With Christmas 2017 in the archives, visiting family members headed home and hopefully some shiny new bike bits, courtesy of Santa, it’s time to work off those mince pies with some two-wheeled fun in the hills.
For this month’s mag we’ve travelled far and wide, from the Arctic reaches of Norway, to the mountains of the French / Swiss Alps and the dusty forests of California to bring you an exciting mix of mountain biking tales.
In Norway, we journey by boat to explore a wilderness of almost untapped trail riding potential in the Arctic fjords. In the Alps, we speak to three influential trail builders who are shaping both bike parks and the way we ride. And in California, we follow downhill and enduro racing legend Tracy Moseley as she tackles the iconic two-day Downieville Classic race.
Closer to home we’ve been across the border into Scotland to check out Ae Forest’s trails with a couple of local pinners who know not only the locality but a thing or two about shredding on bikes. We’ve also got a Big Ride report from the Surrey Hills, and route maps from the Lake District, Brecon Beacons and more.
This month’s Bike Test pits four 29er/plus-sized hardtails against each other to find out whether bigger hoops or higher-volume tyres make for better control when you take rear suspension out of the equation.
If full-sussers are more your thing, then we’ve also got First Ride reviews on Merida’s One-Forty 800, Saracen’s freshly redesigned Ariel LT and Rocky Mountain’s e-powered Altitude Powerplay Carbon 70.
Superbike this month takes a look at the inspiration behind BTR Fabrications’ beautifully crafted Pinner — a hardcore steel framed trail bike that isn’t just a pretty face.
Finally, on the product side, we’ve got a group test of 15 softshell jackets, six goggles for keeping the trail out of your eyes and the usual range of all sorts of gear that we’ve Wrecked and Rated.
This month’s free gift is a supplement on ‘Upgrades’, which gives you advice on what to look for when boosting the spec of your ride, as well as our top picks for helping you spend your Christmas money wisely.