Steve (steveW rather than steveA) seems to have usurped the orange prize of the day. He nearly won the really awkward little jumps but was beaten to that by John (F that is) who popped everyone to be the only success. Rob wins the “I know I can do it but you think I will die prize ” on the big jumps but only managed the first couple. His back wheel wins the strength prize of the day.
I did think a big fall could result in injury and death and Rob was the only trier however Lou was there and had already won the photographer prize despite her protestations that her expertise is blunted by people moving and she is only expert in the dead people category. So Rob would have had a great photo at least.
Mark (P that is) won the best big jump of the day eclipsing Rob in the success stakes by jumping high, jumping long and landing perfectly softly. Andy (L that is ) wins the most lives lost in a single jump (eight out of 9) as he landed completely flat on his hardtail and shot sideways off the trail in an upright but pedal free position. Bravely he attempted the same jump several times using the novel technique of landing with the brakes on. His justification was that it reduced the walk back up the hill.
Luke (T that is) , David (B that is) and John (F that is) vied for the hesitation prize but all lost when they all managed a first jump missing the hole of doom. Luke wins the overcoming uncertainty prize as only he thought he lost all his jump skills. John also won the somersault prize earlier and Rob awarded him the yard sale prize when he surveyed the helmet, glasses, bike and body spread all around. Rob at the same time won the “lack of sympathy” prize.
The mountain bike climb secret weapon prize was won by David as he has the biggest beard as it seems that climbing prowess correlated directly with beard length. Andy argued colour (beware ginger content) but Laurie (absent that is) proves the negative so his theory was shot down in flames (reddish). Everyone seemed unaware of the Andy Hamilton (old harry’s game that is) reason for ginger hair.
Mark also won the ” do not practice what you preach” prize by not wanting to remove his gloves for the sweet share. His justification as an expert in how to poison yourself he was sure he would be fine as my hands would be clean and he may be right but leprosy is not that obvious to some. Lou won the cake prize easily again.
My strava signal was lost in the aether so started at the tail on the first run through the bombholes and won the “when you change fork settings and hurtle foolishly into a bombhole as if you are invulnerable and about twenty five then you will almost certainly wheelie out the other side so fast that you will take about a year off your life” prize.
I will never do that again. I do not have nearly enough years to gamble a day now.
Good conditions, good trails thanks to Friston Fairies, good weather and great company.
On Sunday Aron and myself headed to Kent to compete in the first round of the PORC DH race series. Neither of us has much experience racing and we’re certainly not downhillers. We don’t even own DH bikes, never mind race them. So turning up on our trail bikes we did feel a bit out of our depths. It turned out we weren’t the only ones on little bikes. Whilst the majority of the field was a sea of Santa Cruz V10s, Giant Glory’s, and Nukeproof Pulse’s all armed with +200mm of travel and built for the sole purpose of getting down a hill as quickly as possible. A few had arrived on short travel bikes and even a couple of hard-tails were present.
Since discovering them online the BrightonMTB Facebook group and forums have proven to be an incredibly useful resource. Plenty of great tips on places to go riding and all things pedal powered. But it wasn’t until Thursday night that I actually had a chance to join the group for a ride. And was I glad I did.
There’s always something equally exciting and daunting about heading to a ride you’ve not taken on before. Despite riding around Stanmer Park on a number of occasions since becoming interested in riding trails rather than going cross-country all the time, I’d never been out on a mountain bike in the dark.
Oh well, there’s a first time for everything. Continue reading
It looks like it rides – big, fast and generally bad-ass. An anodised matt black alloy frame with the decals in satin black – if you have to ask, you’ll never know. “Born on the Shore” in full colour. Tidy welds, hydroformed tube shaping, some neat gussets, sensible external cable routing, easily adjustable geometry and a zero stack head tube and low top tube for getting rad in the corners. Takes a front mech, 140-160mm forks and 26 or 27.5 wheels with a choice of dropouts. Build it your way. My way is 27.5 Flow EX rims, 142×12 dropouts, 160mm Pike and CCDBair – downhill weapon! We’ve done getting on for 1000 miles together in our first year, with very little easy mileage, lots of climbing (and some uplift) in the pursuit of good descents.
Don’t buy this bike if you like staying glued to the ground, avoid going fast or shy away from steeps. Point it downhill and it shouts “STRAAAAAVA!!!” Tip in over the edge of a seemingly vertical plummet and it’s totally like yeah, whatev’s. Hit a jump and it’s an exhibitionist – higher and further than you’ve ever gone before. It took me a while to get my head around its abilities after years on a 140mm hardtail.
It climbs weirdly well – the steep seat tube puts you in a good position and it doesn’t go all squishy when you stand up and stomp, tyre just digs in and bike springs forwards. Loves pedally trails as long as you don’t try to get the first stroke in too soon out of a corner because the bottom bracket is pedal bashingly low. Definitely better with 170mm or shorter cranks unless you’re very tall.
There is such a thing as too slack – on my local trails it’s happiest in the neutral setting with a head angle of just over 66 deg. For uplift days with faster rougher trails and less pedalling it’s awesome slackened and lowered to about 65.5 deg HA and it’s literally a 10 minute job to switch the drop out chips. How can a 140mm bike be so good in the rough, so plush yet never bottoming out harshly? The KS-link suspension must be magic (looking at some linkage analysis I believe it’s actually a combination of lots of anti-squat, progressive leverage rate, rearward axle path, minimal shock bushing rotation, stiff frame with short forged links and good bearings and a really great shock).
Running 1×10 with an 11-36 cassette there’s too much chain growth (~40mm at bottom out) for a super short Zee mech to be happy so I swapped that for a medium cage SLX (with clutch obviously). No guide (though there are ISCG-05 mounts) but a 32t narrow-wide and bash. Acres of mud clearance with the 27.5 dropouts so if you prefer very short chainstays you could run the 26 dropouts with a 27.5 wheel. Don’t underestimate the bigger wheels – despite all the marketeers’ hyperbole they do roll a bit quicker and grip a bit harder. The more obvious difference is the extra stability – like slackening the bike by about a degree or running bigger heavier tyres but with no detriment to climbing.
Go too burly with the tyres and/or run too much damping and it becomes a straight-lining monster truck – unstoppable but hard to move around. With quicker rebound and less huge tyres (Trail King 2.2 Protection in my case), it’s a much lighter livelier ride, easy to adjust your line mid corner, find that pop to clear roots or rocks or double up rollers and make gaps – and it still has that high speed stability that dares you to ignore the brakes.
Ironically the famously complicated Cane Creek has required almost zero tuning effort – one benefit of being average height, weight, quickness and jumpiness is that their recommended base tune with 28% sag is bang on for me. I slowed it down early on because I was finding the bike a handful on bigger jumps but as my confidence grew I reverted to the faster base tune and it feels amazing. The Pike has taken much more tweaking to balance with the rear – varying sag, bottomless tokens (aka volume spacers to add spring progression), low speed compression and rebound. The end result of 25% sag, two tokens, quite a bit of compression damping and fairly fast rebound gives it the grip in the turns and the pop on the jumps.
This build is all about reliability, strength and stiffness (and is zero carbon) so it isn’t the lightest bike in the world – about 31lbs. The frame and shock is 7.7lbs of that. Only feels heavy when doing the one-armed bike-in-the-air gate/stile shuffle, so that’s good. With the bigger wheels and slack head angle it needs wide bars and a short stem – 750 and 50mm. And with the speed it carries into corners, good brakes – Hope Tech 3 E4 with 183mm discs. Started out with a 160mm disc on the back and it wanted more – brake later, brake harder, use all the grip that great suspension offers. Dropper post because it would be madness not to – Gravity Dropper Turbo LP (reliability trumps aesthetics!) Lizard Skins Logo grips (if you’re looking for a grip that isn’t super skinny nor mega fat, not super tacky nor really hard, try these). Charge Scoop saddle – like a Spoon but nicer. DMR Vaults (thin, concave, nice pins, really big platform). Hope headset, hubs and bottom bracket (been flawless on the other bike for years).
What would I change? I’d quite like it in an obnoxiously bright enduro-compliant colour but can’t deny the uber stealth look is cool (especially since de-stickering the rims). One of those integrated moulded rubber chainstay protectors would be nice – I have a neoprene one plus a few thick zip-ties where the chain is closest.
The geometry is just so right – long, low and slack but not too extreme so it still rides well on flatter trails. Sizing is good – I’m 5’10.5″ on a spacious but low slung medium (16.9″ seat tube). The short seat and head tubes mean you can size up and run a super-short stem for a longer wheelbase ‘forward geometry’ feel. The KS-link suspension and CCDBair are sublimely good. If you have the skills there’s no doubt this could win enduro races. If, like me, you don’t then you can have awesome fun fighting for mid-pack places. For my riding it’s better at everything than my Cotic Soul – thankfully the hardtail is still fun, switching between the two makes me a better rider and I feel happier neglecting my unwashed Soul through the winter mud and wet on my local rides.
Should you buy one? If you’re after a 6″ish enduro bike that can descend like a bigger bike but is still fun on flatter singletrack then I can’t think why not. If you’re in Brighton have a word with Freedom Bikes – you’re welcome to try this one (which they built up) as long as you promise to give it back…
I could have just said “I really really like it!” 😉
Last Sunday I led a “slow paced” ride in the Surrey Hills, specifically aimed at those who perhaps only ride with the club during the week and never join us on our away days. This was also an opportunity for those who had gone into hibernation over Christmas to emerge from the sofa and get back on the bike.
The Surrey Hills are one of my favourite places to ride and subsequently I’m up there with others from the club most weekends. If it wasn’t for the local trail fairies, the Surrey Hills would just be a network of fire roads in some pretty stunning countryside. Fortunately, since the early days of mountain biking the locals have been gradually building up a forever-expanding and forever-evolving web of trails in the woodland and heathland between the fire roads. Continue reading
Buying a new bike should be… Continue reading