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5 GREAT GPS ROUTES TO DOWNLOAD

SUMMER 2018 l £4.99 l mbr.co.uk

GR OUP T E S T

BIK E T E S T

onders
NEW BIKES FROM NORCO, FOCUS, BMC, DARTMOOR

     

      


  
 
      
        

 
   

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Contents
ON THE COVER
Dan Trent on Black
Sail Pass, in search
of the Lake District’s
best. Photographer:
Sim Mainey

SUMMER 2018

FEATURES
ON THE COVER

44 LAKES IN SUMMER
With the promise of fine weather,
longer days and bank holidays,
mountain bikers are drawn back
to epic days out and challenging
mountains: we head to the Lakes
in search of some of the UK’s best
summer riding.

marks? Read the final review. Plus


BIKES IN updates on the Scott Genius, Trek
Remedy, Saracen Kili Flyer, Lapierre
THIS ISSUE Zesty and Canyon Spectral.

BMC Speedfox AMP TWO 34 70 PRODUCT


Calibre Bossnut Evo 92 Sixth Element’s carbon enduro
Canyon Spectral Al 6.0 66 race-ready wheelset reviewed and
Dartmoor Hornet 32 rated, plus loads more products
Focus Sam2 Pro 36 on test.
Jamis Dakar A2 95
ON THE COVER
Lapierre Zesty AM 527
Ultimate 63 78 TESTED: TRAIL TYRES
Norco Sight A2 29er 28 Essential for cornering, stopping
Nukeproof Mega 275 Worx
and accelerating, top-quality tyres
Carbon 14
are a must-have for proper trail
Polygon Siskiu D5 98
Saracen Kili Flyer 62
riding. We’ve rubbed the knobs
Scott Genius 900 Tuned 64 off a dozen, from Bontrager,
Trek Remedy 8 27.5 Continental, Maxxis, Michelin,
Women’s 66 Schwalbe, WTB, Specialized

BIKES & GEAR Voodoo Canzo 101


Whyte 905 68
and more.
ON THE COVER

88 £1K WONDERS
14 SAM HILL’S MEGA No guarantees you’ll ride like the Hornet; and two new e-bikes, the Full-suspension bikes costing
To celebrate Sam Hill’s Enduro champ, mind. BMC Speedfox AMP TWO and just £1,000 that still deliver a
World Series winning ways Focus Sam2 Pro. fun, fast and reliable ride. Think
ON THE COVER
Nukeproof has released just that’s impossible? Think again,
50 special-edition Megas, with 28 FIRST RIDES 62 LONGTERMERS we’ve got the Calibre Bossnut,
custom 180mm-travel forks, new First spins on the Norco Sight A2 It’s sign-off time for the Whyte 905 new upstart Jamis Dakar, the
Mavic Deemax Pro wheelset and 29er trail bike with 130mm travel; hardtail longtermer — will Charlie Polygon Siskiu D5 and Voodoo
enduro ‘essential’ handguards. Dartmoor’s hardcore hardtail, the love it enough to dish out top Canzo on test.

SUMMER 2018 mbr 5


CONTENTS EDITOR’S LETTER

Sweet mountain high


Nothing beats the drama of
high-altitude shredding

T
he first time I took my bike up a mountain
was not a great success. It was a dreary,
wet day in summer 2002 and we were
trying to bag the main riding feature for
the magazine and for some unknown
reason we decided to ride High Street in the
Lakes, the wrong way. Andy Stephenson from
famous Ambleside bike shop BikeTreks joined
myself, writer Tom
Locke and snapper
Our hymn to
Geoff Waugh, but the high life, p44
for some reason
he decided not to
How to stay in control
on the steep stuff, p56
bring a helmet,
so couldn’t be
in any photos.

HOW TO
ON THE COVER
Anyway, we
pedalled mostly
uphill for four
hours, traversing
22 BUZZ: BRAKE the length of this
WITH CONTROL north/south spine,
Everything you wanted to know about
for the reward of a
expert brake control: how to keep
control, where to use your stoppers and 15-minute grassy descent.
which one to pull in a crisis. My second attempt couldn’t have been more
different. A bluebird day on Snowdon, with the
ON THE COVER
Get in quick: limited summit capped by a foot of snow, it was epic in
56 SKILLS: CONQUER edition Sam Hill Mega, p14 every way, and the riding was as good as it gets
STEEPER TRAILS — PART 1 in my book.
Get your body position sorted now and What I’m trying to say is that big mountain
you’ll start attacking steeper trails as
well as any other, says Andy Barlow
from Dirt School, who shows us how.
REGULARS riding is always a question of risk versus reward.
You’ll have to put the work in, and there’s no
guarantee that what you get in return is worth the
8 BIG PICTURES
effort, but when it delivers, and you’re looking
Kids’ bikes ain’t like
they used to be — 14 BUZZ down on everything around you, about to start a
they’re good, p16 The Nukeproof Mega is now available brilliant natural descent, there’s nothing to beat
in a Sam Hill Worx version — get them it. Read Sim’s celebration of mountain
while they’re hot. Plus new bikes, where riding, along with a list of th
to ride and inspiration. peaks to bag, on p44.

41 MAILBOX
Your rants, raves and witty ripostes.

110 THREE BIKE GARAGE


Cesar Rojo from Unno tells us about his
ultimate three-bike garage. Editor

SUBSCRIBE
TO
FROM £3.70
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mbr.co.uk facebook.com/MBRmagazine twitter.com/mbrmagazine youtube.com/user/MBRmagazine strava.com/clubs/mountain-bike-rider-5839

6 mbr SUMMER 2018


BIG PICTURE

8 mbr SUMMER 2018


Big picture
The summer has turned up the
heat, maxing out the mercury.
The Lakeland fells are rife with
dust, settled amongst the scree,
and Red Pike is no exception.
The summit is graced by one of
the most technically challenging
and spectacular ‘bridleways’ out
there. Grand vistas are unveiled
as you near the summit with
Crummock Water, Buttermere
and the Solway Firth all visible if
the weather is on your side. So
embrace the heat and explore the
less trodden path — if you dare!
Tristan Tinn

SUMMER 2018 mbr 9


BIG PICTURE

10 mbr SUMMER 2018


Big picture
Looking at this image, you
wouldn’t believe that 18.5 million
people visit the Lake District
every year. Some of them even
come seeking peace and solitude!
But most of them come to bag a
peak or two, just like Dan Trent
here — savouring the delights of
Black Sail Pass. Read all about our
mountain adventure on p44, and
you may even pick up a few hints
on how to avoid the crowds.
Sim Mainey

SUMMER 2018 mbr 11


BIG PICTURE

12 mbr SUMMER 2018


Big picture
Hidden among the glaciers high
in the Arctic Circle are mountain
bike lines too incredible to ignore.
Harsh temperatures, volatile
weather and nine-month winters
mean the area is normally devoid
of human life. But each summer,
this frozen landscape flourishes
under endless daylight, revealing a
spectacular ecosystem. Cam Zink
paints his line on a blank canvas
while filming North of Nightfall on
Axel Heiberg Island, Canada.
Blake Jorgenson/
Red Bull Content Pool

SUMMER 2018 mbr 13


S TA RT YO U R R I D E H E R E

Edited by Jamie Darlow

GEAR RIDES FA S T & F I T I N S P I R AT I O N G E T S TA RT E D

OW N
SAM’S
Be one of just 50 to ride Sam Hill’s
EWS-winning Nukeproof
ast year Sam Hill won the Enduro World Series and

L came sixth at the downhill World Champs in Cairns.


Not bad for a guy who’d only taken up enduro the
year before and who largely gave up downhill in
2016. He rode both disciplines on his Nukeproof Mega 275,
a bike almost exactly the same as the one you see here. The
difference is, you can actually buy this one. You’d better act
fast though, because this Nukeproof Mega 275 Worx Carbon
is one of just 50 being made — this is #2 and Sam’s is #1.
Number two to Sam Hill isn’t bad though.
The Worx is just about as close to Sam’s bike as you can
get, too, because unlike other racers around the world, he
doesn’t run a custom frame size but is shredding a regular
size medium. That said, it’s a frame designed around the Flat
Pedal Thunder’s exacting preferences, so he should be pretty
comfortable on it. And if you’re not 175cm, the Worx version
is also available in S, L and XL.
So what do you get for your £5,299? A Nukeproof
carbon V1 frame and the latest RockShox suspension that
Sam was running last year — the Lyrik RC3 fork and Super
Deluxe RCT3 shock. The fork has custom decals and the
paintjob is Aussie green and gold from the World Champs,
or very nearly anyway — Sam’s bike had real gold flakes,
the Worx is just as spangly, but a little more affordable. The
bike also comes with SRAM Dub cranks and the new Mavic
Deemax Pro wheels with 30mm internal rim spacing. Hill’s
controversial hand guards are bolted to alloy bars with Code
RSC brakes — just how the champ runs them.
So that’s it then, buy the bike, twiddle on some flat pedals
and the Enduro World Series is all but yours.

14 mbr SUMMER 2018


Green and
gold ‘Straya’
livery with
custom
RockShox
fork decals

Sam Hill signature components and enduro


essential hand guards

Longer-travel
180mm Lyrik
adds 10mm to the
regular Mega 275

New Mavic
Deemax Pro
wheelset and
Michelin Wild
Enduro tyres.
Hill runs alloy
wheels as
they are
more reliable
for racing.

SUMMER 2018 mbr 15


GEAR

Thanks
to 360play.

MINI co.uk in
Farnborough
for letting us
run riot!

SHREDDERS
The best kids’ bikes, and how you
can get hold of some of them for
less than the price of a Pokémon

CUBE
This is where it all begins for young riders, with a
balance bike. Far better than using a three-wheeler
or despised stabilisers, a balance bike will teach your
child to — surprise, surprise — balance. Master this
and pedalling on later bikes is usually a cinch and
something they pick up in no time.
The Cubie 120 is simple but very well thought
out. Some balance bikes come with brakes but not
the Cubie 120 — for a two-year-old there’s plenty
to learn without introducing brakes. The handlebar
has an integrated steering angle limiter that stops
the bars rotating too far round and there are proper
air-filled tyres for rolling ease and a carry handle on
the seat for when it all gets a bit much.
£149, cube.eu/uk

B L AC K M O U N TA I N
The Pinto, from exciting new UK brand Black Mountain, is a balance H OY
bike that can morph into a drivetrain-equipped pedal bike. When Former track titan Chris Hoy’s signature bike range has a
your kiddo masters the balance bike, unbolt the seat tube, swap great reputation due to its focus on light weight and decent
it for the beltdrive one in the box and hey presto, they can pedal geometry — the Bonaly 16 has a really low BB to make the
the thing. The bike also has two lengths to accommodate growing bike as stable as possible and get your little one used to
riders, and the big sprocket on the back pulls off to reveal a smaller proper progressive geometry. The bike comes with real
one underneath to suit stronger legs. £329, blackmountain.bike bearings for durability, and a six-speed drivetrain, with the
chain cosseted away behind a bash guard to keep trousers
and socks away from sharp teeth.
£260, evanscycles.com

16 mbr SUMMER 2018


C A N YO N YO U N G H E R O E S H O P E AC A D E M Y A N D E A R LY R I D E R
Just like on Canyon’s adult bikes, the Young Heroes machines Join the Hope Academy and your little shredder could get
are cleverly thought out and packed with innovative features. hold of a bike for just £5 per month for a diddy balance
The Offspring Al 16 here is a big hit with the overgrown bike, stretching up to £29 per month for a 26in machine.
kids in the mbr office. With three sizes to pick from and a You can use it for as long as you need it, get access to skills
ludicrously appealing carbon-fibre version, there should be and maintenance courses, then give it back when the kiddo
an Offspring for most ages. The Al 16 has a 16in rear wheel outgrows it. This bike is an Early Rider and comes with Hope’s
but an 18in front wheel, the logic being your kid can fit it fine, custom-length cranks for little legs, small grips and levers
but the big front wheel rolls more easily over the ground and and even small flat pedals for microsized feet. So what’s the
dishes out confidence. There are two gears but, crucially, catch? Interest outstrips the stock of bikes, with 900 people
they’re automatic — SRAM’s AUTOMATIX hub switches on the waiting list according to Hope. But the plan is to
between the two using centrifugal force. Very clever. release more bikes. Get your kid’s name down right now.
£449, canyon.com From £5/month, hopetech.com, earlyrider.com

F RO G I S L A B I K E S I M AG I N E P R O J E C T
Making bikes that are easy and fun for kids to ride is about Islabikes has been around for a dozen years and was one of the
more than just flashy paintjobs, it takes dedicated child- first brands to make proper bikes for children — lightweight,
friendly components and the lightest frames possible to let purposefully designed for smaller bodies and way more durable
them progress and have fun, Frog says. Take the MTB 62 here than supermarket bikes. The Creig is the next step on in sizing
— it has a specially designed narrow Q-factor to improve the from the Hoy Bonaly or the Frog 62. Built from superb 7005
pedalling efficiency of little legs, while the brake levers are T6 aluminium, it weighs just 11kg. The Creig has an air-sprung
dinky enough to be reached by small hands. fork for proper trail riding and comes with disc brakes and a 1x11
Suspension becomes viable for bikes aimed at eight-year- drivetrain with shorter custom cranks.
olds as they get stronger and heavier relative to the bike, For now you can buy a bike, but in the future the company
so the MTB 62 is equipped with an air-sprung fork. It’s not hopes to move to a new model of rental only, minimising
as sophisticated as the Islabikes Creig as it lacks a rebound environmental impact. “The bike will be loaned out not sold,
adjuster, but the rebound speed felt about right out of the box. meaning nothing new has to be pulled out of the ground,
£590, frogbikes.com something that’s not sustainable long term,” says Lee
Garrington of Islabikes. It’s called the Imagine Project.
£799.99, islabikes.co.uk

SUMMER 2018 mbr 17


GEAR

HOT STUFF
WHAT WE’RE EXCITED ABOUT THIS MONTH
MOST
WA N T E D
S TA N S C R E S T C B 7 £ 1 ,0 5 0
Stans made its name pioneering lighter. It has lopped off weight
tubeless tyre systems before where it can, including using a
developing alloy rims and then low-profile sidewall without bead
launching its first carbon offering, hook, and aluminium nipples for
the Valor, in 2014. The superlative spoke attachment.
Bravo enduro wheelset followed, Stans has used its RiACT system
offering the best ride feel we’ve here too — a vertical compliance
found; stiff laterally but with enough concept — something that’s
give vertically to iron out the trail arguably more useful on wheels for
and deliver a comfortable ride. bikes with minimal suspension. The
Well, the Crest CB7 takes over augurs are good for the Crest CB7,
where these two left off, an XC so watch out for a test later in the
wheelset with a 23mm internal summer: we’ll be looking to see if a
rim width (that’s big for XC, it’s wheel this light and with a claimed
optimised for 2-2.25in tyres) that 10mm of vertical compliance can
weighs less than your fork — 1,452g also be stiff enough laterally. Built
in this 29er option. It’s as strong as for XC use, we’ll be slotting them
the Valor, Stans says, but thanks into some trail bikes regardless.
to a new layup and rim shape it’s notubes.com

18 mbr SUMMER 2018


B E LT A N D B R AC E S COFFEE TO GO C U T D OW N DI A MON D
The Henty Enduro backpack is designed to Look like you’re riding fast enough to bend DVO’s Beryl pairs the top-end Diamond’s
transfer weight from your back to your waist. light with this Demo Jersey with its excellent chassis with cheaper internals. The D2 damper
It’s got lumbar impact protection, space for a Speed Blur style. Relaxed fit, wicking, and has three low-speed compression settings
three-litre bladder and has pockets galore. made from recycled S.Café coffee yarns. and the Off The Top dial controls small-bump
£85, henty.cc £65, specialized.com compliance. £649.95, windwave.co.uk

V E RT I C A L S C A L E S C O L O U R FA S T HEADCASE
Work on your bike in luxury style with the Elite What’s better than Crank Brothers’ Mallet The Smith Forefront MIPS enduro helmet
Prepstand from Topeak with integrated digital DH pedal, with its superlative concave foot features Koroyd, a honeycomb material to
weight scale. It’s got soft-bite rubber jaws that platform support? Why, an anodised red- deaden impacts and maximise ventilation, and
spin closed, and a tripod base for stability. blue colour scheme edition from Loic called the now-ubiquitous MIPS liner. Comes in many
£229.99, extrauk.co.uk the SuperBruni. £149.99, extrauk.co.uk shouty colours too. £190, ultrasporteu.com

PINK DON’T STINK WHIPPER STOPPER T H ROUG H T H E PR I Z M


Summer means stinky kit for most of us, so The new MRP SXg guide fits single-ring The Flight Jacket glasses from Oakley are big
Crankalicious has released a clothing cleaner drivetrains from 1x7 for DH up to 1x12 for enough to protect half your face from flying
called Soapy Kit Wash. It’s designed to leave enduro, comes with aluminium, carbon or mud, while the light-tint Prizm Trail lenses
garments’ protective properties, like a DWR steel backplates and upper and lower chain actually add some extra contrast on dull days.
coating, intact. £4, crankalicious.com guides. £119.99, ison-distribution.com £185, uk.oakley.com

SUMMER 2018 mbr 19


RIDES

20 mbr SUMMER 2018


Long Mynd; long
and myndy singletrack
abounds

E N D L E S S
S I N G L E T R AC K
Natural singletrack that feels (almost) never-ending

M I N T O N B AT C H , L O N G M Y N D D U N N E R DA L E F E L L S , L A K E D I S T R I C T
25km (16 miles) 14km (9 miles)
There’s a fair bit of great singletrack on the Long Mynd, and more is This is an unlikely little loop that crosses some little-known no-man’s
being added all the time as the NT opens more permissive BWs. But land in the South West Lakes. The descents are superb though, and
Minton Batch is the original classic of the area. Start at Carding Mill the singletrack is surprisingly sinuous. From Seathwaite (Landranger
(Landranger 137/SO446943), and follow the stream NW to the top. 96/SD229961) follow tarmac N, then climb the rocky Walna Scar
Easy tracks lead SW over Pole Bank then follow the road to the gliding Road E to SD250962. Turn R to proceed SW through quarry ruins on
club. Drop SE down the singletrack of Minton Batch, take tarmac SW to a mix of rough mining tracks and faint singletrack that improves as it
Hamperley, then climb on lanes and forest tracks to the Shropshire Way approaches Stevenson Ground. Jink NW then S, and then soak up more
(SO403908). Retrace your tracks N to the car park at Pole Cott and take top-notch singletrack that loops SW then NW around Stainton Ground
the footpath (permissive BW) SE over Round Hill. to a major junction. Climb N into the col and lap up the final descent.
GPS download po.st/Minton GPS download po.st/DunnerdaleFells
Ride time 3-4 hours Ride time 2-3 hours
Why ride it? Wonderful natural singletrack in a spectacular area Why ride it? Awesome short loop in a great area
Where to eat? Ragleth Inn, Little Stretton Where to eat? The Newfield Arms, Seathwaite

G L E A N N B I A N A S DA I L , L LY N C O W LY D, S N O W D O N I A T H E Q UA N T O C K H I L L S ,
SCOTLAND 28km (17 miles) SOMERSET
22km (13 miles) Another ‘out there’ techy ride — perhaps 19km (11 miles)
This is a real ‘out there’ kind of ride. It’s Wales’s answer to the Gleann Bainasdale loop. Follow track SW from Holford (Landranger
super-remote and it’s pretty techy too, but It’s frustrating in places, but brilliant in others. 182/ST154410) into Hodder’s Combe, and
if you’re up to it it’s just awesome. From Try it and make your own mind up. From Capel climb W to the top. Stick with main track NW
Incheril (Landranger 19/NH038624) head NE Curig (Landranger 115/SH720582) follow a around Beacon Hill, and drop NW into Smith’s
to Heights of Kinlochewe then NW to Lochan good track N then NW to Gwern Gof Isaf. At Combe until ST132423. Climb SE and continue
Fada. Work your way around the S shores Helyg head E then N then E to Llyn Cowlyd. around the hill, breaking R to climb S up
of the loch, cross the river, and push up the Keep the lake to R and follow awesome Pardlestone Hill. Follow broad tracks SW
hillside opposite. Now lap up nearly 5km of singletrack to the end where you climb then to Bicknoller Post, and drop NW down
techy singletrack, eventually crossing the descend E on tarmac to Trefriw. More road S to Weacombe. At the bottom, head S to
bridge near Loch Maree and following more Llyn Crafnant then BW climb to the col, and an Bicknoller Hill, then E up to the ridge again.
mixed tracks NE to finish. awesome descent S to finish. Head SE for nearly 2km then follow singletrack
GPS download po.st/Gleann GPS download po.st/LlynCowlyd NE back into Hodder’s Combe.
Ride time 4+ hours Ride time 4-5 hours GPS download po.st/Quantock
Why ride it? Amazing scenery and full-on, Why ride it? A real North Wales classic — Ride time 3-4 hours
techy singletrack great singletrack and awesome final descent Why ride it? Sweet singletrack, steep climbs
Where to eat? Whistle Stop Cafe, Kinlochewe Where to eat? Caffi Moel Siabod, Capel Curig Where to eat? Plough Inn, Holford

SUMMER 2018 mbr 21


FA S T & F I T

BRAKE
DA N C I N G
Knowing when and how to brake can
give you the control to go faster
Pulling your brakes can get you into
trouble just as much as it can save
your ass. Doing it wrong can also
hold you back from progressing as a
rider. As our riding starts to improve
and the level of trails that we’re
capable of tackling progresses, we
still go to the brakes for control.
Only this time they can be a
hindrance by reducing the amount
of traction available right where we
need it the most.

F RON T V E R S US R E A R
Firstly, let’s look at what each brake does. Your front wheel
will be able to handle a much higher load before locking up
because as you pull the lever all your weight will be on top of
it. This means that you can trust it to stop you. It also means
that if you’re already on the limits of traction — in a corner
for example — then touching the brakes may tip you over the
edge, resulting in a sudden loss of control. As a general rule
it’s always best to use the front brake in a straight line.
Your rear brake will take a lot less force before it locks up.
This is handy if you need to flick your back end around, as you
can make it skid fairly easily and still have your balance under
control by steering. It also means that it’s able to do less for
you in terms of slowing you down. Ideally you want to apply
both brakes if you can, but the rear brake is a good one if
you’re already close to your limits of traction; in a corner or on
steeper technical terrain, for example.

22 mbr SUMMER 2018


DIY ENERGY DRINKS
Make your own hydration drink this summer
What stops you riding all day and comprise just a few from pretty much any kind of
during the summer months? active ingredients that make glucose you like — don’t let
If it’s the fact you have to dash them dead simple and cheap your blood sugar levels drop
home for a spot of DIY, we to make at home. The main or you’ll bonk. Finally, plenty
can’t help you, but if ingredient is water, of course, of energy drinks contain salt,
you’re ending your rides essential to staving off the perfect for topping up the
early because you’re fatigued dehydration that sets in as sodium you sweat out.
then we have a solution: you start sweating in warm Sodium is vital as it is involved
energy drinks, and homemade weather when your body in contracting and relaxing
ones at that. temperature rises. muscles during riding, and
All energy drinks work in Then there’s the energy also to properly regulate
pretty much the same way, content, which can come blood fluids.

A LT E R N AT I V E I C E T E A
QIce tea made from 1 fruit tea bag
and 1 white or green tea bag and 1 yerba mate
tea bag mixed with 1 litre hot water
E N E RGY IC E T E A QHoney to taste
Q1 tea bag Q1 litre coconut water drink
Q6 level teaspoons sugar
Qpinch salt Allow the tea to cool, then ice and refrigerate to
Q60ml lemon juice make ice tea. Mix the ice tea drink 50:50 with the
Q800ml boiling water coconut water.

Mix ingredients, allow to cool


and refrigerate.

WHERE TO BRAKE
Mountain biking is full of loose
surfaces and rough terrain. If you’re
looking to use your brakes to give
you control, you’re going to have to
be very careful where you pull them.
Most people know that they can’t
brake on roots for example, but no
one ever tells you where you should
be braking. Our advice is to look for
the smoother, easier parts of trail
and do as much braking as you can
on them. Even the most technical
trails have places where you can
trust the surface. Moist, loamy dirt
offers great traction. Dry, dusty
areas dotted with gravel are as bad
as wet roots or rock. Brake in the
right place and you’ll enjoy much
more traction where you need it.

F LU I DI T Y & CON T ROL


When you brake, your arms will
stiffen up to brace your body weight,
making you rigid over rougher parts
E N E RGY
of the track. Try and brake where it’s
DRINK
Q700ml water
safe, and if you need your range of Q300ml orange juice
motion to absorb features, come off Qsmall amount of
the brakes to restore flexibility. You sugar to taste
can do way more braking where it’s Qpinch of salt
calmer and you can trust the grip.
Mix all the above and
Then rely on your range of motion use as necessary.
and fluidity to give you control Simple as that!
where it’s more challenging.

SUMMER 2018 mbr 23


I N S P I R AT I O N

T H E L O S T M O U N TA I N ?
Respect the voluntary restriction on riding Snowdon or it may no longer be an option
Riding Snowdon is a true bucket-list ride — at It’s no idle threat either: the mountain is Traffic Regulation Order (TRO), making it an
1,085m it’s the highest you can get in England so busy now, with nearly 375,000 walkers offence to ride on them.
and Wales with your bike and represents a big trudging up every year, that this really has It nearly happened before in 2003, says our
mountain rite of passage for many of us. But become a safety issue, not a case of health and routes guru Tom Hutton: “We had two choices
now access to the mountain could be under safety gone mad. Those dozen miles of trails — an agreement that felt safe for everybody or
threat, owing to the actions of a minority of are packed out on bank holiday weekends, a TRO that would see cycling on the mountain
riders flouting the peak-time riding restrictions. leaving very little room for error if you’re becoming an offence.”
Snowdonia National Park Authority (NPA) descending on a bike. Llanberis Path, Continue to ride Snowdon, as it’s a huge,
says there are incidents of mountain bikers Snowdon Ranger and the Rhyd Ddu are technical challenge with amazing views and a
“riding inappropriately, impacting on the safety bridleways, meaning we have a right to summit you’re actually allowed to reach by bike.
and enjoyment of other users” — in other ride them, and the restriction is indeed But do it within the voluntary agreement hours
words, riding the mountain between 10am and voluntary, but the park authority has (and that doesn't mean you can carry your bike
5pm, from the beginning of May until the end of a duty of care to up to the summit within the hours and descend
September. The park authority says long-term mountain users — when the clock strikes five) or pretty soon we
access could be at risk, which to us sounds like it can and probably could have no access at all.
a threat to ban riders altogether if mountain will restrict our
bikers don’t behave themselves. access with a

V I E WS F ROM S NOW D ON
What are North Wales mountain bikers saying on Facebook?
Go early: up Snowdon I’ve been doing nights on Snowdon quite a bit lately
and back to Llanberis I spend most (working) — and I’m always impressed by the amount
for breakfast. I’d much weekends on of bikers coming up around 5am, enjoying the mountain
rather not hit a walker or the summit within the restrictions. I guess it’s an awareness thing —
slow down a top descent! collecting spreading
Michael Bakewell for Llanberis the word is
Mountain Rescue There are signs at every trailhead and the more effective
Team and meet information is posted constantly on mtb websites than telling
many mtb riders. Most of them and social media. It must be almost impossible not people off.
aren’t local and don’t know there is to know something about the restriction — if not, Tim Harrop
a restriction. They tend to divert to then a quick Google will tell all. If riders researched
the Ranger Path or Telegraph Valley the route in the first place, so they knew where to
when they do. The Llanberis path is a go, they’d almost certainly have seen something
bridleway, remember. about the restriction. And it is open all year, just not
John Horrigan between 10 and 5, from May to September.
Tom Hutton

24 mbr SUMMER 2018


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G E T S TA R T E D

G E T S TA R T E D O N . . .

RIDING WITH
A COIL SHOCK
Want to go full enduro or lured by the promise of a smoother
ride? Here’s how to pick the right shock and spring

SHOULD I HOW D O I
S W I T C H T O C OI L? SWITCH TO A
We asked RockShox and Fox COIL SHOCK?
RO C K S H OX The smart way to
RockShox has designed Ravenel is using this on her go from air to coil
various ways of making Commençal in the Enduro
the switch to coil a little bit World Series. Measure your current
01
easier, says Chris Mandell. “We also offer a wide shock’s eye-to-eye and
“We’re offering 47.5mm- range of spring rates, and shock stroke and then check if the
stroke shocks, in both we’ve reduced the weight manufacturer produces this size.
standard (the shortest eye- of some of the most popular
to-eye length is a 185mm) rates (350, 400 and 450lb) Using an online spring
02
and trunnion design, which while keeping cost the same. calculator, work out the
means a RockShox coil shock We didn’t want the dealer or spring rate based on your weight
will fit some pretty short- consumer to have to spend (wearing all your riding gear)
travel trail bikes,” he says. a lot of money to just get and bike it’s being fitted to. Try
“To improve pedalling, the correct spring. We’ve tftuned.com/spring-calculator
the new Super Deluxe also added sag gradients on
coil shock comes with the the shock shaft so you can Measure the size of the
03
RCT3 three-position pedal measure the sag by sliding mounting hardware and
platform, which can be the bottom-out bumper to order the correct size from the
adjusted at the shock or via the other end of the shaft and manufacturer or a third party.
use that as a guide.” Go to tftuned.com/mount-kit-
guide for how to measure the
OX mounting hardware.
ersonally, I don’t consider coil
ocks an upgrade, you only have Order the shock and
04
ook at World Cup downhill over correct rate spring. If you
last few seasons for evidence fall between two stools, Fox and
of this,” says Tim Williams at RockShox both recommend going
Fox UK. “Aaron Gwin uses a to the harder option. In the event
Fox air shock where a number the spring isn’t optimum — say,
of his competitors run a Fox you were conservative with your
coil shock. weight — some suppliers offer a
“Air shocks provide more spring swap service.
versatility and have a bigger
range of adjustment and they’re Once you’ve fitted the shock
05
also lighter, which is a bonus to your bike, set the sag to
l. However, the orange Fox coil between 28-33 per cent. If you’ve
look great so I can see why ordered the correct spring for
eiving attention and riders are your bike and weight you should
consider running them. be in the right ball park, but if not,
e it comes down to personal check the sag manually. First
rather than what we’d measure the eye-to-eye length,
d as a supplier, and obviously then again sitting on the bike —
sion design it’s being used on. the difference between the two
ce, if a bike has a linear curve is sag. You can add a little bit of
may have difficulty with a coil preload to the spring via the collar
ause it’s also linear, whereas but if you’re still not in the 28-33
k can be better tailored to per cent window, you may need to
g volume spacers and switch to a harder or softer spring.
gression.”

26 mbr SUMMER 2018


B O O ST YOU R

5-MINUTE FIX
BR A K E POW E R
Increase your rotor size to
get more stopping power
First
01
check the
maximum-
diameter rotor
your fork can
handle without
voiding your
warranty
or risking
catastrophic
failure and then
choose the
correct adaptor for your fork and brake. Remove the front wheel
and the caliper mounting bolts before loosely refitting the caliper
with the new adaptor required to accommodate the larger rotor.

Remove the old smaller rotor by


02
undoing the six bolts holding the
disc to your hub or, in the case of the
Centerlock fitting shown, by undoing
the lockring. Be careful not to slip and
round out the bolts or the lockring.
Slipping might damage your knuckles
as well as your bike.

Fit the new larger rotor. It is absolutely essential to follow


03
the manufacturer’s torque requirements here as this will help
prevent failure in this critical area. It’s usual to grease the threads
of a Centerlock lockring and to use Loctite 243 on the bolts of a
six-bolt hub. Tighten the bolts as follows: 12 o’clock followed by six
o’clock, then one o’clock, then five o’clock etc.

With the
04
rotor in place
and the wheel
re-fitted you can
fit and align the
caliper — use
Loctite 243 on
the mounting bolt
threads. Ideally
the caliper will be
centralised over
the disc with zero
rub. Your pads/
pistons might need to be reset or your pistons advanced. If they rub,
check out our brake set-up videos. Make sure the caliper-mounting
bolts are torqued to the manufacturer’s specification. Spray the
rotor with brake cleaner and wipe with a clean rag.

SUMMER 2018 mbr 27


NEW BIKES

First r
SWINGING A LEG OVER W

NORCO SIGHT A2 29er


£2,500 / 29in / evanscycles.com

NEED TO Norco’s Sight A2 is the perfect prescription for big-wheeled trail fun
KNOW

M
y first ride on this Sight of national-level DH racing 20 years ago. sorted and as such it’s very easy to ride
A2 29er was a bit of an And you know what? It was great. hard straight out of the box. Nothing
OVersatile old-school throwback. Like Not only was the route a pleasant grates about the riding position or
aluminium 29er most of my riding buddies, change, it emptied my mind to the point frame shape, so you can just get on with
trail bike with extended moorland blasts I had to remind myself multiple times I enjoying the ride; whether it’s munching
sorted components.
have pretty much been supplanted by was on a two-and-a-half grand machine, soggy miles, tackling technical climbs or
ORockShox Pike
RC fork with 140mm the instant sugar-rush of chugging up not the fancy £6k-plus, carbon-wheeled making a nasty rock garden feel like a
travel, 10mm more fire roads to smash through the woods rig my pampered backside usually walk in the park.
than the Fox EVOL on handcut, enduro-style trails. cruises round on. In fact, it’s so capable, the first thing
shock at the rear. But on this beautiful spring day In short, Norco’s latest Sight is the I did on returning from my ride was to
ONorco’s signature the Sight got hammered along rocky right choice if you like doing a bit double check I had the correct bike,
Gravity Tune,
where the effective
bridleways, dragged up brutally steep of everything. Redesigned for 2018, worried that Norco had sent a longer-
chainstay length tarmac climbs and slogged across tufty the Sight A2 has 130mm rear-wheel travel version by mistake. It hadn’t.
increases as you wide-open spaces, before hitting trails travel with 10mm more up front. The The suspension genuinely feels more
go up in size. that would have been at the pointy end component spec and geometry are capable than its claimed 130mm travel,

28 mbr SUMMER 2018


Norco Sight A2: all-
rounder that punches
well above its weight

SPECIFICATION
Frame Norco
aluminium,
130mm travel
Shock Fox Float
Performance EVOL
Fork RockShox Pike
RC, 140mm travel
Drivetrain Race
Face Aeffect cranks,
Shimano XT r-mech
and XT 11-speed shifter
Wheels Novatec/
Shimano XT hubs,
WTB i29 rims,
Maxxis Minion DHF/
DHR II EXO TR
29x2.35in tyres
Brakes Shimano
Deore, 180mm
Components Norco
6061 800mm bar and
50mm stem, TranzX
150mm dropper post,
SDG Fly saddle
Sizes S, M, L, XL
Maxxis Minion tyres
Weight 14.7kg (32.4lb)
are a fittingly robust
choice for UK riding
GEOMETRY
Size ridden Large

The suspension feels more Head angle 66.8°


Seat angle 64.2°
BB height 335mm

capable than its claimed Chainstay 435mm


Front centre 758mm

130mm travel, more like a Wheelbase 1,193mm


Down tube 712mm
Top tube 632mm

pricier top-tier model Reach 457mm

with smoothness and control you’d


expect from a pricier, top-tier model.
The big-wheeled Sight rolls well too, 130mm Fox Float
and maintains decent speed whatever exceeds expectations
the gradient, as well as responding

SUMMER 2018 mbr 29


NEW BIKES

to hard efforts and sprinting with


RockShox Pike RC fork
plenty of zest, albeit with the caveat with 140mm travel
that it’s a bit heavy and the WTB
i29-based wheels aren’t the fastest
to accelerate.
Other than the wheel weight, the
Canadian brand has pretty much nailed
the best component compromises
for this kind of money. Confident and
tough Maxxis tyres are practical for
UK conditions, Shimano’s bang-for-
buck Deore brakes simply work, and
there’s a wide 800mm bar and short
stem, plus a dropper post. The icing on
the cake though has the quality of the
supportive, well-controlled suspension
at both ends.
Having also reviewed the longer- Deore brakes cut cost
travel Norco Range at an equivalent but not performance
price point, and being left feeling
somewhat underwhelmed by the
experience, this shorter-travel Sight detached on mellower trails, but it’s
turned out to be a pleasant surprise. still a stable and surefooted performer 1ST IMPRESSION
It feels much more rounded. The at speed.
low bottom bracket helps you carve
corners; it steers intuitively and the Fox
As an all-round trail bike that does
everything well, you’ll struggle to find a
 HIGHS
Well rounded, do-it-all 29er
shock feels perfectly in sync with the better option than the Norco Sight A2 that’s also a blast to ride hard.
RockShox Pike RC up front, even when 29 without spending considerably more
you push it hard. The frame has not got
the slackest angles, so it never feels
cash. It’s a blinder!
Mick Kirkman
 LOWS
A little chunky on the scales.

30 mbr SUMMER 2018


   

   

   



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NEW BIKES

DARTMOOR HORNET
£ 2 , 5 0 0 / 2 7. 5 i n / s l a m 6 9 . c o . u k

NEED TO Polish brand Dartmoor build bikes with


KNOW attitude; we try and tame their Hornet hardtail

T
OHardcore hardtail he first thing to know about some high tech components that far
that can handle up Dartmoor Cycles is that it’s a outprice the frame itself. At £260 it’s
to 180mm-travel bike brand from Poland, not great value, and something of a bargain
fork and 2.8in tyres
the National Park in Devon. when you compare it to the competition;
O27.5in wheels and
alloy frame with Founded in 2005, Dartmoor even the bare bones of a Nukeproof
modern touches makes a range of gravity bikes, from Scout is £350.
and superlative street and dirt jump bikes to downhill With 160mm travel up front, the
standover clearance full-suspension builds. Hornet represents a hardtail segment
OCustom builds The Hornet here is the brand’s that most UK brands have moved
available from
importer Slam69,
hardcore hardtail; a 27.5in model away from, preferring instead to limit
like this DVO you can buy in two spec levels from travel to around 130mm, meaning
Diamond fork spec Dartmoor direct, or as a frame only, the Hornet fills a bit of a niche. Slam69
which UK importer Slam69 will build promotes anything up to 180mm- Seatstays offer bags
up just how you want it. This explains travel forks, and even dual-crown of clearance for
the hefty pricetag of this custom-build models if that takes your fancy. And for Plus tyres
Hornet, which has been decked out in if that’s too much travel, Dartmoor

32 mbr SUMMER 2018


The geometry’s dialled
but the Hornet might leave
your behind buzzing

The Hornet rolls on Curved down tube with


SPECIFICATION
in-house rims and hubs external cabling Frame 6061 aluminium
Fork DVO Diamond,
160mm travel
Wheels Dartmoor
Reel hubs and Sniper
rims, Schwalbe Magic
Mary/Nobby Nic
27.5x2.35/2.25in tyres
Drivetrain Shimano
SLX chainset, r-mech
and shifter
Brakes Shimano SLX,
203/180mm
Components
Shimano SLX shifters,
Charge Spoon saddle,
own-brand bar
Race Face Chester
35 stem 40mm,
Dartmoor Lightning
Hi / Low Handlebar
800mm, Brand-X
Ascend XL Dropper
150mm
Sizes S, M, L
Weight 13.57kg
(29.9lb)

GEOMETRY
The geometry is thanks to Dartmoor’s street and dirt
jump heritage.
angle means it’s a good climber, and the
slack head angle should lend it all the Size ridden L
Rider height 6ft 1in
right but a lack of The Hornet is perhaps an appropriate
name for the bike, though, because
there’s a hell of a sting in its tail. Those
confidence you need when things get
hectic. The sizing is good too, although
an XL for riders above 6ft would be
Head angle 65.1°
Seat angle 72.3°

compliance leads chunky chainstays and seatstays have


no compliance, leading to a harsh ride
ideal. We love the sheer variety of build
options Slam69 offers — if Dartmoor
BB height 324mm
Chainstay 424mm

to a harsh ride that you feel coming up through the


feet. The plush DVO Diamond fork,
could just soften up the back end it
could be the complete package.
Front centre 779mm
Wheelbase 1,203mm
Top tube 626mm
on the other hand, feels comfortable Jamie Darlow
Reach 450mm
and controlled, its Off The Top feature
makes the Primal for 130-160mm letting you dial in plushness at the start
forks. The Hornet’s frame is a great of its stroke, but also serves to highlight 1ST IMPRESSION
looking piece of workmanship, the the unyielding back end. Dartmoor
red paintjob pops and the alloy tubing
swoops and plunges to please the
says the bike can accept 2.8in tyres,
something that might prove a salve
 HIGHS
Hornet frame has decent
eye. There’s no internal cable routing to the Hornet’s sting and placate the geometry and can take 2.8in tyres.
but there are some modern touches ride quality.
we like — it’s single-ring specific and
the standover height is just incredible
Dartmoor’s Hornet has got the
geometry right though. The steep seat
 LOWS
Harsh ride jars the experience.

SUMMER 2018 mbr 33


NEW BIKES

BMC SPEEDFOX AMP TWO


€ 7, 4 9 9 / 2 9 i n / a m p . b m c s w i t z e r l a n d . c o m

NEED TO BMC’s new 29er e-bike will turn up your trail-riding buzz
KNOW

I
t’s easy to make the connection probably because you’ve seen it before; the Trailfox AMP is rolling on smaller
between AMP and electric current; the Speedfox AMP shares the same 27.5 Plus wheels, you’re always going
OTrail-focused after all there’s a 13amp fuse in the carbon front end with BMC’s first e-mtb, to use a lower gear on the 29er, which
e-bike with plug that connects the battery pack the Trailfox AMP. changes the chain angle and corrects
aggressive on the Speedfox AMP to the mains By using a shorter-stroke shock the discrepancy. Very clever.
geometry and
when you run out of juice. with the same eye-to-eye length as Even though all four models in
29in wheels
OShimano STEPS For BMC though, AMP is actually the 150mm-travel Trailfox AMP, BMC the Speedfox AMP range come with
E-8000 Motor and short for amplification, probably the is able to reduce travel to 130mm. It 29in wheels, the frames and forks are
E-8020 battery most apt term to date for describing then produces a dedicated rear end to 100 per cent compatible with 27.5
pack deliver smooth the experience on any pedal-assist correct the geometry for the bigger 29in Plus wheels. With the super muddy
pedal assistance mountain bike. Climb higher, ride wheels. The Speedfox AMP One, Two conditions we experienced at the launch
OBMC’s APS
suspension boasts
faster… you get the picture. and Three all get alloy rear triangles, but in Italy however, the 29er wheels with
130mm travel via With BMC’s APS twin-link suspension the Limited version get a carbon rear 2.35in Maxxis Forekaster tyres helped
a Fox Float DPS design delivering 130mm travel, the end that’s 700g lighter than the carbon slice though the clag to find traction,
Performance Speedfox AMP has a lot in common Trailfox swingarm. where a Plus-size tyre would be floating
series shock with the regular Speedfox. Both have BMC claims that the Speedfox AMP on the surface. The bigger wheels and
OTravel is matched
29in wheels and both are out-and-out has the same anti-squat characteristics thinner tyres also meant the frame and
up front with a
130mm RockShox trail bikes, the key differences being the as the Trailfox AMP, but all things being fork clogged less, keeping the wheels
Revelation RC fork compact Shimano STEPS 8000 motor equal this isn’t actually possible. When turning more easily and putting less
and integrated battery pack. I pulled them up on this, BMC was drain on the battery. It wasn’t all rosy
If the oversized down tube housing already one step ahead. Because the though, as the harder 3C MaxxSpeed
the battery looks familiar, that’s Speedfox AMP has 29in wheels and rubber pinged off rooks and roots so

34 mbr SUMMER 2018


SPECIFICATION
Frame Carbon/
triple-butted alloy,
130mm travel
Shock Fox Float DPS
Performance Evol
Fork RockShox
Revelation RC,
130mm travel
Motor Shimano STEPS
E-8000, 250W 70Nm
Battery Shimano
STEPS E-8020,
500Wh
Wheels RaceFace
Aeffect R 30,
Maxxis Forekaster
3C MaxxSpeed
29x2.35in tyres
Drivetrain Shimano
FC-E8000, 34T
chainset, Shimano XT
r-mech and shifter
Brakes Shimano XT,
200mm
Components BMC
MFB 02 750mm bar,
BMC’s Speedfox AMP Two BMC MSM 02 50mm
takes pedal-assist technology stem, RaceFace
to the next level Aeffect 150mm
dropper, WTB Volt
Race saddle
Sizes S, M, L
Twin-link design with Weight N/A
130mm travel via
Fox Float shock
GEOMETRY
Size ridden Medium
Head angle 66°
Seat angle 74°
BB drop 35mm
Chainstay 450mm
200mm XT brake rotors Front centre 752mm
offer dollops of control Wheelbase 1,202mm
Top tube 619mm
Reach 445mm

The AMP’s battery is housed


in a chunky down tube

the BMC would swap from maximum STEPS motor, but once again I struggled
traction to zero traction in the blink of to get my head around Shimano’s Fire
an eye. Bolt shifter for toggling through the
To get a feel for the BMC, I did power modes — often reducing the
repeated laps to of the same climb assistance right before a punchy climb.
with different descents, and while I So I’d swap the Thunder Bolt shifter
was super-impressed with the overall for the basic switch unit that offers all
handling of the Speedfox AMP Two of the same functionality in a more
I noticed that as the battery level compact design that’s easier to use.
indicator went down I couldn’t climb Alan Muldoon
as fast, even though I was in the same
power mode and trying just as hard.
Initially I thought it was something 1ST IMPRESSION
in the software; a built-in failsafe
designed to prolong battery life. I’ve
experienced it on Bosch and Brose
 HIGHS
Good geometry and handling.
equipped e-bikes too, but with a bit Smooth power delivery from the
of digging I discovered it’s just an Shimano STEPS motor. Plenty of
inherent characteristic of batteries — braking control with the 200mm rotors.
they become less efficient at delivering
Shimano STEPS E-8000
motor: the beating heart
power as they drain. Pretty much like
the rider on a normal bike then!
 LOWS
Limited to three sizes. Shimano’s
of the Speedfox AMP I really liked the combination of the STEPS Thunder Bolt switch is just like a
mechanical XT gears with the Shimano Di2 Shifter and equally awkward in use.

SUMMER 2018 mbr 35


NEW BIKES

FOCUS SAM² PRO


£ 6 , 6 9 9 / 2 7. 5 i n / f o c u s b i k e s . c o m

Focus’s enduro e-bike trims the weight by


downsizing the battery but is the lack of
accessiblity a price worth paying?

36 mbr SUMMER 2018


170mm-travel FOLD
suspension configuration
could be more supportive

NEED TO

W
ith a whopping 170mm of travel,
Head tube scoops aim to
aggressive geometry and Shimano’s
KNOW superbly calibrated STEPS motor,
feed cold air over battery

the Focus Sam2 is an enduro bike


O170mm-travel with a built-in uplift.
enduro e-bike Focus has endowed the Sam2 with a host of
OShimano STEPS unique features to really set it apart from the
motor with Focus
competition. The most significant, and contentious,
TEC battery
OExtra battery is the TEC (Tailored Energy Concept) battery.
can be mounted Housed within the aluminium down tube is a
on down tube to power pack of Focus’s own design. It uses a smaller
boost range 380Wh capacity than most of its rivals (500Wh
OThree-bike range is common), which reduces the Sam2’s effective
starts at £3,999
range, but saves about 400g over the larger
capacity unit. Because there’s no gaping hole in
the down tube you can’t remove the battery easily
for remote charging, but the frame doesn’t need
extensive reinforcement as a result, so less material
can be used in its construction.
Focus argues that 500Wh is too much for most
e-bike rides, but not enough for when you really
want to get out on an all-day epic. It believes range extender is not a cheap addition, and when
a smaller power pack gives you more agile, it’s mounted to the down tube, the handling is
rewarding handling on local loops, and then sells significantly compromised.
an extra booster battery that effectively doubles During testing, the longest ride I managed
your capacity for longer rides. At £449, this from the Sam2’s internal battery was 44km with
1,200m of climbing. This was in perfect conditions
— dry, fast rolling, warm but not too hot — using
Neat hidden sensor
and magnet Eco mode the entire time. Heavier riders (I weigh
70kg), colder temps and muddy conditions will all
chip away at that figure. Run it in Trail mode in the
winter and you’re looking at more like 25-30km.
It’s certainly limiting, but for some riders it may
be enough. The bigger issue for me is the internal
battery. Sure, it is removable, but getting it out
is enough of a rigmarole that I doubt anyone will
bother. Which leaves you with a problem if you
don’t have the luxury of power in your bike storage
area; either you bring your bike in the house, or you
run an extension lead to the garage/shed.
So, while it lacks some convenience, does
Focus’s modular battery system pay you back
in the handling department? Well, yes and no.
Considering the amount of travel, the Sam2 is

SUMMER 2018 mbr 37


SPECIFICATION
NEW BIKES Frame 7005
hydroformed alloy,
170mm travel
Fork Fox 36 Factory
Fit, 170mm travel
Motor Shimano STEPS
70Nm, 250W
Battery Focus TEC
378Wh
Wheels Race Face
Turbine Boost
wheels, Maxxis
Minion DHF/DHR
27.5x2.5/2.4in tyres
Drivetrain Shimano
STEPS 34t chainset,
SRAM EX1 shifter
and r-mech
Brakes SRAM Code
RSC, 200/180mm
Components BBB
Di2 760mm riser bar,
BBB 55mm stem,
Fox Transfer Factory
dropper post, Focus
Trail saddle
Weight 21.37kg
(47.1lb)
Sizes S, M, L

GEOMETRY
Size ridden L
Rider height 5ft 10in
Head angle 64.5°
Seat angle 72.3°
BB height 343mm
Chainstay 450mm
Front centre 794mm
Wheelbase 1,244mm
Top tube 624mm
Reach 455mm

end of the stroke, so it works well over the bumps.


Focus Sam2: enduro
big hitter with a With a steep seat angle and relatively long
slimline battery chainstays, the Focus climbs very effectively.
The only shortcoming is traction from the harder
compound 2.4in Wide Trail Maxxis Minion DHR
tyre. On technical climbs, where grip is at a
premium, the Sam2 slips a little more readily than
it might with a big-volume Plus tyre.
Tyre size isn’t the only area in which the Focus
could do with growing. There are only three frame
sizes, none of which are particularly progressive,
so the Sam2 will be too small for anyone much
over 6ft.
Focus has really sweated the details when
it designed the Sam2. I’m a big fan of the
ingenious integration, and the bike really
hustles on heavy-duty enduro tracks with a
confident and sure-footed swagger. However,
I’m not entirely sold on the smaller-capacity
battery and it’s really frustrating that you can’t
remove it easily for charging.
Danny Milner
relatively agile, but it’s not as quick to change
direction as Canyon’s new Spectral:On or Merida’s
EOne-Sixty. Partly this is down to having more 1ST IMPRESSION
travel and longer chainstays, but the kinematics of
Focus’s FOLD suspension linkage also plays a part.
This really wants to fall into the sag position, and
 HIGHS
Lots of clever features coupled to a capable
so lacks some support as it enters the mid-stroke. chassis and engaging handling.
The result is less resistance to push against and
Power button is
easy to access
create the pop necessary to unweight the 21kg
Sam2. Having said that, the suspension is certainly
 LOWS
Battery can’t easily be removed for
supple, and has sufficient progression towards the charging, needs a wider size range.

38 mbr SUMMER 2018



 
            
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EXPERIENCE THE DETAIL OF
ORDNANCE SURVEY EXPLORER MAPS

  
 
 

 

 
 
   
 
     
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YOU R L E T T E R S
TI Media Ltd, Pinehurst 2,
Pinehurst Road, Farnborough Business

Mailbox
Park, Farnborough, Hants GU14 7BF
Tel 01252 555213, mbr.co.uk CONTACT US
mbr magazine,
Pinehurst 2,
Farnborough
Business Park,
GU14 7BF
EDITORIAL mbr@ti-media.com
Editor Danny Milner
Bike test editor Alan Muldoon
Front section editor Jamie Darlow
Deputy digital editor Benji Haworth + S TA R L E T T E R +
Online product tester James Bracey
WINS
A TALE OF TWO HALVES
Contributors Laura Bailey, Andy Barlow, Paul
Burwell, Charlie Collins, Roo Fowler, Jason a Madison Zenith
Hardy, Mick Kirkman, Tom Hutton, Sim Mainey, waterproof jacket
Andy McCandlish, Cesar Rojo, Tristan Tinn, WORTH
Dan Trent, Al Vines Just cracked through your July issue — great as £99.99
always. I had a tale of two halves today and felt

Subscribe to mbr compelled to write in.


It’s Sunday, June 3 in sunny Basingstoke.
Oneyearsubscriptionrates(13issues, Got the next few days of mtb’ing sorted; today,
priority mail) UK £68.85; Europe €144; meeting up with best mate James to hit our local
USA $184.85; rest of world £123.55 Dummer trail; Tuesday evening will be another
EMAIL ENQUIRIES help@magazinesdirect.com
PHONE ENQUIRIES From the UK call 0330 333 local one; Wednesday after work plan to go
1113, from overseas call +44 330 333 1113 (Lines straight to Swinley — Blue and then Red if time
are open Monday-Saturday, 8am-6pm, UK time).
Subscriptions online at www.mbr.co.uk or US, call allows. All sounds pretty sweet!
toll free on 1 888 313 5528. First half: kissed my two kids and the Mrs
goodbye this morning, stuck the bike (old faithful
PAGE FACTORY GT Karakoram 29er) on the back of the car and
Group chief sub editor Dan Thomas drove to Dummer. Waiting for James to arrive
Chief sub editor Jonathan Emery (standard), thought I’d do a quick warm up. After
Sub editor Steve Shrubsall
about 10 rotations of the pedal... CRACK... and off
mbr art editor Ben Smith
I go, over the bars and onto the floor. I have to say
ADVERTISING this point, I was going extremely slowly, probably
The Vitus’s vitals
Head of market Sean Igoe the slowest crash ever in fact, but something has were too much for
01252 555372, sean.igoe@ti-media.com broken at the back of my GT. Something in the Dave to resist
Senior media adviser Robert Hudson,
01252 555338, 07946 513 184,
cassette snapped meaning I had no drive when I
robert.hudson@ti-media.com pedalled. The faithful GT is no more. I get myself
Senior media adviser Nick French, home, miserable, cuts, bruises, shamed. My week or so on a Whyte or a Bird... but why? The spec
01252 555333, nick.french@ti-media.com of rides (and summer) is off. I look down at my on the Vitus seems great, and the geometry is just
Sales executive Georgia Yardley, read copy of mbr with the Hardtail of the Year what I wanted. So thanks mbr! Great review, and
01252 555303, georgia.yardley@ti-media.com
Account director Ben Day,
test in... hmm, tempting (you can probably see purchase made as I trust your honest assessment.
01252 555386, ben.day@ti-media.com where this is going). Can’t wait for my new ride, and will write back to
Second half: 15 minutes and £999 later, a Vitus let you know what I think of it.
Back Q mags-uk.com/browse-by-publisher/
ti-media.html
Sentier VR+ is on its way to me, thanks to your Until then...
issues Q 01795 662976 (9.30am-1.30pm Mon - Fri) 10/10 rating. I considered spending another £500 Dave Smith

PUBLISHING
Managing director Gareth Beesley (01252 555139) TRAILS AND TECHNIQUE
Marketing manager Victor Alway (01252 555103) I’ve been reading Andy Barlow’s
Events executive Dawn Brooks (01252 555102) technique features since they
MD (Specialist) Andrea Davies
started, and they’ve become the
Editor-in-chief Simon Collis
Production Nigel Davies first thing I read in every issue. I’ve
Distribution 020 3148 3333 been putting Andy’s advice to use
© TI Media Ltd 2018. This periodical must not, without written consent
on the trails and they’ve really
of the publishers first being given, be lent, sold, hired out or otherwise
disposed of in mutilated condition or, in any unauthorised cover by way of
helped me to all-round improvement
trade, or annexed to as part of any publication or advertising literary or
pictorial matter whatsoever. — thanks Andy.
© TI Media Ltd 2018 ISSN 1367 0824.
Although I’ve tried to cut out and
Printed by Wyndeham Group. Registered at the Post Office as a newspaper.
mbr is published 13 times a year on every fourth Wednesday. keep the articles (yes, I’m that ‘old
If you have trouble finding an issue at your newsagents, please call
Distribution on 020 3148 3333. skool’), I’ve probably missed a few.
mbr incorporating Mountain Biker International, Bicycle Magazine,
Performance Cyclist and The Bike Mag, a part of TI Media Ltd, is published 13 So, how about collating them in an
times a year on every fourth Wednesday of each month by TI Media Ltd, 161
Marsh Wall, London E14 9AP. mbr Special? I’d happily pay for a
Editorial Complaints We work hard to achieve the highest standards of
editorial content, and we are committed to complying with the Editors’ Code copy, even more so if it was combined
of Practice (www.ipso.co.uk/IPSO/cop.html) as enforced by IPSO.
If you have a complaint about our editorial content, you can email us at with a trail centre guide.
complaints@ti-media or write to Complaints Manager, TI Media Ltd Legal
Department, 161 Marsh Wall, London, E14 9EP. Please provide details of the Paulo Canelas
material you are complaining about and explain your complaint by reference
to the Editor’s Code.
We will endeavour to acknowledge your complaint within 5 working days
and we aim to correct substantial errors as soon as possible. Ed— Great idea Paulo, a Barlow
booklet would be useful. In the mean

14,401
AU DITED SALE S JAN - D EC 2017 (PR I NT AN D DIG ITAL)
Barlow, bar-high:
Andy’s technical tutelage
time though, you can always seek out
our skills tuition and our trail centre
is invaluable guides on the website and on our
YouTube channel.

SUMMER 2018 mbr 41


on my neighbour’s new e-bike and a bit You can’t fight the
YOU R L E T T E R S of research, I bought a Giant Dirt-E for power, e-bikes are
myself and a Giant Prime-E for my wife. here to stay
I am fascinated by the e-bike
E-MPOWERED technology which seems to be moving
I wish to comment on Euan Barker’s at rate of knots, and cannot put into
letter [E-Bike Anger, July 2018]. words how much pleasure/fun my Giant
Seeing the cover story re e-bikes in gives me, going places that my other
the June issue made me buy mbr for bikes wouldn’t reach. My wife also loves
the first time and I thoroughly enjoyed hers, although in a more sedate manner!
the magazine. I bought the July issue I would add that here in Bardolino
at the airport while travelling to Italy where at least 50 per cent of people
on holiday (Bardolino) and am cycle everywhere, every second bike
enjoying the read again. I will be is an e-bike, much to my fascination
buying mbr in the future and will and interest looking at all the different
recommend it to my friends who are models, even tandems!
interested in going off-road as I do. So Euan, please don’t be cynical, go
So if this was a marketing ploy to sell and investigate for yourself and have
mbr it worked! a go, I’m sure you will be pleasantly
I own an older Dawes One Track surprised just as I was.
hardtail and a Cannondale cyclo-cross Keep up the good work mbr and you
bike, both of which I have enjoyed over have one new reader.
the years. But last year after having a go Iain Martin

NEXT MONTH

O N T E ST

ENDURO E-BIK ES B I G TR AV E L ; B I G G E R F U N
ARE WE ALL
O V E R B I KE D? G R O U P TE S T
We find out whether a modern bike S EALANTS & PU M PS
is too much for a classic ride What’s the best tubeless combo?

ISSUE ON SALE WEDNESDAY JULY 25


42 mbr SUMMER 2018
  










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  %&      !
F E AT U R E

Summer’s here and and it’s prime time for scaling the biggest lump of
rock you can find in search of adventure
Words & photos: Sim Mainey

44 mbr SUMMER 2018


SUMMER 2018 mbr 45
and riders will be in full summer plumage and ready
F E AT U R E for a (hopefully) extended period defined by big
miles, dry trails and dust.
Unsurprisingly at this time of year, a mountain
biker’s mind is drawn to high places. Mountains
that have seemed too intimidating or off-limits
y the time you read this the great over winter become more accessible and appealing.
annual migration will have started. The daydream of sitting on top of a mountain with
As spring segues into summer, friends with a long descent down to an ice-cold beer
mountain bikers up and down the has turned from fantasy to reality. Some hardier
country will have awoken, sniffed riders will have been out on the mountains year
the air and left the comfort of their round, enjoying the relative peace and quiet that
usual lowland loops and trail centre winter’s low temperatures and bad weather can
laps in search of adventure on the bring to what are otherwise tourist hotspots. These
sunny uplands of the mountains. riders will probably roll their eyes at the seasonal
Mud tyres will have been shed in newcomers; ‘where were you in winter?’ they’ll
favour of faster-rolling rubber, think, before sloping off to find trails less ridden.
waterproofs shunted from next With this rekindled interest in taking to the
to the back door to the back of the mountains comes the question of exactly where to
wardrobe, and mudguards, in a ride. With everyone seemingly time-poor, weather-
rash fit of optimism that comes with limited and itching to maximise time spent riding
finishing a ride covered in dust rather the good stuff while the going is indeed good, the
than mud, will have been removed. New riding gear, search for that elusive perfect ride starts afresh.
maybe even a new bike, will have been bought in Check into any mountain bike forum or Facebook
eager anticipation of warm-weather riding. Bikes group and you’ll find the annual query, “What’s the

Big mountain bikers


make hay while
the sun shines

46 mbr SUMMER 2018


best ride in the [insert location of your choice here]?”
followed by a whole spectrum of answers from the
obvious to the obscure.
I’m torn on this. On the one hand I get a lot of
satisfaction from putting together a route, riding it
and sharing it, helping others to get the most from
their precious time on the bike. The mbr website
is stuffed with some amazing rides all over the
country; a library of must-do trails that can help
even a novice rider become a seasoned trail hound.
There have been plenty of occasions where I’ve been
the beneficiary of someone else’s route skills or a
helpful piece of trail advice, nudging me in the right
direction of a worthwhile trail and saving me from
disappointment. Route guides and trail advice are
shortcuts to fun times.

ROLLING THE DICE


The other, less generous, hand thinks a little
rolling of the dice, taking a chance and potential
misadventure are part and parcel of mountain
Hike-a-biking is part
biking, especially when your biking involves
and parcel of remote actual mountains. Isn’t relying on someone else’s
Lakeland sojourns recommendation a bit of a cop out? What qualifies as
the ‘best’ ride is highly subjective and it’s the

SUMMER 2018 mbr 47


F E AT U R E

The summer months


unveil a host of
hidden singletrack

overall experience that defines a great ride, not just a


The trail less
route that gets the digital thumbs-up from others. travelled is usually
Any ride in the mountains comes with a massive yours alone
caveat, one that is easy to ignore when you’re
daydreaming from the comfort of home. While
the mind dwells on the fantasy of sunset summits
and screaming descents, the reality is that if you
want to ride in the mountains it’s going to be hard
and uncomfortable for at least a portion of the ride.
At some point you won’t even be riding. Chances
are you’ll have your bike on your back, you’ll be
suckered in by multiple false summits, you won’t be
able to stomach the lunch you’ve packed and you’ll
remember that trudging over damp tussocky grass
while being gnawed on by midges is the worst kind
of torture. You can choose to ignore or deny these
facts, but that’s the way it is.
I have little time for complaints that a ride in
the mountains is too hard; after all, what were you
expecting? That’s not to say all the hardships aren’t
worth it, they generally are, but there’s no point obvious potential. Was this accidental oversight or
thinking a ride in the mountains is going to be easy deliberate omission/warning? I needed to know.
— and no amount of e-bike assistance is going to help With myself and co-conspirator Dan both
you here. suffering from low-altitude sickness brought on by
too much time spent riding in the valleys of West
CUMBRIA CALLING Yorkshire, we were looking for an excuse to head
When the good weather rolls in and the mountains north and get as many contour lines under our tyres
call, I’m drawn to the Western Fells of Cumbria. as possible. This trail provided an excuse to answer
The scenery is grand, the riding rewarding and it’s the call of the mountains along with the opportunity
usually quiet — the honeypot/flytrap of Keswick to discover something new, for better or worse.
stemming the flow of tourists further west. As Half-term isn’t the best time to find peace and quiet
good as the riding is, it’s never easy. The trails don’t in the Lake District but Ennerdale valley is an oasis of
give themselves up readily, and with most routes tranquility compared to much of it. Getting to the car
taking you from one valley to the next, there are few park at the head of the lake is a qualifier in itself, you
shortcuts or bail-out options. Full commitment to the don’t stumble across this part of the Lakes by accident,
ride is required right from the start. or travel to this neck of the woods for a quick-hit ride.
One mountain, and one trail in particular, has It’s a very deliberate destination. When Dan and I pull
been calling to me for some time now. It’s a trail into the car park next to the lake we’re the only people
I’ve been eager to explore, having not seen anything with bikes, the other folk who have made it here have
about it in any magazine or online, despite its come equipped with Leki sticks and Labradors.

48 mbr SUMMER 2018


THERE’S NO POINT
THINKING THAT
RIDING IN THE
MOUNTAINS IS
GOING TO BE EASY

SUMMER 2018 mbr 49


F E AT U R E

The spin alongside the lake and down the valley


on the gravel road is pleasant enough. Legs are
gently awoken from the three-hour drive and we
have plenty of time to take in our surroundings
and catch a glimpse of what is in store for us on our
return leg.

VINTAGE SCENERY
Every walker’s favourite curmudgeonly author,
Alfred Wainwright, described the Western Fells
area thus, “Valley and lake scenery is of the very best
vintage, excepting Ennerdale, where natural beauty
has been sacrificed to material gain, an irretrievable
mistake.” When AW wrote that, Ennerdale was no
doubt a less attractive place than it is now, with the
flanks of the valley filled with identi-block conifer
plantations and their associated fire roads. These
still linger, but there’s been a marked change in
the valley’s landscape over the last 10 years thanks
to the Wild Ennerdale project, which aims to
return wilderness to the area by allowing nature to
reclaim what is rightfully hers and reversing that
irretrievable mistake.
My route has us leaving Ennerdale for Wasdale via
the well-known and oft-trod Black Sail Pass. Black Fell swoop: maintaining
Sail is a bridleway of two halves. The way up from flow amid techy terrain
the iconic youth hostel at the head of Ennerdale is a
push at best, but chiefly a carry. The path is defined
by steps kicked into the grassy hill and occasional While Ennerdale is often overlooked, its next
rocky outcrops that require some careful footwork to door neighbour Wasdale has a strong draw. Home
navigate. In keeping with the Wild Ennerdale theme to England’s highest peak, deepest lake and smallest
it feels unsanitised, raw and remote. Heads down, church, the car park next to the Wasdale Head Inn
bikes on our back we ascend one foot after the other, is often rammed with sightseers and outdoor types
the heavy humidity making for slow going. From of all persuasions. The top of Black Sail Pass marks
the top of the pass the character of the trail changes the furthest extent of most walkers’ eastern venture
drastically. As it drops down to Wasdale it becomes — ambitions fading out along with the path. Despite
clearly defined, a mixture of pitched stone staircase it being a sunny day, there are no other mountain
and more natural-looking loose rock. Winding its bikers to be seen — we share the top of the hill with
way down the side of the valley it’s a picture-perfect a family out for a walk and a determined looking
trail, unmissable and perfectly rideable. trail runner.

DESPITE IT BEING A
SUNNY DAY THERE
ARE NO OTHER
BIKERS TO BE SEEN
50 mbr SUMMER 2018




  
      

          

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F E AT U R E

Conscious of time and eager to actually ride


our bikes rather than carry them, we crack on.
There’s no denying it’s a fun descent, the mixture
of surfaces and its sheer length blending slow
speed challenges with flat out death-grip riding.
There’s a reason it’s much-ridden and often
recommended; this is mountain riding with
a touch of hardship but a disproportionately
large reward.

ROLL PLAY
We stop for a pint at the Wasdale Head Inn,
surrounded by holiday makers of all descriptions.
Quaffing shandy and munching on dry roasted
peanuts to top up depleted mineral levels, I
wonder if mountain bikers returning to the
mountains in summer is less of a migration
and more of a nomadic movement. Two-wheeled
opportunists who take to higher ground where
possible, retreating as the mountains pull their
winter coats on.
Despite the temptation to stay for just one more
pint we’ve got a fair way to go to get back over the
mountain range and back to the car. This is where
the ride will start to get interesting, the kind of
interesting that requires inverted commas, veering
off from the beaten and blazed path and into the
unknown. Dan and I cruise along the side of
Wastwater until a signpost, partially obscured by
new-growth bracken, points us into the unknown.
We start up the trail alongside Nether Beck, the
ridgeline between the peaks of Haycock and Scoat
Fell our destination before the final, and much
anticipated, descent back down to Ennerdale.
I’m not going to go into detail about the second
part of our ride. Not because there isn’t a story to tell,
but because some things need to be found out the
hard way rather than just handed over. No clues or
easy gains here I’m afraid. Much sweat and toil went
into finding out whether that trail was worthwhile,
so if you want to know if it was worth the effort
you’ll have to go and find out for yourself, or buy me
a beer and a packet of peanuts and I might let on.
There is no best ride, there’s just the ride. You can
scour maps, read route guides and ask on forums,
but ultimately you need to get out there and find out
for yourself. The weather is good, the mountains are Hold your nerve —
calling, so grab your bike, round up your friends and things are about to
head for the mountains — make your own ending to get ‘interesting’
your own story.

6 BEST SUMMIT RIDES IN THE UK


Fancy a natural high? Here are six mountain adventures
HELVELLYN the summit. Our fave is up the so you get to see what you’re Howgills offer quiet
Route options aplenty here, Llanberis path, down the Ranger letting yourself in for on the sanctuary from the hordes.
with Dollywagon Pike’s stone path with a return to Llanberis ascent. Po.st/CadairIdris A big climb is rewarded by one
pitching a stairway to heaven via Telegraph Valley. Be sure to of the longest and slinkiest
or hell, depending on your respect the biking ban by only BEN LOMOND singletrack descents in the land.
viewpoint. Or take Sticks Pass riding the mountain outside the A spectacular Munro on the Po.st/Howgills
for a sublime mix of flow and hours of 10am-5pm between shores of Loch Lomond, it’s
tech. Po.st/Helvellyn May 1 and September 30. Po.st/ easily accessible from Glasgow. STOB BAN
SnowdonRanger Go late or early if you want it to While Ben Nevis dominates the
SNOWDON yourself. Po.st/BenLomond Highland landscape around Fort
A honeypot for two wheels as CADAIR IDRIS William, it’s rubbish on a bike.
well as two feet, Snowdon is Snowdon’s little brother is THE CALF Instead, head for Stob Ban and
busy but brilliant with three much quieter but almost as The Lake District’s little-known experience wilderness riding at
different legal routes from spectacular. It’s an out and back, neighbour, the grass-flanked its very best. Po.st/StobBan

52 mbr SUMMER 2018


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  , -"
TECHNIQUE

PA RT 1

CONQUER
STEEPER TR AILS
e e- n c e p mme n o ep o eep c nc
Words: Andy Barlow Photos: Andy McCandlish

56 mbr SUMMER 2018


S
ummer is finally here,
the trails are drying
out, and all the gnarly,
YOUR COACH
challenging features
are begging you to go ANDY BARLOW
faster. Over the next Before joining Dirt School Andy liked to win
couple of issues we’re things — races like the Scottish XC Champs
going to reveal the and the Scottish Downhill Championships.
skills you need to take Since 2009, though, he’s coached some
on steep, natural trails with confidence. of the world’s best riders with Dirt School
This month we’re starting with correct and helped bring on the BASE MTB
body positioning for steeper features, course at Borders College in the Tweed
the best ways to change direction, Valley. But what Andy really likes to
and how you should balance in order do is communicate those same pro
to tackle difficult trails with confidence techniques to everyday riders.
and ease.

Notice how Andy’s hips


are behind his saddle but
his arms are still bent.
This will allow him to stay
neutral instead of being
pulled forwards as his
front wheel drops.

Even on a steep
trail like this you
want to keep
your elbows bent.

ALLOWING FOR S TAY ING L OW


MOVEMENT NOT BACK
The key to feeling confident on steeper, more A good way of thinking about this is to allow your
natural trails is allowing your bike to move hips to go behind your saddle while keeping your
underneath you while keeping your body weight head over your bars and stem. Your bike will be
central and under control. This will help you to stay pointing down the hill, so your front wheel will
balanced and to find traction where you need it. be lower than your rear wheel, but your attack
It will also allow you to back off, allowing for fluidity position should remain the same as if you were
where the features get punchy. As soon as you run on level ground. Allowing your hips to go behind
out of range of motion the trail will start pushing the saddle means that your elbows will still have
you around. Remember to stay close to your bike a bend in them and you’ll be able to absorb
for maximum movement in any direction. Really impacts and have the reach to push your front
THERE’S AN concentrating on your neutral riding position on wheel into holes that open up in front of you.
APP FOR THAT! steep trails will afford you so much more control Either way, as soon as you lock out your arms
Dirt School’s coaching that you’ll be able to push your riding without you’ve nowhere to go, and it will only be a matter
app lets you see
the right and wrong feeling like you’re being exposed to any more of time before your front wheel is dragging you
techniques in slo-mo. risk. You have to stay on top of it though, so keep over the bars. Make sure to keep those elbows
resetting back to your aggressive body position bent as much as you can and you’ll have much
whenever you get a chance. more control.

SUMMER 2018 mbr 57


TECHNIQUE A subtle shift
backwards in your
position, and a strong
BA L A NCING GR AV I T Y push with the legs,
is often enough to
Occasionally a trail will become so steep that you’re barely neutralise a drop. If
able to ride it. In these instances you’re not going to be able the drop is bigger
you’ll need a larger
to do anything other than hang on and ski your way down
range of motion.
with your back wheel locked. Whatever speed you carry into a
section like this will remain with you until the gradient relaxes,
so remember to slow down beforehand while you still have the
traction available. The best you can hope for, once you enter
a section like this, is that your speed will remain constant.
You’re not going to be able to stop. Instead try and keep your
cool and just be patient that it won’t last forever. Once the
trail mellows out again, or even makes a turn, so you’re on a
traverse, you’ll be able to stop. Until then just go with it.

GRIP POINTS
Remember to look for the grip. As long as you’re close to your
bike and you have plenty of room to move you’ll be able to
S TAY ING NEU T R A L
let your bike roll over some huge features and keep a neutral, We’ll go into a lot more detail next issue, but in a nutshell you’re trying to line
balanced stance. This neutrality will allow you to push with your body up with the front end of your bike. If the bike breaks traction and
your arms and legs where you can see that you have grip, and ends up sideways, you want to keep a neutral riding position and allow for this
generate traction from applying pressure where you can trust moment from below your waist with your hips and knees. Your head should
it. We call these grip points. They’re basically the smoother stay in the middle of your bars as much as you can manage. Look for examples
patches of ground that lie between all the aggressive stuff. of this in modern riding by watching any round of the Downhill World Cup or
You want to get into the mindset of linking these all together. Enduro World Series from the last few years. All the top riders have a confident
Once you get into the habit of using them then you’ll be stance on the bike that is unmistakable. Think Sam Hill, Danny Hart, Aaron
actively looking for them on every trail. Start low and push on Gwin or Katy Winton. All of them make the same shape when they come into
the smooth parts. That way you’ll be lighter, or even off the technical sections.
ground, on the rougher parts.

ROLLING DROPS Here Andy tackles a tree


stump right in the middle
of the trail. His weight
If you’re wanting to stay on the ground, or if there is more
is back, but he’s still
than one drop coming at you, then you’ll want to roll off left enough bend in his
and stay neutral. The best way of doing this is to open up elbows that as his bike
on the way in to give yourself extra room to move. Get moves underneath him he
your head as close to the bars as you can so that you can can still retain a neutral,
balanced posture.
maximise your range of motion. That way, as the front
wheel rolls off and into the hole in front of you, you’ll be
able to fill the gap with your arms. At this point your hips
will be behind the saddle, but your weight should feel
neutral and balanced. As soon as your back wheel is over
the drop, reset back to your aggressive, low position, and
you’ll be set up for the next one.

FASTER DROPS
Once you’re up to speed it’s much safer to land with both
your wheels at the same time. In order to set up for this,
you’re going to have to get closer to your bike. Start with
your regular riding position, but bend your arms and your
legs so your body is way closer and your back is parallel
with your top tube. As you approach the drop, throw
your bike forwards like a manual so that your arms are
fully extended and your legs are able to drive your bike
forwards by keeping your heels down. This will unweight
your front end momentarily, allowing you to clear the
obstacle and land both wheels at the same time. As you
come in to land, remember to get back in to your attack
position so you can apply an even weight distribution to
your bike. If your weight is still back you’ll end up looping
out. Land even, and you’ll have a huge amount of control.

58 mbr SUMMER 2018


TECHNIQUE The majority of lift
comes from how
hard you push into
the ground on the
approach to the jump,
rather than pulling on
the bars.

GAPS
A great way of avoiding roots, rocks
and rougher features is to jump right
over them. You’ll need the speed to
clear the obstacle to be able to ride
out on the other side. If everything
lines up though, and you’re feeling
confident, then it’s on. Put in a huge
push with your legs so that you can
generate all the lift that you need
on the take-off. The more work you
can do on the ground, the less you
will have to do in the air, and the
smoother it will feel. This will only
really work on mellower gradients
because as soon as your wheels are
off the ground you’ll be in free fall,
so pick your gaps. That said, being
able to link sections of trail together
by jumping them is so satisfying that
once you get the hang of it you’ll
be looking for them everywhere.
Remember, you’re not trying to lift
your bike over something rough.
You’re trying to link the two smooth
bits either side together. Go heavy
with a huge push on the approach
and you’ll generate stability,
allowing you to stay in control.

FEEDBACK Sessioning a technical


trail is really the only
way to improve. You
The best way of getting feedback on what you’re doing need to know what
is to be able to watch yourself ride. You probably have you’re trying to
a good enough idea of what it should look like, but trust achieve first though,
us, you probably look nothing like that when you’re on so stop on something
the ragged edge. Get a friend to film you and watch it challenging and pull
it apart.
back. It might surprise you how much more range of
motion you have available to you, or how much lower
you can go. If you want to compare yourself to examples,
you can download the Dirt School app, but even just
having a friend point their phone at you will give you
something to work on.

Having feedback on your own


technique is the best way
of completing the feedback
loop and making changes to
your own technique.

PRACTISE
Sessioning a technical trail is really the only way of practising your technique.
You need the first run just to learn where everything is and how the conditions
are that day. Your second run will be where you consciously apply a technique.
Remember to slow down so you can deliberately focus on something. Your
third and fourth will be where you can start correcting mistakes and getting
it right. Only after that can you start getting up to speed again, only this time
with a much better technique.

60 mbr SUMMER 2018


SPECIFICATION
Frame 6013
hydroformed and
butted aluminium,
tapered head tube,
120mm travel
Shock X-Fusion 02

LONG Pro RL
Fork RockShox
Recon RL, 130mm

TERMERS Wheels WTB STP


i25 TCS 32H rims,
Formula DC-71 15mm
front hub, Shimano
M475 quick-release
rear, Maxxis Ardent
27.5x2.25in tyres
Drivetrain Shimano
Deore M6000 r-mech
and shifters, Samox/
Saracen 32t Narrow/
Wide chainset
Brakes Shimano
M396 hydraulic,
180/160mm
Components
Saracen 6061 OS
760mm bar, Saracen
6061 50mm stem,
Kore Connex saddle,
JD YSP15 120mm
dropper seatpost
Weight 14.7kg
(32.4lb)
Sizes S, M, L, XL
GEOMETRY
Size tested L
Head angle 67°
Seat angle 73°
BB height 305mm
Chainstay 430mm
Front centre 753mm

DAN’S SARACEN KILI FLYER Wheelbase 1,183mm


Down tube 705mm
Top tube 645mm
£ 1 , 8 4 9 . 9 9 / 2 7. 5 i n / s a r a c e n . c o . u k Reach 468mm

MONTH 8: As speeds increase, can Dan’s budget Saracen keep pace?

L
ast month I was talking about the
Budget suspension lacks
need to get the Kili Flyer on some small-bump sensitivity
dry ground to see if it lives up to
the name. Thankfully the weather
has delivered, the local trails are
THE RIDER in that perfect window of early summer
DAN TRENT dryness before getting blown out and
Position Freelancer/ overgrown with brambles. It’s been
freeloader interesting seeing a whole new side to
Mostly rides
the bike too.
West Yorkshire
Height 5ft 11in
From a reliability point of view,
Weight 73kg if a bike can simply survive
winter you’re halfway there.
THE BIKE But when the trails are WHY IT’S HERE
Q Affordable harder and faster, the Will a fresh
progressive full- qualities of handling, start revive
suspension trail suspension and the
bike designed this venerable
by UK riders for like are really put in the
spotlight and I’m beginning
brand? gardens confident the bike railing because I know I haven’t quite
UK riding
Q Aluminium frame to realise the limitations of the is going to take it. But the got the control. Weirdly it’s actually
with 27.5in wheels, budget RockShox Recon RL fork small-bump sensitivity over better hitting really bumpy trails where
120mm rear travel
and X-Fusion rear
and X-Fusion shock. It’s no real criticism little roots and other trail buzz simply it’s all about the big hits and you’re less
shock with lockout of the Saracen because it’s built to hit a can’t match that of more expensive fixated on the subtleties. Here I’m really
Q Basic 10-speed price point, and if you want a higher- suspension and both comfort and grip enjoying the confidence the burly WTB
Deore-based spec fork or shock you need to pay are compromised. Really load the tyres rubber that I fitted a couple of months
drivetrain accordingly. And it’s been interesting to into a corner and there’s just a constant, back gives me, not to mention the actual
Q Cable-operated
see exactly where that money goes and miniscule fluctuation in contact pressure tyre squeal you get from the semi-slick
dropper post
as standard the benefits it brings. as the suspension tries to keep pace, Riddler when you’re really going for it
For a bike with relatively little travel, meaning you ultimately have less grip. on dry, grippy rocks. Evidence enough
the Kili deals with the big stuff pretty So I can feel myself holding back a that, crude damping or not, the Kili Flyer
well and you can clatter it over rock little in sections I’d usually be happy is a bike that enjoys going fast.

62 mbr SUMMER 2018


IN THE
SHED

27.5in
Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 £2,299

27.5in
Lapierre Zesty AM 527 Ultimate £3,599

BENJI’S LAPIERRE 27.5in

ZESTY AM 527 ULTIMATE Saracen Kili Flyer £1,849.99

£ 3 , 5 9 9 / 2 7. 5 i n / l a p i e r r e - b i k e s . c o . u k

MONTH 4: An exploding rear SPECIFICATION


Frame Lapierre
mech spices up Benji’s summer Carbon OST+,
29in
150mm travel
Shock RockShox
Scott Genius 900 Tuned £6,999

A
nd it was all going so well. Deluxe RT
Cast your mind back WHY IT’S HERE Fork RockShox
to May. That glorious Revelation RC
Lapierres ruled Boost, 150mm travel
May-and-into-June
THE RIDER Wheels Lapierre AM
we (well, in The North the roost 10 years hubs, Lapierre AM
BENJI HAWORTH anyway) experienced that ago, but how does 27.5in rims, Maxxis
Position Deputy saw almost uninterrupted High Roller II EXO TR
digital editor the new Zesty 27.5x2.3in tyres
sunshine and baked-dry trails. fare in 2018?
Mostly rides Drivetrain SRAM
The North Reminiscent of the good ole Descendant Carbon 27.5in
Height 6ft 1in days of Nineties’ hosepipe bans, 32t chainset, SRAM Trek Remedy 8 27.5 Women’s £2,700
Weight 73kg semi-slicks for goalposts and all that GX Eagle r-mech
nostalgic jazz. and shifter
THE BIKE Anyway, about two weeks into that amazing period the Brakes SRAM Guide
R, 180/180mm
Q Carbon-framed rear mech on the Lapierre Zesty decided that there was only
all-mountain/ Components
so much fun it could take and it duly spat its dusty dummy. To Lapierre 6061DB
enduro bike with
150mm travel be more accurate, it vomited its top jockey wheel all over a hill 760mm bar, Lapierre
above Ramsbottom. Zut alors! CNC 55mm stem,
Q Rolling on 27.5in
Lapierre 150mm
wheels and 2.3in If you find it, you’re welcome to it. At the time of writing dropper post, Fizik
tyres, but fully Plus this review, I’ve got a new cage on its way courtesy of Mr 27.5+
Tundra M5 saddle
compatible
SRAM. After a stellar bit of trailcraft bodging (installing Sizes S, M, L, XL Whyte 905 £1,699
Q OST+ suspension
design has a Horst the lower jockey wheel in the upper position with a disc Weight 12.8kg
link pivot and brake pad split-pin and using a zip-tie and inner tube valve (28.2lb)
counter-rotating lockring as a lower ‘jockey’) I managed to construct a kind-
upper link
GEOMETRY
of-functioning rear mech. That bodge lasted long enough to Size tested XL
Q Metric shock and
Boost axles bring
allow me to finish the good bits of the ride before completely Head angle 66.5°
the Zesty bang exploding, resulting in a makeshift single-speed set-up that Seat angle 74.5°
up-to-date got me home, just about. Chainstay 430mm
Where was that iconic sharkfin rear mech protector when BB height 335mm
I needed it, I hear you ask. I’ve actually removed said sharkfin Front centre 800mm
(gasp!) as I think it snagged on more stuff than it shrugged Wheelbase 1,240mm
off. I’ve benefited from the weight-saving gains too. Bonus! Down tube 730mm
Anyway, hurry up Mr Postman; I want my Zesty back on the Top tube 655mm
trails ASAP. Reach 483mm

SUMMER 2018 mbr 63


LONGTERMERS

ROO’S SCOTT GENIUS 900 TUNED


£6,9 9 9 / 2 9 i n / s c o t t - s p o r t s .c o m

MONTH 9: Rangy Roo salutes his enduring Genius SPECIFICATION


Frame IMP
carbon, 150mm

C
ontinuing the sizing theme from last
Shock Fox
month’s comparison between the L and XL Nude EVOL
Genius 900, Al Muldoon, mbr’s bike test Fork Fox 36 Float
editor, was trying to work out why I don’t Factory FIT4, 150mm
get on with really long bikes as much as he Wheels DT Swiss
THE RIDER thinks I should. M1825 Spline CL,
Schwalbe Nobby Nic
ROO FOWLER Then he hit on something I’d not considered; 29x2.6in tyres
Position Freelance our torso lengths are virtually identical, despite Drivetrain SRAM
photographer a height difference of almost five inches. OK, my X01 Carbon Eagle
Mostly rides arms are longer than his, but it fits with what I was 32t, SRAM X01
Surrey Hills Eagle 12-speed
saying at the end of last month’s report; sizing is
Height 6ft 4in r-mech and shifter
actually very complex. It also highlights my need
Weight 86kg Brakes SRAM Guide
for extra seatpost extension to accommodate my RSC, 180mm
THE BIKE extra-long femur, but not lots of reach as my Components Syncros
Q 29er with upper body is relatively sort. Hixon iC SL Carbon
progressive Anthropometry isn’t something bar/stem 760/50mm,
geometry and
WHY IT’S HERE TwinLoc lever has Fox Transfer 150mm
manufacturers’ sizing charts touch been untroubled post, Syncros XM1.5
genuine XL sizing It’s the longest
on, as they’re only meant as a by a wet winter Ti saddle
Q Full carbon frame
with 150mm travel rough guide. So if you’re planning production Weight 12.43kg
Q TwinLoc on dropping a lot of cash on a bike, 29er from a (27.4lb)
suspension demo days can be invaluable as you Given that the Genius has seen Sizes XS, S, M, L, XL
with three settings
mainstream
can try a range of sizes, and get the over 800km of action, and that GEOMETRY
Q SRAM X01 brand
one that feels most comfortable for your includes a fairly wet winter, it’s held (LOW SETTING)
Eagle drivetrain
body proportions, not just your height. up remarkably well. The complex cable Size tested XL
Q Flip-chip allows
geometry to be Sizing experiment over, I noticed that a couple arrangement and TwinLoc lever out front has Head angle 65°
adapted for 27.5 of the pivot/linkage bolts on the Genius had come shrugged off all that water and grit with surprising Seat angle 74.8°
Plus wheels loose, and requiring a T30 Torx key, which not ease; once or twice a cable has felt a little sticky BB height 345mm
many multi-tools have, I had to wait until getting but soon freed up again. I recently removed and Chainstay 438mm
back home to sort it. That’s when I checked the greased the lower headset bearing; there is no Front centre 834mm
bolts on the size XL and noticed some had also protection other than the seals on the cartridge Wheelbase 1,272mm
Down tube 787mm
come loose. No big deal, but it’s worth highlighting bearing itself, so that winter weather has taken its
Top tube 670mm
as I may need to add a spot of Loctite to stop it toll. So all considered, the Genius 900 Tuned has
Reach 499mm
happening again. been a really reliable companion.

64 mbr SUMMER 2018


23RD SEPTEMBER | DORSET 18TH NOVEMBER | FONTWELL
EPIC 24 MILES | ELEV. 2158 FT EPIC 33 MILES | ELEV. 2713 FT
STANDARD 20 MILES | ELEV. 1673 FT STANDARD 22 MILES | ELEV. 2014 FT
SHORT 15 MILES | ELEV. 1397 FT

WHAT YOU GET.. Timings


Mechanical & medical support
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Expertly planned & signed route Bike wash facilities
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T
ime takes its toll on all of us.
LONGTERMERS This month, Tracy the Trek
had to have a little downtime
to repair her SRAM GX rear
derailleur which spontaneously
exploded after suffering a hefty
winter in dreadful riding conditions.
THE RIDER Our enforced separation meant I had
LAURA BAILEY to get back on my old Specialized
Position Cycling Stumpjumper, and return to riding a
events manager 29er for a couple of weeks.
Mostly rides With Tracy all spruced up and back
Wherever work
home, it was a bit of a shock to drop
takes me
Height 5ft 9in
back down to 27.5in wheels. I thought I
Weight 74kg would relish the return to some nimble,
agile cornering, but I was actually left
THE BIKE wondering about what kind of bike
Q Trek’s women- Tracy would have been if she had come
specific enduro bike equipped with the larger wheel size?
with 150mm travel (Editor’s note: Answer: Trek Slash!)
Q Gets a 160mm But this could be down to frame size,
RockShox Lyrik up
not wheel size. I’ve been riding an 18.5in
front to take the hits
Q Women’s Remedy, and I’m right at the upper limit
finishing kit with of Trek’s height recommendation for
Bontrager women- this size. I suspect that Tracy might be a
specific saddle touch small for me.

LAURA’S TREK Q SRAM GX


Eagle 1x12 drivetrain
offers a massive
spread of gears
Taking her away for work, my
colleague Jo took her out for a spin.
She’s four inches shorter than me and

REMEDY 8 27.5 Q The only 27.5in


bike in Trek’s range
without Plus tyres
looked better suited
to Tracy. Perhaps
if I went up to a

WOMEN’S
£ 2 , 7 0 0 / 2 7. 5 i n / t r e k b i k e s . c o m
19.5in Remedy
and fitted a
shorter stem,
WHY IT’S HERE
Is it worth
buying a
my big-wheel women-specific
lust woud abate.
bike?

JASON’S CANYON SPECTRAL AL 6.0


£ 2 , 2 9 9 / 2 7. 5 i n / c a n y o n . c o m

MONTH 3: Canyon’s clever cabling


is both internal and external

O
ne of the smartest features on the new
Spectral is the combined down tube WHY IT’S HERE
protector and internal cable guide.
I’m not sure if anything like this has
It’s our Trail Bike
THE RIDER been done before by other brands, but of the Year 2018,
JASON HARDY this really is a great piece of lateral thinking. If but can it handle a
Position Dog walker/
coffee shop loiterer
you’ve ever tried threading new outer cables or year of abuse?
brake hoses through a conventional internally-
Mostly rides
Surrey Hills routed frame then you’ll know what an infuriating
Height 6ft 2in process this can be. Canyon’s solution is simplicity and
Weight 110kg genius in equal measure, creating the illusion of internally
routed cables without all the fuss.
THE BIKE The cables are covered by a plastic sleeve which bolts
Q Canyon’s new directly to the bottom of the down tube, with channels for
140mm-travel trail the cables to sit in. This cover is seamlessly integrated with
bike still rolls on
27.5in wheels the down tube, providing easy access to all of the cables with
Q Ground-up 2018 just a few Allen bolts, while doubling up as a protector for the
redesign sees entire underside of the frame.
geometry tweaks and The neat execution of this feature is what makes it so
a more progressive
suspension layout impressive, and is probably something else that EWS rider Joe
Q Aluminium and Barnes had a hand in. You can see how a detail like this would
carbon frames make life much easier on the race circuit, when maintenance
available time can prove critical, but it's equally beneficial for home
Q All bikes in the mechanics. With this attention to detail, it’s no wonder Down tube-mounted
Spectral line run
150mm-travel forks
Canyon is leading the Enduro World Series team ranking as I sleeve houses cables
write this.

66 mbr SUMMER 2018


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WHAT YOU GET...


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Expertly planned & signed route
FREE nutrition stops
Timings
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Events
LONGTERMERS

THE
FINAL
VERDICT

CHARLIE’S WHYTE 905


£ 1 , 6 9 9 / 2 7. 5 P l u s / w h y t e . b i k e

MONTH 7: Charlie thrills to his hardtail’s Whyte-knuckle ride


What attracted you to the Whyte 905? the fork proving to be trouble-free
I’m a big fan of the trusty hardcore throughout. Wavy seatstays add
a dash of compliance
hardtail. What they lack in rear Quite late in my tenure I played with
suspension is made up for by their various tyre pressures to see which
simplicity and reliability, ensuring combination performed best, settling
THE RIDER they’re always ready for shredding the on 15psi up front and 18psi for the rear.
CHARLIE COLLINS trails. With Plus-size tyres and a perfect However, more recently I found myself
Position 10 rating in mbr’s home-grown hardtail upping these pressures for dryer,
Writer/tester
test, I wanted to discover if the 905 lived faster trails, as I began rolling
Mostly rides
Bristol, South Wales up to the hype and if it could handle the tyres through corners WHY IT’S HERE
Height 5ft 10in several months of abuse. and while flying off jumps.
With Plus tyres, getting It’s proved it’s
Weight 75kg
Did you change anything straightaway? the right pressure is vital got the moves,
THE BIKE Whyte’s packed in a ton of value into for grip, comfort and but can it go and shape. Its lightweight
Q Aggressive this year’s 905, and throughout the control, so with hindsight the distance? package also feels super
27.5 Plus-tyred, seven months in my custody I didn’t it’s clear I’d need different fast-rolling, and side-by-
130mm hardtail replace or change a single thing. set-ups for different conditions. side with similar hardtails,
Q Mid-range model In the spirit of long-term testing I it felt noticeably quicker. In fact,
of a three-strong
line-up wanted to see how far the standard How did it ride? the 905 rides so well that I put my full-
Q Progressive specification would take me. Needless Every bit as good as it looks. Honestly, suspension bike on the back burner for
geometry and to say, I’ve been blown away by the when I first saw the Whyte, I could a while as it’s been so much fun.
sizing available in beating this bike can take, as well as the instantly tell from the long silhouette
four size options
performance it dishes out. and slack head angle that it was going Did anything break or wear out?
Q All essentials
accounted for in a to be one heck of a ride, and it didn’t The only component that ‘broke’ was
well-considered Was the bike easy to set up? disappoint. The cushioned ride from the rear tyre. During tyre pressure
spec with nothing Set-up was a doddle. The RockShox the chunky 2.8in Maxxis rubber takes testing, I found the lower pressure limit
left wanting Revelation gave me no issues once I’d the edge off the roughest hits, and I felt when I pinch-flatted the tubeless Maxxis
topped the air pressure up to 90psi, incredibly comfortable with the sizing Rekon rear tyre. I managed to tear a

68 mbr SUMMER 2018


The 905’s got speed,
style and swagger

SPECIFICATION
HIGHS Frame 6061-T6
aluminium
QAmazingly comfortable sizing and highly
Fork RockShox
capable shape. Revelation RC, Boost,
QBombproof spec offers all you need. 130mm travel
QGrippy, comfy Maxxis Plus tyres couldn’t be any Wheels Whyte hubs,
better suited to a hardtail. WTB STp i35 rims,
Maxxis High Roller II
3C/Rekon 27.5x
LOWS 2.8in tyres
QWide rear end meant that the heels of my Drivetrain SRAM
shoes quickly rubbed through the paint. Descendant 32t
chainset, SRAM GX
11 r-mech and shifter
Brakes SRAM Level T,
hole in the tread and put another slit 180/160mm
Chunky 2.8in Maxxis tyres
right on the bead, but fortunately fixed take the sting out of the trail Components Whyte
this trailside using tubeless bungs. My low-rise 760mm
attempt at repairing the wounded tyre bar, Gravity 40mm
stem, Whyte Drop.It
was short-lived though, and one ride 150mm post,
later I had to fit an inner tube and forgo Whyte saddle
the tubeless set-up. This was less than Sizes S, M, L, XL
ideal, as big-volume tyres beg to be run Weight 13.38kg
tubeless to get the most from them, and (29.49lb)
new tyres of this calibre aren’t cheap! GEOMETRY
Size tested M
If you could change one thing about Head angle 64.6°
your longtermer what would it be? Seat angle 72.2°
Well, without reeling off a list of fancy BB height 296mm
overpriced components, I can’t say Chainstay 431mm
anything needs changing on the 905. Front centre 762mm
It’s built to handle anything you can Wheelbase 1,193mm
throw at it and the overall package Down tube 716mm
comes in at a decent weight too. Top tube 635mm
Reach 446mm
Would you buy this bike?
Without a doubt, I’d own one
of these rippers. I’m sure, however,
my back wouldn’t
appreciate the extra
abuse over the long
run, so it would
definitely be run
alongside my full-
suspension bike.

SUMMER 2018 mbr 69


NEW PRODUCTS

Tested
SIXTH ELEMENT
SE34.28RACE WHEELSET
£ 1 ,0 8 9
SPECIFICATIONM[_]^j0\hedj/)&]"h[Wh'"&*']"jejWb'"/-']_dY$lWbl[iWdZjWf[I_p[i0(/_dj[ij[Z"(-$+_d
Contact: sixthelement.co.uk

A
carbon enduro race-ready wheelset at
a reasonable price sounds like either Sixth Element: tough
carbon enduro hoops
a dream come true or a nightmare in
waiting. Thankfully Sixth Element’s
SE34.28RACE are more the former
than the latter.
Its name might not be snappy, but it is
informative, 34.28 referring to the respective
external and internal rim measurements. The
rims are sourced from the Far East and use a uni-
directional carbon weave for a smart, understated
look. A nice touch is that the decals are actually
part of the rim, rather than just stuck on, so they
keep those smart looks for longer. Standard decal
colours are green, stealth black or white but you
can also special order any colour you fancy for a
not inconsiderable £99 extra. over gram counting — a two-year no-quibble
The wheels came tubeless ready with Stan’s guarantee is testament to this.
rim tape and valves in place, requiring just tyres, A good portion of the weight can be accounted
a dash of sealant and a blast of air to seal first for by the Hope hubs, and the wheels don’t feel
time. The hookless rim design steadfastly refused lardy when rolling. Instead there’s the sense of
to burp air, even when tyre pressures were run at zip and urgency that comes with a stiff and taut
silly low levels, but also didn’t put up too much of carbon wheel — thankfully without the overly
a fight when it came time to swap tyres around. harsh and crashy feel that can accompany some
A 28mm internal diameter might seem a little carbon rims.
middle of the road in the ever-expanding rim Despite my best attempts (writing off a
width arms race, but it provides a good profile for reinforced casing tyre in the process) the rims
the kind of 2.4-2.5in tyres likely to be fitted. The shrugged off whatever I could throw at them —
spoke holes are drilled asymmetrically, allowing a few minor scuffs being the only damage I
the 32 Sapim D Light spokes to be equally managed to inflict.
tensioned on both sides of the wheel, and they If you’re looking to save weight with black
stayed tight and true throughout testing. magic these aren’t the wheels for you. However, if
Hope Pro 4 hubs proved to be as typically solid you’re after a set of sensibly wide
as you’d expect, but if Barnoldswick’s finest aren’t wheels that will add a dose of
your thing, Sixth Element can lace in offerings zip and accuracy into your
from DT Swiss or Chris King. ride, and take a beating in the
At 1,971g, those looking to lose weight by process, then there’s much to
putting their bike on a high carbon diet might be recommend these.
put off, but reliability has clearly been prioritised Sim Mainey

YOUR
TESTERS
DANNY MILNER MICK KIRKMAN JAMES BRACEY SIM MAINEY
Went to BPW for a tyre test. Got a Vitus E-Sommet to Shattered himself at a 24 hour Misread his Sixth Element
Just had to spend the rest of accelerate his trail tyre race… on foot. No sympathy wheel test brief and reviewed
the week there to really get to grouptest, now can’t be prised here. Hobbling about with a the Luc Besson film by mistake.
grips with it off it. Solar panel on order pimp roll Five stars.

70 mbr SUMMER 2018


BLACKBURN
TRADESMAN
MULTI-TOOL
£ 2 7. 9 9
SPECIFICATIONM[_]^j0'-.]9edjWYj0poheÓi^[h$Ye$ka

Blackburn’s new Tradesman multi-tool


can remove chain quick links out on
the trail. If, like me, that’s a task you’ve
struggled with, you’ll know it can be
almost impossible with a properly
gunked up chain without carrying a pair
of specific pliers around. (Squeezing
two thin hex keys or pulling shoe laces
might work eventually…). This tool can
also store your spare quick link as one
of 18 functions including a disc pad
spreader and L-shaped smaller Allen
keys for reaching fiddly bolts. A useful
valve core remover and spoke key are
also included.
The chain link tool is a bit
fiddly and requires removing a
metal block with two tabs that fit in the
roller plates, and tightening both these
inwards to force the chain apart. It’s not
the most elegant solution as the chain
gets in the way of the L-shaped 4mm
Allen key, but it’s totally effective, and
could prove crucial for enduro racers or
wilderness riders.
Blackburn’s tool works well as a
‘standard’ multi-tool too, although
the chassis unwound itself and the
various tools came loose over time,
and the L-shaped Allen keys can
be awkward. The heavier Tradesman
wouldn’t necessarily be my
go-to multi-tool without
the chain link function,
but this extra feature
well justifies some
extra weight
and cost.
Mick Kirkman

mbr
ratings
explained 1-4 Something’s wrong. It’s rare, but sometimes
a product will have a design flaw or some
other weakness that means we can’t
5-6 OK — one or two
faults but it has
potential.
7 Good —
worth 8 Very
good
considering. — for the
9 Excellent
— a slight
mod or two
10 Simply
the best
— we couldn’t
The scores recommend it. Steer clear. money, and it might fault it.
on the doors we’d buy it. be perfect.

SUMMER 2018 mbr 71


NEW PRODUCTS

CAMELBAK K.U.D.U. CUBE EDGE TRAIL


PROTECTOR 20 DRY £ 1 0 9.9 9
SPECIFICATION Capacity: 16 litres  Weight: 1,393g  Colours: blue, red, black  Contact: cube.eu

£ 1 8 9.9 9
SPECIFICATION Capacity: 17 litres (20 including bladder)  Weight: 1,527g  Sizes: S/M, L/XL  The Edge Trail is a mid-capacity pack capable of swallowing everything
Colours: black, burnt olive  Contact: zyrofisher.co.uk a rider needs to carry for a day in the hills. Typical of Cube, it also adds
in a few neat features unique to the brand.
At the very top of Camelbak’s mountain bike-specific range of packs Cube has worked in conjunction with famous German rucksack
sits the K.U.D.U. 20. Built around big days in big mountains, Camelbak brand Deuter to create a concept it calls Natural Fit across all of its
has cherry picked its features based around practicality and, of course, packs. Here the emphasis is on making the Edge Trail as comfortable as
protection for the rider. possible no matter the load and trail conditions. To this end, the Edge
Storage is based around one main compartment, a hydration Trail has one of the most effective padding systems for increasing
bladder pocket and several smaller, organised pockets. airflow and reducing pressure. Multi-height pads and a wide
There’s room to stash all the spare clothing and kit you might webbed-style hip pad are key to making this possible, along
need for a day or two on the bike in the main chamber,
complete with a zipped area for valuables. If you want to
HEAD with thickly padded shoulder straps. There is a downside
to this as the lack of contact makes the pack a little more
use the K.U.D.U. for uplift days or hike-a-bike sections,
the helmet compartment will happily take a full-face, the
TO HEAD unstable than the Camelbak over really technical terrain.
The solution is to crank the straps a little tighter than is
padded front pocket fits goggles and there are stowable sometimes necessary for optimal comfort.
armour straps too. Storage is particularly well thought out. Like the K.U.D.U.
Put the K.U.D.U. on, take it for a ride and it instantly feels like there is one main compartment for kit stowage, complete with
it’s giving you a comfy bear hug thanks to the extra-wide waist strap, zipped pockets. But the Edge Trail wins out on the front pocket
shaped shoulder straps and double chest strap arrangement. This arrangement. Opening out to the side, the mesh compartments are
sucker stays in place no matter how much welly you give it! The waist well sized and arranged for all your spares and tools. There’s even a
strap is a particular highlight, using Velcro to keep it in place; it adds a handy pocket at the side of the back panel, perfect for your phone and
buckle for added security. It also has two substantial pockets to keep lift pass. Just like the Camelbak, Cube also includes a rain cover and
food and other kit to hand. The drawback of this rock-solid retention, straps for holding your body armour. One final feature to note is the
though, is it takes about the same time to put on or take off as a wide-opening helmet carry. On the inside it’s printed with lots of handy
straight jacket. safety information that could help in case of an emergency.
Talking worst-case scenarios, the K.U.D.U. The Edge Trail’s back protector is also CE certified. Although it’s
includes a full coverage back protector. This is not to the same level as the full coverage offered by the
CE certified to Level 2, the highest level K.U.D.U.’s protector, the SaS-Tec-branded
currently, which means it will absorb padding will nonetheless protect the
impacts and transmit less than half spinal area from impacts. It can
the force to the body. Unlike the be removed if you so wish, but
protector in Cube’s pack, this one it adds minimal weight.
covers not only the spine but With minimal weight
also the full width of the back penalty over most
including the rib cage. standard packs,
For those days when you we would opt
still require protection, but to use the
don’t want to be overly Edge Trail
encumbered, the pack over a non-
can be unzipped from the protecting
protector, with the latter pack any day.
worn on its own. As a bonus,
in this guise it still has a
couple of small pockets.
Although pricey and
heavy compared
to other packs,
the K.U.D.U.’s
versatility
will appeal
to many.

TEST
WINNER!
VERDICT
On paper both the K.U.D.U. and Edge Trail far costlier pack than the Edge Trail, but it the same range of features. But it’s the added
look to provide fairly similar packages, but does come with a bladder, so taking that reassurance and protection provided by the
Camelbak and Cube have taken slightly into consideration brings the cost difference K.U.D.U., coupled with its rock-solid stability,
different approaches to the task in hand. down. Storage is also of a similar, well- that makes the Camelbak the one to beat.
There’s no denying that the K.U.D.U. is a thought out set-up and both have almost James Bracey

72 mbr SUMMER 2018


NEW PRODUCTS

AVS HAND GUARDS


€ 6 9.9 0
SPECIFICATIONM[_]^j0'()]9edjWYj0Wli#hWY_d]$Yec

If you’ve followed any of the racing at the The plastic shields are mounted to either While the aluminium extensions are stiff,
Enduro World Series, you can’t fail to have plastic or aluminium arms that clamp there’s some flexibility in the plastic shields
noticed the hand guards sported by 2017 around the handlebars. We tested the more — don’t expect them to brush off fist fights
overall winner Sam Hill, as well as DH legend expensive aluminium versions, which invite a with trees. Also, because they stick out, the
Nico Vouilloz. €20 premium over the basic price of €49.90. guards can make it tougher to wiggle through
Standard equipment on enduro At 10mm wide (check) the clamps take up tight woods. For overgrown
motorcycles, the AVS hand guards are a vital real estate on your bars, so aren’t ideal summer singletrack they’re
cut-down version for push bikes designed if you run a cluttered handlebar. That said, great, though, as you can
to protect your hands from branches and we managed to fit them to an e-bike with smash through tunnels
vegetation as well as preventing plants dropper remote and power switch on the of ferns without getting
from hooking around your brake levers and left side of the bars without compromising tangled up.
throwing you over the bars. the ergonomics. Danny Milner

SWEET PROTECTION
HUNTER SHORTS
£ 9 9.9 9
SPECIFICATIONI_p[i0I"C"B"NBXbWYa"YeZoehWd]["ZWha\heij`kd]b[fheZkYji$Ye$ka

Sometimes a piece of kit hits the sweet A solid, double press-stud fly fastens the
spot and you end up riding all the time. waistband and adjustable grippers cinch it
Sweet Protection’s Hunter short is one such tight, using thick and sturdy material with
item — it does nothing revolutionary, but, dense Velcro that doesn’t stop working
subtly revised for 2018, nails the essentials of over time. Pockets and vent zips are well
comfortable fit, durability and good looks. positioned and, despite being pretty thick,
The tough fabric uses a DWR coating and the Hunters don’t run too hot on summer
laminated zip to keep splashes and mud at days. The waistband sits a little lower
bay, and unless it’s hammering down, the than some, however. Sweet
shorts keep legs and bum pretty dry. The Protection’s Hunters are
two-way stretchy fit is relatively roomy pricey, but have a great
with good space for proper knee protection unrestrictive cut, last
without exposing flashes of thigh meat to ages and are practical in
everyone, and they don’t flap around if you most conditions.
don’t wear pads either. Mick Kirkman

74 mbr SUMMER 2018


(;3/25(
<285 /,0,76
$1' 7+(1
5,'( %(<21'

ZZZWLWLFLFRP
NEW PRODUCTS
INDUSTRY NINE
ALL IN MULTITOOL MATCHSTIX
£120
€ 6 7. 9 0
SPECIFICATIONM[_]^j0'&*]9edjWYj0kXoa$Ye$ka
SPECIFICATION M[_]^j0 '&-]  9edjWYj0 Wbb_dckbj_jeeb$Yec

The All In Multitool is genius in its simplicity and Industry Nine’s Matchstix replaces your thru-axle with a
execution. It inserts into your hollow bottom bracket HEAD compendium of clever tools. There are versions to fit both
axle and is held in place by a strong magnet. In fact
the magnet forms the backbone of the whole design, TO HEAD Fox and RockShox forks, and you can get it in Boost and
non-Boost widths. It’s a simple screw-through design, so
preventing the 1/4in drive bits from falling out, as well as no lever to close, but the handle cleared the lower leg on
securing the tool to your bike. Obviously it only works with our RockShox Pike with ease. At 104g, it adds 26g over a
steel axles, such as Shimano’s Hollowtech 2 and SRAM’s GXP standard Maxle and weighs 64g more than a Maxle Lite.
unit. If you have an alloy BB30 or DUB design you’re out of luck. The handle itself houses both a spoke key and a chain breaker, and
First question we had when we tried the All In Multitool was: would both function very well considering they have to do double duties.
it fall out? The answer is unreservedly no. It’s impressively secure, Pull the snap-fit handle off and there’s a 5mm hex key
even when chucking your bike down seriously rough descents. on one side and a socket on the other that accepts any
Our second question was, where’s the 2.5mm hex key? But, of of the standard 1/4in bits housed within the axle.
course, the beauty of the All In Multitool is that you can customise To access these, you pull the end cap out.
the tool bits to suit your needs. So you can just grab a 2.5mm hex This doubles as a valve core tool and a
bit and drop it into the anodised aluminium body. There are six
chambers on the body, which is enough for most eventualities, and TEST holder for your chain link. Inside the
axle is a rubber sleeve holding four
the articulating handle means you can use it like a screwdriver, or
crank it 90°for additional leverage.
WINNER! bits. You can mix and match these to
suit your bike, and slits in the tubing
While not as good as an individual tool allow you to remove a bit without
for accessing those awkward bolts, it’s disturbing the others. There’s also a hex
better than most multi-tools, and the fact socket at the opposite end of the axle to
that it’s so quick and easy to access means the handle for when you need extra torque.
less time spent faffing and more time It’s hard not to be impressed with the ingenuity
spent riding. of the Industry Nine Matchstix. Everything
It weighs 107g, but being located at functions really well, and it covers most bases
the lowest point of in the event of an emergency mechanical.
frame is, if anything, However, it’s an expensive bit of kit, and
an advantage as far as it’s a definitely more of an involved
the bike’s centre of process to make small tweaks to your
gravity goes. bike during a ride than it is with the All
In Multitool.

VERDICT
Both of the tools here are impressively and cheaply. Industry Nine’s Matchstix is the your controls mid-ride. But it only works if you
creative and highly functional. They also more comprehensive unit, with the ability to have a steel BB axle and it won’t be any use
share the concept of using plug-in tool bits true wheels and break chains. However, it’s if you break a chain or buckle a wheel. Which
and a handle/receiver, rather than a fold-out, expensive, and you can’t whip it out easily to means this test win goes to the Matchstix by
Swiss Army-style design. Which means both make quick adjustments. the narrowest margins: it fits more bikes and
can be customised to suit your bike, and The All In Multitool takes seconds to will get you home in more situations.
replacement tool bits can be bought easily remove, which makes it perfect for tweaking Danny Milner

FABRIC ACCUBAR
£ 3 4 .9 9
SPECIFICATION M[_]^j0 '&-]  9edjWYj0 \WXh_Y$YY

Here at mbr we’re a right sad bunch


of tyre nerds. Before every ride we
check our pressures, something that’s Better still, the large dial is really easy to it’s a screw-fit connection, so
a bit geeky, but critical to consistent read and you can be incredibly accurate you have to be careful not to lose
handling and maximum performance — with setting your pressures — more so any air when attaching or detaching
even more so with big volume, low- than with the Topeak because it only the gauge. There’s an extra valve at the
pressure tyres where just 1psi can make reads in 1psi increments. Max pressure opposite end to the hose so you can run
a huge difference to grip and support. is 40psi, so it’s perfect for mountain bikes, it in-line with a mini pump too.
But every so often we pull out our trusty and there’s a bleed button on the side to Full marks for function then, but at
digital Topeak gauges and find that the allow you to lose excess pressure. £5 more than the Topeak Smarthead 2,
battery has gone flat. With Fabric’s smart The flexible hose lets you access both value is not its strongest point.
analogue Accubar that’s never a problem. presta and Schrader valves with ease, but Danny Milner

76 mbr SUMMER 2018


SHIMANO STEPS E6000 SWITCH
£ 4 9.9 9
SPECIFICATIONM[_]^j0(,]9edjWYj0cWZ_ied$Ye$ka

If you’ve got an e-bike equipped with designed for city bikes, but it’s the
Shimano STEPS, chances are you’ll best way to ergonomically declutter
a) have been confused on at least the cockpit of a modern e-mtb that
one occasion by the Di2 shifter when we’ve come across. Why
changing between power modes, and brands don’t fit them
b) found it really hard to get a good as standard to their
position for your dropper post remote. e-bikes we
Well, help is quite literally at hand with don’t know.
the basic E6000 controller unit. Danny Milner
Super slim and refreshingly simple,
the E6000 unit can sit happily between
your grip and your dropper remote (or
brake lever) without impeding access to
either. You can pair it with an under-bar
dropper remote too, and yet still easily
switch between power modes using the
two grey buttons.
Being so small and neat, it’s less
prone to damage in a crash, and the
black button at the top lets you scroll
through information on the display
without taking your hands off the bars.
Installation is child’s play — just clamp
the switch to the bars and plug the
connector into the display unit.
The STEPS E6000 switch may be

SCOTT MTB AR LACE FLAT SHOE


£ 9 9.9 9
SPECIFICATIONM[_]^j0./(]i_p[*)I_p[i0*&Å*.[k9ebekh0XbWYa%]h[o9edjWYj0iYejj#ifehji$Yec

Scott’s latest high-end flat pedal shoe uses arch and offer more support than a standard which allows the platform to be precisely
a special ‘Sticki’ rubber outsole welded to a foam insole. positioned while riding and feet wriggled if
sculpted, splash-resistant upper. It laces up The toe cap uses a chunky rubber bumper needed. Unfortunately, it’s this area where
with a secure fit that’s closer to an SPD shoe to brush off impacts and the thicker EVA Scott’s ARs go awry. The sole simply isn’t
than a softer, flimsier skate shoe. A deep midsole provides good isolation from the sticky or damped enough for this smoother
heel cup cradles the ankle securely and the pummelling feet get on longer descents zone to work, and unlike others that aren’t as
tongue and lace eyelets extend right up the in choppy terrain. The upper fabric sheds grippy as Five Tens, it doesn’t benefit from
foot to ensure locked-on hold. Inside, Scott’s splashes and mud pretty well, but doesn’t a tread pattern designed to mesh with pins
‘Ergo Logic’ insoles aren’t as sculpted as an run too hot and sweaty either, thanks to its and keep feet planted.
aftermarket footbed, but still have a raised small mesh inserts. In the dry, and especially in the wet, feet
Pedal interaction with the Sticki sole skate around too much even on the grippiest
happens in a smoother portion of the pedals, and the AR feels sketchy. On top of
sole (reminiscent of a Five the lack of bite on the bike, traction is poor
Ten Freerider Contact), climbing up steep push ups in damp UK
conditions, and the shank feels stiff when
walking, so the edges rubbed my toes and
heel and gave me blisters.
As you might have guessed, I really
didn’t get on with this AR, and reckon
there’s a good reason you don’t see
Scott’s sponsored athletes rocking
it on the trails much. I really rate
some of the brand’s other kit,
but I’ll definitely be sticking
with my Five Ten Freerider
Pro, as it’s a similar kind of
shoe done
exactly
right.
Mick
Kirkman

SUMMER 2018 mbr 77


GROUP TEST

TRAIL TYRES
Choose the right tyres and confidence will soar and your bike will come alive
Words & photos: Mick Kirkman

T
hose simple rubber rings on The 12 tyres that we’ve chosen are
your wheels are your bike’s better suited to trail and enduro riding USED & ABUSED
only connection with the dirt, rather than cross-country racing,
and totally vital in terms of
control. Tyres keep you in line
reflecting how modern trails and bikes
are becoming ever more aggressive.
How we test
and on track, and are one of the most Their bigger treads also work better in Unusually for England, it’s been hard to find any
cost-effective ways of transforming the damp or muddy conditions typical moisture to test wet-weather grip in the last few
your bike’s handling. Top models aren’t of the UK’s fickle climate. months. A couple of rare days of rain had us racing out
cheap but buying quality rubber should With better bikes being ridden ever for back-to-back laps on local rooty, steep and rocky
be right at the top of your shopping list harder on increasingly technical trails, trails, backed up by riding everywhere from DH bike
if you’re serious about performance. tyres have become tougher, knobblier parks, to dark Welsh hillsides and even spots as
Mountain bike tyres offer a spectrum and more reliable to cope. Fatter tyres far-flung as Africa.
of benefits, from high rolling speed and bring more chunk, but also increased Year round, we ride and rate different tyres, so we’ve
weight saving at one end, to ultimate durability and fewer punctures, while clocked up a vast database to compare against. Tyres
grip and traction at the other. Most new heavier tyres also increase confidence here were set up tubeless on 30mm internal rims with
high-end tyres are tubeless ready, so by feeling more stable at speed. pressures dependent on the thickness of the casing
you can use sealant instead of inner The dozen tyres here span a broad and volume — mostly around the 28psi rear/25psi
tubes to hold the air inside, which is range of tread patterns, rubber front range. During long-term testing we wore several
something that improves tyre feel and compounds, weight and price. Modern tyres out completely, and ripped a couple, but, overall,
conformity, and can also dramatically tyres are better than ever; it’s just a modern tyre durability is pretty solid.
reduce the chance of punctures. matter of finding the right tyre for you.

78 mbr SUMMER 2018


JARGON BUSTER

Know your trail tyres


CASING RUBBER COMPOUND AIR PRESSURE
Casing thickness and ply lay-up Rubber hardness is measured Different tyres require different air
and orientation has a big impact in durometers; higher numbers pressures. A rough rule of thumb
on ride quality by controlling signifying firmer compounds – 60a is: the thicker the casing, the lower
conformity, rolling speed and is harder and longer lasting than the air pressure you can get away
durability. Harder-charging 50a rubber. The secret ingredients with. For maximum comfort and
riders might have to accept the and density of the rubber formula grip, aim for the minimum pressure
extra weight of meatier casings tyre brands use are something of that keeps the casing from twisting
to prevent punctures and stop a mystery though, and, outside too much and still prevents rim
sidewalls folding under hard of durometer figures, can make a strikes under impacts. Experiment
cornering forces. Heavier tyres huge difference to grip, rebound with lower pressures if you often
accelerate more slowly but feel damping and rolling speed. run over 30psi.
more planted and stable once
momentum takes hold. Tubeless is
always the way to go — inner tubes
feel lifeless by comparison and are TREAD
more likely to puncture. Widely spaced treads bite into
looser surfaces better and retain
less mud, but can also increase
rolling resistance. Sipes and cuts
help braking purchase and the way
tread knobs deform and splay over
obstacles. A more pronounced
channel between shoulder and
centre blocks often delivers better
off-camber bite and a sensation
of ‘railing’ turns, but some prefer
a more continuous, rounded tread
than the on/off grip this gap in the
tread brings.

WEIGHT
Wider, more aggressive
tyres need significant
support to keep tread
blocks stable and use
more fabric and rubber,
which adds weight.
Bigger, heavier tyres
can stabilise the bike by
being harder to deflect
at speed, and larger
air volumes offer more
isolation too — especially
useful to smooth out
rougher terrain.

WIDTH
Using wider tyres up front for extra
grip and comfort makes a lot of
sense. Arms get more cushioning
and comfort and slightly narrower
rear tyres can also help initiate
faster turning. Tyre width is relative
to air volume, and larger volumes
provide more isolation, damping
and control, up to a point. Wider
tyres add weight for climbing and
acceleration, but rolling speed
between different widths should
be so close off-road, it’s not such
an issue. Too-wide tyres ‘float’ in
mud and wet and can lack bite.

SUMMER 2018 mbr 79


GROUP TEST
CONTINENTAL
BONTRAGER XR4 TRAIL KING
TEAM ISSUE £65
SPECIFICATION 7YjkWb i_p[0 ,'$+cc ($*(_d  M[_]^j0 /+&]  I_p[i0 (-$+%(/n($*" ($,_d
£ 4 9.9 9 CeZ[b j[ij[Z0 (/n($*_d FheJ[Yj_ed 7f[n 8bWYa 9^_b_  9edjWYj0 Yedj_#joh[i$Ye$ka

SPECIFICATION 7YjkWb i_p[0 ,*$,cc ($++_d  M[_]^j0 /*&] NH* (/n($,_d  I_p[i0 (-$+%
(/n($*" ($," )$&_d  CeZ[b j[ij[Z0 (/n($,_d J[Wc _iik[0 NH*  I;*  9edjWYj0 jh[aX_a[i$Yec Continental has made significant changes to its latest tyres with
tweaked tread patterns, and a brand new four-ply casing and
Bontrager’s latest 4-series tyres are offered from 2.4in up to 3.0in construction. Beads are now more uniform for better tubeless
wide. We’ve tried the 2.6in size in SE4 (Super Enduro) and XR4 (trail) sealing and redesigned sidewalls more supple, to address the older,
casings on both wheel sizes, with the SE’s ‘Core Strength’ puncture six-ply tyres feeling a little wooden on rough ground.
protection adding around 120g for claimed ‘DH-level’ security. This high-end 2.4in Trail King looks familiar, but shoulder
The tread uses pretty evenly spaced blocks, without a blocks have been subtly reshaped and jut out at a better angle as
pronounced shoulder channel, and blows up rounder than most a result of a different, more rounded inflated shape. Gone is Conti’s
‘in-between’ tyres. The dual-compound knobs are relatively low ‘Mohican’ tread, whereby the blocks used to sit on top of bulging
profile, so while the SE version is enduro-rated, it works best as an sidewalls, at least on wider rims more common nowadays. Both
aggressive trail tyre outside of winter. The heavier version uses a ends inflated first time and stayed up fine (which hasn’t always
66tpi lay-up and the XR a single-ply 120tpi casing, both with extra been our experience in the past), but the new bead is a struggle to
layers under the tread crown and sidewalls to increase durability fit with bare hands, which might make trailside repairs that much
and cut resistance. more difficult.
Bontrager’s casing is supple, with the thicker SE tyre feeling The Black Chili formula has tons of grip and friction on slippy
duller and more muted in the rough stuff. The tread has softer 50a edges and rocks, and considering it feels relatively soft, rolling
shoulders and firmer 61a durometer centre knobs, which are higher speed is fast. We’ve always experienced excellent wear life with this
numbers compared to some, but there’s no noticeable reduction in compound (Conti claims it’s more dense than other sticky rubber
hold on all surfaces and climbing traction is excellent considering blends) and tyres wear out in a very uniform way, rather than
the tread height. We had zero burping or air loss issues either. peeling or shredding layers or knobs.
There’s a very uniform, no-surprises feel to the grip so you can Predictable and smooth whether on trail centre gravel, wet
trust the drift — the tyre never pings or fires off edges and, at the roots or rocks, the Trail King tracks the ground well and transmits
limits of traction, breaks away very smoothly, even really leant over. noticeably less vibration and bounce than older models.
The lighter XR is tough enough for most parts of the UK, but the SE The casing seems tough too, but the relatively small edge
version will be better on the rear on rocky or sharper trails. Neither blocks mean it won’t hold on forever in deep, moist loam or
tyre is super-light, but they don’t ever feel sluggish greasy dirt, so it isn’t the most versatile year-round
or heavy and the bigger volume is comfy and rolls UK option for more aggro riders. It’s also at
really fast, making these a great three-seasons the very top end in terms of price, albeit this
option you can just leave on, unless you live in a is balanced by the longer lifespan. Overall,
very muddy area where a toothier tyre will cut Continental’s new construction technology
in better. works great and we can’t wait to get hold of
some of the knobblier models in the range.

80 mbr SUMMER 2018


KENDA HELLKAT GOODYEAR
PRO ATC NEWTON PREMIUM
£ 4 9.9 9 £60
SPECIFICATION 7YjkWb i_p[0 ,'cc ($*'_d  M[_]^j0 .+']I_p[i0(-$+n($*_dCeZ[bj[ij[Z0 SPECIFICATION 7YjkWb i_p[0 +-$/cc ($(._d  M[_]^j0 '"&.(]  I_p[i0(-$+%(/n($*"($,_d
(-$+n($*_d 7J9 ;D#:J9  9edjWYj0 ceeh[bWh][$Ye$ka CeZ[b j[ij[Z0 (/n($* ;D :odWc_Y H%J  9edjWYj0 fWb_]Wf$YY

The designed-for-downhill Hellkat really impressed us last year in a Famous automotive tyre brand Goodyear has just entered the
heavyweight casing, and it’s now available with a more trail-friendly, cycling market with a huge range. For dirt lovers, four tyres (with
dual-compound ATC casing that’s almost 250g lighter. a whopping 30+ options) range from pure XC models up to these
The widely spaced, blocky tread has softer durometer shoulders Newtons, more suitable for trail and enduro riding.
and a firmer rolling strip, although both zones still feel pretty We mounted the £60 Goodyears to a long-travel 29er, with the
squidgy to touch. The tread is more of an open, motocross-style blocky, Minion-like, Newton rear, and slightly more open-treaded
affair with pretty aggressive edge knobs and a mostly uninterrupted Newton ST up front. Both seated easily with a track pump and
shoulder channel. inflated quite square and skinny (under 2.3in on a 31mm internal
The 120tpi construction uses proprietary, reinforced ‘K-Armour’ rim). These Premium versions are £10 cheaper than the Ultimates
layers under the sides and crown to resist cuts and punctures and with a 1.5-ply, 60tpi casing, rather than a 120tpi one (that should be
stiffen the casing, but these are thinner than on the gravity model more supple).
to save weight. This trail version also omits a 20mm tall Apex layer The first outing for the Newtons was at Revolution, a steep
around the bead that further helps resists burping and pinch flats. uplifted Welsh DH bikepark that can be a harsh test for equipment.
Considering all the grip on offer it’s a really light tyre at just over Sunny weather meant a good mix of dusty, blown-out hardpack,
850g, and we’ve had zero issues with punctures or damage during together with sniper roots and wet dirt in the dark forests.
testing, even thrashing around on a long travel e-bike. Braking traction felt good and the Dynamic RT (there’s also a
On fast or technical tracks, the slow-rebounding Hellkat is softer RS/T compound) rolls well, but the tyres felt nervous and
comfortable, damped and glued to the ground, making it feel more chattery than others we’re used to, with a tendency to bounce
seriously assured. It never does anything strange or upsetting, and sharply off angled tree roots and move on embedded rocks in deep
this trail version appears to share similar massive grip levels with berms. After a couple of runs, we dropped pressures by around 4psi
the softer, tougher DH version that would work well as a Lakes or and the stiff-feeling tyres gained some composure.
Scotland bomber. In corners and off-camber, the soft knobs have For a direct comparison, we switched to Minion DHR IIs in
enough base stiffness to bite without flexing or chattering and standard EXO casing, and also a super-soft E13 TRSr/+ combo,
feel more continuously ‘locked on’ than ‘drift-then-catch’. Overall with both performing significantly better in terms of damping and
traction turning and braking is huge on all surfaces, wet or dry. grip. Later, we tried even lower pressures on familiar trails and rode
The Hellkat is seriously impressive in gnarly loose dirt and loam, but these mid-tier Newtons
terrain, works on smoother hardpack better than never totally convinced in terms of either grip,
it should and is really comfortable on bumpy comfort, or confidence in the wet, especially
surfaces like degraded trail centres or small considering the cost. We’re going to put some
embedded rocks. Tough, light and £15 cheaper more time in on the softer-rubber, pricier casing
than models with equivalent performance, Kenda models soon and will report back.
is back in the game with the Hellkat.

SUMMER 2018 mbr 81


GROUP TEST
MAXXIS MINION
MAXXIS AGGRESSOR DHR II WT
£ 4 9.9 9 £6 4 .9 9
SPECIFICATION 7YjkWb i_p[0 ,($-cc ($*-_d  M[_]^j0 '"&&/] I_p[i0(-$+%(/n($)"($+_d
SPECIFICATION 7YjkWb i_p[0 ,($+cc ($**_d  M[_]^j0 /(,]  I_p[i0 (,%(-$+%(/n($)je($._d
I_p[j[ij[Z0(/n($+_dMJ;NEJH9edjWYj0[njhWka$Ye$ka
I_p[ j[ij[Z0 (-$+n($*_d MJ ;NE )9 CWnn J[hhW  9edjWYj0 [njhWka$Ye$ka

The Aggressor is targeted as a bit of a do-it-all tyre, but has gained Maxxis tyres are massively popular for good reason. Its rubber
most popularity as a rear option, especially for riders blessed with blends and tread patterns grip like stink on all surfaces and have
more hard-packed and dusty trails. This wider 2.5in WT version proven reliability and tubeless sealing. The Minion DHR II arguably
is relatively new and spreads the tread blocks out a bit, which offers the most grip of all Maxxis models suitable for mixed
increases versatility in mixed conditions, without impacting on the conditions, and works fine year round, unless you suffer from nasty
rolling efficiency. mud and gloop in your area.
The Aggressor lays down a lot of rubber and isolates vibration The latest Wide Trail models increase tread block spacing
and chatter well when you’re going really fast. The dense tread and lays down more rubber, especially up front where the older
provides good protection against impacts and cuts and bites on 2.3in blew up skinny. The EXO casing hits the sweet spot, being
blown-out terrain and loose rocks, but is also surprisingly good on reasonably lightweight, yet tough enough for most UK trails, and the
greasy uphills in terms of pure climbing grip. Braking traction is Double Down casing is more solid if you’re a harder rider but don’t
also sorted, with the small-ish central tread blocks doing a better need a full-on, heavier DH tyre.
job than you’d expect, scrubbing speed off quickly, unless trails are Our favourite combination for totally locked-on cornering grip
especially muddy. and immediate braking response is a pair of DHR IIs, even though
Rolling speed is considerably faster than the Minion or High Roller it’s designed as a rear-specific model. Minion rolling speed sacrifices
II, and closer to a semi-slick style rear. Cornering grip and shoulder something to the competition, and if you’re more concerned about
hold is less on/off than the slip-to-grip semi-slick feel though and this than pure grip, then the DHF model (sharing the same ‘L’ shaped
quite neutral, with a very predictable envelope of traction, so the edge blocks) turns over a fraction easier — or consider a tyre like the
tyre never lets go dramatically. Maxxis Aggressor that’s noticeably quicker out back.
Whereas we felt the original 2.3in Aggressor only really excelled 3C Maxx Terra (or even the softer Maxx Grip) is the compound to
in dry conditions and gravelly/sandy type terrain or pure rocks, go for on the front, and the longer-lasting, dual-compound rubber
the 2.5in WT version can handle a lot more moisture and cuts in is fine on the back, unless you need ultimate braking and edge
harder on off-cambers and loose dirt, plus the bigger volume is traction. The Maxxis casing and ride isn’t quite as slurpy as tyres like
more comfortable. the Kenda here, but balances this by feeling supportive even if you
This tyre works really well on the back if you ride a lot of rough, hit stuff really hard. Braking hard into beat-up corners, with massive
armoured trail centres or fast rocky bridleways. loads placed on the edge blocks, they never tremble
The weight and £50 price strike a good balance or fold, and grip is continuous and predictable.
for such a tough tyre, but if you prefer more This tyre is all about maximum confidence, rather
technical DH challenges like slow-speed, steep, than best value or lifespan; a trade-off we’re
sloppy woods where pure control is the priority happy to make for the most fun on the bike.
and braking traction and the softest rubber a
necessity, some other tyres here work better.

TEST
WINNER!

82 mbr SUMMER 2018


MICHELIN PANARACER
WILD ENDURO PANDURA 2.4 TLC
£ 4 9.9 9 f r o n t , £ 4 4 .9 9 r e a r £ 5 4 .9 9
SPECIFICATION 7YjkWb i_p[0 ,&cc ($*_d  M[_]^j0 '"&(+] \hedj" //.] h[Wh  I_p[i0 (-$+n($*_d SPECIFICATION 7YjkWb i_p[0 ,(cc ($*_d  M[_]^j0 '"()*]I_p[i0(-$+n($*_dI_p[j[ij[Z0
I_p[ j[ij[Z0 (-$+n($*_d <hedj CW]_ N( WdZ H[Wh =kc N):  9edjWYj0 c_Y^[b_d$Yec (-$+n($*_d \ebZ_d] JB9  9edjWYj0 poheÓi^[h$Ye$ka

Michelin sponsors some of the fastest EWS racers, and it’s these Japanese brand Panaracer used to be a massive player in the UK.
riders who spent two years helping to develop these Wild Enduros. It still offers 20 different mtb tyres, but the top-rated TrailRaker
They’re front and rear-specific, with different tread patterns and mud tyre in 26in size was the last model we saw in any volume.
construction to suit each wheel. This new Pandura is a triple compound, all-mountain model
The front uses a sturdy three-ply 66tpi casing and comes in two with a proper two-ply DH casing. The nylon taffeta sidewall
compounds including the Magi X2 rubber here, which is a more reinforcement is claimed strong enough for seriously rocky and
expensive, firmer, race-specific blend, rather confusingly designed smashed up enduro race tracks, and has a serious 1,234g weight to
for ‘expert riders’ — whatever that means. The rear is sticky, Gum back this up. The rubber blend doesn’t list durometer, just that the
X3D only in a three-ply 33tpi carcass with an extra pinch protection shoulders are ‘extremely soft’ and the centre ‘super soft’ rubber
bead insert. Both tyres feel heavy duty and proved tough and over a firmer base.
puncture proof, but the front lost air gradually on the same wheel The Pandura looks very different and is extremely directional
as other test tyres. with sharp, small oblong blocks and zig-zag edge knobs, all
The aggressive front tread is very spaced out, with a significant pointing like arrows down the trail. We’ll admit to doubting the
gap between the (3mm or so) alternatively offset edge blocks. The funky tread pattern, but the casing and the rubber blend actually
rear is more densely packed with lower-profile, sharp and pointy works really well on treacherous rocks and roots with properly
tread blocks and inflates quite tall. slurpy, predictable grip when on the brakes and tip-toeing down
The combination feels secure and planted in the dry on rough the hardest trails.
rocks and gravel, but in damp, steep and dark UK woods, we had It rolls pretty well, considering the weight, but the smaller knobs
some reservations. On clay and greasy loam, the gappy edge blocks aren’t the best on moist loam and grease when cornering hard or
make it hard to gauge traction when really leant over, and the spiky holding off-cambers, as there isn’t enough edge meat to really bite
knobs (or casing) can feel pingy and nervous on wet edges and in and hold a tight line. Hitting the fastest corners or slowing down
roots. It’s also a harsher ride over repeated stutter bumps and rutted over braking chop, the shoulder blocks aren’t substantial enough
braking holes on entrances to steep turns. In a crude bumpy fire to support really loading the front edge blocks at an angle either,
road roll-down test on each tyre, this Michelin rolled slowest too. so they tremble and flex. There’s an impression the tyre tucks in
After setting fork damping settings to suit the tyre’s slow coming into corners too hot and leant over — it’s not drastic and
rebound character, the Wild Enduro felt super-calm the sticky rubber maintains control, but there’s a less
and assured and we were able to push it extremely muscular feel than tyres here with better support.
hard, but on occasion it still feels twitchy. We’d To sum up, the Pandura has a casing and
like to try the softer, GUM X3D front tyre to rubber compound that really excels in terms
compare the different compounds, as these of slow-speed grip, but we’d prefer a more
Wild Enduros offer something different to most aggressive shoulder tread for pushing harder
brands in terms of ride feel. in moist conditions.

SUMMER 2018 mbr 83


GROUP TEST
SPECIALIZED
SCHWALBE MAGIC BUTCHER GRID
MARY ADDIX SOFT £50
SPECIFICATION 7YjkWb i_p[0 ,+$'cc ($+,_d  M[_]^j0 '"&+&]  I_p[i0(-$+%(/n($)"($,($._d
£ 5 8 .9 9 I_p[ j[ij[Z0 (-$+n($,_d =h_Z (8b_ii  9edjWYj0 if[Y_Wb_p[Z$Yec

SPECIFICATION 7YjkWb i_p[0 ,&cc ($),_d  M[_]^j0 /(.]  I_p[i0 (,%(-$+%(/n ($)+"($,_d
I_p[ j[ij[Z0 (/n($)+ 7ZZ_n Ie\j IdWa[ia_d JB [Wio  9edjWYj0 iY^mWbX[$Yec Specialized’s Butcher has been around for ages, but this latest
version is significantly reworked. The tyres now come in bigger
Schwalbe totally revamped its line-up for 2018 with new Addix sizes, like this 2.6in version, and Spesh has recently switched its
compounds, denoted by the coloured stripes on the tyres. The new rubber blend to a compound called Gripton, originally developed for
formulae address durability concerns and tread blocks shearing off, the brand’s road racers. This model uses a tough, cut-resistant GRID
as well as cold weather performance. Among the multiple Magic casing and tips the scales over a kilo, but a cheaper, 2.3in version,
Marys, tread patterns and the single-ply Snakeskin and, thicker on and lighter Control carcasses are still available.
the sides, Super Gravity casings remain, plus there’s now a new Retaining its deep cornering channel, the Butcher’s tread gains
in-between Apex e-bike casing also suitable for ‘standard’ bikes. sawtooth cuts on the inside of the shoulder knobs and alternate
The orange Addix strip denotes ‘Soft’, which replaces the old central lugs. The idea is the little edges provide additional surfaces
‘Trailstar’ compound. Damping is marginally increased according to bite into the ground and then break away more smoothly. We
to Schwalbe, but the tyres feel noticeably faster, and wear life found the older Specialized rubber compound less surefooted
and durability is way improved. The 2.35in Magic Mary blows up than some in certain soils when wet, but Gripton claims to improve
bang on size, with a very aggressive tread — rocking pumped-up, mechanical grip levels and increase high-frequency vibration
reinforced edge blocks. The new 2.6in versions we’ve also tried are reduction without affecting either rolling speed or wear life.
more spaced out and look like a tractor tyre. These are a bit of a grip With its bigger treads, this 2.6in version has stubborn grip in
monster, especially in winter in the Ultra Soft Purple version, but loose dirt and a glued-in-place stability on rock-flecked trail centres
the very open tread blocks bobble more and are less assured and surfaces or gravel. The Butcher corner knobs hold nicely in turns to
drifty on hardpack. rail with minimal drift and hold off-cambers with a solid, locked-on
For aggressive riding in UK conditions, the Magic Mary is a great feel. The Gripton rubber feels surefooted in greasy conditions too,
performer. The moto-style blocks clear crud well, cornering and and predictable on wet edges and roots, but is arguably marginally
braking is excellent and the tyre never over or understeers on severe less sucker-like than some rivals’ soft compounds.
cambers or dragging brakes down ruts. The new Addix compound Spesh’s big Butchers mount easily and last pretty well. The ride
feels confident in the steeps on wet or dry rocks and roots, even if quality is well cushioned, but there’s a perception of a slightly
some testers reckoned it felt a tad springier and less glued to the bouncy feel to the damping character, and less control in terms
ground than the older Trailstar rubber. of tracking from either the tread blocks or the
The Magic Mary has always been super-grippy sidewalls hammering through really rough stuff.
and now lasts longer and rolls faster than before. The Gripton rubber’s rolling speed is mid pack
It’s a bit of a toss-up with the Maxxis Minions and at best in this test too. Specialized tyres have
High Rollers for the crown of best aggressive, traditionally always been good value, but the
mixed-conditions performer. It ultimately comes bigger-volume size here costs £15 more, which
down to personal preference. reduces this price advantage.

84 mbr SUMMER 2018


VITTORIA MORSA WTB VIGILANTE
£ 5 4 .9 9 £ 4 2 .9 9
SPECIFICATION 7YjkWb i_p[0 +.$(cc ($(/_d  M[_]^j0 ..&] I_p[i0(-$+%(/n($)"($+"($._d SPECIFICATION 7YjkWb i_p[0 +.$'cc ($(/_d  M[_]^j0 //)]  I_p[i0 (,%(-$+%(/n($)_dI_p[
I_p[j[ij[Z0(-$+n($)JDJ=!9edjWYj0poheÓi^[h$Ye$ka j[ij[Z0(/n($)_dJ9IB_]^j%<WijHebb_d]9edjWYj0^ejb_d[i#ka$Yec

Big in the road bike world, Vittoria is making a major push for a slice The Vigilante is a practical, versatile tyre that’s become something
of the mountain bike pie with a slew of new models. Some of these of a UK staple, especially as a front option. WTB tyres have earned
will feature in the winter tyre test later in the year, but one of the a good reputation as being tough and durable, plus the brand has
Italian brand’s established all-round trail and enduro tyres is the one of the most logical labelling policies for its different technology.
Morsa here. Who can’t understand the difference between a tough or light
Packed with technology (and the initials to go with it), it’s casing, and a high grip or fast-rolling compound? Other tyre firms
available in a massive range of shapes and sizes. This TNT G+ Isotech could do well to take note.
model is tubeless ready and pretty lightweight for an enduro-rated The Vigilante pumps up tall and reasonably narrow, which
tyre at under 900g. The four-compound tread mix uses Graphene, offers good isolation from bumps that could benefit a hardtail or
a new, ultra-resistant ‘super material’, in the form of powder in the shorter-travel rig. Compared to the more modern Wide Trail style,
rubber blend. 2.4 or 2.5in tyres here, it looks a bit skinny and can also get a little
For toughness on rough ground, a reinforced carcass helps stretched on the sides by the latest internally wider rims. We’d
resist punctures and cuts, but this casing shows premature signs ideally love to see a 2.5in size Vigilante to match how wheels have
of thread wear and sidewall fatigue if you use the wide cornering grown broader in recent seasons.
groove to slam into turns too much. The pointy, siped edge blocks It’s only available in 2.3in width, but there’s a wide variety of
are OK in dry stuff, but the lower-profile centre tread is a bit drifty options to prioritise rolling speed or outright grip, whether you
in loose dirt and loam when braking hard. This ramped central need a heavy duty puncture-proof casing or a lighter, quicker-to-
strip is quite shallow, and the flip side of the reduced grip (or the accelerate and climb one. The Vigilante clears crud well and climbs
sophisticated compound), means the Morsa rolls super-fast with and brakes with assurance, and the thicker Tough tyres have proven
almost semi-slick speed. On top of this exceptional turnover on really resilient and cut-proof in areas like the Lakes or Highlands.
mellower trails, the tread blocks appear to scrub down pretty This extra security adds around 250g over the lightest models.
evenly too. Damp-weather grip is very good under braking, although the
This lighter Morsa casing isn’t that supportive, and, on wide-ish leant-right-over cornering traction divided testers, with some
30mm rims, twists and deforms too much even at harder pressures really rating the hold while others reckoned that every third edge
if you corner or brake really aggressively. It feels like the sidewall being block offset reduces the sense of a continuous grip ‘channel’
plies are orientated differently to other tyres here and are less and that the shoulders can wander in deep slime and dirt. This
stable under heavy rider loads. Vittoria’s biggest issue though is lighter Dual DNA compound model rolls really well and offers good
that its tyre just isn’t grippy enough to really push cushioning with its thinner sidewall/thicker tread
on or stop rapidly in the wet or dry under certain design, but it can squirm, so aggressive riders
combinations of mud, rocks and roots, and can might need the thicker, more stable casing.
come severely, unpredictably unstuck. Vigilantes are good value for the performance
and can be found online for even less cash,
which puts a huge tick in WTB’s box too.

SUMMER 2018 mbr 85


forces at aggressive lean angles. The outrageous in terms of pure grip, useful
GROUP TEST DHR II offers ultimate grip for most if you love steep, dirty riding and can
conditions at both ends, and feels handle the slow rolling speed. The
super-stable at the front, but is slower 2.6in wide, orange-striped Addix Soft

Conclusion
Compared to a couple of years ago
rolling than the DHF. The WTs are
much better in damper conditions
than the skinnier Minions that
tyre in the (e-bike) Apex casing is the
best halfway house model for the front
of an aggressive trail bike though.
there are way more quality aggressive preceded them, and share the EXO Bontrager, Continental, Kenda
tyre options, with the new breed of casing that’s best for trail riding with and Specialized all make sorted
wider tyres better suited to the (30mm the (still-excellent) High Roller II that tyres too. The XR/SE4 is a refined,
or so internal) rims modern wheels delivers even more bite in moist dirt. locked-on all-rounder and perfect for
and bikes use. More brands are trying Schwalbe’s latest Addix compounds trail riders looking for a comfy, fast
to get a slice of the pie in the tyre have nailed the durability and killed the ride. Continental has upped its game
market, which you’d ultimately hope ‘knobs ripping off’ issue the German with new casings and treads, and
would benefit the consumer in terms firm’s tyres previously suffered from, the latest Trail King is a predictable,
of choice and price. What’s strange, and the Magic Mary and Rock Razor hard-wearing and versatile tyre that’s
though, is that rather than being able are top performers. In the 2.6in Addix grippier than it looks. We’re looking
to scoop up decent bargain tyres at Ultra soft version, the Mary is pretty forward to some of Conti’s beefier
marked-down prices, it seems to be tyres with the new tech soon.
getting harder to even find tyres riders Kenda’s Hellkat is a bit of a surprise
want. Maybe more competition will TEST coming from a brand we’ve not rated
help on this front too?
Outside the hardtail market,
WINNER! for years, and really impressed with a
great hold and a slurpy, damped feel
proper ‘Plus’ tyres appear to be a that took the sting out of choppy trails.
bit of a dirty word in 2018; likely Specialized’s Butcher (and semi-slick
due to them getting real heavy if Slaughter that didn’t fit in this test)
made tough enough and behaving works great in the bigger sizes, but the
temperamentally in the wet; not new Gripton rubber blend seems to
a problem with the best 2.5in, roll a little slower, and also they aren’t
in-between models, since they increase as cheap as we’re used to seeing
grip massively, don’t do anything weird from Specialized.
and only typically add 50g or so. We were a bit disappointed by
Maxxis’s Wide Trail models are Goodyear’s mid-tier, premium Newton
its best yet and tick the boxes for entry to the mtb game, Vittoria’s tech-
all-season riding on varied terrain. heavy Graphene rubber isn’t the one
The bigger volume and width spreads for us yet either, and both Michelin and
out classic tread patterns and delivers Panaracer failed to fully convince with
even more predictable cornering and their latest enduro offers too. If Maxxis
braking. With the Wide Trail Minions, tyres are hard to find, out of budget or
tons of grip and friction from the you value extra wear life, Schwalbe’s
rubber compound is bolstered by Addix range, Kenda’s excellent new
a casing that balances suppleness Hellkat and Bontrager’s latest tyres are
and feel against stability and muscle solid choices, and well worth searching
under hard stopping and turning out if you’re shopping around.

Price Actual size Weight Sizes Size tested Contact Rating

Bontrager XR4 Team Issue £49.99 64.6mm (2.55in) 940g 27.5/29x2.4, 2.6, 29x2.6in Team Issue trekbikes.com
3.0in XR4 and SE4

Continental Trail King £65 61.5mm (2.42in) 950g 27.5/29x2.4, 29x2.4in ProTection conti-tyres.co.uk
2.6in Apex Black Chili

Kenda Hellkat Pro ATC £49.99 61mm (2.41in) 851g 27.5x2.4in 27.5x2.4in ATC EN-DTC moorelarge.co.uk

Goodyear Newton Premium £60 57.9mm (2.28in) 1,082g 27.5/29x2.4, 29x2.4 EN Dynamic R/T paligap.cc
2.6in

Maxxis Aggressor £49.99 62.7mm (2.47in) 1,009g 27.5/29x2.3, 29x2.5in WT EXO TR extrauk.co.uk
2.5in

Maxxis Minion DHR II WT £64.99 62.5mm (2.44in) 926g 26/27.5/29 27.5x2.4 WT EXO 3C extrauk.co.uk
x2.3 to 2.8 Maxx Terra

Michelin Wild Enduro £49.99 front, 60mm (2.4in) 1,025g front, 27.5x2.4in 27.5x2.4in Front Magi michelin.com
£44.99 rear 998g rear X2 and Rear Gum X3D

Panaracer Pandura 2.4 TLC £54.99 62mm (2.4in) 1,234g 27.5x2.4in 27.5x2.4in folding TLC zyrofisher.co.uk

Schwalbe Magic Mary Addix Soft £58.99 60mm (2.36in) 928g 26/27.5/29x 29x2.35 Addix Soft schwalbe.com
2.35, 2.6in Snakeskin TL easy

Specialized Butcher Grid £50 65.1mm (2.56in) 1,050g 27.5/29x2.3, 2.6 27.5x2.6in Grid 2Bliss specialized.com
& 2.8in

Vittoria Morsa £54.99 58.2mm (2.29in) 880g 27.5/29x2.3, 27.5x2.3 TNT G+ zyrofisher.co.uk
2.5, 2.8

WTB Vigilante £42.99 58.1mm (2.29in) 993g 26/27.5/29 29x2.3in TCS Light/ hotlines-uk.com
x2.3in Fast Rolling

86 mbr SUMMER 2018


BIKE TEST

88 mbr SUMMER 2018


TESTED
THIS

CALIBRE BOSSNUT EVO


£999

JAMIS DAKAR A2
£ 1 ,0 0 0

£1k
POLYGON SISKIU D5
£ 1 ,0 0 0

VOODOO CANZO
£ 1 ,0 0 0

A quality full-susser for a grand is a tough ask but a huge market awaits for any
brand that rises to the challenge — we put four of the latest models to the test
Words: Alan Muldoon Photos: Roo Fowler

SUMMER 2018 mbr 89


BIKE TEST

Uphill and down trail:


our budget steeds were
given a thorough work-out

ot on the heels of our Bossnut for example. Winner of this test two new Dakar A2 are anything to go by,
Hardtail of the Year test, years on the trot, it’s a truly amazing bike. It’s Jamis may well have hit a home run with
this month we switch focus also one of the higher ticket items you’ll find it’s new £1k ripper.
to another very important at its parent company Go Outdoors, and it’s The final bike in our quartet of affordable
category… £1,000 full- elevated the brand's status and transformed full-suspension shredders is the Polygon Siskiu
suspension bikes. the £1k full-suspension category in a very short D5. Not the most imaginative name, but the
Without a shadow of space of time. curvy hydroformed tubing profiles make it
a doubt, the £1k full- And while the household names stay away, look like a more refined version of the Calibre
suspension class is the other brands are happy to throw their hats Bossnut, and if it delivers a similar ride quality it
hardest of all to get right. into the £1k ring. Voodoo is a name that's could win on looks alone.
Intricate suspension linkages synonymous with value, but it can also deliver So we’ve got four full-suspension bikes
combined with different shock tunes add an on performance; the Bizango 29 hardtail a case for £1,000 or a penny less; three relative
additional level of complexity over the humble in point. Time to find out if the Voodoo Canzo unknowns and the Calibre Bossnut with a
hardtail, and that’s not even considering the full-suspension bike shares the same pedigree. proven track record. It’s time to find out if
reliability issues and additional weight of all Jamis is another brand stepping up to the Jamis, Voodoo or Polygon can break the
those extra moving parts. £1k plate for 2018. And if first impressions of the Bossnut’s winning streak.
It’s hardly surprising then, that the big
brands that dominate the higher price points
tend to stay well clear of this category. Giant,
Specialized, Trek and Scott aren’t names
Intricate suspension linkages combined with
you’ll find in this test. Even the direct-sales
brands like Canyon and YT, with their more
different shock tunes: the £1k full-suspension
competitive business models, don’t dive down
to these depths. The rewards for getting it
class is the hardest of all to get right
right however, can be huge. Take the Calibre

90 mbr SUMMER 2018


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Shimano MT500
discs offer one-
BIKE TEST finger braking in
every situation
With guide pressures
on the lower legs,
The silent-running, slick- the 130mm-travel
shifting SRAM NX drivetrain RockShox Recon RL fork
is game changing is a breeze to adjust

An external BB and
two-piece chainset
offers unparalleled
durability

CALIBRE BOSSNUT EVO


W
£999 inner of this test two The 130mm-travel rear suspension replaced the Richey Trail handlebar for
years running, the feels more dynamic than before too, a wider 780mm Kore bar with a much
Calibre Bossnut needs so maybe RockShox has made some better profile.
SPECIFICATION no introduction. It’s now running changes to the Monarch R
Frame 6061 T6
aluminium,
in its third iteration and shock. Normally we’d have to run the PERFORMANCE
with the latest Evo version, Calibre has rebound wide open on the Bossnut, but It’s easy to forget what a great bike the
130mm travel
Shock RockShox
moved things forward once again. we actually had four clicks of rebound Bossnut is, but after just one ride on the
Monarch R It’s no secret that Calibre had a batch damping on our test bike, so lighter Evo it all came flooding back; the Calibre
Fork RockShox of early Bossnut V1s where the rear riders will now be able to achieve the is a total ripper. Granted the geometry
Recon RL, tyre could buzz the back of the seat correct rebound settings too. could be a touch slacker and lower, but
130mm travel tube when the suspension bottomed And it’s not just the rear suspension that’s just us being ultra picky because
Wheels Formula
hubs, WTB ST i29
out on big drops or jumps. The issue that’s got better, Calibre has also every other aspect of this bike is stand-
rims, WTB Vigilante/ was caused by a batch of frames where improved the front suspension; the out. The Shimano brakes offer ultimate
Trail Boss 27.5x the forward shock mount was welded RockShox Sector Silver fork replaced by control, the suspension is best in test
2.3/2.25in tyres too far up the down tube, throwing the the latest Recon RL, which gets stiffer and the bike feels solid and surefooted
Drivetrain Samox suspension linkage out of whack. lower legs. It’s still a 15mm both-thru without ever seeming dull. All of the
Trail DM 32t chainset,
SRAM NX 1x11 r-mech By introducing stringent with no QR lever though, so you’ll need tweeks to the specification are positive,
and shifter manufacturing controls, Calibre has an Allen key to remove the front wheel. and taken together the Evo version of
Brakes Shimano fixed this once and for all; our test bike Not that we’re complaining, as this fork the Bossnut is better than ever.
MT500, 180/160mm sporting 20mm of clearance between is stiff, easy to adjust and has the best
Components Kore the rear tyre and the back of the seat damping on test.
Durox 780mm bar,
Calibre trail 45mm tube at full bottom out. Calibre has VERDICT
stem, Calibre trail also added a stealth port on the back COMPONENTS The 2018 Bossnut Evo doesn’t have
seatpost, WTB Volt of the seat tube for an internally routed One of the key components that always the best geometry in this test; that
Sport saddle dropper post. gives the Bossnut a distinct edge, honour goes to the Jamis Dakar A2
Sizes 17.5, 19.5, 21.5in
The most obvious change, though, is especially when it comes to cornering, with its steeper seat angle, lower BB
Weight 15.03kg
(33.14lb)
the switch to a 1x drivetrain. Out goes is tyre choice. With a chunky WTB height and longer reach.
Contact the old 2x10 Shimano Deore set-up, and Vigilante up front you can simply rail But a bike is so much more than
calibrebicycles.com in comes SRAM’s NX 11-speed gearing — every turn. And now that Calibre has a set of numbers on a geometry
the 11-42t cassette combined with a 32t upgraded the rear tyre from the low- chart. The Bossnut Evo gets the
GEOMETRY chainring to offer a comprehensive gear profile WTB Beeline to the meatier Trail best tyres, the best brakes, the best
Size tested 19.5in range. By far the biggest advantage of Boss, braking and climbing traction are cockpit, and most importantly, the
Head angle 67.3° the 1x drivetrain, though, is that you’re on another level. Interestingly, the Trail best suspension performance. Taken
Seat angle 70.8° not constantly dropping the chain and Boss is still a 2.25in tyre, but it seems to together, that’s a tough combination
BB height 345mm the bike is now blissfully silent. measure up wider than the Beeline so to beat, and the end
Chainstay 436mm gets more volume too. result is that the
Front centre 720mm
Wheelbase 1,156mm
SUSPENSION Tyre profiles front and rear have Bossnut Evo is
A less obvious advantage of the single also been improved by switching from still the best full-
Down tube 680mm ring set-up is that it brings the chain 25mm to 29mm rims, a move that suspension bike
Top tube 622mm
line closer to the main pivot, which in allows you to run lower tyre pressures for a penny shy
Reach 446mm
turn means the Bossnut Evo pedals and while maintaining tyre stability. And if of £1,000.
climbs more efficiently. that wasn’t enough, Calibre has also

92 mbr SUMMER 2018


HIGHS
Unmatched
build kit and
ride quality

TEST
WINNER!
LOWS
BB height
could be
lower
Stiffer bolt-thru
Recon RL fork with
low-profile axle

You’ll never run Wide-ratio 11-speed


out of cable guides cassette for this
with the Bossnut 1x set-up

SUMMER 2018 mbr 93


  !     !   
! 

  
   "   
             !
    
 

 
     " 

 
   
Uninterrupted seat tube
A 35mm Race
offers maximum seatpost
BIKE TEST insertion, so you can
Face bar and stem
combo boosts
get the saddle well
front-end stiffness
Low-profile design of out of the way
the Shimano Deore
Shadow Plus rear mech
helps keep it out of
harm’s way

Anchoring the RockShox


Monarch R shock on the
top tube leaves the down
tube free for a water bottle

JAMIS DAKAR A2
U
£ 1 ,0 0 0 p close and personal, the
quality of the Jamis Dakar
frame really belies its price
SPECIFICATION tag. The swoopy top tube and
Frame 6061-T6 clean lines combine with the
aluminium,
matt titanium finish to give it the look
120mm travel
Shock RockShox
of a Santa Cruz, albeit without the VVP
Monarch R suspension and jaw-dropping price tag.
Fork RockShox Boasting 120mm of travel front and
Recon RL, rear, the Dakar A2 is trail bike through-
120mm travel and-through, with geometry and sizing
Wheels Formula
hubs, WTB ST i23
that are every bit a modern as its looks.
rims, Vittoria Goma Not only does it have the most generous
27.5x2.25in tyres reach measurement in the test, but
Drivetrain SR it also sports the longest wheelbase.
Suntour Zeron 32t Factor in the lowest BB height and the
chainset, Shimano
Deore 1x10 r-mech Dakar is ready to rally down any trail.
and shifter And like any contemporary trail bike,
Brakes Shimano it ticks all of the must-have feature
M315, 180/160mm boxes. Ample standover clearance to
Components Race keep your junk safe, check. Internal
Face Ride 760mm
bar, Race Face Ride cable routing for a sleek look and easier
50mm stem, Race cleaning, check. ISCG tabs on the BB for
Face Ride seatpost, fitting a chain device, check.
WTB Volt What really sets the Dakar apart from
Sport saddle
the other bikes in this test, however, is
Sizes S, M, L, XL
Weight 14.51kg
its 142mm bolt-thru rear end. Not only is
(31.99lb) this much stiffer than the quick-release
Contact dropouts found elsewhere, it’s more
The Dakar
evanscycles.com secure too. controlled progression it’s a massive could use a
leap forward in terms of performance rubber revamp
GEOMETRY SUSPENSION over the Suntour shocks found on the
Size tested L Jamis may have bolstered rear-end Voodoo and Polygon. Sag gradients on
Head angle 67.2° stiffness with bolt-thru dropouts, but the shock body make set-up easy — you
Seat angle 75° the 120mm-travel RockShox Recon RL simply adjust the pressure in the shock
BB height 330mm fork still uses a spindly 9mm quick- to achieve the correct sag for your
Chainstay 440mm
release to secure the front wheel. weight and riding style. It’s the same
Front centre 740mm
As such, the steering precision and shock on the Calibre but that’s not to
Wheelbase 1,180mm
tracking isn’t as good as the Bossnut say the suspension feels the same. More
Down tube 695mm
Top tube 610mm
even though both forks share the same on this to come.
Reach 463 mm upper legs and internals.
Keeping to RockShox front and rear COMPONENTS
is the trusty Monarch R shock. With Branded components always add a
external rebound adjustment and touch of class and the Race Face

SUMMER 2018 mbr 95


BIKE TEST

HIGHS
Great
geometry
& sizing

LOWS
120mm-travel RockShox
kit adoring the Jamis is first rate. The quick-release fork also prevents the Needs better
Recon fork is let down
760mm bar has a great profile while Jamis from capitalising on the frame’s tyres
by flimsy 9mm QR
the oversized 35mm stem clamp adds full potential. Confidence is eroded, and
steering stiffness. If we are being really much as we praised the both-thru rear
picky though, the lock-on grips are a end, the bike would actually be better
touch too slender for bigger hands. with a bolt-thru fork instead.
Shimano’s 1x10 Deore gearing has The rear suspension needs work too,
one less cog than the SRAM NX kit on as it lacks sensitivity off the top and
the Bossnut, but it shares the exact combined with the poor rubber choice
same gear range. Shifting is every bit and stiffer rear end, the back of the bike
as slick too and the low-profile rear tends to step out all too easily.
derailleur means it should stay that way. So even though the Jamis Dakar was
One area where Jamis has really the only bike to rival the Bossnut, work
dropped the ball, however, is tyres. still needs to be done if it’s intent on
The 2.25in Vittoria Gomas have ample beating it.
volume and a decent tread pattern
that works fine in the dry, get them on
anything damp, however (ie. 70 per cent VERDICT
of UK riding), and it’s hard to keep the The Jamis Dakar A2 frame has everything in place to be
Jamis rubber-side down. the ultimate £1,000 full-suspension bike. It has great
sizing and geometry, but it’s not there yet. It needs a
PERFORMANCE stiffer fork, even if that means forgoing the 142x12mm
From the get-go, the Jamis Dakar rear end to get a bolt-thru up front.
A2 impressed us with its good looks, It would also benefit from a softer
generous sizing and bang up-to-date tune on the Monarch shock to give
geometry. Perfectly proportioned, the rear suspension a lighter initial
the quality of the frame only served touch. We’d settle for better tyres
142x12mm bolt-thru
boosts stiffness
to highlight shortcomings in the for now, as the Vittoria Gomas are
at the rear specification. We’ve already mentioned what’s really holding the A2 back.
the tyres, but the extra flex in the

96 mbr SUMMER 2018


BIKE TEST Available in three
frame sizes: 15.5in,
17.5in, 19.5in Shimano M315
The Polygon Siskiu hydraulic disc brakes
D5 boasts 120mm of offer excellent
travel front and rear stopping power with
minimal maintenance

With 27 gears, the Shimano


Alivio drivetrain offers slick
shifting — providing the
chain stays on

POLYGON SISKIU D5
S
£ 1 ,0 0 0 quint and it’s hard to tell the more than a shock pump. It also has a are still at risk of dropping the chain if
Calibre and Polygon apart. lock-out lever for making light work of you inadvertently let the cranks spin
Look more closely, however, fire road climbs. backwards when you’ve stopped.
SPECIFICATION and it’s evident that the frame Strangely, the shock doesn’t have Frustrating as that is, it’s the
Frame ALX finish on the Polygon, especially an external rebound adjuster, so you suspension performance that makes the
hydroformed
the front end, is one step ahead. can’t control how fast it extends after Polygon feel like a much cheaper bike.
aluminium,
120mm travel Curvy hydroformed tubing and a absorbing a bump. The fixed level of The fork and shock are both sensitive
Shock SR Suntour low-slung top tube give the Polygon a damping on the Raidon shock is very and smooth, but they lack the damping
Raidon-LO much less boxy, more modern profile light, so heavier riders running higher control that is necessary to calm
Fork SR Suntour XCM than the Calibre. But it’s not just about air pressures to support their weight will pedal-induced bob and counter rider
HLO, 120mm travel aesthetics; the low-profile top tube, feel like they are being catapulted from movement. As such, the Polygon feels
Wheels Shimano
hubs, Araya DM-650
with its extended seat mast, improves one turn, or bump, to the next. Which is like a hobbyhorse as it rocks forwards
rims, Schwalbe standover clearance while making it a real shame, as the Polygon is the only and back and the rider tries to remain
Smart Sam much easier to chuck the bike around. brand in this test to actually deliver the balanced and composed. This means
27.5x2.25in tyres Given the similarity, it’s hardly claimed amount of rear travel. that the Polygon cannot be ridden
Drivetrain Entity, surprising that both bikes have anything like as hard as the three other
40/30/22t chainset,
Shimano Alivio comparable geometry too, but the COMPONENTS bikes on test. It’s also the heaviest bike
f-mech, r-mech and Polygon actually has a steeper seat tube Hard-compound Schwalbe Smart Sam on test, mostly due to the weight of the
3x9 shifters angle, which places rider weight further tyres roll fast, and if you’re covering lots coil-sprung fork and triple chainset.
Brakes Shimano forward when seated, putting you in of miles they won’t wear out quickly. Get
M315, 180/160mm
a much better position for climbing. them on moist roots and rocks, however,
Components Entity
Xpert 740mm bar, Factor in the lower bottom bracket and they make it incredibly difficult to VERDICT
Entity Xpert 80mm height for railing turns and the Polygon keep the Polygon on track. The distinct It didn’t take long for us to realise
stem, Entity Xpert frame clearly has the upper hand. lack of control is compounded by the that the £1,000 suggested retail
seatpost, Polygon Travel on the Siskiu D5 is balanced at overly-long 80mm stem. price is a little steep on the Polygon
VP-195E saddle
120mm front and rear, so 10mm shy of Brands love to boast about how many Siskiu D5. Sure, the hydroformed
Sizes 15.5, 17.5, 19.5in
Weight 15.58kg
the Calibre, but it’s right in line with the gears a bike has, but when it comes to alloy frame looks super-sleek, and
(34.35lb) Jamis Dakar A2. But it’s here that the mountain bikes, fewer gears are actually unlike its rivals it actually delivers
Contact wheels start to fall off the cart. better. Not only do 1x drivetrains reduce the full quota of travel. But without
moorelarge.co.uk clutter and save weight, the narrow- adjustable damping on the rear
SUSPENSION wide tooth profile of a single ring helps shock, it was never going to rival the
GEOMETRY It’s the only bike on test to come with keep the chain on. So while the 27-speed best in this test. When you consider
Size tested 17.5in a coil-sprung fork. So if you are not of drivetrain on the Polygon sounds that it is also the only bike here not
Head angle 67.3° average weight you are going to need impressive, it’s sporting dated to come with a 1x drivetrain or an air-
Seat angle 73.7° to find different strength springs to technology unlikely to make a come back. sprung fork, it is easy
BB height 339mm achieve the correct sag. Sounds simple, to understand why
Chainstay 438mm
Front centre 687mm
but at this price point, replacement PERFORMANCE some retailers
parts for the 120mm-travel Suntour XCM By far the biggest frustration with the are already
Wheelbase 1,125mm
HLO fork can be nigh on impossible to build kit on the Polygon is the triple discounting the
Down tube 653mm
Top tube 575mm
find. Thankfully the Suntour Raidon LO chainset. The chain would constantly Polygon Siskiu D5
Reach 423mm shock is air-sprung, so you can adjust clatter on the frame and derail on all to £900.
how firm the suspension is with nothing but the smoothest trails. Even then, you

98 mbr SUMMER 2018


HIGHS
Super-sleek
frame design

LOWS
No rebound
adjustment on
the shock

Slick, modern Triple chainset is


frame has curves in noisy, heavy and
all the right places antiquated

Lanky 80mm
stem contributes to
unwieldy handling

SUMMER 2018 mbr 99


 
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Ripe for upgrading,
BIKE TEST the Canzo frame has
internal cable routing
for a dropper seatpost
141mm Boost quick-
release dropouts Air-sprung Suntour fork
increase wheel strength has external rebound
and tyre clearance adjustment and stiff
34mm upper legs

The Suntour single-ring


chainset and Shimano
Deore 1x10 gears are a
great combination

VOODOO CANZO
V
£ 1 ,0 0 0 oodoo has three full-suspension
bikes in its range. The Munster
at £850, the Canzo at £1,000
SPECIFICATION and the Zobop at £1,250. In
Frame Voodoo addition to sharing fun names,
aluminium,
all three models use the same alloy
140mm travel
Shock SR Suntour
frame with 140mm travel — it’s only the
DuAir LOR parts adorning each bike that change.
Fork SR Suntour The model we’re testing here is the
Raidon 34 LOR-DS, mid-range Canzo. The stealth black
140mm travel frame isn’t as sleek as the Jamis or
Wheels Sealed
hubs, alloy rims,
Polygon, but it still has some neat
Kenda Nevegal features, like internal routing for a
27.5x2.35in tyres dropper post and the new 141mm Boost
Drivetrain SR quick-release rear dropout standard.
Suntour Zeron, Without getting bogged down in
32t chainset,
Shimano Deore the tedious world of hub standards, all
Shadow Plus r-mech you really need to know is that the rear
and 1x10 shifter hub is 6mm wider (Calibre and Polygon
Brakes Clarks M1, use the older 135mm standard), which
180/160mm
improves the spoke angle and allows for
Components
Voodoo alloy 740mm a stronger rear wheel. And in our book
bar, Voodoo 45mm that’s a bonus.
stem, Voodoo alloy Still, it didn’t stop the rear wheel
seatpost, Voodoo falling out mid-ride when we picked the
MTB saddle
Voodoo up to turn it around for another
Sizes 16, 18, 20in
Weight 14.56kg
run at the jump we were shooting on!
(32.10lb) It’s one of the reasons bolt-thru rear that you’ll get the shock to bottom
Contact halfords.com ends, like that found on the Jamis, are out and deliver full travel. The end
such a good idea. The other, is that they result is that we measured the rear-
GEOMETRY also increase frame stiffness. wheel travel closer to 130mm than
Size tested 18in the claimed 140mm.
Head angle 66.8° SUSPENSION Up front, the beefy SR Suntour
Seat angle 69.1° With a lock-out lever and external Raidon fork shares the same level of
BB height 341mm rebound adjustment, the SR Suntour adjustment as the shock and offers
Chainstay 435mm DuAir LOR shock on the Voodoo good steering precision thanks to the
Front centre 738mm instantly puts it one step ahead of the oversized 34mm upper legs and 15mm
Wheelbase 1,173mm Polygon. That’s not to say the shock is bolt-thru dropouts. There’s a distinct
Down tube 695mm perfect though. Voodoo claims that the knack to the action of the 15mm Q-Loc
Top tube 590mm Suntour shock
Canzo has 140mm of rear suspension, axle, but once you get the hang of it, it’s struggled with the
Reach 427mm
but pressure build-up in the damper, one of the fastest and easiest ways to bigger bumps
not the air spring, means it’s unlikely secure a front wheel.

SUMMER 2018 mbr 101


BIKE TEST

HIGHS
Stiff fork and
trail-focused
geometry

LOWS
10-speed cassette
and Shimano COMPONENTS PERFORMANCE Rear
suspension
Deore rear mech Before being shipped to mbr for With progressive geometry and sizing
ramps up too
test, the Voodoo Canzo had been a the Voodoo Canzo is right up there, and
much
display bike at Halfords HQ. Obviously the sturdy fork gives you confidence
someone had been a little zealous with to hit rougher sections of trail flat-out,
the polish, buffing the shiny Clarks M1 while the relaxed steering and stubby
disc brake rotors in the process. So first stem stop it being a white-knuckle ride.
ride out it was obvious the brakes had Sadly the rear suspension can’t quite
been contaminated as they howled keep pace with the fork, the Suntour
like a banshee, and their distinct lack shock and suspension linkage being too
of stopping power was equally scary. progressive to tackle the biggest hits.
But even when we fitted a fresh set of With a different rear shock, more
Clarks M1 brakes, they couldn’t match powerful brakes and better tyres, the
the power and feel of the Shimano units Canzo would easily stand shoulder-to-
on the Calibre. shoulder with the Bossnut and Dakar.
The 2.35in Kenda Nevegal tyres have
a good tread pattern and a generous
footprint, but just like the Vittoria tyres VERDICT
on the Jamis, the Nevegals have a It’s telling that the more expensive Voodoo Zobop gets
distinct aversion to moisture, and will a RockShox Monarch R rear shock, Maxxis Ardent tyres
catch out even the most experienced and Shimano M395 brakes — changes that address our
riders with their sudden loss of traction. key criticisms of the £1,000 Canzo.
With a similar cockpit layout to the Still, if you have your heart set on
Bizango 29 that won the sub-£750 a Voodoo full-suspension bike we
category of our Hardtail of the Year test, suggest you wait for one of Halfords’s
the 45mm stem and 740mm handlebar seasonal sales, as you could probably
Single-ring simplicity
on the Canzo instantly puts you in a pick the Voodoo Zobop up for the
comes courtesy commanding riding position. Just be same price as the Canzo and get all
of Suntour sure to tip the nose of the Voodoo saddle the upgrades you need.
down a touch to ease soft-tissue pressure.

102 mbr SUMMER 2018


BIKE TEST

Conclusion
I
n the introduction to this test we
highlighted just how difficult it is to
build a £1,000 full-suspension bike
without falling into any number of
pitfalls that await brands on such a
tight budget.
And Polygon seems to have stumbled
into all of them. Yes, the Siskiu D5 frame
is top-notch, but even the rear shock
wasn’t up to scratch, with no external
rebound adjustment, so it’s impossible
to set up for different rider weights.
Factor in the lack of adjustability and
extra weight of the coil-sprung fork, and
Polygon was fighting fires on all fronts.
Fanning the flames of frustration were
the sketchy tyres, a long stem and a
chain that constantly fell off the triple
chainset at the mere sight of a bump.
At £750, the Polygon Siskiu D5 would
be a steal, but it’s completely out of its
league here.
With a better fork and shock, the
Voodoo Canzo leapfrogged most of
the Polygon’s stumbling blocks. It had
problems of its own to contend with,
however. Namely, too much progression
in the rear suspension, making it
difficult to use all of the available travel.
The Kenda Nevagal tyres weren’t up to
snuff either, and the Clarks M1 brakes
were no match for the reliable Shimano
units on all of the other bikes. Calibre: making
Of the three losing bikes, the Jamis thousand-quid double
Dakar A2 was the only one to really bouncers... like a boss

rival the performance of the Bossnut.


And credit where credit is due, Jamis
has done an amazing job on the Dakar RANGE FINDER
frame; the finish, geometry and sizing
are all superior to the Bossnut.
Calibre has done a much better job of Our test winner’s stablemates
balancing its budget, however, and the
end result is a stronger overall package.
And that, after all, is what we’re testing
CALIBRE TRIPLE B CALIBRE LINE 10
and you’re potentially buying. £1,399 £ 74 9
So even though the Jamis has a The Triple B takes the stock Bossnut frame and Not sold on the additional complexity and
sound foundation on which to upgrade, puts it on steroids. It’s still got 130mm travel weight of a full-suspension bike, and would
the additional cost of better tyres, a but a stiffer bolt-thru 142x12mm rear end takes prefer an aggressive hardtail with an equally
stiffer fork and possibly even a shock it to the next level. To reflect the burlier frame good specification? Then the Calibre Line 10
tune, make it prohibitively expensive construction, fork travel gets pumped up to is just the ticket. With long, slack geometry, a
when you’d be much better off buying 140mm with the lightweight RockShox Reba 120mm-travel RockShox Recon fork, great tyres
the Calibre Bossnut Evo and just hitting RL. The final piece of the puzzle is a Tranz X and a dropper post, it’s got everything you need
the trails. It really does tick every box. straight out of the box.

Calibre has done


the best job on
test of balancing
its budget
104 mbr SUMMER 2018
I
NOTES ON THE NUMBERS A
TEST B H

WINNER! Dial in your suspension G

Given how few variables there are, bike geometry can be surprisingly
complex. There are two main reasons for this. First, the numbers D E
in the geometry chart opposite, while accurate, are only a snap
shot of the bike in one situation: unloaded with the suspension fully C
extended. The second, and by far the biggest, variable in geometry F
is the rider. Your height, weight
and body proportions all Calibre (19.5in) Jamis (L) Polygon (17.5in) Voodoo (18in)
influence the dynamic geometry
A Head angle 67.3° 67.2° 67.3° 66.8°
of the bike. So don’t sweat it if
the information in the geometry B Seat angle 70.8° 75° 73.7° 69.1°
chart means nothing to you, C BB height 345mm 330mm 339mm 341mm
focus on the things you can D Chainstay 436mm 440mm 438mm 435mm
change. Getting your suspension E Front centre 720mm 740mm 687mm 738mm
set up has a way bigger impact F Wheelbase 1,156mm 1,180mm 1,125mm 1,173mm
on how a bike actually rides, so G Down tube 680mm 695mm 653mm 695mm
follow our step-by-step guide
H Top tube 622mm 610mm 575mm 590mm
overleaf to get your fork and
shock dialled in. I Reach 446mm 463mm 423mm 427mm

S P E C I F I CAT I O N

This month’s bikes at a glance


Make/model Calibre Bossnut Evo Jamis Dakar A2 Polygon Siskiu D5 Voodoo Canzo
Price £999 £1,000 £1,000 £1,000
Weight 15.03kg (33.14lb) 14.51kg (31.99lb) 15.58kg (34.35lb) 14.56kg (32.10lb)
Contact calibrebicycles.com evanscycles.com moorelarge.co.uk halfords.com
FRAME
Sizes 17.5, 19.5, 21.5in S, M, L, XL 15.5, 17.5, 19.5in 16, 18, 20in
Size tested 19.5in L 17.5in 18in
Frame material 6061 T6 aluminium 6061-T6 aluminium ALX hydroformed aluminium Voodoo aluminium
Suspension fork RockShox Recon RL 15mm RockShox Recon RL QR SR Suntour XCM HLO Coil QR SR Suntour Raidon 34 LOR-DS
Rear shock RockShox Monarch R RockShox Monarch R SR Suntour Raidon-LO SR Suntour DuAir LOR
Front travel 130mm 120mm 120mm 140mm
Rear travel 130mm (117mm measured) 120mm (112mm measured) 120mm (122mm measured) 140mm (130mm measured)
WHEELS
Hubs Formula 110/135mm Formula 100mm/142mm Shimano QR 100/135mm Sealed 110/141mm
Rims WTB ST i29 WTB ST i23 Araya DM-650 Alloy
Spokes Stainless steel Stainless steel Stainless steel Stainless steel
WTB Vigilante/Trail Boss 27.5x
Tyres Vittoria Goma 27.5x2.25in Schwalbe Smart Sam 27.5x2.25in Kenda Nevegal 27.5x2.35in
2.3/2.25in
GROUPSET
Shifters SRAM NX 1x11 Shimano Deore 1x10 Shimano Alivio 3x9 Shimano Deore 1x10
Front mech N/A N/A Shimano Alivio N/A
Rear mech SRAM NX Shimano Deore Shadow + Shimano Alivio Shimano Deore Shadow +
Crank Samox Trail DM 32t SR Suntour Entity, 40/30/22t SR Suntour
Bottom bracket Samox external Suntour Zeron, 32t External Suntour Zeron, 32t
Brakes Shimano MT500 Shimano M315 Shimano M315 Clarks M1
Rotor sizes 180/160mm 180/160mm 180/160mm 180/160mm
COMPONENTS
Saddle WTB Volt Sport WTB Volt Sport Polygon VP-195E Voodoo MTB
Seatpost Calibre trail Race Face Ride Entity Xpert Voodoo alloy
Handlebar Kore Durox 780mm Race Face Ride 760mm Entity Xpert 740mm Voodoo alloy 740mm
Stem Calibre trail 45mm Race Face Ride 50mm Entity Xpert 80mm Voodoo alloy 45mm
Rating

SUMMER 2018 mbr 105


BIKE TEST

Step-by-step guide to

PERFECT
SUSPENSION
SET-UP
Get your travel dialled in properly to optimise your ride

S
etting up suspension the spring rate sorted. This is Once the sag is dialled in
may seem daunting, what actually suspends the bike we then tune the hydraulic
but take it slowly and and rider, and determines your damping to control how fast
follow our step-by-step sag, which refers to how much the suspension can compress
guide and you’ll be the suspension sags under the and rebound. All decent shocks
ready to shred in no time at all. combined weight of the bike and and forks should have rebound
It doesn’t matter which rider. That’s why it’s important adjustment as standard. But
fork or shock is fitted to to wear all of your regular riding enough with the theory, let’s Careful calibration
your bike, when it comes to kit from the start, including your get to the practical steps that will get the best from
suspension set-up the first pack and any water you take will give you a good ballpark your shock and fork
thing you need to do is get on a ride. suspension setting.

START HERE
We recommend getting the rear suspension dialled in first, because it’s the rear
03
Un-weight
the shock
by extending your
of the bike that supports the bulk of your weight. There are multiple ways to go legs, then push
about this, but in our experience it’s best to set your shock sag whilst sitting on the O-ring up
the bike. If you do it stood up, the shock tends be too soft for climbing and too against the
firm for descending. A consistent approach here is the key thing. dust wiper.

Sit on the bike wearing all of your


02
riding kit and bounce up and
down to cycle the shock a couple of
times to overcome any initial resistance.

Make sure the lock-out, and any Now for the tricky bit. Load the rear suspension slowly
01 04
compression dials, are in the by sitting on the saddle. The best way to do this is to
open position, then lower your saddle lean the bike over towards one foot, then roll it over to the
slightly so your feet can reach the other foot, making sure both feet are off the ground when the
ground easily. bike is upright.

106 mbr SUMMER 2018


FINISH HERE
The best fork in the world will feel like a rusty pogo stick if you don’t set it up
properly, so follow this six-step guide to suspension bliss.

Wearing all
01
your riding
gear, hop on the bike
into your normal
riding position for
descending, stood up
and weighting the
front wheel a little.
You can lean against
something with your
elbow to balance.

Make sure the lock-out and any Adjust air pressures accordingly
TOP TIP 02 04
compression dials are in the with your shock pump to achieve
To calculate the
open position, then bounce up and the desired amount of sag.
shock stroke, simply
deflate the shock and down to cycle the fork a couple of times
compress the suspension just like you did with the rear shock.
fully. Then inflate the shock Now push the O-ring down against the
and measure the distance from dust wiper seal.
the o-ring to the wiper seal
on the air can. This is the
Climb off the bike
05 shock stroke.
TOP TIP
carefully and measure the
distance between the O-ring and Some forks have
guide pressures
wiper seal: this is your sag, printed on the fork
and should be 25-30 per cent of the shock stroke. lowers, use these
Adjust air pressures accordingly then repeat steps suggest pressures
3 to 5 to achieve the desired amount of sag. as your starting With the fork sag sorted, now
point. 05
you need to dial in the rebound
Finally, tune damping. To maximize front-end grip,
06
the rebound you want the fork to return to the sag
damping two clicks position as quickly as possible without
at a time. Lighter feeling uncontrolled or overly bouncy.
riders running lower
pressures will need It’s impossible to cover all aspects
to run less rebound of suspension set-up in two pages
damping, heavier but if you follow the steps below
riders will need more Climb off the bike carefully so you you’ll be well on your way to a great
03 set-up. If you want to dive deeper into
to control how fast the don’t move the O-ring and
suspension and how to set it up, check
shock returns to the measure the distance between it and out our detailed online guide: po.st/
sag position. the wiper seal: this is your sag and SuspensionSetUp
should be 15-20 per cent of the travel.

SUMMER 2018 mbr 107


6 Oct Downs Dash MTB Surrey
EPIC 35 MILES | STAND. 28 MILES
SHORT 19 MILES

Book your place now at


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H O L I DAY S | ACCESSORIES
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Please remember to mention mbr when responding to advertisements: t 01252 555 333 SUMMER 2018 mbr 109
3 -B I K E G A R A G E
Our favourite people pick their ultimate bike stable

CESAR ROJO, DESIGNER


BECAME A REALITY

2018 UNNO EVER


What can I say? If I spent countless we had on this bike, only very few everything on their own, with not
hours on the Summum [see below], people will be able to understand. many resources or investors — just
Cesar is one of I believe I have spent countless There are almost no bike brands where pure drive and passion. This bike is the
those irritatingly months on this bike. This is 20 years everything is still done completely result of a dream I had many years ago.
talented people experience of riding, racing and in house, where you still get your To top that, I raced on it and won a
who seems to be designing DH bikes since 1996, when I hands ‘dirty’ during every step of the World Championship (OK, so it was the
good at whatever rode the LTS for the first time, brought process. This is the way Yeti, Intense, Masters Worlds), and that makes the
he turns his hand
to. A successful
together in one bike. The involvement Specialized and others started making bike super-special again.
and innovative
designer, he was
integral in the
development
of Mondraker’s
ground-breaking
Forward
Geometry
concept and is
the founder of
the Unno bike
brand, and yet
he also happens
to be a DH world
champion and a
really nice guy

Photos: Alex Luise


THE CLASSIC

1996 GT LTS
This was my first ever full-on DH bike,
and has a special place in my heart for
various reasons. Nico Vouilloz was,
and still is, my favourite DH rider of all
time. I won my first downhill race on
it. The bike was really special with a
titanium link, backwards seat tube and
a quite DH-oriented set-up. Still had no
dual-crown forks or disc brakes, but I
THE GAME -CHANGER
remember welding a tab on the back
to put a Formula disc brake on it. I was
so in love with that bike. I was tearing it 2009 MONDRAKER SUMMUM PROTO
apart every week to check everything Another very special milestone in my relationship with the bicycle
as I was riding it every day as my XC world. This was my first proper DH-designed bike. I cannot count the
training bike and my DH bike. hours I spent to make the mule and fine-tune the suspension. I was
happy at some point with it, but then a couple of hours later I was
sure I could make it a bit better. And like that it kept going… Same as
the frame construction; I really wanted to make the lightest DH frame
and that mule was by far the lightest. I’m not sure ever another DH
bike will match it. Fabien Barel won a World Cup on it, I won a Maxxis
international on it… can you ask for more? I keep one of those frames
at my office. It’s hard to make a bike more special than that, but
everything is possible [see above].

110 mbr SUMMER 2018


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