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?
Richard is our Ad guy, and our office Enduroista. In between looking after two small kids he still finds time to go far too fast over a variety of lumpy bits of ground, terrifying himself in the process. Here are his picks of the best bits of 2015…
Bike – Mondraker Foxy Carbon
- From: Silverfish
- Price: £4,699.00
We get the opportunity to ride many bikes, a lot of which are ultra desirable and the vast majority of which ride amazingly – as did this Mondraker when I had the chance to take it for a spin. During 2014, I swapped and changed bikes on a regular basis; I never had a bike that I could tweak. This meant running tyres that sometimes weren’t totally suited to the terrain I was riding on, or being stuck with a stem or bars that weren’t quite right. But I had this one for a while…
I’m picking this bike because I truly think it helped me progress my riding. The immense length may not be every one’s cup of tea, but I quickly fell in love with it. It just requires a slightly different riding technique; you need to work it a little more.
And oh, but she’s pretty; the whole thing looks very sleek. The stealth carbon is finished off with a few subtle decals. I had the pleasure of riding the SE version, which is a high-end race-ready bike. And on it I’ve had some of the best races results of my short racing life so far, but more importantly I had a bloody good time trying to go fast. Grip is delivered in skip loads during cornering, climbs and under braking. It’s a real pleasure to ride.
Gear – Fox 36 Float FIT fork
The Fox 36 was a comeback and a half for Fox; fewer long travel bikes were being specced with Fox forks. However, my long termer Foxy Carbon was specced with 160mm 36s. These fork are as stiff as I will ever need. They’re available in all wheel sizes with a specific chassis for each size, meaning even 29ers get a stiff, responsive fork.
It’s the adjustability that places these forks at the top of my gear list though. True, some riders won’t need a burly fork like these, but if you like riding fast you can get all the feel and support you need. Low and high speed compression damping along with rebound, that you can actually feel work on the trail. Great forks: loads of tweakability, fine support and fantastic traction. Love ‘em.
Place – Les Arcs
For those that don’t know, Les Arcs is situated in the French Alps, in the Savoie area. The lower slopes down toward Bourg St Maurice are covered by a stunning 300 year old Swiss stone pine forest.
The resorts are purpose built for the winter ski seasons and aren’t beautiful, traditional alpine villages – but the view distracts you rapidly. Possibly lesser known as a bike venue when compared to the likes of Morzine, there are still bucket loads of trails here. If you’re only a bike park junkie it might not get your juices flowing, but the off piste trails are to die for. Higher, mountainous, rock-filled slopes can be linked into some mind blowingly technical steep trails. And within the pine covered slopes, huge amounts of loamy fun can be found. I had the absolute pleasure of riding the Enduro2 race this year and it has left me with a huge thirst for more…
So that’s Richard’s pick for 2015. Keep ’em peeled for more thoughts from our testers over the next couple of weeks!