MBR March 2021

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The latest issue of MBR is out now, packed full of inspiring ideas and routes to help you find new places to get out and ride. Here’s what you’ll find inside…

On the Cover

Pete Archer on Stake Pass in the Lakes, before the next snowstorm drives in. Photographer: Tristan Tinn.

Trailblazers: BikePark Wales

Delivering consistently brilliant trails since 2013, with the mod cons we love (decent food, bike wash and most importantly a dedicated uplift) BikePark Wales was always going to be a massive hit… with hindsight. But a decade back it didn’t quite look like that, the idea of paying to ride trails seemed laughable. We talk to trail builder in chief Rowan Sorrell about what changed and what’s next for the landmark venue.

The Cairngorms

What makes someone throw in their nine-to-five job, head off to the wilderness and found an off-grid retreat for mountain bikers? Former endurance racer Phil Hodgkiss did just that, we head to the eco-retreat in the Cairngorms to unwind, take a break from the world and ask him.

First Rides

The iconic Santa Cruz Nomad gets a facelift with better sizing and geometry, Canyon launches a new bike called the Stoic, it’s billed as a do-it-all hardtail. Ribble has a new hardtail too, made from heat-treated chromoly steel, plus the latest Whyte is the T-160 with, well, 150mm travel, and Evil’s latest version of The Wreckoning, the amazing looking high flying trail bike. We ride ’em all.


Introducing the latest edition to the longtermer fleet, meet Haibike’s Allmtn, the e-bike from Germany with a ridiculously powerful motor. Meanwhile JD takes the Cannondale Habit on some slippery South Downs XC loops, Ben Day revels in his new Vitus Escarpe’s good looks and greatest value, and Benji’s slices 2° off his Giant Trance X’s head angle for the steepest trails.

Tested: Cranks

The best cranks combine light weight with stiffness, delivering all your power where it counts without penalising you with extra weight – let our grouptest sort the best from the rest. On test: Cane Creek eeWings, e*thirteen XCX Race, Hope EVO, Race Face Next R, Shimano SLX, Shimano XT, SRAM GX Eagle alloy, and SRAM XO1 carbon.

Bike test: downcountry bikes

The hottest bikes of 2021 are downcountry machines: short of travel but big on fun thanks to outstanding geometry, they hope to deliver that seat-of-your-pants ride feel without the bulk. On test is the new Specialized Epic Evo, a longer travel version of the brand’s full on XC race bike. And the Merida Ninety-Six, another pumped up XC bike with a carbon frame and ambitions bigger than its compact 96mm of travel.

Bikes in this Issue

Cannondale Habit Carbon 3
Canyon Stoic 4
Evil Wreckoning GX
Giant Trance X 29 2
Haibike Allmtn 6
Instinctiv M9
Merida Ninety-Six 8000
Ribble HT725 Pro Build
Santa Cruz Nomad CC X01 Reserve
Specialized Epic Evo Expert
Vitus Escarpe 29 CRS
Whyte T-160 RS

Sideways strength

Most strength training moves are about moving front to back (squats, deadlifts etc), but when you’re actually on the bike you go every which way. For maximum strength and resilience train your body for these multi-directional stresses – Fit4Racing’s Jonny Thompson shows us how.

Ride smarter

Hitting a trail and reacting to its twists and turns is fun, useful on new ground too, but it’s not the smartest way to ride, says Dirt School’s Andy Barlow. Much better to think ahead, plan your way down the trail and reap the rewards of faster and safer riding.

Marching orders

Mountain biking is in full retreat on military land in Farnborough, following a bywelways review next month that could ban us from singletrack trails. One local riders’ group is fighting back though, hoping to challenge access limitations and keep the trails open.

My best trail

GT rider and YouTube sensation Wyn Masters tells us about his favourite trail, back home in New Zealand.