BikeRadar & MBUK hit the Fort Bill World Cup

What's going down in the pits

Fort William bathed in sun, with nary a midge in sight and bikes caked in dust rather than mud – who’d have thought it. That was the sight that greeted the BikeRadar and Mountain Biking UK crew when we arrived on site at stupid o’clock this morning to set up our E-Z Up.

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Since then, we’ve been checking out the pits, getting the lowdown on course conditions from the pros, and scoping out new products in the trade village. Here’s a quick round-up – check out the thumbnail gallery for more images. Look out for more coverage of the Fort Bill World Cup over the next few days.

Race bikes

ChainReactionCycles – Intense always have some of the best looking bikes on the circuit, and this year is no exception. We’ll have more info on their new Intense M9 prototypes on BikeRadar soon, but, as you can see in the picture at the top of this story, Claire Buchar is looking pretty chuffed with hers.

Frenchman Cedric Gracia has always been a crowd pleaser but in recent years he hasn’t backed up his showmanship with major race wins. Santa Cruz boss Rob Roskopp, who sponsors his CG Racing Brigade team, reckons that’s about to change, saying that Cedric is on top form in both four-cross and downhill, where he’s now piloting a carbon V-10.

Cedric Gracia's CG Racing Brigade Santa Cruz V-10 Carbon
Cedric gracia’s cg racing brigade santa cruz v-10 carbon: cedric gracia’s cg racing brigade santa cruz v-10 carbon
James Costley-White/BikeRadar

When we bumped into Cedric he was his normal ebullient self and seemed to be loving the extra-fast bone-dry downhill course, but wasn’t best pleased with last-minute changes to the four-cross track, hinting that he might boycott the event or stage some kind of protest.

Cedric Gracia holds court in the pits at the Fort William World Cup
Cedric gracia holds court in the pits at the fort william world cup: cedric gracia holds court in the pits at the fort william world cup
James Costley-White/BikeRadar

Fellow Santa Cruz rider Steve Peat will be hoping for his first World Cup win at Fort William since 2005 – something that would make the home crowd go crazy – after a disappointing first round in Maribor, Slovenia.

Steve Peat sets off for a practice run on his carbon V-10
Steve peat sets off for a practice run on his carbon v-10: steve peat sets off for a practice run on his carbon v-10
James Costley-White/BikeRadar

He and his Syndicate team-mates Greg Minnaar and Josh Bryceland will also be racing the new carbon V-10s, but not with the RockShox Vivid Air shock they used in Maribor – although Minnaar did have one on his spare bike. Roskopp reckons coils are a better choice for the square-edged rocks of the Scottish course.

Steve Peat's Santa Cruz team-mate Greg Minnaar had this RockShox Vivid Air shock on his spare bike but Santa Cruz head honcho Rob Roskopp told us the squad would all be running coil shocks come qualis and finals
Steve peat’s santa cruz team-mate greg minnaar had this rockshox vivid air shock on his spare bike but santa cruz head honcho rob roskopp told us the squad would all be running coil shocks come qualis and finals: steve peat’s santa cruz team-mate greg minnaar had this rockshox vivid air shock on his spare bike but santa cruz head honcho rob roskopp told us the squad would all be running coil shocks come qualis and finals
James Costley-White/BikeRadar

Of course, while Santa Cruz’s new carbon bike has attracted a lot of attention, GT were the pioneers of composite frames on the World Cup downhill circuit and their team Fury bikes were resplendent in lurid yellow.

Team GT were the first to field a carbon downhill bike, in the shape of the Fury, piloted to World Cup glory by Mick Hannah
Team gt were the first to field a carbon downhill bike, in the shape of the fury, piloted to world cup glory by mick hannah:
James Costley-White/BikeRadar

Sam Hill has been keeping a low profile today after a nasty crash in practice, but we did spot Monster Energy – Specialized team-mate Brendan Fairclough’s race bike.

Sam Hill was keeping a low profile today after a nasty crash in training but his Monster Energy - Specialized team-mate Brendan Fairclough's Demo was on display
Sam hill was keeping a low profile today after a nasty crash in training but his monster energy – specialized team-mate brendan fairclough’s demo was on display:
James Costley-White/BikeRadar

Empire’s AP-1 looks even more amazing in the ‘flesh’ than in pictures, especially with this colour-matched RockShox Boxxer fork and Cane Creek Double Barrel shock.

Empire AP-1
Empire ap-1:
James Costley-White/BikeRadar

Designer Chris Williams says a shorter-travel trail bike is in the pipeline, which will share the downhill rig’s innovative cast alloy construction and swoopy lines, but in a lighter weight package that will appear to a larger number of riders.

Empire AP-1
Empire ap-1:
James Costley-White/BikeRadar

Clothing & armour

On the clothing side of things, new helmet brand Bluegrass had some promising looking prototype full-face and pisspot lids on display. The downhill helmet takes styling cues from the Troy Lee D2 and Giro Remedy, and is surprisingly light.

New prototype helmet from Bluegrass
New prototype helmet from bluegrass:
James Costley-White/BikeRadar

Prices are expected to be around £35 for the jump helmets and £150 for the full-face when production models hit shops in the autumn. They’ll be available in a load of different designs.

New prototype helmet from Bluegrass
New prototype helmet from bluegrass:
James Costley-White/BikeRadar

FiveTens are still the shoe for flat pedal riders, and they had their latest footwear on show, including two prototype clipless pedal compatible models, the Minnaar and the more stealthy-looking Hellcat.

FiveTen Hellcat SPD shoe
FiveTen hellcat spd shoe:
James Costley-White/BikeRadar

Minnaar was wearing a version of his signature shoe that will be closer to the production model, which will sport a 5mm thinner, orange-bottomed sole, will lose the ‘Minnaar’ logo on the Velcro strap and will shed some weight. Both shoes are expected to be available later this year and will cost £80-£90.

FiveTen Minnaar SPD shoe
FiveTen minnaar spd shoe: fiveten minnaar spd shoe
James Costley-White/BikeRadar

It sounds like a new flat pedal shoe could also be in the pipeline, which would slot in behind the heavy-duty Impact downhill model and more basic Freerider designs. For more casual use, there are also the new Line King (pictured below) and Spitfire models. A FiveTen downhill/freeride jersey will be available soon.

FiveTen Line King
FiveTen line king:
James Costley-White/BikeRadar

Leatt were showing off their new mountain bike specific neck braces, the DBX Ride and DBX Comp, including this custom one made for Pete Scullion of UK distributors Hotlines. The core brace is the same as that used in Leatt’s motocross models but extra adjustments and different pads make the DBX more suitable for mountain bikers.

Leatt
Leatt : leatt
James Costley-White/BikeRadar
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If you come to Fort Bill this weekend, make sure to drop by the Mountain Biking UK stand and say hi – we’ve got free goodie bags plus subscription offers, not to mention The Airbag, where you can try your hand at dirt jumping without crashing yourself stupid.

The Airbag
The airbag: the airbag
James Costley-White/BikeRadar