This is Bangers & Mash — a weekly tangent including some stuff you really should watch, read, listen to and check out.
Words by Harry Griffiths
Welcome back to the Gogglebox of mountain biking. Pour yourself a warm beverage, grab your goulash and a hunk of bread and join the relentless march through the past week in the sport.
This week has seen all sorts of goings-on, but for me, I have had the itch to ride a downhill bike. I don’t know whether it has come from trawling the Vital team rumours thread (well worth a time waste), this interview with Stuart from Shredder or the product of a particularly English (read: boggy) ride the other day, but something has made me very keen to hack down a hill on a bike built for pure downhill speed.
Potentially inspired by the frustratingly short but excellent video above, the idea has definitely been firmly planted. Descending into the internet to browse current downhill bikes, the Commencal Supreme was my first port of call, their marketing department obviously working well. Utilising a high pivot suspension design… Wow, hold up, what’s a high pivot suspension design?
Buckle up, it’s the first Bangers and Mash tech briefing.
Having done countless hours of research (10 minutes on Google) and spoken to everyone who’s anyone (no one), what I found was: a high pivot design moves the main pivot from low on the frame to high. Crazy stuff indeed. Therefore, when the suspension compresses, the rear wheel moves backwards and up, as opposed to forward and up. Given the direction of most impacts backwards and up, this allows the bike to hold speed better through the rough stuff. Apparently, the jury’s still out when it comes to the benefits of the high pivot, but it seems to work for many a World Cup racer so who knows.
The last time I rode a downhill bike, not counting rentals, was probably over seven years ago. I had a trusty 2006 Ironhorse Sunday that had some cutting-edge technology itself, such as patent-pending independent rear-wheel steering courtesy of a worn linkage. Despite this, many a weekend was spent in the deep dark English woods, pretending I was a pro and building tracks with little regard for anything other than my enjoyment.
Times have changed. And, unfortunately, some of these tracks would now definitely fall into the not-really legit section of trail building, something that Hannah Christie gives us a good behind the scenes look at here, making it clear that the best approach is to ask first.
The pro dream has slipped away, the pretence less so but, considering the pressure the top guys are under, it may have been for the best. The intensity of racing is about as full-on as it can get. For a fan, it can easily look like these guys are just having fun, but the amount of effort that goes into one race run is not to be underestimated.
As already mentioned, over here in sunny old England we have settled in for the bog season, with every ride resulting in the use of vast quantities of water to just be able to read the logo on your bike. I can’t complain though — this is what makes riding, riding. There is little I can do but slip in some videos from sunnier places.
The above video of Phil Atwill set me off dreaming of dusty trails abroad while the video below sums up the Canadian life. Driving slightly unnecessarily large trucks to ride incredible trails, so long as you bring your five-panel hat.
That’s nearly all for this week, but I couldn’t resist slipping this final article in for you. It comes with fair warning: this is from a road cycling website and contains photos of road cycling, but that is as far as it goes. This is a highly important piece of journalism that I would recommend you read above anything else, taking you on a journey through the road racing calendar complemented by Google reviews. Read it here.
So long comrades, and if anyone has a downhill bike and wants to scratch my itch, then fire away.
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