When the Australians arrived around the turn of the century they started to carve up the cosy dominance of Europeans at World Cups. They arrived on flat pedals, low on training, high on attitude and partial to a drop now and again.
The Mad Catz team of downhill racers Sam Hill, Nathan Rennie and Bryn Atkinson caused a stir, bringing an edge to racing that had been absent for some time. They had style, regularly had a gang in tow, and frequently went about upsetting people in the woods with wild lines and all-out attacking riding. “Going nuts” was certainly something they brought to racing.
The predecessor to the Sunday was a pretty standard four-bar bike but it was on the later bike, the Iron Horse Sunday, which on technical terrain Sam Hill was to shame some of the world’s best racers. He and the bike became iconic.
The first Sunday arrived around 2005. Barel had taken chainstay numbers one way then Hill goes the other, for Sam’s ’07 Horse is nearly 30mm shorter in the chainstay than Fabien’s bike. What this doesn’t take into account is the rider position and that Sam is one of the few riders that can weight the front tyre in a way needed to make the most of this short back end.
Sam Hill’s 2007 Iron Horse Sunday
Rider Height 1.75m
Rider Weight 75kg
Front Centre 736mm
Bottom Bracket 340mm
Head Angle 62.5°
Many photographs taken in the same corner will show this unique riding style and method of cornering by the Australian. The brand became very popular because of Hill, yet the production bikes were not the same as Sam’s custom geometry. At the time Iron Horse, like several other companies, believed the man (or woman) on the street needed different, steeper head angle numbers.
Hill’s bike is one of the lightest to win the series for ten years. Sam wins four races on the trot on this bike and while doing so dishes out some humiliating defeats. One race however lives on: Champery ’07. Whether the geo was right or wrong it won a ton, and that wet, steep, technical Swiss run in thunder and lightning was simply beyond description… It’s what YouTube was invented for.