Knights of Niche.

Mountain Biking Magazine



Knights of Niche.

What ho downhillers,  i think i may have cabin fever and due to the fact that north lincs is flatter than holland i have mostly been riding other bikes.  The side effect of riding 6 miles to town across the fields is i will get fitter,  that in turn will be of help when i get to a DH race,  due to it being pancake land up here (flat) and the 62cm frame i had was a touch big, i have embarked on a new project, the hedge bike.  It was called that because thats where i found it in a hedge,  but it’s a 58cm frame so not quite the five bar gate i have been using.   So 2 bikes became one,  3 bent rear axles later and a posh wheelset has been bought,  on top of all this i got myself into a rather unusual event (not allowed to call it a race hence event) at the weekend i am Eventing on behalf of Scotland (yes really) in the European Single Speed Champs down in the Forest of Dean,  i was going to tape a half bottle of Buckfast to the bars but got the hip flask cage instead and its combined with a pump clip so functional as well as good looking.

Ok most of you are thinking “pile of shite” and it is.  It’s an early 80’s raleigh tempest made from gaspipe or scaffold pole type steel,  it’s a bit rusty and the Knights of Niche dont reckon it will make half a lap.  Pure parts bin special,  i shoehorned some old EA50 bars into the road stem, had some Spank grips spare, the seatpost is about 15 years old, it’s a USE XCR, dead posh back in the day, but now the MCU sponge has gone hard and the bushings are shagged, but it sort of works, and sort of fitted the frame,  needed some tape to bring the size up a bit,  the wheels in the picture are off and new ones in place.  I call this work of scrap the “Ghetto 29er” 

At the recent show i did i got to measure up inflated tyres on rims,   Jorg and Rob from Continental where bemused by my actions and the fact i was more interested in cyclo-cross tyres,  they decided i wasnt drunk but have lost the plot and nicely gave me a pair to get rid of me,  i reckon i could go up from the dizzy width of 35mm to 42mm for a bit more traction.   The stickers…   yes, well i have to pick out my bike from 300 others in the run for your bike start, so need a bit of colour to make it stand out.   Due to the fact i am unfit, my left knee and back are almost right after flat landing a jump a while ago and finding out just how far/long this event is,  i have decided to maintain a role of “eventing drinking support”  with the ride to the start and back + 1 lap will be about 20 miles, i reckon some of them will rack up 2 or 3 10 mile’ish laps,  so drinking support it is,  i can do that,  i have trained for that part.

But where am i going with this ?   ghetto 29er is my sense of humour, go back to dirt issue 96 and you have ratboy (miami) enjoying the Santa cruz Tallboy.   Ok i belive Intense have a 29er DH prototype and maybe a few others have them on the go, on the quiet as well.  To put it in basic terms, 29ers are road bike wheels with fat tyres.    But look again at my bike,  the younger ones wont get this bit but 30somethings will.     Back before the Yanks invented the mountain bike (the bike not the concept) this is what i would rag down a local hill,  cowhorn bars, banana seats,  the mousetrap rack with a can of fizz and bag of crisps on it,  i used to DH on a bike like that when i was a kid,  look at what you have to play with now.   So i am having a second childhood and going mental all at once.

One of the things that struck me from doing some trade shows last year and this year was the amount of crossover from road to mountain,  is XC becoming the new DH ?  there are a few mini chainguides to replace the front shifter as more XC take up 1×10 drivetrains,  10 speed is old hat as Campagolo have had 11speed for well over a year,  that Shimano electric shifting for roadies has been converted to mountain bike use,  will that appear in 2011 on the world cup circuit (who remembers airlines).  What did make me smile apart from the price was the lateset XC is DH part, a quarter bashring to fit on your triple chainset although the price i thought was high (not saying).    The scary thing is i have been looking at cyclo-cross frames,  got the posh SS wheelset so maybe a frame built for riding across the fields, i remember seeing photos of Tomac doing DH with roadie drop bars on and winning,   as i said it can only make me fitter and help the racing side of things,  then something else popped up the other day,  more Xc is the new DH,  i have got in touch with Steve and he was happy for me to write about this.    Steve Parr as in ex NPS events man and importer of MSCbikes is looking at a new race series for 2011,  nothing is set yet,  no name, maybe a major sponsor already! and some rough dates, but still lots to sort out.  

UK Gravity Enduro series 2011,  thats what i will call it for now,  think of the kona mash-up and Avalanche enduros,  but now we could get a proper series for all those out there with mountainbikes who would like to spend more than an hour a day on the bike, not queue’s or rammed in some trailer for 5 or 7 3min runs.  Xc and downhill together like it used to be.  A series for all those 5inch coil sprung Orange 5’s  or the new breed of superlight sub 38ILb DH bikes.  No reason why you cant xc on a dh bike,  the front runners at the fort william DH enduro all sprinted the uphill start of the race,  i guess they all trained and got fit 🙂  back to Steve,  so rough format,  you ride to a DH section,  pin it,  you then have a time slot to get to the next DH section,  dont be late but dont turn up early (works with rally cars) the combined DH times are what counts and penaltys for turning up late/early on top.  I like the sound of this along with quite a few others, i hope Steve pulls it off. 

But racing in general seems to be on the up,  the first BDS went well,  what was with the weather,  dry and sunny at Rheola whats that all about,  it’s should be a shitfest there,  maybe a good sign for the year, and team GB all on the podium sorry Athertons all on the podium so a cracking start for them in the UK.    Talking of team GB,  anyone watch the world track champs the other week,  turns out the rest of the world have caught up with Team GB,  they still did really well,  but the after race issues,  BC have been told off by the UCI (and Germany/Austraila)  get this in case you didnt know,  the bikes and clothing used by these teams is not within the spirit of the racing because of it’s high cost and not stock production that any one can buy,  there fore the teams/countries have an unfair technical advantage over the poorer teams.  However the teams have not broken any technical rules !  that made me laugh, the champs results will stand and the teams have a few months to sort out equipment,  so anyone fancy buying a team GB track bike so they can say it’s on open sale.   The same thing has happened in Moto GP and F1 will they go after DH next,  banning skinsuits, but baggy clothing airbrake helmet peaks for the win in a time trial event,  but lets run carbon fibre rims to shed rotating weight,  i love DH because it’s so fucked up,  is it a fashion parade or a time trial.   But carbon rims,  DMR DJ Sam Reynolds has been using carbon rims for a while now as well,  hmmm commencal Ti 4x frame £1800 carbon wheels £2000 holyshit i could build up a £4k  to £5k  hardtail,   can the mag do that,  you build it i will race it (but not pay for it)  i dont think that will happen and i am happy where i am.

So if Thackers is free on Saturday can you drag your welding gear down to the forest, i might need a frame/fork welding up mid race, and before anyone asks, the superfly is in storage down south hence the make do with hedge find bike,  still it goes to show that you can have a laugh and have a go without dropping a ton of cash.

The Knights of Ni, i am led to belive that the Knights of Niche may look like this,  best be carefull if you go down to the FOD at the weekend, 300 pissed up singlespeeders will be there eating the wild boar population,  check out for more info on that,  and i thought it was a bit underground but it is a very well supported event (loads of prizes) and if you are liking the look of the hip flask cage, i bought it from which is a Single speeders haven.  We will have to wait until next year to see if we will be riding carbon rimmed 29ers be funny as fuck if that really happens.


P.S.  i really need to get out more,  really think i am getting cabin fever up here in holland.


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