Downhill World Cup round 1 preview: Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

After a long winter it’s time to go racing again, with this year’s World Cup season kicking off in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa in just two days’ time. The track has featured on the World Cup circuit for the past few years and creates a huge divide in rider opinions. It lacks the technical elements and elevation that some feel are necessary for World Cup level racing, instead featuring long pedalling sections that some feel are a step in the wrong direction for the sport.

Some riders love the track for its physical nature though, which gives a huge advantage to the ‘powerhouse’ riders and those who are willing to put in the hard work over the off-season. Aside from the physical element, the track is probably the fastest on the circuit with the biggest jumps and is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

The World Cup series, which this years spans four continents and seven countries, is designed to find the best all-round rider, and as long as there are some technical tracks later on in the year to balance this out, I think Pietermaritzburg deserves to have a place on the schedule. With Cairns in Australia hosting the next round, the series is becoming more of a ‘world’ series, as opposed to previous years when it was more of a European affair. Exposing the sport to as many different cultures as possible can only be a good thing.

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Gee Atherton in action last year


I’m going to go out on a limb here and give you my top five predictions for the men and top three for the women. It could be embarrassing if I get them wrong, so let’s hope I get it right and avoid any jibes from my mates! If you agree or disagree, please leave your comments below.

Elite Men

#1 – Mick Hannah?

Painfully close to taking the win?in Pietermaritzburg in the past, I strongly believe that this year it could be his for the taking. Just looking at the numbers, Mick’s a good favourite for the number one spot having finished second?there on two occasions and won qualifying twice.

Last year he trained solely for the World Championships in Pietermaritzburg and only narrowly missed out to local boy Greg Minnaar by 0.3 seconds. What’s more, he was up by the end of the second split, meaning ‘Sick Mick’ had a strong final section and wasn’t far away from winning.

With Minnaar having a tough off-season due to ACL surgery, I don’t see anyone who can stop the flat-out fast Australian, who’s always shone at the faster tracks. With more of the tracks suiting his style this year, if he was ever going to be in the fight for the overall title, this should be his year.?

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Mick Hannah’s 2013 World Championships run

#2 – Aaron Gwin?

You may be reading this thinking, “this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about”. Aaron Gwin? Really? Well, if you weren’t around for his stellar 2011-12 seasons, when he completely dominated everything he touched, leaving the field scratching their heads, then that’s understandable, as the American had such an awful season last year. So much so that the question begs to be asked, can you think of anyone in any sport who’s had such a steep career trajectory as Gwin?

If you’ve completely given up hope that Gwin will ever rise to the top again, then think again. While this is my ‘risky pick’, I’ll go out on a limb because I really think he can do it, and what a comeback it would be! He took 10th?at his first ever World Cup and within months of riding a mountain bike too, to then rule the roost for two years at the highest level. Gwin has staggering amounts of talent that no one could figure out at first, but perhaps that’s changed? Either way, watch out for Gwin taking some wins, which could so easily begin here in South Africa!

Aaron gwin:

Aaron Gwin rolling out of the pits at last year’s World Championships?

#3 – Gee Atherton

Possibly the safest of all my picks, but then you’d be crazy to bet against him not being on the podium come Saturday. Gee is always there and something has to go severely wrong for the Englishman to be off the podium. A good example of this would be in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, last year, where he had a huge crash in practice but still finished fourth?– he’s a tough lad!

After last year’s bitter defeat in the battle for the overall World Cup title, Gee will be looking to make a strong start again this year and follow it through to the end, and with Stevie Smith out of contention due to injury, the series title is there to be played for. With regards to Pietermaritzburg, he’s always done OK there – apart from last year’s illness-related seventh place finish.

#4 – Greg Minnaar

The three-time winner of this race here is coming back from knee surgery, so unlike the other favourites, he hasn’t been doing his normal off-season preparations, instead taking it easy and recovering. Anyone else wouldn’t make the top 10 after such an injury, but the local lad knows how to go fast on this track, and with the hometown crowd he has that extra motivation to do well here.

If he can get through the first two races inside the top five, with a break from racing in May, he’ll be set for a good year. Fourth?place is possibly a realistic goal for Minnaar here, but you just can’t rule him out…

#5 – Matt Simmonds

Telford’s very own Matt Simmonds has signed with a new team, Madison Saracen, and with a new trainer in the form of Alan Milway, who also trains the Athertons, he could well be in store for his best year ever.

While having yet to finish on a World Cup podium, he did finish fifth?at the World Championships on this very track last year. This year Simmonds has already won two races in Portugal and finished third?at the first round of the British Downhill Series. With some strong pre-season form on his side, there’s nothing to suggest he can’t do it again.

Elite Women

#1 – Rachel Atherton

What can you say that hasn’t already been said? Atherton had control of the entire season last year and after a convincing win at the first round of the BDS this year, has the elite women worrying once more. It’s going to take a mistake or misfortune from Atherton to not make the top spot in South Africa.

Rachel atherton:

Rachel Atherton in the start hut before taking the World Championships title in Pietermaritzburg last year – can she bring home the goods in 2014?

#2 – Manon Carpenter

Carpenter finished second?countless times in 2013 and will want to find herself on the top step in 2014. Now, I don’t think it’ll happen at round one, but look for a strong finish that puts her in a good position for the rest of the year. If Carpenter can stay close to Atherton then if that mistake comes, she could find herself on that top step.

#3 – Emmeline Ragot

Ragot is a sure pick for a podium finish. With previous World Cup wins to her credit, you can’t count her out of a top result. She was the only rider to beat Atherton last year, and is sure to be strong once again in 2014.

Look out for: The technology race

This race, more so than any other, could well come down to bike set-up. With a physically demanding pedalling section and a lack of steep technical sections, many believe you can get away with lighter components and bikes with less travel. Last year Greg Minnaar rode XC tyres to the win, while Jared Graves rode his enduro bike to a third?place finish, so what will we see come Saturday?

Adam brayton:

Adam Brayton looks to be running a 29er Specialized Enduro, and he won’t be the only one…

Mitch ropelato:

Mitch Ropelato qualified second last year and looks to be returning with his trusty 29er and out for redemption after a fall in finals!

With the move towards bigger wheels being pushed hard by the bike industry, a huge number of teams have gone the same way, with 650b quickly moving from unknown quantity to de facto industry standard. Trek, GT, Lapierre, Saracen and Giant, to name just a few, have adopted the new wheel size into their DH programmes, with production bikes due to appear later this year for mere mortals.

Lapierre team 2014:

The Lapierre team have been on 650b wheels since the latter part of last season, with some stellar results behind them. They won’t be the only ones come Saturday

Brendan Fairclough and Mitch Ropelato are both planning to run their trail bikes, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more people going down the same route. The Nukeproof and Devinci teams are both running custom-built bikes that have been adapted from their trail bikes.

Devinci 650b:

Devinci will have their modified ‘mini-DHer’ back again, with Specialized and Nukeproof rolling out similar bikes

Now all we can do is wait until the big day to see everything unfold, so make sure you check out the race live on Red Bull’s fantastic live player and see if my predictions hit the mark. Stay tuned all year to BikeRadar for more previews, race reports and everything you’ll need to know about World Cup downhill!

Steve peat '14 kit:

The other cool thing about World Cups is all the cool kit that gets rolled out, like this Royal Racing kit and Troy Lee Designs helmet for Steve Peat

Pro bike: Adam Hansen’s Ridley Helium SL

Adam Hansen’s early days of racing were on mountain bikes, and included one of the world’s toughest mountain bike stage races – the Crocodile Trophy. It’s a race Hansen won twice, earning him the affectionate nickname of the ‘Crocodile Man.’

Back then,? Hansen had a reputation of pushing technical boundaries with his engineering expertise, and was a frequent contributor to Weight Weenies. These old habits are very much still alive, however, as is evidenced by his unique bike build and the shoes he’s made for personal use, which are soon to be made available under his brand – Hanseeno.

There's no denying adam hansen's commitment to ultimate performance : there's no denying adam hansen's commitment to ultimate performance

Adam Hansen makes his own carbon shoes; they’re crazy light at just 98g apiece. However, we’ve since seen him wearing Gaerne

Hansen is a true strongman of the peloton. He’s the only non-Spaniard to have ridden all three Grand Tours in a year on more than one occasion, and in 2014 is aiming to extend his impressive race record to 10 consecutive Grand Tours. Last year’s Giro d’Italia Stage 7 win is evidence of his continuing strength as a rider, especially when conditions get tough.

We managed to get a detailed look at Adam Hansen’s Ridley Helium SL during the Tour Down Under in Australia, where he was riding in full support of Andr? Greipel, his Lotto Belisol team mate.

While German national sprint champion Greipel picks the Ridley Noah Fast for ultimate sprint aerodynamics, Hansen rides the Helium SL for a priority of stiffness-weight ratio. The frame features ultra-thin seatstays to help create a smoother ride, while a tapered head-tube and oversized PF30 bottom bracket add stiffness where it counts.

It’s common for many riders to have their bikes set up to what team fitters believe is best, but it’s clear that Hansen takes a hands-on approach to his steed. We’d argue that his bike is one of the most customised in the WorldTour, and it clearly works for him.

There are two standouts in Hansen’s bike fit: super narrow 38cm handlebars and ultra-long 180mm length crank arms.

Narrow handlebars enable Hansen to reduce his frontal profile to the wind; his mountain bike background empowers him to control the skittish handling.

An inline thomson elite seatpost is needed to help hansen get forward of his long 180mm crank arms. as thomson is not a team sponsor, the graphics were mostly concealed : an inline thomson elite seatpost is needed to help hansen get forward of his long 180mm crank arms. as thomson is not a team sponsor, the graphics were mostly concealed

Meanwhile those 180mm cranks provide Hansen with massive leverage. To overcome the extra length, Hansen employs a very forward position, with an inline Thomson Elite seatpost (graphics concealed) and a 130mm stem with negative 20-degree slope creating an extremely low position.

Helping keep the seatpost in place is a second collar, tightened directly onto the post. This ensures the seatpost cannot slip during a race, but also guarantees that Hansen’s seat height doesn’t change between travels.

Strangely there's no srm to be seen, even though hansen was running a powercontrol 7 head unit : strangely there's no srm to be seen, even though hansen was running a powercontrol 7 head unit

As part of an SRM-sponsored team, Hansen was riding with an SRM PowerControl 7 head unit; however, at the time of shooting, an SRM crank was missing from his ride. We suspect this was to get the bike closer to the minimum weight limit, though other factors could have been at play.

The rest of the build is very Italian, with a full Campagnolo Super Record EPS groupset running the new internal race battery. Keeping it all rolling are 50mm deep tubular Campagnolo Bora Ultra Two wheels, with CULT ceramic bearings.

Complete bike specifications

  • Frame:?Ridley Noah Helium SL – Medium
  • Fork:?Ridley Helium SL
  • Headset:?FSA internal tapered
  • Stem:?Deda Zero 100 Pista, 130mm, 70 degree
  • Handlebar:?Deda Zero 100, 38cm (40cm in Deda’s outside-outside measurement)
  • Tape:?Lizard Skins DSP
  • Front brake:?Campagnolo Super Record
  • Rear brake:?Campagnolo Super Record
  • Brake levers:?Campagnolo Super Record EPS
  • Front derailleur:?Campagnolo Super Record EPS + Campagnolo chain catcher
  • Rear derailleur:?Campagnolo Super Record EPS
  • Shift levers:?Campagnolo Super Record EPS
  • Cassette:?Campagnolo Super Record 12-27T
  • Chain:?Campagnolo Super Record
  • Crankset:?Campagnolo Super Record, 180mm, 53/39T
  • Bottom bracket:?PF30 (unknown brand)
  • Battery: Internal Campagnolo race battery, in seat-tube
  • Pedals:?Look Keo 2 Max
  • Wheelset:?Campagnolo Bora Ultra Two CULT
  • Front tire:?Continental Pro Limited 23c
  • Rear tire:?Continental Pro Limited 23c
  • Saddle:?San Marco Concor Racing Team
  • Seatpost:?Thomson Elite Inline
  • Bottle cages:?Tacx Tao (2)
  • Computer:?SRM Power Control 7

Critical measurements

  • Rider’s height:?1.86m (6ft 1in)
  • Rider’s weight:?75kg (165lb)
  • Saddle height from BB, c-t:?816mm
  • Saddle setback: 65mm
  • Seat-tube length (c-t):?540mm
  • Seat-tube length (c-c):?500mm
  • Tip of saddle to centre of bar:?588mm
  • Saddle-to-bar drop:?17cm
  • Head-tube length:?175mm
  • Top-tube length (effective):?565mm
  • Total bicycle weight:?7.00kg (15.4lb)


Interview: Australian DH pioneer Scott Sharples

We caught up with former World Cup downhill racer turned Felt Bicycles product manager Scott Sharples for a feature in our April issue but had to cut some of his words of wisdom to squeeze it into the mag.

Here’s the full, unexpurgated interview for your enjoyment – check out what he has to say about BikePark Wales, wheel sizes and the evolution of mountain bikes.

MBUK:?As an Australian living in California, what do you miss most from back home?

Scott: I miss a lot about Australia. Meat pies, beer gardens, white beach sand, long-time friends, family, downhilling in the gum trees, kookaburras, kangaroos, politicians who yell and call each other ‘bloody idiots’, the list goes on…?

MBUK:?When we last saw you, you were riding at BikePark Wales. What did you think of it?

Scott:?It’s awesome – and I’ve found out that there’s one of these trail centres on every corner in the UK, like Starbucks in the USA! The trails accommodate every level of rider and every level of bike. The easiest run is doable by my seven-year-old son but is still fun for the best rider – as the speed goes up, the mounds become jumps and the turns make you feel like you’re on rails. The black runs are full national-level DH tracks for those needing to get ragged. Then there’s the fireplace in the cafe, where they serve killer burgers and coffee. Being from Australia, and then SoCal, I’m blown away by the fact that it was winter, below freezing, mid-week, and the park was full! It’s like you don’t even consider the weather as a part of the equation when deciding if you’ll go riding. Back home, everybody runs for cover when we see a cloud.

MBUK:?Where do you see mountain bikes going in the next few years?

Scott:?I see bikes being close to where they are now but more evolved, and all with 29in and 650b wheels. I see refined geometry designed for pure fun and handling, with light and efficient suspension so the bike can be pedalled.

Some bikes are low, some are slack, some can be pedalled efficiently. My goal is to make our bikes do it all – low, slack, shortish stays, but not so extreme that the bike feels like a dead slug. Our bikes pedal very well and are lively to ride. My Felt Virtue Nine is fun and fast – it’s got a RockShox Pike fork, dropper post and 2×10 gearing, as I hate walking up hills or grinding my knee cartilage into powder. We have a new bike coming out next year that’s bang on for fun factor.

When it comes to wheels, 29 is still the faster size, but 650b is more fun. I see 2×10 or 2×11 as the gear combos for most consumers from areas with big mountains. Eleven-speed parts are still very expensive, but as the price comes down, a lot more people will lose the front derailleur to make space for their dropper post lever.?

MBUK:?You were one of the first Australian riders to hit the international scene and race for a big trade team. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into bicycle racing and whom you rode for during your pro career?

Scott:?I got into pro downhilling as a natural evolution. I raced BMX for years, then did BMX freestyle for a few years, back when 6ft of air was considered outrageous and 360s were legendary. I’ve always ‘played’ on bikes – they’ve always been my favourite toy.

I started racing XC back when it was the only form of mountain biking, and I’d do the DH race after the hillclimb. I’d cheat sometimes by putting my seat down. Over time that turned into racing professionally on the World Cup scene for Trek, Diamondback and Haro. And over that time I was involved in the evolution of the mountain bike. So a gravity bike isn’t just an XC bike with the seat down now.?

MBUK:?Can you tell us anything about what might be coming from Felt in the not-too-distant future?

Scott:?We’re continuing to refine the Virtue and Compulsion platforms, which are both Equilink bikes. (It’s a linkage suspension system that allows us to build a longer travel bike that pedals very well.) We’ll have some new 650b bikes and a completely new model, which is my favourite.?

MBUK:?As a former racer, where do you see enduro heading, and will it meet expectations as the discipline the sport’s always needed and perhaps been looking for?

Scott:?To me, enduro is a sport that’s existed for decades – casual climbing with your buddies, then getting serious and racing them downhill. The bikes have existed for a while, without a formal race scene. It’s a great sport because it has a social aspect and it’s what we love doing. I think they should take it one more step and not allow any practice. It would minimise the trail damage. Over here, all the Strava junkies kill the trail when they learn it’s going to be in a race.

MBUK:?Prior to Intense and Felt, can you give us a rundown of what you’ve done since retiring from the race circuit?

Scott:?After I finished racing in 2000, I coached and managed the Australian national DH team for eight years and had the privilege to work with guys like Sam Hill, Bryn Atkinson, Mick Hannah, Nathan Rennie, Chris Kovarik, Amiel Cavalier, Gravesy Jared Graves and Liam Panozzo. That ended in 2008 when my position changed to looking after the national BMX programme. Luckily Gravesy went into BMX as well and he kept me from completely losing my mind! I’ve worked with Jill Kintner as well, and seen her be a huge success at 4X, DH and BMX. It’s been an amazing journey.

MBUK:?Having worked with some of the fastest riders in the world, who sticks out and why?

Scott:?When you get to the top of the crop in any sport, you notice that each rider has a set of special characteristics, on and off the bike. Some characteristics were as annoying as f***, some were remarkable, but being around riders at that level I got to see it all, in full, unbound glory. Never a dull moment!

I guess Sam Hill stands out. A few years back he made the entire field shake their heads in disbelief as he annihilated them in the most adverse conditions, and then calmly and without a blown ego carried on with his quiet life.

MBUK:?How excited are you about the World Cup returning to Australia and who’s your money on for the series win this year?

Scott:?It’s great to see a World Cup back in Oz. That era when it was last there was a huge part of mountain biking – Shaun Palmer was in his prime, Missy Giove was still racing, Peaty was still in single digits for World Cups. I wish I could be there in Cairns this year. As for who’s going to win this year, wow, that’s a tough call. Greg Herbold?!


By admin on March 19, 2014 | Mountain Bikes
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Gluten-free energy bars and recipes

Consuming bars, gels and drinks while on the bike is standard practice for most riders, but it can be a different story if you have special dietary requirements such as Coeliac disease or gluten intolerance.

Coeliac disease affects one in every 100 people, with nearly 75 percent of cases going undiagnosed according to Coeliac Australia.

BikeRadar recently spoke with endurance mountain bike athlete Andrew Blair of team Swell-Specialized about how he manages his Coeliac disease. The 2012 Australian mountain bike marathon champion said: “It took me many years, but I’ve learned that it’s not a hindrance to my performance. It doesn’t stop me from being my best.”

Blair told BikeRadar that it’s definitely easier than it used to be, as most gels and sports drinks are now gluten-free. “I don’t eat solid foods during races, but when training I prefer to eat real food,” he said. “I often make my own cake, which is tasty and full of appropriate energy.” (Blair’s cake is similar to Jo Hogan’s recipe below.)

Blair mentioned the importance of not self-diagnosing Coeliac disease or gluten intolerance and consulting your GP doctor before taking any action – cutting out gluten could mean that a proper diagnoses cannot be made.

Many grocery stores have nearly doubled their gluten-free selections in recent years, and more people have chosen to live gluten-free by preference, so there’s way more choice for Coeliac sufferers than there used to be.

BikeRadar has assembled a list of gluten-free energy bars and recipes that have proven to work well for those with food allergies – as well as those without.

Gluten-free energy bars

Em’s Power Cookie Bars

Em's power cookies now have a 100% gluten free option - chocolate cranberry craze: em's power cookies now have a 100% gluten free option - chocolate cranberry craze

AU$4.95 per bar / US$N/A / ?N/A

Em’s Power Cookie Bars are three-time multi-sport world champion and nutritionist Emily Miazga’s homemade cookies. Em wanted something closer to real food during her races and began using her power cookies as fuel. Of the five available flavours, chocolate cranberry craze is the only gluten-free option, however this is also BikeRadar’s favourite.

Bonk Breaker

Bonk breaker are available in 11 flavours, all gluten and dairy free: bonk breaker are available in 11 flavours, all gluten and dairy free

AU$4.50 per bar / US$3 per bar / ?43 for 12 (from

With a fresh homemade taste, Bonk Breaker uses only the best ingredients in its bars. Now the official bars of the Ironman Series and the USA Cycling Team, all 11 flavours are certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization and are also dairy-free. /


Larabar - fruits, nuts and spices: larabar - fruits, nuts and spices

From AU $2.60 per bar / US$1.79 per bar / From ?23.99 for 16 (from

LARABARs are made from a mix of unsweetened fruits, nuts and spices, and that’s it. There are no more than nine ingredients in any given bar, and every flavour – bar those with chocolate chips – are kosher, vegan, and gluten- and dairy-free.

Raw Revolution Bar

Made of mostly raw ingredients, these claim to offer greater nutritional value for the given size : made of mostly raw ingredients, these claim to offer greater nutritional value for the given size

AU$3.30 per bar / US$1.89 per bar / ?20.43 for 12 (from

The ingredients in Raw Revolution bars are 80 to 100 percent raw; the company claims this eliminates any loss of nutrients through the cooking process. All products are vegan, gluten- and dairy-free, non-GMO and organic.

Gluten-free recipes for on-the bike

Jo Hogan’s secret recipe: Raw cacao energy slice

Jo hogan's raw cacao energy slice: jo hogan's raw cacao energy slice

Australian professional cyclist Jo Hogan, aka the Healthy Cyclist, suffers from coeliac disease, as well lactose intolerance. This homemade energy bar is ideal for her riding nutrition needs.


  • 1/3 cup of almond meal
  • 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut
  • 1/4 cup of Raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until a dough is formed.
  2. Shape tablespoons full of mixture into balls and place on a tray. Alternatively, place all the mixture in a slice tray and flatten with a spatula.
  3. This mixture can be baked for 15 to 20 minutes in an oven heated to 180?C or simply chilled in the fridge.

Allen Lim’s bacon and egg rice cakes

Allen lim's bacon and egg rice cakes have become a popular recipe in the pro peloton : allen lim's bacon and egg rice cakes have become a popular recipe in the pro peloton

Lim says: “I started making these rice cakes at training camps and races to give riders something savory and fresh to eat while on the bike. They became a huge hit, since almost everything the riders ate was pre-packaged and sweet. Not only are these rice cakes delicious, they also provide a consistent energy source that doesn’t upset the stomach.”


  • 2 cups uncooked calrose or other medium-grain ’sticky’ rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 8 oz bacon
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons liquid amino acids or low-sodium soy sauce brown sugar salt and grated parmesan (optional)


  1. Combine rice and water in a rice cooker.
  2. While rice is cooking, chop up bacon, then fry in a medium saut? pan. When crispy, drain off fat and soak up excess with paper towels.
  3. Beat the eggs in a small bowl and then scramble on high heat in the saut? pan. Don’t worry about overcooking the eggs as they’ll break up easily when mixed with the rice.
  4. In a large bowl or in the rice cooker bowl, combine the cooked rice, bacon, and scrambled eggs. Add liquid amino acids or soy sauce and sugar to taste. After mixing, press into a roughly 20cm square baking pan to about 1 1/2in thickness. Top with more brown sugar, salt to taste, and grated parmesan, if desired.
  5. Cut and wrap individual cakes.

This makes about 10 rice cakes in 30 minutes.

Tip: Always use calrose rice, a strain of medium-grain rice common in Asian cooking. This variety cooks fast (in 20 minutes or less), retains a nutty flavor, and is just sticky enough to hold our cakes together. If you can’t find it, use another medium-grain rice or any kind marked ’sushi rice’.

This recipe was republished with permission of VeloPress from The Feed Zone Cookbook, by Chef Biju Thomas and Dr Allen Lim. The book features 150 athlete-friendly recipes that are simple, delicious and easy to prepare. Try more pre-ride, portable and post-ride recipes at


Pro Bike: Jared Graves’ 29er XC race bike

Jared Graves is no stranger to racing success, from BMX Olympian to Downhill World’s medalist, 4X World Champion to top-five Enduro World Series rider – it seems there isn’t much he can’t do.

This cross-discipline dominance was showcased again in Adelaide, Australia at the first round of the 2014 National Mountain Bike Series, where Graves turned up on a 29er hardtail and dominated the elite cross-country race.

Graves' strong on the first lap : graves' strong on the first lap

For a rider so well respected in the gravity circles, it may upset a few to see Graves choose a 29er, and a hardtail at that. Even with a blown suspension fork from half way through the race, the national level competition had little to answer with once the start gun sounded.

With Jared focusing on the World Enduro Series for 2015, his dominance in this race is a sign of big things to come.

Of mention, Factory Trek rider and second place overall in the 2013 XC World Cup, Dan McConnell was absent from the race, and it begs the question. How would Graves fare against the best? When asked if he’d consider racing XC for Australia, Graves laughed off the idea and just suggested it was good training and a bit fun, but not his focus.

BikeRadar got a look at what a top gravity rider chooses as a XC race bike. At the centre is Yeti’s new ARC Carbon 29er frame, this combines the proven trail inspired geometry of?Yeti’s Big Top?with a lighter-weight, high-modulus, full-carbon build.

A wide/narrow wolftooth chainring and a e13 xcx guide ensures that chain isn't moving: a wide/narrow wolftooth chainring and a e13 xcx guide ensures that chain isn't moving

The build brings across plenty of gravity inspiration while sticking with his Yeti Factory team sponsors. As a long time Fox suspension development rider, the Float CTD Factory fork had apparently recently been tuned to offer longer travel – a mod that perhaps didn’t work out so well judging by the blown left air seal. It appears he could be trialling a new damper too, with the bottom knob in a silver colour and the CTD in black.

Graves is no doubt a powerful rider and manages to push a single ring setup without issue. Even with a wide/narrow 32T Wolf Tooth chainring and a XTR Shadow Plus rear derailleur, Graves still chooses to use an E13 XCX top-style chain guide for additional security.

Potentially the most interesting part is Graves’ choice of footwear, even on a technical and loose course – he was running Giro’s Trans road shoes. We assume this is due to perfect stiffness and minimal weight, and something only with Grave’s skillset can get away with.

A rear facing garmin mount - he still lost it though: a rear facing garmin mount - he still lost it though

As a Stages Power meter rider, Graves tracks his data on a Garmin head unit – something he misplaced in tumble during the race and a common occurrence, exclaiming – “That’s the third one I’ve lost in the past month!”.

Many people already believe Graves is the best-rounded rider of recent times, and his recent performance could be likened to the days of John Tomac. Will we see Graves race cross-country on the world stage? Judging by his recent performance – he should consider it.

Complete bike specifications

  • Frame:?Yeti ARC Carbon 29er, Size Medium
  • Fork:?Fox Float CTD 29er Factory – (potential prototype cartridge)
  • Headset:?Chis King Tapered Inset
  • Stem:?Easton EA70, 100mm x – 10?
  • Handlebar:?Easton EC70 low riser, 710mm
  • Grips:?ESI Racers Edge
  • Front brake:?Shimano XTR M985, Ice-Tech 160mm Rotor
  • Rear brake:?Shimano XTR M985, Ice-Tech 140mm Rotor
  • Front derailleur:?N/A – E13 XCX BB Mount Chain guide
  • Rear derailleur:?Shimano XTR M986 Shadow +
  • Shift levers:?Shimano XTR M980 I-spec – right hand only
  • Cassette:?Shimano XTR 11-36T
  • Chain:?Shimano XTR M981
  • Crankset:?Shimano XTR M980, 175mm, 32T Wolf Tooth Chainring
  • Bottom bracket:?Shimano XTR
  • Pedals:?Shimano XTR M980 Race
  • Wheels:?DT Swiss carbon prototype
  • Front tire:?Maxxis Ikon EXC 29 x 2.20” – setup tubeless
  • Rear tire:?Maxxis Ikon EXC 29 x 2.20” – - setup tubeless
  • Saddle:?Selle Italia SLR Carbonio
  • Seatpost:?Easton EC90 Zero Setback
  • Extras: Stages Power Meter, Garmin with reverse mount and unbranded carbon bottle cage

Critical measurements

  • Rider’s height:?1.78m (5’10”)
  • Rider’s weight:?76kg (167.2lb)
  • Saddle height from BB, c-t:?725mm
  • Seat tube length (c-t):?450mm
  • Seat tube length (c-c):? 360mm
  • Tip of saddle to center of bar:?555mm
  • Saddle-to-bar drop:?N/A (blown fork)
  • Head tube length:?100mm
  • Top tube length (effective):?580mm
  • Total bicycle weight:?9.14kg (20.11lb)


Pro Bike: Australian Nick Both’s Focus Mares CX 1.0

The National team participating in the 2014 Cyclocross World Championships at Hoogerheide, Netherlands signals a change of tide for Australia’s booming cyclocross scene.

Nick Both, Australia’s sole elite men representative will be joined by 2013 National Champion Lisa Jacobs and Melissa Anset in elite women’s; Alexander Meyland and Tom Chapman in the U23 men’s; and Nicholas Smith in the U19 men’s. The team is unproven outside of the fresh domestic scene, however the athletes have proven strong in other cycling disciplines.

For 2014, Nick joined the Australian Focus Bikes Cyclocross team and with this comes a new bike just in time for the World Championships. Although the local team isn’t aligned with the Jeremy Powers’ American-based Rapha-Focus team, they do use the team bike due to the proven build.

Nick Both is a well-known name in Australia’s mountain bike scene, with consistent cross country and marathon results spanning over the past decade. Recently, like many other local mountain bikers, Nick moved his attention to the growing sport of cyclocross.

Standing at a height of 1.82cm, Nick rides Focus’ largest frame size. In order to get his ideal handlebar setup and counter the short 140mm headtube, Nick has flipped his stem into a rather un-stylish upright position, even with this he still has a 110mm saddle to bar drop.

It’s a mostly stock build with a few key modifications in custom wheels and a change of brakes.

As an accomplished wheel builder and employee with the local HED distributor, it’s not surprising that we found Nick on a custom set of HED wheels that could be an indicator of things to come from the brand. The wheels make use of HED’s wide tubular Stinger 3 rims laced to HED’s aluminium Novembre centerlock hubs with Sapim CX-Ray spokes. In order to provide the support for the disc brakes, the wheels use rear 24H rims both front and back.

Glued onto these custom wheels are Schwalbe Rocket Ron 33mm tubulars, Nick picked these as a strong all-round conditions rubber which should be decent on grass, mud or dirt – he’s just hoping there’s no ice.

Nick isn’t a SRAM sponsored rider and due to SRAM’s recent brake issues has made a last-minute switch to TRP HY/RD brakes with SRAM Red 22 mechanical shifters.

?In order to keep the bike as maintenance-free as possible during his month long trip, all cables have been replaced with full-length housing and zip-ties are used to secure the mod in place. It adds a little weight, but something Nick feels will reduce issues in severe weather.

Pedal choice is another interesting choice, one that we’ve seen a bit of lately. Nick chooses to use Shimano’s older M970 design, claiming they offer greater reliability, these beat-up pedals are a prized possession for him.

Complete bike specifications

  • Frame:?Focus Mares CX Carbon Disc, 58cm (XL)
  • Fork:?Focus Mares Cyclocross Carbon Disc
  • Headset:?Cane Creek integrated, 1 1/8-to-1 1/4in tapered
  • Stem:?Easton EA90, 120mm x +10?
  • Handlebar:?Easton EA70 , 42cm (c-c)
  • Tape:?fi’zi:k bar:tape
  • Front brake:?TRP HY/RD, Shimkano RT98 Ice-Tech 160mm rotor
  • Rear brake:?TRP HY/RD, Shimkano RT98 Ice-Tech 160mm rotor
  • Brake levers:?SRAM Red 22 mechanical Shifter
  • Front derailleur:?SRAM Red 22
  • Rear derailleur:?SRAM Red 22
  • Shift levers:?SRAM Red 22 mechanical Shifter
  • Cassette:?SRAM PG-1170, 11-28T
  • Chain:?SRAM PC1170
  • Crankset:?SRAM Carbon 22 BB30, 175mm, 46/36T
  • Bottom bracket:?Truvativ BB30
  • Pedals:?Shimano XTR M970
  • Rims:?HED Stinger 3 24H front & rear
  • Front hub:?HED Novembre Centerlock 24H
  • Rear hub:?HED Novembre Centerlock 24H
  • Spokes:?Sapim CX-Ray Silver
  • Front tire:?Schwalbe Rocket Ron, 33mm
  • Rear tire:?Schwalbe Rocket Ron, 33mm
  • Saddle:?fi’zi:k Arione k:ium
  • Seatpost:?Easton EA70 Setback 27.2mm
  • Extras: Full length brake and gear housing

Critical measurements

  • Rider’s height:?1.83m (6ft)
  • Rider’s weight:?74kg (162.8lb)
  • Saddle height from BB, c-t:?815mm
  • Saddle setback:?100mm
  • Seat tube length (c-t):?580mm
  • Seat tube length (c-c):?535mm
  • Tip of saddle to center of bar:?590mm
  • Saddle-to-bar drop:?110mm
  • Head tube length:?140mm
  • Top tube length (effective):?571mm
  • Total bicycle weight:?8.17kg (17.97lb)

For more on cyclocross gear – see it here.


Elliot Brown Canford 202-004 watch review

Chances are, you ride with your phone tucked safely in your pack and your watch tucked safely at home. You could buy a cheap digital watch for riding, but the rugged Canford 202-004 watch from Elliot Brown is a better option…

The ballistic nylon webbing strap runs two layers thick under the watch, raising it enough to stop it wedging against your wrist as you ride. It also dampens vibration, and while the case – if not the twin crowns, which are well offset – can knock if you’re barehanded, it’s stable and comfy when you’re wearing gloves.

The webbing dries reasonably quickly and has the adjustment to cinch around bars or outside jackets, while the 44mm, marine-grade steel casing is capped with a hardened anti-reflective crystal.

Ours has scratched, but not seriously; the Canford exudes a solidity and quality that beats many more familiar brands at this price. It’s an unfussy but very stylish design that’s just as suited to restaurant dining as it is charging down a mountain, and we love it.

Elliot Brown is a UK company – it does ship internationally, but potential purchasers in the USA and Australia should factor in an extra ?31 for delivery.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.


Spectacular Cargo Bike Collection in Italy

Cargo Bike Culture in Ferrara, Italy
Vintage cargo bike fleet in Ferrara, Italy

We love cargo bikes at Copenhagenize, not least for their role in modernising our cities. There are 40,000 of them in Copenhagen, so we see them every day. Copenhagenize Design Co. is also a partner in the three-year project aimed at promoting cargo bike use in cities. We’ve published a book with 725 photos of cargo bikes in Copenhagen and around the world – Cargo Bike Nation. We help organize the Svajerløb – Danish Cargo Bike Championships. It’s safe to say that we have cargo bikes on the brain.

Whereas in Copenhagen cargo bikes are an integral part of daily and city life, they are still very much an emerging trend in many parts of the world. I’ve ridden Bullitts in New York and Tokyo, a Bakfiets in Barcelona and a Triobike in Vancouver and Los Angeles. Every time, people are amazed to see these bikes. They’ve crossed streets to talk to me about it – non-cyclists, as a rule. They are amazing conversation starters.

Often you find yourself explaining that you know what?… cargo bikes used to be normal transport forms in cities all over the planet. In Russia. In Australia. In America – where IBM repairmen used to ride them. You name it.

Now, the cargo bike is returning to our cities. Even the Wall Street Journal has noticed. People are rediscovering all sorts of uses for them.

It’s all good, but it’s also important to keep hammering home that all this was normal for decades and decades. Enter our Cyclelogistics partner Gianni Stefanati, from the City of Ferrara, Italy. (amazing city for vintage bikes, by the way) He has penned a fantastic, free e-book for the website about a passionate man in Lecco, Italy. Nello Sandrinelli has collected a great number of vintage cargo bikes from the era around the Second World War.

I’ve never seen anything like them. Mr Sandrinelli hasn’t just gathered up dusty old bicycles. He has collected bicycles that were complete – just as they were the last time they were used. He also collects the stories – as much as possible – about the craftsmen who used them.

Here are some of the cargo bikes in Mr Sandrinelli’s museum. Be amazed.

Cargo Bike History: Mosaic Craftsman's Bicycle Cargo Bike History: The Lamp and Stove Seller's Bicycle
Left: A mosaic craftsman’s bicycle. Fixing mosaics and tiles damaged by age or storms.
Right: Lamp and stove seller’s bicycle.
Cargo Bike History: The Furniture Polisher's Bicycle Cargo Bike History: The Wood Carver's Bicycle
Left: Furniture Polisher’s bicycle
Right: Wood Carver’s bicycle.
Cargo Bike History: The Coffee Seller's Bicycle The Vineyard and Orchard Grafter's Bicycle
Left: Coffee seller’s bicycle, complete with grinder.
Right: Vineyard & orchard grafter’s bicycle. Repairing broken vines and trees, grafting the branches back on.
Cargo Bike History: The Beekeeper's Bicycle Cargo Bike History: The Walking Stick/Cane Maker's Bicycle
Left: Beekeeper’s bicycle. Complete with hives.
Right: Walking stick maker/seller’s bike. The rack on the front is for carrying sticks found in the woods. The rack at the back is for displaying the finished products.
Cargo Bike History: The Cinema Vendor's Bicycle Cargo Bike History: The Plaster Sculptor's Bicycle
Left: Cinema vendor’s bicycle. For selling sweets and cigarettes to cinemagoers.
Right: Plaster sculptor’s bicycle.
Cargo Bike History: The Cobbler's Bicycle Cargo Bike History: The Wood Carver's Bicycle
Left: Cobbler’s bicycle. For all shoe repair.
Right: Wood carver’s bicycle.
Cargo Bike History: The Refrigeration Repairman's Bicycle Cargo Bike History: Package Delivery
Left: Refrigeration repairman’s bicycle.
Right: Package delivery.
Cargo Bike History: The Midwife's Bicycle Cargo Bike History: The Professor's Bicycle & The Fortune Teller's Bicycle
Left: Midwife’s bicycle.
Right, at top: Professor’s bicycle from a female professoressa. At bottom: A fortune teller’s bicycle.
Cargo Bike History: The Artist's Bicycle Cargo Bike History: Lunch Delivery Bicycle - to Factories
Left: Artist’s bicycle.
Right: Lunch delivery bicycle. Wives would bring a hot lunch to men at factories.
Cargo Bike History: The Fireworks Bicycle & The Lumberjack's Bicycle?
Left, at top: A fireworks bicycle. Hired for parties and events. At bottom: A lumberjack bike.

You can download the e-book on Bike Italia’s website. It’s in Italian, but the text translates pretty well into English on Google translate.

Follow Cyclelogistics on twitter and on Facebook or visit the website.

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.

By admin on December 13, 2013 | Concepts, Fashion
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Giant Escape 1 2014 review

The Escape 1 is a flat bar road bike with commuter spirit. The Escape is lighter and faster than a full-blown commuter bike, but doesn’t quite have the edge of a road race bike.?

It does both tasks really well and would serve you well if you’re looking to get into general cycle path or recreational road riding with the possibility of a bit of commuting too.

Ride and handling: upright and confident

Heavily shaped aluminium tubing creates a flex-free frame structure that is stiff under heavy pedalling. This stiffness did transfer the rumble of rough roads, but much of this was soothed by the decently wide 32c tyres. The frame and fork offer plenty of clearance for a wider tyre, which would add further comfort.

A carbon fibre fork saves weight and improves ride comfort over the more commonly used chromoly fork of this price point. The fork helped to take the sting off rough roads and paths and kept us in control.

Giant cross city 1 2014 - carbon composite forks and aluminum frame:

Plenty of handlebar height adjustment – although at first, it was a little high for our liking

The stock position is upright and will likely suit many beginner cyclists and those looking for a more casual ride. Plenty of handlebar height adjustment is provided in an angled stem, riser handlebar and headset spacers.

For us, the stock position and short 80mm stem on our medium made for a too-upright position. This compromised the handling of the bike and made out-of-the-saddle climbing and hard cornering feel awkward. Lowering the handlebar height remedied these issues, but the lower position won’t be for everyone.

Once we had the bar height adjusted to our liking, the Escape was confident on uneven surfaces and at speed. Climbing on the Escape is a sit and spin affair, yet it’s perfectly efficient even at its near-12kg weight.

Frame and equipment: reliable build at a value price

The Escape is a versatile bike and could also serve as a light touring bike, commuting bike or general town bike. To help with this, there are fender mounts, which could be used for light pannier use.

A mix of Alivio, Acera and Altus 27-speed Shimano parts shifted well and with better than expected speed. With hybrid-based gearing, there was easily enough range for steep hills and fast open road sections. Full-length gear cable housing sealed out the elements and ensured greater reliability and shift quality between servicing.?

The giant cross city 1 features a range of altus, acera and alivio drivetrain pieces:

A mix of Shimano hybrid and mountain bike parts didn’t disappoint

The grips and saddle are both sensible choices. Neither are heavily padded, yet thoughtful shape goes a long way to providing comfort for long periods of time. The lock-on ergonomic grips are a nice touch and don’t shift and swivel on the bar – a common complaint with ergonomic shaped grips. ?

The 700 x 32c Giant S-X2 tyres proved puncture resistant and fast. In the wet, the tread pattern cleared wet roads and gave more traction than a simple slick tyre. Wide rimmed Giant branded wheels were stiff and offered a reliable braking surface.

The giant cross city 1 comes with giant's own s-x2 700 x 32c tyre. puncture resistant and fast enough:

Giant’s own S-X2 tyres had plenty of grip and we didn’t experience any punctures

The Tektro brake levers were comfortable and confidence inspiring to grab, with rubber grippers integrated into the blade. Giant have stuck with lightweight mini V-brakes to handle the stopping and they worked just fine.

Without mounting provisions, making a change to disc brakes won’t be possible with this model. If you want the wet weather performance of disc brakes, Giant have other models on offer that are more suited to all-weather commuting.

Note: We tested this model in Australia where it is sold as the Cross City 1. Component spec and background view may vary based on location.


Knog Blinder 3 is brightest yet from Aussie brand

RICHMOND, Victoria, Australia (BRAIN) — Knog’s Blinder 3 headlight is the brightest model yet form the brand. It produces 300 lumens of light abd weighs 105 grams, is waterproof and USB-rechargeable. The Knog 3 has an anodised aluminium face and two detachable silicone straps and a stainless steel clasp, which allow for tool-less mounting on handlebars measuring 22-28mm or 29-35mm