Each month Dirt designer Chris Jones makes the difference. He can take a bunch of kids ‘ragging it’ around some woods and make them look classy, or take a World Cup racer in a pile of trouble and make him appear cool, collected and in control. You only have to look at the Aaron Gwin feature in issue 147.FROM DIRT ISSUE 148 – JUNE 2014
Words by Steve Jones. Photo by Ben Winder
Like Jon Gregory (Dirt’s previous designer) Chris Jones spends a lot of time on his bike. But like Jon, who really got stuck into MTB riding when he got to the Dirt office, Chris comes off the back of a long stint in ‘the smoke’. When he first arrived some thought the reality of forty minutes in the mud would wear pretty thin compared to dodging taxis and riding fixies in London. At which he perks up, “it’s just trendy to take the piss out of fixie riders. Ten years ago people didn’t know what they were about, then soon as they did people started hating.”
I put it to him that he is similar to Jon in some ways. “He was a very aggressive, actually he is very aggressive, he was just whaa, jumping kerbs the lot when he came back to London… trouble with a lot of people in town is they’re trying to beat a personal best every day, beat the cop, beat the cop. And you’re lumping me into THAT fixie lot… saying that, I used to see Jon when he came back from Wales (Dirt HQ) and I couldn’t understand why he was riding through town with wide bars and I would have said it was slightly dangerous.”
This one time warrior of the Walworth Road, a man known to tweak rather than tear off bus mirrors, has swapped heavy traffic, bikinis and swell (he used to design Surfer’s Path and Cooler magazines) for deep and dirty. He has now been blowing up berms and rearranging the Dirt furniture for over a year. For 2014 in comes 130mm travel front and rear, state of the art eleven speed SRAM shifting and brakes designed to stop rather than look pretty outside a tube station.
After a year on a Trek Fuel 9.9 he’s now on a Canyon Spectral AL 29 and loving every minute. Obviously keen to downplay the time he spends on it but excited at the same time, “people don’t know how much of a novice I am. Don’t know if it’s the conditions, don’t know if it’s the big wheels but I seem to be overshooting corners that I’ve done time and time again.”
He’s changed. He’s now getting to grips with the dirt that he loved as a kid again. Fifteen years commuting from south to central London had clearly taken its toll on Jones when he arrived here in Wales. But his chest has now opened up from using the wider bar, a Renthal combo which comes standard on the Canyon Spectral. He’s cutting trails with tools taken off the pages he designed, he now drags dirt into the office rather than carbon monoxide and road film, he’s got a couple of cats too. For a man who never filled a pothole in his life he’s very engaged in keeping his new dirt routes in top nick.
“The main thing is a I really, really do love it. The bike? Oh it’s got a lovely line, top tube on the Canyon Spectral is smooth. Riding it is definitely more efficient than a normal bike. It’s very nice, it’s bouncy, the grips are good and I like the stickers.”