Quietly and stylishly going about the business of racing, it’s been a good year for Charlie Hatton…
From Dirt Issue 142 – December 2013.
Words by Steve Jones. Photos by Andy Lloyd.
Quietly and stylishly going about the business of racing, it’s been a good year for Charlie Hatton. Piloting Lapierre’s flagship bike the rapid youth only really took five after bending himself on some of the historic downhill trails found in his native Forest of Dean – rapidly becoming the downhill centre of the universe. Top fives at national races, winning regional events, it’s been nine straight months of racing. Here’s his story of a hassle free season.Age: 15 Weight: 62kg Height: 5’ 9” (175cm) Dirt: Seventeen races this year! I make that more than World Cup racers do?
Charlie: Aha, yeah quite a few races this year. I’ve done a lot of local races and which has taken the numbers up, it’s good doing more races, you can see where you’re at and if you need to improve or change anything for the next race.Out of the box and onto the hill, the bike has been a success from the word go, you instantly became familiar with the Lapierre?
I used to ride a Lapierre previously but this bike is very different, but yes I was comfortable after the first ride which was good. The first thing I noticed about the bike was how much faster I could hit things, it seemed to carry more speed over the rough stuff and I had more trust in the bike.Sizing? What did you go for and how does it compare to previous bikes?
Last season I was riding a small, and yes I’ve grown, but this year I changed to a long frame. This made the bike feel faster over rough stuff and more stable at high speed. This benefited at tracks like Fort William and fast sections on other tracks.How have you set up the cockpit area?
I’m running Easton Carbon bars at 800mm wide with a 20mm rise, which is wide, but I prefer longer bars for stability. Easton stem on 50mm reach, both ride and look nice. I’d like to try a thinner bar however to see if there’s a bit more give.Do you feel the bike is always consistent or are there moments you don’t understand what the bike is doing?
The bike is always feels consistent, never had any problems.Have you had to adjust your ride in any way with this bike?
I haven’t changed the way I ride, the only change is the bike feels faster than previous bikes and that’s all really.Do you really need 220mm on some of the easier races?
Some races you could run a shorter travel bike, but I don’t feel as confident on them, hitting jumps and fast sections. Pedalling isn’t an issue on the Lapierre, it runs–on like the cross–country bike!What springs you been running on it?
In the front I’m running a blue (medium) Ti spring in the Fox 40’s, rear is a 450 Ti.Lets go through some of the highs and lows of a year of use?
Overall it’s been good. Nothing major has broken, the obvious things like brake pads, bushings and bottom bracket have been replaced. So not many lows, mainly highs.Wheels. What happened? You’ve been swapping between Easton and Novatec?
Yeah the Novatecs were my spare set until I realised how good they were, a bit heavy but rolled so fast and they’re indestructible. Out in France I went for a huck that didn’t go to plan and cracked the Easton back wheel. The Easton’s were pretty good, light but not quite as strong as the Novatecs.Forks? What was the deal, something broke. Mojo helped out?
The rebound cartridge went in my race run at Innerleithen BDS, felt like a pogo stick riding down! Thanks Mojo for fixing them.How have you got on with the bigger chassis fork in terms of manoeuvrability?
Got on with it well, they feel stronger than previous years.Could the suspension be improved?
Nah it’s pretty plush, maybe set a bit harder to carry more speed.Mud clearance? Any issues?
Yeah when it’s real wet, mud goes in–between the linkages so you have to compress the bike to wash the mud out.Noise? Had to add any padding?
It’s pretty quiet, a bit of chain slap but that doesn’t really bother me. I haven’t added any padding to make it quieter.Brakes, are the Formulas a good race brake, reliable?
I haven’t bled the brakes all year, the bite point is still instant. The only problem I found is the levers bend easy. But overall they’re powerful and work good.Chaindevice?
Had some problems with the e.13 chain device. Snapped it twice, both before race runs at nationals. Luckily Silverfish (UK distributors) got me going again.Tyres. What have been your choices?
I’ve been using the Schwalbe Muddy Mary’s for most of the year, they roll fast and have loads of grip. When it’s dry I’ll put the Maxxis High Roller 2’s on. When it’s boggy the Specialized Hillbilly’s work well. Most races this year have been dry so it has been either the High Rollers or the Muddy Mary’s.Do you look at your rivals’ bikes ever? What are your thoughts?
No not really, I think it’s all about personal preference with set–up of your bike.What are your thoughts on the new 27.5” Lapierre DH bikes?
I’ve never ridden 27.5 so I’m not sure? I rode a cross country 29er and it felt OK on downhill, but not as good 26”… 27.5 may be the best of both.Apart from a few minor problems with wheels, fork and chain retention, the DH Team has hammered well. For this amount of money this shouldn’t really be happening so soon, yet they were issues resolved quickly. Considering the amount of abuse the young forester has inflicted on the Lapierre it’s come out shining.