The bikes that made Warner

We asked Rob Warner to pick the bikes that have meant the most to him over the years. The rest is history…

>>> 12 things you’ll remember if you were a mountain biker in the 90s

Raleigh Chopper, late 70s

Before the Grifter was the Raleigh Chopper. My uncle was a big Raleigh dear in Oxford so all I knew growing up were Choppers, Grifter, Bombers and Burners. This was my ‘all round’ bike at the time. In this picture I’m at a ‘Cyclo Trial’ event as they were then called, run by the motorbike trials clubs as some fun. While the Raleigh Chopper wasn’t an ideal trials machine it excelled at wheelies, which at that age were an obsession. Pretty sure I managed a ‘three pedal’ wheelie on that bike, wasn’t too difficult to flip it. Until I went mountain biking in my early 20s I never competed on bicycles, apart from the odd fun event like this. Motorbikes are my thing to race, racing the bicycles never quite had the same buzz to me, even though competitively I was much better without an engine. Bikes have been my life, are my life, and they always have been since I first got on one and that’s a fact that will never change.

GT RTS, 1993

The RTS doesn’t quite make the cut, the RTS was outshone by this…

GT LTS, 1994

I’m going to say the LTS is from 1994, I’m sure it is. My first real mountain bike race was the World Championships in Metabief France in 1993. I literally turned up with a hardtail and had a go to get 19th, with no bloody chain. The good news was that John Tomac was 20th so I was some news at least back home. For 1994 MBUK picked me up and gave me a GT Zaskar and RTS to ride. I did pretty good that year, with a 3rd in Mt St Anne, my second ever World Cup race.

Later that year, before it was released publicly, I got the GT LTS. It was a stunning looking bike, alu, lush welding, and it worked. The back end didn’t lock up under pedalling, it was fully active. Miles better than anything I’d had at this point. I had it for the National Champs that year, which were always at Eastridge then, it felt like. I don’t know if was the shock topping out but it used to kind of make a tapping noise as you rode it, I really liked that about it.

GT were the bike sponsor to the team and because they saw I had some pace I got the LTS about the same time as Vouilloz, maybe Stefano Migliorini had one too. It was one of only two or three in Europe at the time.

Anyways the European Championships that year were back at Metabief in France.

On the chairlift to the top for the finals, with my feet dangling just above the crowds head, one of the 40,000 strong partisan crowd looked up and spotted my white British Cycling jersey, with red and blue on it, the LTS hooked on next to me, and I had my helmet and goggles on. Nico had the same bike, same TLD lid and was wearing the white World Champs jersey that he won there the year before as junior.

“NICO!!!!! ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ” rocketed up at me like a surface to air missile. I looked down, people started clapping and cheering, thinking I was their great French hope for the day.

I was like ’NO’, gesturing wildy with my hands I wasn’t Nico. But it was too late, the frenzied French crowd lost its shit over the wrong dude. They thought I was just waving back. So that was it, I had the most uncomfortable five minutes of my life sat on that chairlift with the world’s loudest and slowest Mexican wave beneath me.

Vitus Sommet, 2020

This is my Vitus Sommet and I absolutely love it. I like the way it looks, not only the wild paint job, but its just so clean. When I look at that bike I can see its going to work , it just looks right and balanced.I also love the aluminium frame, I do prefer Alu to carbon but I don’t really know why. To ride its hard to tell the difference, I would say though that the Alu frame is stiffer and I love the welds and the way the Alu is formed, its a work of art to me.

Sometimes you get a bike that you just feel right on, one that fits ike a glove and this is one of those for me. Some of the XL and XXL bikes out there now are so long, to long in my opinion. This is plenty big enough but I still feel ‘on top’ of the bike, I can put it where I want, its easy to go fast on, not a fight trying to make it turn. And I also get a real buzz out of just how good mountain bike’s are now. The other two bikes here don’t look so fundamentaly different  this one , but the refinements now on mountain bikes is incredible, just simple things like rarely flatting, the chain not falling off, the gears and brakes working, these bikes are incredible at what they do. Maybe you had to ride them in the 90’s to appreciate that.