Armed with the most accurate tape measure in the Scottish Highlands we went and scoured the Fort William pits to check out 8 racers' cockpit setups.( Photos: 35 )
It’s that time of year again, when the hype, anticipation, rumours and gossip are left behind, and the stars of the World Cup circuit hit the track to battle for glory. Whether it’s the speed and danger of downhill (DH) or the athleticism of cross-country (XC) that floats your boat, this season looks set to be a treat. There are some great venues that should produce epic battles between the racers and round 1 of the XC World Cup kicks off this weekend in Albstadt, Germany. Transition Smuggler GX review Orange Stage 6 RS long-term review The 2019 downhill MTB World Cup Tahnee Seagrave racing at the first stage of the 2019 UCI MTB World Cup in Maribor, Slovenia Jan Kasl / Red Bull Content Pool The downhill season started on 27–28 April in Maribor, Slovenia, and the next stage takes place in Fort William, Scotland on 1–2 June. The circuit then moves onto Austria, Andorra, France, Italy, Switzerland and finally culminates in the USA. April 27–28: Maribor, Slovenia Downhill returned to this legendary track for the first time since 2010. With its root-infested upper woods, infamous rock garden and toboggan-run bottom section, Maribor’s always been a rider favourite. This year saw Loic Bruni take the men’s win, while Tahnee Seagrave won it for the women. June 1–2: Fort William, Scotland The home of UK downhill. Watch for standout performances from Brits such as Reece Wilson and Danny Hart. The battle between Tahnee Seagrave and Rachel Atherton is sure to be unmissable too, as they race for victory on home turf. June 8–9: Leogang, Austria This high-speed track guarantees intense racing, and with four out of eight possible wins here for America’s Aaron Gwin, can he get his new Intense bike to the top of the podium? July 6–7: Vallnord, Andorra The downhill race at Vallnord features the highest number of corners on the circuit, and the steepest average gradient. High levels of skill and commitment are essential for success here. July 13–14: Les Gets, France Amazingly, this famous venue hasn’t hosted a World Cup since 2002, or a World Champs since 2004. August 3–4: Val di Sole, Italy The downhill at Val di Sole is famous for producing exceptional rides — think Sam Hill’s 2008 World Champs heartbreak, and Aaron Gwin’s eight-second destruction of the field back in 2012. August 10–11: Lenzerheide, Switzerland What Lenzerheide’s downhill course lacks in length, it makes up for in steepness and intensity. September 7–8: Snowshoe, USA Snowshoe is a brand-new venue for the World Cup series, but it’s no stranger to hosting races. In 2018 it was the venue for the US National Champs. The downhill track here mixes vicious rocks and flowing turns up top with steep sections to finish. Neko Mulally won the men’s DH race in 2018. The 2019 XC MTB World Cup Nino Schurter riding at the UCI MTB World Cup 2018 in Albstadt, Germany Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool The cross-country season kicks off this weekend (18–19 May) in Albstadt, Germany. The circuit then moves onto the Czech Republic, Andorra, France, Italy, Switzerland and finally the USA. May 18–19: Albstadt, Germany The classic German venue will open the XC World Cup this month. Can cross-country legend Nino Schurter get his third win in a row here? May 25–26: Nové Mesto, Czech Republic With eight years of racing history, this wide, high-speed track pulls in big crowds. It’s famous for its ferocious and technical races — full-sus bikes love Nové Mesto. July 6–7: Vallnord, Andorra Potentially the most physically demanding race of the XC series. Riders compete at high altitude — 1,901m, in fact — where the drama gets as epic as the mountains themselves. July 13–14: Les Gets, France Still heralded by riders as one of the best around for sheer fun factor, Les Gets’ all-natural old-school track is loaded with flat-out grass piste turns, interspersed with steep, loose woods. August 3–4: Val di Sole, Italy Italy always produces hot racing, and Val di Sole boasts the fastest XC course of the year, with average speeds over 20km/h. August 10–11: Lenzerheide, Switzerland The cross-country track at Lenzerheide is no pushover. At 1,500m and littered with roots and rocks, it demands an efficient style and top technical skills. September 7–8: Snowshoe, USA At last year’s US National Champs, Kate Courtney bagged the women’s XC win. Can Courtney, along with Mulally (mentioned above) use their Snowshoe experience to help them up the podium when the World Cup’s in town? The 2019 MTB World Championships Kate Courtney racing in the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships 2018 in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool We then have the World Championships from 31 August–1 September in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada. The most historic and revered mountain bike race venue ever seems an appropriate location for the 2019 World Championships. MSA’s cross-country course blends technical, natural descents with brutally steep climbs, suiting those whose bike-handling skills and physical fitness are equally on-point. The downhill track is similarly unforgiving, punishing riders and bikes on one of the longest, roughest and fastest courses on the circuit. How to watch live coverage of the 2019 World Cup and World Champs Red Bull TV owns the rights to the UCI World Cup and World Championship 2019, and broadcasts the events globally, free of charge. You can download it onto a multitude of devices, including iPhone, iPad, Android TV, phones and tablets, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Playstation 4 and Xbox One, Samsung Smart TVs, and more.
Do you ever feel that the year is flying by far too quickly? We’re well on our way to the summer solstice (or winter solstice if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere) and before you know it the seasons will be turning again. So it’s best to get as much riding in as possible now. Shimano GRX — dream gravel groupset or too little, too late? Super cheap SRAM SX Eagle groupset? To be fair, we’d say that whatever the time of year, but it’s good to have a few extra motivators to get out for those post-work rides when you’re feeling a bit tired, right? If you need any more motivation, how about the fact that cycling has been shown to be so beneficial for health that it’s being trialled by the UK’s National Health Service on prescription! Although we think it might still be a while before you can get that dream bike on doctor’s orders. If you’re looking for more motivation, we’ve got a list of benefits so share them with your non-cycling friends and get more people riding. IRIS women’s jersey and shorts Founded by Iris Slappendel, IRIS or I Ride In Style has a selected range of women’s road cycling kit Phil Hall Bright, eye catching, vivid, unusual – this cycling kit is certainly not run of the mill. Don’t let the good looks lull you into thinking it’s all style over substance though. The woman behind IRIS, or I Ride In Style, knows a thing or two about what serious performance kit needs to incorporate. And the woman behind IRIS is Iris Slappendel, Dutch ex-pro cyclist turned designer, activist and businesswoman. Truth be told, Slappendel was always those things, but in the wake of her racing career she has had more time and energy to dedicate to her other skills and passions, though, as ever, cycling is front and centre. The jersey features a repeated eye pattern; a play on words of both the brand name and the founder Phil Hall The All Eyes On Me jersey does exactly what it says, with a blue and white eye print on a red background, and is both a reference to and a play on words of the brand name and logo. Features include a full length zip, mesh back and underarm panels for increased breathability, and three rear pockets including a water-resistant zippered pocket for your phone, money or keys. Bib shorts are a key piece of kit for most riders, and they’re important to get right. The microfibre Signature Bib Short IIs have a panelled construction and lazer cut leg bands with silicone gripper dots to provide grip without that sausage leg look. The old question of comfort breaks is dealt with by the addition of a magnetic clasp at the back, which allows the shorts to be dropped without stripping off your top half. A clip on the back makes toilet breaks a little bit easier Phil Hall Finally, you can get kitted out top to toe because the range includes striking caps and socks designed to complement the jersey and shorts range, and coordinate with other products from Iris. All Eyes On Me jersey: €99 Signature Bib Short II: €135 Bonk cap: €19 Hammer Sock: €16 Buy direct from IRIS Fizik Infinito R1 19 19 road shoes The special edition Fizik Infinito shoes have been developed in celebration and remembrance This new incarnation of the range-topping Infinito R1 shoe is a special and limited edition, designed to celebrate the centenary of the first Giro D’Italia in 1919 after the end of the First World War. The reflective outer is a design element as well as a safety feature, reflecting (excuse the pun) the fact that many of the stages in that original race lasted upwards of 15 hours with riders riding on into the night. Stiff carbon soles aid with power transfer, while a reflective upper is both eyecatching and a safety feature The pink pattern that traces both the outer and inner of the shoe is a representation of the 1919 route and 2019 route, both of which take place in Italy in its entirety, with no stages or prologues moving overseas. As you’d expect from a performance shoes, the shoes feature a unidirectional carbon sole and the upper uses a BOA dial closure system, allowing the outer and inner to be tighted independently of each other. Weight: 578g per pair, size EU45 £349.99 / €380 / US$450 Available from Fizik Santa Cruz V10 downhill mountain bike Channel the Syndicate and get sendy with the Santa Cruz V10 Will Poole The World Cup Downhill season is well underway and soon racers will once again descend on the Scottish town of Fort William (or Fort Bill as it’s affectionately nicknamed) for the round 2. One of the core teams on the circuit is the Santa Cruz Syndicate, and they’ll be riding their versions of this bike, the V10. We say ‘their versions’ because it’s possible we’re going to see a lot more so-called ‘mullet bikes’ this season, which are bikes with a combination of wheel-sizes, such as a 29er up front and 27.5 at the rear. The V10 we’ve got in is positively conservative by comparison, with 29ers front and rear, but it’s still a burly beast that looks ready to tackle whatever gravity and geology can throw at it. It’s the seventh incarnation of the bike and features a coil shock, top quality carbon frame and X01 groupset. £7999 / €8799 / $8199 Available now from Stif Cycles Miss Grape Cluster seat pack and Trunk bag The Miss Grape rear bag straps on securely and can be compressed down Italian brand Miss Grape is bringing the bikepacking game, and we’ve just got our hands on the Cluster seat pack, as well as a Trunk bag, which is essentially a drybag suited to ‘anything cages’. The Cluster seat pack comes available in two sizes — 13 and 20L — and is claimed to be easily compressible, which should in theory make it easier to use with smaller frame sizes. Miss Grape claims to have made strategic choices around materials to ensure its bikepacking bags are structurally sound and long-wearing. These materials include a blend of nylon, polyester and polyurethane. The Trunk bag on the other hand is essentially a dual-use dry bag that can be mounted on both the fork (using an appropriate fixture) or directly onto the handlebar. It has a 4.5L capacity and is fully waterproof. Miss Grape Cluster seat pack (13L) £124.99 / $162.59 / AU$233.06 Buy from Triton Cycles Miss Grape Trunk bag £55 / $71.54 / AU$102.55 Buy from Triton Cycles Peak Design Tech Pouch The Peak Design Tech Pouch is exactly what it says it is… an elegantly-executed way of organising your tech accessories If you do a lot of travelling, or even if you tend to cart a load of tech stuff around (and let’s face it, that’s most of us these days), then having a compact bag that keeps things organised can be a godsend. The Tech Pouch from photography accessories company Peak Designs is just such a bag, and as with a lot of Peak Design kit, it’s exceptionally well thought out and packs in the features. Internal pockets and pouches mean that there’s a place for everything, so reaching in and grabbing the item you want is easy It opens out origami style to reveal a selection of pouches, zipped pockets and slots, ideal for keeping memory cards, batteries, cables, pens and even a compact action camera if you fancy. There are plenty of external hooks and handles for holding or hanging the bag, and it’s constructed from a weatherproof nylon. £59.99 / $59.95 Available now from Amazon Argon 18 Nitrogen Disc Astana team edition bike We’ve had the pro-tastic Astana Argon 18 in the office this week Will Poole Feast your eyes on this pro bike loveliness! The Nitrogen Disc from Argon 18 is, as is plain to see, a bike built for speed: aero tubing, aero seatpost, disc brakes with flat mounting — little wonder then that the exact version we have in is a pro bike! Okay, to be fair, you can’t actually get your hands on this model because it has actually come from the Astana Cycling stable, but you can get one very similar to it. While it may not have the pro team livery, it will have a carbon monocoque frame and forks, and up to 30mm tyre clearance. £2,499.99 frame only / $TBC Availability to be confirmed, via the Argon 18 website Smith Tempo women’s cycling glasses The glasses have interchangeable lenses, and each pair comes with two sets If you ever needed a reason to buy a new pair of shades for riding, let us help: You need to protect your eyes from the dirt or sun glare! A good set of glasses with great optical clarity make riding a more pleasurable experience! You need glasses that match your kit! Okay, that last one was a bit of a stretch. But if you are in the market for some performance cycling glasses then have a look at the Tempo shades from Smith. If you’re not a fan of that loud and brash nineties inspired riding look that’s super popular at the moment, then the more classic look of these glasses will appeal. Featuring interchangeable lenses, each set comes with an alternative option. In the case of these purple-framed Tempos that’s smokey grey lens and a contrast improving orange set. There are plenty of other lens colours to pick from, and if you prefer a bigger lens then Smith also offers the Tempo Max glasses. £139 / €169 / $199 Buy now from Wiggle Muc-Off Pressure Washer The optional extra snow foam attachment allows you to screw on a bottle of Muc-Off and coat your bike in a fine covering of cleaner Phil Hall Pressure washers are brilliant for taking the drudgery out of washing a bike, and there’s something so satisfying about blasting mud off your frame and leaving it shiny and new looking. However, some pressure washers can also blast the grease out of places where you actually do need it, hindering rather than helping your bike maintenance. Enter Muc-Off, purveyors of myriad bike cleaning products – and people, motorbike and tech cleaning products for that matter. It’s spent two years creating a brand-new pressure washer expressly for cleaning your bike, which won’t, it claims, cause damage in the process. The Muc-Off pressure washer has been designed for use on bikes Phil Hall If you want to get your hands on it, there are several packages available. There’s the basic pressure washer which comes with two washing lances, one for bikes and one for motorbikes. You can also get a bag designed to keep it all neat and tidy, and a full bundle that has the pressure washer, bag, a litre of Muc-Off bike cleaner and a snow foam lance. Having seen the snow foam lance in action, this is a part we’re really taken with. It screws on directly to a bottle of Muc-Off and allows you to spray a fine foam of cleaning product all over your bike. Follow this up with a rinse with the bike lance and hey presto! Shiny, clean bike. The whole process is deeply pleasing — or it is if that’s the kind of thing that floats your boat. It plugs in at the mains and needs to be connected to a hose, which is the only downside because that tethers it to the home. We’d like to put in a special request for a portable version please Muc-Off! News: Muc-Off launches ‘bike specific’ pressure washer MucOff Pressure Washer, Bag, Snow Foam Lance and Cleaner Bundle: £99 / $TBC MucOff Pressure Washer: £79.99 / $TBC Available directly from Muc-Off Dakine Hot Laps waist bag The Dakine Hot Laps 5-litre pack is ideal for the rider who prefers to travel light but wants the essentials on them Phil Hall We love riding in the summer: dry trails, warm sunshine, hours of daylight to play with. Things we don’t like about riding in the summer include getting a sweaty back from lugging around a hydration pack all the time or getting dehydrated because one or two on-bike water bottles aren’t really enough for all the bike time. How to ditch your backpack on MTB rides — six alternatives to lighten your load This is one reason why waist packs, AKA bum bag in the UK or fanny pack in the USA, have become increasingly popular in recent years. Dakine’s Hot Laps waist pack is designed for just such a scenario. It holds a decent 2-litre water reservoir (included) and has enough room to stash some emergency repair kit, snacks and a compact outer layer in case of rain. Inside there’s a pocket for a water reservoir and another with places to organise tools and snacks Phil Hall There are plenty of straps and webbing on the outside so you can hook on things such as your kneepads on long climbs, and internal pockets mean you can keep your phone separate from your multi-tool. While it does come in a range of subtle, low-key colours including black, camo or grey, we’re really taken with the loud and unashamedly eighties Electric Mint colourway. £55 / €70 / $75 Available from Leisure Lakes Bikes Morvelo Overland Back Country Short Sleeved Shirt Morvelo’s Overland range is designed for riders who want technical kit that doesn’t look like traditional Lycra Mathew Allen / Immediate Media Co Is it a shirt? Is it a jersey? Is it a shersey? Or a jert? Who knows. What we do know is that it’s part of Morvelo’s new Overland range, designed with the gravel rider in mind. It’s for those riders who love a bit of an explore, whatever type of bike they opt to do it on, but don’t want to look full-on mountain biker or Lycra-engulfed roadie. Essentially, it’s a selection of T-shirts, shirts and shorts that can handle some hard riding, but won’t get you on the receiving end of weird looks if you pop into a restaurant or bar for a little post-adventure refreshment. The Back Country shirt may look like your typical cyclist plaid shirt but it’s constructed from stretchy, performance material. A loose, cycle-specific cut with a longer back means it’s suited for that on-bike riding position, and it’s quick drying, so if you get caught out by the weather you’re not going to stay sopping wet for long. This shirt, like most of the Overland range, is unisex and to complement this the sizes range from XS to XXL. £75 Available from Wiggle Marzocchi Bomber Z2 forks The return of a classic! For those among you who can hark back to earlier, simpler times in mountain biking, the Marzocchi Bomber Z2 will be a familiar name with a serious heritage pedigree. That classic has been reincarnated 20 years later with the new trail-ready Bomber Z2, an air sprung 100–150mm travel fork with Rail damper, 34mm stanchions and the iconic M-shaped arch design. It has all the mod-cons you need for a straightforward fork, with 27.5 or 29 tyre compatibility, 44mm and 51mm fork rake options and 100mm, 120mm, 130mm, 140mm and 150mm travel options. Rebound and compression settings can be adjusted and it has 15 x 110mm axle spacing. £TBC / $499.99 Availability to be confirmed
Join Grant Murdoch and the SDA News team for the the 3rd Round of the Scottish Downhill Series tied together with the UK National Downhill Series from Fort William( Photos: 2 )