Over the past year, members of the Singletrack team have ridden awesome trails all over the world, on some of the most awesome bikes, and we’ve tested the most awesome kit while wearing the most awesome gear – all just for you. What an awful job. But in this veritable tidal wave of delight and glee, what stood out to our testers? What was the cream of the crop? Which places, bikes, gear and clothing put pep in our pedalling and added steam to our shreddies?
So here’s Chipps’ picks from 2015-
From: Orange Bikes, orangebikes.co.uk // Price: £2,800
Orange seems to be a company that moves in the kind of stately, steady way that Shimano does. No sudden moves, and everything in good time. It took a while for Orange to come out with a suspension 29er, the Gyro, which was launched in 2012. In a few short years, though, it seems the riding world had moved on a bit and the Gyro was looking a little dated in the New World of short stems, longer top tubes and more slackness. With surprising nimbleness (nimbility…?) Orange responded with the Segment, which quickly replaced the Gyro. It was, as you would hope, fear and expect, just that little bit slacker, a little longer and a little bit more, well, gnar…
The bike still features the Orange no-nonsense single pivot swingarm, the same infuriating internal swingarm cable routing (yet I’ve seen prototypes that had external cabling and they just looked wrong) and the same ‘made from filing cabinets’ aesthetic.
It’s a love it or loathe it look, but for the riders who love it, or who can put their prejudices aside for a test ride, the Segment is whole heaps of fun. Whether tricked out as full-on big mountains bike, or as a lighter trail weapon, the Segment is a hoot. It inspires absolute faith; whether throwing it into Innerleithen catch-berms or an unknown rocky nightmare in the Lakes, the bike’s natural burliness, combined with the rolling power of the big wheels, makes it a very forgiving riding companion. Despite this, the relatively short rear travel, at 110mm and a suggested 120mm up front, keeps the bike from being too much of a downhill-only sled. It climbs without fuss and rails singletrack with aplomb. In fact, the only gripe I have is that it’s so fun to get carried away on that it’s easy to quickly find yourself at warp speed and near the limits of the ability of the rear shock to keep up. By that time, though, everything’s kind of a blur.
It’s not a new thing. In fact, I remember when Stan had a small, cheap booth in the downstairs bit of Interbike, many years ago, where they put the mad inventors. His was a product – and a concept – ahead of its time, yet it finally all caught up to where rims and tyres and valves and everything mostly just works.
There are many other sealants on the market, and some are very good. Some aren’t. Having spent a year slowly converting all my bikes to tubeless as the opportunity arose and trying out different sealants, I still found myself coming back to Stan’s because it just works. If I’m buying sealant in a shop, rather than just poaching what’s available in our workshop, I’ll buy Stan’s.
Giro Alpineduro shoes
Trying to explain a British winter to a Californian is like a Californian trying to explain to a Brit how a trail can be ‘too dry’ or ‘too dusty’. However, Californian-based Giro has made a shoe that puzzles many riders in the US and yet which is ideal for much European riding over the darker months. The shoe features a very traditional look – almost like an old climbing boot – with laces cinching a bellows tongue to keep a lot of water out and allow a good amount of adjustment for fit, which is as, if not more, important in a winter boot than a race shoe. The inside of the boot is plain, with minimal seams, as is the outside. The Vibram tread, which admittedly could be chunkier, is similar to the one on the Terraduro and offers good grip on wet rocks and anything short of muddy banks.
There’s a Primaloft-insulated upper that works very well for temperatures that range from nippy autumn to full-driech and just sub-zero snow temps too. A boot that looks good (or at least, different, which is nearly the same in my book) and works well both on and off the bike. I gave them the ST sticker of approval when I reviewed them earlier in the year. I’m sold.
TweedLove King and Queen of the Hill
In the past, this event has been the culmination of the TweedLove fortnight in Peebles, but for the last couple, it’s been bumped by the Enduro World Series to the tail end of August. Despite not having the fanfare of the EWS to support it, this year’s event still had a fantastic atmosphere, with suitably Scottish conditions too. Practice on the five challenging (but not impossible for mortals) stages was done in the fast, the dry and the dust. A huge overnight downpour then changed softer sections to gloopy messes. However, it didn’t stop the fast riders from being fast.
The reason I enjoyed the event was the friendly atmosphere and how it took the whole Glentress and Innerleithen valley, which I’ve ridden many times, and shook it up so that even the locals got to see trails from different angles. It also had the single worst single climb in the valley to get riders from the Golfie back up to the top of the Glentress Black in a single go. But then it rewarded with a dozen or so minutes of plummeting back down the other side. And that’s what enduro’s about, right? Earning your whoops.