Since we posted our BikeRadar Live video of UK trials legend Martyn Ashton stunt riding on a carbon road bike last Wednesday, it has rocketed to the top of YouTube’s sport chart and has already had almost 360,000 views.
The clip – in which Ashton backflips aRaleigh Avanti Carbon Road
plus rides it over rocks, around a skate park and down an impossible-looking slope – has received hundreds of comments and prompted loads of questions, so we spoke to Martyn to get the lowdown. Here’s what he had to say:
BikeRadar: Given the preconception many people have of carbon fibre bikes, there have been suggestions of a fleet of machines being used for the video, and loads of parts being broken. Was this the case?
Martyn Ashton: I guess it’s understandable to expect some damage but we didn’t even need to true a wheel, let alone use loads of spares. Annoyingly, I did get one puncture while riding through Bristol in the rain. Other than that, we had no mechanicals at all from the riding I did.
I had one set of Shimano rims that came on the bike. We used them on the road and on the rocks in Porthcawl. I then changed to a set of rims with 32 spokes for the skate park stuff. Neither set of wheels was damaged, and I’ve now got the Shimano rims back in because they’re well pimp!
On his way to BikeRadar Live…
After an initial quick spin outside my house I was pretty confident of what I could do on the bike. I really wanted to ride all the stunts on the drop bar position throughout and managed that, which was cool. I wasn’t anticipating anything too bad, so expected the bike to survive. I wouldn’t have done anything that the bike had no chance with, hence the lack of drop-offs and stuff.
There have been suggestions that some of the action was faked or doctored at the post-production stage. Can you confirm that it’s all you?
The suggestion that we’ve in any way set shots up is crazy – what would be the point? There are no fake moves or off-screen help. No post-production effects were used for the riding.
What was the hardest thing to adjust to on 700c wheels?
The hardest thing about doing this stuff on a road bike was the toe clearance on the front wheel. I had to ride with as little of my foot on the pedal as possible because my toes kept rubbing the front wheel and making things sketchy. This was the hardest thing to overcome in the skate park – you don’t want to drop in on a ramp and catch your toes on the front wheel!
Is there a sequel planned?
I’m sure it will be hard to get the loan of a nice bike again now everyone has seen what I’d like to do with it! I’ve already written the outline for a sequel, which would be great fun – I loved every minute of making this one with Rowan. It would be cool to do some more.
Have you, as one reader asked, got an ass of steel?
Yeah man, like rock!
Why wear leggings?
I wore leggings under my shorts because I’ve not been brave enough to shave my legs like a true roadie.
Why are you wearing glasses in some scenes and not others?
I had to film a few scenes without the glasses on because they seem to magnify things a bit. That made some sections terrifying, especially the bridge ledge in Bristol.
“What you can’t see is that this bridge spans a river. I was really worried about this shot because the surface was covered in rivet heads, little domes that are perfect for slipping on and throwing your balance. If you look closely you can tell I’m pretty ready to jump for the water as soon as I think it’s gone wrong. Thankfully it didn’t…”
What’s with the ride past Windsor Castle?
We shot a quick scene in Windsor just because it’s where I grew up.
How was it riding the slab?
While riding the giant rock slope in Bristol we got caught in a shower and wondered for a moment how we’d get down. In the vid you just don’t get a sense of how steep that thing is – so fun to ride on man, I just can’t tell you!
Rowan Johns, the man behind the camera
Rowan Johns, when he’s not filming Martyn Ashton
Rowan was the man behind the camera for Martyn’s ‘Amazing stunt riding … on a carbon road bike’ video promoting BikeRadar Live, which he explains more to us about below.
How long did it take to film, and where are the locations?
The video took three-and-a-half days to film. The first day was spent around Porthcawl and on the rocks. The second day was the slab in Bristol and the rainy bits. The third day was on the road to Adrenaline Alley Corby, Brands Hatch and WindsorCastle. Then we had an afternoon in the sun at Portchcawl doing a few street bits and the intro at the computer.
What was the hairiest thing during filming?
For me it was the big stone slab in Bristol. Its crazy steep. I’ve done it on a trials bike with grippy tyres and fantastic brakes, and it was pretty sketchy. Doing it on those tyres was hard to watch. Oh, and then it started to rain while we were at the top!
Were you worried about how the bike would cope?
When Martyn first told me about the project I was a little worried about how the frame would handle the skate park stuff, mostly the flip I guess, and about how the wheels would take to the trials on the beach (including punctures).
Tell us more about the backflip …
Once we started out, the bike just kept on taking it with no problems at all, and by the time it got to filming the flip I think Martyn and I were both pretty confident it could do it.
The initial idea was to just do some flips into the foam at Adrenaline Alley, which we did shoot, but Martyn was struggling to get down the big drop-in on the drop bars so we didn’t try it on the ramps. By the end of filming, Martyn was so confident on the bike that he decided to give it a go on the Animal Relentless Bike Tour ramp. A few nervous drop-ins down the Mercedes Sprinter roll-in and he went for it and nailed it.
Were there any juicy out-takes?
There are some comedy bits we filmed that didn’t fit in – the rider at the end showing some “emotion” at having missed the event! (very amusing). A few small comedy stacks, as well as some good gaffs like Martyn riding in the middle of the road in front of a car he thought was my Vito, blocking him off for almost a mile!
What about the people who say it’s fake?
The people commenting on YouTube about how it was faked is just a mega lol!
Watch the video now: