Introducing Mountain Biking UK magazine's 2016 machines – part 1
After a fond farewell to our 2015 bikes, it’s time to meet BikeRadar sister mag Mountain Biking UK‘s new long-term fleet. We ride these bikes hard all year, using them as testbeds for new kit, and coaxing, punishing and teasing out the truth about their capabilities.
To get these bikes ready for a January 2016 launch, most of us had an early Christmas present, all packaged up in a bike sized box. After ripping off the bubble wrap we got out on the trails to get shredding on our new steeds. As you can imagine, we were like kids in a candy store. Here our testers give you their initial impressions of their 2016 long-termers.
Ric’s Lapierre Zesty AM 527
Ric’s lapierre zesty am 527: ric’s lapierre zesty am 527
Way back when i first started work atMBUKtowers, Lapierres were about as hot as trail bikes got. I was given a beautiful black-and-white Zesty to test, and as I rode it home that night I couldn’t have been happier. Then I went for a shower and threw up over myself. The norovirus had struck and the bike was subsequently disinfected and presented to somebody else to test. That, sadly, was as close as I ever came to riding a Lapierre.
It’s a disgusting rather than romantic anecdote, but it did make rolling my new Zesty out of her box that little bit more special. I’ve been on the bike for going on a month now and straight away the feel was more ‘sniper rifle’, as opposed to the bludgeoning ‘sawn-off shotgun’ of my outgoing and much-loved Vitus Sommet.
The urge to post some ‘sneak peek’ photos on Instagram has been hard to resist, but I was asked to keep it under wraps until now. I’m stoked to finally reveal that I’ll be slipping and sliding my way into 2016 onboard an Orange Five Pro. To say the Five is an icon of British mountain biking is a bit of an understatement. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to try one, along with the fact that, having never ridden a Five, I was keen to find out what all the fuss is about.
The bike’s industrial looks have always divided opinion – especially that big swingarm – and the single-pivot suspension design has its fans and detractors too. My first outing on the Orange was a covert night ride and I was struck instantly by how planted and stable it felt at speed. Maybe it was the excitement of having a new bike, but it was a hell of a lot of fun to ride.
September was a good time to join the magazine as its new staff writer, just as the orders were going in for the 2016 long-termers – in my case, a Marin Attack Trail 8. This mid-range alloy model is a good-looking beast, with a lovely straight line carving from head tube to rear axle.
I’m only 5ft 4in / 162cm but have gone for a medium frame because the Attack Trail sizes up very small. First impressions of the ride are that the QUAD 3 suspension platform is very active and the bike loves being chucked from corner to corner, changing direction on a sixpence while a smile tugs at the sides of my mouth! I love riding on steep, tight and twisty trails between the trees – maybe the Marin and I will be quite well suited!
Coming back from the Alps (yes, I know, poor me), I’ve had to adjust my riding style and expectations to make the most of what the UK has to offer. The riding here seems to suit having a cross-country bike and something a little beefier (that can still climb) – assuming you’re lucky enough to be able to afford a two bike-stable.
My new Giant Anthem is the XC whippet I’ve been hankering after while trying to beat PRs and smash KOMs on trail centre loops. One thing that attracted me to the Giant is its 650b wheels. Cross-country bikes tend to be 29ers, so these smaller wheels hint at a slightly more aggressive element to the Anthem. I’m hoping this is a bike that’s just waiting to be ridden hard despite its limited travel!
Yes, you read it right, that price is for the frameset alone. Ooooft! Luckily Yeti can back up the price tag with two consecutive Enduro World Series titles, courtesy of Jared Graves and Richie Rude. Why’s it so pricey? Look closely and you’ll see Yeti’s Switch Infinity system lurking just behind the main pivot. I’ve already got a smattering of the kit to go on the SB6c and can’t wait to hit the hills on this little beast!
When I tested this Canadian enduro warrior last year its descent-dominating potential was obvious even in budget build kit format. I struggled to get the Split Pivot suspension working as I wanted it to though, particularly when it came to consistent rebound under power. When Cane Creek announced a ‘Climb Switch’ option for their Double Barrel coil shock I knew the perfect bike to fit it too, and a quick call to Haven Distribution meant I was hooked up with a frame I’ve been aching to ride for months.
Full details of all the bikes here can be found in issue 325 of MBUK, on sale now! Keep an eye out next month too, when the rest of the team introduce their long-term test bikes. In order to never miss an issue of MBUK you can subscribe at cycling.buysubscriptions.com or download our digital edition from Apple Newsstand or Google Play. You can check out a free taster of the mag here.