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Archive for the ‘New Bikes’ Category

This weekend I went on an “Introduction to Bikerafting” course with Backcountry Biking run by regular Wednesday nighters Andy and Rob.
It’s been a very long time since I did any sort of paddling so I was slightly worried about spinning round in circles, capsizing and abandoning my bike forever to the cold, dark depths of Loch Morlich. Amongst other things…

However, Saturday dawned, and in keeping with the rest of the week it was a scorcher (as they say).
We (Dave, Colin, Jim, Sanny, Gari and me) met up at the Old Bridge Inn car park; packed our (incredibly light) Alpaca rafts and headed for Loch Morlich.

Jones and Horsethief at Loch Morlich

We were shown the correct use of the ‘Inflation Bag’, which is an incredibly simple way to pump up yer raft.

Inflation Bag technique dialled

All my own work

Soon we were out on the loch, the largest collection of Bikerafters in the UK… ever!

On Loch Morlich

After a play around we repacked our rafts and went for a ride around Loch Morlich; riding with a (deflated!) packraft on your back is much the same as with a loaded up 30L rucksac: the paddle splits into four bits for carrying, just make sure you don’t lose any of the bits…

Rob ridin’ the hood

Next we had a play around in the Allt Mor, to get used to paddling in moving water. This was fun!

Playing in the Allt Mor

Having a bike on your boat certainly invites interest, pretty much everyone who saw us felt moved to make a comment!

Is this Benidorm?

Aviemore had gained a lot of publicity earlier in the week for being the hottest place in the UK; as a consequence the beach at Loch Morlich was mobbed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so busy there… I was worried they might have sold out of ice cream, but thankfully the Boathouse Cafe had plenty.

The sun shines on the rafters

Andy promised us a following wind for the journey back to the far end of the loch; unfortunately this was not to be, but it was probably better to experience the difference a headwind can make to paddling time.

Nearly there…

Back ashore again, we packed up our kit (getting good at this now) and set off down the Old Logging Way back to the Old Bridge Inn for a well-earned pint.

On Sunday we took no time to pack our rafts and get ready to ride, this time heading for Inshriach Forest where we planned to ride some sweet singletrack on the way to a suitable place to join the River Spey.

Maybe next time…

Splashing through

As it happened, this included a stop off at Inshriach Nursery cake shop where we spent far too much time.

We chose cake…

After all that eating, some excercise was called for, so we headed to the Inshriach clifftop trail, which was riding soooo well. Unfortunatelty, Andy discovered his under-frame bottle cage system is incompatible with a particularly gnarly rock section, and had an over the bars episode as a result.

Getting ready to raft

Down by the Spey, we inflated our boats and put in at a nice gentle section, after being shown some hazardous bits from the river bank.

I absolutely loved paddling down the Spey… it was so relaxing, and so great to see stuff I cycle past every day from a different perspective.

We stopped in a few places where Andy and Rob showed us some fallen trees which looked pretty innocuous, but as it turned out could cause serious problems (such as getting trapped and drowning…) if you drifted into them. The stretch of river we did looks very easy, but there were plenty of tree-lined sections, submerged tree stumps etc which could catch you out. I’m glad we had good guides!

Kinrara from the Spey

Craigellachie from the Spey

Lairig Ghru from the Spey

I really didn’t want the journey to end, so it was cool to discover that the river takes a couple of huge meanders just before Aviemore. This also gave us some opportunities to practice our ferrying technique.

Back at the Old Bridge Inn, we packed up our gear for the last time, and, over a beer, started planning further bike rafting adventures.

I’m hoping to go on the next Backcountry biking packraft course, which won’t involve bikes, but will give an introduction to white water technique. Packrsfting is the best – I can’t wait!

Check out the following for more on the weekend and details of courses:

http://www.facebook.com/backcountrybiking.co.uk

http://www.backcountrybiking.co.uk/

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Ok, today is not quite so marvellous (it’s cold, wet and windy) but last Wednesday we had one of those special spring evenings with wonderful dry trails and warm, sunny weather.

Braeriach looked stunning with a good covering of snow (maybe we should have gone ski touring) looking especially fine with the spring colours in the foreground.

Over the moor

Andy was demoing our Jeff Jones Spaceframe bike. Lateral thinking in bicycle form, the Jones is a fixed geometry (you wouldn’t call it rigid if you rode one…) all mountain bike. Andy reckons it is the most rideable, playful bike he’s ever been on and placed an order mid way through the ride! As you can see from the pics, it’s a bike that invites a lot of discussion!

Talking about the Jones

Still talking about the Jones

There’s lots going on with the Jones

We climbed up to the treeline in the gorgeous evening sunlight, accompanied briefly by a female Capercaillie who had been enjoying a stroll on the same path.

Follow that Caper

It’s always chilly at the top of the climb, so we didn’t spend too long looking for Santa’s pals… plenty of time till they’re needed though!

I have but not today

The Moon and Lairig Ghru

The descent was bliss. Swoopy, swoopy, joy, joy….

Full on John is happy

At the bottom of the trail, time was found for further Jones discussion…

I sense a theme to this ride

Then we rode to the Old Bridge Inn for fine ales and banter. I think we talked about ski touring…

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It’s that time of year again! This year we’ll have a selection of bikes from Santa Cruz, including the hotly anticipated Tallboy LT; a full size range of Scott Spark 29ers; a Transition Bandit 29, Kona Honzo and our Jones, keeping it real and steel…

 

This is what we’ll have:

Santa Cruz:
Juliana Superlight Sml, Nickel Lge, Butcher Med, Blur TRc Lge, Nomad carbon Med
Highball alloy Med, Highball carbon Lge, Superlight 29 Med, Tallboy alloy Med, Tallboy carbon XL, Tallboy LT Lge
Scott:
Spark 29 Expert Sml, Med, Lge, XL, Genius 20 Lge, Voltage FR30 if it arrives in time!
Kona:
Honzo 29er 18″
Transition:
Bandit 29er (yes, we do have a theme going here!)
Jones:
Space frame cro-mo beauty
Surly:
Pugsley
Genesis:
Fortitude Adventure all sizes, Core 26.5 16″, Core 24″

There’s a lot of competition for demo dates; most of the Transition bikes are away in Dalby forest or somewhere, likewise Kona…

Unfortunately the Surly and Salsa demo fleet isn’t ready yet – look forward to more of that in Summer… we will have our Pugsley there for the fat curious!

So… Fraser and Phil will be there on Saturday and Sunday, poised and primed to set bikes up for you, and take your orders when you find your perfect ride!

If you’d like to reserve anything, please let us know, we’ll do what we can!

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This Friday we had a visit from Patrick from Ison (distributors of Surly, Salsa, Rohloff, Identiti and lots of other good stuff) and John from QBP (Surly & Salsa distro in the USA)

They showed us Surly’s new-ish Ogre 29er – possibly the most versatile bike in the world! It’s based on the classic Karate Monkey and you can run pretty much any rack, brake and gear setup you want; use it as a commuter, off-road tourer, anything you like!

We’ve just got a Black Ops Pugsley in for stock – the ideal bike for those of you struggling to decide between a standard Pugsley and Moonlander!

The Black Ops Pug has wider rims (82mm vs Pugs 65mm) and Mr Whirly crank with offset double rings to clear the tyre. You also get a Moonlander fork up front and some neat wee thumbshifters.

The Salsa Mukluk has been around  a while, but this is the first one we’ve seen. It’s a very pretty bike. Sparklyness is always good! It’s designed so you can chuck on a 29er wheelset for summer singletrack trails, or whatever you want to do when you’re not going where no-one has gone before…

Anyway, Friday was definately a day for riding bikes rather than talking about them so Andy from Backcountry Biking and I took our guests out to sample some fine scenic trails.

Here’s Andy, victorious after doing battle with a stubborn Nate tyre:

It was so nice heading up the logging way, snowy hills shining in the distance; of course we told our guests it’s always like this here!

Usually the traverse from Rothiemurchus Lodge is a muddy mess,with a horrendous headwind; not a path we’d recommend at all. On very rare instances (like Friday!) it’s possible to actually ride without contributing to making soup. The only problem was the liberal covering of ice; it was sooo slippy, even the Nates couldn’t cope…

Thankfully, there wasn’t too much of this and we bumped on through the frozen footprints up to the path junction.

The descent was just fantastic. No need to rush, just swooping down, savouring every twist and turn. Riding through the dappled sunshine on the lower part of the track was a sublime experience. Needless to say, our guests were delighted!

It would have been rude not to return via the castle at Loch and Eilein to complete the guided tour. I was quite impressed with the signs advertising ‘warm springs’ and rather wished I’d brought my bathing costume.

Afterwards we returned to the Old Bridge Inn, and warmed up by the fire. And yes, we did talk about bikes. Just a bit.

David – Salsa El Mariachi, blinglespeed

Andy – El Mariachi fat front, 2×5 speed

Patrick – Surly Ogre, Rohloff 14 speed

John – Salsa Mukluk , 3×9 speed

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We were delighted when we found out we were top of the queue to get one of (the?) first Surly Moonlander bikes to make it over the pond. Disappointment when nothing arrived for us on Friday’s delivery, was replaced with delight when the courier made a special Xmas run on Saturday, and  look what was there!

Moonlander in a box

Moonlander out of the box

Rob from Backcountry Biking had been waiting for this one since he had an epiphany riding Iona’s Pugsley, so a call was made and he was over here before you could say ‘Fat Bike frenzy!’

Plans have already been hatched for Winter epics through the Lairig Ghru (return on pack rafts down the Feshie) and Summer jaunts round the Uists… Stay tuned here and over at Backcountry Biking for ride reports and comparisons between the Pugsley and Moonlander (fat vs FAT)

Moonlander in the bike shed at Bothy Bikes

Moonlander and Pugsley share a berth

Here’s a link to the Surly site for some more info. A complete Moonlander will costs £1999 and if you’d like one there should be more arriving at the end of January, and we’d be delighted to order one for you!

In the meantime, if you’d like to have a ride on a Pugsley, we have a 20″ bike you can try in the snow!

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House of the Big Wheel


Daniel and Andy from Kona Europe visited Bothy Bikes this week. They had a 2012 Tanuki Supreme, successor to the very popular Dawgs of yore; an Entourage Deluxe, which looks like an awesome play bike for people who like to go downhill very fast; a Caldera (last years Kula in price & spec, confusingly) and a Mahuna entry-level 29er. Now, the Mahuna really got my interest: a nice, simple XC trail bike, with tempting looks and price (£650) We’ve got one to try out, look out for a mini-review soon!
Here’s a link to Kona’s cog blog

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Kona Honzo

We’ve just taken delivery of a few of the new Kona Honzo 29er bikes. It’s a steel framed hardtail,with a 68mm head angle, designed for all mountain use. Chainstays are about as short as you’ll get them, planty of mud clearance with the Maxxis Ardent 2.25 fitted, it’s set up as a 1×9 (front mech would get in the way) with a Rock Shox Revelation 120mm fork.

We took the bike for a quick spin around the car park and over a few rooty singletrack bits. First impressions: fun bike! Feels playful and easy to chuck around… can’t wait to take one for a proper ride!

Here’s what the designer, Chris Mandell has to say:

“The chainstays on these bikes are 415mm which are extremely short for a 29er, we actually had to remove the front derailleur compatibility for this bike to accommodate the size of tyre that you’d want to have on an all-mountain 29er and the chainstay length that we felt we needed. So that’s why this bike comes with ISCG tabs and you’ll always see it run with a singlespeed at the front, with a 9 or 10 speed cassette at the back. The bike comes specced with a 12-36 cassette so it has a really wide range good for pedalling and good for getting up hills. It also uses the Kona CC hanger, which is a replaceable sliding dropout, so if you want to run it singlespeed you’re able to.”

I think this would be a great bike for steep trails, technical terrain and big hill rides where you’re riding for the descents.

The price is £1599 for the complete bike – frame only is available from December.

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