Hell it’s only a week old and I cannot keep up. By the time this goes live I should be having tea with the Athertons, bike checking their 2012 race machines.
For now here goes the weekly bike check of bikes, that might or might not, get in the mag. In this case issue #120. And it’s a good one. The primary focus of a one hundred and sixty millimetre travel mountainbike (apart from having a shed load of fun) is to descend. Well, for the most part, for there still remain pockets of builders that love nothing better than sofa boating around on flat singletrack thinking 160 and 70 degree head angles go hand in hand – let’s call them ‘weirdos’ for the time being.
Because of these unusual ideas there remains a difficulty in banging all the 160 bikes into the same cartload of trouble. Having what is after all a reasonable amount of travel brings with it some issues with many of the offerings. Here are a few of them:
a) they are too heavy
b) too slack and won’t climb very easily
c) come with a pile of unnecessary junk
d) have weird flat–riding based angles
There are also rider related issues, for not many people choose160mm travel bikes around these parts (of less vertically challenged Wales) because of a few more reasons. These are a few that I frequently hear:
a) they don’t like going too fast downhill
b) they are not fit enough
c) seldom venture to real mountains
d) are weird
Fitness is a big one, for if you have an engine to power these toys of speed to the top and along then you have the only bike you will ever need.
From where I’m stood I still feel I need to be in the mood to ride a 160mm bike – the right place and right frame of mind counts. It’s not about the cushioning it’s simply about the ferocity of the attack, and the scarcity of technical track diversity close by.
PULLING OUT THE STOPS
Not selling it to you am I? OK look, for the already converted here then is an example of a very good (European style) 160mm travel bike.
This really is one hell of a bike built with attention to detail that’s seldom seen in this part of the office. Here’s a few things I have noticed whilst putting the German machine–gunner together:
– low standover
– un-weird head angle
– the best seatpost
– carbon reliability in the DT 1550’s
– wide bar
– short stem
– detacheable derailleur hanger
– internal cable routing
– cable protection
– noise reduction on the chain and seat stays
– crazy price (seriously we’d have been more than happy with one of the lower spec bikes)
– more blackness
– unusual grip (but not weird)
– sub thirty pounds
All in all a great package, and after the initial ride it has a brilliant ride characteristic that will suit many riders that particularly like getting their teeth stuck into a bit of off–roading…at speed…without their seat in the air.
By Steven Jones.