The week leading up to the Fort William mountain bike downhill World Cup is full of mixed emotions for the dirt-loving British MTBers out there. There’s trepidation about whether a Brit will be crowned champion on home soil, whether the gloriously unpredictable weather will play its hand in the results and how brutal the midgies are going to be.
No matter what happens, we’re sure it’s going to be a fantastic show full of insane action.
But as only the second downhill World Cup race of the season, it marks just the beginning of things to come, with the rest of the season spread out before us.
Obviously downhill racing isn’t the only sort of competition going on — last weekend saw the second round of the mountain bike XC World Cup in Nové Mesto where Mathieu van der Poel won the men’s race just ahead of Nino Schurter, and world champion Kate Courtney won the women’s event.
The mountain biker’s tarmac brethren are all getting exceptionally excited about the impending Tour de France. Until that kicks off, we’re going to be treated to some bar-to-bar action from the Critérium du Dauphiné in the French Alps and Jura region, which runs from 9–16 June.
There’s also the mountainous Tour de Suisse, starting on the 15 June. Exciting times in the road world.
Alpinestars mountain biking kit
Felix is one gnarly dude, looking right at home in the Alpinestars kitAlex Evans
Sponsoring Aaron Gwin, who’s arguably one of the most successful downhill mountain bike racers of the modern era, gives Alpinestars a great resource to guide them on how riding kit should and should not be made. It looks like this ensemble from the Italian brand is certainly ticking quite a few boxes.
Alpinestars Alps 6.0 jersey
We like the simple design on the Alpinestars Alps 6.0 jerseyAlex Evans
The simple design and long sleeves are a winner for us. It’s also thin enough to keep body temperatures down, has mesh panels on the back and underarms, and promises to wick sweat away if you do get too hot.
£55 / $64.95 / AU$100.99 / €59.95
Alpinestars Aspen Pro gloves
With a smooth palm and padded knuckles, the Aspen Pro gloves look like good performersAlex Evans
Made from synthetic suede, these gloves should last. The palms are perfectly smooth, too, which can help to reduce soreness. The knuckles have an EVA compound foam to help protect from impacts to keep your hands looking dainty and fresh when you get gnarly.
£30 / $39.95 / AU$54.99 / €37.95
Alpinestars Bunny Hop shorts
The thigh pockets are massive!Alex Evans
Made with a four-way stretch material, the shorts are designed to be comfortable and light, and there are small perforations to help with cooling. There are also two massive pockets on the front of the thighs that could be used as ventilation.
The crotch area is made from Taslon to help improve strength as well.
£90 / $94.95 / AU$137.48 / €84.95
Alpinestars Cascade socks
The Cascade socks are regulation heightAlex Evans
These socks are regulation height, so, mountain bikers, wear them with impunity.
£15 / $18.95 / AU$N/A / €N/A
Alpinestars Paragon Pro knee guards
The Paragon is designed to be light and flexible, perfect for longer ridesAlex Evans
With a flexible, pre-shaped ergonomic design, the pads should be easy to slip on and off. They’ve got internal silicone grippers to help stop them from slipping when you shred, too. They also have a tough-wearing front panel to prevent them ripping if you do hit the floor.
£70 / $84.95 / AU$128.48 / €79.95
Mission Workshop The Faroe : Merino hoody
The fit is relatively relaxed so it’s perfect as an after-ride layer to keep warm, but the material isn’t thick enough to be a problem being worn under a waterproof jacketSteve Behr
As a sucker for Merino wool based clothing, The Faroe from San Francisco’s Mission Workshop certainly gets my juices flowing. Made from 100 percent Merino wool, it’s soft enough to be worn next to your skin or as a layer.
Mission Workshop’s The Faroe Merino wool top is exceptionally high qualitySteve Behr
It’s thin enough to fit under a waterproof jacket but isn’t so tight that you can’t wear a layer beneath it. To top it off, the quality is exceptional.
The VeloSpace XT3 bike rack is sturdy and strong, but that comes with a weight penaltyAndy Lloyd
This towbar mounted bike rack is designed for three bikes, sitting one below Thule’s top-of-the-range EasyFold XT. It’s a weighty bit of kit, but with that weight comes a very sturdy construction.
It’s possible to increase the rack’s capacity to four bikes with an additional adaptor and the rack’s tyre mounting ratchets can apparently accommodate up to 4.7in tread.
The tilt function gives you plenty of room to access whatever you’ve got in your car’s bootAndy Lloyd
The rack also tilts forwards so that you can easily access your car’s boot without having to remove it and the bikes attached.
£575 / $N/A / €709.95 / AU$1,249
Fox Rampage Pro Carbon full face helmet
As a firm favourite among mountain biking’s gnarliest creatures — the downhiller – Fox has gone to town reworking the Rampage lid.
With a magnetic peak that comes off in impacts and Fluid Inside technology, Fox is confident its lid has a bias for comfort and safety.
It’s got a dual-density Varizorb EPS liner and has Multi-Composite Technology in the shell that should help to manage impacts while retaining good strength. The size medium weighs a claimed 1,230g.
£450 / $499.95 / AU$699.98 / €500
BMC Trailfox AMP SX eMTB
Big tyres, big frame and big, long travel suspension. This thing is a bruiser!Alex Evans
As the burliest electric mountain bike on offer from BMC, the Trailfox AMP SX has 150mm of rear wheel travel that’s controlled by a Fox Float DPX2 shock and is mated to an electric mountain bike-specific Fox Float 36 fork with 170mm of travel.
It’s running massive Vittoria Mota DH tyres and uses Shimano’s STEPS E-8000 250-watt motor.
BMC’s Trailfox AMP SX is its burliest electric mountain bike — the thickness of the down tube should give that away pretty quickly!Alex Evans
The bike’s made from a carbon front end with an aluminium rear and the battery pack is integrated into the down tube. Even if you dislike electric mountain bikes, you’ve got to admit it looks pretty mean!
The Trinity saddle’s design is interesting and should help to reduce numbness in the perineum regionAlex Evans
With the aim of ending saddle pain, the 3 West Design Trinity seat certainly looks unique. And if you’ve ever suffered from saddle soreness then you’ll quite happily welcome an alternative approach to whatever the status quo is. We’re excited to try this one out to see if it does help improve comfort.
The Tono shorts and jersey make a very stylish combinationAlex Evans
As a company that’s been around in the road cycling world since 1965, it comes as no surprise that Santini kit is well-honed stuff. The Tono jersey and bib shorts are no exception.
Santini Tono jersey
The Tono jersey is designed to be worn in extremely hot temperatures and is claimed to be exceptionally light and breathable thanks to the micro-mesh fabric. The bright orange colour might not be to everyone’s taste, but it went down a treat at BikeRadar towers.
The Edge 830 is brand new from Garmin and has touchscreen featuresAlex Evans
The latest addition to Garmin’s GPS lineup is the Edge 830. It’s got a touchscreen display and has more training-related features than you’d care to dream about, including VO2 max, recovery status and training load, heat and altitude acclimation, nutrition and hydration, and loads more.
It’s also got the routable Garmin Cycle Map feature with popularity routing, taking you on the best and most ridden tracks on any A to B ride. It also has on-device route creation, so you don’t need your laptop to work out where to go, off-course route recalculation and loads more.
The GPS has a 79g claimed weightAlex Evans
The MTB bundle lets you track jump count, jump distance and hang time. It also gives you a statistic on how gnarly your ride was with Grit. This tracks how smooth your descent was, scoring you to give you a target to beat next time.
£349.99 / $399.99 / AU$599 / €399.99
Specialized S-Works 7 road shoes
The shoes look very smart in the all-black colourwayAlex Evans
Designed for speed, the S-Works 7 shoes are claimed to be the pinnacle of performance shoe design thanks to their carbon sole, which should let you transfer more of your power to your pedals. Specialized claims that it’s its stiffest sole yet.
The S-Works 7 are designed for performance and efficient power transfer. That’s why they’ve got a carbon soleAlex Evans
Not only that, the shoes are designed to be comfy at the same time. An impressive feat, and to aid with getting the fit just right, they feature a BOA system that adjusts in 1mm increments. For a size 42, they weigh a claimed 224g/pair.
The BOA dials are custom for the shoes and made from CNC alloyAlex Evans
£340 / $400 / AU$500 / €369
Kinesis 4S Disc road bike
The 4S is Kinesis’ take on a speed-focused rider who’s looking for a bike that can take mudguards and will perform throughout the year in all four seasonsAlex Evans
The 4S stands for four seasons and Kinesis is keen to highlight that this bike is a natural evolution of its first winter training frame. It’s got disc brakes, mudguard mounts and has large tyre clearance (up to 30c) with internal cable routing. Perfect for dirty, dark and cold winter rides then.
4S means four seasonsAlex Evans
It’s built from Kinesis’ SPF (no not sun cream SPF!) Super Plastic Forming alloy tubes that, it claims, lets them make lighter tubes and more intricate shapes than hydroforming. Great news.
This particular build is 1-x equipped and looks ready to take on even the worst of routes.
Alex started racing downhill at the tender age of 11, later going on to compete internationally representing the UK. At 19, he moved to the Alps to pursue a career as a bike bum clocking up moon-mileage riding the famous tracks in and around Morzine, France. In that time, he broke more bikes than he can remember. Alex then moved back to the UK when he landed a job working for Mountain Biking UK as their Features Editor — BikeRadar's sister title — as their features editor. Since working for MBUK, Alex's focus has moved to towards bike tech and he now wants to find out what bikes and components represent the best value for money regardless of discipline. Alex's current fleet includes his trusty commuter bike, a 2017 Marin Gestalt 3, his long term Orange Stage 6 RS enduro bike, a used and abused 2015 GT Sanction Pro, a Scott Voltage YZ dirt jump bike and a Deluxe Pro 2 BMX.