We caught up with Joe honing his skills and asked for some top tips for riders trying to get the most out of bike time, whatever their expertise.

mbr summer 2019

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GT Aggressor Sport

With an excellent four sizes in the range the GT Aggressor Sport should suit pretty much every rider’s size, lanky old me included.

pinnacle kapur 2

With progressive geometry and a top quality frame the Pinnacle Kapur 2 has a really nice feel to it – direct and efficient without any jarring.

calibre rake

Though all of the bikes in the sub £500 category L, the Calibre Rake is by far the biggest; and not simply because it has 29in wheels and meaty WTB

trek marlin

The first of two 29er to make it into the sub 500 category, the Trek Marlin 6 certainly didn't behave like a fish out of water.

specialized pitch sport

Specialized Pitch Sport underwent a round of revisions – updates to the geometry and layout that dramatically improved handling and standover clearance.

ktm chicago classic

In its black and orange livery, the KTM Chicago Classic makes you think of motorcycles blasting though the desert at events like the Dakar rally.

norco storm

The Norco Storm 4 is our only 29er on test and as such it gets off to a good start, rolling over rough ground more easily than the 27.5in wheel

Carrera Vulcan

Carrera Vulcan has some of the best components and spec on test, and it’s clear this is where Carrera has spent its money, creating a good entry level bike.

saracen tufftrax

The Saracen Tufftrax is a fun bike to ride, the frame is just big enough to accommodate my frame and there’s something playful and poppy about it.

giant atx 2

The Giant ATX 2 feels lightweight, comfortable and quiet on the descents, despite the poor fork, which we’ll get to in a minute.

Race Face Atlas cranks

With short crank arms, 165mm in this case, you don't actually have much choice. Essentially you've got Shimano and SRAM mid-tier options. Or Race Face.

Brand-X Ascend Dropper

The Brand-X Ascend dropper post comes direct from Chain Reaction for the bargain price of £120 (at time of writing this review anyway!)