Traharn spent the day at Bike Park Wales with Soho Bikes who were filming their latest video for Soho Bikes TV. The day was all about riding different wheel sizes to try and answer the impossible question ‘which is best?’. Traharn grabbed a few minutes with some of the riders to find out more about their answer to this question, and more.
Words – Traharn Chidley
Photos – Dan Wyre Photography
Name: Will Soffe
Occupation: Mechanic at Bike Park Wales
Background: Has worked as a mechanic in 7 different bike shops, took a couple of years out to do some teaching and now back in the bike industry. Will has been racing for 11 years, 3 years in the expert category and is now in year 3 competing in the elite category.
Discipline: Predominately downhill, but this year has also started to compete in enduros.
Bikes ridden at SOHO bike test: Trek Session 8 | Trek Slash 9 | Trek Remedy 9.9
Favourite?: “The Remedy was the most entertaining.”
Which felt most fun?: “The Remedy, you could do more with it, choose a line or pop a jump, you don’t have to worry too much about where you were, just pick a line and go for it. It’s the most dynamic.”
Which felt fastest?: “They’re fast in different ways, so don’t think there’d be much in it, but probably the Downhill bike felt the fastest as you’re not slowed down by obstacles, but it was harder to generate speed through pumping and pedalling, but I really don’t know.”
[Will tested the bikes to the max, having helped build the course and even eagerly walking the track the night before SoHo Bikes test day, he knew the course inside out; He did a 03.07.60 on his Trek Session DH bike, and incredibly, did a 03.07.88 on his Trek Slash 27.5 trail bike. Proving if the track is known and you’re comfortable on the bikes, both bikes can be equally fast with their own advantages].
If you only had one bike what would it be?: “The Slash, it’s the best all-rounder with 160mm travel, 650B wheel size, it does everything well: pedal uphill no worries and it’s beefy enough to take a lot of the jumps and drops , and with the geometry not far off a downhill bike it’s the best all-rounder.
Do you think one bike can do it all? “Definitely, not as well, but if you can only afford one bike you could easily compete and do well in Enduros and downhill races. As a competitive racer in predominately downhill, I feel that having a 200mm travel DH bike with slack angles and soft suspension makes it so much quicker on true Downhill tracks, but those factors make it a nightmare to pedal up. I wouldn’t want to ride a DH bike every day, but I’d want it racing at tracks like Fort William and Llangollen.”
What is the biggest change you’ve seen in Mountain Biking?: “Enduro is growing rapidly, Downhill racing can appear quite intimidating, and if you don’t have the bike and all the gear it’s not very welcoming. Therefore, a lot of people are able to give Enduro a go, which is great to see. Downhill has also become much more specialised; when I first started competing, everyone who raced Downhill seemed to also race 4X, now racers heavily focus on the one discipline, making it more competitive and a serious sport.”
What will/should be the next step in Mountain Biking?: “We need a governing body for Enduro, a formalised structure, all the formats are good with different appeal and focuses, but both are on different sides of the spectrum, varying from the casual mashup style to the stricter races with immovable start times and tight transitions; we need a governing body to state a level for Enduro, finally formalising the sport setting a standard everyone sticks to, knowing where they’re at and what they’re doing.”
After a good day on the bike, what’s your go to meal?: “I’m a big burger fanatic, I even have a burger blog, just going out eating and rating burgers, I should probably have something serious like Chicken and brown rice.. But no, it’s definitely burger and chips for me.”
Now listen to the audio interview in full.