A hostel tucked in forests just east of Cologne, Germany maybe isn’t the most obvious choice of venue for a press gathering. But then, Bombtrack aren’t a company for taking the obvious choices.
The brand has come on since it released its first bike – a fixed gear street machine. After quick look through the catalogue I lost count of the number of models available, ranging from those fixed gear road roots to a 29+ adventure mountain bike.
Groundwork is in its second year. Rather than doing official bike launches, the team at Bombtrack (and the company is small enough that it feels very much like a team rather than a corporation) prefer to invite a small group of journalists and their favourite dealers to share some time on the pedals and evenings over a beer (or two or three). Alongside the tight group of Bombtrack employees (and CEO Manuel), a handful of sponsored riders joined our select group. Fixed gear crit racers rub shoulders with ‘cross racers and long-distance bikepackers.
I arrived with Chris, of Lyon Outdoors – Bombtrack’s UK distributor – “fresh” from our Dirty Boar experience. Mud encrusted bikes were unloaded from the Lyon van and passed on to mechanics to replace brake pads and lube chains, ready to join the fleet of Bombtrack’s 2018 line up. Tired legs were eased with food and beer and we chatted with folk as they arrived over the course of the evening. All very relaxed. There was no PowerPoint, no media pack, just smiles and a genuine desire to see everyone enjoying new bikes.
During the course of the coming days, we would ride with Manuel, Rich the designer, Nat (sales) and others from Bombtrack. Each spoke with passion about what they are doing, what they are trying to create. It was easy to see what Bombtrack means to them and their sheer enthusiasm for getting people on bikes.
Whenever I travel, I try to appreciate where I am visiting for what it is. A place is its own thing. It has its own history, own geology, geography, society. Sometimes though, it is hard not to draw comparisons with where we know. The woods surrounding the tiny hamlet of Breibach felt immediately homely. Narrow wedges of forest, back lanes and wide tracks are interspersed with hints of trail. Some are hidden below leaf litter, others more defined. They traverse steep sided, but shallow, valleys and snake around trees, over roots. Our group concertinaed, stringing out into a thin line scrabbling to hold the wheel in front, bunching and regathering at the top of punchy climbs. We’d then pick a slither of singletrack, winding, twisting, whooping our way back to the valleys. Heavy rain showers repeatedly passed over, always heavy enough to butter the fallen leaves and roots, never long enough to dampen spirits or send us hightailing home. Mixed abilities, mixed fitnesses, mixed bikes, mixed languages; we jostled, shared jokes, talked bikes, told stories and shared tips.
The most telling thing of all from this trip? Not the new Bombtrack bikes (they are excellent by the way, and we will be reviewing at least one in the coming weeks and months), but the reminder that riding bikes brings people together. Well done Bombtrack for doing just that. We can’t wait for next year.
Want to know our pick of the bikes? Here you go!
Full disclosure – Bombtrack covered the cost of Tom’s trip to Groundwork.