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YT Rolling Circus / Tues CF Pro ride

Swinley Forest is home to some great trails and the team at Swinley Bike Hub arrange some incredible events too. The #Swinduro, the recent Fox Proframe demo day, regular night rides and BBQ’s, to name a few. From May 5-7, it was no different and I got to channel my inner Gwin… YT Industries had come to town on their ‘Rolling Circus’ tour; a global showcase of the YT demo fleet of Jeffsys, Capras and the Tues.

Of the 10 European stops, 3 were in the UK and I was stoked when I heard one of the venues was Swinley. I booked the day off work immediately with the intention of rocking up and trying all 4 models on the day.

The 5th came around and due to an X-Ray appointment in the morning, I didn’t arrive at Swinley until around 10.30. Boo. By this time, the queue was pretty beastly due to the huge demand of trying out the models from the direct sell German brand, so I chatted with a few of the crowd and then went for a ride on some other bikes in the hope the queue would die down.

Sadly, although the queues did quieten down in the afternoon, I didn’t get the chance to try either of the Jeffsys or the Capra which was a shame, but the vibe on the day was superb; chilled beats, smiling riders, an ever tasty BBQ and the hub had some great products on sale from Fox and Dakine (two of my favourite riding brands), so I was kept entertained even when off the bike.

If you know Swinley, you’ll know that, whilst a brilliant trail centre with something to cater for everyone, a downhill venue it is not. That meant the 2016 UCI World Cup winning Tues was not in as high demand as the trail and enduro bikes. So, Swinley team rider Michael Wilson and I had a chat and before we knew it, we were picking up some jaw-dropping, super stealthy carbon Tues models; Michael took the large £2,870 CF,  with Rockshox Boxxer and Kage shock, whilst I took a new for 2017 XL sized, £3,380 CF Pro, equipped with Fox 40 and X2 shock. At 6’1″, the XL felt perfect.

On the large CF model.

I should add at this point, I have never ridden a downhill bike, so immediately I was impressed by the ultra plush seemingly endless travel… and that’s just taking the bike for a quick warm up around the green trail (possibly the most overkill bike for a green trail ever!).

The CF Pro is dripping with choice components. From the E*Thirteen LG1+ wheelset, cranks and cassette (7 speed, 9-21 ratio), the stealthy carbon frame (203mm front and 208mm rear travel), carbon Renthal fatbars and Integra 35 stem, this bike felt absolutely indestructible, whilst also being a thing of beauty.  Impressively, the CF Tues weighs in at a very modest 35lbs too! Super slack angles, 650b wheels (we’re still waiting to see if 29″ DH is the next big thing… roll on Fort Bill) ensured that the bike is planted, grippy and railed. All in all, quality kit, quality looks and all at a quality price.

Measurements wise, the XL has a top tube of 647mm with a reach of 470mm. Chainstays remain the same across the size range at 435mm, as does the head angle at an ultra slack 63.5 deg. With a wheelbase of 1258mm, it’s around 60mm longer than my Aeris, so nothing too drastic which helped me adjust to the bike very quickly.

The CF Pro

Although the bike was light for what it is, it’s hardly the right bike to ride uphill (duhhhh…). Conveniently however, Tristan had hired a Toyota Hilux for the weekend… so, Michael and I hopped in the back and were treated to a VIP experience; Swinley Forests inaugural shuttle service!

It was a bit of a surreal experience, getting driven to the top of a trail in style – Michael ran a live Facebook video to document the experience, which was a great laugh!

We got to the top of Blue 14 and tried a couple of runs on the DH monsters. Simply put… they flew. I know this trail very well and feel I know every bump, rut and hole. On the Tues, it was like riding on an F1 track.. buttery smooth once again, but great fun too! After a few runs of the trail, we headed to the woods to mess about on a hidden drop, which has a few lines of varying size. Here’s a little clip of Michael and I doing what I think may be my biggest drop to date:

I was stoked to have hit that line, as I love the feeling you get when you know you’re progressing. Big thanks to Michael too for the encouragement. We headed back after a brilliant little session on the Tues models for a burger and a catch up. All in all, a top day, even if the queues were rather long, which did leave a few hopeful testers a little frustrated.

The Tues feels like an insane bike and something I would love to own. However, it is absolutely overkill for anything I am likely to ride for now, although would be a good laugh at places like Bike Park Wales or Forest of Dean. I’ll admit, I am still tempted by a downhill bike to add to the stable though, and I don’t think I’d go wrong with a Tues CF. After all, if it’s good enough for Aaron Gwin, surely it’s good enough for little old me! Again, it’s a thing of beauty to look at, especially in the gloriously stealthy Pro guise, with full black everything! Perfect for Stealth Riders worldwide!

Whilst I was disappointed with not being able to ride the Jeffsy models and the Capra, overall, the Rolling Circus was a great event. Tris and the team ensured it was superbly organised and the YT guys were awesome, helping with any queries, getting you set up on the demo bikes and also offering out some mega tasty beer (thanks to Kia at the hub, I got to sample a fair few of these!).

The tireless efforts that the team, shop staff and ambassadors put in to ensure everybody has a good time is, at times, unreal. They always manage to take a huge event and make it incredibly personal, as though you’re one of the team or an old mate catching up for a chat. It’s hard to explain, but their ethos is about getting rad. You don’t have to be the best or the fastest, you just need to have a great time. That is Swinley summed up.

Back to the bike quickly, the YT Tues is a formidable bit of kit, capable of much more than I am. However, if you like your trails rocky as fook, rutted to hell and steep as a cliffside, this is absolutely the bike for you. I hate the term, but the ‘cockpit’ looks sooooo nice too. The little touches such as the placement of graphics helps remind you that you’re riding a world class downhill bike, guaranteed to leave you smiling for hours after every single ride.

It’s no wonder YT are gaining more and more market dominance year on year. Their formula of producing killer looking, flawlessly performing bikes and matching them with some of the best riders in the world is working very well and YT bikes are becoming the machine of choice for a massive amount of riders globally. The Rolling Circus has only just begun, so by the time they’ve finished the world tour, there will no doubt be thousands of happy new members of the YT Mob, ready to shred their local trails with a massive grin.

YT,  and Swinley, thank you for having me and treating me like a VIP on the day. I felt truly humbled and incredibly grateful, you’re all amazing. I’ll sum the event up by stealing YT’s tagline: GOOD TIMES.

Until next time, catch you later.

Ian @ Stealth Riders

www.yt-industries.com 

 

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Exploring… Forest of Dean

5.15am on a recent Friday, and I’m woken up by my alarm. It’s time to get up, sort my shit out and get in the car, to spend the day at the Forest of Dean with my oldest riding mate Oscar on one of the hottest days of 2016 so far. We were both stoked as we’d been watching videos on YouTube and checking out the runs, and it looked incredible. We couldn’t wait to get started, and chatted and downed coffee for the two-and-a-half-hour journey from Surrey to the Western edge of Gloucestershire.

We arrived early, parked up and got our day ticket. First impressions were great; the onsite shop/hire centre, pedalabikeaway, the café and facilities (including showers) and everything else looked fantastic. Their filter coffee went down a treat after the long drive, too.

Once we were ready to ride, we set out to the blue trail, ‘Verderers’, but due to our complete lack of navigation skills, ended up riding straight up the push up area to the DH Zone… oops! We rode past the ultra talented DH rider Katy Curd, who was busy coaching, then chatted to a friendly local, who pointed us in the direction of the end section of the blue, and he told us “don’t worry, it’s the best bit!”. He certainly was right… the speed, the trails, the scenery… everything about this part was insanely fun!

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We got back to the car park, caught our breath, then turned around and set out again to do the full 7 miles of the blue route, which we successfully navigated this time! From the switchback climbs to the swooping downhill sections, the Verderers trail was great fun. Here’s a small edit of the final section:

Next up, the red trail, ‘Freeminers’. Again, it’s another 7-mile loop, but sits inside the Verderers trail, packing the 7 miles into a much more compact space. This meant hairpin bends, tight switchbacks and a whole bunch of rooty singletrack, as well as some neat jump sections, with both tables and doubles to keep riders of all abilities entertained. We found a few little wooden ‘North Shore’ sections too, which we sessioned and really enjoyed.

We decided to skip the green route, as it was pretty much 11 miles of fireroad, but it’s great to see that there are trails to suit everybody; from world cup downhill riders, to junior rippers on their first ride out. The Forest of Dean centre even caters for those with disabilities, with the eye wateringly fast ‘Launch Pad’, designed for 4 wheels, but more on that a little later. We also passed on riding the 2015 Enduro race route, mainly because we didn’t have GPS to guide us round, and figured we’d rather not get too lost on our first time there. Next time, I’d definitely like to give this a shot!

After hitting the blue and red trails, we stopped for lunch at the café and a breather, as it was blisteringly hot by lunchtime (I’m not complaining, however!). I can confidently say that the burger I had was one of the best tasting trail lunches I’ve ever had, and the service was absolutely superb, with friendly smiles from the staff wherever you looked.

Food in our bellies and fresh, cold water in our backpacks, we headed off to look at the big stuff; the DH zone. We rode up to the top and looked around, and saw Launch Pad, a trail purpose built to cater for disabled riders using 4 wheel gravity bikes (although standard bikes are allowed to use the trail too). Launch Pad was wide, with a perfect flowy feel, yet gave riders the ability to throw some style in too. Oh, and it was ridiculously fast. Without any effort, I was up to 33mph in no time!! I ended this trail whooping and laughing, eager to have another go. It was slightly nerve wracking to see that the warning sign at the start offered the address and number for the local hospital, but that wasn’t going to stop us.

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Heading back to the top, we saw somebody sending it big time on GBU (Good, Bad, Ugly), and chatted about how nice it’d be to have those sort of skills (and balls of steel to go with it). As we were pushing up to the top of the first downhill run that had piqued our interest, Corkscrew, the same guy flew down practically on his back wheel – fair play to him! When we arrived at the top, we bumped into him again (you’ve got to love uplift services!), and this time had a very quick chat to give credit where it was absolutely due. It turns out he was Ben Moore, team rider for Orange Bikes, and all round nice guy. There was no point trying to follow him down, he genunley had ‘style for miles’, so to speak, and would have left Osc and I for dust.

We got to the top of Corkscrew, and flew down at a good pace, navigating the rocks, ruts and drops with relative ease considering the grading of the trail (Orange, two dots) and ended the run by going into the speedy bottom section of Launch Pad. Without question, this was the favourite run of the day, leaving both Oscar and I grinning like little kids. We wanted more of this!

So, we headed back up, conscious of time as it was now getting late in the day, and decided to finish the trip off with a blast down Sheep Skull. We scoped out a few of the sections, and it looked insanely technical; roots galore, rocks, drops, ruts, jumps and more. Tentatively, we set off, and were getting into the flow of things, when Oscar had an unfortunate OTB in the rootiest section of trail. Taking it like an absolute champ, he dusted himself off, and we blasted down the rest of the run and back to the car park, ready to call it a day. Here’s a little edit of some of the sections on the red ‘Freeminers’ trail, as well as some of the orange DH runs:

The trails were perfect on a dry, sunny day. Thanks to their all-weather choice of materials for the build, we never wanted for more grip, nor any less, it was simply spot on. I can imagine the downhill runs would be really sketchy on a wet day, especially the rooty section at the top of Sheep Skull… that just increases the fun factor though, and I’d enjoy trying them out in the wet with a full face and some armour!

The icing on the cake at the end of a truly amazing day, was picking up some tasty, locally crafted cider and ale in the café, with the ale being named after the Sheep Skull run, and the cider after the wild boar that used to roam the area. These went down a treat when I finally arrived back home in Surrey, late into the night.

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Overall, we had an absolute blast, with smiles and laughs lasting the whole drive home and the following few days! Hell, I’m still smiling now thinking back to it. Riding at the Forest of Dean was genuinely one of the most enjoyable days I’ve had on the bike for years. If you’ve not been to the Forest of Dean yet, it’s time to start planning your visit. Forest of Dean, I’ll be back to see you very soon.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can find out all details at www.fodmtb.com

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Finally, a huge thanks to Oscar for the laughs and company on the day (and the jelly beans, of course!). Nothing beats riding new locations with your mates. Get outside and hit the trails, you won’t regret it!

Until next time, cheers!

Ian @ Stealth Riders