mbr may 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…


Isla Short hucks the rocks of Aberfoyle. Photographer: Pete Scullion.


You’ve probably noticed, but mountain biking is in something of a purple patch – huge numbers of newbies or returning riders took up the sport over the past year, fuelled in part by their desire to escape lockdown boredom. Welcome to the club! We went riding with six new mountain bikers to find out whether there’s more to it than mere escapism, what they love about riding on dirt, and how they’ll progress from here as we enter the post-lockdown era (fingers crossed).


Rumour has it there’s a hidden valley, high in the Alps and nestling between France and Italy, containing some of the best and most beautiful singletrack in the world. We journey above the treeline to the Maira Valley and find villages stuffed with delicious food, welcoming locals, sublime and near endless trails, and a real sense of adventure.


This month there are two new hardtails on the loose, the Orange Crush MX with its new mullet- wheel set-up and 140mm-travel fork, and the Stif Squatch Pro made from 4130 steel and boasting progressive geometry. And there are two new e-bikes to ride as well: Canyon’s latest is the Torque:ON, a big-hitter with 27.5in wheels built for the descents; and a mullet e-bike called the TK01 with Shimano’s EP8 motor from Italian brand Thok.


Serial bike fettler Benji likes his Giant Trance X 29 so much he’s only managed to swap the grips for some squishy push-on jobs. Meanwhile, with winter finally coming to an end, Ben Day gets round to fitting some mud tyres to his Vitus Escarpe CRS. And PB’s been exploring his Haibike AllMtn e-bike after downloading the HaiBike eConnect app and swapping out the bar.


On test this month is the Öhlins RFX 36 M2 fork, available in coil or air-spring versions and designed to bring DH-level suspension to enduro bikes. Plus a multi-tool from Crankbrothers, the stunning 7Mesh CoPilot jacket, flat pedals from new ethical mtb brand Pembree, the Maxxis Wet Scream tyre for the muddiest of rides, Madison’s Zenith 4-season DWR glove, and more.


Probably the most transformative upgrade you can bring to your bike, a great set of wheels will improve your grip, speed and comfort. Find out how to choose between carbon and alloy, learn about end-specific designs, and what hub engagement really means. On test: wheelsets from Stans, WTB, Nukeproof, Crankbrothers and more.


Nukeproof and Whyte have been quick to capitalise on the new 38mm-stanchioned forks from RockShox and Fox, this year releasing the Giga and the G-180. Both come as 29ers or 27.5in bikes, both sport a huge 180mm travel on the front and both promise to blitz it on uplift days or big Alpine riding. We find out which is best.


Canyon Torque:ON 9
Forbidden Dreadnought
Giant Trance X 29 2
Haibike Allmtn 6
Nukeproof Giga 290 Carbon Factory
Orange Crush MX Pro LTD 32 Specialized Turbo Levo 14 Stif Squatch Pro 3
Thok TK01
Vitus Escarpe 29 CRS
Whyte G-180 Works 29er V1


Not the kind of balancing you do on a skinny or while pulling a manual, instead we’re talking about muscular balance… or the lack of it. Out-of-whack muscles can really hamper your posture and ability on the bike but Fit4Racing’s Jonny Thompson has the solution – some simple exercises to level up in the comfort of your own home.


The mother of all skills moves, the manual will impress your mates like nothing else. It’s a lot more important than that though, argues Dirt School’s Andy Barlow: master the proper technique and it’ll bring untold benefits to your riding. It’s not an easy one to pull off, but we’ve taken a deep dive on the moves that are guaranteed to help you master the manual… if you’ve got the time.


Veteran snapper Geoff Waugh has seen it all, now he tells us about that time he joined the mile-high mountain bike club in Colorado for My Best Trail.