Antony attended the Scottish Mountain Biking Conference, where there was much to be learnt and debated, plus plenty to be seen. Here, he rounds up a bunch of product that is coming out of the land of access – and, no there’s not a haggis carrier for your bike.
1. Sender Ramps
- From: sender-ramps.com
- Price: Launch Pads from £49.99. Manual Master Machine from £89.99
We first encountered Sender at this year’s Northern Grip festival, where their neat pre-built plywood jump ramps were being used by the kids there as a means of good, old-fashioned, slightly hazardous fun. Since then though they’ve gone properly viral with the Manual Master Machine, a wooden stand that lets anyone practice finding the rear wheel balance point of their bike, without the dreaded moment where you topple over backwards and land on your coccyx.
The release of the Manual Master has kept Sender pretty busy, but they’ve also improved the design of their original ramps, making them fold for storage, and added a range of custom branding or personalisation options to their kit. They also now offer branded bike stands. The Manual Master retails at £89.95 and if you want one in time for Christmas, you’d better be quick.
2. Shand Cycles
- From: www.shandcycles.com
- Price: Shug frame and forks from £1,595
Shand is a brand which seems to have arrived with no massive fanfare to become one of the most well-respected frame builders in the UK. Based just outside Edinburgh, it offers a range of custom or off-the-peg steel road, mountain and gravel bikes, frame-only or complete build, all painted to your preference by a chap called Euan.
Shand specialises in adventure bikes (and one of said bikes recently became a world record-breaking machine, thanks to Jenny Graham). Recently though they’ve branched out into gnarlier territory, thanks to a partnership with fledgling UK brand Trillion, which has ultimately resulted in them adopting Trillion’s bikes as their own. The first model to come out of this collaboration is the Shand Shug, a refined yet hoonable 130mm-forked hardtail that’s designed to take 29 x 2.6” tyres but is still light enough to ride all day.
3. Suss My Bike
- From: sussmybike.com
- Price: £249
A couple of years ago, onboard suspension telemetry units were the preserve of Formula One teams. Now we’re starting to see some that are aimed specifically at mountain bikes, including SussMyBike. Their first unit, the Flow, appeared on Kickstarter a couple of years ago.
After a long and slightly bumpy development process, the Flow is now very much in production, and units can be purchased off the shelf. Designed to be paired with an Android or iPhone app, it offers you a similar mix of tuning recommendations and performance info to Quarq’s Shockwiz. The unique feature with SussMyBike’s system is that, as it uses a retracting cord rather than air pressure changes to measure performance, it’ll work on coil forks and shocks as well.
4. Shred XS clothing
- From: shredxs.com
- Price: Enduro Jersey £27.00; Enduro Short £47.00; Gloves £18.00
Shred XS launched in 2014, and offers kit for young riders that works and lasts as well as anything the grown-ups wear. We’re also morally obliged to feature them here, as they recently sent us a bunch of kit that the little people in Amanda’s life absolutely loved. Their original shorts and tops were designed to withstand the abrasive challenges of downhill racing, but since then they’ve branched out into lighter kit for longer rides, and even lycra for XC and cyclocross racing.
Aside from coming in seven different sizes, there are some clever details on their clothes, like the fully opening back of their gloves, and heaps of waistband adjustment on their shorts, meaning you should be able to get a fair bit of use of them before they’re handed down to younger siblings
- From: postfender.scot
- Price: £10.00
Dropper posts and winter riding can be an uneasy combination. Your post sits right in the line of fire for all the crap that gets thrown up by your rear wheel, and unless you’re diligent about service intervals, or have a sixth sense for what’s going on inside the seals, the result can be sticky, scratchy and spendy.
PostFender is a simple but effective concept, slightly reminiscent of those minimalist plastic mudguards that you might have spotted tucked under fixie riders’ saddles. PostFender is made from the same material, but instead of keeping your Levis dry, it shields your seatpost. There are two arms at the top which wrap around your saddle rails, but the bottom end is left free so the whole thing can move up and down with your saddle. It’s unobtrusive, it works, and you could buy five of them for the price of a Reverb service kit.
6. Deviate Cycles Guide
- From: deviatecycles.com
- Price: Frame and gearbox from £3,399
Deviate Cycles is the brainchild of Chris Deverson and Ben Jones, both mountain bike guides with a wealth of experience of leading riders through Europe’s biggest mountains. The pair were already developing a gearbox bike when Pinion’s 12-speed internal gearbox was introduced, and the result is the Guide, a 160mm travel enduro bike designed to mash through everything in its path.
Thanks to a well-designed suspension setup and a mind-boggling 600% gear range, the Guide also climbs up pretty much anything you’ve got the legs for. There’s a small weight penalty with the Pinion setup and a few operating quirks, but for riders who love to put the mountain in mountain biking, including our Sanny, the suspension performance and drivetrain reliability will more than make up for these.
7. Bark & Ride
- From: barkandridesports.com
- Price: Collars £15.00; Harness £45.00; Poo-chi Poo Pouch £15.00
Everyone loves a trail dog, so it was only a matter of time before someone stepped up and started producing gear for the canine companions on our rides. Bark & Ride Sports was set up by textile designer Karen and offers biking-friendly leads and harnesses, winter coats and, erm, a clip-on pouch for your poo bags (empty or full).
Their website also has plenty of clothes for humans and good advice for owners of budding trail dogs.
8. Descent Master
- From: descentmaster.co.uk
- Price: £299
Structured training and winter gym sessions are pretty much par for the course at the sharp end of mountain biking these days. Turbos, smart trainers and rollers are all very familiar, but when it comes to exercise equipment that’s aimed specifically at riders, the top half of your body seems to be missing out.
The Descent Master is a deceptively simple bit of equipment which aims to build core strength and stability, using a technique that riders can instantly recognise. It’s basically a handlebar attached to a multi-directional pivot. The freedom of movement in this pivot is adjustable, and the longer you can keep your balance on it, the more of a work-out you’re getting. Ten minutes is enough that you can feel it the next day, and riders who’ve used it say there is a noticeable improvement in control and fatigue on long, technical descents. At a £300 pre-order price, it’s not a potential impulse buy, but we can see the Descent Master being a go-to bit of kit for anyone who trains mountain bikers professionally.
9. Swarf Cycles Contour
- From: swarfcycles.co.uk
- Price: Frame and shock from £1,950
Swarf’s Adrian Bedford originally started building bikes in Dorset, winning Newcomer of the Year at Bespoked handmade bicycle show in 2014. Since then he’s relocated to Peebles, hooked up with Five Land Bikes (the same people who are manufacturing Cotic’s new full suspension frames) and kept refining his designs.
The flagship model of the range is the Swarf Contour, a 29er frame with a modest 115mm of travel that’s designed to take 130mm forks. It’s a thing of slender-tubed beauty, but it’s also designed to shine on technical trails, an impression borne out when we included it as part of a recent UK-made full suspension grouptest. Adrian also offers similarly inclined hardtails in 29er or 650b flavours, plus a custom build service, and prices are much more reasonable than you might expect.
10. Straight Cut Design
- From: straightcutdesign.com
- Price: Custom frame bag from £80
Straight Cut is a new brand offering custom bikepacking bags, handmade in Edinburgh. Their first products are a tool roll and a frame bag, with more to follow soon. Normally when you order a made-to-measure frame bag, you effectively have to trace round the inside of your frame, but designer Ross has done away with floppy cardboard templates, and has come up with an ingenious system that involves sending in just two photos of your frame, and including a ruler for scale. Once they have the measure of your bike, they’ll send out a dummy template so you can check the dimensions before hitting go on your new bag.
Ease of ordering aside, we really like the look of Straight Cut’s bags, which go for a slightly more timeless aesthetic than some of the soft luggage out there. They’ve also come up with some neat new features, such as a design that can be attached via your frame’s water bottle bosses, keeping everything in place securely while doing away with a set of straps.
Antony’s trip to the Scottish Mountain Biking Conference was paid for by DMBinS (Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland).