Our second Bike Demo Day of 2010 took place at Cannock Chase in the Midlands this weekend and it was a huge success, with more than 200 riders registering in advance and dozens more turning up on the day.
A misty start soon gave way to sunshine as riders tried out bikes from the likes of Norco, Lapierre, Saracen, Scott, Rose, Bionicon, Corratec and Diamondback on a short loop that took in sections of the Follow The Dog trail interspersed with fireroad.
A huge array of machines were available to test, ranging from 29er hardtails to full-suspension freeride bikes, and everything in between. Staff were on hand to give advice and make sure the bikes were set up for each rider.
There were also a couple of famous faces in the paddock – multiple national cross-country champion Nick Craig on the Scott stand, along with his boys, and multiple national downhill and four-cross champ Will Longden representing Lapierre.
Keith Biggs, 46, from Birmingham, was on the lookout for a new bike after recovering from a serious road accident. He said: "I'm due some compensation for a bike accident I had a year ago when I got whacked off my bike on a dual carriageway, so for me today's all about testing bikes.
"I've tried a Scott Genius 20, which was a nice bike, and a Norco Faze 1, which was good but didn't quite work for me, and I've got a Diamondback next. The staff are brilliant, and the demo loop is great, with some drop-offs and technical stuff, and muddy as well."
Keith Biggs was in the market for a new bike and keen to try out as many as possible
Ian Plant and Andy Hartley, both 45 and from Rugeley, had just had a go on some Lynskey titanium hardtails when we stopped them for a chat. "I'm going to buy a hardtail so I've been trying lots out," said Ian. "I came to a demo day here three years ago, tried out a [Giant] Anthem and then went out and bought one.
"But we ride three times a week and the sandy soil around here eats your bearings. I'm sick of messing about with the suspension. I've never been sure about 29ers but the Lynskey was really smooth and rode like my Anthem."
Ian Plant and Andy Hartley were impressed by Lynskey's 29in-wheeled hardtails
Louie Seber, 15, came with his mate Dan Moore, 14. Dad Roland Seber, 45, said: "It's been really brilliant. We've really enjoyed it. We've just tried the Norco Fluid LT. It's a hugely competent bike that just does everything fantastically well.
"We came here today just for fun but now I wish I had the money to buy one. We went to BikeRadar Live last year and I ended up buying an ex-demo BMC. I'm not about to put an order in for a £4,000 bike on the spur of the moment, but in the long run, if I replace my bike I'd consider one."
Dan Moore, Roland Seber and Louie Seber were impressed by the Norco Fluid LT
As well as trying out the latest bikes from top manufacturers for free, riders could check out Mercedes-Benz's new Vito Sport van and there were freebies such as a complimentary Buff for every rider and prize giveaways from Rose Bikes.
Next stop for the Bike Demo Days series is Bedgebury Forest in the South East on Sunday (28 March), followed by Coed y Brenin in Wales on 11 April and Glentress in Scotland on 18 April. For more information, head to the Demo Day website. For now, here are some more pictures from the Cannock event:
Bikes from new-to-the-UK Rose proved popular with the demo riders
The Demo Days staff kept everyone entertained, dancing to cheesy tunes on the PA
The Lapierre stand was surrounded by eager riders all day
Riders could try out new bikes on a short loop that took in part of the Follow The Dog trail
This rider's about to put a Norco to the test on the twists and turns of Follow The Dog
Multiple national champions Nick Craig and Will Longden were on hand
Tom, 12, and Charlie Craig, eight, were representing Scott along with their dad
It sounds like Norco bikes have plenty of new fans after the weekend
Mercedes-Benz brought along one of their Vito Sport vans for people to check out
Bikes from Diamondback, Corratec and BH were available to demo at the Raleigh stand
Nigel Matthews works at Bridgtown Cycles and wanted to check out the competition
Sue Hawkridge and Jane Williamson rode bikes from Norco, Scott, Lynskey and Lapierre
Bikes available ranged from 29er hardtails to more freeride-friendly rigs
After rain the day before and a misty start, the sun came out