24 bar). Its Zero-loss chuck design unthreads from the shock after valve pin seals making it the ultimate shock pump for trailside tuning. NEW FOR YEAR 10 DIGITAL SHOCK DRIVE 350 psi // 24 bar

CEDRIC GRACIA MOUNTAIN BIKE LEGEND PHOTO: SEBAS

PROUDLY DISTRIBUTED BY UPGRADE BIKES LTD. | INFO@UPGRADEBIKES.CO.UK | 01403 711 611 EVERYTHING WE DO IS BY LEZYNE


H T N O NE XT M DECE ON SA LE 7

FR EE MBU GE T Y

R A D N E L A C K

DATES SO OUR RIDING

R T ED FOR 2

0 17

MBER

TOP WINTER RIDING TIPS

LAURIE GREENLAND

BEST BUDGET BIKES

DALBY FOREST

Learn how to tackle wet, sloppy trails, and other top techniques to keep you in the saddle all winter long

We go for a blast with the plucky teenage sensation who took this year’s World Champs by storm

Can you get a decent hardtail for less than £700? We test four options that’ll get you blasting the trails

We head to Yorkshire to see if this former XC World Cup venue can still deliver world-class thrills


Distributed in the UK by www.hotlines-uk.com

I

Email: sales@hotlines-uk.com

I

Tel: 0131 319 1444


1

The Switchback Ti’s lustrous good looks are backed up by a poppy and engaging ride

New on the MK II is internal routing for the rear brake and mech, plus a dropper post

more bite come winter). The 170mm-drop Reverb post is a bonus too. The only issue we had was with a wandering bite point on the XT brakes.

The ride The extra length in the front of the frame with the ‘long’ geometry is obvious almost instantly. Sit in the saddle and start pedalling up the first climb, and you’ll soon find

44 Mountain Biking UK

HIGHS this translates to a more stretched-out position on the bike, which helps to keep the front wheel from lifting or wandering too much when swinging around tight, steep turns. The Switchback Ti is by no means the sprightliest bike when pointed uphill, though it’s certainly no slouch. But then, that’s not what this bike is about. Get out of the saddle and begin descending and those signature Stanton trail manners are still there in abundance. The short back end means it flicks through the turns at pace and makes it easy to get the front end airborne when you need to. On faster sections, the longer wheelbase and slack head angle, combined with the well-behaved Fox 34 fork, help to keep things under control. The high-volume Mavic tyres combine nicely with the forgiving titanium frame and further add to the composure when things get

Incredibly capable titanium hardtail that’s a total blast to ride Solid, well-considered spec list

LOWS You’ll need to quieten the cable rattle quickly Certainly not cheap as a complete build option

really rough and you’d expect a hardtail to clatter you to smithereens, or at least unsettle you enough that you’d start grabbing at the brakes. When banging through the bumps, the cable rattle does become irritating quite quickly, so it would definitely be worth taking the time to sleeve or at least wrap the entry/exit points of the internal routing. Get that sorted, though, and you’ll be in for ear-to-ear grins every time you throw a leg over the Stanton. We can’t wait to spend more time aboard it. ROB WEAVER www.stantonbikes.com

A lively, engaging ride that’ll handle more than you’d expect, but at a pretty lofty price


1 With a 160mm fork up front and a low BB, the Insurgent is ready to attack the trail

T N E G R U S N I L I V E D E D T L 1 X0

slick, fully integrated upper chain guide, rubber protectors at critical areas on the full-carbon frame and a neat little sag indicator to help with suspension set-up.

£6,499 Boutique carbon enduro shredder We’ve nothing but love for Evil’s big-wheeled, short-travel The Following, so couldn’t wait to get a ride on the longer travel, smaller wheeled Insurgent, which Evil refer to as “the two-wheeled death machine”.

The kit That eye-watering price does mean you get some of the best kit out there, and there’s certainly no shortage of carbon on this limited edition build. E*thirteen supply their TRSr carbon wheels and carbon cranks, along with grippy 2.35in TRSr tyres. SRAM’s impressively powerful Guide RSC brakes and X01 transmission deal with stop and go duties.

The frame While the Insurgent delivers 151mm of rear wheel travel via Dave Weagle’s DELTA System, Evil are keen to point out that it can be paired with a 150mm, 160mm or 170mm fork to suit your riding and trails. With a 160mm fork and the frame in its lowest and slackest ‘X-Low’ setting, our test bike had a 64.6-degree head angle and the bottom bracket (BB) was a corner-railing 334mm off the ground. Switching to the ‘Low’ setting steepens the head and seat angles by close to a degree and lifts the BB by 12mm. There’s no shortage of details, with the most notable being the

46 Mountain Biking UK

The ride From the moment you set off, the stiff chassis, low-slung geometry and low weight help to give the Insurgent a really lively, confident feel that makes you want to launch into every section of trail as fast as you dare. The low BB, taut-feeling frame and stiff wheels up the cornercarving ante no end. Drive your weight down through the well-supported suspension as you dive into a turn and the pop and speed generated into the next corner is really quite impressive. Truck on down through the steep stuff and the low, slack frame and

The DELTA linkage adds enough progression for the really big hits

SPEC Frame Carbon fibre, 151mm (5.9in) travel Fork RockShox Pike RCT3 Solo Air, 160mm (6.3in) travel Shock RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 Drivetrain SRAM X01 with e*thirteen TRSr carbon cranks (1x11) Wheelset e*thirteen TRSr carbon wheels, e*thirteen TRSr 27.5x2.35in tyres Brakes SRAM Guide RSC Bar/stem Race Face Atlas 35, 800mm/ Race Face Atlas 35, 50mm Seatpost/saddle RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper/WTB Silverado Team Weight 12.76kg (28.15lb), medium size without pedals

dependably grippy tyres give you the stability and confidence to push hard and brake nice and late into the turns. Winching back up the climbs isn’t exactly a chore either thanks to the low 12.76kg weight, though with a 160mm fork in place and in the X-Low setting, the Insurgent’s 73.4-degree seat angle isn’t the steepest. Still, we only really noticed that on the steepest rocky climbs, and with this build, the Evil’s real strength and primary focus was always going to be going downhill fast. It holds speed well too, which is impressive considering that the e*thirteen tyres aren’t exactly fast-rolling. We found ourselves overshooting jumps and squashing, rather than popping, some of the lengthier gaps that one of our regular downhill trails is littered with. If you’re after a flat-out fun corner ripper, the Insurgent is certainly worth taking a look at. ROB WEAVER www.silverfish-uk.com

Expensive, but the lively ride, great spec and sheer amount of fun on offer are hard to ignore


1 The RFX is a big, burly bike with a ride to match

0 . 4 V X F R R E N R TU £2,695 (frame) Big carbon all-rounder that’s a real playbike Dave Turner has been building fanatically well honed machines since the early 1990s, when his Burner was one of the first rigs to showcase just how well a full-suspension bike could work. The RFX is another Turner lesson in just how versatile a properly sorted big bike can be.

The frame Forget Turner’s skinny alloy roots – the RFX is a carbon fibre anvil. The monster 49/62mm head tube means you can put offset bearings top and bottom to slacken out the steering angle by as much as 1.5 degrees. The frame will take a 180mm-travel fork too. The down tube is equally vast, and the top tube so broad and deep it wouldn’t fit in the hook of our bike scales. While the splayed junction with the squared seat tube would be hollowed out on most frames, Turner have just recessed it slightly to leave a massive reinforcing box. The single-piece asymmetric rear swingarm is slightly more subtly shaped to fit round front

48 Mountain Biking UK

mech and 2.4in tyre clearances but the huge upper and lower linkages housing super-smooth Enduro Max bearings make the threaded-bearing Race Face cranks and RockShox Monarch Plus piggyback shock look tiny. Add practical, rattle-free external gear and brake controls in bolted ‘d’ loops and it’s certainly more beast than beauty.

The kit The RFX is sold as a frame and shock but Turner’s UK distributors Silverfish dressed our test sample up just right with a super-supple and adjustable DVO Diamond fork, wide Easton bar and broad Easton Heist 30 wheels running 2.4in Onza tyres. Shimano XT and Race Face kit provided the drive, with a welcome 203mm front rotor power boost for the XT brakes.

The ride With 160mm of travel, relatively sticky 55-duro tyres and a chassis like a carbon Portaloo, we’d resigned ourselves to a patient plod to gain our gravity credit. But the combination of a surprisingly light sub-30lb weight and super-smooth yet stable DW-Link suspension made climbs a breeze. The fact the RFX pedals unhindered over stutter bumps,

The DVO fork offers loads of adjustment and a super-supple stroke

SPEC Frame Toray carbon fibre, 160mm (6.3in) travel Fork DVO Diamond, 160mm (6.3in) travel Shock RockShox Monarch Plus DebonAir Drivetrain Shimano Deore XT with Race Face Turbine Cinch cranks (1x11) Wheelset Easton Heist 30 wheels, Onza Ibex FRC120 RC55a 27.5x2.4in tyres Brakes Shimano Deore XT Bar/stem Easton Havoc 35 Carbon, 800mm/Easton Haven 35, 50mm Seatpost/saddle Easton Haven dropper/SDG Circuit Weight 13.35kg (29.43lb), large size without pedals

up steps or when stomping out of switchback corners means it absolutely rips through any power sections on rollercoaster trails or enduro-style descents. While some DW bikes can be sensitive to shock set-up, the DebonAir can on the Monarch Plus shock gives a much wider bandwidth of sensitive start, increased mid-stroke support and ugly-situation saves. While the large frame’s 430mm reach and 340mm bottom bracket height are middling rather than super-stretched or sumped, the Turner still carries its easily-gained speed through the roughest corners or rock gardens with confidence. It’s accurate without being numbly wooden or a harsh arm-pumper too, creating a rare blend of nimble and neutral but ‘not bothered by anything you’ve got the guts throw it down’ handling that makes the RFX a genuine standout bike in a massively crowded market. GUY KESTEVEN www.silverfish-uk.com

Outstanding poise, versatility and practicality make the RFX a ‘one bike’ winner


THE 2017

ATTACK TRAIL SERIES

ADAM DAYSON, PEASLAKE - SURREY PHOTO: TOM B

QUAD LINK 3 SUSPENSION SYSTEM WITH 150MM OF TRAVEL • INTERNAL CABLE ROUTING • AGGRESIVE TRAIL SPEC ON EVERY MODEL ATTACK TRAIL 7

ATTACK TRAIL 8

£1950

£2500

PRICE RANGE FROM £1950-£5000

TO FIND YOUR NEAREST DEALER: PALIGAP.CC


1 The Stitched 720° handles like a jump bike – until you overcook things

We had to run the shock super-hard to get it feeling good on the jumps

N O Y N A C H ED 720° STITC £1,646.98* Slopestyle slayer that’s a blast off the course too We tested Canyon’s Stitched 360° hardtail a couple of years back and loved it, so we were itching to get our hands on this full-suspension version when the German brand sneaked it out under their freeride team last year. We knew the Stitched 720° could kill it on a slopestyle course but would it be equally at home flowing through small trails and pump tracks or finding hucks out and about in town?

The frame The stiff aluminium frame delivers 100mm of rear wheel travel via a RockShox Monarch RT shock. There’s a tapered head tube up front and integrated chain tugs out back to keep the wheel in place in the horizontal dropouts and the chain tight. Ours did unwind themselves occasionally, so make sure you check regularly. While the geometry charts may suggest a different ride to the hardtail version, most of the changes are to accommodate the rear shock and make very little

50 Mountain Biking UK

difference to the handling. Because the main pivot is concentric with the bottom bracket (BB), the chainstays are only 5mm longer than on the Stitched 360°.

The kit Canyon’s own Stitched 360° parts make up most of the hardware and are all well matched to the frame. The 31.8mm diameter, 760mm wide bar has a nice sweep and rise, and there’s plenty of space for the super-wide, mushroom-style grips, though we’d have preferred lock-on rather than slide-on versions.

The ride While few of us mere-mortal mountain bikers have any need for a slopestyle bike, every member of the MBUK team wanted a ride on the Stitched 720° – or to hang it up on a wall at home so they could admire it! Slopestyle bikes, like their hardtail cousins, dirt jump bikes, just unlock the big kid in us all, filling our heads with thoughts of backflipping, 360ing and tailwhipping through our local jumps – until we remember that, actually, we’ll be lucky to make it through without crashing. A sticker on the shock lists the maximum recommended

SPEC Frame 7005-T6 aluminium, 100mm (3.9in) travel Fork RockShox Pike DJ, 100mm (3.9in) travel Shock RockShox Monarch RT Drivetrain Truvativ Descendant cranks (singlespeed) Wheelset Alex FR30 rims on Canyon Stitched 360° hubs, Maxxis Ikon EXC EXO 3C Maxx Speed 26x2.2in tyres Brakes Avid DB3 (rear only) Bar/stem Canyon Stitched 360°, 760mm/Canyon V16, 45mm Seatpost/saddle Canyon Stitched 360°/Canyon Stitched 360° Weight 12.05kg (26.6lb), medium size with pedals * Price includes packing and shipping

pressure as 275psi. We got ours as close as we could and found the back end still compressed under the weight of a 75kg rider, so we wouldn’t recommend running much less. The feel of the rear suspension isn’t dissimilar to running your tyres a bit on the soft side, but without the uncontrollable roll that comes with that. This means you can run the Maxxis Ikon tyres at 60psi without the bike squirming around the berms or your feet bouncing off the pedals over every bump. With the shock pumped up hard, the Stitched 720° is a ready-to-go slopestyle killer, but it’s equally at home flowing through small trails and pump tracks or finding hucks out and about town. The dialled geometry and BB pivot mean it rides more like a hardtail than any other slopestyle bike we’ve ridden, just with a bit of travel in reserve to take the sting out of big landings. JONNY ASHELFORD

www.canyon.com

Not a bike we’d ride everyday, but one you can have endless fun on. Do we have to give it back?!


www.ubyk.co.uk

OUR NEW ProBuild CUSTOM VISUAL BIKE BUILDER IS LIVE! Want a website where you can visually customise your own ride, one that offers you all the best components, see informative videos on the parts, see the weight change as you spec the bike? Now available on 0% Finance. Check out www.ubyk.co.uk/probuild

INTEREST FREE FINANCE AVAILABLE ON A WIDE RANGE OF BIKES ÄUHUJLL_HTWSLZHYL^P[OH KLWVZP[

Scott Scale 720 Plus 2016

Nukeproof Mega AM 275

Cannondale Habit 2 Carbon 2017

was £1,299 .00 now £998 .90

was £1,995 .99 now £1,554 .95

£3,799.00

Orbea Rallon X30 2016

Yeti SB6c Enduro Boost Bike

Orange Five RS 2016

was £2,234 .00 now £1,898 .00

was £4,599 .00 now £3,909 .15

was £3,795 .00 now £2,999 .00

FREE DELIVERY ON ALL ORDERS. Download our iPhone App Mountain Bike Trails UK from the App Store.

Advice line: +44 (0)1865 596 112


700 K R A P S T SCOT N ED PLUS T U £6,499 Plus-size wheels & other tweaks for the XC/trail crowd Scott have redesigned their Spark cross-country bike for 2017, changing to a new suspension layout, tweaking the geometry (it’s 1.3 degrees slacker up front, has a 17mm longer reach and more standover room), shaving weight while increasing stiffness, and generally making it more trail-riding-friendly. They also now offer the option of 650b+ wheels, as found on the bike you see here. The ‘Tuned’ designation means this is the top-of-the-line model, complete with a Kashima coated, Factory series Fox 34 Float fork up front and a proprietary Fox Nude Trunnion shock out back which, thanks to Scott’s TwinLoc remote system, can be adjusted on the fly to give either 85 or 120mm of travel. A 1x12 SRAM XX1 Eagle drivetrain finishes off the bike and ensures you’ll have no trouble earning your turns. www.scott-sports.com

52 Mountain Biking UK


OIL C B D K E E R CA N E C R S H OCK (IL ) R E A £389 Coil-sprung performance without the weight? Cane Creek’s Double Barrel shock has long been regarded as one of, if not the, bestperforming coil shocks on the market. Now a version is available without the piggyback reservoir. This reduces weight to 562g (with a 450lb spring, not included in the price), potentially making it ideal for hardcore trail/ enduro riders who want the suppleness and long-descent capabilities of a coil shock without the extra heft of a full-on DH damper. The ‘inline’ version features the same twintube damping technology and independent low and high-speed rebound and compression adjustment as the original DBcoil. Big descents mean big ascents, and thankfully the shock has a ‘Climb Switch’ to improve its uphill abilities. It’s designed to fit Cane Creek’s new Valt lightweight steel springs, which will save a few more grams. www.extrauk.co.uk

Mountain Biking UK 53


L A DE B H C T I W S GI RO ELM E T MIPS H £249.99 Sharp-looking convertible lid Have Giro done the seemingly impossible and made a convertible helmet that actually looks good? Unclip the DH-certified chinguard and this 1,006g full-face lid switches easily from downhill to climb mode. We love the ‘moto trials’ look in open-face guise and the extended protection this gives over the ears. An integrated MIPS layer helps protect your grey matter and there are 20 vents to prevent overheating. The peak can be positioned to accommodate goggles and a spare peak with a helmet cam mount is included in the box. www.zyrofisher.co.uk

54 Mountain Biking UK


D 2FO S E Z I L A I C E S P E L AC E S H O E CL I PL I T £90 Top-performing trail shoes that won’t break the bank These new shoes from Spesh are more affordable versions of the 2FO ClipLites, which we gave a four-star review. The biggest difference is that they use laces, where the pricier versions have a Boa retention system. Our UK8 pair weighs 775g. To aid clipping in there’s an extended ‘Landing Strip’ cleat pocket, and ‘SlipNot’ rubber on the sole improves traction off the bike. The padding on the uppers is thin but there’s still a fairly rigid toe box and heel support to give you some rock-kicking protection. www.specialized.com

GOGG L O T S E R P T SG

ES

£69.99 Spotted – TSG’s new Sam Pilgrim eyewear These jazzy goggles from TSG are part of a new Sam Pilgrim signature series that’ll be available from early 2017. The animal-print strap is a nod to the UK slopestyle star’s old nickname, ‘Leopard Head’. TSG claim that the wide, minimal frame gives excellent vision and the flexible strap-outriggers improve helmet compatibility. The Prestos are some of the first bike goggles we’ve seen with an anti-fog dual-layer lens, and considering that you get two lenses as standard (one clear, one black tinted), the price seems very reasonable. Also available in black. www.ison-distribution.com

56 Mountain Biking UK


n

S ’ R E D L E I F T N A R G #74 OMBA GT L A B Custom-painted import ridden by one of the UK’s inest old-school dirt jumpers Grant ‘Chopper’ Fielder was one of the first guys from the UK to break out onto the world freeride scene and he went on to win numerous comps at home and abroad, as well as film gnarly video sections for the likes of the New World Disorder series. These days he’s hung up his competitive shoes and focuses his attention on running demo events and tutoring the next generation of rippers through his coaching company, Star Cycling. The bike he wows the kids on is

this custom-painted GT La Bomba hardtail, though he also has a GT Force X Carbon for the trails and a GT Sanction for when, in his own words, he “drinks more spinach cans and hits the big stuff”. Lager top Chopper’s been riding this bike since he joined GT last year and loves it so much that when the paint started to look tatty, instead of getting a new frame he called up Alistair McLean from Fatcreations to give it a facelift. Fatcreations are the guys responsible for Steve Peat’s custom race bikes this year, and whether or not you’re into DH bikes that look like cows, you can’t deny Alistair’s skill with an airbrush.

WHY’S IT SUPER? Photos Steve Behr The bike of choice of one of the godfathers of the UK dirt scene One-of-a-kind finish courtesy of framepainting maestros Fatcreations It says ‘Probably the best bike in the world’ on the chainstays so it must be pretty good, right?

Chopper wanted “a really in-your-face yellow” plus black graphics to match his demo rig. He sat down with Rob, the graphic designer at GT, to come up with the design and then added some personal touches. These include his name in the style of the Carlsberg logo on the top tube and the phrase “Probably the best bike in the world” on the chainstays, poppies on the seat tube in honour of his daughter and a Southampton FC logo on the top tube, so that when he looks down, he’s never too far from home. A beer can on the head tube emblazoned with his nickname and a lumberjack graphic finishes the bike off. Underneath the paint is a stock La Bomba hardtail. Chopper says that

Mountain Biking UK 59


GRANT FIELDER Hailing from Romsey, near Southampton, ‘Chopper’ is a stalwart of the UK dirt jump scene and a long-term friend of MBUK. He’s one of the guys who really paved the way for UK freeriders on the world scene, riding for the high-profile Kona Clump team for a number of years. Since leaving them, he’s been aboard Nukeproofs and DMRs, before signing with GT back in 2015. These days his contest riding has taken a back seat in favour of coaching kids and riding at demo shows.

R AME F A S R E F E R CHOPPER P ACH E R R E G N O GHTLY L I L S A H T I W E ROOM R O M M I H S AS IT GI V E RSPINS A B D N A S AN FOR CA N C 1. A BIG CLAIM Is this really the best bike in the world? We’re not sure, but you know what they say – if you take pride in your bike, you’re going to ride it well too. 2. UNFORGIVING Chopper runs an air-sprung Marzocchi Slope CR fork on this bike. It’s there to take some of the sting out if he overshoots a landing, rather than provide a plush ride, so it’s pumped up hard to maximise the speed he can carry and generate from transitions. 3. ROLLING STOCK Stan’s NoTubes ZTR Rapid 30 alloy rims are laced to Novatec hubs and shod with DMR Moto tyres. Their low-profile tread makes for fast

60 Mountain Biking UK

rolling speeds on hardpack trails. 4. LAGER, LAGER, LAGER Carling is Chopper’s tipple of choice and, in recognition of this, the head tube is designed in the style of a beer can with his name on it. We love the graphics, but we’re not so taken with his taste in beer! 5. POSH PERCH The Line saddle from Somerset-based Fabric is something you’d normally expect to find gracing a lightweight cross-country bike. Chopper prefers the sleek race look of a saddle like this to stumpy BMX seats and the height helps him pull off certain tricks. Barspins and Superman seatgrabs are some of his signatures.

1


n

2

3 4

5

he’s always preferred a frame with a slightly longer reach (the horizontal distance from the centre of the bottom bracket to the centre of the top of the head tube) than a standard dirt hardtail, as it gives him more room for can-cans and barspins. He also likes to keep his bikes looking like mountain bikes, with a long frame and a slick-looking seat – “None of this slammed BMX saddle nonsense!” Up at the front end, Chopper hangs onto a 710mm wide, 1.5in-rise DMR Wingbar, bolted through a 50mm DMR Sect stem. Many dirt jumpers use mushroom-ribbed grips to give them a bit of cushioning, but Chopper says he prefers super-thin Fabric commuting grips, finding that the fingertip feel for barspins is better. To keep things simple and avoid tangled cables, Chopper runs only a rear Shimano Zee disc brake. The hydraulic hose has been left long deliberately and wrapped around the steerer so that he can bust out multiple barspins and tailwhips during a single run. As you’d expect from a pure dirt jump bike, the drivetrain is singlespeed and the frame has horizontal dropouts with built-in chain tensioners to keep everything tight. DMR Axe cranks with a stiff 30mm axle keep everything secure and a pair of V12 Mag pedals keep his feet in place – that is, until he throws them off mid-air, which he does regularly! Real rad rig We asked Chopper what he likes most about his bike. “What don’t I like?! It’s rad to hell and back! It matches my demo rig and makes the whole show look so much slicker. The kids absolutely love it too. The roars I get from just lifting it up are crazy! It’s the look on those kids’ faces that makes the job so memorable and rewarding.” Never a man to sit still, Chopper somehow manages to balance the demands of Star Cycling with looking after his daughter and still seems to have time to go on some rad riding trips. He’d just got back from Whistler when we spoke to him and was loving riding more than ever. Even after years on the scene he’s still stoked to hit the local trails with his mates and he has some film projects in the pipeline too, so watch this space…

SPECS Price: N/A (Discontinued US-only model) Contact: www.gtbicycles.com Also try: Saracen Amplitude AL Team, £899.99, www.saracen.co.uk

Mountain Biking UK 61


SUBSCRIPTION OFFER K U B M E IV FT S U L C X E COME GI WEL

SUBSCRIBE AND GET A BONUS SET OF LEZYNE LIGHTS! WHY SUBSCRIBE? Save 17%* on the cover price – only £24.99 every 6 issues Get a bonus Lezyne Hecto Drive 350XL front light and Lezyne KTV rear light worth £44.99 Every issue sent hot off the press and delivered right to your door Never miss an action-packed magazine or supplement again!

62 Mountain Biking UK


50XL TURES KEY FEAHECTO DRIVE 3INIUM LEZYNE ACHINED ALUM • CNC-MRUCTION ED CONST HIGH-OUTPUT0L LUMENS • ULTRAERING UP TO 35 EE V I L DE ABLE-FRK C D E T A • INTEGRRGING USB STIC TTERY RECHA CED LI-POLY BAME I • ADVANUPERIOR RUN T FOR S

TURES KEY FEAKTV OF LEZYNEBLE, WATERPRO A • DUR RUCTION DS WITH CONST TRA-BRIGHT LEMODES L H • TWO UOUTPUT/FLASXTRA E E E R R O TH TOUTS F • SIDE CUITY EE VISIBIL ATED CABLE-FCRK I R T • INTEG RGING USB S RECHA

WORTH

£44.99 subscribe online at http://buysubscriptions.com/MBP008 OR call our hotline on 0844 844 0387 quoting code MBP008 Lines are open 8am-8pm weekdays, 9am-1pm Saturdays (for overseas orders, visit http://buysubscriptions.com) TERMS & CONDITIONS: Full details of the Direct Debit Guarantee will be provided and are available on request. This offer is for new UK subscribers to the print edition paying by Direct Debit only. Gifts are subject to availability. Please allow 60 days for delivery of your gift. You will receive 13 issues per year. Your subscription will start with the next available issue. If at any time you are dissatisfied please notify us in writing and we will refund you for all unmailed issues. In the unlikely event your selected gift is unavailable, we reserve the right to send an alternative gift. *17% discount is based on buying six issues at UK shop price. Offer expires 8 December 2016.

Mountain Biking UK 63


sweden

/b

I= ¨

ç

Dan Milner goes in search of solitude and escape from modern life on an overnight bike adventure into the Swedish mountains

64 Mountain Biking UK


Mountain Biking UK 65


sweden

ď Top Narrow boardwalk across the boggy sections of our route provided a test of skill and nerve

66 Mountain Biking UK

Middle 'Epic' is an overused word, but it's hard to think of a better way to describe this landscape

Bottom Our accommodation was classier than expected – the mountain lodge even had a sauna

taring at the words ‘Discover breast augmentation!’ the subject line has grabbed my attention but is competing with a dozen other emails that invite me to ‘Discover SUVs’ and ‘Learn best woodworking techniques’, among others. For a moment I contemplate the rewarding life this spam is promising me. But then I realise I don’t even have breasts. Just 24 hours earlier, sitting in a refuge perched on a remote mountainside 8km from the Swedish-Norwegian border, life was much less complicated. All I had to do was ride bikes, eat food and chat with my co-adventurers, Stina and Baard. Life has become overcomplicated, and we’ve let it. It’s the flipside to ‘progress’. Which is where a wi-fi-free hut in the Swedish wilderness comes in. Escaping the pressures of modern life sometimes needs a bit more commitment than just pedalling along your favourite trail. If a 60-minute charge around your local loop can give short-term relief, imagine what a couple of days riding out to a remote hut offers – real escape. No internet, no emails, no TV. Think of it as nourishment for the soul, or a damn good mini adventure if you’re not into hippy speak. It’s already feeling like quite an epic when we reach a cluster of little wooden huts that mark the halfway stage of our ride. Maybe it’s the barren, unforgiving mountains playing with my mind, or maybe it’s the fact that we were up riding at midnight last night, something that’s left


imagine what a coup of days riding oÈ to a remotß hut Æffers - real escape. no internet, nÆ emails, no tv the three of us fatigued. But either way, I’m happy to sit in the shelter of these shiplapped huts and devour my sandwich.

High jinks Our destination is the Sylarna Fjällstation, a mountain lodge lying at 63 degrees north (about the same latitude as the southern tip of Iceland). It’s 20km from the nearest road, amid the wild Jämtland mountains. It may seem a long way to go for a hut adventure when we have so many in Scotland to choose from, but there’s method to this apparent madness. An hour’s drive from where we start our ride is the ski and bike resort of Åre. For the past 48 hours we’ve been hammering trails, downing expensive beer and generally revelling as part of the annual Åre Bike Festival. The event culminates in an 11pm cable car ride up the mountain for a full 1,000m descent under a scarlet midnight sunset. It’s an opportunity that can’t be passed up. It’s hard to resist the lure to cram in ‘just one more loop’ when you have 20 hours of daylight at your disposal. While our 20km ride to the hut isn’t long by anyone’s standards, the long days will give us

flexibility if the weather turns out to be notoriously Scandinavian. We set off from the trailhead near the Storulvån hut, a modern refuge that's more akin to a luxury lodge in Aspen, Colorado, than the alpine huts I’ve experienced. Following the Storulvån River, we wind our way up through tangled, twisted birch trees, then cross a long suspension bridge to reach its eastern bank. The hundred or more sections of boardwalk that punctuate our trail give a nod to the fact that this is normally boggy ground. But we’re in luck – we’ve hit Sweden in a rare period of dry weather. Dust is on the menu and the 20cm-wide planks are unnecessary, but give us a challenge anyway. We roll along, floating over mostly dry peat and skimming across golden grass, our hearts missing a beat each time the planks span another metre-deep ditch. Never one for North Shore riding, I bottle some of the more cavernous creek crossings. I decide this isn’t the place to be stuck with a broken leg – I’m guessing one of the rivers we’ve passed isn’t called Big Wolf River for nothing. We grind up short, steep climbs to drop down through playful rock gardens. It could be Cut Gate in the Peaks if we weren’t being

Mountain Biking UK 67


Æur destinaÕon is Û mountain Ñdge lying at 63 degrees north, 20km from the nearest road, amid the wiÒ jämtÍnd moäntains

68 Mountain Biking UK


Mountain Biking UK 69


sweden

even Ûfter Ùree hours i sÕll can't see our refuge, Ænly enormous rolÎng whaleback mÆuntains in the distance parallelled by a string of 2m-high wooden posts, each topped by a red ‘X’. Our trail meanders but the posts cut a beeline across this wild landscape, never deviating from their course. They’re perched atop rocky outcrops and protrude from peat bogs. Some even stand proudly in a small lake. When I suggest they might mark a gas pipeline, Baard puts me straight. “They’re marking the straight line to the refuge,” he says, “for ski tourers.” Even after three hours I still can’t see our refuge, only enormous rolling whaleback mountains in the distance. A series of false summits and hidden descents means this ride packs in 800m of climbing even though our start point is only 300m lower than the finish. When the lodge finally comes into view it still takes us another hour to reach it, by which time we’re leapfrogging backpack-wielding hikers. The entrance porch is awash with walking boots and I’m amazed how busy it is. For a moment I’m disappointed as my romantic notion of solitude ebbs away, replaced by the bustle of sweaty hikers queuing to check in, and the fact that the refuge has 100 beds and a sauna. A quarter of an hour later, mug of tea in hand, I’ve accepted this

70 Mountain Biking UK

compromise, and by the time we cook our evening meal I’m actually relishing the fact that there are 40 other people here. After all, every one of them has had to hike the same trail in and every one of them has given up the normality of internet access and Snapchat for the night, or longer. It gives me hope for humanity.

Snow and glaciers Even though it’s 4pm when we reach the refuge, with plenty of daylight left and lots of trails to explore we refuel on cake and head out to pick our way along a challengingly rocky trail towards the 1,728m Storsola peak and nearby Storsylen glacier. It’s July but snow still clings to the mountain’s north face and its steep couloirs make it easy to see why this is a target for ski tourers. Pushing up behind the aptly named Herrklumpen peak we get our first sniff of Scandinavian weather, as clouds roll in and the wind picks up. At a col we peer east, our eyes following the line of red crosses as it marches unrelentingly across miles of wilderness criss-crossed by trails – there’s so much to explore here. The biting wind makes the final 200m descent back to the


Right Skiers, hikers… the signs are just missing bikers Middle right Wooden huts offer shelter at the halfway point of the trail Below right Even in summer there’s snow up high and it can be pretty cold

Despite looking like they’re slogging up this climb, it’s the motors that are doing all the hard work for the guys

warm refuge all the more welcome. We’ve notched up a full 1,200m of climbing and 900m of descent. I’m not surprised we demolish two plates of pasta each before sitting back to chat, glad the hut has a fully stocked shop and no wi-fi. We talk of the day, of home trails and of other adventures. Plans are formed. Drizzle coats the outside of the windows when we wake the next morning. The scattering of tents is devoid of life but the refuge has the bustle of a high street coffee bar, albeit one with an air of exhaustion and a locker room odour. We don waterproofs for the ride out, following the same trail we rode in. With a net descent we cover ground quickly, but the overnight rain has made the narrow boardwalks damp and challenging. I’m getting the hang of this plank thing and follow Stina’s rear wheel across some tricky sections. I’ll risk it, I reckon, hoping wolves don’t go looking for dinner in the wet. We pump across natural doubles and air small drop-offs. The trail is so much fun we’re unaware of the overnight gear on our backs, and before we know it we’re back among the tangled birch trees that signify the end of our ride. As we roll up to the car, I look around at the wild terrain we’ve been riding through. It took me 28 hours to get here, on trains and planes while I slowly disconnected from technological saturation. In a few hours time I’ll be reconnecting, but for the moment I’m high-fiving two new friends, sharing anecdotes about our two days. I’m tired – exhausted even – but right now I’ve never felt more alive. Escape can do that. Try it.

PLAN YOUR OWN ADVENTURE Three huts closer to home

1

Torridon Easan Dorcha This tiny, very basic wooden bothy sits halfway round Scotland’s classic Torridon circuit, a challenging but stunning 28-mile loop in the northwest Highlands. You’ll need to bring your own stove, food and sleeping bag – and sense of adventure. www.mountainbothies.org.uk

2

Glen Coe cabins These simple little four-person sleeping pods with access to the adjacent cafe and showers make this a cheap and comfortable base for riding some real Scottish classics in what’s perhaps one of the most gob-smacking valleys in the world. www.glencoemountain.co.uk

3

Snowdon Ranger YHA This £13-a-night hostel is easy to reach and perfectly located for a summit attack on Snowdon (riding not allowed 1 May to 30 September, 10am to 5pm). www.yha.org.uk

Make sure you pack...

1

Ear plugs Mouldable ear plugs are a must for a decent night’s kip if you’re sharing with random bikers and hikers.

2

Warm layer Take a midweight hooded fleece like ME’s £80 Diablo (www.mountainequipment.co.uk).

3

Sleeping bag liner Carry a liner and use the hut blankets to save weight (£47, www.seatosummit.com).

Mountain Biking UK 71


troy lee

et l helm , ownhil d a ce lids n a o d full-f e s’ Dayt le c n y a t f ig s -s e e h ly ging t y Lee D f aggressive e, chan ins at the 95, Tro o d 9 a u 1 r it e t in t w Back iven’ a r rema in a ne h f**ks g on, their gea usher ait wit nd ‘no s helped a r you w e e it d k h a it t c b o e e t a h d o it W o m . k w s T baggy d their ed’ list orever. t want p or fin sport f st to dro s’ ‘mos r of the s e he mo e t n id f e r li many e one o ain biking. W r t year’s a x e D n L top of r t T o n t f K u a h U o h t t e a m g bre it to th nds in denyin bated are vis ing bra r e’s no r e h a t e h t h g lo t s c , in nd he see garish elf dur lmet a where e hims tial he w and roy Le o T n r influen n M o h . orking wn wit he’s w to say.. sat do e had t what h u t o a d h to fin ere's w oing. H . lothing sport g n the c o s s y to n s u le g ig wild dneshelmets, a littleabt.itI’ve hired anothheirred two new d n a d il m a bit o y ve also m best s quite what I’ nted. I’ ere’s an “I focu ee if th per-tale robably s u p s s to re s ’s a e m s and h one glo ith the Graphic g two-t lothing rking w n the c I’m wo erfectin p d n n a e e work o ts b e . We’ve ys like on helm can do ’s alwa people w, but it ething logy we o o n n . t h y h c tl n ets rig new te on som es rece ’ll give five helm ay and work tt finish cool we n, like, w o and ma a g o in in g k th g’s r ’ll e o e lly is. w m w a o , e s re g ’r “We cool it e think methin o w w s o If h h . too it d tc n ske back to react a int them that. I’ll public l come on’t pa ’l d e e I . th w o w n to e e ho else, th a week and se elmets athlete going to inted h a it to an -p m a lot by to d s e u ir . c p p s , u 15 them R guys k. It’s in We do NASCA do draw re’s a TLD loo I d t n u a b r often el the IndyCa itely fe ith the ski “I defin rking w o e done w ’v e v e es. I lo s, and w e s ik g b the rac in d an keep th ide MX ys try to use alongs . I alwa o rd beca a to h ts ’s It t. s helme fa d y want. racy an nd hat the looking phics a ary in w v the gra rs n e o lly d a il re w o o custom s g ’ll rs, mes we o block colou Someti e’ll d wild. w s to e d il m m nd the other ti g from thing a verythin o some d ut then l ’l b we do e , e it w g times pushin e ’r e "Some ] w n l say renda ees wil e like [B dorses employ omeon that en s n n o a it in d t u w p G l g ] 'l n e in w [Aaro surpris ugh or ’t keep Fairclo we don ards.” If l. w k o c o a c going b that it’s e ’r e w then people sist g e-bikes e electric-as Embraocwin, I’m really likingmthn fun! I can rideant old up o da nIw ht-year“You kn my eig w. It’s to r off, but whe o h n s t u e h p ’r ig e n even thing r se they the pow am. I ca , becau ns with could st a dre icycles b ju at you the dow m ’s th o it k , fr c y a up a p k w y c n r a a ia e t b r e le batt mp] B to ride ant to g ing a litt [4X cha ld v u don’t w h a I o it h w l! t w il t u g h a b the go ridin ey are, , and th g as th n good I like to in m t. z a a a d re m o g a be e he’s s n would a becaus snap o efinitely painful 52. ’s it t u h was d b uy was s ic g e h t ! p s w it e o , L b e ld c a o t ra e u e o th ink e-bik ings and I th even th ised an raced it t organ “We jus topic! My son ation convers

ORT'S UR SP , O F O N E DESIG D SOM BEHIN KS HELMET N E-BIKES N A M TAL DO THE STOKE ST KIT COOLE D WHY HE'S G AN RACIN e , and th mps in of the t s and ra u g o lo g g heeliein the l, puttin side, w chnica putting side by ourse te s c y u e e g said: th m for e de d with g man] l – thre e o We ma re o e g c k a r o a tin is s d m re s e ’s e e e w D b y ould pell, TL photos y emplo yone sh ig Glas pany. lot of m an [Cra ink if an le com m th c k I turns! A y ti t ic u S b . B n .’ a o s d e e n c ib a s v ra le and g bad e-bike torcycle ople on bicyc e gettin s a mo ’r e a e , p hip off s w , u y re e o ‘Dud I tore m ikes, it’s oing to get m n -b e e h g . w n it ti my leg nitely g t onto suppor ength in urbo Levo are defi guys. I first go tr s s e y ik n a -b e “E orks T r older n’t hav e an S-W and it really great fo and did gave m g they’re d le e z e li n o t Specia dal with e’ve got to pu ould pe W c . I t te a lieve in e ita th il b b ’t a n h a me re gh. I do helped e that’s it, thou trol on becaus , n If s o l. n c o o e o tt c som sh-bu pretty with pu ink ssist is a th I la d d n e e-bikes a tp grow, ycle, bu going to und it motorc fun it’s rms aro a ’s g r u in o p ra h w it someth w it. s to ything er for u ike t do an o it’s bett n n m a o e e-b et for s ide it th p k u r to g a d ’s m n D a a D3 [TL there’s lid] ear the “I think w ro I u . d ts n c trail/e d produ 1 [their ing focuse d the A n someth h a r ] e fo c m o ro wit full-fa y ’s e re sh jers ink the full-me ool.” a and I th c , e o b ls A ld een. ds cou a p w in-betw o elb er and should unds, ene re DH World Cup ro c oth s e c a a r M he ould have mo Big Bear and mhmwould t p u g in Shak itely think we sh s. I’d love to see al slalom at eac watch ne er to nd du “I defin rican o st bett unds a use lly Ame is almo m More ro o, beca . lo to le la u rs s especia d l e to a h u ta c d ra c s e e fo e p n th se to m k away ol for s back o per-co n can loo l, becau u o o s le ti o p n c ’s e o rIt e tt e n! ple’s a e and p be sup o id e uper-fu s s P s . e s ’s it it H– nd at th rstand hing cro than D d unde . g. Watc beer sta n w n a a lo lo t s in u o o k p o c n on for to te it, it’s soo you ca tune ba s e n o e g – th it if and me in pprecia indow minute g to co cer to a t the w t is goin batteries n XC ra is oes ou a s g s e a n b la a p d s ave to ith the too it of pe y, you h tors! W enduro l a lil’ b countr r specta And in re I fee . e fo h re b n w tu m fu s fu cli s “That’ h more it’s the ke the so muc I think it’d ma it r, e e e p m ll k e a a a the fr it’ll m g to ke and sm ery into eneral is goin maller tt s a g b in a tt g ge ld slip ro in k endu ple cou .” – if peo it easier! I thin anyway , e id r b 2017 le igns in want to I that litt t a h w ee Des L ’s y ow... It . n ro g T r cy, fo growin it from to secre citing k n x r e o e w s m for so t been ourself view bu Brace y eak pre n s a d ha – we've

re’s e h t k n i I th for some a markeetfocused e-bik s. I wear producatnd the A1 the D3 ink there’s and I thr something room fobetween in-

72 Mountain Biking UK


Mountain Biking UK 73


dunoon

74 Mountain Biking UK


Once a popular victorian holiday resort and then a strategically important submarine base, Dunoon has slipped off the map in recent years. but now mountain biking is breathing new life into this unassuming Scottish town Words Ric McLaughlin Photos Ian Linton

Mountain Biking UK 75


dunoon

"Hold on, i'm not sure this is going to end very well..." Joe Connell looks pensive as the Sound of Shuna car ferry’s hull sinks low into the bottle-green waters of the Firth of Clyde. A behemoth of a tourist coach has just lurched aboard the small vessel. But waved on by the ferryman, we’re given the go-ahead to descend the slipway, so we drive cautiously onto the metal deck in our pick-up truck laden with bikes, camera gear and Joe’s retro-look gentleman’s holdall. We’re headed to Dunoon, one of a number of small Scottish towns that’s on the rise in terms of its mountain biking appeal. It feels like a second age for Scotland, which for so long has relied upon the 7stanes network along its border and the beacon of Fort William in the north to tempt riders in. Now, towns like this, fuelled by passionate locals and a depth of riding talent, are keen to prove themselves worthy of at least one of your long weekends. Dunoon is decidedly different in that it feels like an island but isn’t – it’s on the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll and Bute – and despite being little more than a half-hour’s drive west of Glasgow (plus a 40-minute ferry journey), it seems remarkably further north. The hills that surround the town contain an ever-expanding, hand-dug trail network and sweep right down to the waters below as the hulking tankers and container ships slowly slip past en route to Glasgow.

Timber and trails We meet up with some of the local pioneers outside the Rock Cafe. Above us, a painter daubs fresh leopard print onto a Fred Flintstone-esque caveman hurriedly escaping with an ice cream cone. Bacon rolls are passed out of the service window

ADVENTURE MADE EASY ________________ Getting there: Caledonian MacBrayne ferries (www. calmac.co.uk) leave every 20 minutes or so from Gourrock, west of Glasgow. Tickets are around a fiver per passenger but we’d recommend trekking over to the newsagent’s adjacent to the ferry terminal and buying them in advance to save as much as 50 per cent. Accommodation: We stayed at the Bay House Hotel, right on the front. The rooms are good, breakfast is good and you’re within a 10-minute drive of the trails. Which is good.

76 Mountain Biking UK

Equipment: Take spares and tools – there are no bike shops in Dunoon and the nearest is a return ferry journey away should something go wrong. We had an exploding pedal nearly derail our adventure so you have been warned. Riding: The trails have all been dug by the locals so it’s not as easy to find them as turning up to your local trail centre. Dunoon Presents (www.dunoon presents.co.uk) will keep you advised on racing and Cowal Mountain Bike Club on Facebook can offer the best advice on finding the trails.

as we slurp hot coffee from foam cups. We’ve arrived with the weather and the sun beats down as Colin, Ali and Stuart discuss the upcoming Scottish Enduro Series race. Local trail names fly through the air and fingers are jabbed at maps while the opinions of our test pilots Joe Connell and Kenta Gallagher, both World Cup racers, are sought. Mountain biking could be big for Dunoon and the team want to ensure that their first national-level race is handled with due diligence. We load up the truck and within minutes we’re bouncing up a dusty forest track into the Bishop’s Glen area. Dunoon’s riding is hinted at by the opening climb – nearly three miles of wide forest road winds steadily upwards. Rests are enforced by thundering timber lorries laden with freshly cut and trimmed tree trunks. As they pass, jerseys are pulled up over mouths and eyes clenched shut before the white-out of their dust trail coats bodies and bikes alike. “There’s big competition to get the freshest timber,” our guide Stuart tells us. “The fresher it is, the wetter it is – and the heavier it is, the more they get paid.” “This trail is one of the ones we’ve built for the enduro,” he continues, pointing down to a sinewy line of earth snaking off into the distance amid the bleached tree stumps. “Tomasz and a few of us basically cut it in a day.” Cutting a trail in a day is impressive, never mind doing it specifically for a single event.

Don’t look down “Whatever you do though, don’t go left!” Stuart half-smiles, hinting at the potential for doom. He’s not joking either – to the left of the trail winds a berm complete with 30ft-high walls in places. Something as innocuous as a washed-out front wheel could spell a less-than-scenic ride in a helicopter. We get going and, right from the start, it feels like I’m fighting my bike. Every square inch of the trail seems peppered with roots, rocks or holes. The Lapierre bucks and weaves below me


Left A scenic ferry journey isn’t a bad way to bookend a riding trip Right Joe Connell hops and pops his way down the trail Below There’s no mistaking Kenta Gallagher’s Scottish roots

a sinewy line of earth snakes off into the distance amid the bleached tree stumps. they cut it in just a day

Mountain Biking UK 77


dunoon

neon green bike!” Tomasz Chlipala is a man of few words. Originally from Poland, his dark features and deep brown eyes are those of Dunoon’s master shovel-wielder. “I just taught myself,” he says modestly. “I grew up in the country, on a farm. My family built our own house when I was young and I was always out in the countryside building things.” Accompanied by Ali and two of the local youngsters, Euan and Thomas, enjoying the last day of their summer holidays, we cross the fireroad and set off again into what the boys describe as a more off-camber section. It’s faster, smoother and hewn from a grassy base. At the bottom of it, Kenta sends a stupidly fast gap over a huge tree root that otherwise forces you low. Joe then calls out an innocuous-looking stump to the right of the trail. As camera phones are hurriedly pulled from riding packs he rolls in, pulls up and hops it smoothly into its soft sandy backside. He can’t get his Solid stopped quickly enough before running it back up the hill and shouting back, “Aye, it’s on!” Only the smallest of rear wheel taps mars an otherwise perfect nose bonk, and it’s high fives all round.

Shore’s not dead

as I grit my teeth and will myself not to look to my left. It’s tricky, very tricky. The gradient is by no means steep but just the sheer amount of material you’re riding over means that speed is most definitely your friend. And speed is something neither Kenta nor Joe lack. A pattern emerges that goes something like – Snapchat, point out something to gap/ manual/nose bonk, check Snapchat. Kenta airs from one side of a bombhole to the other and Joe duly obliges by clearing it almost identically. “There’s Tomasz over there!” Stuart announces. In the distance, a small train of riders is crawling up the fireroad. “He’s easy to spot because no one else round here has a

DUNOON FACTS __________ Blur’s 2013 song The Selfish Giant was inspired by Dunoon. The band’s lead singer, Damon Albarn, performed in the town, then witnessed a submarine make its way up Holy Loch and attended a house party. It was this experience that spawned the song. Dunoon was once home to thousands of Americans at the nearby naval base. It reputedly boasts one of the highest taxi-to-person ratios of anywhere in Britain as a result – the locals maintain that Americans don’t like to walk too far. The author of the Batman and Superman comics,

78 Mountain Biking UK

Grant Morrison, splits his time between Los Angeles and (yes, you’ve guessed it) Dunoon. East German Cold War spy Peter Dorschel was tried in Dunoon Sheriff’s Court for spying on the nearby Polaris submarine base. His prowess for espionage was brought into question when it was ascertained that, when asked for photos of the area, he’d just sent his paymasters postcards of Dunoon. Local man Eric Campbell starred in Charlie Chaplin’s movies as the villain and is widely credited with creating the concept of the screen ‘baddy’.

Double Drop is our last trail of the day and is built among the trees. Again, it’s a stage set for the enduro and offers up yet more challenges. It’s steeper and slicker, and there’s no stopping quickly, but we’re soon loving thumping the bikes from rut to rut. It feels more akin to the legendary trails of the Tweed Valley, right up until an unexpected smattering of North Shore woodwork pops into view. It’s still fast and flowy but a ladder drop makes way for a hard-on-the-brakes, maximum accuracy log skinny before a fast right-hand berm into a ladder bridge across a deep river crossing. It’s an amazing section that warrants several cracks. But are the locals giving away this gold too cheaply? I ask Stuart if he’s worried about the damage several hundred racers skidding down the pristine trails may bring. “Nah. I’ve ridden plenty of the trails up in Fort William and those guys have the right attitude,” he says. “Once a trail takes off and gets ridden in, they just move six feet over and dig another, it’s fine.” It’s a refreshingly easygoing approach that chimes with the new breed of Scottish builders compared to the often precious locals of more established spots. Dunoon can see the benefits to the local area and they’re more than willing to live with a couple of braking bumps here and there to garner them.

One last run We finish back in town, some way above its Victorian pier and underneath a fluttering saltire. The end of a long day in the saddle is marked by an impromptu display of street skills as Joe and Kenta go head-to-head riding rock drops, wallrides and ledges in the park gardens, before the casual slip of day into night and ‘bikes’ into ‘pub’. A string of neon lights pulses on the ceiling of The Clansman as the hits of Elton John blast out. Over a few cold beers, and to the strains of Reg Dwight’s finest, we all discuss how surprised we’ve been by Dunoon. For many, the Scottish Enduro Series race will be their first expedition to the Cowal Peninsula and, from what we’ve ridden, we reckon it’s unlikely to be their last. The following morning brings mist over the water and clouds hanging deep amid the trees, but after a cooked breakfast and several coffees it all burns off, as the sun yet again bursts through in a most un-Scottish fashion. It’d be rude not to load up and drop at least another couple of trails before the afternoon ferry!


a ladder drop makes way for a log skinny before a fast right-hand berm into a ladder bridge crossing Left, top Dive, dive, dive! The submarines may be gone but descents like this are putting Dunoon back on the radar Left, middle Mountain bikers – soon to be a common sight on Dunoon’s promenade Above Kenta gets his North Shore shizzle on Right Joe makes the most of some sweet Scottish loam

Mountain Biking UK 79


on a gift subscription this Christmas*

SAVE 30%

£45.49 - 13 issues

SAVE 43%

£29.99 - 12 issues

SAVE 30%

£45.49 - 13 issues

SAVE 35%

£34.99 - 12 issues

SAVE 30%

£43.19 - 13 issues

SAVE 47%

£34.30 - 13 issues

SAVE 30%

£47.99 - 13 issues

SAVE 45%

£32.00 - 13 issues

SAVE 30%

£25.19 - 6 issues

SAVE 40%

£39.99 - 26 issues

MORE TITLES AVAILABLE ONLINE

SAVE 45%

£35.99 - 13 issues

SAVE 46%

£31.50- 13 issues

SAVE 48%

£29.99 - 13 issues

SAVE 40%

£37.44 - 12 issues

Take the hassle out of your Christmas shopping and give a gift that lasts all year Order a magazine as a gift subscription before 9th December and not only will you save up to 50% on the price but we’ll also send you a free Christmas card to personalise! Remember ordering online is safe and secure, choose from any of these payment options

3 easy ways to subscribe Call the hotline now on

01795 414746 and quote X16PC

Order online at

Complete order form below and send to:

www.buysubscriptions.com/christmas

FREEPOST IMMEDIATE MEDIA

and quote X16PC

(Please write in block capitals)

Your details (essential) †

Your choice of magazine(s) Title

To receive your free greetings card in time for Christmas, gift orders must be received by the 9th December 2016. This offer closes on the 31st December 2016.

Price

First Name

This offer is valid for UK delivery addresses only. All savings are calculated as a percentage of the full shop price, excluding Radio Times which is calculated as a percentage of the Basic Annual Rate. For overseas rates visit www.buysubscriptions.com/christmas or call 01795 414 746. All Christmas gift subscriptions will start with the first issue available in January 2017. Should the magazine ordered change in frequency; we will honour the number of issues and not the term of the subscription. *More titles are available online with discounts of up to 50%. Radio Times and Match of the Day subscriptions are for 26 issues (6 months). The Basic Annual UK Subscription Rate for Radio Times is £131. This price is for 51 issues which includes the Christmas double issue and a contribution towards postage. The Basic Annual UK Subscription Rate for Match of the Day is £117.71 for 49 issues. † For Radio Times subscriptions please indicate which region you require: London, Anglia & Midlands North West, Yorkshire & North East Wales South, West & South West Scotland & Border Northern Ireland . Please note, if a region is not selected, subscribers will automatically receive the London, Anglia & Midlands region.

Surname

Address

Postcode

Home Telephone Number

Mobile Telephone Number

Email address

I would like to send a gift to... (optional) Your choice of magazine† Title

Price

First Name

Surname

Address

Postcode

Home Telephone Number

X16PC

Email address

If you would like to take out more than one gift subscription, please go online or contact our call centre.

Payment Details I enclose a cheque made payable to Immediate Media Company Ltd. or Mastercard Valid from

Visa

Please debit the following amount from my credit/debit card: £ ________________

Card Number Expiry date

Signature

Date

Your personal information will be used as set out in our Privacy Policy, which can be viewed online at immediate.co.uk/privacy-policy. Immediate Media Company Limited would love to send you newsletters, together with special offers, and other promotions. Please tick here if you’d prefer not to receive these by Email Text Message Regular Post Telephone . Branded BBC titles are licensed from or published jointly with BBC Worldwide (the commercial arm of the BBC). Please tick here if you’d like to receive regular newsletters, special offers and promotions from BBC Worldwide by email. Your information will be handled in accordance with the BBC Worldwide privacy policy which can be viewed online at bbcworldwide.com/ privacy.aspx Please tick here to receive emails from Lonely Planet Global, Inc. for all your travel inspiration, tips and exclusive offers. Your information will be handled in accordance with Lonely Planet’s privacy policy: lonelyplanet.com/legal/privacy-policy.


Alpin e a d v e n t u r e WORDS HANNAH BARNES PICS BRODIE HOOD

Hannah Barnes gets away from it all on a three-day epic through the Swiss and Italian Alps

Mountain Biking UK 81


alpine epic

The grass gradually changed to rock and soon we were above any vegetation. It was stunningly beautiful and peaceful. Behind us was SwitzerlanD. In front, Italy.

82 Mountain Biking UK


R

olling out of Verbier’s top gondola station the sun was still low and the air crisp but the idea of leaving all the fancy cars and coffee shops behind was a warming thought. With three days free in the Alps, we’d decided that rather than smashing out bike park laps we’d do something to remember and head into the wilderness, staying in mountain huts or sleeping under the stars. Good weather was forecast and we’d even managed to make our route pass through Italy for pizza and coffee!

HEAD FOR HEIGHTS > A beautiful traverse was a nice start to the day. Then we were straight into Vertigo, a steep, tight trail down to the valley floor that definitely woke us up! A short bus ride and climb later, we reached the Mauvoisin Dam – at 250m, the eighth highest in the world.

PEDAL FASTER DAMMIT > ) Riding high above the lake, we soon arrived at the start of the long, hot climb to the 'hut' where we’d be staying the night, the Cabane de Chanrion, at 2,462m. The warden said to pedal faster if we wanted dinner so that’s what we did, and made it with five minutes to spare! With 10 people arranged like sardines it wasn't the best night's sleep, but it was an experience.

< THE FLOW SHOW Getting up in time to watch the sun light up the valley, we were immediately on fast-flowing singletrack. As we meandered our way down past immaculate stone huts and a pristine lake we got into a good flow and couldn’t stop smiling.

OVER THE BORDER > From the valley floor at 1,180m it was up and up to the Fenêtre de Durand at 2,797m. As we climbed higher the gradient lessened and we were able to ride most of the trail. The grass gradually changed to rock and soon we were above any vegetation. It was stunningly beautiful and peaceful. Behind us was Switzerland. In front, Italy. From the top of the col we started our long descent into the Aosta Valley on incredible fast-flowing singletrack that was a dream to ride.

Mountain Biking UK 83


alpine epic

< PIZZA AND PANACHE Our original plan was to stay at another mountain hut but it would be a further 1,000m of climbing after an already big day and we'd have to leave our bikes at the bottom of a cliff and climb a series of ladders to get to it. Feeling more in the mood for pizza and panaché [shandy], we decided to head down into the valley and find somewhere to sleep under the stars. (We had sleeping bags and mats so we might as well use them.) After a couple of hours of singletrack, where we traversed beautiful waterways and rode through cow fields and natural rock tunnels, we finally arrived at the fast-flowing trail to Étroubles. Making it down just as the sun was setting, we headed straight to the best pizza place in town.

< MILLION STAR HOTEL Over dinner we got chatting to a lovely American couple who said they'd give us a ride up to the Grand St Bernard Pass, which connects the Aosta Valley with the Valais area of Switzerland. Finding a flat and reasonably sheltered spot to bivvy in, we got ourselves set up for the night. It was cold but we were soon tucked up and falling asleep under the stars. It was so nice to sleep outside – the million-star hotel, you could say!

>

LES DIABLERETS

SION

GENEVA MORZINE 1

WEISSHORN

CLUSES ZERMATT 2

GRAND COMBIN

CHAMONIX

7

3 4

6

MONT BLANC

MATTERHORN

5

AOSTA ALBERTVILLE 1. VERBIER 2. MAUVOISIN DAM 3. CABANE CHANRION 4. FENETRE DE DURAND 5. ETROUBLES 6. GRAND ST BERNARD PASS 7. FERRET

84 Mountain Biking UK

After cappuccino and croissants we rolled down the road to Baou and started the push up Fenêtre de Ferret to the col at 2,695m, spotting some impressive chamois mountain goats bounding down the mountainside. The descent to the valley floor was fast and open, with some tricky switchbacks. We were getting pretty tired by this point, from three big days of riding and carrying a big bag. Our plan was to ride the singletrack alongside the river but the 170km Mont Blanc Ultra Marathon was in full flow, with 2,300 runners on the route, so we rolled down the road instead, giving them some encouragement. Daylight was quickly fading so we had to get moving to make it home before dark. Both of us were exhausted after three long, amazing days’ riding and not a huge amount of sleep, and definitely ready for a hot shower and a cup of tea. What an adventure!


From the top of the col we started our long descent into the Aosta Valley on incredible fast- flowing singletrack that was a dream to ride.

WHO ARE WE? Hannah Barnes is a global ambassador for Specialized. When sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not racing or travelling the world in search of adventure, she works as a staff nurse at the local hospital and health centre back home in Fort William, Scotland. Brodie Hood is originally from Peebles in the Scottish Borders but now lives in Fort William. He works as a mountain bike guide in Verbier during the summer and is also a keen skier and aspiring photographer.

Mountain Biking UK 85


FROM THE MAKERS OF

FOCUS

MAGAZINE

THE BIG BOOK SERIES

CARS OF TOMORROW Future car tech, and how it’s already shaping our daily drives

INSIDE: A shape-shifting BMW with X-ray vision; why Tesla’s upcoming Model 3 could be your next electric car; how your car will read your mind; virtual reality showrooms; how to print a car, plus a buyer’s guide to all the hybrid, electric and fuel cell vehicles on sale today.

Autonomous tech: what we have now, and what’s next

The robotic racing series coming this year

ONLY £9.99 PLUS POSTAGE

Why do V8s sound good? Plus more questions answered

Order online www.buysubscriptions.com/cars or call us on 0844 844 0257 and quote CARHA16 †

† Calls will cost 7p per minute plus your telephone company’s access charge. Lines are open 8am-8pm weekdays and 9am-1pm Saturday. Prices including postage are: £11.49 for all UK residents, £12.99 for Europe and £13.49 for Rest of World. All orders subject to availability. Please allow up to 21 days for delivery.


nnn q

nn

HIGHS Comfy, fatigue reducing & durable

MEET THE MBUK TEST TEAM

ER R O B W E AV With two decades of riding experience, Rob knows what works and what doesn’t

LOWS

OUR RATINGS We base our scores on value for money and performance

Not much lighter than much cheaper aluminium wheels Gappy freehub and tight tyre fit Vague, not visceral, feel

EXCEPTIONAL A genuine class leader

VERY GOOD One of the best you can buy

G U Y K E ST

EVEN

GOOD

Our Kes’s relentless test schedule quickly exposes kit that doesn’t measure up

It’ll do the job and do it well

BELOW AVERAGE Flawed in some way

A LE X E VA N

S

POOR Simply put, don’t bother!

Al’s back in the UK after seven years in the Alps and has a rep for wrecking bikes

JA M E S B LA

C K W E LL

The best product on test, in terms of performance, quality and price

Riding nearly as fast as he talks, Jimmer’s been testing kit for MBUK for 13 years

R IC M C LAU

G H LI N

An exceptional product for the money – you’re getting a fantastic deal

When he’s not on the mic at World Cups, Ric’s giving test kit a pasting up in Scotland

A truly outstanding product, regardless of price

S E B STOT T No slouch on the race track, Seb’s passion for engineering helps him pick products apart

88 Mountain Biking UK

Bontrager Kovee Pro TLR 650b wheelset £899.98 Bontrager’s Kovee Pros are affordable in carbon terms and a reasonably light and forgiving choice for those who don’t want fatter or fattened tyres. The 22.5mm internal rim width is narrow by the latest standards and they’re a fight to get tighter tyres onto. The plastic rim-strips seal securely once they’re on though, and the rims support 2.3in tyres OK even at low pressures. At 1,670g (740+930g), the Kovee Pros are only slighter lighter than much cheaper aluminium wheels, and the 15-degree freehub pick-up can feel gappy. The ‘OCLV’ carbon used for the rim definitely gives a more compliant, comfy and vibration-damped feel compared to most similar-width alloy wheels though. Add a straight-pull, 28 triple-butted spoke build, and the Bontrager wheels shrug off long descent or stutter bump fatigue really well, making them particularly suited to hardtails. Even with Boost width axles, they’re definitely wheels that flow and flex rather than slicing with surgical precision. This can actually increase ground connection and traction across root spreads and rock heaps, but it does make tracking vaguer and they’re harder to carve across off-camber slopes or hack out of/across ruts. They haven’t cracked despite some proper wallops. Guy www.trekbikes.com

Smooth-riding carbon trail wheels that are best used for comfort rather than combat

EVOC FR Guide Blackline 30l backpack £159.95 This pack isn’t from EVOC’s bike range but it still cuts it on the trails – as you’d hope at this price. It comes in three lengths, with our M/L sample offering up 30l of storage courtesy of two big main pockets, a smaller front one and a zipped section with room for a 3l bladder and back protector. The Guide felt extremely stable when shifting around on the bike, thanks in part to the deep waist strap and easy-to-adjust chest strap. While it lacks some bike-specific features, the comfort, capacity and choice of sizes mean it’s still a handy pack for big trips in the hills. Rob www.silverfish-uk.com


B R ABRAND ND NEW

HIGHS Superb stiffness, impressive damping and quick and easy ramp-up control

LOWS Doesn’t feel as sensitive as we’d like

THE T A G N I B B RE STA E W E W R KS, E C O R O T W HE TH N I ASHING M S R O S E EABLY C I BR AK T O N T L E F T H E Ö H L I N S N T H E F OX 3 6 A STIFFER TH

Öhlins RXF 36 29er fork £995 The RXF 36 is the second mountain bike fork from motorsport legends Öhlins. Like its little brother, the RXF 34, it uses a one-piece crown and steerer that doubles as a crown race. This design is claimed to boost stiffness and reduce weight, but requires a specific lower headset bearing if you don’t have a Specialized bike. The 51mm offset is pretty much standard for a 29er fork, though we’ve found some big-wheelers handle better with the 46mm offset found on the RXF 34. A ‘ramp-up chamber’ within the air spring lets you control the end-stroke progression without using volume spacers. Öhlins’ recommended pressures for our 85kg tester (115psi in the main spring, 160psi in the ramp-up chamber) gave 15 per cent sag – about right for harder riders – but left us bottoming the fork out far too easily. We incrementally increased the ramp-up pressure to 225psi, where the bottom-out force was spot-on. Once we had the settings dialled,

we did some back-to-back testing against a class benchmark, the Fox 36 Float RC2. Whether we were stabbing at the brakes or smashing into rocks, the Öhlins felt noticeably stiffer than the Fox. Over kerb-sized bumps it glided through its travel, with less distracting backwards flex. At 2,057g with a 210mm steerer, it’s only around 20g heavier too, so that unusual crown-steerer design seems to work. On chattery ground, though, the RXF 36 felt far less planted than the 36 Float – less sensitive at the beginning of its stroke and delivering less traction over pitter-patter bumps despite its impressively low friction. We wondered if this was because the chassis was just too stiff, but then realised that the firm beginning and relatively unsupportive mid-stroke (compared to the Fox) were symptomatic of a small negative spring. Taking both forks apart backed this theory up. We reduced the main chamber pressure to

107psi to compensate, but this resulted in too little mid-stroke support. This left us relying more on the damping to prop up the fork. Thankfully, Öhlins’ twin-tube damper is seriously impressive. Running the low-speed compression damping 14 clicks from closed and the high-speed three from closed added a good deal of support when hitting G-outs or turns, without feeling too harsh on bigger hits. Even so, the spring curve meant the RXF 36 couldn’t match the 36 Float’s balance of traction and support, so the Fox fork remains our favourite for now. Seb www.specialized.com

Excellent stiffness and damping, but a irm beginning-stroke keeps this fork off the top of our wish list

Mountain Biking UK 89


nnn q

nn

Lezyne KTV2 Drive rear light £17.99 This compact little light from Lezyne has a thick, stretchy strap that lets you secure it tightly in place and will easily wrap around the collar of a dropper post. It’s recharged via a USB stick, hidden under the thick rubber cover at the base, which has kept the elements out so far. It’s not the speediest to charge and not the brightest in use either, with a claimed output of just nine lumens. Thankfully three flashing modes (there’s a ‘solid’ setting too) and good visibility even from the side mean it packs more of a punch than the numbers suggest. Toggling between the half-flash and solid modes, we got around four hours’ battery life. Rob www.upgradebikes.co.uk

Tioga Spyder Outland saddle £99.99 Tioga’s distinctive ‘web’ saddles have been around for a while but this latest version adds optional traction skins to the surprisingly tough and weatherproof construction. At 203g with the rubber panels installed, the Spyder Outland is lighter than a lot of the similarly priced competition. The airy plastic construction reduces sweating too, though it leaves you vulnerable to rear wheel spray. Once you’ve got used to the relatively hard edges, the flex in the webbed shell makes it almost as comfortable as most minimalist race saddles, especially over rougher ground. The rubber skins stop you sliding about when trying to grind out seated power, or you can peel them off if you prefer a more mobile, slippery feel. So far our test seat has survived a couple of proper crashes and several hefty G-outs without complaint, and it washes up like new after even the filthiest rides. Guy www.extrauk.co.uk

90 Mountain Biking UK

RideGuard PF1 Constellation front mudguard £8.99 The PF1 fender is easy to fit to your fork with the provided zipties. Because it has holes rather than slots, it takes just seconds to get it accurately positioned and secured. In damp conditions it does a good job of keeping the grot out of your eyes and off your face but in really grimy conditions we found the occasional bit of mud still made it through. While the PF1 is similar to many mudguards at this price, RideGuard include a small, removable fork sag checker, which is a nice touch. There’s a huge range of designs to choose from, which should keep the colour-matching clan happy. Rob www.rideguard.co.uk


Troy Lee Designs A1 MIPS helmet £159.99 To bolster the A1’s safety further, Troy Lee have added MIPS protection to their incredibly popular trail/all-mountain lid. This means, in theory at least, better protection against rotational forces if you take a tumble. Naturally, this brings with it a slight bump up in price and weight (our M/L sample was 344g). Thankfully, it doesn’t detract from the high level of comfort we’ve come to expect from the A1. While our main tester had no fit issues with the MIPS liner, which sits between the EPS shell and foam padding, others said it felt more snug than the regular helmet, so it’s worth trying before buying. Adjusting the fit is a doddle thanks to the indexed dial and evenly-tensioned cradle. Like the non-MIPs version, it gets pretty warm when you’re working hard, but that’s a small price to pay for all of that coverage and comfort. Rob www.saddleback.co.uk

HIGHS Massive gear spread without a full SRAM Eagle upgrade or extra weight

LOWS Nine tooth cog is unavoidably grumbly and bottom end shifts are slow

e*thirteen TRS+ cassette £229 An increasing number of cassettes offer a huge 44-48t ‘crawler cog’ to help haul you up the steepest climbs, but e*thirteen are the only brand to provide a 9t top-end sprocket. That creates a 489 per cent gear range, which is bigger than that of any other 11-speed block. The unique design uses 32, 38 and 44t sprockets that are machined from a single piece of alloy and secured onto a SRAM-style XD driver with a lockring. An eight-cog block cut from more durable chromoly steel then locks into recesses in the larger sprockets. It can require some patience to line things up properly, but it removes the need for a lockring at the bottom end, giving space for the 9t cog. The big proportional ratio-drop down into the smallest sprocket gives a proper ‘overdrive’ sensation and increases both max speed and gear range without adding a bigger chainring or extra chain links. The tight chain wrap means unavoidable growl even with a fresh and lubed chain though, and shifting into the two biggest sprockets is slower than with a SRAM cassette. Durability is proving good, and at 316g it’s lighter than £190, 11-42t Shimano XTR and on par with 314g, £240 SRAM X1. Guy www.silverfish-uk.com

Massive-ratio range expander for XD wheels, but some grumble and slow shift issues

Mountain Biking UK 91


nnn q

nn

HIGHS Incorporates lots of technology to keep your noggin safe

LOWS Low position of the fixed peak hampers vision

Smith Rover MIPS helmet £130 Smith’s new lid is aimed at trail riders who require a good level of protection in a relatively lightweight and well ventilated package. It’s packed with features to protect your head – not only a MIPS liner, which is designed to help separate your head from rotational crash forces, but also sections of Koroyd, a tubular plastic honeycomb structure that crushes to absorb impact energy. The air intakes above the temples are filled with Koroyd but we didn’t find the helmet too sweaty, thanks to the hollow nature of the material and the ample size of the vents. It’s also a comfy fit, and not too heavy at 353g (medium). While the Rover is aimed at trail riders rather than enduro racers (Smith have them covered with the pricier Forefront), we do feel that with all the effort that’s been put into making it as protective as possible, a little more coverage, particularly at the back, wouldn’t have gone amiss. Our biggest complaint, though, is with the fixed peak. It’s so low that we found we had to remove it to see far enough down the trail to ride at full speed. This is a shame, because it lets down an otherwise good lid. The £130 price may seem high but it’s on par with many other MIPS-equipped helmets. Ed www.smithoptics.com

A comfortable, well styled trail lid, let down by its non-adjustable peak

92 Mountain Biking UK

Altura Tech 5 bib shorts £89.99 The Tech 5s are Altura’s answer to the ever-growing trend of ditching your pack and stuffing your essentials in your shorts. There are five stretch pockets to tuck your kit into, two of which sit right at the bottom of the legs. While they’re easy to access, these are best suited to lighter items. The other three pockets wrap around the rear of the shorts and have room for a multi-tool, CO2 inflator and spare tube. They’re not very deep though, and you have to think about what to store in the wide central pocket due to its size and shape. Unlike with Specialized’s SWAT bibs, we never managed to carry a water bottle securely or comfortably in the Tech 5s. But the figure-hugging fit (which is easy to get right thanks to the five available sizes) and tight pockets mean you don’t notice other kit shifting around as you ride. The high front helps to keep things secure but means you have to strip off if nature calls. Rob www.altura.eu

Azonic World Force lat pedals £84.99 Spinning on two sets of bearings and with a neatly finished aluminium body, the World Force flats feel smooth and solid from the get-go. Out on the trail they’ve lived up to those initial impressions, shrugging off rock strikes with little more than a scratch and still spinning smoothly after months of all-weather use. The slightly concave platform combined with 10 replaceable pins per side means they offer a good level of grip but you can still adjust your foot position while on the move. At 389g, they’re a competitive weight for the price too, though that’s partly due to the relatively compact 98x100mm platform. Their small size means that if you’re not pinpoint accurate with foot placement, you get less support, leading to tired feet on long descents. It also means those with massive feet may struggle with these. Ben www.todayscyclist.co.uk


HIGHS Undiluted wattage transfer, usefully weatherproof, bombproof build

LOWS Handmade Italian quality is reflected in the price

Sidi MTB Drako Carb SRS LUC shoes £300 Two Olympic gold medals have been won in these flagship shoes from Sidi. While many XC designs use a meshinfested upper that relies on closure tension to keep your foot in place, the Drakos are firmly structured. With 16 full and half sizes between 39 and 48, you’re pretty much guaranteed a Cinderella fit. Careful sculpting means zero issues with pressure points as you click down the twin pop-up dials, although the Sidis’ sheer stiffness means you can crush your feet numb if you get too excited on the start line. This front end lock-down is matched by a tall, sculpted, hard-plastic heel cup and an adjustable Achilles anchor so there’s no heel lift when you’re sprinting to the finish. Sole stiffness is uncompromisingly stiff too, so whatever wattage you can get through your feet is translated into undiluted drive. There’s no buzz or numbness even on marathon days, and minimal mesh makes them comfortably weather resistant too. While the replaceable tread lugs are hard and slightly slippery, toe studs can be added for additional bite. The premium cost is mitigated by their bombproof handmade construction. Guy www.saddleback.co.uk

The ultimate performance race/trail shoe, mixing perfect it with undiluted power delivery

Moon Shield-X Auto rear light £38.99 Touting five flashing modes and four constant settings, up to 40 hours of claimed battery life and 80 lumens on maximum power, this rear light will certainly let people know you’re there. Out on the trails, the brightest setting makes it hard for your mates to follow closely but the lower settings are bearable. It’s charged via USB cable and three different mounts are included (seatpost, clip and saddle rail). The clip mount isn’t well suited to off-road riding but the rail and post fixings keep the light where you want it, securely. Switching between functions isn’t intuitive but it doesn’t take long to get the hang of things. Alex www.raleigh.co.uk

Troy Lee Designs Ace Cold Weather gloves £34.99 Thanks in part to their thin, two-panel Clarino palm, the Ace Cold Weathers don’t feel bulky, like most winter gloves. This means plenty of feedback and feel from the bar, so you know exactly what’s going on beneath your wheels – just the way we like it. The fit is pretty good too, hugging your hands in all the right places and without that oh-so-annoying bunching when gripping the bar. The windproof back is made from a softshell material that’s thin enough to ensure unrestricted movement but, combined with the deep, Velcro-secured cuff, does a great job of blocking cold wind and keeping drizzle at bay. As the Aces aren’t overly bulky, they don’t overheat either, and we’ve worn them all day as the temperature has risen without getting too clammy or sweaty. For chilly days in the saddle, it’s hard to knock the Ace Cold Weathers thanks to their fit, feel and price. Rob www.saddleback.co.uk

Mountain Biking UK 93


nnn q

nn

7Mesh Strategy jacket £225 Bontrager Lithos MIPS helmet £129.99 Bontrager have joined the list of brands adding a MIPS liner to their trail lid to increase overall protection. While the standard Lithos was already quite heavy, the addition of the MIPS layer has the helmet tipping the scales at 445g. We found this particularly noticeable when clattering through roughed-up root sections or boulder fields, where the lid would move about even though it felt reasonably tight before setting off. Cinching the retention cradle in using the easy-to-adjust indexed dial kept it firmly in place, but also meant that after a couple of hours on the trail we were ready to take the helmet off, or at least release some of the tension on the cradle. Ventilation remains decent enough, and overall coverage and protection is still really good, while the additional camera/light mount is a welcome bonus. Rob www.trekbikes.com

Stealth looks and comfort whatever the weather make this an ideal jacket for trail ninjas. 7Mesh size for the Canadian market, so riders who are normally a medium may need a small. Both body and sleeve length are generously long, and the stand-up collar is tall. The cut is unashamedly athletic so it’s not going to hide your gut, but it’s not so roadie that it’ll burst your forearms and sleeve seams on extended descents. Carefully shaped panels of Gore Windstopper fabric with internally taped seams concentrate fleece-backed warmth over the shoulders and upper arm to shrug off the worst weather. Thinner and more breathable back and belly sections reduce steam build-up when you’re going full gas, and the VISLON front zip makes venting easy. Zipped rear pockets keep things safe, while the open centre pocket will take a bottle if you’re going stripped for speed. Guy www.7meshinc.com

Flare Roost DH shorts £80 These buck the current trend for light and flexible DH kit, being made from rugged 500D Cordura. This is no bad thing if you crash a lot but does make them feel a bit old-school, albeit with a slimmer cut than the DH shorts of yore. They’re hot too, with no vents. The legs are a decent length and the twin pockets are handy but the fit was a letdown for our testers – we found that the straight cut meant that if they fitted on the waist they were too snug on the hips, and there’s no stretch (save for panels at the waist and crotch) to compensate. JCW www.flareclothingco.com

94 Mountain Biking UK


HIGHS Decent coverage and supercomfortable even on long rides

LOWS Thin cup means your knee still takes some of the knock during bigger spills

150 words xxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxxxxx £xx.xx While smartphone apps such as Strava can be a useful way to keep tabs on your mountain bike rides, sometimes you just can’t beat the simplicity and instant feedback that a good old-fashioned stopwatch style lap timer provides. The X-Monitor SP1 is designed to be integrated into the bar pad of a motocross bike but can easily be (tightly) ziptied to your handlebar or fixed in place using DRC’s stem top cap how well they stayed in place and that mount for an extra £15. The lead that connects the remote button to the timer they prevented any kind of superficial injury. That said, the knee cup is only is long enough to let you stick the 6mm deep, and while it softened the monitor near the middle of the bar and impact significantly, our tester was still position the button right up next to your left with a sore knee. While the Airflex grip for easy actuation. The controls are Pros may not offer as much protection dead easy and intuitive to use, the wide as full-on downhill-style pads, they’ll still screen displays big, easily legible digits do a decent job of protecting you when and the ability to record up to 50 laps or intervals means it’s a doddle to check up trail riding. Rob www.hotlines-uk.com on your progress. Rob www.madison.co.uk

Leatt Air lex Pro knee pads £64.99 The Airflex Pros put right many of the issues we had with Leatt’s original Airflex 3DF pads when we reviewed them back in 2015. Our biggest gripe back then was with the sizing and Leatt seem to have sorted that, with our medium test samples fitting just about perfectly. They’ve also added plenty of extra foam padding on either side of the knee and just above it too, to help protect against awkward bumps and knocks. This doesn’t stop them articulating when pedalling, and not once did we find ourselves having to adjust the pads or pull them back up. The extra padding also helps the Airflex Pro’s to hold a more natural shape, further bolstering comfort. After a pretty big fall in these pads on a rocky trail, we were impressed with just

Comfortable, well-shaped knee pads that stay put and offer a decent level of protection

Mountain Biking Mountain BikingUKUK95 95


nnn q

nn

CHAIN TOOLS

BEST Workshop-quality tools for splitting and rejoining chains 6 OF THE

Cyclo Workshop Range £42.99

Leyzne 11 Speed Chain Drive £34.99

Pedro’s Apprentice £49.99

SO GOOD… A wide chain cradle that holds four links makes it easy to align and join chains with this chunky investment-cast tool. There are also thick and thin cradles to fit different speeds of chain. NO GOOD… The hand-grip doesn’t sit well in the hand and the twist-handle is uncomfortable when applying force. There’s no pin stop for joining chains and neither the breaker pin nor the cradle are replaceable. Our biggest complaint, though, is that it doesn’t split 11 or 12-speed chains. It’s also expensive. www.weldtite.co.uk

SO GOOD… This tool's 119g weight and compact size mean it can be used on the trail as well as in the workshop. Four spoke keys are built into the hand-grip, and one can also be used to swap breaker pins. Despite its short 70mm length, the flat-plate hand-grip is comfy. The screw-in guide that helps you push chain pins in to the correct depth is a neat feature. NO GOOD… Because it’s specific to 11-speed chains, the versatility of this tool is limited. The chain cradle is non-replaceable too. www.upgradebikes.co.uk

SO GOOD… With its longer than average 105mm hand-grip and rubberised twist-handle, the Pedro's tool makes chain splitting easy work. It works with all chain widths from singlespeed to 11-speed. With a chunky build and replaceable breaker pin and cradle, it should last you for years. NO GOOD… There’s no guide or pin stop to help with joining chains. The Apprentice is also the priciest tool here, so unless you work in a shop or regularly snap chains it may not be worth the investment. www.silverfish-uk.com

Park Tool CT3.2 £34.99

Unior Screw Type £24.99

X Tools Pro £25

SO GOOD… Park Tool’s CT3.2 chain tool has a 103mm-long cast metal hand-grip and a plastic-coated twist-handle that gives good leverage when you're working on stubborn links. It can split and join all widths of chain, including the latest 12-speed SRAM models, thanks to its sliding chain cradle. The breaker pin is replaceable too, which should help increase the tool’s longevity. NO GOOD…There’s no pin stop to help when joining chains. The only other downside is that the cradle isn’t available as a spare part. www.madison.co.uk

SO GOOD… Unior’s offering has a curved, rubberised handle that fits nicely in the palm. The tool offers good leverage without being too bulky. It works with singlespeed to 11-speed chains and has two different-width cradles so you won’t bend links when joining particularly wide or narrow chains. The breaker pin is replaceable too. NO GOOD… Our only minor complaints with this tool are that the cradles aren’t replaceable and that there’s no pin stop to help when joining chains. At a penny under £25 though, you’re getting a good tool for the money. www.2pure.co.uk

SO GOOD… It’s easy work to remove and fit chain links accurately with this feature-packed tool. Not only are there two cradles of different widths but an additional screw-in guide on the end of the tool supports the chain from the side and guides the pin in straight. An adjuster on the twist-handle also lets you set the depth that pins will be pushed out to. A spare breaker pin is stored on the hand-grip, which works like a socket wrench to fit it. NO GOOD…The chain cradles aren't replaceable but otherwise this tool is hard to fault. www.hotlines-uk.com

96 Mountain Biking UK


JOIN OUR

VIPCLUB FOR FREE & START EARNING VIP REWARD POINTS ON EVERYTHING YOU BUY!

Prices & discounts are correct at time of printing.

Image © 2016 Trek Bicycle Corporation. All Rights Reserved.


98 Mountain Biking UK


q

q

q

N O I T I S N A R T S ’ Y N N O J SAM 27.5 TR AN The winter hack bike has turned into a hardcore-hardtail trail tamer Over the past few months I’ve been switching things around looking for my perfect set-up. The only thing remaining from the original spec are the Maxxis Minion tyres, which are now set up tubeless on Hope Tech Enduro Pro 4 wheels. While the new rims are the same width as the WTB ones they replaced, the build is stiffer and the hubs better quality. Going tubeless means I’ve got more grip and don’t need to run my tyres on the firm side to avoid pinch flats. Other big changes have included an upgrade to 1x11 (SRAM NX, with a Hope 10-44t cassette), along with a RockShox Revelation RCT3 fork and Reverb dropper post. The new fork has massively increased my

100 Mountain Biking UK

confidence on the TransAm. I could never get the settings right on the old Suntour Aion, leading to a lack of support under load if I wanted to smooth out the trail or a rock-hard feel if I didn’t want to sink into the take-off of jumps. The Rev is so much easier to tune and it has that small-bump sensitivity I was looking for but ramps up enough that it doesn’t dive under loading for a jump or bunnyhop. These changes have made me a bit more excited about taking the TransAm to some more aggressive trails. In the past, trips to BikePark Wales left me feeling a little underbiked. While the Transition was good fun on the blue and red trails, I found

MY MONTH

HIGHS Beating my trail bike times on Strava Finally getting a dropper post

LOWS In hindsight, it would have been interesting to try new wheels with wider rims Beating my trail bike times but not having as much fun I’ve needed a lot of upgrades to get the ride right

that rather than looking for gaps to jump, I was sticking to the ground and manualling or pumping my way down. Good fun and all, but I’d much rather be reaching for impossible gaps at ridiculous speeds! It’s going to be interesting taking it to the 417 Bike Park and seeing how it handles the trails there. www.windwave.co.uk

SPEC CHECK Hope Tech Enduro Pro 4 wheels £380 www.hopetech.com Hope 11-speed cassette £225 www.hopetech.com SRAM NX transmission £277 www.zyrofisher.co.uk RockShox Revelation RCT3 Solo Air fork £744 www.zyrofisher.co.uk RockShox Reverb Stealth post £436 www.zyrofisher.co.uk


B6C S I T E Y S ’ ROB (frame) £3,099

MY MONTH

Tacky trails mean Rob’s a happy boy… for the most part, at least Before the weather turned, I made an effort to get out and make the most of the end of summer. With just enough rainfall to keep the dirt properly tacky, all of my favourite trails in the Forest of Dean and South Wales were running incredibly well. It’s not all been plain sailing though. Splitting my time between the Yeti and a variety of test bikes has highlighted something for me. Every time I ride the SB6c after getting off a similar-travel bike, it takes a good few runs before I feel at home again. I checked the Yeti’s numbers some time ago and, although it’s not the longest bike out there, it’s close to much of the competition. But the bottom bracket

does stand pretty high at 350mm – a measurement that wouldn’t look out of place on a DH bike. Thankfully it’s something that doesn’t take long to get used to, though I can’t help thinking that a lower BB would make this a faster bike (unless you’re Richie Rude, who doesn’t seem to be held back by it). When I have had uninterrupted saddle time on the SB6c I’ve really appreciated its smooth running, with only the Hope Pro 4 rear hub providing a soundtrack to my riding. Even with the weather looking wintry, I’m inclined to keep the Bontrager SE5 tyres on, because they seem to work well in a variety of conditions. www.silverfish-uk.com

HIGHS Near-perfect trail conditions have kept motivation to ride at an all-time high No issues with the bike even after some nasty landings

LOWS Relatively high BB takes time to get used to It’s only going to get colder and wetter from here on in

AN T R A P S I C IN GUY’S DNE£V1,999.99 (frame) CA R BO Hard riding has taken its toll on some of the Spartan’s parts With summer playing an extended Dust Brothers remix, the Devinci has been getting a hammering. The JRA Traildog wheels haven’t whimpered once no matter how badly we’ve cased them or how sideways we’ve got. The frame is still tight as ever too. The RockShox Monarch Plus shock we swapped back in a couple of months ago is leaking oil and has an undamped top end, though, and we’ll be sending the MRP Stage fork back for a check-up after it pancaked to a full-travel stop off a big drop. www.havendistribution.co.uk

Mountain Biking UK 101


q

q

q

MY MONTH

HIGHS

E D ’S V I T U S

9.9 4 ,8 2 £ R C SOMMET

9

Ed treats his carbon Vitus to some matching composite hoops The versatility of the Sommet has impressed me recently. I’ve pointed it down horribly steep, muddy and rooty DH tracks, saddled up for all-day epics, raced on it at the ’Ard Moors Enduro and even taken it through the dirt jumps at the 417 Bike Park. OK, it didn’t exactly excel there, but it was still a load of fun! For all this variety of riding, I’ve barely changed my set-up, just

setting my fork up progressively harder through the year. I’m now running just five per cent sag, finding that the more consistent front end height gives me the confidence to lay off the brakes through rough sections. Tipping the levers down ensures that I can still weight the front wheel through the turns. I’m still running the Schwalbe Magic Mary that I put on the front a

TT BEN’S SC72O0 £3,199 GENIUS There’s been a good deal of slipping and sliding around on my local trails in Bristol this month, as well as a trip to ride some of South Wales’s finest steep, natural gnar. There’s not much to report except that the Genius has been getting on with its business quietly and efficiently, as usual. Everything is working smoothly despite a distinct lack of maintenance, and the ride feels as tight as ever. It’s good times all round for me and the Scott – bring on winter and all it can throw at us! www.scott-sports.com

102 Mountain Biking UK

Now I’ve got the set-up dialled, I’m spending minimal time in the workshop and maximum time out in the hills

while ago – partially out of laziness, but mainly because the grip it gives me in the corners is on another level. There’s no question that it slows down my rolling speed considerably, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. I’m looking forward to getting out for some autumnal riding – as the trails get wetter, the turns are only going to get more drifty! www.vitusbikes.com

A NGE R O ’S R E M JIM RO £2,800 FIVE P The Five was in its element during our visit to the 417 Bike Park – except on some of the burlier black runs! The rad Igneous red trail has great flow and such a fun line of tabletops to session. Since then, I’ve ‘winterised’ the bike by fitting a Mudhugger front guard. Simple and svelte, it does a grand job of keeping the muck out of your face. I was surprised by how much fun my first really muddy ride of the year was at the Forest of Dean, with the grip from my Maxxis High Roller II tyres transferring into some wild riding! www.orangebikes.co.uk

LOWS There are a few creaks coming from the main pivot, so it may be time for a bearing change I’m going to have to give the bike back soon

PROOF AL’S NU27K5E PRO £3,199.99 MEGA In my last long-term write-up I said I was going to raid the parts bin to get the old girl back up and running, but my increasing penchant for cross-country riding (yeah, yeah, sorry!) has meant I’ve actually spent little time on the Mega in the past month. The bike is still running (relatively) smoothly and the quick jaunts I have had on her have been pretty uneventful. I’m starting to think that the Mega will last out the year without any more parts swaps. I guess this is testimony to its great component spec. www.hotlines-uk.com


SA

LE

 ( 72 ,1 5 (' 1/ ( 28 7,6 2 6,7 $9 (5 .( (% '( '9 /, : (1 $ 5 5 / < )2 28 ,/ $1 ( $ :  ,. , ( &+ / 79 : $7 &( (6 0 5, 8 3 4

( ICE H 5 PR ATC M

The Orange Five gets a major revamp for 2017, More active, More Lightweight, More Fun! 1RZDYDLODEOHWRFXVWRPEXLOGRQRXUZHEVLWHZLWKDOO XSJUDGHVDQGFRORXURSWLRQVDYDLODEOH

NEW FIVE 2017 27.5โ€ FROM: ยฃ2695

2017

0%* Example / ยฃ283 Deposit + 36 payments of ยฃ67

SALE

SALE

SEGMENT 2016 WAS: ยฃ2799 NOW: ยฃ2199 0%* Example / ยฃ255 Deposit + 36 payments of ยฃ54

2017

2017

CLOCKWORK 120 S 27.5โ€ 2016 WAS: ยฃ1299 NOW: ยฃ999

APLINE 6 S 27.5โ€ 2017 FROM: ยฃ2795

FOXY 2016

0%* Example / ยฃ111 Deposit + 24 payments of ยฃ37

0%* Example / ยฃ311 Deposit + 36 payments of ยฃ69

0%* Example / ยฃ242 Deposit + 36 payments of ยฃ53

WAS: ยฃ2499 NOW: ยฃ2150

0RGHOVKRZQ$OSLQH)DFWRU\e

SALE

SALE

2016

2016

TRAIL 5 27.5โ€ 2016 WAS: ยฃ565 NOW: ยฃ479

AVALANCHE SPORT 27.5โ€ 2016 WAS: ยฃ495 NOW: ยฃ359

RECLUSE FOUNDATION OUR PRICE: ยฃ4195

PRIMER FOUNDATION OUR PRICE: ยฃ4195

0%* Example / ยฃ65 Deposit + 18 payments of ยฃ23

0%* Example / ยฃ53 Deposit + 18 payments of ยฃ17

0%* Example / ยฃ451 Deposit + 36 payments of ยฃ104

0%* Example / ยฃ451 Deposit + 36 payments of ยฃ104

:(12:$&&(370267&<&/(72:25.928&+(56 <RXFDQQRZVDYHXSWRRIIWKHFRVWRIDELNHIRUZRUNWKURXJK\RXUHPSOR\HUDVSDUWRIWKH*UHHQ7UDQVSRUW3ODQ,QLWLDWLYH 4XRWDWLRQVDYDLODEOHRQOLQH&\FOHVFKHPHรก%LNH:RUNFRXNรก2Q<RXU%LNHรก+DOIRUGV&\FOHZRUNรก%LNHVIRUWKH1+6 60(+&, รก6DODU\([WUDV

UP TO 36 MONTHS

0%FINANCE

*

OPTIONS FROM 6, 10, 12, 18, 24 & 36 MONTHS APPLY WITH OUR FULL ON-LINE PAPERLESS SYSTEM

INSTANT DECISION | NO PAPERWORK FREE NEXT DAY DELIVERY | CREDIT SUBJECT TO STATUS

6XQVHW&\FOHVDFWVDVDFUHGLWLQWHUPHGLDU\IRU9รชQDQFHYLDVHFXUHWUXVWEDQNDQGRQO\RIIHUSURGXFWVIRU9รชQDQFH&UHGLWSURYLGHGVXEMHFWWRDJHDQGVWDWXV

www.sunsetmtb.co.uk / sales@sunsetmtb.co.uk Mail Order Hotline: 02920 371321 / General Enquiries: 02920 390883 / 119-121 Woodville Road, Cathays, Cardiff CF24 4DZ


104 Mountain Biking UK


nnn q

nn

T S E T E BIK

NEW YEAR’S REVOLUTIONS Are six of 2017’s hottest new bikes as good on the trails as they looked at the summer trade shows?

Mountain Biking UK 105


nnn q

nn

BIKETEST

OUR RATINGS We base our scores on value for money and performance

EXCEPTIONAL A genuine class leader

VERY GOOD One of the best you can buy

GOOD It’ll do the job and do it well

BELOW AVERAGE Flawed in some way

POOR Simply put, don’t bother!

106 Mountain Biking UK

very year, manufacturers fight to produce the most talked-about bikes of the summer show-and-tell season. Listening to marketing hype on an indoor stand with a free beer in your hand or riding bikes in isolation on unfamiliar foreign trails can be a ton of fun. But it can’t give you the same perspective on how the latest models really perform as you get comparing them against existing benchmarks on test trails back home. That’s why we’ve picked out some of the most promising-looking new rides for 2017 and given them a proper thrashing on home ground. Trail bikes with 140 to 160mm of travel are still the meat of most manufacturers’ ranges, and each year more and more of these bikes become the right shape to hit corners and trail debris flat out with surefooted, stable confidence. Done right, that much suspension can still pedal well while increasing traction,

E

so it’s easy to get them back up the hill, ready to rip down again. Not everyone wants to follow the herd though, and there’s never been a bigger range of different ways to hit the hill. If you want to maximise techy singletrack fun there’s a whole new breed of big-tyred plus-size bikes that flow and float where conventional tyres stumble and stall. Maybe you thrive on the involvement of riding a hardtail but don’t want the geometry to hold you back? Alternatively, you may want maximum tech with minimum weight to dominate next season’s XC racing and epic-ride season. Whatever you call ‘mountain biking’, we’ve got something potentially perfect for you in this month’s test, although the latest tech certainly doesn’t come cheap. Because these bikes span so many genres, we’ve tested them individually rather than following our usual head-to-head format.

THE TESTER

G U Y K E ST

EVEN

Guy is one of the most experienced bike testers on the planet, with personal ride data from literally thousands of machines logged in his noggin. With tons of new tech to evaluate, assess and explain, 2017’s test riding schedule looks set to be even more interesting, addictive and exhausting than ever. If anyone has the relentless drive, acute analytical sense and clock-ignorant energy to do it though, it’s our Kes and his northern test crew.


P U E N I L E TH

OR K W K C O L C E OR ANGO £1,700 E VO P R Yorkshire-based hardcore bike builders Orange have had a Clockwork hardtail as an affordable but characterful introduction to their range since the early Nineties. This latest Evo version still has no rear suspension and it’s still relatively affordable too. With geometry like a full-on, long-travel enduro race bike it’s certainly not old-skool though.

TR EK R EM

E DY 9

00 .9 RSL £5,7

Trek already had a back end loaded with proprietary ‘ABP’ suspension kinematics, ‘RE:aktiv’ shock technology and ‘Mino Link’ geometry adjustment but the Remedy is one of several bikes in their 2017 range to get the restricted steering, increased rigidity ‘Straight Shot’, ‘Knock Block’ front end. Do all these buzzwords create a buzz on the trail though?

MC FOCUSRJYA£3,999 FACTO The JAM is an all-new 140mm-travel trail bike family from German brand Focus, with a unique multi-linkagedriven shock set-up, two fork length options and three frame material configurations. The C Factory model gets a distinctive cobra-head carbon mainframe and aluminium rear end, plus a 150mm fork so you can tackle technical sections that little bit harder and faster.

ECLUSE R E S N E T N I 0 ELITE £6,60 Californian company Intense have launched a whole pack of new designs onto the trail this year, culminating with the beefed up frame and attitude of the new Recluse trail/all-mountain bike. But do good-looking geometry numbers, an evolved twin-link suspension system and a top-end kit package including own-brand carbon wheels add up like they should?

T/SLX X + 5 B S I T YE

£4,899

Rather than making a bike that’ll double up for 29er and 650b+ duties, Yeti are one of several brands introducing a dedicated big-rubber machine for 2017. The SB5+ gets the same distinctive twin-shaft, floatingpivot Switch Infinity suspension tech as the rest of the SB range, as well as a plus-tyre smoothness boost. The XT/SLX bike is based around Yeti’s second-tier ‘Carbon series’ frame.

PEL SI L A C S E L A CANNONINDC £8,999.99 B L AC K Cannondale have never shied away from controversially radical homegrown technology and componentry, and they’re not worried about really punishing your wallet to combine that with kit from other premium brands to create the ultimate off-the-peg rides. Is this sharp-dressed Scalpel really a cut above the rest of the XC race pack?

Mountain Biking UK 107


DETAILS Frame ‘Carbon series’ carbon fibre, 127mm (5in) travel Fork Fox 34 Float Performance Boost, 150mm (5.9in) travel Shock Fox Float Performance Drivetrain Shimano Deore XT with SLX shifters and Race Face Æffect cranks (1x11) Wheelset DT Swiss XM 551 rims on 370 hubs, Maxxis Rekon+ EXO 27.5x2.8in tyres Brakes Shimano Deore M615 Bar/stem Race Face Evolve, 750mm/Race Face Ride, 60mm Seatpost/saddle Race Face Turbine/ WTB Weight 13.26kg (29.2lb), large size without pedals

X L S / T X + Y E TI SB5 £4,899 Yeti’s new lightweight ‘plus’ playmate is crazy fun

the frame is impressively light, with the option to go even lighter with the premium ‘TURQ’ version (£2,999).

his dedicated ‘plus’ bike adds fat-rubber riot character to Yeti’s flawlessly neutral ‘Switch Infinity’ suspension for a hugely fun yet impressively fast ride.

The kit

T

The frame The SB5+ uses a similar, but 20mm longer, mainframe to the SB4.5 29er, with smooth curves, a short head tube and tapering down tube. Yeti’s unique Switch Infinity system, which lets the main pivot rise and fall on a twin-shaft slider, sits in the narrow belly above the press-fit, ISCG-tabbed bottom bracket (BB). The back end is totally new and elevates the chainstays above the chainline rather than looping them underneath like on the other SB bikes. Considering its complexity,

108 Mountain Biking UK

Yeti’s base-level XT/SLX spec includes an 11-46t Shimano cassette that’s noticeably stiffer-shifting and more vocal than the SRAM equivalent. We also had a GRIP damper failure in the Performance series Fox fork. The XM 551 rims are excellent though, as are the Maxxis Rekon+ tyres. The Race Face dropper and cockpit are fine too.

HIGHS Switch Infinity suspension balances traction sensitivity, impact damping and pedalling efficiency brilliantly DT Swiss rims and Maxxis tyres make the most of the plus-tyre advantage

LOWS Light frame and fork get twangy under load and rear hub is gappy

massive reserves of control. Not just from the impact swallowing, speed sustaining, ‘pick the maddest line and stick it’ tyres, but also from the suspension at the heart of the bike. Whether we were hard on the gas out of corners exploiting the impressively low weight (for a plus bike, at least) or charging blind into big-boulder geological blenders on the moors, the Switch Infinity system worked like a yoga master to keep the SB5+ calm and centred but never dull and always deliciously dynamic. www.silverfish-uk.com

The ride It’s a sign of just what an insatiably fun machine the Yeti is that the gappy pick-up from the DT Swiss rear hub, obvious flex when the big tyres grabbed the trail and clunky fork couldn’t throw our test team off the scent of a guaranteed good time. No matter how out of shape either end of the bike got, it still had

Kit niggles can’t stop this lightweight plus-tyred player making every ride a riot


T H E U LT I M AT E M O U N TA I N B I K E S T O R E

2016 SPECIALIZED 2016 SPECIALIZED 2016 SPECIALIZED 2016 SPECIALIZED 2016 SPECIALIZED 2016 STUMPJUMPER FSR STUMPJUMPER FSR COMP STUMPJUMPER STUMPJUMPER STUMPJUMPER FSR SPECIALIZED EXPERT 6FATTIE 650+ CARBON 6FATTIE 650b FSR ELITE 29 COMP CARBON 650b COMP 650b ENDURO EXPERT

Was £4800.00 Save £1300

Now

£3500.00

Was £3500.00 Save £950

Now

£2550.00

2016 SPECIALIZED 2016 SPECIALIZED ENDURO CAMBER COMP ELITE 29 650/29

Was £3500.00 Save £950

Now

£2550.00

Was £3000.00 Save £800

Now

£2200.00

MASSIVE

SPECIALIZED

Was £2200.00 Save £550

Now

£1650.00

Was £4500.00 Save £1125

Now

£3375.00

2015 SPECIALIZED STUMPJUMPER FSR EXPERT CARBON EVO 29

2016 WHYTE T-130 C WORKS

Was £4600.00 Save £2000

Was £4499.00 Save £500

FRAME CLEARANCE Was £3000.00 Save £750

Now

£2250.00

Was £2000.00 Save £500

Now

£1500.00

SEE WEBSITE FOR DETAILS

Now

£2600.00

Now

£3999.00

2015 SPECIALIZED 2015 SPECIALIZED 2015 SPECIALIZED 2015 SPECIALIZED 2015 SPECIALIZED 2012 SPECIALIZED S-WORKS TARMAC EPIC COMP M5 29 STUMPJUMPER FSR STUMPJUMPER FSR STATUS FRAME WITH TARMAC PRO SL4 FRAMESET FRAME COMP EVO 29erFRAME COMP EVO 650bFRAME OHLINS SHOCK FRAME

Was £2800.00 Save £600

SPECIAL OFFER

SPECIAL OFFER

SPECIAL OFFER

SPECIAL OFFER

SPECIAL OFFER

£2200.00

£700.00

£600.00

£575.00

£500.00

£650.00

Now

Follow us on Twitter @bikesceneshop

THE OLD AMBULANCE STATION, PARK LANE, GUISBOROUGH,TS14 6NT

TELEPHONE 01287 610735 Opening Times: Mon 9.30am - 5.30pm · Tue 9.30am - 5.30pm · Wed Closed Thurs (Late Night) 9.30am - 7.00pm Fri 9.30am - 5.30pm · Sat 9.00am - 5.15pm Order & Payment Phone 01287 610735 · Fax: 01287 637306 Email: sales@bikescene.co.uk Maestro · Visa · Mastercard - Most credit cards accepted. Prices are correct at time of going to press. Any alterations in prices will be confirmed when you contact us. Sale prices are limited to stock availability. If you buy an item from us and you are not satisfied, return it to us unused in the original packaging within 8 working days for a replacement or refund. (Carriage costs incurred for delivery or return of unwanted items are to be paid for and at the risk of the customer). Goods are despatched from Bike Scene by carrier or recorded delivery for next working day delivery. Stock items are normally despatched the day of your order. Later despatch dates will be advised when placing your order. We will not charge your credit card until the date of despatch unless authorised by you. Carriage Bikes, frames & forks £19.95 (UK mainland only) Saturday delivery £15.00 extra. Carriage costs for other items or for delivery outside mainland UK will be advised prior to confirming your order.


SPEC Frame ‘SL’ carbon fibre, 140mm (5.5in) travel Fork Fox 36 Float Performance GRIP Boost, 150mm (5.9in) travel Shock Fox Float X2 Performance Drivetrain SRAM X01 rear mech and X1 shifter, e*thirteen TRSr cassette and Race Face Next cranks (1x11) Wheelset Intense carbon rims on DT Swiss 350 hubs, Maxxis High Roller II 3C EXO TR 27.5x2.3in tyres Brakes SRAM Guide RS Bar/stem Renthal Fatbar, 760mm/ Thomson Elite X4, 60mm Seatpost/saddle RockShox Reverb Stealth/Fabric Scoop Radius Elite Weight 13.28kg (29.25lb), large size without pedals

INTEN

E T I L E E S U L C E R E S

£6,600 This new aggro trail bike is a hard-and-fast handful

T

he Recluse is the latest in a flurry of new bikes introduced this year by California-based Intense, and it’s a hard beast to tame.

cockpit. Race Face carbon cranks are a visual highlight and the e*thirteen cassette gives a very wide, if slightly rumbling, gear range. The DT Swiss hubs have a slow-reacting freehub, though, and the 160mm rear disc reduces braking power. Mid-range Performance Fox suspension units are disappointing for £6,600 too.

The frame Intense’s top ‘SL’ lay-up and titanium fixtures save 250g over the standard carbon frame but it’s still a tough and practical chassis, with bottle, front mech and ISCG mounts, and user serviceable, grease injected bearings. The internal cables rattle badly though, and the rubber belly ‘armour’ soon started peeling off.

The kit Intense’s new wide carbon rims keep wheel weight on par with narrower alloy hoops. The triple-compound Maxxis tyres, Thomson stem and Renthal bar create a rock-solid

110 Mountain Biking UK

The ride Unfortunately the fork’s relatively basic damping is obvious in either a lack of small-bump compliance or inconsistent support under cornering loads if you try to run lower pressures to counter that. Despite hours spent adjusting the rear shock, we couldn’t escape similar issues there either. The back end also slaps hard into square-edged bumps. Add a high 445mm BB height, steep seat angle and very short chainstays, and we were regularly rattled off line across roots and rocks, and struggled to get the big-hit speed sustain and

HIGHS Super-stiff, long and relatively light chassis Classic tough trail kit plus Intense’s own wide carbon rims

LOWS Power-focused suspension struggles over both smaller and larger hits ‘Performance’ grade shock and fork exacerbate suspension and pitch issues

control we were expecting from a long, relatively slack, piggybackshock equipped bike. Considering the frame claims and price, it’s not actually that light either. It’s a real shame too, because the Recluse is potentially a great shape (460mm reach on the large) and the chassis is super-stiff. The ground clearance and direct power connection mean it drives and pumps really well on swoopy and groomed trails too, but that’s really the remit of the lighter, shortertravel Primer 29er and Spider 275. www.saddleback.co.uk

Potentially great, well shaped, power friendly frame with some sweet kit but disappointing suspension


ED SPE IT CIA IO L N

COMING SOON FROM THE MAKERS OF O NLY £9.99

3/86 3 3

YEARBOOK

2017

Explore the night sky over the next 12 months with BBC Sky at Night Magazine’s Yearbook 2017. This indispensable astronomy bible contains a full year of stargazing tips, projects and how-to guides, plus

amazing images and dates for all the astronomical events you can’t afford to miss. Each month of the year comes complete with its own detailed star chart to point you towards the best views.

ON SALE 30TH NOVEMBER 2016 35( 25'(5 <285 &23< 72'$< www.buysubscriptions.com/yearbook2017 Alternatively call 0844 844 0254 and quote ‘SKYBHA17’ †

†Calls will cost 7p per minute plus your telephone company’s access charge. Lines are open 8am-8pm weekdays & 9am-1pm Saturday. *Prices including postage are: £11.49 for all other UK residents, £12.99 for Europe and £13.49 for Rest of World. Your copy will be dispatched when available from 30 November 2016.


SPEC Frame ‘BallisTec’ carbon fibre, 100mm (4in) travel Fork Cannondale Lefty 2.0 Carbon, 100mm (4in) travel Shock RockShox Monarch XX with XLoc Full Sprint remote Drivetrain Shimano XTR Di2 with Cannondale HollowGram SiSL2 cranks (1x11) Wheelset ENVE M50 rims on Cannondale Lefty 60 (f) and Chris King (r) hubs, Schwalbe Racing Ralph EVO SnakeSkin 29x2.25in tyres Brakes Shimano XTR Bar/stem ENVE Sweep, 770mm/Cannondale C1, 90mm Seatpost/saddle ENVE/Prologo Zero II CPC Nack Weight 10.13kg (22.3lb), large size without pedals

C

L A C S E L A A NNOND £8,999.99 Race-rocket frame with ultimate high-tech XC kitlist f you like ENVE carbon and electro techno, Cannondale’s latest Scalpel is the ultimatespec example of the new breed of XC bike, combining race weight with a touch of trail attitude.

I

The frame While it’s seriously light (2.1kg, large with shock), the Scalpel mainframe is no waif. A massive 1.5in head tube blends into a broad down tube and the fat top tube hides the front end of the shock and the battery for the electronic drivetrain. Superskinny seatstays allow pivotless suspension flex, while splayed-out seatstays accept Cannondale’s ‘Ai’-spaced rear wheel (which shifts the drivetrain 6mm to the right) but scuff immediately. There’s room for knobbly 2.35in tyres and two bottles.

C N I K C A PEL SI BL

The kit ENVE rims and a Chris King hub make up probably the ultimate tough yet free-rolling wheel pack. Cannondale’s own Si cranks are gorgeous, stiff and lightweight, and you can opt for one ring or two. Shimano’s XTR Di2 offers impeccable programmable shifting, along with a clunky mechanical interface and extra weight. There’s an analogue XTR ‘Race’ bike for £6,799.99 or a 1x12 SRAM Eagle ‘Team’ model at £6,499.99.

The ride However you choose to change gear, expect a whole lot more upshifts and fewer downshifts than normal, because the Scalpel accelerates and climbs with voracious velocity, even for a race bike. The frame, wheels, cranks and cockpit are all seriously stiff, so every muscle twitch creates tangible torque through the rear tyre. A single remote gives a fully

HIGHS Power-efficient but ultra-light frame with the suspension to match More trailfriendly than most racers, with potential to play proper dirty Cost-no-object kit, plus whatever shifting you want

LOWS Premium parts come at an unashamedly high cost

rigid, double-ended lockout too, so smooth sprinting is brutally efficient. The suspension has a progressive feel that adds drive and cornering traction over roots and rocks, but it stays shy of full travel unless it has to deal with a big slam or landing. While the suspension character is resolutely ‘race’, the 69.5-degree head angle and 55mm offset on the super-accurate Lefty fork increase stability beyond normal XC twitchiness. If that’s how you’re likely to use it, though, a shorter stem and stickier tyres are a must. www.cannondale.com

A searingly fast racer that still knows how to have a good time


THE ULTIMATE SPORTS GPS Large 3.5" Hi-Res screen (HVGA) Barometric altimeter Hi-Res OS mapping (1:50k,1:25k and 1:10k) Bluetooth Connectivity GPX Compatible & On-board Route Planner

*

MAPPING with code: MBUK-30-OFF

*Offers end 30.04.2017 some terms apply (satmap.com/terms)

Recycle your magazine and seven days later it could come back as your newspaper.

www.recyclenow.com

satmap.com/cycle sales@satmap.com | 0845 873 0101


SPEC Frame Custom-butted 6061-T6 aluminium Fork Fox 34 Float Performance Boost, 130mm (5.1in) travel Shock N/A Drivetrain Shimano SLX with Deore XT rear mech and Race Face Æffect cranks (1x11) Wheelset Alex Volar 2.3 rims on Formula hubs, Maxxis Minion DHF 3C EXO TR (f) and High Roller II EXO TR (r) 27.5x2.35in tyres Brakes Shimano Deore M615 Bar/stem Race Face Chester M35, 780mm/ Race Face Ride, 35mm Seatpost/saddle KS Crux/SDG Bel Air 2.0 Weight 13.02kg (29.1lb), large size without pedals

O L C E G N OR A

O R P O V E CK WOR K

range’s Clockwork Evo blends the low weight of the Clockwork with some of the features and attitude of their fully hardcore P7 and Crush bikes to create a really fun, ‘ride anything’ all-rounder.

smoother cable pull. Otherwise things are kept practical, with a screw-in external BB, ISCG tabs and external top tube routing for the rear mech and brake. Tyre clearance is OK for up to 2.4in rubber but you’re not going to get a plus tyre in there and the boxy, hollow-back rear dropouts take a 142x12mm axle, not the latest 148x12mm Boost standard.

The frame

The kit

New investment and management have allowed the Halifax-based firm to overhaul several bikes in their range for 2017 and the Evo is a totally fresh squeeze of Orange. In a departure from their normal in-yourface joint scars, the frame is smoothwelded right through. The top and down tube are subtly shaped and tapered, with a large throat gusset and extended junction behind the reinforced 44mm head tube. The internal cable routing pops out briefly above the BB shell for

Although the Fox 34 fork is Boostwidth for extra stiffness it’s a conventional 650b unit otherwise, so you’ll struggle to squeeze a plus tyre in there too. More steering stiffness comes from the 770mm wide, 35mm diameter Race Face bar, though the scrawny stem means there’s a slight disconnect between bar and bike when you’re pushing hard. The Race Face crankset is a solid unit though, and the MRP 1x guide keeps the chain on track when you’re losing the plot. The Shimano

£1,700 Enduro-geometry hardtail with a trail-friendly ride

0

114 Mountain Biking UK

JARGON ISCG International Standard Chain Guide tabs are three threaded lugs on the outside of the bottom bracket shell for direct-mounting a chain-taming device. GAPPY In the context of a freehub, this describes the obvious lag between starting to pedal and the wheel engaging and starting to drive.

SLX/XT shifting is solidly reliable, if stiff compared to SRAM, and the Deore brakes are equally consistent. Orange have specced relatively narrow Alex rims but they’re still pretty heavy and the Formula hubs have a gappy 20-degree pick-up. The triple-compound Maxxis Minion DHF front tyre and dualcompound High Roller II rear aren’t short on control, whatever the weather. A KS Crux dropper post gives you room to writhe about, and the component level and overall weight are on par with bikes from similar brands like Whyte.

The ride Making a bike to fill a gap between two well-defined existing models is inevitably a balance of compromises, but Orange have done a great job of making sure that the Evo feels like a totally cohesive and current bike in its own right. For a start, everything feels set up for properly pushing your


BIKE TEST nn nnn q

BIKETEST

W

N A NCE O S E R F O E SENS R AME THERE’S A F E H T M O R A ND FLE X F K NEES A ND YO U R S E V A S T A TH CTS A P M I T S R HE WO T M O R F S T R IS

HIGHS

skills and/or luck, with a massive 473mm reach to the 770mm bar and a 66-degree head angle creating a 1,200mm wheelbase on the large size – the kind of numbers normally only seen on long-travel enduro bikes. The shorter 130mm fork means less stroke-choking flex and a smoother and more consistent feel than we got from the other GRIPdamper-equipped, Performance grade Fox 34 forks on test too. There’s a sense of resonance and flex from the frame that saves your knees and wrists from the worst impacts. This also acts as a subtle reminder that while the Evo will do its best to save your skin if you plough into problems, its natural preference is to skip round or over where it can. That’s helped by the short (425mm) back end, which aids rear end flicks to get the long front end through tight situations. Despite narrow rims the wheelset is relatively heavy though, and

Super-long, slack and surefooted geometry without wrist-breaking ‘hardcore’ stiffness Generally well sorted, decent value spec that suits the ride well

LOWS Heavy wheels and gappy freehub means it’s not as responsive as it could be Not plus tyre compatible

while the Evo has a smooth ride for a conventional 650b bike, the arrival of plus-size competition has changed the whole frame of reference for what hardtails can flow over. You’ll still have to wait a bit for an Orange plus bike though, and if you just want a naturally forgiving and super-surefooted hardtail for taking you as close to edge as you dare without kicking the crap out of you, then the Clockwork Evo is another wellsorted addition to the hard-riding trail hardtail breed. www.orangebikes.co.uk

Enjoyable all-rounder with surefooted enduro geometry, relatively forgiving frame and sorted kit

FOR A LITTLE MORE Orange Clockwork Evo RS £2,600 An extra £900 gets you a RockShox Pike fork, Hope/Mavic wheels and Hope cranks driving a SRAM GX/X01 gearset.

FOR A LITTLE LESS Orange Clockwork Evo frame £450/£550 For your own personal twist of Orange you can buy the Evo frame on its own, and an extra £100 lets you pick a custom colour.

Mountain Biking UK 115


SPEC Frame ‘OCLV Mountain Carbon’ carbon fibre, 150mm (5.9in) travel Fork RockShox Lyrik RCT3 Dual Position Air, 160/130mm (6.3/5.1in) travel Shock RockShox Deluxe RT3 RE:aktiv Drivetrain SRAM X01 Eagle (1x12) Wheelset Bontrager Line Elite 30 wheels, Bontrager SE4 Team Issue TR 27.5x2.4in tyres Brakes SRAM Guide Ultimate Bar/stem Bontrager Line Pro, 780mm/ Bontrager Line Pro, 35mm Seatpost/saddle Bontrager Drop Line/ Bontrager Evoke 3 Ti Weight 12.8kg (28.2lb), 19.5in size without pedals

R 9 . 9 Y D E M E R K E R T £5,700 The trail bike that thinks it’s a downhill bike rek’s category-blurring Remedy has a long and successful history, including three Enduro World Series titles for the old 29er version. An all-new frame carrying proven Trek tech makes the 650b RSL an astonishingly good all-round trail dominator.

T

The frame Trek have been piecing together a formidable arsenal of suspension features for years. These include the ‘ABP’ rear pivot, which is concentric with the wheel axle, the ‘Full Floater’ shock configuration, where the rear damper is suspended between a rocker link and extended chainstays, and the ‘Mino Link’, a chip at the seatstay/linkage pivot to adjust frame geometry. Two years ago they were also the first brand to add

116 Mountain Biking UK

D E T I M I L P AC E S H O

148mm ‘Boost’ rear axle spacing to the mix as an open standard, as well as introducing ‘RE:aktiv’ shock valving co-designed with motor racing suspension experts Penske. This year that valving is built into a long-stroke RockShox Deluxe shock, but the big news on the totally new ‘OCLV’ carbon frame is the small metal chuck just behind the upper headset bearing. This ‘Knock Block’ keys into a slotted spacer to stop the fork turning far enough to contact the dead-straight (rather than raised and curved, as on most frames) and massively oversized ‘Straight Shot’ down tube. That does make van/boot packing a bit more awkward but Trek claim significant stiffness advantages and it’s compatible with any stem. Other details include neat ‘Control Freak’ internal cable routing for enhanced shifting smoothness, and despite being very long and stiff, the complete bike is impressively light.

JARGON ABP Active Braking Pivot. Using the rear axle as the pivoting axis between the seatstays and chainstays reduces the effect of braking on the suspension. OCLV Optimum Compaction Low Void carbon is Trek’s longrunning acronym describing their high-pressure, minimal resin carbon fibre construction.

The kit A carbon Bontrager bar and titanium-railed saddle plus SRAM Guide Ultimate brakes and X0 cranks help save weight. Bonty’s Line Elite wheels use fast-engaging, fatbodied hubs and 28mm (internal) rims for an accurate and responsive wheelset, and SRAM’s 10-50t Eagle transmission is a positive-shifting dream. The thick-walled legs and stout crown of the RockShox Lyrik fork and the reinforced carcass of the Bontrager SE4 tyres definitely aren’t a diet choice, though.

The ride That combination of lightweight efficiency and unshakeable confidence is mirrored in the trail manners of the Remedy RSL too. The RE:aktiv shock and tough tyres create a crisp ‘skin’ on the ride when it comes to pedalling and sharp turns on smooth tracks, and that makes the Trek feel remarkably


BIKE TEST nn nnn q

BIKETEST

IVE AND L A Y L B A K R EM A R S L E E F PEED K S E Y N A . R THE TR E ER POW D N U R E CK ED G U A S E S I E L T T E OR R A L P P I R WAY G A N I T H G I A R T DISTUR B R A IL S T E H T F O T OU HIGHS

alive and eager under power. Any potential speed or connectiondisturbing ripple or rattle is sucked out of the trail straight away by the velocity-hyper-sensitive shock valving and ultra-supple fork. While the suspension feels bottomless in its ability to take multiple monstrous hits, it’s hard to get the travel ring much past its resolutely stable mid point on the average trail centre run. Add this stability and stickiness to the mainframe and fork stiffness, and the results are remarkable. The Remedy hacks through corners way harder than we expected and carves straight lines through off-camber root spreads and random boulder heaps. While they’re not plus-size, the big tyres can be run at very low pressures without losing that precision control or stumbling under side loads. The Lyrik fork is also well up for dominating any debris in its path, and with a 64.5-degree head angle, 1,200mm wheelbase and

Ultra-stiff, bombproof yet trail-weight chassis with aggro geometry Stunning suspension Flat-out control doesn’t get better than SRAM’s Lyrik, 12-speed Eagle and Guide Ultimate kit

LOWS Price, and limited Knock Block steering lock can be a pain for transporting

460mm reach on the 19.5in size (in the slack and low setting), the Remedy’s ability to trivialise normally traumatic trail sections changes the whole way you look at the trail. Its ability to blast between sections with no disturbance of suspension pitch or enthusiasm-sapping bob never failed to impress either. In fact, the suspension and geometry are so well sorted that we only used the rear shock’s compression damping lever and the 30mm travel drop of the Dual Position Air fork a few times, just to check how they felt. www.trekbikes.com

A stunning combination of playful, mile-friendly trail bike and ultra-controlled gravity dominator

FOR A LITTLE LESS Trek Remedy 9.8 £4,000 The 9.8 gets all the latest Remedy features but with alloy chainstays to save a lot of cost without adding much weight.

FOR A LITTLE LESS Trek Remedy 9 RSL £3,000 The cheaper RSL uses a full-alloy frame and 1x11 SRAM, but a 160mm fork and tough tyres still give max attack attitude.

Mountain Biking UK 117


SPEC Frame Carbon fibre mainframe, alloy swingarm, 140mm (5.5in) travel Fork RockShox Yari RC, 150mm (5.9in) travel Shock RockShox Monarch Plus RCT3 Drivetrain SRAM GX w/ Truvativ Descendant carbon cranks (1x11) Wheelset DT Swiss XM 1501 Spline One wheels, Continental Der Baron Projekt (f) and Trail King (r) 27.5x2.4in tyres Brakes SRAM Guide R S4 Bar/stem Concept, 760mm/Concept, 55mm Seatpost/saddle RockShox Reverb Stealth/fi’zi:k Tundra M5 Carbon Weight 13.42kg (29.6lb), large size without pedals

FOC

Y R O T C A F U S JA M C

£3,999 New frame puts Focus right up in the trail bike rankings he new Focus JAM shares a lot of geometry and frame DNA with their long-travel SAM machine but it’s rocking a whole new interacting-rocker suspension system that’s more predictable and power friendly.

T

The frame A huge flared head tube and massive ‘cobra’-style neck on the top tube stiffen up the long reach (450mm on our large sample) of the frame. The extended seat tube is short enough that going up another size to get even more stretch is an option too. While the Factory bike comes without the optional front mech arm that can be bolted onto the swingarm, the seat tube base is still offset on the slim down tube to allow for ISCG/twin-ring clearance, which

118 Mountain Biking UK

means the PF30 crank axle needs a driveside spacer. In contrast, the alloy back end is very short, at 425mm, and uses a wide screwthrough Boost axle (148x12mm) and twin front-end support struts for stiffness and ample clearance for the high-volume 2.4in rear tyre. While both frame halves are impressively stiff, the upper guide linkage of the FOLD suspension system is designed to flex sideways slightly under load, letting the swingarm do the same. The inner main link then stays rock solid to drive the shock vertically, with a falling rate up to the sag point and an increasing rising rate through the rest of the travel.

JARGON PF A bottom bracket that Press Fits into the frame rather than screwing in. The PF30 standard uses a 30mm crank axle. DROPPPER A telescopic seatpost that lets you drop the saddle out of the way for easier body movement on technical terrain.

thick-legged RockShox Yari fork. The similarly-stickered DT Swiss XM 1501 wheels are accurate and tough for aggressive riding, and their broad rims provide useful extra support for the big-volume Continental tyres. Riders who don’t let weather stop them ripping will be pleased to see a chunky Der Baron Projekt up front, too. SRAM provide the GX gears and the Guide R brakes, which are OK but not amazing for a semi-carbon bike at £4,000. You do get a Reverb Stealth dropper post, fancy new Truvativ Descendant carbon cranks and carbon rails on the f’iz:ik saddle, but overall weight isn’t much lower than that of cheaper, 160mm-travel SAM bikes we tested last year.

The kit The Factory model gets an increase to 150mm of fork travel, and the shock curve and front-end frame stiffness suit the long negative spring and reliable support of the

The ride Add the sticky front tyre and that means there’s not much of a free roll with the Focus on climbs. In stock set-up you’ll be relying on the three-


BIKE TEST nn nnn q

BIKETEST

S ME AN M I R D A O R AND B X E L F D E A K ING R R E B D N A ENGINE G N OR NER I C F O N O N T Y IN T E L A P S A H . E J. A .M H T D N A UBLE , O N R T F O T U T R AC T IO YO U O T E G O T E V R ESER HIGHS position compression damping lever on the side of the Monarch Plus shock to stop visual if not physically obvious pedal bob. It also pushes a long way into its stroke even before you start leaving the ground, but that lets it carry speed easily through runs filled with boulders and stepdowns. The linkage gives an ultra-sensitive trail connection and square-edge clamber even under power too, and, together with the 74-degree seat angle, that means there are very few climbs the JAM won’t claw its way up. The shock comes with no volume spacers fitted, which gives you a blank canvas to add more progression and support very easily (it’s literally a five-minute job and a £13.99 pack of spacers) if you want. With a couple of rings in, it’s still sensitive over small stuff thanks to the minimal-friction linkage bearings, but much easier to push and drive off backslopes and berms

Long, low and stiff mainframe gives a natural can-do character FOLD linkage is a blank canvas for a wide range of suspension tunes High-control components

LOWS Increased confidence also means same weight and rolling speed as longer-travel bikes

if you’re more of a pilot than a passenger in your trail approach. That slight bit of engineered flex and the broad rims mean a ton of cornering and braking traction, so you’ll be pushing into 160mm bike territory before you start sensing a bit of apprehension and vagueness through the 66.5-degree head angle and overall ride vibe. Even then, the JAM has plenty in reserve to get you out of trouble safely and our test rides on the Focus were consistently enjoyable and entertaining, whatever the conditions or terrain. www.focus-bikes.com

Con ident-control all-rounder with widely tunable suspension but heavy for its cost and travel

FOR A LITTLE MORE Focus JAM C SL £5,599 Adding £1,600 sees you dancing around on a full-carbon frame, RockShox Pike fork and SRAM’s latest X01 Eagle drivetrain.

FOR A LITTLE LESS Focus JAM C Pro £3,199 The JAM C Pro uses a 140mm Fox 34 fork for a slightly swifter steering feel, 2x11 Shimano XT and an own-brand dropper.

Mountain Biking UK 119


IC D R E V L A FIN

T

ith 2017 testing now officially well underway, what have the first bikes we’ve hit our home trails on told us about the year ahead? The clear conclusion is that there’s now more choice and diversity than ever before, at every level. We’re not just talking about the usual difference between Scalpelstyle racers or gravity radicals like Trek’s Remedy. Brands like Orange, Intense and Yeti, who used to have only occasional model turnover, have released several new bikes, not just replacing established models but also filling the gaps in-between with machines like the Clockwork Evo, Recluse and SB5+. The Yeti also points to the most obvious new departure in diversity – rim and tyre widths. Even just sticking to 650b wheels, there’s now a huge range of

W

120 Mountain Biking UK

wider rims and plus tyres available, which potentially offer significant advantages for the right riders and riding situations. That’s before you start thinking about 29+ and the soon-to-arrive 26+ too. Even the same bikes can be configured very differently, like the three shifting options you get with the Scalpel. This test also proved that small aspects can be very significant. We really struggled to get the ‘looks great on paper’ Intense Recluse working as well as we’d expected. For the most part though, it showed that even this year’s average-scoring bikes are a whole lot more sorted and a whole lot more fun than previous years’ bikes, and if you get one of the best on offer, it could totally change the limits of your riding enjoyment, however you get your off-road thrills.

NEXT MONTH Sub-grand hardtails Can you still get a decent mountain bike for £700? We test four to ind out ON SALE 7 DECEMBER


nnn q

nn

T S E T P GROU

DROPPER SEATPOSTS

OUR RATINGS We base our scores on value for money and performance

EXCEPTIONAL A genuine class leader

VERY GOOD

We assess the rise and fall of 15 height-adjustable posts, from the most affordable to the most aspirational

One of the best you can buy

GOOD It’ll do the job and do it well

BELOW AVERAGE Flawed in some way

POOR Simply put, don’t bother!

THE TESTER

What makes a dropper proper good? As usual, it starts with the basics of fit and finances. You can’t fit a post into your bike if its diameter is bigger than your seat tube, so if you need a skinny 27.2mm dropper you’re limited to one internally routed KS post and a couple of external options. Don’t despair if your favourite post only comes in a smaller diameter than your frame, though, because you can potentially shim it (USE and others do a selection of sizes). Just check this won’t invalidate the warranty. Before buying an internally routed post, make sure your frame is compatible. Most recent designs are and some that officially aren’t may have a spare gear cable hole or other handy orifice to feed a cable through. Don’t be tempted to reach for the drill if yours doesn’t, though. While the trend is for the longest shaft possible for maximum clearance, even a 100mm drop makes a significant difference when you’re descending.

Before buying, check the exposed seatpost height on your bike, as there’s no point having a post that extends higher than your normal pedalling position. Don’t forget to add the depth of the collar into that figure too. Also, check the length of free space in your seat tube – even straight tubes can have obstructions from bottle bosses or pivot hardware. Next comes price. The good news is that there are loads of budget droppers now. If you don’t mind a more agricultural lever look, fewer stroke options and potentially a cruder/wobblier action, most are as reliable as pricier posts. If you can afford it, paying more will generally get you more options, smoother performance and a better looking lever. We’ve given all the posts here as much trail time as possible in varying conditions. Bear in mind that some of the newer posts have only been available for a couple of months, while we’ve got several years’ durability data on the established designs.

JARGON XTXE VXEXNX X X X XGXUXYX XK EXS The endless energy of our Grand Old Duke of Yorkshire makes him the ideal candidate to march dropper posts halfway up and then halfway down again for months on end to see which ones survive year-round UK riding.

122 Mountain Biking UK

KEYS

LAYBACK

MATCHMAKER

NOODLE

Guide plates that stop the post and saddle twisting as you pedal or turn. Can eventually wear and need replacing.

The rearward offset of the saddle clamp, measured from the centre line of the post to the centre of the clamp.

SRAM’s combined shifter, brake and remote lever bar-clamp system, designed to reduce cockpit clutter.

Curved pipe inserted into the post or lever to change the direction of the cable/hose.

PRELOAD & STICTION

SHIFTERSTYLE REMOTE

The amount of force needed to compress/move the spring of the post, and the friction that stops it moving.

A remote lever that sits under the bar and operates with a horizontal swing, like a gear shifter. As opposed to a vertical lever, which sits vertically so it doesn’t interfere with shift levers.


DETAILS SEATPOST HEAD Some single-bolt saddle clamps can slip if you sit down too hard, which makes twin-bolt systems the most secure option. Check that the adjustability, clamp design and position suit your chosen saddle rails and riding position. SIZE Dropper posts usually come in 30.6mm and/ or 31.9mm seat tube sizes, but some are available in 27.2mm. The amount of drop varies from 75mm to 200mm but most posts have a 125mm or 150mm stroke. MECHANISM Different designs rely on cable or hydraulic controls and air, nitrogen or coil springs. Most offer ‘infinite’ adjustment, where you can stop the post at any point in its drop, while some, such as Specialized’s Command Post, have preset position ‘notches’. ACTUATOR ARM This is generally attached to the bottom of the post and uses a hinged or sliding cradle that’s pulled by the cable from the remote lever, but some are fully internal. Set-up sensitivity varies dramatically. LEVER Vertical levers that work with or without front shifter units are the norm, but there are sweep-action shifter-style levers for single-ring bikes too.

Mountain Biking UK 123


nnn q

nn

X Fusion Hilo Strate £279.99

T GROUPTES

9g We ig h t 5 6 6 m m , 3 1. S ize s 3 0.9 m m 15 0 *, D ro p 125

X-Fusion’s post is light, with a neat remote lever, but awkward set-up and poor reliability drop it down the rankings. The cable nipple sits in the joystick-style lever, which can be pushed in any direction to operate the post when it’s working well. But there’s such a tiny throw on the actuator arm that cable tension has to be super-accurate, and even then you can get lever rattle or just a refusal to operate. The cable clamps directly into the

actuator arm rather than an unhookable barrel so you have to remove the cable to remove the post. The inner inevitably frays, making it extremely hard to refit, too. If you lift the bike up by the saddle the post extends, which irritates some riders, and it develops wobble quickly too. The 150mm option costs another £20. www.upgradebikes.co.uk

Race Face Turbine £349.99

0g We ig h t 5 9 6 m m , 3 1. .9 0 3 S ize s 5*, 15 0 m m 12 , 0 10 D ro p

Race Face’s Turbine (and Easton’s identical Haven post) uses 9point8’s proven screw-in mechanism but it’s awkward to set up initially. The actual dropper function is good, with a smooth ‘infinite’ adjustment of the stroke, and the fore-and-aft saddle clamp is solid. As long as it’s kept clean and never overtightened, the connector can be unscrewed for easy removal/installation. You can also tune the post’s return speed by altering the air pressure, though the

valve is a pain to reach. The actuator mechanism requires accurate and potentially patience-testing positioning of the T-bar slider to work reliably. The supplied vertical lever can also fray and snap the cable, which makes the shifter lever upgrade recommended, even at an extra £49.99. The 125mm post comes in a choice of two lengths. www.silverfish-uk.com

Gravity Adjustable Seatpost £269.95

8g We ig h t 7 7 6 m m , 3 1. S ize s 3 0.9 * n d 125 m m a D ro p 10 0

Gravity are new to droppers but the post we’ve had on test since early summer (an early sample, with parent company FSA’s logo on it) has been solidly reliable so far. It’s the heaviest here by some margin though, and despite a long overall length, 125mm is the biggest stroke option. The fact there’s still 25mm of shaft exposed at full compression needs factoring into fit calculations, and the inline saddle bolts are tricky to adjust with a multi-tool. It’s simple

to set up though, with a barrel-andslotted-cradle cable connection, and it’s designed to work with a bit of slack, which gives a broader bandwidth of working cable tension. That slack can translate to lever rattle, which irritated some testers, but the post action is smooth and the vertical remote lever is thumb friendly and shifter compatible. www.windwave.co.uk

CrankBrothers Highline £274.99

124 Mountain Biking UK

handlebar remote and you’re good to go. The post generally works smoothly, with a swift but not savage return speed, and it’s well priced too. One of our samples has started getting sticky though, and leaving slack in the cable that stops it locking. It’s long for a 125mmdrop post too, and that’s the only option currently available. www.extrauk.co.uk

*tested

4g We ig h t 6 5 6 m m , 3 1. .9 0 S ize s 3 m* m 5 12 D ro p

CrankBrothers have invested three years of development in reversing their previously poor dropper reliability rep. The Highline is an all-new post with a sealed hydraulic cartridge, premium Igus bushings and Trelleborg seals. It’s covered by a three-year warranty. The twin-bolt saddle clamp is multi-tool friendly and the inner cable is already installed so you just need to clamp it into the neat, rose-jointed, multi-angle


RSP Plummet £115.49 RSP’s latest Plummet post is a big improvement on the previous version, but it’s still an excellent price (and available even cheaper online) if you’re OK with an external cable and limited drop. It comes in the two most popular diameters, is supplied with the externally routed cable installed and the angled twin-bolt head is easy to adjust with a multi-tool. The short forward-routed noodle keeps the cable clear of tyre

buzz, though you still need to take care to protect your paintwork from cable rub. The vertical remote lever can be stiff but it triggers a hydraulic system that’s commendably smooth and our sample hasn’t started wobbling noticeably yet. It’s heavy though, and only offers a 100mm drop. We’ve only had one sample on the go, which has worked fine so far. www.raleigh.co.uk

4g We ig h t 72 6 m m , 3 1. .9 0 3 s e S iz m* D ro p 10 0 m

Thomson Elite Covert £399.99 Thomson’s traditional posts are legendarily durable and premium components give their Covert dropper excellent longevity too. It’s long, heavy and expensive though. The 490mm overall length means it won’t fit into smaller or busier seat tubes, and at over 700g it’s not a weight watcher’s choice either. Assuming it’ll fit your frame, the direct-pull nipple cradle on the post end makes set-up easy and the use of brake rather than gear

cable outer makes it more tolerant of tight and twisty cable runs, though it does give a mushy feel at the already relatively high-pressure remote lever (switching to gear outer gives a firmer feel). Custommade Norglide bearing bushings and Trelleborg O-rings and seals plus Motul oil keep it smooth, securely straight and very well sealed. www.i-ride.co.uk

1g We ig h t 73 6 m m** , 3 1. .9 0 3 S ize s 5*, 15 0 m m 12 , 0 10 D ro p

Bontrager Drop Line £239.99 Bontrager’s new post is a welcome addition to the affordable dropper menu. It only comes in a 31.6mm size (the standard seat tube diameter of mountain bikes from parent brand Trek) but there’s a choice of three stroke lengths. The forged under-bar, shifter-style lever is one of the nicest we’ve used, with a super-smooth action, cable-friendly curved cam, reasonable-size Allen bolt cable clamp and a sculpted, hinged clamp for easy fitting. There’s also a

shifter-compatible vertical lever option. The base of the post uses a rocker actuator with a roller end for equally smooth operation there, and the angled twin-bolt clamp is secure and easy to adjust. So far, so good. Reliability data is provisional because this post is so new, but we’ll be running one in our long-term fleet, so keep an eye out for revised scoring. www.trekbikes.com

3g We ig h t 6 3 m m S ize s 3 1.6 5*, 15 0 m m 12 , D ro p 10 0

**27.2mm external option

Giant Contact SL Switch £169.99 Giant’s cunning Contact SL is the only post here that can be run both internally or externally, making it great for eventual upgrading, and it’s fundamentally very reliable. It needs more TLC when routed externally, though. That’s because the vertical remote lever uses an awkward leverage to achieve its pull, so the effect of any grit getting into the cable via the slotted mount is magnified with thumb-bursting

consequences. It doesn’t like being left compressed either, and muck can easily get into the under-saddle external actuator and cause issues. The mechanism can be protected easily and effectively with tape though, and it’s very reliable when the cable is routed internally. The shaft is long and a 31.6mm frame will need a shim but there are three length options and it’s a good price.

6g We ig h t 6 6 mm .9 0 3 S ize s 5*, 15 0 m m 12 , 0 10 D ro p

Mountain Biking UK 125


nnn q

nn

KS LEV Si £210

T GROUPTES

8g We ig h t 6 2 6 m m , 3 1. S ize s 3 0.9 5*, 15 0 m m 12 , D ro p 10 0

KS make a wide range of droppers, from exotic to basic. This new LEV Si packs everything you need into a compact and relatively affordable package. The internals are the latest updated KS cartridge set-up, with the quick-release cable barrel actuating a smoothly predictable ‘infinite’ adjustment stroke. It comes with a shifter-friendly vertical remote, with the multi-adjustable under-bar ‘Southpaw’ lever pictured here as an upgrade (£30). The two-bolt head is

secure, there’s no obvious wobble and our test posts have been totally reliable so far. It’s light for its very reasonable price and the post length is short for the amount of drop, making it a promising option for compact or busy frames as well as cost-conscious buyers. The 150mm model costs another £20. Production posts will have a black shaft. www.jungleproducts.co.uk

9point8 Fall Line £379

g We ig h t 618 6 m m 3 1. , .9 0 3 S ize s mm , 125*, 15 0 0 10 , 5 7 D ro p

9Point8’s droppers have a loyal following in their native Canada thanks to their rock-solid reliability, extensive stroke options and modular head design. The screw-in actuator mechanism makes removal easy as long as you don’t overtighten it, but exact positioning of the inner wire and outer cable slider is crucial, so be patient while setting it up. The long remote lever reduces thumb pressure and chamfering stops cable wear. A shifter-style remote is

an extra £13.99, while the titanium twin-bolt saddle clamp can be swapped for a £34.99 layback version. The Fall Line’s high price is repaid by relentless reliability even in the filthiest conditions, so it’s worth the set-up and financial investment. Extra-long 175mm and 200mm stroke posts are available for £419.99. www.shore-lines.co.uk

Specialized Command Post IRcc £250

4g We ig h t 6 5 6 m m , 3 1. S ize s 3 0.9 * 0, 125 m m 10 D ro p 75,

Specialized’s latest Command Post is reliable, not overly pricey and more adjustable than previous versions. There’s a short 75mm stroke option but no models longer than 125mm. IRcc stands for ‘Internally Routed, cruiser control’. The ‘cc’ signifies multiple stop positions in the stroke – the only post in this test with this feature – but it still defaults to the useful semi-drop position rather than the finer increments. The multiple stops (12 on the 125mm post) give it

a notchy, grinding feel that takes some getting used to. Otherwise, the cradled cable set-up is easy and it’s the only post here to come with both vertical and under-bar remotes. The head is easy to adjust and secure, and you can easily reduce the spring pressure if you don’t want the super-fast return to knock your nuts into orbit. www.specialized.com

KS LEV Carbon 150 £460

5g We ig h t 5 4 6 m m , 3 1. .9 0 S ize s 3 m* m 0 15 D ro p

126 Mountain Biking UK

KS’s lightweight post is now available in a 150mm-stroke model with their latest internals. Using a carbon body (the shaft and head are alloy) saves over 80g compared to a standard LEV. The special super-light cable shaves off another 18g, at the expense of a slightly stretchy feel through the under-bar Southpaw lever, but a standard cable works fine. The cable-barrel-and-rockerlever mechanism makes for easy set-up and removal, and it’s more

tolerant of varying cable tension than previous LEVs. It’s been totally reliable so far, and there’s a collar-cabled version if your frame won’t take an internally routed dropper. The original 65mm-stroke version is even lighter and still gives a surprising amount of descending confidence compared to having the saddle right up your backside. www.jungleproducts.co.uk


S R E WINN

g We ig h t 610 6 m m 3 1. , .9 0 S ize s 3 5*, 15 0 m m 12 , 0 10 D ro p

YS.. . T E ST E R SA

ND , WALLET A T H IG E W R IES, R YO U “WHATEVE MOOTHNESS PRIORIT SIZE OR S ST CROP OF E B E H T IS THIS R TESTED” E V E E ’V E W Fox Transfer £335 DROPPERS Fox’s original DOSS dropper was super-reliable but external-only routing and a massive remote lever meant it was never widely popular. The all-new Transfer is much more ergonomically and aesthetically pleasing, and reliability is impressive so far too. The post is lightweight, short for its stroke and available in the most popular diameters and lengths. You can choose between a noodle-guided, shifter-compatible vertical remote or an angleadjustable sweep lever, and then team it up with the standard ‘Performance’ post here or a gold Kashima-coated shaft option (£380) to match Fox’s ‘Factory’ spec shocks and forks. Set-up is easy, with the cable nipple sitting in a quick-release barrel in the actuator arm. The inner then

clamps into the remote, where the cut end tucks away neatly. The post has a really smooth action based around a new SKF internal floating piston with a two-position springclosed spool that’s so accurate you can actually control the shaft speed via the minimal-movement remote lever. Alternatively, just open it fully and it’ll rise up swiftly to a reassuringly solid top-out ‘thunk’. Fox have also added a pressure relief valve, which together with increased oil volume should solve the sub-zero slowdown issues of their original DOSS post. While it’s early days, the four Transfer samples we’ve had have been trouble free, so reliability looks very promising. www.mojo.co.uk

Brand-X Ascend £139.99

7g We ig h t 6 3 mm 3 0.9, 3 1.6 , 2 7. 2 s S ize 15 0 m m D ro p 125*,

The Ascend is all-new, but the sofar-faultless performance of our two samples suggests it’s going to be hard to beat as a bargain internally routed post. It’s not just a copycat system either, because it uses a miniature parallelogram system with rotating cable barrel for a very clean, inline action that’s easy to uncouple for removal. The long pull is comfortably managed by a really well shaped shifter-style remote (a vertical lever is £24.99). The longer

cable pull also makes it less finicky in terms of cable tension. The shaft action has stayed impressively smooth on our samples and the return speed is fast without being dangerous. The twin-bolt clamp is secure and easily adjusted with a multi-tool, and there are 27.2mm diameter and 150mm stroke versions in the pipeline too. www.hotlines-uk.com

RockShox Reverb Stealth £436

5g We ig h t 5 9 6, 3 4 .9 m m , 3 1. .9 0 S ize s 3 0mm 5, 15 0*, 17 12 , 0 10 D ro p

The third-generation Reverb looks the same but has new SKF-sealed internals plus long and fat fit options. The more samples we ride, the more it impresses us. Hydraulic actuation means no worries about tight, kinked or dirty cables affecting performance. The ‘Connectamajig’ splitter allows stress-free hose removal, and it’s a straightforward job to bleed the remote plunger with the supplied syringes. The plunger doesn’t sit that well with Shimano

shifters, but SRAM’s Matchmaker syncing is superb. Despite the vast number of Reverbs we use on complete bikes, problems are rare and the latest version seems even more reliable so far. The new 170mm stroke and 34.9mm size options increase versatility, and it’s also one of the lightest posts available, making it worth the investment. www.zyrofisher.co.uk

Mountain Biking UK 127


A ‘roller’ is a hump or series of humps in the trail. The best way to ride them smoothly is to keep your wheels on the ground. They’re usually found on fast sections so you need to absorb or ‘pump’ them so you don’t get bucked or sent into the air. Pumping them will also help you generate speed and stay smooth.

03

04

Pump through rollers

Absorb undulations in the trail to stay fast and smooth

03

04

05

Once your wheels have cleared the upslope you need to pump the downslope. Extend your arms and legs and push your bike into the trail. This will generate forwards speed. As the suspension reextends, your body weight will stay high and in a straight line.

You should now be back to your start position and ready to repeat the technique on the next roller. If you feel like you’re out of sync or you got bucked up and down, it’s likely that your timing was out or you didn’t unweight enough over the upslope of the roller.

Once you become more confident, you’ll get to a point where the rollers are too close for how fast you’re riding and you’ll end up out of sync. Two techniques can help you here – popping a manual through the rollers or doubling them up.

Pump again

132 Mountain Biking UK

Repeat

Advanced

01

02

Approach the roller stood up, in a neutral position, with your pedals level. At the bottom of the transition from flat to uphill, push your bike into the trail using mainly your legs. It’s important that you do this at the bottom of the roller and not on the upslope itself.

Go light over the upslope by allowing your arms and legs to bend and your bike to come up underneath you. If it’s a big roller, you may have to push the bike forwards slightly as it comes up underneath you, so the saddle is in front of your hips.

Pump

Unweight


I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H

-BOOT CAMP-

stay hydrated Drinking enough water is essential if you want your muscles and, importantly, brain to perform at their best when you’re on the bike, and you’ll recover better too. Follow these tips from mountain bike coach Chris Kilmurray to stay hydrated while riding.

EX LIFEST YLE

TENSION

Staying hydrated on the bike should be an extension of staying hydrated in your daily life. Never start a ride dehydrated. Begin each day with a 500ml glass of water. Tea and coffee count as extras too. Aim to drink another 500ml half an hour before you start riding.

K N O W YO U

Maximise your next uplift day

R KIT

Whether you ride with a backpack and hydration bladder or drink bottle and cage, aim to have a minimum of 750ml with you – that’s enough for one hour to 90 minutes of moderate riding. Any longer and you’ll need to carry more luid or know a place to re ill.

LITTLE AND

A lift up the hill is a luxury – make the most of it with these 5 tips

OF TEN

Sipping on luid after the irst half hour of riding plus always drinking three gulps with any food consumed is a great way to stay on top of your hydration. If you’ve not drunk at least 500ml in 90 minutes you’re not drinking enough. Drink more than that in 30 minutes or less and you’re overdoing it.

TABLETS E T Y L O R T ELEC While not essential, a quality electrolyte tablet that contains potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium will help you retain the luids you’re drinking, and they often add a great taste to plain water for those who like something different. It’s usually one tab per 500ml of water.

Chris Kilmurray

1. Get your bike prepped Take time to get your bike running sweet before the big day. Make sure all the bolts are torqued up correctly and examine the brake pads for wear. Check the weather forecast and find out what the tracks are like, and put on tyres to suit. When you’re only riding downhill you’ll really notice if your suspension isn’t running buttery smooth, so refresh the oil and fit new seals if required (or get a tuning company to do it for you). 2. Pack the right kit Since you’ll have access to your car/van between runs, you don’t have to worry about carrying anything with you on the bike. Bring your toolbox, along with any bike spares you may have lying around. It’s a good idea to have a couple of tubes, spare brake pads and a gear cable,

just in case. Bring plenty of water and food as well. You’re going to be riding fast and probably on fairly technical trails, so it’s worth bringing a full-face helmet, goggles and body armour. If it’s muddy, then spare gloves and paper towels for cleaning your eyewear will be invaluable. 3. Ease yourself in It’s not a race, so take it steady on the first few runs and check out the tracks. Going in blind at full throttle is only going to end in disaster. Assess the speed for gap jumps and stop to look at lines through technical sections. Think about your suspension set-up and tyre pressures, and tweak them to suit the tracks – lower pressures and slower rebound for more grip in soft, wet conditions and the opposite for dry, fast-rolling trails.

4. Look after your body Eat little and often. Stopping for a big lunch will make you feel lethargic in the afternoon. Avoid sugary drinks and snacks that’ll give you spikes and crashes in energy levels. Make sure you stay hydrated too. Even though you’re not pedalling uphill, wearing a full-face and pads is a sweaty affair. Isotonic drinks or tablets are good for this. 5. Ramp it up Riding the same track repeatedly is a great way to get faster. You can learn the terrain and get a feel for how much traction the dirt has. Concentrate on riding with good technique. Keep your head up, brake in the right places and you’ll soon find your confidence and speed increasing. Know when to call it a day, though – the curse of ‘one last run’ isn’t to be taken lightly!

Mountain Biking UK 133


nn

THE STIPERSTONES, SHROPSHIRE Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve most likely heard of the Long Mynd, but the area around the Stiperstones to the west offers some cracking trails, without the MTB hordes Words Max Darkins Photos Russell Burton

138 Mountain Biking UK


I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H

WHERE ARE WE? THE STIPERSTONES, SHROPSHIRE The Stiperstones is a hill that stands 536m above sea level and is topped with jagged quartzite tors formed some 480 million years ago. It’s within the Shropshire Hills AONB. www.visitshropshirehills.co.uk

Snowdonia National Park

Shrewsbury

The Stiperstones

Wolverhampton Aberystwyth Shropshire Hills AONB

Hereford

Brecon Beacons National Park

The only thing better than singletrack is singletrack you’ve got all to yourself

Poor weather has its plusses – at least you don’t get quite as sweaty on the climbs!

T

he mysterious ‘Stiperstones’ at the top of the hill of the same name have been described as exuding an “aura of menace and majesty” and there are many legends describing their origins – including that they’re the earthly throne of a devil. The geological explanation is that constant freezing and thawing during the last ice age shattered the 480-millionyear-old quartzite ridge to form these jagged rocky outcrops, making them some of the oldest visible stones in the world. Whichever version you believe, there’s some devilishly good riding in these parts.

Download THE VIEWRANGER APP to ride and share this route

Things can only get better

PRO FILE

max darkins JOB MTB route planner CREDENTIALS Max loves travelling up and down the country, searching for the best routes for you to ride, and he’s the man behind www.roughrideguide.co.uk

With a scorching hot day of Indian summer forecast, we hit the road early – and then hit horrendous traffic. There’s no sun, just thick, endless cloud and fog. Furthermore, our local rider has to bow out at the last minute, making us think this really isn’t our day. With our best British stiff upper lips and stoic resolve we plough on, heading for a little car park off the main road just outside Pontesbury. Our ride begins on a pleasant, quiet trail, which adds to the remote feel, and our disastrous start to the day soon fades from our minds. We’re straight into a small climb, which quickly wakes our van-legs up, before the trail becomes interesting singletrack with some tricky roots and rocks

Mountain Biking UK 139


I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H

nn

bright ’n’ light If you’re going somewhere remote in misty or gloomy weather (that’ll be most of winter, then), pack something bright in case you need finding!

BEST EATING STIPERSTONES INN On a nice day, some sandwiches on the rocks at the top of the hill, with panoramic views overlooking the Stiperstones, make a perfect lunch. Alternatively, drop down the hillside and visit the award-winning Stiperstones Inn (www. stiperstones inn.co.uk, 01743 791327). It offers a variety of food, from snacks to main meals, and also afternoon teas (but book ahead). Also, nicely located near the end of the ride is the Mytton Arms in Habberley (01743 792490), although it doesn’t do food, just liquid refreshments and bar snacks.

142 Mountain Biking UK

that also stimulate our tired, sleepy minds. We finish off skirting around the side of Earls Hill and the edge of the woods, dropping steeply to a T-junction where some screechy braking narrowly averts an embarrassing accident. Turning left, we break cover from the canopy of trees and head between fields. The promised sun has still not materialised. Instead it’s just incredibly hot and muggy, and we’ve got quite a sweat on. Swinging around the corner to pass through Lower Farm at Habberley, I find myself between a huge lorry and a tractor depositing something into it. I’m more than happy to back up, but the tractor driver beckons me through. I pray he’s being kind and isn’t a cyclist hater as I try to gauge just how heavy and smelly his cargo is. Happily, he’s not, and I emerge smelling as sweet as I did before (which isn’t very).

Old-school fun The pub in Habberley is quite handily located for the return journey, although it’s tempting to stop by now for a refreshing beer. Eastridge Woods are just up the hill though, and the draw of the singletrack there urges us onwards and upwards. After briefly forgetting which direction the trail

goes in (not helped by a lack of signage), we join the tight and twisty singletrack into the trees. This is an excellent old-school mountain bike trail, the type I really like, with a great natural feel and fun technical sections. It’s sad to be leaving it so soon but we’ll be returning, so we peel off onto the forest track, leaving the steep switchback climb known as ‘Goliath’ for later.

Hi-de-Heidi We’re crossing the valley now and heading up the Stiperstones, the second highest hill in Shropshire – and it certainly feels like it in this clammy weather. The terrain is easy though, and we’re cruising along quite quickly, enjoying what view there is, which includes a bizarre little hut in a field, surrounded by trees, like something out of Heidi. We eventually reach the foot of Shepherd’s Rock – one of the Stiperstones’ six named tors – where the route heads off downhill, to the right, but I decide we ought to push on a bit further to the rocks at the top and admire the non-existent view. This extra little climb is a tricky challenge along a rocky track, but all is forgiven as the impressive silhouette of the Devil’s Chair (another of the tors) looms through the mist, and the ride back down


THE N W O D Y A OUR W E V A E W E W GR EEN H S U L M O R HING F C T I W S , L A R R EN L I B H A O T S G IN SURROUND N AN INSTANT EI GR E Y SH A L

WHAT IS VIEWRANGER?

is good fun. Back on the route, we drop steeply down the hillside, brains constantly having to negotiate the varied and quickly changing surfaces as we weave our way down the hill to the bottom of the valley. We switch from lush green surroundings to a barren grey shale in an instant, and skitter past a downhiller pushing his way back up for another run, too fast, furious and concentrated to utter more than a rushed “Hiiiiii”. At the bottom is the very nice Stiperstones Inn, but we’re high on adrenaline so decide to use it to our advantage and smash out this short road section quickly. Sure enough, we’re soon in Snailbeach and passing through some interesting old mine buildings, bringing a historical and educational element to today’s ride. These are some of the best preserved lead mine buildings anywhere in England, and this mine is reputed to have had the greatest yield of any in Europe.

Revelation 1, Student Champs 0 History lesson over, we grind up the hill back to Eastridge Woods and make our way back to the ‘Revelation’ trail. We power up the zig-zag climb, now all open since the recent tree felling, but the optional Student Champs DH run (heading straight back down the hill) is a little lost in the debris so we just push onwards and upwards. Navigational brains can be switched off for a while because there’s around 6km of excellent rooty

waymarked trail to follow. Keep right at a fork in the trail where there’s no signpost though – unless you want a black run.

A perfect day We zip along, enjoying the steep, rooty and rutted sections, the off-camber traverses and tight hairpins, all made even more special as the last of the afternoon’s sun (which finally made an appearance) is piercing the canopy, sending shafts of light down onto the trail. With the temperature also dropping we’re rewarded with sublime riding conditions, and after the last descent of the Revelation we drop out of the woods down to Habberley. There’s no discussion needed this time about whether we stop or not. After a drastically needed drink and some salty snacks, we rouse ourselves for the homeward stretch. Our legs are gently warmed back up along the farm track, before we start the pull back up the side of Earls Hill. We rejoin the trail we set off on, which is now an easy cruise back down the hill to the quiet little car park where nothing’s changed since we left it some hours ago. Well, apart from us – we’re a lot more tired, a great deal more sweaty and much, much happier. With the frustrating start to the day now a distant memory, it all seems worth the hassle. The weather has meant we’ve seen virtually no one all day, making this route feel even more special.

ViewRanger is an app that lets outdoor enthusiasts discover, plan, navigate and share their adventures on smartphones, on tablets and online. With offline mapping (including Ordnance Survey maps), turn-by-turn navigation and bike computer functions like ride time, ride distance and current, average and maximum speed, it’ll turn your phone into a fully fledged GPS unit. You can also use it to plan or download routes, access guidebook-style information, broadcast your location and track your friends. It has a social platform too, where you can store and share your adventures. ViewRanger is used by more than 400 official bodies, including search-and-rescue teams in the UK and overseas.

The ViewRanger app is available to download for Apple, Android, Blackberry 10, Kindle Fire and Symbian devices.

Mountain Biking UK 143


www.muc-off.com

Grime TIME Your questions answered

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Wheel wisdom I’m in the market for some new wheels and, having scoured I-don’t-know-how-many reviews, there are a couple of things that I need clarifying before I part with my hard-earned cash. First off, what’s the difference between lateral and radial stiffness? Next up, how wide do I need them to be? I generally ride trail centre stuff and can’t afford more than £500. Scott Parker, via email Let’s start with the basics. Wheel stiffness depends on a variety of things – rim material, rim dimensions, spoke bracing angle, spoke length, hub flange spacing, hub

Just Riding Along’s Traildog STi25 wheels have an accurate but forgiving feel

flange diameter, spoke tension… we could go on. Anyway, if a wheel is too stiff it’ll feel harsh through the bumps. If it’s not stiff enough, it’ll feel vague through the turns and sloppy under power. So getting the balance right makes a huge difference. The two main types of stiffness we concern ourselves with are lateral stiffness – the amount the wheel flexes side to side under load – and radial stiffness – the amount the wheel distorts vertically as you clatter through the rough stuff. As for rim width, we’ve all gravitated towards slightly wider rims here in the office. That means internal widths from 23mm to 30mm, paired with 2.3 to 2.5in tyres. The wider rims mean more tyre

volume and better-supported sidewalls, allowing you to run slightly lower pressures for more grip. In theory, anyway. Something like the JRA Traildog STi25 wheelset from Just Riding Along could be just the ticket for you. Not only did it win our recent wheel grouptest, it’s also a bargain at £263.50.

Get it shifted I’ve recently been riding more technical terrain and, while I love the challenge, I’m struggling when things start to get steep. I always feel like I’m about to go over the bars. Is there anything I can do to my bike set-up to help avoid this feeling in future? Jake Struthers, via email

Quick fix tips Setting up clipless pedal cleats

Replacing worn cleats early will prevent accidental unclipping and stop them getting seized in place on your shoes. Remove any dirt from the bolt heads with a pick and penetrating oil, then use a good-quality 4mm Allen key to remove the bolts, turning them anticlockwise.

1

144 Mountain Biking UK

Shimano cleats can go on either shoe. CrankBrothers pedal users should put the cleat with a dot on the right shoe for a 15° release angle and easier unclipping, or the left for 20° release. Place the cleat spacer between the cleat and sole, with the smooth side facing the cleat.

2

Grease the new cleat bolts and thread them through the concave side of the cleat washer and then the cleat itself. Use the 4mm Allen key to screw the bolts into the threaded plate that sits inside the shoe. Leave them loose enough that the cleat can still be moved around.

3

Set the fore/aft position of the cleat. Some XC riders like the cleats set forward to engage the calf muscles, but a more rearward position gives better control on descents. Try fitting them all the way back to begin with, then moving them forward until you find a comfy position.

4


www.muc-off.com It sounds like you need to get your weight a little further back on the bike to prevent this, and there are some easy ways to do this. If you have any spacers between your headset top-cap and stem, shuffle these around so they sit below your stem, raising it up on the steerer tube. You can also roll your bar back towards the saddle ever so slightly and raise your brake levers up to help improve your hand/arm position when tackling this sort of terrain. Then there’s your suspension. Increasing the low-speed compression damping of your fork and, if you’re able to, adding a volume spacer to make the stroke more progressive will help prop it up and prevent it from diving and bottoming out too easily. A touch more sag at the rear will help this even further.

1

Hose down

There’s more to hosing down your bike than you might think. Start from the top (the saddle and bar) and work down. Avoid flicking the jet of water back and forth, because this will just spread the dirt around. Instead, work methodically. Avoid spraying water directly at fork seals and bearings.

2

Apply bike wash spray

A good bike spray is a huge help in getting your steed really clean, and can also help prevent mud sticking on your next outing. Spray sparingly and evenly. Leave the solution to soak in for a few minutes.

r’s e f f u l B

Keeping track

-GUIDE

I’m sick of using my phone’s GPS to record my rides. It’s killing my battery – and my phone when I crash. I don’t need any kind of mapping and I’m not too worried about uploading data instantly. What alternatives would you recommend for less than £100? Steve Pembury, Wiltshire

B I K E WAS H

Fortunately, there’s quite a bit of choice of GPS units these days. CatEye’s Stealth Evo+ is easy to use and comes in just under budget at £99.99. It’s a similar story for the tiny Lezyne Mini GPS, which is £20 cheaper still (£79.99). Garmin’s Edge 20 is possibly the most intuitive to use out of the lot (as is Garmin Connect, the site you need to upload your data to) but is a little over budget at £110. Alternatively, if you really want to keep it simple, Garmin’s Forerunner watches work really well and start at £90.

3

Scrub the dirt off

Use a soft brush or sponge to agitate the dirt and grime (rinse the brush beforehand and regularly during use so dirt doesn’t build up and scratch the paint). Scrub the frame, fork and rear shock first, and use a separate brush for the drivetrain. When you’ve finished, repeat step 1.

4

-

ING

Finish up

Allow the bike to dry off for a few minutes, then pay special attention to the chain. Back-pedal it through an old rag or workshop towel to remove any moisture, then re-lube it immediately, spinning the cranks to ensure both sides of the chain get an even coating. Wipe off any excess lube with a rag.

Jargonr buste

RELEASE ANGLE

Set the side-to-side position of the cleat. If you’ve got big feet or clumpy downhill shoes you’ll probably want to place the cleat inboard on the shoe, as this will move the shoe away from the crank arm, reducing the risk of fouling when unclipping.

5

Set the cleat angle. Most riders line them up straight(ish) with the shoe. Angling the cleat slightly inwards (towards the big toe) means you’ll unclip sooner, and vice versa. But a cleat angle that puts your foot into an unnatural position during pedalling can cause knee problems.

6

Tighten the bolts alternately, a little at a time, until tight. Then clip in and ride. If you’re unhappy with the cleat position, loosen the cleat, adjust appropriately and then retighten in the same way. Repeat until you have it dialled, then repeat the whole process on the other shoe.

7

The angle through which you have to twist your foot before the pedal mechanism will disengage. CrankBros offer a choice of release angles, while Shimano provide just one, though their pedals have adjustable tension (the force required to unclip).

Mountain Biking UK 145


n

Our Jimmer leads the charge into the rock garden section of the red-graded Igneous trail

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE Locals do… Bring two bikes. Ride the trails all day and session the pump track all evening Refuel in the cafe – the double stack SuperFly burger is a serious challenge

Locals don’t… Pedal up the uplift road Skid up or case the dirt jumps and not repair the landers Drop litter

148 Mountain Biking UK

J

ust follow me,” says trail builder Tom Gethin, as he drops into the black-graded Super Fly trail at Gloucestershire’s 417 Bike Park. Having never seen the jumps before, I’m a bit nervous and with good reason, as immediately round the first corner I find myself on the take-off to a chunky stepdown. It’s too late to brake now, so I have no choice but to follow Tom. Oh god! I’m not going quite fast enough. I pull the bike up into an emergency tuck and just make it to the downslope – phew! As soon as my wheels touch down, the gradient accelerates me into a left-hand berm and the trail beyond. After a close call on the first jump, I’m staying as close to Tom’s wheel as possible, mirroring his speed and willing my fingers away from any comfort braking. The trail darts into a copse of trees and rounds an off-camber corner before firing us back into the daylight of the field across a road gap. We’re faced by a series of tightly rhymed jumps, and over the last two big gaps I’ve even got time to marvel at Tom’s riding. He deftly whips the back end out before placing his wheels down perfectly on the lander, the suspension barely compressing. But then, he did help build the trails, so if anyone can make it look easy it should be him. Despite the relatively small hill, the excitement’s not over yet and we branch off the black and on to the 4X track, where another run of sculptured berms and jumps awaits us. It’s impressive – with only around 150m elevation drop – just how much the 417 crew and trail builders, Architrail, have

managed to pack into one descent. Architrail’s main man, Phil Saxena, used to design World Cup 4X tracks and he’s got top UK 4X racer Duncan Ferris working for him, so it’s no surprise that the track they’ve built here is super-fun to ride. While Tom and I session the jumps, the other two go head to head on the adjacent dual slalom. MBUK’s Art Editor Jimmer and Operations Editor JCW have come along today and the pair are excited at a rare chance to escape the office. In round one Jimmer takes it by a wheel, but when it comes to switching lanes for round two he says, “Nah, I prefer this one.” We’re not sure that’s how dual slalom racing works, Jimmer!

Cheesy does it The uplift collects us from the bottom of the field and in no time we’re back at the top for another round. The view is something – the lush green hills of the Cotswolds, which we’re standing on the edge of, roll down to meet a mosaic of fields, which stretch all the way to the Brecon Beacons over in Wales. Just round the corner from where


I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H

R IGH T T F E L F O T ESCEN D G N I W O SH IT L U P O T THE F S U R AGES U O C N E S EAN L M E W BER S A R FASTE D N A R E T S FA TUR NS E H T N I R E OV THE BIK ES

MEET THE CREW

ED THOMSETT Staff Writer Ed was having such a good time on the jumps, we had to prise him away as the sun was setting, or he’d still be there.

JAMES COSTLEY-WHITE Usually bound by the duties of fatherhood, Operations Ed JCW was relishing the chance to rip his 29er around the corners all day.

JAMES BLACKWELL Art Ed Jimmer was disproving the adage ‘old men can’t jump’. He gave JCW some stiff competition in the dual slalom too.

Tom finds the pro line off a trailside rock

TOM GETHIN

With a backdrop like that, it’d be rude not to pull some shapes. Ed does the business

Tom is employed full time as the trail builder at the 417. He comes from a dirt jump background and isn’t shy of a bit of airtime.


n

D STEP E P P I H A N O SESSIO T P O T IGH T S R E A W O T N I S AT L AND H T P M U S SOME J T A O UP L F M O AND T R E N R O C D CR EST E HAN H T R E V O E TOP S L B A T Y Z A L we are is where a Gloucestershire institution takes place – the annual cheese rolling competition on Cooper’s Hill. What could be more British than that? A group of villagers, drunk on home brew, chasing a giant wheel of cheese down a one-intwo slope. The event has given its name to the next track we’re going to ride, Cheese Roller, but thankfully it isn’t as steep as Cooper’s Hill and hopefully the chances of breaking our ankles are lower. Even so, the flowing descent of left-right berms encourages us to push it faster and faster, our hands brushing the tall grass on the insides of the turns as we lean the bikes over and the wheels fight for traction. Some of the berms are a little flat on the exit and Tom tells us that only a few weeks ago he took a pretty big stack sliding out in a turn. This is his first day back on the bike since, but you wouldn’t know it from the way he’s riding. He’s going to be building up the turns in the coming weeks to make sure no one emulates his performance.

Hip to the hop Next on the hit list is the red trail, Igneous, which is as rocky as it sounds. If we’re honest, we found it quite hard to carry speed through the manmade rock gardens, and some of the rock drops are spaced a little close to ride smoothly but too far apart to double up. We can’t grumble for long though, as Tom has got some new sections up his sleeve that he reckons we’ll love. And he’s not wrong… We split from the red run near the top

150 Mountain Biking UK

Jamer and JCW battle for supremacy on the dual slalom track

WRECKING CREW WISDOM and find ourselves on a series of hand-sculpted berms and jumps. The pure dirt surface is still packed hard from the long summer and the steep transitions hold our wheels, no matter how hard we push into the turns. Unfortunately, the section is only short, but there’s an additional piece of trail being dug to keep the flow going all the way down. Further on we stop to session a hipped step-up jump that lands into a right-hand corner. It’s a little nerve-racking laying off the brakes and hitting it blind the first time, not knowing which direction to take off. Of course, Tom is having no problem and floats some lazy tabletops over the crest, with a view of the A417 in the background. Despite the overcast skies the temperatures are high today and we’re all feeling pretty beat, yet

ED THOMSETT MBUK STAFF WRITER

“Regardless of your riding ability and chosen discipline, you’re guaranteed to have a lot of fun at the 417 Bike Park. The blue and red trails are surfaced for all-weather riding, but if you’ve got your heart set on riding the black-graded Super ly and jump lines, then make sure you come on a dry day as the clay soil gets pretty slick. You’ll have fun on any bike here, but a DH bike might be overkill. If you can, my advice is to bring two bikes – a full suss for the trails and a hardtail for the pump track.”


I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H

Ed had the foresight to bring his jump bike, but the pump track is tons of fun on a full-susser too

we’ve not even touched the dirt jumps and pump track yet. There’s enough in the dirt jump field to keep anyone happy for an afternoon. A line of progressively bigger jumps snakes its way down the hill and around them are lines of beginner tabletops and some bigger gaps. Despite a pounding dehydration headache and being on the wrong bike, I can’t resist having a go. Pumping through the bowls between the jumps is quite a task with 150mm of rear suspension – I need to land each jump perfectly to generate the speed for the next. I have to admit defeat on a berm gap midway through the line; the suspension is sucking me in and I can’t quite make the distance. can see the others are keen to move on, so reluctantly I follow suit, vowing to return next time with the right bike.

Pump up the jam We can’t finish our day without a few laps of the indoor pump track. Fully tarmacked, it’s the first of its kind in the UK. It’s been built in conjunction with Swiss company VeloSolutions, undisputed maestros of the pump track. The beauty of this track is that it’s fun for riders of any level. It can be ridden straightforwardly in both directions, but there are loads of transfer lines and jibs to be had once you get your eye in, not to mention it’s also damn good training too. After hammering out as many laps as we can manage, we collapse on the deck of the barn in a sweaty heap. It’s been a top day’s riding, but we’ve definitely not had long enough to make the most of everything that the 417 has to offer. Oh well, looks like we’ll just have to come back…

THE

DIRECTORY

Everything you need to know about 417 Bike Park GET THERE

From the M5 motorway, turn off at junction 11A on the A417 towards Cirencester. Take the A46 turn-off towards Stroud and at the roundabout with the Shell garage take the first exit. Follow this along and the 417 Bike Park is on your right. Rather confusingly, it can’t be accessed directly from the A417! FACILITIES

Parking, cafe, toilets, bike shop, bike hire and bike wash NEARBY BIKE SHOPS

There’s a Leisure Lakes bike shop on site. The Bike Park also have a fleet of Kona hire bikes of different

models, depending on what stuff you want to ride. CONTACT

www.417bikepark.co.uk WHAT ELSE IS NEARBY?

Cannop Cycle Centre Cannop in the Forest of Dean is about 45 minutes away. There are blue and red-graded cross-country loops, loads of minidownhill tracks plus a family trail. FlyUp Downhill run the uplift service here as well as at the 417. www.pedalabikeaway. co.uk Redhill Extreme Also in Glos, this is a 4X track with dirt jumps, open April to October. The uplift runs on weekends and Wednesday evenings.

VERDICT There’s no denying that riding at the 417 Bike Park is a lot of fun. Being fully manmade and with no natural terrain, it’s not exactly the true essence of mountain biking, but as a place to learn new skills, rip some berms and float over some jumps, it’s one of the best spots about. It’s the kind of place that keeps you going back up the hill for “just one more run”.


LIDAY GUIDE YOUR BEST BANK HO

Save 25% o� the full subscription price* plus we’ll send you an 8GB Fire Tablet worth £49.99.

AND RAPTDI20O16 TO TV AUGUST—2 SE 27

(

FIVE REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE

THEY’RE BACKe

1. Get 26 issues of Radio Times for just

Porridg Alf Garnett & Mrs Slocombe’s pussy!

£49.99

2. Receive a 7-inch, 8GB Fire Tablet with wi� 3. Never miss the best TV and radio

it for a SNEAK PREVIEW

recommendations from our critics

4. Convenient delivery to your door

QUEEN

every week

IA TO POLDARK AMAS FROM VICTOR UNMISSABLE NEW DR

5. Enjoy RT Extra, a regular mini-magazine

17

that’s sent only to our subscribers

YOUR BLACK 7-INCH FIRE TABLET: QWhen charged it gives up to seven hours of reading, sur�ng, watching video and listening to music QFast web browsing, e-mail and calendar support QFast 1.3 GHz quad-core processor and front- and rear-facing cameras Q8GB storage plus free unlimited cloud storage for all Amazon content and photos taken with Fire devices QOnly available in black

he Great British Bake Off may not have the founding mission of the NHS or the longevity of the house of Windsor. However, in these uncertain times, the BBC’s televised baking contest has become an unlikely national institution – a broad tent of reassuring pavlovas and multi-tiered dramas in which everyone is welcome. It has increased its viewing figures by around two million each year since its debut in 2010, with 15 million watching Nadiya Hussain’s cockle-warming triumph last autumn – the biggest TV audience of the year. As the seventh season arrives, its two judges – cookbook doyenne Mary Berry and dough magnate Paul Hollywood – are secure in the knowledge that they have the best jobs in TV. “One thing that the viewer doesn’t get to do is taste,” smiles Mary. “We are the fortunate ones.” They insist it’s the 12 contestants who do all the hard work, but as the pair lark around on an old Triumph motorcycle and sidecar for our vintage-themed Radio Times photoshoot, it’s

P A U L H O L LY W O O D & MARY BERRY S H O T E X C L U S I V E LY FOR RADIO TIMES BY

IAN DERRY

Vintage

Paul

T

here’s nothing like the Cornish sea at the height of winter for putting you in your place,” says Aidan Turner with a wry grin. “We were filming me lifting Demelza out of a boat in the actual sea when this huge wave picked up the boat and slammed it into my head. I dropped her in the water – not very Ross Poldark. And nobody was coming to see if I’m OK. I was the man injured… But one of the underwater cameramen got cracked as well and he was concussed. These waves, you wouldn’t think there’s anything to them, but once you get out there you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature and she doesn’t care how well the previous season rated.” Mr Poldark, to be fair, doesn’t look too chilly right now. It’s the first warm day of the year and London is steaming in the sun. Turner’s in a T-shirt and jeans and sipping a tall glass of water. The first time we met, he’d just finished the first series of Being Human, BBC3’s supernatural drama, and he was rehearsing Desperate Romantics. Since then he’s gone from small screen to movie star, thanks to The Hobbit – and is pretty much everyone’s sexiest man of 2015. With interest in Poldark season two peaking on both sides of the Atlantic, he’s legitimately blowing up. “I hate having anyone saying I’m blowing up – it makes me sound like Veruca Salt, rolling around going blue,” he laughs. “Everything feels like a slow progression. Being Human probably had the greatest effect – Peter Jackson was a fan of the show, contacted me and said put yourself on tape. Next thing, I was in The Hobbit. With Poldark I was obviously very, very conscious of the show being popular very quickly, even though I was

Mary

Bake Off ’s back and the nation’s favourite double-act is raring to go!

too kind – ‘Mary’s she could do with toughening up a bit P A U L H O L LY W O O D

clear how much their own dynamic plays into the show’s appeal. Paul, 50, is the straighttalking Liverpudlian, the big kid, a sausage roll fiend and secret smoker. He’s game for a giggle, but nigh-on immovable in his opinions. Mary, 81, is the air in the batter, the Home Counties matriarch, author of more than 60 cookbooks. She’s composed, queenly and brooks no nonsense (no, of course she’s not going to ruin her hair by putting on a helmet). “She’s very kind to t h e b a k e r s ,” s a y s Pa u l . “Probably too kind – she could do with toughening up a bit.” Which rather underplays the ferocity of her moue. They’re discussing what exactly is meant by “vintage”, Mary having been confused when her daughter referred to a 1970s dress that way. “When does vintage start?” she asks. “When you were born, Mary?” “I know people think I invented the Victoria sandwich, but I’m really not that old,” she counters. Paul says that if he could return to any era, it would be the 60s: “There e

16

ROBERT VIGLASKY/BBC

17

16

BY JANE

JANE ANDERSON

ANDERSON

Drama: Tsar Day 3.00pm Radio 4

1

Star scores Andrew Collins reveals an epic struggle to top the people’s movie music poll

T

matter how cold, ‘No you have to man up and get on with it ’ keeping my head low. To be honest, that was more a relief than anything. Everyone involved was so good I didn’t want to be the one who sank the ship.” The shirt-off scene had a big effect, we point out. He shifts slightly uncomfortably. He’s had so many fan approaches and so much press coverage that he’s a little wary of talking about it yet again. Then he beams affably: it’s a little ironic him being wary, he explains, because “the chances of me getting my shirt off outdoors in season two are zero.” He shakes his head ruefully: “it was bloody freezing during filming.” (Indoors, on the other hand, is another story: he goes shirtless twice in the first episode.) He’s happier drawing parallels between the grim conditions of pre-industrial revolution Cornwall and the likely effects of any post-Brexit economic slump. “There are such clear parallels, even though they wore leggings,” he argues. “In Poldark, the landowners and banks find it’s cheaper to shut down these e

PICK OF THE WEEK EDITED BY

My

Just the two of us

just up from “This was the last day of the shoot, to end — just me the mines. It was a lovely way like that’s our and Demelza by the cliffs. It seems [Tomlinson], and place. I love working with Eleanor easy. We just have these scenes are always very times we corpse, a good chemistry — there’s a few a big laugh and we but it’s a little smile rather than can always check each other.”

Poldark diary filming of Aidan Turner talks us through business… the new series – it’s a very chilly

wo titans of the film soundtrack found themselves locked in battle for the top spot during the vote for this year’s annual Classic FM Movie Music Hall of Fame poll. In the red corner: John Williams, veteran master of the cinematic fanfare and composer on all of Steven Spielberg’s films except three, plus every episode of Star Wars (including the franchise’s highest grossing instalment The Force Awakens, which owned Christmas). In the blue corner: Howard Shore, Canadian dark horse, once thumbnailed as Mr Horror Movie but now sanctified by the Tolkien constituency for his epic accompaniment to The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. It was close-run, but when the 15,000-plus votes were counted (three times as many as last year’s), Lord of the Rings beat the re-energised Star Wars saga into second place, retaining its supremacy for the seventh year. People are passionate about their favourite scores and it can take years for a newcomer to enter the canon. The new top 20 operates a classics-only door policy, dominated by composing stalwarts John Barry (Out of Africa, Dances with Wolves), Elmer Bernstein (The Magnificent Seven) and Williams (Harry Potter, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park) – an octogenarian who’s not about to hang up his baton, he’s currently working on Star Wars VIII and Indiana Jones V. Like one of his famous fanfares, he never gets old. Andrew Collins will be counting down the top 20 film scores in Saturday Night at the Movies from 5pm on Saturday on Classic FM. The full results will also be on the Classic FM website at classicfm.com/movies2016

17

LORD OF THE RINGS Howard Shore Ten hours of music have been released commercially so it’s less a score, more a way of life, on an operatic scale.

2

STAR WARS John Williams

Williams’ indelibly dramatic, almost wilfully old-fashioned themes have been employed over seven films now.

3 4

SCHINDLER’S LIST John Williams Proof that Williams is about far more than popcorn-spilling fanfares, his memorable accompaniment to Spielberg’s most personal film.

GLADIATOR Hans Zimmer He of the pounding rhythms and Wagnerian bombast delivers a more emotional score for the Roman epic’s themes of honour and revenge.

5

CHARIOTS OF FIRE Vangelis Fully electronic in its original incarnation, Vangelis’s plangent score ought not fit a 1920sset sporting drama, but absolutely does.

6

HARRY POTTER John Williams Other composers have reused Williams’ magical motifs over the series, but he forged the tone in the first three films.

7

DANCES WITH WOLVES John Barry Immortalised by his Bond scores, but Barry’s best surely came with sweeping epics like this.

8

OUT OF AFRICA John Barry Another “mature” Barry score, arguably one of the most romantic ever – transporting you to Kenya and Robert Redford’s backlit hair.

9

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN

Klaus Badelt Working with Hans Zimmer, who took over the series, Badelt kicked off the franchise in fine style.

10

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

Elmer Bernstein A true classic, Bernstein gallops through this ever-popular western of the golden age with the seminal singalong theme. 11 The Mission Ennio Morricone 12 Jurassic Park John Williams 13 Gone with the Wind Max Steiner 14 Ladies in Lavender Nigel Hess 15 Star Trek: the Motion Picture Jerry Goldsmith

16The Godfather Nino Rota 17 Doctor Zhivago Maurice Jarre 18 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Ennio Morricone

19 Lawrence of Arabia Maurice Jarre 20 Raiders of the Lost Ark John Williams

122

Expect a raft of Russian-themed writings over the coming year in the build-up to the centenary of the Russian Revolution in October 1917. There will be 11 plays across three seasons, starting here Mike Walker’s chronicle of the fearsome reign of the first Tsar of All the Russias, Ivan the Terrible (1530—84) and ending next autumn with the current President Vladimir Putin (below). David Threlfall (best known for his drunken rants in role as Frank Gallagher in Channel 4’s Shameless) brings a terrifying air of menace to Tsar Ivan IV. Don’t be fooled by his apparent piety at the start as he announces his abdication, nor by the lovelorn “conversations” he has with his deceased wife Anastasia. Terrible by name, terrible by nature. It’s not long before Ivan is back in power and “cleansing” the land of all those who dare to question his rule — and many who don’t. I should make clear that the executions, of which there are several, are accompanied by very convincing sound effects of blood-letting, which may upset some listeners. As with modern masters of destruction (think Hitler and Ceausescu), Ivan the Terrible is only able to get away with his brutal rule because he’s surrounded by men who will support him. So, how will he react when his own son questions him? Not well!

AMBRIDGE DIARY

The Archers this week... Only in The Archers could a legal drama hinge on evidence about the day somebody was attacked by a bull. So prepare yourself for recollections of that fateful Tony v Otto encounter from 2014 as Pat is questioned at the family court hearing. Will it have a bearing on who gets to look after Henry and Jack? At Grange Farm, Eddie is packing up. With their move date almost upon them, Joe’s spirits sink to a new low. Can’t Oliver and Caroline just let him have a small annexe? All he needs are some ferrets and the odd glass of cider. He’s very low maintenance. And Josh gets an eyeful when he goes in search of his phone charger at Rickyard Cottage. Will word of Pip’s romance spread? DAVID BROWN

ALLSTAR; ALAMY; POLARIS/EYEVINE

T

Radio

Poldark Sunday 9.00pm BBC1

The Great British Bake Off Wednesday 8.00pm BBC1

123

TO SUBSCRIBE TO RADIO TIMES Call the hotline 01795 414750† quoting RTFIRE Or order online at www.buysubscriptions.com/RT-FIRE Terms and conditions: Offer ends Saturday 31st December 2016 and is open to new Direct Debit subscribers only. Allow four to six weeks for delivery of your Fire Tablet. Should the Fire Tablet be unavailable we reserve the right to offer an alternative gift of equal value. *The Basic Annual Rate of Radio Times is £131 per annum. This price is for 51 issues, including the Christmas double issue, and a contribution towards postage. All savings are calculated as a percentage of this Basic Annual Rate. Offer is valid for UK delivery addresses only and is subject to availability. Overseas rates are available on request. †Calls will cost 7p per minute, plus your telephone company’s access charge. Calls will be charged at your local rate, calls from mobiles may vary. ‡ Your personal information will be used as set out in our Privacy Policy, which can be viewed at immediate.co.uk/privacy-policy. Please give us your email address to receive special offers and promotions from Immediate Media/Radio Times. You may unsubscribe at any time.


To advertise in Mountain Biking UK please contact Oli Pascoe on 0117 300 8278 or oli.pascoe@immediate.co.uk

DIRECTORY

TRAIL RIDING, COACHING, RETAIL, ACCOMMODATION

LOADS OF OFFERS AVAILABLE IN STORE

201â&#x20AC;&#x201C;203 Albany Road, Earlsdon, Coventry, CV5 6NF Tel: 024 7667 3353 Kmslr_gl @gic Qigjjq Am_afgle Dpmk Rfc Cvncprq

RIOROZ R K F 6 N F D )LQG \RXU 6LQJOHWU Qsppcw Fgjjq + Hsqr Mlc Fmsp dpmk Jmlbml uuu,qglejcrp_aiqafmmj,am,si

+ YOU REALLY NEED THIS...

Flandria Custom Name Decal Set: £8 Always wanted your name on your bike just like the pros? Now you can. These ultra high quality decals DUHDYDLODEOHLQ¯YHGLIIHUHQWIRQWVZLWKRSWLRQV IRUWKHFRORXUWRR7KH\FRPHLQDVWDQGDUGSDFN RIDVHWRIRUDVHWYDOXHSDFN

www.flandriabikes.com

Afan Valley Cottages Self-catering accommodation near the Afan Forest trails. Cottage sleeps 7 £240w/e £400/week. House sleeps 12 £360 w/e £500/week. www.afanvalleycottages.co.uk

Snowdonia Cottages Self catering in Blaenau Ffestiniog and Trawsfynydd. Blaenau sleeps 5, £225-£425/week, £180-£280/weekend. Traws sleeps max 8, £320-£500/week, £200-£300/weekend. www.llwyncelyncottage.co.uk or ring Hugh on 07958928096 for more details. All have free WiFi, Freesat TV, DVD and secure bike storage.


>FATBARCARBON

>INTEGRA

1XR>

www.renthalcycling.com


PRESENTS

over 100 must-have gift ideas for every mountain biker


Showing Cycling Mode

Showing Running Mode

MICRO COLOUR GPS WATCH

MICRO GPS WATCH

£184.99 with Heart Rate strap

£129.99

BAR MOUNT INCLUDED

Whether you’re a multi-sport athlete, or an all-day adventurer the new Lezyne Micro GPS Watches have features for every occasion. Including bike and run modes for general metrics and wireless connectivity, hike mode for steps and distance, and lifestyle mode as a day-to-day wearable, this watch does it all. The water-resistant design keeps you worry free when things get wet, and the exceptionally long battery life will make sure to keep you going all day.

KEY GPS FEATURES:

CEDRIC GRACIA MOUNTAIN BIKE LEGEND PHOTO: SEBAS

Strava Live Segments

Turn-by-Turn Navigation

Customisable Data Fields

3KRQH 1RWL¿FDWLRQV

Bread Crumb Map

Lezyne Track

The term STRAVA, the Strava logo and other Strava logos and product and service names are the exclusive trademarks of, and are owned by, Strava, Inc.

PROUDLY DISTRIBUTED BY UPGRADE BIKES LTD. | INFO@UPGRADEBIKES.CO.UK | 01403 711 611 EVERYTHING WE DO IS BY LEZYNE


The trouble with putting a gift guide together is that as you’re doing it, you realise that, actually, you don’t want to buy any of the stuff for your mates or family – you want it all for yourself! Which, we appreciate, isn’t exactly entering into the spirit of things, but it’s the hand us mountain bikers are dealt. We just love thinking about new gear we want to own. So with that in mind, welcome to this all-inclusive mountain biker’s gift and gear guide, full of great ideas for your loved ones – or possibly for you to treat yourself to over the festive period! We’ve picked out some of the best gear we’ve seen over the past few months across a range of budgets and riding preferences, as well as some cool stuff that we think will complete any mountain biker’s armoury. The good news is we’re all spoilt for choice when it comes to the truly great kit available to us. The bad news is how the hell do you afford it all? We’ll leave that one with you…

DANNY WALTER EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

GET IN TOUCH! mbuk@immediate.co.uk http://twitter.com/mbukmagazine www.facebook.com/mbukmag

3

3


Great gear ideas whatever your favoured mountain bike discipline

Contents £0-£10 GIFTS ................................ 06 £10-£40 GIFTS ............................... 08 £40-£70 GIFTS ............................... 10 £70+ GIFTS .................................... 12 JERSEYS ......................................... 16 MULTI-TOOLS .................................. 19 RIDING GLASSES ............................ 20 RIDING SHORTS .............................. 22 OBJECTS OF DESIRE #1 .................. 24 BIKE COMPUTERS ........................... 27 WINTER GLOVES ............................. 28 OBJECTS OF DESIRE #2 .................. 30 LIGHTS ............................................ 32 REAR LIGHTS .................................. 34 OBJECTS OF DESIRE #3 .................. 36 GOGGLES ......................................... 38 HYDRATION PACKS ......................... 40 OBJECTS OF DESIRE #4 .................. 42 SUMMER GLOVES ............................ 43 JACKETS ........................................ 44 OBJECTS OF DESIRE #5 .................. 46 TRAIL ESSENTIALS ........................ 50 DOWNHILL ESSENTIALS .................. 52 ENDURO ESSENTIALS ...................... 54 WOMEN’S ESSENTIALS ................... 56 KIDS’ ESSENTIALS .......................... 58 WINTER ESSENTIALS ..................... 60 GIFT EXPERIENCES ........................ 62 REAR-END RANDOMS ..................... 64

04

Look out for our specially featured ‘Objects of desire’ dotted throughout this guide


Pick from the best gear and accessories you can buy in different categories

If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got a budget to stick to, check out our gifts in different price ranges

05


Under a tenner 03

Proof that you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to spend a fortune to bag a great gift, these will make perfect stocking ďż˝illers

01

04

03

02 05

07 06

06


01/ Gorilla Tape Camo £6.99 You never know when you might need to bodge something back together with duct tape and this stuff from Gorilla Glue is seriously tough. It also works as tubeless rim tape, to give your bike some hidden camo cool.

05

12

www.gorillaglue.com

02/ Hope Shifter bike wash £5.99 Riding through the UK winter can be a seriously muddy affair, so it stands to reason that top UK brand Hope should know a thing or two about how to clean the stuff off. This spray makes washing your bike a whole lot easier, maybe even fun. OK, maybe not fun. www.hopetech.com

07

03/ Pedro’s Green Fizz bike wash £6.50 This biodegradable, solvent-free, foaming bike wash will leave even carbon frames sparkling clean.

06/ Poler Camp Vibes mug £13 Enjoy a brew on your next outdoor adventure in one of these enamel mugs with a stainless steel lip. It’s the only way to drink outdoors!

www.silverfish-uk.com

www.thebrokedown palace.com

04/ Break Fluid BFGT coffee £7.50 for 250g One for the coffee cognoscenti, this is a blend of Colombian Augustino Forest and Brazilian Fazenda Londrina beans, grown in a socially and environmentally responsible way. Apparently it tastes like a “chocolate bomb with medium acidity, toffee, citrus and nuts”. Nice. www.breakfluid.cc

05/ Muc-Off goggle cleaning kit £10 Pop this cleaning kit in your pack and use the special spray and microfibre cloth to keep your riding glasses or goggles sparkly clear.

07/ Fabric cageless water bottle £11.99 (600ml) If you’re reluctant to interrupt the smooth, flowing shape of your frame with an ugly bottle cage, then this is the solution for you. Somerset-based Fabric have come up with a clever design based around a bottle with hidden lugs and two small studs that you screw into your bike’s bottle mounts. www.fabric.cc

www.muc-off.com

07


ÂŁ10-ÂŁ40 gifts

03

Some seriously cool kit to treat your beloved biker friend to. Or failing that, get it for yourself and get them a voucher!

01

02

07

06

10

09

11 12

08


04

01/ Velo Culture The Flatty wallet £22.50 Finished in smooth inner tube, this is a slimline wallet for the discerning cyclist.

05/ Fabric CO2 All-in-One Inflation Kit £19.99 Includes two CO2 cartridges to get you reinflated in a jiffy at the trailside.

www.facebook.com/

www.fabric.cc

VeloCulture

05

08

02/ Bike Balls rear light £19.99 This “scrotally awesome” silicone sack dangles below your saddle, amusing onlookers while keeping you visible. Change modes with a gentle squeeze. www.balls.bike

03/ Crankalicious Special Stages gift box £35 The perfect gift for the OCD “cycle cleaning enthusiast” in your life – seven little bottles of joy. www.crankalicious.com

13

04/ Velo Culture Less Waist belt £24.50 Made from old inner tubes, this has a stitched pattern that looks surprisingly like leather. Hey, it would go well with your wallet!

06/ Niner Pedal Damn It T-shirts £20 men’s, £24 women’s Proclaim your love of 29ers with one of these casual tees. www.jungleproducts. co.uk

07/ Mudhugger Shorty mudguard £18 Fit this to your fork to avoid a facefull of crud on winter rides. www.themudhugger. co.uk

08/ Niner PDI wool socks £13.99 These lightweight socks read ‘Pedal Damn It’ – just in case you forget. www.jungleproducts. co.uk

www.facebook.com/

09/ Ergon GA2 grips £24.99 These feel supercomfy and come in a veritable rainbow of cool colours.

VeloCulture

www.extrauk.co.uk

10/ Santa Cruz Pompom beanie £17 Join the bobble brigade and stay totally toasty this winter with this double-thickness woolly hat. www.jungleproducts. co.uk

11/ Niner stainless steel pint glass £11.99 Why would you want a steel glass? So it bounces, rather than breaks, when you drop it, of course. www.jungleproducts. co.uk

12/ CamelBak Podium Race bottle £10.99 Clever tech allows you to lock out this bottle’s self-sealing nozzle (and remove it for cleaning). www.zyrofisher.co.uk

13/ MarshGuard Slapper Tape 14 Protect your pride and joy’s stays from chain slap with this roll of mastic tape. www.marshguard.com

09


£40-70 gifts We’re getting into ‘this is your main present’ territory here, but by golly, won’t they be happy with any one of these!

02 01

04 04

05

06

*

DE! PS INSI UTE MA FRPUEELL�OUT RO 4

BRITA

IN’S BE

LIN ST�SEL

G MO

UNTA

IN BIKI

GAZIN NG MA

E

07

335 ISSUE 2016 MBER NOVE

EST NE W K UK’SBIKE PVEATORRIAIDELS U HA 7 TR

XXXX XXXX

2016

ED IN PRINT

THE

UK £4.99

YO 41 WHYE FLY�UP TH

ur

stYo boo

ls skil

OLESTIS THE COKING WHYND IN BIE�BIKES! BRA CKING BA

ENCE NFID ITH CO ER W FAST SPEED T DAY G RIDEMP FORE AN UPLIF G PUAXIMIS GM

ZONE DROP

R OPPE ST DR N BUY THE BEYOU CA 15 OFPOSTS

E AVE TH ON TO H EVER IDE HOW T BLASTTNIGHT R BESUR NEX YO

7 201 OR ES F BIK

T MOS SIX O

10

F NEX

T YE A

O R’S M

D! E T N WA ST

RTA IMPO

NT N

EW R

IDES

ST OOLE IS THE C ING ! WHYND IN BIKE�BIKES BRAACKING B


03 #GETSPRUNG

#GETSPRUNG U TSPR #GE

05

01/ Mons Royale Classic T-shirt £54.99 A merino wool tech tee made with regard for the environment, workers and even the sheep too! www.monsroyale.com

NG

02/Howies In Bicycles We Trust crew sweater £45 Made from organic cotton and polyester, this crew neck sweater will be a Christmas jumper the recipient actually wants to wear! www.howies.co.uk

08

03/ Sprung Suspension gift voucher £Various If your fork or shock is feeling ropey, it’s probably time to get it serviced. Sprung Suspension will sort it out and you can get vouchers for any type of service or value. www.sprungsuspension. com

04/ Prakti charcoal stove £64.99 Based on Indian street-food stoves, this little beauty is robust, compact and quick to get going, and doubles up as a small grill. www.thecharcoal

05/ Patagonia Arbor 26l backpack £60 With classic looks and a price tag that isn’t going to make your eyes water, this Patagonia backpack is just the ticket for keeping your valuables safe.

burnercompany.co.uk

www.eu.patagonia.com

05/Ahearne Spaceman hip flask and cage £40 Although we don’t recommend getting tipsy while riding, this hip flask can be filled with the beverage of your choice and attached to your bike ready for some post-ride socialising!

08/Airshot tubeless inflator £49.99 Now that tubeless set-ups are becoming more common, you need a way to get your tyres seated on your rims. An air compressor is the best way to do this, but if your budget won’t stretch, the Airshot makes things much easier than just using a track pump.

www.charliethe bikemonger.com

06/ MBUK subscription £45.49 C’mon, let’s be honest here, this is the only present you’ll really ever need – a year-long subscription to MBUK! All this great content delivered to your door every month before the normal folk in the shops see it.

www.airshotltd.com

www.buysubscriptions. com

11


£70+ gifts If money is no object but ideas are thin on the ground, these piggy bank breakers should �it the bill 01

02

03

06 05

12


04

04/ NutriBullet 600 Series blender £89.99 You can make great-tasting post-ride recovery snacks with the NutriBullet to fulfil those ‘gains’!

www.scott-sports.com

05/ Patagonia Nano Puff jacket £160 This eco-friendly, semi-recycled PrimaLoft jacket will keep you warm and dry(ish) during the bitter winter months.

02/ Ultimate Ears Megaboom Bluetooth speaker £249.99 This speaker brings the party with 90dBA of bassy beats. It claims to be waterproof and durable enough for any heavy-handed mountain biker.

07 08

09

01/ Scott Trail MTN Dryo Plus jacket £184.99 With a DRYOsphere 3L fabric, this jacket is sure to keep you dry when it pours. Breathable and windproof too, it’s the perfect companion for rides out into the wild.

www.ultimateears.com

03/ Bose QuietControl 30 wireless headphones £229.95 If the world just gets too noisy (er, see above!) these headphones will help quieten it all down with your favourite tunes. www.bose.co.uk

www.buynutribullet. co.uk

07/ GoPro HERO5 Black camera £349.99 The daddy of action cameras, this latest GoPro is the perfect thing for capturing all those priceless moments you and your mates have on the trails and beyond! www.gopro.com

www.eu.patagonia.com

08/ Knog Blinder Road lights twin-pack £119.99 Bright enough to get you home in an emergency, these are worth keeping on your bike if you love night riding. www.silverfish-uk.com

06/ Oakley EVZero Range Prizm Trail glasses £140 These glasses don’t just protect your vision, they visibly enhance it – Oakley’s Prizm Trail lens is seriously impressive. www.uk.oakley.com

09/ Silca HX-One Allen key set £125 Made from S2 tool steel and coated with thin-dense chrome, these Allen keys won’t round your bolts out – although at this price you may be a little scared to use them! With their gorgeous design and stylish beech box, they wouldn’t look out of place in a display cabinet. www.saddleback.co.uk

13


35% OFF!

WHY SUBSCRIBE? ›› Save a huge 35% on a subscription to Cycling Plus! Pay just £19.49 every 6 issues by Direct Debit ›› PLUS receive an Airwave Storm track pump worth £24.99 ›› Every issue delivered straight to your door ›› Never miss an action-packed issue again

HURRY OFFER ENDS 06/12/16


SUBSCRIBE AND SAVE 35

PLUS GET A BONUS AIRWAVE STORM TRACK PUMP! WORTH

£24.99!

• Heavy-duty steel barrel and base • Two-tone soft-touch handle • Dual head for Presta and Schrader valves • Mid-mounted gauge • 1m hose length • Max pressure: 160psi

3 EASY WAYS TO SUBSCRIBE! 1. Order online at buysubscriptions.com/CPP009 2. Call our hotline on 0844 815 5873 (please quote code CPP009) 3. Complete the Direct Debit form opposite Lines are open 8am-8pm weekdays and 9am-1pm Saturday. Overseas orders: Please call +44 1795 412853 or visit www.buysubscriptions.com


CLOTHING

Riding Jerseys A comfy top that's able to wick away sweat can make a big difference to your ride

ALPINESTARS DROP 2 LS The Drop 2 has a pocket that’s big enough for an mp3 player and headphone routing built in (including a hook inside the collar that doubles as a hanging loop) – a good sign, because even if you don’t listen to music when you ride it means someone has thought about the details. The fit is quite close on the body but there's plenty of room where it matters – in the shoulders – and a back that drops sensibly low. The fabric is slightly on the heavier side but strategically placed mesh inserts provide a cooling balance, which makes for comfortable durability. We especially like the discreet side pockets, which have a vertical entry that not only keeps the contents secure but makes for easy access even when wearing a pack. Finally, a handy lens wipe has been worked into the design. £49.99 www.i-ride.co.uk

16

Buying tips

BONTRAGER RHYTHM 3/4 The 3/4-sleeved Rhythm feels a lot lighter than you might expect. The shape of the arms and shoulders allows for movement rather than simply relying on the stretch of the fabric, and the use of flatlock seams throughout underlines the high-quality construction. It's a hard-working, comfortable all-rounder. £39.99 www.trekbikes.com

Some jerseys are better at wicking away sweat than others. Look for a raised texture on the inside, which will ensure any moisture is held away from your skin. Fabric weight is also a consideration. Heavier material gives more protection but mesh allows more airflow. The happy medium is a solid knit through the body with mesh inserts under the arms or through the sides.

ENDURA MT500 PRINT II This is a limited edition shirt with great lightweight performance, which is achieved thanks to the incredibly light and silky polyester fabric. The material wicks efficiently and dries quickly too. The fit is slim but easy – ideal for summer riding, but also good underneath a midlayer in cooler weather. £34.99 www.endura.co.uk


Know your jargon… ANTIBACTERIAL

MADISON ROAM This is more of a tech T-shirt, with a dropped tail to cover your back and raglan sleeve construction for better movement and flexibility on the bike. There are mesh panels under the arms for ventilation and a lens cleaner sewn in. The fabric is light, with a soft feel, and sits comfortably against the skin. £29.99 www.madison.co.uk

It’s bacteria that break down your sweat and cause the smell that’s the curse of manmade fibres. Antibacterial treatments combat this (but won’t hold out forever).

WICKING This is the ability of a fabric to move sweat through its fibres to its outer surface, where it can dry quickly, preventing you getting the chills.

7MESH ELDORADO 7Mesh are still relative newcomers to the world of mountain biking but their products are making waves due to an uncompromising attitude towards fit and fabric, which translates into great comfort and outstanding performance on the bike. Despite its straightforward, T-shirt-like appearance, the Eldorado is no exception and can move from summer trails to pub to lazy hike without missing a beat or looking out of place anywhere. The fabric is a lightweight, textured-inner polyester engineered to transfer moisture away from your skin fast. To be as efficient as possible in terms of wicking, the knit material has no stretch in the usual form of elastane to provide movement. Instead, the cut is articulated, with movement coming from the shape. The sleeves move with you to sit perfectly in the forward position and the easy fit looks cool with jeans but doesn’t bag when you lean forward on the bike. And with our favourite flatlock seams, the manufacturing quality is second to none. Best of all, when you lift your arms, the body doesn’t move at all. £40 www.7mesh.com

POC RESISTANCE STRONG Yes it’s pricey, but that’s down to the exceptional fabric. The body of the jersey is made from a wicking nylon that’s light and sits almost unnoticeably against the skin, while the shoulders and outer arms use a jacquard knit for reinforcement and to increase durability. The fabric is also treated with Polygiene for longer freshness. £78 www.2pure.co.uk

17


Multi-Tools Perfect for stashing in your pack and getting you out of trouble on the trails

SKS TOM 18 Solidly-built with some really nice features. The Allen keys range from 2.5mm to 8mm, are well finished and long enough to deal with fiddly situations. The chain tool is easy to use and very effective. The orange plastic widget lets you securely stash a spare chain-joining pin for a Shimano chain. £26.99 www.zyrofisher.co.uk

CRANKBROTHERS M17

LEZYNE V 11 The V 11 is slim and light, weighing only 107g. It comes in a neat case and has a solid, well-made feel despite its size. Our experience with Lezyne’s tools tells us it’ll withstand years of abuse too. The chain tool is very effective and easy to use. The chrome-vanadium tool bits include Allen keys from 2mm to 8mm, T25 and T30 Torx keys, and a flat-head screwdriver. £27.99 www.upgradebikes.co.uk

19

CrankBrothers have laid out the Allen keys (2mm to 8mm) in ascending order for easy access and use. The tool’s robust 90mm-long body lets you get plenty of torque down. The m17 feels solid and the tool bits are well made to fit snugly into bolts without any play. Textured sections on each side of the body aid grip. £24.99 www.extrauk.co.uk

19


Riding Glasses Not only can these help improve your vision on the trail but they’ll keep the crud out of your eyes too

MADISON RECON Three Carl Zeiss lenses are included, making these year-round glasses. The vented frame and lens ensure they de-mist as soon as you’re moving. The fit is snug, which helps them stay in place, while the fit and lens quality easily match some glasses that cost considerably more. £79.99 www.madison.co.uk

OAKLEY RADAR EV PITCH

SMITH PIVLOCK V2 MAX In terms of uninterrupted vision, nothing here gets close to the Smiths. These have a ‘Max’ lens shape which adds extra coverage, and when you’re hunched over the bar, the frameless design means there’s nothing to see but the trail ahead. You get three lenses included when you buy and there’s plenty of rubber on the legs and nosepiece to keep them in place. They’re extremely lightweight, which makes them great for all-day rides. £120 www.smithoptics.com

20

The slight curve of the Pitch lens’s lower sections means there are no confusing flashes of ground at the bottom of your vision. And thanks to cutouts at the top, misting isn’t a problem either. There are loads of lens options available and rubber ear socks mean they stay in place no matter what you’re doing on the bike. £145 www.oakley.com

20


21


CLOTHING

Trail Shorts You'll be amazed at the difference a comfy pair of tech shorts can make to your ride

ALPINESTARS DROP 2 The first thing we noticed about the Alpinestars shorts was the fit – it’s incredibly good. Move your legs and the body doesn’t shift at all. This is down to the stretch Y insert and back yoke, which allow the legs to move independently without pulling at the waist. The shaping is very good indeed and, together with the lightweight feel with extra venting, makes these a great choice, particularly in the summer. We’ll be underpinning them with something warmer to keep them going through winter though, because we like them so much. Ideally we’d prefer a higher-spec liner short (though we appreciate it’d add to the cost) because it’s not quite as light as the outer shell. At least the pad is plush where it should be. Although not cheap, this is a practical and comfortable liner/outer pairing. £94.99 www.i-ride.co.uk

22

Buying tips

GIRO TRUANT Simple and understated, these shorts have an impeccable fit, with a high-backed waist and spot-on rise measurement. Features include deep hip pockets, a discreet zipped one in the side seam and a phone pocket. There’s also external hook-and-loop waist adjustment. They feel durable and ride light. £74.99 www.zyrofisher.co.uk

Check that the back of the waist stays securely in place when you lean forward. Look at the length of the front rise too – is there two much fabric there, does it bunch or is it so low you’re in danger of scaring the wildlife? Waist adjustment is a useful feature – are there Velcro tabs at the side to let you cinch things in?

RACE FACE AMBUSH The cut of the Ambush shorts is neat on the hips and the details are well thought through, including angled pockets, inner waistband adjustment and long easy-grab zip pulls. The abrasion resistant, DWR coated fabric is heavy but affords useful protection when riding typical UK woodland trails. £69.95 www.silverfish-uk.com


Know your jargon… LINER

DAKINE DESCENT Although the fabric pretty much stands up on its own, the fit of these shorts is still really good. There are angled pockets for easy on-the-bike access and gripper strips on the back of the waist to keep everything in place. The shell is lined with a wicking mesh fabric, which ups the comfort factor further. £75 www.eu.dakine.com

Inner short with a synthetic chamois pad. Usually detachable for washing or use with other shorts. An attached liner is less versatile but can make for a better fit.

ARTICULATED CUT Design that follows the shape of the body as it moves. Usually more complex to manufacture, so more expensive. But comfier when you’re riding for a long time.

7MESH RECON Pared back in terms of design, with just two discreet hand pockets, these shorts have been considered down to the last detail. The high price is due partly to the Gore Windstopper membrane, which is windproof and highly water resistant but very breathable. The outer fabric is a durable woven nylon and the inner is a soft textured material. We’ve worn these in temperatures from below zero to the warmth of an average UK summer day and they’ve remained remarkably consistent. Although the fabric isn’t rated as fully waterproof, we’ve yet to get wet. The construction quality here is so good that you could wear the Recons inside out and they’d still look better than many other shorts. Also, the fit isn’t just exceptional, it’s perfect. It works because the shorts have an articulated cut – that is, one designed around the riding position. The dropped front knee works with pads and adds coverage when pedalling. Somehow these shorts look and feel even better when riding, but it’s a recommendation that comes at a price. £130 www.7meshinc.com

MESH LINING

POC RESISTANCE STRONG The cut of these is excellent, while the side panels are made from an abrasionresistant ceramic-coated material. The combination of fabrics, which includes a more durable seat panel, is exceptional, and we like the way the mesh lining changes to a smooth material over the knee for friction-free pedalling. £115 www.2pure.co.uk

Not to be confused with a liner, the mesh lines the inside of the short and can’t be removed. Most often used to provide additional comfort in heavier weight, more protective shorts.

23


esire D f o t c Obje

Cane Creek dbair cs £485�539 Top-performing rear shock that could transform your bike Cane Creek’s highly tunable and excellently damped DBair shock is one of the best performers out there on the descents and the clever Climb Switch (CS) means you can get back up the hill efficiently too. It’s available with a regular air can or an Extra Volume (XV) version which gives a more linear stroke that’s better suited to bikes with a highly progressive leverage ratio, such as some Santa Cruz and Intense offerings. Whichever you opt for, it’ll take the smoothness and support of your suspension to a new level. www.extrauk.co.uk

24


FOCUS

F R O M T H E M A K ERS O F

M AG A Z I N E

THE AMAZING BRAIN In this special issue, the editors of BBC Focus Magazine reveal the extraordinary abilities of your brain, the latest research into mental health, and how we can make ourselves smarter in the future. Inside you will find: X The scientific verdict on current brain research X Expert opinion from world-leading scientists X Straightforward tips to keep your brain sharp ONLY X Insights on the future of artificial intelligence

£9.99 PLUS POSTAGE*

THE FOCUS COLLECTION

The fine line between what is considered sane and insane

The gadgets and techniques to make you smarter

Revealing the inner workings of your mind

Order online www.buysubscriptions.com/brain or call us on 0844 844 0257 + and quote DBRHA16 + Calls will cost 7p per minute plus your telephone company’s access charge. Lines are open 8am-8pm weekdays & 9am-1pm Saturday. * Subscribers to BBC Focus Magazine receive FREE UK postage on this special edition. Prices including postage are: £11.49 for all other UK residents, £12.99 for Europe and £13.49 for Rest of World (please note this title is not available for direct order in the US or Canada but is available in all good retailers now). All orders subject to availability. Please allow up to 21 days for delivery.


Bike Computers These come with loads of useful functions to help track speed, distance or even advanced training data

LEZYNE MINI GPS Great for the technophobes or weight weenies out there. It weighs just 36g including the mount and set-up faff is minimal. Just strap it to your bar (31.8mm or 35mm) with the included O-rings and hit the trails. It’s solid over rough terrain and provides all the key data, although doesn’t feature heart-rate info. £109.99 www.upgradebikes.co.uk

GARMIN EDGE 520

CICLOSPORT CM 109 The CM 109 is right at the cheapest end of the bike computer spectrum but is still capable of offering help when navigating. The wired spoke-magnet sensor records your current speed and total as well as trip distances. You can zero the trip distance independently of the total distance to measure individual stages and ensure you don’t overrun a leg of your route and miss an important landmark or junction. It features a quarter-turn base which will hold the unit securely even when riding over rough terrain. There’s no GPS with this though. £10.99 www.hotlines-uk.com

27

This feature-laden GPS unit allows you to upload your ride to Garmin Connect, which is easily linked to your Strava account. Add Strava live segments and the Edge 520 will display them as you ride. It’s easy to navigate, and up to 10 data fields can be displayed simultaneously. The 31.8mm bar mount is sturdy too. £239.99 www.madison.co.uk

27


Winter Gloves The right combination of a little extra insulation with secure grip can make all the difference in cold conditions

POC INDEX WINDBREAKER These are warm enough for most winter days in the UK thanks to the windproof upper and long neoprene cuff. They’re not bogged down with excessive insulation, so they’re really comfy on the bar, with a sleek fit and bunch-free palm. The palm is grippy and pretty tough too. £40 www.2pure.co.uk

100% BRISKER

SCOTT RC PREMIUM LF With a tight fit and thin palm, the RC Premium LFs provide the most sensitive bar feel of all the gloves here. The highly pre-curved shape and snug cut make them really comfortable too, with no bunching of the palm when you’re grabbing the bar. The gel pad is small enough that it doesn’t affect feedback or grip, and the fingertips work on touchscreens. £37 www.scott-sports.com

28

The thin pre-curved palm doesn’t bunch up, grips even when sodden and gives a really direct, sensitive feel. While the softshell upper keeps them cosy even on cold, wet rides, they remain beautifully dexterous and tactile, whether riding hard or sending a text. The low price is just a bonus. £19.99 www.decade-europe.com

28


29


30


esire D f o t c Obje

Sram x01 Eagle £1,005 Super-sized (and pricey) single-ring transmission with the range of a 2x set-up Apart from the super-high price, what’s so special about SRAM’s new Eagle transmissions? Well, not only are there 12 sprockets on the cassette, but the biggest one will challenge your dinner plates for size – with 50 teeth. Why? Well, bigger ranges mean more options, which means you can go faster or climb harder. Trail riders get the X01 Eagle group, while weight weenies can drool over XX1 Eagle, which is lighter, less burly and even more expensive (£1,173). www.zyrofisher.co.uk

31


ACCESSORIES

Trail Lights The best kit to extend your personal daylight hours and keep you pinned on the trails

MAGICSHINE MJ900 Cheap lights have been getting better for ages, but this tiny lamp looks and performs like it should cost two or three times more. The super-lightweight ‘Cyclops’ head has deep cooling fins for efficient running and secure metal hooks for the universal O-ring bar mount. The theoretical 1,200-lumen output gives a tight-focused beam that’s clean and clear enough for predictable illumination when tackling challenging trails. The mode-change button is nice and big for easy switching even with fat winter gloves, but beware the flash and ‘off’ settings in the scrolling power menu. The tiny hardshell battery can be tucked anywhere and run times are reasonable without much fade. It’s covered by a one-year warranty, although our samples have always been totally trouble-free. £49.98 www.magicshineuk.co.uk

32

Buying tips

EXPOSURE MAXX D MK9 The MAXX D has a sensitive acceleration and gradientdriven ‘Reflex Plus’ mode for automatic output selection. Or you can program various mode menus via a big stainless steel button. The powerful four-LED beam gives good spread and reach for flat-out riding, and it’s easy to check battery life. £344.95 www.exposurelights.com

More power needs more energy, so what really matters when looking for a light is that it lasts as long as you need it to, even if a mechanical emergency puts you way behind schedule. Not just now either, but after months of use when the battery’s lost some capacity or winter temperatures reduce run times.

MTB BATTERIES LUMENATOR This light’s 2,000-lumen output doesn’t look as bright on the trail as it sounds but is still enough for most rides, especially with the impressive run times from the battery. The luminous green mount bands are easily visible and you get a helmet mount too. The strobe mode uses a separate button to avoid accidental activation. £105 www.mtbbatteries.co.uk


Know your jargon… LED

MOON METEOR STORM PRO This all-in-one light not only looks techy but provides impressive power on the trail for its size and cost. It has a scrolling five-step menu, while power setting and run time are communicated via an LED panel. The supplied bracket fits 31.8mm bars but there’s a 35mm option too. £125 www.raleigh.co.uk

Light emitting diode – a solid-state semi-conductor that glows very brightly when electricity is passed through it.

LUMENS The standard measurement for light output. Many brands quote theoretical maximum figures rather than actual power though.

GEMINI TITAN (6 CELL) This unit features three Gemini Duo lights side by side in a shared housing, with the six LEDs pumping out up to 4,000 lumens. The wide spacing of the LEDs creates an astonishing blaze of broadly spread but extremely far-reaching light. The 40 per cent ‘medium’ setting is more than enough for most trail situations, with an instant-connection remote switch making mode changes easy. Each mode

can be programmed in 10 per cent steps if the default doesn’t suit you. The two O-ring mounts at either end of the lamp come with taller spacers so the centre clears bigger stem faceplates, even on minimal-rise bars. Charging is relatively fast too, and there’s an eight-cell battery model that adds half an hour of run time for only £10 more. All in all, this is a bit of a game changer. £289.99 www.i-ride.co.uk

LITHIUM ION The most commonly used high capacity, low weight, rechargeable battery type for bike lights.

GLOWORM CX TRAIL An impressive amount of light and tech is packed into this well-priced all-in-one unit. It comes with a powerful, far-reaching, double-spot lens but you can swap to a supplied wider lens for a broader, more useful beam. Run times are good for its size and the design is pretty bombproof and reliable. £134.99 www.ison-distribution.co.uk

33


Rear Lights Ensure you’re clearly visible when making your way to and from the trails with these handy lights

BLACKBURN CENTRAL 50 This light’s standout feature is its claimed ability to maintain a constant output of 50 lumens for three hours. It’s easy to operate, because the face of the light itself is the switch. The large surface area means good side visibility and it attaches securely to your bike, bag or helmet with a robust clip. £34.99 www.zyrofisher.co.uk

MOON COMET�X PRO

KNOG BLINDER MOB FOUR EYES The compact Knog has a robust rubber casing that’s claimed to be 100 per cent waterproof. Three sizes of rubber band are included for fitting it to your bike or helmet, and it’s secured by a small clasp that’s easy to use. It has five modes and a claimed maximum output of 44 lumens. In ‘Eco Flash’ mode, Knog say the MOB is good for 53 to 66 hours. £37.99 www.silverfish-uk.com

34

The Moon offers the most options for mounting to your bike, bag, helmet, belt or even the underside of your saddle using a unique bracket. It has seven lighting modes, with a claimed maximum constant output of 40 lumens. The light even switches to a more economical flashing mode when the battery is nearly dead to get you home safely. £30.99 www.raleigh.co.uk

34


esire D f o t c Obje

Hope Tech Enduro–Pro 4 £140 front/£250 rear Versatile hoops with tons of options and that trademark Hope buzz Write a list of British component manufacturers and Hope will be right near the top. Their Pro series hubs are as famous for their loud buzz as they are for their durability and adaptability. The Pro 4s are the latest generation, and here they’re laced to Hope’s 23mm wide (internal), tubeless compatible Tech Enduro rims. Every option under the sun is available, including standard, Boost and 150mm spacing, 26, 650b and 29in diameters, and three different freehub types. There are also six colours available – ideal if you like a pimped-out ride. www.hopetech.com

36


37


Goggles For keeping grime out of your eyes when going fast and helping to protect them from damage

100% ACCURI These are seriously comfy, with a great field of vision and a raised brow to the frame, which helps keep it out of sight. You shouldn’t have any issues with fogging and the lens is pretty resilient to scratches too. The wide silicone gripper strip on the inside of the strap, prevents slippage. £34.99 www.decade-europe.com

JULBO BANG MTB

SCOTT HUSTLE MX The Hustles are a very comfy pair of goggles, thanks in part to the flexible frame and super-soft three-layer face foam. They have a clear, distortion free, tear-off-ready lens which can stand up to more than its fair share of abuse and numerous cleanings. The sliding strap adjuster has indents, which makes altering the size while wearing gloves a bit easier. £54.99 www.scott-sports.com

38

Although the frame looks basic it does the job and, most importantly, houses Julbo’s ‘Zebra Light’ photochromic lens. Alongside its excellent clarity, this fancy double lens adapts rapidly to changing light conditions without you noticing. The triple-layer face foam is comfy and venting helps prevent fogging. £130 www.julbo.com

Ultimate Gift Guide 38


Hydration Packs The minimalist way to carry your drink and any essential kit for your ride

USWE A3 CHALLENGER This is a really compact pack aimed at enduro racers. Each of the four chunky, stretchy straps is adjustable, so it’s easy to get a comfy fit. The secondary tool pocket is detachable and it’s generally very secure so you can forget you’re wearing it on descents and focus on going fast. £79.99 www.decade-europe.com

SHIMANO UNZEN U2

EVOC CC 3L STAGE The little EVOC has some great features, including a neatly tucked away helmet net and a phone-friendly fleecy upper pocket. It also has a nifty ‘Air Circulation’ system, which raises the pack off your back to avoid heat build-up. The Brace Link straps are very comfy and great for all-day riding adventures. £89.95 www.silverfish-uk.com

40

This pack has impressive attention to detail. It has an adjustable harness to fit your back, there are tabs for goggles and straps for leg armour. The fit is superb and a clever alloy hook makes it easy to get the pack on and off quickly. We like the detachable waist strap, and the 2l Hydrapak bladder is easy to clean. £49.99 www.madison.co.uk

40


41


sire e D f o t Objec

Renthal Fatbar Carbon 35 ÂŁ135 This wide and fat bar is the ultimate cockpit companion for any aggressive rider Renthalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s original Fatbar was one of the most sought-after bars on the scene due to its great shape, dependable strength and four different rise options. With much technological jiggery pokery, theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve managed to design a 35mm diameter bar that offers the same flex characteristics as their 31.8mm bar and weighs just 225g despite its full 800mm width. www.ison-distribution.com

42


Summer Riding Gloves A good pair of lightweight gloves will keep your hands protected and help increase your grip on the bar

YETI ENDURO The Enduros are light and minimal with a thin, uninterrupted, perforated palm for plenty of feedback through the grips. The stretchy, well-vented upper is incredibly thin and feels soft against the skin. Although they don’t have loads of features, they do have a snot wipe on the thumb. £24.95 www.silverfish-uk.com

FOX RANGER

7IDP TACTIC The thin, perforated palm of these gloves transmits plenty of feedback and doesn’t bunch, which makes a difference on long, sweaty rides. Though the rubber patches on the palm are pretty big, they’re positioned well enough to go unnoticed on the bike. The protection at the outside of the palm is useful if, like us, you hold onto the very end of the grips. A big snot wipe, unrestrictive cuffless entry and a well-fitted upper make the 7iDP gloves hard not to like. £24.99 www.decade-europe.com

43

The Rangers are comfy gloves that cup every contour of your hands. The palm doesn’t bunch, feels great on the bar and has reinforcement in high-wear areas. The stretchy upper is thick enough to shrug off brambles but doesn’t overheat on warm days and the snot wipe on the thumb is handy too. £22 www.foxhead.com/uk

43


CLOTHING

Riding Jackets A must-have for UK mountain bikers to keep the inevitable showers at bay

ENDURA MTR SHELL The first thing we like about this jacket is that it’s navy blue, instead of the usual black. We also like its minimal design – by which we mean there are no pockets. The shape is slim but the jacket moves with you, thanks to the cut of the shoulders and strategically placed stretch inserts. It’s a combination that makes you feel like you’re riding faster just by wearing it! The MTR Shell has all the features you need and none you don’t. The collar is soft-lined, the hood adjustable and removable, with elastic to keep it snugly in place, and there are silicone wear/grip patches on the shoulders plus a dropped tail with a gripper. It travels fast and light but feels substantial enough not to just be an emergency go-to jacket and, what’s more, the MTR Shell also comes in at an affordable price. £119.99 www.endura.co.uk

44

Buying tips

SCOTT TRAIL MTN DRYO 20 The hood on this jacket features soft fabric next to the face and a stretch inner that holds it firmly in place, which we really like. In fact the whole jacket is exceptionally well made, with extra-long vents and deep chest pockets that boast water-resistant zips. The three-layer fabric is smooth and durable. £185 www.scott-sports.com

SWEET PROTECTION DELIRIOUS Generally, the more you spend on a jacket, the higher the quality will be and the more features you’ll find within it. Lots of pockets, zips and construction details also increase the price, so think about what you actually need.

With its deeply dropped back hem and unfussy styling, this is a true mountain bike jacket. The cut goes over winter layers with ease and the adjustable collar and cuffs seal out even the worst weather. The fabric is Gore-Tex Active Shell, and it's a very functional jacket, great for colder months. £239.99 www.sweetprotection.com


Know your jargon… THREE�LAYER FABRIC

7MESH REVELATION The Revelation has a neat, but not skinny, fit through the body and it doesn’t twist round when riding, keeping you warmer and drier. The three-layer Gore-Tex Pro fabric offers good breathability and if you need extra airflow, the back vents are extra-long, with convenient two-way zips. £300 www.7meshinc.com

The waterproof coating or membrane has a backing to provide a smoother inner surface, making for easier layering and extra durability.

ZIPPED VENTS Long zips on the front or side of a jacket that can be opened to create airflow. Particularly useful on heavier and less breathable designs.

GORE ONE GORE�TEX PRO Yes it's expensive, but the fit, performance of the fabric and the specification and construction are outstanding. The Gore-Tex Pro fabric has a firm, durable feel but the inside is smooth and you can layer up easily. Pro was engineered to be the most durable and abrasion-resistant Gore-Tex fabric but also to combine those wear characteristics with high breathability. In line with that, we’ve struggled to make a dent in its fresh-out-of-the-box appearance. Beyond the technical material, the specification makes this a real mountain jacket. The drop tail flips down when you need it but tucks away, securing with poppers, when you don’t. The vents are generously long with a slight diagonal slant from front to back. The chest pocket is especially ingenious – positioned in a flap that folds over the zip, it’s protected but still easily accessible. The soft-lined collar sits perfectly when you’re on the bike and single-handed drawcord operation makes on-the-fly adjustment easy. The cut is just right, with plenty of shoulder movement, and the fold of the sleeves as you adjust them emphasises the attention to detail in its design. £350 www.goreapparel.co.uk

DROP TAIL An extra-long rear hem extending over the back of the saddle. Some jackets have a fold-up version that tucks away, which is handy if you want to pop to the pub.

DAINESE ATMO�LITE The Atmo-Lite is made from a three-layer waterproof material that’s flexible, light to wear and comfortable on bare skin. The easy cut allows for layering, is a good length and we're impressed by its all-round protection. Breathability is very good too – even in warm autumn rain we stayed comfortable. £199.95 www.windwave.co.uk

45


Desire f o t c e j Ob

Öhlins rXF 34 £850 Drool-worthy fork from the Swedish moto suspension meisters Motorbike fans may be familiar with Öhlins, but their involvement in mountain biking has generally been under the radar, with them working quietly with both Cane Creek and Specialized. Now, though, they’ve come out from the shadows with the RXF 34, their first production mountain bike fork. Öhlins reckon the one-piece crown and steerer and single-pinch-bolt axle give the RXF as much stiffness as a 36mm fork, despite it only having 34mm legs. Inside, the twin-tube cartridge damper separates the rebound and compression circuits for incredible suppleness and stroke control. Two positive (and one negative) air chambers give even more control over the spring rate for instantly reactive initial-stroke and bottom-out resistance. www.specialized.com

46


Save 25% o� the full subscription price* plus we’ll send you an 8GB Fire Tablet worth £49.99.

AND RATDIO 2016 LIDAY GUIDE TO27 TV AUGUST—2 SEP YOUR BEST BANK HO

(

FIVE REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE

THEY’RE BACKe

1. Get 26 issues of Radio Times for just

Porridg Alf Garnett & Mrs Slocombe’s pussy!

£49.99

2. Receive a 7-inch, 8GB Fire Tablet with wi� 3. Never miss the best TV and radio

it for a SNEAK PREVIEW

recommendations from our critics

4. Convenient delivery to your door

QUEEN

every week

5. Enjoy RT Extra, a regular mini-magazine

IA TO POLDARK AMAS FROM VICTOR UNMISSABLE NEW DR

17

that’s sent only to our subscribers

YOUR BLACK 7-INCH FIRE TABLET: Q When charged it gives up to seven hours of reading, sur�ng, watching video and listening to music Q Fast web browsing, e-mail and calendar support Q Fast 1.3 GHz quad-core processor and front- and rear-facing cameras Q 8GB storage plus free unlimited cloud storage for all Amazon content and photos taken with Fire devices Q Only available in black

P A U L H O L LY W O O D & MARY BERRY S H O T E X C L U S I V E LY FOR RADIO TIMES BY

IAN DERRY

Vintage

Paul

T

here’s nothing like the Cornish sea at the height of winter for putting you in your place,” says Aidan Turner with a wry grin. “We were filming me lifting Demelza out of a boat in the actual sea when this huge wave picked up the boat and slammed it into my head. I dropped her in the water – not very Ross Poldark. And nobody was coming to see if I’m OK. I was the man injured… But one of the underwater cameramen got cracked as well and he was concussed. These waves, you wouldn’t think there’s anything to them, but once you get out there you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature and she doesn’t care how well the previous season rated.” Mr Poldark, to be fair, doesn’t look too chilly right now. It’s the first warm day of the year and London is steaming in the sun. Turner’s in a T-shirt and jeans and sipping a tall glass of water. The first time we met, he’d just finished the first series of Being Human, BBC3’s supernatural drama, and he was rehearsing Desperate Romantics. Since then he’s gone from small screen to movie star, thanks to The Hobbit – and is pretty much everyone’s sexiest man of 2015. With interest in Poldark season two peaking on both sides of the Atlantic, he’s legitimately blowing up. “I hate having anyone saying I’m blowing up – it makes me sound like Veruca Salt, rolling around going blue,” he laughs. “Everything feels like a slow progression. Being Human probably had the greatest effect – Peter Jackson was a fan of the show, contacted me and said put yourself on tape. Next thing, I was in The Hobbit. With Poldark I was obviously very, very conscious of the show being popular very quickly, even though I was

Mary

Bake Off ’s back and the nation’s favourite double-act is raring to go!

too kind – ‘Mary’s she could do with toughening up a bit P A U L H O L LY W O O D

clear how much their own dynamic plays into the show’s appeal. Paul, 50, is the straighttalking Liverpudlian, the big kid, a sausage roll fiend and secret smoker. He’s game for a giggle, but nigh-on immovable in his opinions. Mary, 81, is the air in the batter, the Home Counties matriarch, author of more than 60 cookbooks. She’s composed, queenly and brooks no nonsense (no, of course she’s not going to ruin her hair by putting on a helmet). “She’s very kind to t h e b a k e r s ,” s a y s Pa u l . “Probably too kind – she could do with toughening up a bit.” Which rather underplays the ferocity of her moue. They’re discussing what exactly is meant by “vintage”, Mary having been confused when her daughter referred to a 1970s dress that way. “When does vintage start?” she asks. “When you were born, Mary?” “I know people think I invented the Victoria sandwich, but I’m really not that old,” she counters. Paul says that if he could return to any era, it would be the 60s: “There e

16

ROBERT VIGLASKY/BBC

17

16

BY JANE

JANE ANDERSON

ANDERSON

Drama: Tsar Day 3.00pm Radio 4

1

Star scores Andrew Collins reveals an epic struggle to top the people’s movie music poll

T

matter how cold, ‘No you have to man up and get on with it ’ keeping my head low. To be honest, that was more a relief than anything. Everyone involved was so good I didn’t want to be the one who sank the ship.” The shirt-off scene had a big effect, we point out. He shifts slightly uncomfortably. He’s had so many fan approaches and so much press coverage that he’s a little wary of talking about it yet again. Then he beams affably: it’s a little ironic him being wary, he explains, because “the chances of me getting my shirt off outdoors in season two are zero.” He shakes his head ruefully: “it was bloody freezing during filming.” (Indoors, on the other hand, is another story: he goes shirtless twice in the first episode.) He’s happier drawing parallels between the grim conditions of pre-industrial revolution Cornwall and the likely effects of any post-Brexit economic slump. “There are such clear parallels, even though they wore leggings,” he argues. “In Poldark, the landowners and banks find it’s cheaper to shut down these e

PICK OF THE WEEK EDITED BY

My

Just the two of us

just up from “This was the last day of the shoot, to end — just me the mines. It was a lovely way like that’s our and Demelza by the cliffs. It seems [Tomlinson], and place. I love working with Eleanor easy. We just have these scenes are always very times we corpse, a good chemistry — there’s a few a big laugh and we but it’s a little smile rather than can always check each other.”

Poldark diary filming of Aidan Turner talks us through business… the new series – it’s a very chilly

wo titans of the film soundtrack found themselves locked in battle for the top spot during the vote for this year’s annual Classic FM Movie Music Hall of Fame poll. In the red corner: John Williams, veteran master of the cinematic fanfare and composer on all of Steven Spielberg’s films except three, plus every episode of Star Wars (including the franchise’s highest grossing instalment The Force Awakens, which owned Christmas). In the blue corner: Howard Shore, Canadian dark horse, once thumbnailed as Mr Horror Movie but now sanctified by the Tolkien constituency for his epic accompaniment to The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. It was close-run, but when the 15,000-plus votes were counted (three times as many as last year’s), Lord of the Rings beat the re-energised Star Wars saga into second place, retaining its supremacy for the seventh year. People are passionate about their favourite scores and it can take years for a newcomer to enter the canon. The new top 20 operates a classics-only door policy, dominated by composing stalwarts John Barry (Out of Africa, Dances with Wolves), Elmer Bernstein (The Magnificent Seven) and Williams (Harry Potter, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park) – an octogenarian who’s not about to hang up his baton, he’s currently working on Star Wars VIII and Indiana Jones V. Like one of his famous fanfares, he never gets old. Andrew Collins will be counting down the top 20 film scores in Saturday Night at the Movies from 5pm on Saturday on Classic FM. The full results will also be on the Classic FM website at classicfm.com/movies2016

17

LORD OF THE RINGS Howard Shore Ten hours of music have been released commercially so it’s less a score, more a way of life, on an operatic scale.

2

STAR WARS John Williams Williams’ indelibly dramatic, almost wilfully old-fashioned themes have been employed over seven films now.

3 4

SCHINDLER’S LIST John Williams Proof that Williams is about far more than popcorn-spilling fanfares, his memorable accompaniment to Spielberg’s most personal film. GLADIATOR Hans Zimmer He of the pounding rhythms and Wagnerian bombast delivers a more emotional score for the Roman epic’s themes of honour and revenge.

5

CHARIOTS OF FIRE Vangelis Fully electronic in its original incarnation, Vangelis’s plangent score ought not fit a 1920sset sporting drama, but absolutely does.

6

HARRY POTTER John Williams Other composers have reused Williams’ magical motifs over the series, but he forged the tone in the first three films.

7

DANCES WITH WOLVES John Barry Immortalised by his Bond scores, but Barry’s best surely came with sweeping epics like this.

8

OUT OF AFRICA John Barry Another “mature” Barry score, arguably one of the most romantic ever – transporting you to Kenya and Robert Redford’s backlit hair.

9

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN

Klaus Badelt Working with Hans Zimmer, who took over the series, Badelt kicked off the franchise in fine style.

10

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

Elmer Bernstein A true classic, Bernstein gallops through this ever-popular western of the golden age with the seminal singalong theme. 11 The Mission Ennio Morricone 12 Jurassic Park John Williams 13 Gone with the Wind Max Steiner 14 Ladies in Lavender Nigel Hess 15 Star Trek: the Motion Picture Jerry Goldsmith

16The Godfather Nino Rota 17 Doctor Zhivago Maurice Jarre 18 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Ennio Morricone

19 Lawrence of Arabia Maurice Jarre 20 Raiders of the Lost Ark John Williams

122

Expect a raft of Russian-themed writings over the coming year in the build-up to the centenary of the Russian Revolution in October 1917. There will be 11 plays across three seasons, starting here Mike Walker’s chronicle of the fearsome reign of the first Tsar of All the Russias, Ivan the Terrible (1530—84) and ending next autumn with the current President Vladimir Putin (below). David Threlfall (best known for his drunken rants in role as Frank Gallagher in Channel 4’s Shameless) brings a terrifying air of menace to Tsar Ivan IV. Don’t be fooled by his apparent piety at the start as he announces his abdication, nor by the lovelorn “conversations” he has with his deceased wife Anastasia. Terrible by name, terrible by nature. It’s not long before Ivan is back in power and “cleansing” the land of all those who dare to question his rule — and many who don’t. I should make clear that the executions, of which there are several, are accompanied by very convincing sound effects of blood-letting, which may upset some listeners. As with modern masters of destruction (think Hitler and Ceausescu), Ivan the Terrible is only able to get away with his brutal rule because he’s surrounded by men who will support him. So, how will he react when his own son questions him? Not well!

AMBRIDGE DIARY

The Archers this week... Only in The Archers could a legal drama hinge on evidence about the day somebody was attacked by a bull. So prepare yourself for recollections of that fateful Tony v Otto encounter from 2014 as Pat is questioned at the family court hearing. Will it have a bearing on who gets to look after Henry and Jack? At Grange Farm, Eddie is packing up. With their move date almost upon them, Joe’s spirits sink to a new low. Can’t Oliver and Caroline just let him have a small annexe? All he needs are some ferrets and the odd glass of cider. He’s very low maintenance. And Josh gets an eyeful when he goes in search of his phone charger at Rickyard Cottage. Will word of Pip’s romance spread? DAVID BROWN

ALLSTAR; ALAMY; POLARIS/EYEVINE

T

Radio

Poldark Sunday 9.00pm BBC1

The Great British Bake Off Wednesday 8.00pm BBC1

he Great British Bake Off may not have the founding mission of the NHS or the longevity of the house of Windsor. However, in these uncertain times, the BBC’s televised baking contest has become an unlikely national institution – a broad tent of reassuring pavlovas and multi-tiered dramas in which everyone is welcome. It has increased its viewing figures by around two million each year since its debut in 2010, with 15 million watching Nadiya Hussain’s cockle-warming triumph last autumn – the biggest TV audience of the year. As the seventh season arrives, its two judges – cookbook doyenne Mary Berry and dough magnate Paul Hollywood – are secure in the knowledge that they have the best jobs in TV. “One thing that the viewer doesn’t get to do is taste,” smiles Mary. “We are the fortunate ones.” They insist it’s the 12 contestants who do all the hard work, but as the pair lark around on an old Triumph motorcycle and sidecar for our vintage-themed Radio Times photoshoot, it’s

123

TO SUBSCRIBE TO RADIO TIMES Call the hotline 01795 414750† quoting RTFIRE Or order online at www.buysubscriptions.com/RT-FIRE

Terms and conditions: Offer ends Saturday 31st December 2016 and is open to new Direct Debit subscribers only. Allow four to six weeks for delivery of your Fire Tablet. Should the Fire Tablet be unavailable we reserve the right to offer an alternative gift of equal value. *The Basic Annual Rate of Radio Times is £131 per annum. This price is for 51 issues, including the Christmas double issue, and a contribution towards postage. All savings are calculated as a percentage of this Basic Annual Rate. Offer is valid for UK delivery addresses only and is subject to availability. Overseas rates are available on request. †Calls will cost 7p per minute, plus your telephone company’s access charge. Calls will be charged at your local rate, calls from mobiles may vary. ‡ Your personal information will be used as set out in our Privacy Policy, which can be viewed at immediate.co.uk/privacy-policy. Please give us your email address to receive special offers and promotions from Immediate Media/Radio Times. You may unsubscribe at any time.


SUBSCRIPTION OFFER BUK M E V I S EXCLCUOME GIFT WEL

SUBSCRIBE AND GET A BONUS SET OF LEZYNE LIGHTS! WHY SUBSCRIBE? Save 17%* on the cover price – only £24.99 every 6 issues Get a bonus Lezyne Hecto Drive 350XL front light and Lezyne KTV rear light worth £44.99 Every issue sent hot off the press and delivered right to your door Never miss an action-packed magazine or supplement again!


TURES 350XL KEY FEAHECTO DRIVEMINIUM E U N L Y A Z D E L ACHINE • CNC-MTRUCTION S PUT LED N O C IGH-OUTTO 350 LUMENS H A R T • UL ERING UP EE DELIV ATED CABLE-FRK IC R T G S E • INT ARGING USB BATTERY RECH CED LI-POLY IME • ADVANUPERIOR RUN T FOR S

TURES KEY FEAKTV OF LEZYNEBLE, WATERPRO A R H U D N • UCTIO EDS WIT CONSTLRTRA-BRIGHT LH MODES • TWO U OUTPUT/FLASXTRA THREE TOUTS FOR E U • SIDE C ITY REE VISIBIL ATED CABLE-FICK R T G S • INTE ARGING USB RECH

WORTH

£44.99 subscribe online at http://buysubscriptions.com/MBP008 OR call our hotline on 0844 844 0387 quoting code MBP008 Lines are open 8am-8pm weekdays, 9am-1pm Saturdays (for overseas orders, visit http://buysubscriptions.com) TERMS & CONDITIONS: Full details of the Direct Debit Guarantee will be provided and are available on request. This offer is for new UK subscribers to the print edition paying by Direct Debit only. Gifts are subject to availability. Please allow 60 days for delivery of your gift. You will receive 13 issues per year. Your subscription will start with the next available issue. If at any time you are dissatisfied please notify us in writing and we will refund you for all unmailed issues. In the unlikely event your selected gift is unavailable, we reserve the right to send an alternative gift. *17% discount is based on buying six issues at UK shop price. Offer expires 8 December 2016.


ESSENTIALS An all-mountain epic or a quick blast at the local trails – whatever your preference, we’ve got your kit covered

04

03

01 05 02 06

07

08

06

07 09

09

50


01/ Sombrio Highline shorts £79.99 Boasting lightweight, stretchy fabric and a relaxed fit, these shorts are a good option for all-round trail riding. An adjustable waist lets you get the perfect fit and there are both front and rear pockets for storing trail essentials.

04/ Madison Alpine jersey £34.99 A short-sleeve summer jersey may seem a bit out of place right now, but Christmas is a great time to get your kit sorted for next year. We love the colourful yet simple styling of this new release from Madison.

07/ POC Tectal helmet £155 We’ve always liked the simple Scandinavian styling of POC’s kit and their new Tectal lid looks like an ideal all-rounder, with a deep fit, good head coverage and plenty of vents.

www.cyclingsportsgroup.co.uk

www.madison.co.uk

02/ Giro undershorts £69.99 If you’re putting in big miles, a good pair of chamois shorts is an essential. Slip these on under your baggies and treat your nether regions to some all-day comfort. A neat feature of these Giro shorts is the fly front, making it easier to sneak a leak mid-ride

05/ Fabric Sixteen tool £24.99 A pocket-size multi-tool can be a saviour when things go wrong deep in the hills. This Fabric tool has 16 functions, including Allen and Torx keys, chain and spoke tools, and the most important tool of all – a bottle opener!

08/ Lezyne Macro GPS £94.99 If your ride ain’t on Strava, it didn’t happen, right? Of course, GPS devices have loads of other uses besides bragging to your mates, and this device covers most of them, with route-finding maps, a customisable display and phone notifications. www.upgradebikes.co.uk

www.fabric.cc

www.zyrofisher.co.uk

03/ CamelBak HAWG LR hydration pack £139.99 ‘Hydrate or die’ is CamelBak’s motto and that certainly isn’t going to be a worry with their new 3l water/17l storage HAWG pack. The reservoir and tube have been redesigned to make refilling and drinking easier, and the ‘low rider’ layout keeps your centre of gravity low so you won’t be held back when ripping the trails.

www.2pure.co.uk

06/ Orange P7 S £1,550 A quality steel hardtail with good geometry and a solid built kit is one of the most versatile bikes you can ever own. Halifax-based brand Orange know a thing or two about making bikes, and this P7 is ready for whatever you want to throw at it. www.orangebikes.co.uk

09/ Remap Leopard Race gilet £64.99 Gilets are great for regulating your core temperature on colder days and thanks to its ‘Norlex Sky’ fabric, this one manages to be both breathable and windproof. The leopard-print graphics on the back have divided opinion in the office, but at least you’ll stand out! www.remapclothing.com

www.zyrofisher.co.uk

51


ESSENTIALS If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re a downhill addict looking to freshen up your gear for next year, this bundle will get your heart yearning!

03

02

01 04

05

08

06

07 10

09

52


01/ Dakine Descent jersey £40 Made from quick-dry polyester, this jersey has an odour control treatment to prevent stinkiness even after you’ve bashed out endless runs on your favourite DH track! Also, the smart orange camo design makes you look 100 per cent faster! http://eu.dakine.com

02/ iXS Xult full-face helmet £249.99 The Xult helmet will protect your precious noggin with its ‘Xmatter’ inserts, which iXS claim are more protective than EPS. With simple styling, we think this one looks great. www.hotlines-uk.com

03/ Sombrio Cartel gloves £25.99 These gloves not only offer great protection and grip on the bar but can also be used with your touchscreen smartphone. Ideal for when you need to take a quick pic or shout about your super-fast DH times on social media. They’re super-light, tough and look the bomb too. www.cyclingsportsgroup.co.uk

04/ Canyon Sender CF 8.0 £3,499 (not inc. shipping) Direct-buy downhill bikes don’t get much better than the new Canyon Sender. Littered with top-spec parts including a RockShox BoXXer Team fork, SRAM X01 DH groupset and carbon frame, it’s one desirable steed. Weighing only 16.5kg and reasonably priced for a DH bike, this looks like a good choice for privateer racers. www.canyon.com

05/ Atlas Air neck brace £199.99 A good neck brace can help protect you in a crash and prevent serious injuries. This one’s stylish, simple and light, meaning it’s great for comfort. www.decade-europe.com

06/ POC Joint 2.0 VPD knee pads £94.99 Packed with VPD – POC’s answer to D3O – these pads will help save your knees in any nasty crashes.

08/ MarshGuard number board 15 A great accessory for any racer, this number board mount means you don’t have to fiddle with new zipties at each event. www.marshguard.com

09/ Giro Jacket shoes £99.99 With a Vibram sole for grip, the Jackets are a stylish alternative to Five Tens for flat-pedal shredders. Cushioning in the midsole and heel should help keep your feet comfortably on the pedals even if you get a bit lively and want to huck to flat. www.zyrofisher.co.uk

10/ Troy Lee Designs Sprint pants £99.98 TLD make the ultimate in stylish bike wear. The Sprint pants are a racer’s favourite, with clean styling and great function. www.saddleback.co.uk

www.2pure.co.uk

07/ 100% Race Craft goggles £54.99 With anti-fog and mirrored lenses, these stylish goggles will keep your vision clear on the race track. www.decade-europe.com

53


ESSENTIALS The enduro rider has their own unique look. Make sure theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got it bang on with these fantastic gift ideas!

01

02

03

04

05

06

08 09 07 10


01/ Fox Indicator jersey £45 With bold and simple styling, the Indicator jersey is perfect for going full enduro! www.foxhead.com/uk

02/ Giro Switchblade MIPS £249.99 This lid converts from full face to open face with the flick of a switch, which makes it perfect for riding up the mountain, then racing down with loads of protection. www.zyrofisher.co.uk

03/ Morvélo Covert bib shorts £90 Stash your drinks bottle in the handy pocket sewn into the back of these Lycra shorts and it’ll be well protected from mud and spray. You can always add a pair of baggies to preserve your modesty! www.morvelo.com

04/ Specialized MTB XC Kit £100 Specialized’s SWAT (storage, water, air, tools) gear is about enduro as you can get. Included in this bundle are two bottle cages. One has a plastic container bolted on with space for trail snacks, a tube, tools and tyre levers, so you can sort any mishaps before you miss that coveted Strava KOM title. The other has a handy multi-tool attached, and there’s also a chain tool that fits in your steerer tube. www.specialized.com

05/ SixSixOne Recon elbow pads £52 Lightweight and simple, these pads won’t hinder you on the climbs but could definitely save your bacon on the way down. The XRD padding hardens on impact to protect you if you crash. www.hotlines-uk.com

06/ Troy Lee Designs Ruckus Ripstop shorts £109.99 These are brightly coloured, comfy and fashionable. With loads of pockets to stash your trail snacks in, they’re the ideal partner for your next enduro adventure!

07/ YT Capra CF Pro Race 4,999 (not inc. shipping) The Capra has been crowned one of the best enduro bikes to hit the scene. You can get your hands on a lower specced model for a modest 2,299 which still features a great spec. www.yt-industries.com

08/ Strava Premium £40 Challenge yourself, your mates or take on the whole world! If you’re a closet (or vocal) competitor, this app will keep you on your toes when you’re riding your local trails – although the only thing you actually win is bragging rights. www.strava.com

09/ Mavic Crossride Belt £45 Hang on, is that a bum bag? Well, yes it is, but it’s one with a custom 600ml triangular water bottle and enough pockets to store your trail snacks in. Just the ticket for those who hate having a sweaty back! www.mavic.co.uk

www.saddleback.co.uk

55


ESSENTIALS ESSENTIALS There’s loads of great women’s-speci�ic kit on the market now – here are some of our favourites

02 03

01

05

04

07 06

08

06 08

09 10 10

09


01/ Osprey Verve 9 backpack £70 Designed specifically to sit more comfortably on women’s backs, the Verve has a 2.5l reservoir, loads of storage space and only weighs 0.51kg. www.ospreyeurope.com

02/ Findra Relaxed Denim shorts £90 These shaped and fitted shorts have enough space to wear knee pads below them and are sturdy enough for the wildest of riders. Plus they’re water repellent, which is a bonus for UK riding. www.findra.co.uk

03/ Endura Singletrack jacket £99.99 With fully taped seams and made from a 2.5-layer waterproof and breathable fabric, this jacket should keep you dry when the heavens open and the trails turn from brown pow to just brown.

04/ Bell Super 2R MIPS Joy Ride helmet £189.99 The Bell Super 2R is two helmets in one, so you have a full-face option or can remove the chin piece and turn it into a trail lid. This means you can glide up the trails in comfort and then smash down them with extra confidence. www.zyrofisher.co.uk

08/ Morvélo Ambush Covert baselayer £45 This baselayer is ideal for keeping cool when it’s steaming hot or adding an extra layer of fabric between your skin and the outside world when temperatures drop. With pockets on the rear to stash your goodies in, it’s a must-have on any ride. www.morvelo.com

05/ Race Face Khyber jersey £49.95 This may have simple looks but it’s packed with features, making it a great riding jersey. It’s got sweat-wicking properties, is reversible and has a stash pocket for your valuables.

09/ Yeti Enduro gloves £24.95 Simple lightweight gloves that protect your hands without overheating them. They’ve got a suede-backed thumb for nose-wiping duties, too! www.silverfish-uk.com

www.silverfish-uk.com

06/ Morvélo Dasch socks £10 Lightweight and made from Coolmax fabric, these will help prevent sweaty feet even on the longest of rides. www.morvelo.com

www.endurasport.com

07/ Specialized 2FO ClipLite Lace shoes £90 Ideal for trail or enduro riding, the 2FOs are light and sturdy, with clean and stylish lines. With a large range of possible cleat positions, these shoes are sure to please even the fussiest of riders.

10/ Lapierre Zesty XM 227 £2,249.99 With up-to-date geometry, 120mm of suspension travel out back and 130mm up front, this bike isn’t lacking squish to help keep you out of trouble. Adorned with decent components, it’ll take some abuse, too! www.hotlines-uk.com

www.specialized.com

57


ESSENTIALS ESSENTIALS If you’ve got a pint-sized pinner in your life then take a look at this cool kit. They’ll be down the trails more than you!

03

02

05

04 01

04

07 06

08

09 07

09

09

58


01/ Endura Kids Hummvee shorts £29.99 With a lightweight fabric, a durable seat and padded liner, these are feature-packed trail riding shorts shrunk down for smaller legs. www.endurasport.com

02/ Lazer Phoenix+ helmet £69.99 Lazer’s full-face is available in a child-friendly XS (52cm) size. With a fibreglass shell and double-D strap it should do a good job of protecting your kid’s bonce, and meets the CE and CPSC standards. www.madison.co.uk

03/ O’Neal Jump Youth gloves £29.99 Pop Art and tattoo style graphics combined with a grippy silicone palm mean your kid’s hands won’t slip off the bars but will still look rad. www.oneal.eu

04/ Troy Lee Designs Speed Youth knee pads £34.99 These Troy Lee knee protectors have a D3O layer, which is soft when pedalling but hardens under impact. With no Velcro straps, they’re easy to put on and take off.

07/ Madison Protec Youth jacket £39.99 Made from waterproof fabric and with a relaxed fit, this jacket looks good on and off the trail. It’s available in a load of sizes and four colours, and has a reflective trim for safety. www.madison.co.uk

www.saddleback.co.uk

05/ Early Rider Belter Trail 3S £599.99 The Belter Trail is Early Rider’s top-end model, with 20in wheels, an aluminium frame, an air-sprung fork and disc brakes. A belt-driven singlespeed drivetrain keeps things simple and oil free, while sealed bearings throughout should keep maintenance to a minimum. www.zyrofisher.co.uk

06/ Five Ten Freerider Kids shoes £50 Five Ten have shrunk their sticky-soled Freerider shoes down to child’s size. They’re as grippy as the adult version, too!

08/ CamelBak Mini MULE hydration pack £44.99 Stop any tired tantrums by keeping the little ’un fed and watered. This pack has a 1.5l reservoir and plenty of space for those all-important snacks. Plus it looks awesome, with a giant set of flames on the back! www.zyrofisher.co.uk

09/ Troy Lee Designs Sprint Youth jersey £29.99 Troy Lee make some of the coolest kit around, but you’ll have to pay a premium to keep your kids looking like the next big thing! www.saddleback.co.uk

www.fiveten.com

59


ESSENTIALS For those in need of a bit of motivation to go riding this winter, these spangly bits of new kit should do the job...

01

02

03 05

05

04

06

08 07

10 09

60


01/ Ortlieb Cor13 pack £116.99 Store additional layers, valuables and tools in this waterproof backpack that’s ready to take on even the grimiest of British winters. www.ortlieb.com

04/ Royal Racing Storm shorts £89.99 These fully waterproof and breathable shorts will keep your bum dry when the trail gets super-soggy. So there are no more excuses not to go out riding on a wet day! www.royalracing.com

02/ Trek Farley EX 9.8 £4,500 Whether you’re bog bashing or looking for the deepest puddle around, this drool-worthy full-suspension fatbike will keep you afloat with its 4in wide tyres, 120mm of travel and Bontrager dropper post. The carbon mainframe keeps the weight down to 14.65kg, so despite its burly looks it won’t break your back or lungs when you’re out on a winter slog! www.trekbikes.com

03/ Smith PivLock Arena glasses £139 Essential for riding in sloppy conditions, a good set of glasses like Smith’s Arenas will protect your eyes when the brown rain comes splashing over you. www.smithoptics.com

05/ RockGuardZ Mudguardz PG450 £23.50 Stop the spray coming off your front wheel and spattering you straight in the face. This mudguard works superbly and won’t break the bank either. www.rockguardz.com

06/ Altura Five/40 windproof gloves £34.99 With enough insulation and weatherproofing to keep the cold and water off the backs of your hands, these gloves will prolong wintery rides. www.altura.eu

07/ Shimano MW7 Gore-Tex SPD shoes £179.99 No one likes soggy feet. Especially cold, soggy feet. These Gore-Tex SPD shoes from Shimano will keep your toes toastie and stop trench foot setting in.

08/ Fabric FLR30 rear light £29.99 With the days just about as short as they get, a rear light is essential, even if just for getting to and from your favourite trails. And if you’re an adventurer, you never know where a ride is going to take you, so keeping one on you is always a good bet. www.fabric.cc

09/ Gore Power Trail Gore-Tex Active jacket £199.99 You get top performance from this Gore-Tex jacket – it’s waterproof, breathable and lightweight. Just what you need to see you through a UK winter. www.goreapparel.co.uk

10/ Endura BaaBaa Merino baselayer £42.99 Merino wool is a great material to help keep you warm even if you get wet and soggy. This baselayer from Endura fits snugly against your skin so will keep even the coldest of days at bay. www.endurasport.com

www.madison.co.uk

61


O EUROPE’S T IP R T A N A BET TER TH ZINE? JUST DON’T E B D L U O C R WHAT M EC C A , M O F O R YO U R S E L F ! G IN IK B IN MOUNTA K A TICKET O O B O T T E FORG

62


Gift experiences The best ways to get out and enjoy all that fantastic mountain bike gear you own 01/ Uplift day Approx £30 An uplift day is the ideal way for any mountain biker to spend more time going downhill on their bike. It doesn’t matter how confident they are at riding, most will take away some great positives as long as the tracks they’re riding are suited to their skill levels. BikePark Wales’s uplift days start at £32 and you can expect to do around six runs in a day. If you want to go all out and ride the Fort William Ben Nevis gondola, prices start at £14 for a single trip.

03/ Race entry Starting from £60 If your loved one fancies themself as the next Steve Peat or Rachel Atherton then a race entry is the perfect way for them to prove themself. Races for all disciplines happen most weekends across the country and a quick Google search will reveal the ones in your area. The average cost of a downhill or enduro race entry is around £80. The ’Ard Rock and ’Ard Moors events in Yorkshire are a great place to start – check out their website for details of how to enter.

02/ Coaching day Starting from £85 All mountain bikers will (reluctantly) admit that they lack confidence in one area, and a training session can help sort this. A day with a coach is worth more than any new, spangly kit that they can bolt to their bikes. Pro Ride offer a full day of private tuition for around £240, which may seem like a lot of cash but is considerably less money than a new suspension fork!

04/ Watch an event Starting from £15.80 Without doubt, the headline event in the UK is the Fort William MTB World Cup. It has one of the best atmospheres of any races and when the British riders come down the hill the crowd’s cheers are deafening. The only things to watch for are the midges and the local battered Mars bars! Adult entry to the event starts at £15.80 but rises to £52 for three days’ access and unlimited gondola rides.

05/ Biking holiday From 237 For those feeling supergenerous this winter, what could make a better gift than a trip to Europe’s mountain biking mecca, Morzine? Prices start from around 237 with MTB Morzine Beds for a self-catered or B&B style trip to the Alps. Obviously they’ll still need to get there, buy lift passes and plenty of booze and food. Oh, and don’t forget a ticket for yourself! 06/ Sports massage From £30 Aches and pains are an inevitable problem for any mountain biker – and especially those who spend a lot of time crashing! A sports massage makes a great present for anyone with more knots in their legs and shoulders than should be possible. The recipient will feel like a million dollars even though you haven’t spent that much on them!

63


01/ Finisterre Mistral jacket £185 100 per cent recycled and waterproof, this is one great and very comfy jacket. www.finisterre.com

02/ Park Tool Deluxe Shop apron £29.99 When you’re hitting your bike with a hammer, protect your clothes with this apron. www.madison.co.uk

Rear-end Randoms Still having trouble �inding that perfect gift? Try this varied selection of leftovers that we didn’t have room for in the rest of the guide!

03/ Knog Strongman lock £79.99 With a Sold Secure Gold rating, this’ll protect your bike if a thief has his eyes on it. www.silverfish-uk.com

64

04/ Topeak Smartphone Dry Bag £19.99 Keep your smartphone looking smart by protecting it from mud, water and scratches. www.extrauk.com


05/ Happy Bottom Bum Butter £18 Be kind to your backside and lube it up before you go on any long rides! www.charliethebikemonger.com

06/ Ogio 9.0 Endurance kit bag £129.99 Stash all your riding kit in one place with wet and dry storage – perfect if you get muddy! www.madison.co.uk

07/ Fitbit Surge watch £199.99 Keep track of the amount of exercise you do during the day and out on your bike. www.fitbit.com

08/ iTunes gift card £25 Download all of your favourite mountain bike movies plus those essential riding apps. www.apple.com

09/ Aerobie AeroPress coffee maker £24.99 Makes your coffee smooth, tasty and without any of those nasty floaty bits at the end. www.aeropress.co.uk

10/ Skullcandy Air Raid speakers £129.99 Bring the party with you – these’ll drown out the peace and quiet at your local riding spot! www.skullcandy.co.uk

65


H T N O M T X E N DE CE 7 E L A S ON

MB E R

TOP WINTER RIDING TIPS

LAURIE GREENLAND

BEST BUDGET BIKES

Learn how to tackle wet, sloppy trails, and other top techniques to keep you in the saddle all winter long

We go for a blast with the plucky teenage sensation who took this year’s World Champs by storm

Can you get a decent hardtail for less than £700? We test four options that’ll get you blasting the trails

66

K U B M E E FR R CALERIDNINDG DAATES G E T YO U R R 20 17 SOR T ED FO

66


Showing Cycling Mode

Showing Running Mode

MICRO COLOUR GPS WATCH

MICRO GPS WATCH

£184.99 with Heart Rate strap

£129.99

BAR MOUNT INCLUDED

Whether you’re a multi-sport athlete, or an all-day adventurer the new Lezyne Micro GPS Watches have features for every occasion. Including bike and run modes for general metrics and wireless connectivity, hike mode for steps and distance, and lifestyle mode as a day-to-day wearable, this watch does it all. The water-resistant design keeps you worry free when things get wet, and the exceptionally long battery life will make sure to keep you going all day.

KEY GPS FEATURES:

CEDRIC GRACIA MOUNTAIN BIKE LEGEND PHOTO: SEBAS

Strava Live Segments

Turn-by-Turn Navigation

Customisable Data Fields

3KRQH 1RWL¿FDWLRQV

Bread Crumb Map

Lezyne Track

The term STRAVA, the Strava logo and other Strava logos and product and service names are the exclusive trademarks of, and are owned by, Strava, Inc.

PROUDLY DISTRIBUTED BY UPGRADE BIKES LTD. | INFO@UPGRADEBIKES.CO.UK | 01403 711 611 EVERYTHING WE DO IS BY LEZYNE


5sdcsccd