It's always nice when bike brands send their best men along with a heap of bikes to go and play with - Fin from ATB Sales showed up with his van crammed full of 2009 goodies, including several Quad 140mm platforms, the new Quake freeride rigs and the spanking new Hammerschmidt equipped Attack Trail.
Like last year's platforms, Marin's hard hitting trail thrashing bikes use the Quad link system- which offers a slightly rearward axle path from the off, which keeps forward motion uninterrupted. This is really noticable on smaller square bumps- like roots- where you'd normally skip about slightly. This combined with the very supple action from the short linkages keeps the bike absolutely planted. So planted in fact, that many bikes with more travel we've ridden feel harsher by comparison.
Collins boy saddles up: 2 minutes, Turkish...
Matching forks and brake callipers: Andy Jeffries knows the score
The amazingly priced wolf ridge 6.7: matt black and lime green for £1799
It seems everyone these days has a linkage design tucked up their sleeves, which conjures up funny images of marketing managers of huge bike companies calling important meetings - I can see the meeting room now with some suit and an interactive whiteboard smothered in other people's designs. "We've been designing bikes for ages now, but look at the other leading brands - they have a linkage, they have cartridge bearings - we need some. Someone give me a name - and we need a link. And give me some cartridge bearings too." Dear oh dear.
Note redesigned lower linkage to work properly in the effective 'granny' ring: neat, and trick
Of course ATB Sales, the guys behind Marin design all ride bikes a hell of a lot and understand what a bike in the UK needs to do. (Their designs are then licensed in the USA.) And it shows- no marketing crapola from ATB. Just solid designs with valid reasons. And they listen too - we've been involved with riding the prototypes of the Quad platform since the beginning when Jon Whyte was working on the designs. Since then, ATB has adopted the more youthful approach and uses the skills of Ian Alexander to design the bikes, in combination with R+D riders like Rob Jarman and Finlay Paton.
Where the action is: quad links - nice and short
The Wolf Ridge 6.9. £2649 worth of hard hitting trail action
Unlike other bike companies that stay loyal to certain OEM brands, the designers and product managers at ATB listen to test riders, and spec the bikes with the best possible options that they can offer. A close up look at the Wolf Ridge 6.9- my ride for the day yesterday- shows off a few well thought out details like the Maxxis High Roller out back, in a 2.35 size with 60a durometer rubber, and a matching Minion up front. Both tyres are fast rolling and immensely grippy - and match the bike perfectly. And the Rockshox Pike forks with graphics that match the frame look the dogs.
Swoopy delight from Marin: who'd have thought Marin would make such a nice bike!
The middle man masher bike: £2249 gets you the Attack orange Wolf Ridge 6.8
The top of the range Wolf Ridge 6.9 I rode retails for £2649, which is an expensive bike, but not quite so much as others now that the production costs have gone through the roof thanks to all this credit crunch rubbish. The frame itself is the same on all three models, and comes specced to price on the 6.8 and 6.7 models, which retail at £2249 and £1799 respectively.
Hammerschmidt in all its glory: missing a bolt. Oops.
Top view: that's all there is to the hammer...
The Attack Trail: one colour only - krypton green. Fresh.
New for 2009 is the Attack Trail, which borrowing the name from last year's top equivalent of the Wolf Ridge is a very different machine. Designed with events like the Mega Avalanche in mind, it still offers 140mm travel out back, but comes with a U-turn Lyrik coil fork up front - offering up to 160mm travel with E2 technology, which is basically a 1.5in lower headset cup, and a 11/8th upper. This offers the fore and aft rigidity of the 1.5 system, without the weight of clunky 1.5 stems. Also on board is SRAM's new Hammerschmidt gearing system up front, that offers the equivalent of a 24/38tooth chainring set up, all enclosed in a simple device with a bashguard and chain guide built in. Shifting is instant under pressure, pedalling backwards, not pedalling...whatever.
The Attack Trail with a blistering spec including Mavic's brand new Crossmax SX wheels, a custom Rockshox Lyrik and the Hammerschmidt system retails for £3499, and was certainly causing a stir amongst those that tried it at Cwm Carn yesterday.
Anyhow, enough waffle from me - there's more to come in the mag - so have a gander at the pics for now.
Over and out. Doddy.