At this point we decided to bring in a guest tester. Given the baggage we have with the V10 from riding most of the previous versions, and that we have not given it the full acclaim that many people seemed to expect, we thought a fresh perspective from Will Soffe of Bike Park Wales appropriate.
“The 2016 V10cc is the latest and greatest top-spec carbon version of the iconic downhill bike and arguably one of the most beautiful. A carefully planned mix of gloss white and red with matt black shadowing, the paint job sets off the swooping Californian carbon like a well-cut dress on a Hollywood actress.
On track, the V10cc encourages a skimming, drifting approach; ducking and weaving like a courser after a hare. Carve toward a turn and the bike feels wonderfully playful, encouraging flamboyant line-choice and pin-point corner entry. Flat turns can be taken Caterham 7 style as you shift your weight back and forth to find grip. Feedback is instant and detailed, letting you know where the grip is, how much and what it had for breakfast last Tuesday. “You’ve changed” I say, “The old V10 was a plough-bike!” This latest model has grown up and completed finishing school; a refined and sophisticated graduate of Lousa testing and lab analysis.
However when scything through chop, deep in the travel, the bike begins to feel rather more of a handful than my benchmark XL Trek Session. Add to this a tendency to wallow in its travel and the bike becomes one that has to be ridden tactically rather than smashed and railed. Laced with Fox 40 and X2 shock, a similarly suspended Session is less inspiring when dicking about, but more purposeful when you put your race face on.
Hit steep stuff and the V10 feels nimble but makes mountains out of molehills on rough corners, whereas the Session’s reassuring stability maintains momentum even through holes Jules Verne would be interested in. The Santa Cruz is noticeably noisy too; extra chainstay protection is needed.
As a piece of Californian exotica this bike is a work of art and one which is clearly capable of winning at the highest level in the right hands. But is it the whole package? Is she the stable, marrying type or just an exciting one-night stand? Whilst the V10 is feather-light and a great looker, with a superbly tuned carbon layup and fabulous handling on flat turns, as a race bike the suspension isn’t as predictable or confidence inspiring as some of its stablemates. Other bikes can outshine this one on steep, rough racetracks.”