Equipment Mountain Biking

The 130mm downhill rig; Whyte T-130 C-RS

Whyte are a UK bicycle brand creating some of the most capable and award winning mountain bikes on the market. One of these is the T130, a short-ish travel full suspension trail bike

 If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you live in the UK and unless you’re back door is Fort William, you probably don’t ‘need’ a big rig, but probably do want a bike with bang up-to-date geometry, capable of taking on anything that the UK can through at it but without losing the requirements to climb. That, was my request when Rutland Cycling asked me what I wanted.  The answer then materialised as the T130, in theory the ultimate mix. But was it. 

What model did I ride?

 Luckily in its favour I received the top of the range T130 C-RS derivative, equipped with a full carbon frame, 650b wheels, 140mm travel up front, 130mm at the rear, running 2.6in Maxxis tyres and the humongous Scram Eagle drive train. Putting equipment to one side, I plumped for a size large, which felt low, long and slack, and together with the fatter tyres, created a solid foundation.

What you need to know?

 Whyte was one of the first bike brands to embrace the benefits of designing for 1x drivetrains, with its latest incarnation featuring SRAM’s huge Eagle GX 12 speed drivetrain, giving you a massive 500% range alongside a strong frame. Its geometry was also redesigned for this latest model around a shorter 37mm offset fork, giving you greater grip and confidence on the steeps. After all, it’s the geometry which made the T130 and its siblings so famed for their high performance. And on that note, this is far from the traditional cramped XC whippet. Instead you’ve got 467mm worth of reach on a size large. So definitely worth demoing this if you’ve got a comparably short back vs legs. This is bang up to date geometry right here.

How did it ride though?

 Interesting – for a 130mm carbon trail bike, it’s not exactly what you think, or what I thought. Pre swinging a leg over, I was picturing fast rolling, nimble and playful. In reality its character was more akin to a short travel downhill rig. When climbing you could feel the weight, of the not so light bike as well as the higher rolling resistance of the 2.6in wide aggressive Maxxis rubber. To be honest, it felt anything but light and efficient, even with the suspension locked out. To my surprise however, the T130 C-RS impressed most when the going got tough.

 My first proper ride on the T130 was at the Forrest of Dean, racing an Enduro. Here the trails were steep and so muddy, you could barely stand. However the T130 surprised me with the confidence inspiring low centre of gravity, comparably high levels of grip and general sure-footed character – it wants to be ridden hard, forget it’s got less than 150mm. This aggressive character was confirmed further after two laps round the rough trails at Coed Y Brenin. Here with the rock lined trails and big drops, I wasn’t sure the T130 could talk the talk. However again, to my surprise, no matter how rough it got, or how large the drops or jumps got, the T130 not only kept up, but raised its game. Is that all you’ve got?!

 In fact it handled descents and technical terrain so well, I completely forgave it on the uphill’s. Now my T130 rides have turned into outright downhill blasts! And once you got used to its slightly sluggish behaviour up hill, there was very little to dislike about the bike. It certainly got plenty of attention at every trail head with its bright yellow colour scheme…

So would I buy one?

 Well that is a tough question. It’s certainly opened my eyes up to the shocking capability a short travel trail bike could have, and will certainly make me think in getting anything over 130mm again. It’s also underlined my appreciation for the big rubber – you can lean this thing over harder than most bikes running on 2.4in or less, with the added grip levels not only adding to the fun, but catching you if you push that bit too hard. The Whyte geometry also is bang on and clearly demonstrate the know-how of the brand and supports a aggressive riding style.

 Would I buy this actual bike though? I’m not sure I would. It’s not as playful as my previous long termer, the Specalized Stump Jumper; its more a bulldozer like, and though the paint job is great, with it being matt not gloss, means it attracts dirt quickly and looks older much quicker, if you’re not regularly cleaning and polishing.

So the Whyte T-130 C-RS? Close, but no cigar.



Mountain Biking

3 lessons I’ve learnt from my first Enduro

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at mountain bike racing for some time now. Like all experienced riders, after a while you feel comfortable riding pretty much everything at a pace you think is pretty quick. So it’s only natural I guess to start thinking it’s time to prove it in a race. I chose the 1st round of the Haibike Mini Enduro series hosted at the Forest Of Dean, on hand built off piste trails as my first race.

I primarily chose this event format because it was comparatively short compared to the full UK series. We’re talking about 4 stages taking in a total distance of 10 miles, including the connections between them, so nothing hugely long and comparable to a trail centre.

What is Enduro?

Pausing briefly, lets recap on what Enduro is? Its essentially a number of downhill courses, best ridden on a trail bike as they’re not quite as aggressive or steep as a full on downhill track. However once you’ve finished a stage, you then need to cycle to the next, before commencing that stage. Normally you’re timed on the descents as well as the connections, with you being hit with time penalties if you don’t make your transit between trails in the allotted time. Luckily the benefit of the Haibike Mini Enduro is though you have set departure times on each stage, the organisers give you more than enough time to make your way between the stages, meaning you can reduce the heart rate, eat some food and somewhat relax between stages. Few!

 So what did I learn from my first Enduro?

 I can get round the Monkey at Cannock Chase or the Black at Llandegla without too much of an issue. However, racing is another beast entirely. The biggest difference between the two is not the distance, but the intensity. When places are split by seconds, every pedal stroke could make or break your run. This time you’re riding the trail flat out everywhere, not coasting between sections, but flat out hard pedalling. This was the undoing for me. I haven’t ridden at this intensity before and by the end of the second stage I was done. Gone. Knackered.  The now 30 minute climb up to the start of stage 3 was looking more ominous than ever! As luck would have it, stage 3 & 4 turned out to be some of the most technically challenging stages of the day and with my now depleted energy levels ended up with me just aiming to get down. I was no longer pushing, instead just trying to maintain positive momentum. Fitness, fitness, fitness. There’s no short cuts.   

It’s been a while since I last raced. The last time was in Karts as a kid and the biggest lesson I learnt then had seemed to of escaped me this time; planning. I only had 12 minutes in total of timed stages to make the most of my first Enduro, yet my planning consisted of getting a decent sleep and breakfast in before I left. What I missed however was A. practising the runs. Yes, I managed to rush stage 1 & 2 in before the start, but I didn’t take the time to watch, choose my line and allow my head to get into an attacking mindset – something which was more than possibly the day before at the Saturday practise sessions, if I had planned it in. B. I also didn’t set up the bike. I turned up, clipped in and off I went. What laid ahead of me was deep, wet mud, where clipped in pedals led to constant falls, my normal tyre pressures now massively too high for the swamp like conditions and my rear suspension, too soft for the aggressive stages. Overall, combined with my now clear lack of fitness, I was losing time left right and centre. As they say, failing to plan, is planning to fail.

With any post-race strategy, reviewing and analysing what you achieved, to then improve for next time is paramount. After spending the 3-hour journey back replaying my four runs and approach to my first Enduro, I’ve now got two very obvious lessons noted above, but also more minor things. My mental approach was too relaxed, I wasn’t amped enough, and so my overall level of attack on the stages was missing which likely lost me time. There was also my technical ability on the bike. I was riding on instinct due to tiredness, not thought. I could have been so much quicker, if I engaged my brain more and thought through every corner and jump. There was more, but these were the key points. The learning though, is analysis is key. Analysis is what’s going to make for my biggest improvement in my next Enduro.

 So with this all in mind, where did I finish? The answer was mid field, 39th out of 53 competitors in the senior men category. Probably slightly better than what I felt after my less than optimal performance, but does give me enough encouragement to try again and to see if I can break into the top 30s!

 It’s good to be back.

Equipment Mountain Biking

Venturing into the unknown. Gravel Bikes.

I’m a mountain biker. Always have been, and at the point of writing this, think I (might) always will be. There’s some doubt in there for sure and I can tell you why. Gravel Bikes. “What?” you may ask? Well in my own words imagine a chunkier road bike that’s designed to ride off road. “Ah that’s a Cyclocross bike Archie?”. Well sort of, but the Cyclocross bikes are UCI homologated. Think of them as race honed bikes, rather than bikes you’d ride for leisure. Hence, Gravel Bikes.

So to test out the theory, and confirm if this is just another marketing ploy by the bike brands to sell yet another niche bike, I picked up the 2018 Specialized Diverge Sport Carbon in August and have been running it for a couple of months now. And to make things interesting, rather just give my opinion on things, I’ve also lent it to my Dad who’s been eager to swing a leg over one ever since the genre came out a few years back. So this article will be coming at the Diverge from two angles.

  1. The Gravity enthused Mountain Biker (Me)

  2. The long distance trail rider (Dad)

So without further intro let’s get cracking!

The bike – Specialized Diverge Sport 2018 Carbon.  £2000, now £1529.

And I quote “The Diverge gives you the ability to go where you want and enjoy yourself while you do it, whether it be popping down to the shops, joining a local group ride or tackling a tough dirt climb.” Let see then…

It can fit tires up to 42mm while still having room for mud, along with a frame design that has been constructed out of lightweight FACT 9r Carbon Fibre, one of the lightest in its class and an absolute feather compared to the Stumpy. The Diverge features an all new version of the Future Shock system (think of it as a fork shock in the headset) giving you 20mm of travel, allowing the bike to soak up those bumps with ease, on gentle or so rides. It also comes with a Shimano Tiagra 2×10 Speed groupset to tackle whatever may come your way on and off road, as well as Tektro mechanical disc brakes, which work well, though take a bit of getting used to; after riding with hydraulic disc brakes on MTB’s, I’m used to massively more power and sensitivity. Still though, this is hardly a DH rig so I won’t judge.

A Gravity Riders POV

It feels weird. Probably an obvious thing to say and yes after 5 minutes or so, I started to get used to the feeling of sitting on top of the front wheel compared to the lazy, reclined feel of the Specialised StumpJumper. The second immediate thing you notice riding it is the efficiency in which your pedal strokes initiate movement. It’s not a playful bike, well not compared to what I’m used to, but neither did it feel like it was begging me to stop. So one of the best rides I’ve had on it so far was the red-graded mountain bike trail at Thetford. Generally, a trail which requires momentum to get those smiles going and momentum is what the Diverge delivered. Focusing less on getting the most out of the corners my riding instead focused on not losing momentum in the corners and hammering down those straights. The opposite to a MTB ride, but boy was it fun. With my brother and mate behind me running 150mm trail bikes, the difference in my ability to cover ground effortlessly was quickly highlighted. Yes, they could keep up, but they were really trying. Their ride had turned into a damage limitation exercise as egos were now on the line.

My luck was about to turn however, as 2/3rds around the trail we hit a very rooty/bermed section that really underlines how far forward your centre of mass is on the Diverge compared to the Stumpy. Now they were right on my tail and nibbling away at my tyres. I’ve been caught and if I’m not careful, about to be over taken. It’s at this point you realise you’re at the limit of the Diverge’s ability off road. With its limited tyre width (38mm or 1/5 inches) compared to an MTB and near enough vertical head angle you can’t really attack the rough stuff, you just get through it. Though as you’re doing this, yes you’re not fast, but boy is it good fun hustling the Diverge over terrain other day riders are struggling on with their rentals. It may look fragile, but it can play hard too!

So, it’s different the Diverge. It’s opened my mind to genuinely travelling with my bike, rather than looping the same downhill section.  As a bike 80% of the time it feels more than capable off road and when you take it that 20% extra, well it’s like thrashing a small hatchback. Your ability to have fun comes down to how well you can get the car, or bike in this case working. I’ll be sad to see the Diverge go and would compel anyone who’s not sure on the idea to give one a go. Anyway, it’s time for me to shut up and hand over to Dad. Dad, whatcha reckon?

A Long distance Trail riders POV

Adventure biking.  To some it’s about long trips with everything bar the kitchen sink packed into saddle bags, but for others (like me) it’s about sticking a pin in the map and finding a way to ride there irrespective of the condition or availability of the roads. 

Up until now my weapon of choice has been a Trek Cobia ‘ hard-tail’ mountain bike, but during the past few weeks I’ve had Specialized’s Diverge Sport gravel bike at my disposal, thanks to Rutland Cycling.  So, will the Diverge out-perform my Trek on the fire roads?  And can it keep up when the going gets really rough?

With its FACT 9r carbon frame, the Diverge weighs around 4kg less than the Trek (at 9.5kg) and you feel this every time you step on the pedals  – gearing is similar (with its 10-speed 11/34 cassette and 48/32 chainrings) but it’s the way it picks up speed, due to its lower weight, and keeps on accelerating (thanks to better aerodynamics) that sets it apart.  But make sure you keep the tyre pressures pumped up, it needs at least 50psi in its 700 x38c tyres, otherwise it can feel sluggish and much harder work.

Specialized sells another multi-surface sports bike, the CruX, developed for the weekend warriors competing in cyclocross, and compared to the Diverge this has hydraulic disc brakes (rather than the cable operated Tektro Spyres) and a 20mm taller bottom bracket for climbing over obstacles and navigating tight turns.  Otherwise both weigh the same with the CruX sporting shorter gearing (an 11-speed 11/28 cassette with 46/36 chainrings) and a slightly less relaxed geometry.

But perhaps the biggest difference between the two is the ‘Future Shock’ progressive suspension (developed with McLaren Applied Technologies) fitted above the head tube, with its 20mm of travel (and 3 interchangeable spring units) it smoothes out the ride, reducing fatigue and making a rocky trail more than tolerable.  Ok, it’s no match for the 100mm travel on my Trek hardtail, but it genuinely makes the Diverge an all-terrain bike with the only limitation being the rider’s bravery or talent.

So, back to my earlier question;  has the Diverge been a worthy replacement for my Trek hardtail? Well, yes and no. 

During the past few weeks I’ve ridden 130 miles,  73 of them on tarmac and the rest on a mixture of gravel roads, forest trails and grassy fields.  The smoother the surface the bigger the advantage in favour of the Diverge, with it being some 10-15% faster than my hardtail, and considerably quicker when tackling the steeper gradients in Fineshades Wood.  But it’s less clever at speeding through the berms – a combination of its higher seating position and narrower handlebars making it feel more nervous than a mountain bike and less forgiving if the surface changes in the middle of a turn. 

But not once have I felt unable to tackle the terrain we encountered.  Diverge is more than just a road bike with chunky tyres, it’s an all-terrain performance bike designed to go as fast as you can peddle.  Its carbon frame makes it a breeze to lift over gates and the front forks can handle up to 42mm tyres making even the muddiest trails a cinch.    You might even describe it as the most widely talented bike you can buy. 

Take one for an extended test ride (away from the tarmac) and see what I mean.  Gravel bikes are far more than a marketing gimmick and will open up a whole new world of riding adventures.  Whether you’re a roadie or mountain goat, there’s room for another bike in your life and its name is Diverge.

Equipment Mountain Biking

How far can you push a trail bike?

Its all well and good having a playful trail bike that encourages you to push it more and more. It lures you into this sense of invincibility to huck and hustle every trail centre you visit.  So rather than head to a typical trail bike destination to see its true potential, I called the new Stumpy’s bluff, and took it straight to Antur Stiniog. Where you ask? It’s a downhill mountain bike park, in the Snowdonia national park, on the side of a slate quarry. What this results in, is super aggressive, hard core, no joking about trails, that frequently break 200mm downhill rigs. It’s the only place I’ve been too where you regular hear “oh yeah last time I was here, I punctured by kidney”. Its that kind of trail centre. So come on then Stumpy, if I am to believe the marketing hype and messages out of Specalized, you should just about manage this by the skin of your inner tubes. The question is, did it, and did the 27.5 or 29er version fair best? It’s time to read on…

My old school mate Gareth joined me for the trip. Having bought a Stumpy recently and been singing its praises, he was the ideal riding buddy to go thoroughly test the Stumpy with. Though concerns were already being raised over the lack of travel and thick casing tyres, before we had even left home! So, we had a 4-hour drive ahead of us to Antur and having packed the bikes up inside the M135i, we left early, keen to get mile munching, and quickly. As ever with Snowdonia, we left the blue skies of Cambridgeshire and arrived in the foggy, misty, rainy conditions of Antur. It doesn’t matter what time of year you go, this place always feels like Lord of the Rings!

Gareth’s concerns were soon backed up as soon as we started getting the bikes out the car and building them up; we were looking seriously out biked. As if by magic our aggressive full suspension trail bikes looked like thin, delicate steeds compared to their burley car park stable mates. However fear not, with our lift passes in hand and full face helmets on, we made our way over to the uplift and up the mountain. We arrived on top of the mountain, wind and rain in our eyes with two options. Red or Black. Knowing we only had trail bikes and with it being the start of the day, we opted for Red.  Before barely getting started we found ourselves in two wheel drifts down the mountain as we discover the Speacliazed Tyres aren’t fans of wet slate! 

Feel tired and still waiting for the Macky D’s Double Sausage and Egg McMuffin to kick in, we took off down one of the many knarly red trails to find that the Stumpy’s were already up for the fight. After one run down, we were just about clued in, with the brakes now developing a decent level of bite, we opted for the same route down with a little more pace this time. Again the Stumpy’s took it within their stride and our confidence grew. The 1pm shut down for lunch came quickly with both Gareth and I chuckling at how no one all morning had come close to catching us, let alone overtaking us on their downhill rigs. Perhaps the Stumpy is the ultimate trail bike, it certainly feels like one of the best bikes we had ridden.

So as we finished lunch and head up for the afternoon, with the now drying trails and growing confidence we decided to hit the blacks. Trails that I remember back in 2015 felt harsh on my then 210mm downhill rig. First thoughts then on the Stumpy on Blacks? Mechanical sympathy!! The trails build on the already ridiculously rough reds that will happily shake your bike to bits, but now with essentially a permanent jagged rock garden from top to bottom. Except this time, unlike a typical trail centre rock garden you’re doing 20mph + and landing from height on these triangular rocks. Enthusiasm waned slightly on the first run, but with the morning gone the fear of punctures left us and was quickly replaced with excitement. We put hammer to tong, pointed the bikes down and let go of those brakes. It’s now here where the Stumpy feels like its having a proper face off, with it bottoming out front & rear on occasions and rims going ping. Welcome to downhill country!

The challenge with Downhill is ensuring you ride the hill and the hill doesn’t ride you. You’d think with 25% less travel, smaller less aggressive tyres and a steeper head angles we might be getting schooled by Antur. In reality, the Stumpy had us covered. The harder we rode the better, more impressive the Stumpy became. Where previously you didn’t bother pedalling your DH due to its inefficiency, this time you pedal, gain more speed, ride obstacles how you wanted to. And even with just 150mm travel, both bikes are light and providing you know how to ride, give you enough travel to get you through. All in all, the Stumpy left both Gareth and I with the conclusion; what can’t a trail bike do? And if you could only get just the one bike, you really can’t go wrong with the 2019 Specailzed Stumpy. Though I did end the day with a puncture…

Which Stumpy faired best?

29in vs 27.5in is becoming an age old argument/discussion now between mountain bikers. Putting aside all the XC rubbish around 29ers, Antur illustrated quite obviously the difference. In short, the 27.5 has a smaller rolling radius and therefore when hitting a hole falls deeper within it, knocking momentum and unsettling the rider. With the 29er, this effect is somewhat reduced. What this meant in practise, across the slate ridden rock gardens of Antur Stiniog, the bigger wheeled Stumpy skated across the rocks better than the 27.5 and remained more stable at speed, resulting in gains of about 4 – 5 bike lengths on what you could sort of call, the straights. Granted when it came to the super techy and tight switchbacks the 29er wasn’t as nimble and agile, so choose your wheel size according to your trails you ride on and how you want to ride. But for us, the 29er Stumpy came out on top at Antur.

How did it ride?

There are three things you need to know about how the Stumpy feels to ride. 1. Well balanced between axels. 2. Super plush and predictable with its Fox sus and finally 3. Capable with a capital C! To come away from Antur Stiniog and not end up in an ambulance when really trying to go as fast as possible downhill underlines the Stumpy’s credentials. In fact, there’s little point rabbiting on. Let me leave those three points with you, in the context of Antur. If you need further colour to the context, YouTube Antur and you’ll soon start to understand just how good this bike is.  

For more details on the Stumpy, see my previous stumpy article here

For more details on Antur, see their website here. I guaranteed you they’re some of the loveliest guys you’ll meet in North Wales and compel you to book your day. 

Mountain Biking

REVIEW: Bwlch Nant yr Arian trail centre

I’m not a fair weather rider but looking back at my strava activity so far this year, the evidence suggests otherwise. So as the temperatures finally rose above freezing I thought its time to shock the legs and get back on the saddle. So 22 miles round Cannock Chase’s Monkey trail and off-piste ticked that box with a side helping of cramp.

Next up my old friend, Gareth was talking of riding Llandegla. It’s a great trail centre and the black run is a 9.5/10 trail. But I’ve been there loads of times, so I went onto Mountain Bike Wales to see what else there was and found Bwlch Nant yr Arian. I remembered this place from an age-old MBUK pull out and thought hhmm interesting. Apparently, it was mostly single track with fast and techy descents. Sounds promising, so time to kick off the 4-hour drive to the Aberystruth area!

The drive – I’ll be quick here – In my M135i, the motorways from Peterborough to Shrewsbury kept the MPG at a steady 38mpg which for a 3-litre twin scroll turbo ain’t bad. Anyway, long story short, about 10 miles out of Bwlch Nant yr Arian on the on A44, you reach a section of road similar to those from the EVO triangle. Open mountain roads, with smooth tarmac, banked corners and great views. 10 or so minute later I arrive with the smell of hot brakes and the exhaust ticking itself cool – mentally I was in the zone.

So what’s Bwlch Nant yr Arian like?

In short, really, very good. As good as Llanedgle is to be debated, for three reasons;


The descent to pedalling ratio is not as good I don’t think. There is a lot of out there wilderness riding once you climb out of the vistor centre. You’re riding forest fire roads high up on the mountains. Great views, but you start to wonder whether you’ve got lost and just followed a farm track – so pretty out there feel. On the otherhand Llandegla has great descents, but also a fair few boring single track climbs, especially last half way round.


 But when you do hit the single track at BNYR, it’s good, really good! There’s not much dirt, more slate and rocks with a dusting of pine needles. That means the trails feel more carved out than compressed hardcore. They role fast and are generally pretty narrow, which results in the feeling of you pinning it everywhere. Especially as the turns are more flick flack chicanes in an otherwise flat out section. So in short, 10/10 descents, especially considering they’re generally on the side of an otherwise very exposed mountain.


Then there’s the climb. Roughly 2/3rds way round you’ve just completed about 10 minutes of flat out descending after riding the top ridges. Your pumped, hollaring and gernerally fired up for more. At which point welcome to the biggest fire road climb I’ve seen in sometime. Settle in well, as you’ll be climbing for the next 30 minutes or so on a fire road at the bottom of the valley…..its gotta be 3km.

However to leave you with a reminder of why you came, the last descent down to the visitor centre is again, exposed, fast and techy. 

So as you sit now down after a good ride, I’d recommend the fruit cake to replenish those thighs by the way, all three of us agree, BNYR is up there on our list. And defiantly one to revisit. 

 So would I recommend?

Absolutely – its one to tick off the list, but not to say you won’t want to come back. Certainlly your level of fitness needs to be high, but I’ll certainly be paying another visit soon.


Why I sold my Downhill and bought a Trail bike

Let’s first start at why I bought a downhill bike and let’s face it, who doesn’t want a downhill bike. They look insane and if you’ve ever dreamt of putting your bike on steroids, the end result is a downhill bike.

So it had been on the shopping list for a while and when I finally had a rational-ish excuse to buy one, I went for it! The Excuse you ask? Well, my Family and I were off to Sainte Foy for a summer holiday, a little skiing village in the French Alps, which is conveniently a 10-minute drive from Tignes. Tignes a world-renowned ski resort has recently turned to Downhill/Enduro for the summer months, sporting ten or so LONG trails. Oh by the way, the lift pass is free, so it’ll cost you nothing to ride.

Long story short, however, it would cost me £600 to rent a downhill bike for the week, so the small increase to £2000 for my own felt plausible! So a month before we left, my shiny new Canyon Torque DHX arrived.

How did it ride?

I’ve only ever ridden three DH bikes so I can hardly call myself an expert. What I would say however is that it had a long wheelbase which meant agility wasn’t its strong point. Pointing it downhill and clinging on, was. Tignes and neighbouring resort Val D’isere, part of the same trail network, are rocky and to say it ploughed the land would be an understatement. Nothing was too big it felt and the more speed the better! I remember riding it at Antur Stiniog where the rocks are big, and it took me a while to mentally adjust. That metre drop followed by a rock garden can actually be taken at full speed, with no brakes. The bike will be fine and in fact, sail right across. Compared to my 100mm hardtail, mentally readjusting your limits was the hardest thing about riding the Canyon. 

So why sell then?

Well, I don’t live in the Alps. Not yet anyway. For the UK it was like bringing a shotgun to a knife fight. Massively more capable than for the riding I was doing. Granted it would be ace at Revo Bike Park and the young chap that bought it off me is doing exactly that, however, for East of England 210mm of travel, big tyres and lazy handling meant it saw more time in the garage than the trails. Even the nearby bike parks like Chicksands could be ridden on 140mm or less. So time to rehome!


Would I buy one again?

No. I’ve now got my new bike in replacement; the YT Industries CF One which has all the attitude and some of the downhill capability of the Canyon, but you can pedal it for hours at a time. Saying that, if lived near to big mountain riding, you betcha it would be back on the shopping list.

So, onto my next bike then. Stay tuned to my channels as I get into the swing of things.

Peace out. 


Gloves, its personal…

You’ve got four touch points on the bike, two hands, two feet. I’ve learnt the difference between clipless and flats, with their positives and negatives. What I haven’t done until now, is experiment with gloves.

Thanks to the team at Gripgrab, I now can. So over the past 3 months of riding, across different terrains and in different weather conditions, I’ve worked out what I like. It’s interesting though, I’ve disproven my hypothesis – comfort above feel.

So, the gloves I chose to test were;

Racing “The Racing is a pro level performance mountain bike glove, with the ingenious InsideGrip technology that delivers an unforeseen level of handlebar control.”

Whether it’s riding the XC or the DH bike, I’ve gone for gloves which provided a layer of absorption between handle bar and hand. I’ve always found after a long ride, or even a short intense one, my hands feel it, be it pressure points or pulling of the skin.

What I’ve found though it the complete opposite. The thinner the glove, the more comfortable it felt due to having less material in between handlebar and hand, that could then pinch and cause pressure points. The Racing glove nailed this in one. A thin glove, but one which not only allowed great feel on the bike but didn’t cause me to suffer – #LadyHands. It’s clearly a summer glove though, as its light and airy.

What surprised me was the Supergel XC and how it got in the way of the ride. I love the exterior look, part of the reason I chose it, however, the big palm gel pad just felt like something was always caught under my hand, eventually causing pins and needles. Bar that excellent grip and decent feel, but it was my palms that felt it.

As for the Raptor – well it’s an out and out winter glove. When I rode with it down Thorpe Cloud in the Peak district, it was just above freezing and blowing a gale, though my hands would never know. They do have a bit of gel cushioning like the Supergels, though must have a smaller amount as I had only positive things to say about this glove. It’s the Rolls Royce of gloves and makes winter riding far more appealing.

As the title suggests, it’s personal when it comes to Gloves. What would you go for and why?

Any questions on the high quality gloves from GripGrab, do hit me up.

Peace out. 


Equipment Mountain Biking


Forest of Dean, 2017 bikes and the best day’s weather in March. Welcome to MBR’s Demo Day. 

 The brother and I get set for the final lap on a couple of Trek E-Bikes. Eeeeee!!
The brother and I get set for the final lap on a couple of Trek E-Bikes. Eeeeee!!

I’m not going to pretend I’m a mountain bike reviewer, so this will be a short and sweet article covering the bikes I rode, and what score I gave them. Putting that aside for a second, can I just say how good this event was. Minimal waiting time, maximum fun, and crucially you weren’t sold to by the brands – just, “wonna try this mate?”. The red trail, my brother and I rode most was a corker too. I believe it was a previous enduro stage and you could tell. Naturally loamy and rooty routes heading straight down the tree crowded hillside. Bang on. 

So bike number one. Canyon Neuron. 6/10

This was box fresh, so took a while to bed in, however, if you’re looking for an XC machine that “could” handle the rough stuff, then this performed very well indeed, though I found the geometry to be too front heavy focused.  P.S looks lovely!

Onto bike number two. Canyon Spectral CF. 10/10

Playful, light, and confidence inspiring. This for me was the cross between by DH Canyon Torque in regards to confidence and grip, but even better than my Trek Cobia hardtail’s pedalling ability. This is all the bike you need. Curious now what the Strive would be like… 

Three is the magic number – ROSE Root Miller 9/10 (27.5+ & 29) 

I freely admit it, I was drawn to this bike because of the frame. It looks sweeeet! There were also two, one 27.5+ and a 29er, with the same frame. So my brother and I took both of them to do a back to back test. More for our own understanding regarding plus tyres. Before getting onto the wheel side, the Root Miller was awesome. Not quite as gratifying as the Canyon, but not far behind. I would say the 27.5+ was more fun on the descents than the Spectral, but not as much going up. But what about 27.5+ vs 29er. Well, it comes down to your riding spots. For me the faster rolling, more efficient 29er took top place due to the places I ride it, however, if I lived in a less flat environment the 27.5+ would take it easy – twice as confidence inspiring on the descents as the 29er. 

 ROSE Root Miller 27.5 +
ROSE Root Miller 27.5 +
 Brother tweaking the ROSE Root Miller 29er
Brother tweaking the ROSE Root Miller 29er

The final countdown – Trek E-Bike 9/10

We had spent about 3 hours in the saddle, half of which had been going uphill. Our last bike of the day was going to have to be an E-Bike or we were out. Luckily the super friendly Trek stand was here to help. I’ve ridden an E-Bike before at the NEC Bike Show and thought they were gimmicky – this time round I thought they were awesome. Why? Because after my legs had pretty much given up the ghost, the E-Bike gave me new legs. My riding day had just been extended! So what’s it like? Well, there are no hills (well sorta) and the descents are ploughed through, due to its weights and plus sized tyres. Think of this has a Bugatti Veryon. Not much fun in the corners, but point it straight up or downhill and it’s super stable and very quick.  Would I buy one? Absolutely, just as a second bike, not my primary. 

So MBR. Whens your next Demo Day?

Equipment Mountain Biking

Thorpe Cloud – I’ve done it.

Rising to nearly 1000 ft in the south Peak District with a very clear ridge line, a nice country walk 4 weeks ago, turned into a me getting very excited about bringing the bike back. So I rallied the troop(s), and looped Jamie Hewitt into the mix, a fellow GoPro Family Member. This was never going to be an epic day’s ride, more an adrenaline hit, but why not?

This was also the perfect time to test out some of my new gear I’ve very kindly received from GripGrab. Storm Doris had passed shortly before, so heading to an exposed peak with winds in excess of 50mph probably wasn’t the best idea for riding, but sure put their gear to good use.

First and foremost, Thorpe Cloud. What’s it like? Well, do you like hiking, with a bike? If so it’s right up your street. There’s a lot of climbing, about 30 minutes of intense climbing, and even then you can’t get right to the top due to it getting too rocky to ride down, if you’re not an Atherton. We were however pleasantly surprised by a hikers trail on the north ridge which doubles up nicely as a great bit of downhill single track. There were also huge gulley’s and the much steeper, south ridge, but with 50+ mph winds, safety won the battle with trying it. A full video will be going up sometime in April, so be sure to keep an eye out for that.

GripGrab; their promise being to build products that makes sports more enjoyable no matter how cold, wet and windy it is. So first up is the Winter Raptor glove.

I’ve always been a fan of a heavier built gloves, so wanted to give these winter specials a true testing. They actually felt reasonably similar to my Troy Lee Design pair in terms of fit, but the quality was noticeably turned up a notch, as was the windproofing. My hands were kept comfortably warm but not at the extent of sweaty palms. Clearly, some breathable technology going on here. The thickness neither had any negativity on feel, underlined by riding my DH rig, which absorbs a lot of the high frequency bumps. Any negatives? The gel inserts, which I’m a big fan of in other gloves, were too much in this case, with finding my hand sliding on top of them if I put a lot of pressure through. That aside, I’m thoroughly impressed by “NAME”. The key outtake I took was, quality and the overall look aint bad either!

The second, more experimental test was GripGrab’s Aquarepel Leg Warmers. I’m no fair weather cyclist, happy to get dirty, wet and a bit cold, but what if I could avoid all of that and stay comfortably warm? Well that’s exactly what happened. Good thing the body receives all 5 senses, otherwise who would have known it was blowing a gale? Using their on-site size guide, I chose medium, however after time, the thigh part does slide down, so I’ll explore this further on a proper pedal ride. There was also little moisture in the air to give their water repellent qualities a true test, but they’ve sure peeked my interest in wearing them…

I’ll be sharing my thoughts throughout the year on the suite of GripGrab products I’ll be testing.

In the meantime, go ride Thorpe Cloud. The locals will love you. Genuinely, curiosity and excitement was expressed by everyone we bumped into.

Peace out.

Equipment Mountain Biking

Never Loose Your Grip – GripGrab

GripGrab is based on a passion for sports and the dream of building a brand of products that makes sports more enjoyable no matter how cold, wet or windy it is. So being based in the UK, where it normally is cold, wet and windy in Summer, let alone Winter, is probably going to be useful.

So over the course of the next year, I’ll test out their gear to fully determine whether it does, what it says on the tin!

Test number one; Thorpe Cloud, aka cold and windy.  What better way to give their warming qualities a true test than heading to an exposed mountain in the Peak District? In early March…

Check out GripGrab and another one of their local heros, Dave Kilshaw