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Send your letters on anything to do with Mountain-Biking to: The interesting ones (and some of the others...) will be included here.   

Sponsor's Letter:

Red Kite Cottages-Rest Play and be inspired in Wales-

Hen Ysgubor(The Old Barn) is a beautifully renovated barn in the heart of Wales providing comfortable 4 star (awarded by Visit Wales) self catering accommodation for a family or group of friends. Located in Ffair Rhos, a small hamlet in the magnificent Cambrian Mountains, it provides an ideal base for many outdoor activities including cycling. Ideally positioned on a National Cycling Route;a short distance to the spectacular Teifi Pools,being the the start of the River Teifi and only twenty minutes drive from the coast.A large variety of wildlife are frequent visitors found near or around the cottage. The local pub, the Teifi Inn is just a short walk away and serves good food and real ales.

The cottage consists of two bedrooms(sleeps four), lounge with a sofa bed, fully fitted and equipped kitchen diner, two shower rooms with toilets and everything that is needed for a comfortable and enjoyable stay. A private patio, provided with garden furniture and barbecue are available to enjoy.

At 1000 ft above sea level, the cottage provides a fantastic base for cycling. Nearest shops, banks and facilities are Tregaron (6 miles), Aberystwyth (151/2 miles) and a village shop in Pontrhydfendigaid (1mile). The area is steeped in culture and history.

Red Kite Cottages are accredited "Cycling Friendly" by Visit Wales for providing special facilities for cycling enthusiasts. Ceredigion offers an ever-expanding range of opportunities and facilities for cycling.One of the world class Mountain Bike centres located on the A44 east of Aberystwyth in the Cambrian Mountains is located at Bwlch Nant Yr Arion Forest Centre. There are many other cycle trails of differing lengths in Ceredigion.


Further information is on our Website.


Our website:www.redkitecottages.com

e-mail:chris@redkitecottages.com

Tel:01974 831540

Riding through the Glen...

Hi Gareth,
Sherwood Pines was better than I expected really. It wasn't amazing, but given that my first off-road ride was in Gwydir it had a lot to live up to! It's also pretty flat generally and any hint of a downhill is over before you know it, but there are a couple of features that endear you to it. Me and my mate set off along the marked out blue trail, in search of the black trail which states "for experienced cyclists only" and "helmets must be worn". A good sign, we thought. We headed off down the first incline and skidded to a halt as soon as we'd whizzed past the first trail marker - AFTER the turning!!! Anyway, it was here we came across this old timer who'd just cycled 18 miles off road to get to Sherwood Pines and have a play before heading back! After we'd got over the guilt of having driven the 10 miles to the woods he told us that the best trails were the singletracks we'd passed going off into various parts of the forest. There are marked routes for 'experienced cyclists' but the better ones run parallel to these. We took his advice and soon had broad grins across our faces as we hit twisting singletrack with bumps, jumps, bomb-holes, roots and overhanging branches. It's more of a make-it-up-as-you-go-along thing which is good as you can just go exploring, but it would be good to have more of an idea of the possible routes so that you don't have to keep stopping and wondering where to go next. This also brought us to a very decent trails/jumping area with bomb-holes, drop-offs, table-tops and all manner of different size jumps. After deciding that we were nowhere near hardcore enough to attempt any of those we set off down a barely visible singletrack that disappeared into very thick pine-trees. This was probably the best bit of the day; every corner is blind and you're constantly dodging the fur branches that are whipping you in the face; also because the trees are so thick you loose your orientation and coming out of it you're not really sure where you are in the forest! Because we didn't know where we were we set back off through the trees, taking the wrong fork once and ending up in another unknown part of the trail so went back again. Finally we got back to the jump area and gingerly made our way over the smaller jumps to the side of the big boys ones. We got back onto the singletrack and just played for a bit. We'd decided that before we headed back to the drudgery of tiling the bathroom (me) and plumbing in a shower (him) we had to try out the 'Dual Descender' track that is advertised on the Sherwood Pines website (click here to see it) we found it (it's by marker 7 on the blue trail) but we're not even half gnarly enough to take it at full pelt. Although the two tracks run parallel(ish) to one another, there aren't two definite tracks marked out and I'm certain they're not the same length! Nevertheless, it's quite good fun but you could do with a few runs down all of the possible routes to figure out where all the jumps and drop offs are, plus even when there are no drops or jumps, the grounds really undulating so it's rough the whole way! It was also here that my bike had its maiden crash on its maiden ride! Hit a stump at not-very-fast speed at the end of the dual descender and went straight over the bars - nice!!! 

Cheers, Chris.

Dual track at Avoriaz. All that thin air makes U wanna jump.....several inches.
 
Part of an insane descent.  Rideable part!!                              Cones Hotline 0033 0834 87...!    
Vertical shot is taken where track emerges from trees in top right picture.
Two right hand horizontal shots are taken looking down on track from on high and looking up from below.
Above pic is before we came out of trees you see in top right shot.
 
Tempted?
Gareth,
Congratulations on a fantastic website. There's loads of information and plenty of routes to suit everybody.
Just had to let you know that my brother and I rode the Nidderdale route on Saturday. We set off at 9.20 am and didn't see a soul until we reached Scar House Reservoir, pumped up with adrenaline after the first (of many were were to find out!) excellent rocky descents. 
The next climb up the fell was tough, but the downhill reward into Coverdale was well worth the effort! The grins induced only started to fade by Carlton, where another technical climb was attacked, marred only by the deep scars in the peat caused by motocrossers near the top. The drop down the other side was another epic. Could it possibly get more rocky? Just point downhill and try to avoid the biggest ones!! 
The trek back over into Coverdale rewarded us with yet another spectacular downhill into Braidley. It was here the stark realisation hit us that we had to retrace our wheeltracks back over into Nidderdale... But wasn't that downhill steep, rocky and very long? Yes... Bugger!! A quick detour up the road for a drink at the pub in Horsehouse, (it was that serious we didn't dare have any beer!) some food to replenish our dwindling rations (a packet of Big D's did the trick!) and the opportunity to refil the CamelBaks gave us the courage needed to tackle the next climb. 
The feeling at the top, looking back down to Scar House Reservoir was amazing. It's not often you get to experience the climb and then the downhill in the other direction on the same ride, but with this route it happens twice.
Onto the Nidderdale Way we were wondering if we'd bitten off more than we could chew. The onset of cramp seemed imminent, but we had no choice but to press on. We got our fourth or fifth wind and attacked the last 8 miles as hard as we could (the pace really slow by now). To say we were pleased we didn't decide to cut it short is an understatement. The final drop down to the farm outside Lofthouse has got to be about the best we've ridden. Hanging off the back and dragging the rear brake seemed to be the best way to tackle it. What a buzz! Luckily my brake fluid only decided to boil as we reached the gate near the bottom. Any sooner and I'd have been in bother!
A few minutes later we were back at the lay-by, tired legs almost forgotten as we recalled the highlights of the trip. A check of the watch indicated 4.20 pm. 7 hours in total ! We were nearly in tears when we realised that the pub in Lofthouse was closed... Didn't they realise that we needed beer?! Tongues hanging out we drove over to Fearby. The Black Swan answered our prayers... Nice barmaid too!
Any regrets? Yes... Should've had a camera! Maybe next time.
What a ride!... Try it for yourselves!!
Tony and Gary Cockerill.

Hi Tony,
glad you like the site, it takes an e-mail like this from tome to time to make it seem worth all the effort.
We haven't done this ride for a long while now, we did another route instead starting further East at Kirkby Malzeard which is more accessible from main routes.
http://www.mtbbritain.co.uk/nidderdale_take_two.html check out those pictures some of which you missed, send us copies if you go again :-)
I don't think it's quite as good a ride as the original but obviously it starts much closer to the A1. Which way do you go to get to Nidderdale?
I must try and get around to including the route details as it includes the first and last descents from route 1, nice.
Don't neglect your front brake on steep descents or you could turn in to an errant plow... 
Both routes hurt us a lot too so you're in good company there. Sounds like you spent most of your time in the pub!
We don't eschew routes with out and back sections. We would rather ride back along the same trail than use more road to make up a loop. We hate roads! Also an out and back can allow you to range a bit further from your starting point, some descents would be inaccessible without doing this. Sounds like you enjoyed it! Many riders won't choose a ride which isn't a 'proper loop' It's the quality of the riding and the views that make it for us.
You should come out on one of our rides one fine day (actually we ride in all weathers...).

Gareth
What follows is the combined experiences of a small cycling group since taking up off road riding in 1988 with muddy foxes and giant stonebreakers.
You won't like this but here goes:
High end components are almost always a little lighter than their more modest relatives and and better finished. The problem is that the light weight usually means poor longevity and sometimes less positive "action" e.g. when gear changing.
Over the years I can think of loads of examples, Acera x hubs going on forever when hope hubs need expensive bearings every season. My own XT front mech wearing out in months and being replaced by an Alivio which is going strong two years later.
I could really bore you with the chainset situation, soft alu cogs verses steel? no contest, except for the weight obsessed - and that is the problem. Cycle mags test bikes and convince people that, for example, the reduced weight at the rim of some exotic wheel set will give them really noticeable speed increases and they believe it. How many ounces will they collect at the first muddy pond? Strange thing is that the same bike mags now are saying that the extra weight of disk wheels will have no discernable effect to those paranoid about ditching light canti's. In fact in MBR a few months ago they featured a top wheel builder who stated that if he wanted wheels himself he would mate m221's with Deore hubs and consider that they would be as good as anything in the real world - nuff said.
Trouble is that the real world follows fashion and not common sense, otherwise why would people pay a fortune for bendy, fiddly and unreliable Sids when the alternatives (MXC?) are half the price and twice as good? The answer is about 10 ounces in weight. God help us!
Regards
Barrie (SBC Enduro.)

Barrie, 
We've been cycling off road since the Raleigh Magnum back in 1986. They 
were called ATB's back then :-) 
Hope hub bearings are replaceable whereas Shimano hubs have to be chucked once the cups rust (with most riders maintenance in this climate this is annual). I agree that the sealed bearings can cost as much as a cheap hub but don't like having to re-build the wheel. If you love regularly servicing cup and cone hub bearings you need help ;-) 
Steel chainrings are great especially with a wet climate, I wish companies would sell us some nice quality ones, I loved the old Onza Buzz rings. Titanium are even better if expensive, they are better value than Alu at least. 
Lighter rims have more of an effect on acceleration, as mass is removed from the outer edge of the wheel which has to be moved further. Similar mass moved to the centre of the wheel moves less far and therefore needs less work e.g. disk hub and rotor. These aren't huge differences but all these little things add up. 
Front mechs are usually killed by a stick getting dragged through them, often without you noticing. If you ride on the road all the time they last almost forever because of this. This has tempted Shimano and others to skin them down too far and I agree they are not strong enough. Luck of the draw on longevity but I'm prepared to look at any models if you think they are much stronger. 
We've never recommended Sids, they are race only. Love the MXC's and recommend them regularly. 
We're not obsessed with weight but it is an issue, the issue is that if you don't care about it at all the cumulative effect is a pig heavy bike. When I specced my San A. it was a money is no object dream exercise. I could have used some cheaper parts and with less money I would have. When you love bikes you end up loving quality and quality costs money. 
I've enjoyed riding many cheap bikes over the years but my San A. is way better than any of them. You don't need an expensive bike, you just want one, but then you don't need a bike at all, do you? 
Some good points in your letter and thought provoking. Don't expect me to start down speccing my bike any time soon though. 

Dear Gareth
Would you be kind enough to advertise a charity 25 mile mountain bike challenge that will be taking place on June 1st 2003? Taking place in the Llanwynno foresty, Cwm Cynon, (Nr Pontypridd) S Wales this annual race is suitable for all abilities, the current course record is 2hs 5ins. Entry fee 6.00 adults 3.00 under 18s. Book in from 9.00am, start at 10.00am, finish if you can! Contact Wynford on 01443 790768 or Alan on 01443 492276.
The site is great, good to see so much Welsh detail , here's hoping your readers can add our track to their experiences.
Many thanks
Sam Parsons - Membership Secretary Cwm Clydach Outdoor Activity Group

We don't usually race, challenge or Enduro, but this is for charity!

Hi Gareth! 
Cool site man! 
Been checking out your wicked site after looking at the Singletrack site and discovering the planned developments in Coed y Brenin. 
Me and my mates have had some of the wickedest days riding ever in this mecca of mountain biking and it really wouldn't have been the same had it not been for the cool vibe there is in the cafe. We all look forward to the end of the ride for a nice cuppa and one of Sian's cakes and some repair assistance from Dafydd :) Where else in Britain do you get treated so well? Who else in the scene has devoted so much effort to developing mountain biking in Britain? 
I really think its time all of us show our gratitude and support to these two for all they have done, we've all benefited from their efforts, even if you haven't been to cyb! Things in Britain wouldn't have taken off without them! I hope you post this letter and feature the story from Singletrack. 
I believe this development may be symptomatic of what may happen to other mountain bike centres if it's allowed to continue, bureaucrats taking over what was meant to be for fun and making it something about money!
What do you think Gareth? 
Will you protest in the Fat Tyre Festival?
Santa and Stiffy Stolen

Could I ask a favour?
Me and a mate have just had our bikes nicked out of our cars at Rivvingtoin Pike this afternoon, could you pass the word if you don't mind on the below bike spec's.
2000 Santa Cruz SL/Medium/Blue/2KZBH03837
XC4 170/150 rotors (Plus 20 kit)
2001 Gold Psylo Race forks
XT Group set
Hope Hubs/317 Black rims
WTB Velociraptor tyres (Front has a cream band)
Xlite PSS2 saddle black/red corners (chunk missing out of the nose)
Easton Stem/Monkey light carbon bars
2002 Cove Stiffy SL/17.5 "/Red/DC7694
Hope Minis
Raceface Group set
Hope Sport Hubs
Specialized Enduro Hubs
They also took two Polaris kit bags stuffed full of kit, well put it this way it'll take me years to replace it all. In total around 6000 went to some kids drug habit, which he'll get rid of for around 200. (Expletive Deleted!)
Need your help Please.
Cheers, Mike.
Time for some more singletrack Vids, top site by the way, keep it up.

We'd be gutted if this happened to us. If you see either of these bikes tell the police.

Egg Beaters 

I bought a pair of used egg beaters, and the cleats are worn. Have you noticed a problem with that? They seem to clip in and out ok.
Also, they seem asymmetrical. Maybe because they're worn. You mention swapping them right and left gives different degrees...15 and 20...how do I know which is which? The cleats aren't labeled. 
Thanks for any help.
Paul

Hi Paul,
the information on swapping the cleats is as follows:
"compatibility and cleats.
the brass cleat fits any spd' compatible shoe. however, only an egg beater cleat works with egg beater pedals. our cleat is unlike any other because the front of the cleat is the same as the back (you can clip in forwards or backwards). when you clip out, the front and back simultaneously releases you. the rear of the cleat moves as much out as the front moves in. the spring pressure ramps up from zero (through the 6 degrees of float) up until release. the two cleats are different such that if you put the one that has two little dots on it on your right shoe, then both feet release outwards at about 15 degrees and if you put the one with the two little dots on your left shoe, then both feet release outwards at about 20 degrees. the earlier release has slightly lower spring tension. You will stay centered on the pedal. no lateral sliding."

On our review the cleat with the two dots is shown in the picture. If the dots have been obliterated by walking on rocky ground it may be wise to get new ones. Else just swap them over and see which you like.
The cleats are brass and being softer than steel they do wear faster than Shimano SPD cleats. They also rust less and cause less damage to the pedal. Shimano pedals have replaceable steel top plates (if you can get parts) which wear out due to contact with the steel cleats. As Egg Beaters wear the effect is a slowly worsening loose (wobbly) feel which is cured with new cleats.
In wet weather we recommend re-greasing your egg beaters from time to time. This is very easy to do compared to the tiny loose balls of Shimano. It is only necessary to pop out the runner end plug and use a 2.5mill Allen key to release the pedal body (some models may have a nut instead). Fill the body with grease and replace, a five minute job.

Getting a brain full

I found your site while looking for information on front shocks from a Google search and ended up spending a good few hours reading. Excellent site and obviously written by real enthusiasts. I always get the impression that guys and gals who get to ride for a living are way above my league and make me feel like I'm just poncing about even when I'm getting a massive rush from the stuff I do. The specs of the bikes featured and the way you describe some of the routes reinforces that so it was a great relief to find from one of the techniques articles that you're not all experts at all the hard stuff. I'm referring in particular to the one on Technical Downhilling where the author (is that you?) says that he's basically crap at tricks but practices one or two of the useful ones anyway. And I thought I was the only one being a sad lonely nerd for trying to balance on the driveway and flick the back end round to turn within the length of the bike! I've been riding bikes since I can remember but I don't consider myself an expert by any means so I always feel a bit daunted reading articles on techniques written by people who I presume to be way better than me. However, I usually find that when I sit and think about it long enough that I already do what's being described and know the reasons for it. When you learn something for yourself, usually the hard way, and you do it by instinct, it can be hard to relate that to a studied version of the same knowledge. I guess what I'm trying to say to people who feel like me is: "Don't be daunted by the big boys and if the articles make you think you're not up to it, don't take it to heart - skill and experience will grow without you realising so just get out there. "I've been reading the articles for ages now and my eyes are starting to hurt and my brain is getting full. I'll have to come back some other time to read the rest. Keep 'em coming. One last thing. One of the earlier published letters mentioned that there are some good singletracks near the centre of Bristol. I've just moved to the area and would love to hear about good places to ride.
Ian.

Ah yes, but then we're not pro's you know... It's true I only have two tricks, going fast downhill and riding steep stuff. Still, that's what it's all about where I come from. 'MTB Britain brain ache' is well recorded. Take it in smaller Bytes and you'll be fine :-) I've sent your address to Steve to see if he can help you out with some Bristol trails.

Projectile Pixie

Well........... 
We went to Innerleithen and got the lift up, was in a minibus with a trailer - seemed like nice enuff guys. Started riding and crashed 10 seconds later!!!!!!! I sh*t you not! Managed to knock myself out cold for 5 mins (good job I had my mates old polycarb lid on!!) - and cracked a few ribs! ha ha ha! oops.......... Got an ambulance ride 'n' everything! BLOODY HURTS TOO! See why me Pixie Vacant? Anyway, a sad end to what could have been a great day. Homing Pixie (Rob) managed to get 2 runs in while I sat n chilled n decided whether or not I needed an ambulance and the rest of the day was spent sampling the delights of Scottish hospitals. DOH! - H.P reckons the trail rules tho! 
Here is a piccy of my brand new, only used 2.1 times Mountain Cycle San Andreas. Do you want to see a list of the spec? Here it is if u do. 
Frame - Mountain Cycle San Andreas DHS- 6" travel 
Shock - Fox Vanilla R 
Hubs - Hope Biguns 
Rims - D521's 
Forks - Marzocchi Junior T's 
Brakes - Hope C2's 
Crankset - F.S.A. V drive Extreme 
Xt Rear Lx Front (REALLY hard to get a Front mech to fit the san an - believe it or not) 
Anyway 
Take care - keep doing the MTB world a favour and keep the site goin, its cool! 
Gray (AKA - Pixie vacant)

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Projectile Pixie 2

Hi Gareth, it's Rob (AKA. Homing pixie) here, just thought I'd fill you in about the Innerleithen trip.... 
Well, we were really fired up for some of the UK's to DH action, made the 5 hour drive Saturday night, pitched the tent at 1:30 am, and got some brief ZZZ's in. We even managed to get up at 8'O'clock, have breakfast and make it to the track for the first lift. We gets armoured up, puts our bikes on the trailer, and off we go up to the top of the national points track, where we grab our bikes and look with silly grins at the the first stupidly steep chute ending in a large jump over the fire road, dropping into the trees.... 
And we're off ! Great, fantastic burst of speed, big floaty air, more speed, jumps, twists, berms... and hang on, where's Gray? stop to take check, no sign, start pushing up the track, hmm, still no sign, running up the track now... and, there he is! Only Knocked himself OUT COLD on the first jump !!! Nice ambulance ride to hospital and an afternoon striplight watching in A&E! 
Luckily no serious damage done mild concussion and some cartilage damage to the ribcage.... (though the full face lid scored a broken faceguard!) 
Ah well, be sure we'll be making another trip as son as Gray is healed, Innerleithen is MENTAL! and I'd recommend it to anyone after a wild ride (who doesn't mind a few broken bones now and then!). 
Keep up the good work on the site, Rob.

Pixie Vacant

Hello Gareth, the sites looking as coooooooooooool as ever!
We (the pixie posse) are going to Innerleithen on sat night after Rob (A.K.A. Homing pixie - cos of his inexplicable ability to get lost at any given moment on any given trail) finishes work at Birkenhead Cycles (he's actually on one of your steep shots, but that's beside the point) to camp out. 
We are gonna be getting this lift to the top of the hill on Sunday morning - a truck I think and it looks amazing. I shall be taking my Brand new, only used twice Mountain Cycle San Andreas DHS with junior Ts, can't wait. Anyway, call us lazy pixies, but we went to Morzine twice this summer and have been 
completely spoiled! heh! and anyway, when you like the downhill, the more rides u get in one day the better u get! so........ I was wondering if u know 
of any other place in the UK that offers a lift service - obviously there's Fort William, but I've searched the web and hit a wall,
Can u help?????
(P.S. I'm Pixie Vacant, because...... er sh*t, I've forgotten why..... anyway, our site is www.bram.co.uk and you have to go to the main page and look for 
the MTB Pixies link, go check, u can see some of the pixie exploits there)

Ah yes, I remember Rob, he with the Ballon's of Steel right? Shame they filled in those holes on the Hermon though...
Had a good look at your site, mad as Taz, the lot of you. Keep up the good work.
Sorry, I don't know of any other locations with a regular lift to the top of the hill. This is a major oversight and should be sorted immediately. Actually it's our fault for being born in the Gulf Stream (not enough snow = no ski resorts = no lifts) If you do find any let us know and we'll help spread the world. San Andreas with Junior T's? sweeeet.
Riding just get's better and better.
Gareth

Laid off

Gareth,
I am coming back to biking after many years off (age 32) and was looking for some advice on the Internet. I found MTBBritain and found it very refreshing and unbiased, well done.
I was hoping if you could help me out with choosing a new bike. I have read some of your tips for beginners but can't quite get my head around the frame material section. My requirements are as follows:
1) Max spend 400
2) Riding will consist of off road footpaths and bridleways mainly locally (Box hill, Surrey) and is quite hilly.
3) intend to train for London to Brighton and an off road event of approx 60-100km next summer.
4) I am 5 foot 10 inches tall with short(ish) legs, inside leg 30inches
(trouser) and taller body.
I have researched the 400 market and fancied a Kona bike because of its reputation and the fact that the longer and slanting top tube may suit my legs and longer upper body. I currently have an old mtb with a top tube of 21 inches and it is far too small.
Coming back to my earlier comment about materials if I buy a Fire Mountain
(399) which is aluminium based it may not be suitable for longer rides but competition at this level such as a Specialized Hard Rock FS is also aluminium. Is it really that bad to have aluminium for a 60-100km ride?
The other option could be a Kona Hahana which has a steel frame, possibly more comfy but a lot heavier, does this matter considering the hills locally?
Alternatively I could go the all suspension route e.g. Dawes Edge FS Comp (450). This is a bit over my limit and again is relatively short from seat to handlebar, it is also quite heavy, approx 32 lbs and has a lower component spec than the Kona or Specialized.
I would appreciate any advice you could provide.
Thanking you in anticipation
Regards
Kevin

Hi Kevin,
Glad to hear you're coming back to mountain biking.
400 is the absolute bare minimum for a bike that will cope with long distance off road riding. With low-end MTB frames the material issue is not so important. The reason is because only Aluminium is inherently light, cheap and stiff enough (with a minimum of expensive fabrication) to do the job. Steel needs to be thick at the ends, as it's weakened by the heat of welding (done at the ends, DUH!). The solution to this is to vary the thickness of the tubes so they are thicker at the ends in a process called 'butting'. You end up with a strong frame which has some natural 'give' or 'spring' in the tubes. Unbutted (straight gauge) tubes used in cheap steel frames are pretty heavy and little (or none!) of the metals natural spring is apparent, unless you weigh 25 stones... In summary, spring comes from the thin sections of the tubes, which cheap frames don't have, therefore: all good, cheap frames are stiff.
So Aluminium it is then. If you find the frame punishing over long distances consider a suspension seatpost. These aren't a joke and actually work very well, it's only because racers shun them (they're a tight arsed lot!) and full sussers don't need them that they have attracted so little interest from the buying public. The best ones are made by USE and RockShox, the linkage ones wear out real fast in UK wet weather.
Weight isn't that important, but what's the point of a rock hard, heavy (non-butted) steel frame? You may as well bag the weight saving offered by Aluminium.
Go for a frame that offers a good fit if you have longer arms. Fitting a longer stem is a poor option that would seriously compromise steering/handling.
Hmmm, what about the Gary Fisher Tassajara Disc at http://www.bonthronebikes.com/cgi-bin/index.cgi stretching your budget just a little at 449.95? Sorry, couldn't help it... Disk brakes are a very useful addition in the UK. Wet weather on V brakes wrecks your rims and compromises braking performance (we used to go through 2-3 sets of wheels a year, EEEK!). If the whole world had UK weather no rim brakes at all would be sold. Seriously!
Or upgrade your Kona later, but buying a late end of year or last years model is highly recommended below 500.
Not sure about the Dawes FS. You're better off with a hardtail at this price point, it would be a fun bike to ride but heavy and in need of a lot of first year upgrading.
Let us know how you get on.
Cheers,
Gareth

Bikers Don't bounce...

Hi Gareth,
Congratz on an excellent site.
Unfortunately only found your site after I got back from Coed y Brenin - it would have been nice to look at before I went. I especially like the picture of the bloke building the bottom of the Redbull trail. Attached is a pic of me getting abused by it! ;-) 
I didn't come off too bad - dislocated collar bone, and lots of cuts and bruises. More importantly the bike was ok too - bent handlebar, smashed computer. Crash helmet wasn't so lucky, but it could have been my head! I think the CamelBak saved my back :-)
Awesome trails. Can't wait to go back in a month or two.
Keep up the good work with the site.
Matt.

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Yes, missing a big double jump really hurts. So we're not the only ones who can't get enough speed up on this section to make them...

Killer Patriot

Hi, thank you for replying to my question. Patriot LT frame weighs 3,8 kg (=8,38 pounds)  with Fox Vanilla RC. I have put the money where it's most useful and saved some money with a few cheap parts. I've used the newest parts from my old bike too. I have been riding with it only using Nokian Hakka WXC300 studded tyres as yet. http://www.nokian.com/bike/images/wxc300.jpg I can't wait to get those Continentals rolling under. Here we have about one third of the trail length covered with ice now and the rest is wet mud or frozen mud depending on night temperatures. Studded tyres are needed for safe riding. They give very good traction on ice.
Here is complete list of all components on my bike. Some of the weights are measured with my own scale and are +- 10g accurate.

Frame Orange Patriot 16" mod. 2002 3800 g
Rear shock Fox Vanilla RC
Suspension fork Marzocchi Z1 Drop Off 130 mm mod.2002 1950 g
Brake Hope M4 185 mm 550 g
Hope M4 165 mm 530 g
Headset FSA Orbit UF 112 g
Stem Thompson Elite 120mm 5deg #42,5mm 199 g
Handlebar Easton EA-70 5 deg. 145 g
Bar ends --
Grips Mounty 50 g
Seat post Thompson Elite 410 mm 230 g
Saddles Selle Italia Flite Ti 250 g
Quick releases Hope Ti 100 g
Front hub Hope Bulb 32 hole qr 215 g
Rear hub Hope Bulb 32 hole qr 380 g
Spokes DT Super Comp 2-1,7-1,8 mm 319 g
Rims Mavic X317 disc black 32 hole 2 piece 790 g
Tubes Michelin UL auto 2 piece 280 g
Front tyre Continental Vertical Pro 2.3 620 g
Rear tyre Continental Survival Pro 2.3 560 g
Crankset Deore LX 660 g from old bike
Bottom bracket Deore XT 238 g from old bike
Cassette Sram 5.0 11-32 8-speed 285 g
Chain Sachs M-90 300 g
Front gear mech Sram 5.0 131 g
Rear gear mech Deore XT 242 g from old bike
Gear sifters Deore XT 10 year old top mounts 200 g from old bike
Cables Steel regular 20 g
Pedals SPD M-747 415 g from old bike
total weight: 13571 grams

Regards,
Juha Jokila
Finland

An eclectic mix of parts which stretches the Freeride Lite concept to it's limit. I like it! Check out the pictures below. Everyone reading this old enough to have used thumb shifters? Thought not.

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Breathing Masks

Hi,
I found your excellent page about winter clothing on the MTB Britain site. I noticed that you haven't written anything on the benefits of breathing masks: By using a breathing mask you will preheat the air going into your lungs. This will take away the worst bite when the weather is really cold. They are especially useful if you have problems with sore throats in cold weather. They are also practical to use during heavy rain to keep water out of your mouth or when biking in a polluted city. The drawback is that you get slightly less oxygen into your lungs. This can however be compensated for by breathing deeper and more slowly than normal. The prize is around 30 USD, and the filters are normally replaceable. One filter lasts for several months if used every day. If you bike in heavily polluted areas it is advisable to buy a better (and thus more expensive mask) that can catch smaller particles. Such masks normally costs around 50 USD.

Certainly worth a try on the coldest days or if commuting.

Peak to Peak perfection...

Gareth
Just a line to thank you for the excellent website. I don't often visit but it's good value when I do. Last night I was searching for a ride in the Peaks that I hadn't done and came upon the Peak to Peak route, which I did today. Absolutely fantastic 5 star route! The Beast was brilliant - I was doing great until I had to halt to let some Duke of Edinburgh kids march up, then immediately dabbed. Also the Switchbacks make a fantastic climb (in the dry) - good Alpine training!
Last time I visited it was to get the Minton Batch details, the time before the Pink Heifer, before MBR route took it over (great descent to the river!). Keep up the good work
Jonathan Morton

The Peak to Peak, it rocks!

Wharncliffe Marker Posts Removed

Just thought I'd drop you a note on the current marker problems on the black circuit at Wharncliffe:
I emailed the Forestry Commission to see if there is a map having got lost despite growing up 10 minutes from these woods. There is no guide at present but he said there have been some problems with people pulling out the posts - idiots! Basically if you follow the trail past the tops of all the downhills you describe in your guide, do the little signed downhill and contour back to the fire-road then it drops you steep downhill on the wide fireroad. From there you go right and up the gnarly climb - I lost the trail at the top of this as there are no posts.
One other piece of advice - for camping at Coed Y Brenin there is an excellent little site on the shore of Bala Lake about 20 mins drive from CyB where you can barbie on the beach! Its along the minor road on the east side of the lake - look out for a huge corrugated iron shed in a field by the road and go down the track just by it.
Great site - I'll send you reviews when I move to Vancouver later this year (gloat! ;-} )
Paul

'Lost' marker posts are becoming an epedemic across the country and I suspect that even at the best looked after venues e.g. CyB, riders will be better off if they have a route map as well. We'd decided that it wasn't worth the effort of mapping the black route at Wharncliffe as not many riders would use it. Looks like we'll need to think again... We should be visiting Wharncliffe in the next couple of months to get some video footage and draw up a route guide then. We've only done the black route once and might even get lost ourselves! So if you have it worked out and could make a Sunday ride let me know...

Hard Riding

Following your feature on the Peak to Peak, we went up this weekend. We spent last night getting ratted and curried up with my motorbike pals in Sheffield. The weather was completely hideous, but we were very lucky to have a strong tailwind on most of the outbound bit. The Beast was exceptionally beastly, I made a big mistake by going on my new homemade Zaskar instead of the full sus, and regretted it. By the time we four roaring poofs got down the screaming mile my wrists were shot! The only thing it didn't do was rain, in fact it brightened up so much later that we did a circuit of the Howden reservoir in addition, adding on 17km. 
Great trip though, we are planning to do the C2C next, in bad weather of course!
John Gartside

You guys need to hook up with the MTBB crew more often. The Peak to Peak can be ridden rigid, but it hurts. A lot. You added on 17Km to the Peak to Peak in a day? you're seriously tough guys. C2C? count me out! I'm not that hard ;-)

Solid Mud

We did the Pink Heifer the other day (Saturday 15th Dec) morning. Clear skies, sunshine and very cold. So cold, in fact, that the usual mud was frozen solid, and an absolute joy to ride. The main news is that it looks like the bridge over the plunge pool is about to be constructed. Two huge hardwood beams are at the top of the hill, and there were signs of
ongoing construction work. How they will get the timbers down the bank, I do not know, but figure that it should be done early in the NY. Yee haa!
It was a miracle we got to CYB in any event, two of the lads, who shall remain nameless, went on the piss the night before so we had a long wait whilst they got their acts together in the morning. We also had about six puke stops on the way up! Take a bow Matt and 'H' - you're famous now.
John Gartside

The new Pink Heifer route makes the ride possible right now people you hear? The bridge is now finished, so get out there.

To MTB Britain, hello/bonjour!

I just wanted to let you know that I stumbled upon your site whilst looking for information on Mtbing in general and Specialized's Enduro line in particular. I must say that I am very impressed with your website. It's just terrific. I especially enjoyed the pictures and notes on the various trails in the U.K. I must confess that I had always thought of Britain as this post-industrial Blade-Runner type wasteland with virtually no open country riding to be had anywhere. Really, the impression we have of Britain over here would shock you. However, I stand corrected. Perhaps it is high time for me to go on an MTB vacation to the U.K. and check out some of these awesome trails.

I live in Eastern Ontario, in Cornwall which is right on the banks of the St. Lawrence river. I'm lucky to be within driving distance of so many kick-ass trails. In fact I live right next to about 20km of excellent XC riding (thank you God!). Right now it's late November. The weather so far this month has been fantastic for riding. The temperature has been hovering around 5-10 degrees Celsius during the day. A little bit of rain, but overall, excellent weather. I hope the snow holds off for a little longer. I have ridden in winter, but you really have to wait for the January winds to clear things out a bit, because it's no use trying to ride in the white stuff when it's 3 feet deep. Also when the temperature dips below -10 with wind it pretty much becomes a nightmare. You guys should come over and try it! Oh I'm just exaggerating! No one around here actually rides in January. Except for the crazy ones of course. (see: my brother-in-law)

Right now I'm riding a tricked out 98 GT Backwoods aluminium hardtail with an 00 Judy XC fork. I've just bought an 01 Specialized Enduro (full sus) on layaway. I should have it ready to ride by January. I've done quite a bit of "test-riding" on it and I love the Marzocchi Bomber fork, and the feel of full suspension overall. Why didn't I go full sus two years ago? Dammit. This is my first dualie, so I was a little hesitant at first (me being a 34 year old hardtail old-timer) but for the price (apporox. 650) it was just too good to pass up. I'm looking forward to spring when it will be nice and muddy. I think I'll take it up to Mont Ste. Anne near Quebec City to give the bike a run for its money. We'll see then, won't we? Well I'd just like to hand off a friendly hello to all of my fellow MTB riders in Britain. Keep riding, and ride fast. Also before I take off I would like to thank MTB Britain for such an excellent web site. It's superlatively well laid out and put together. The tips you've included are an eye-opener and I like a different perspective on MTBing from an international point of view (no, the U.S. doesn't count!)
From a friendly Canadian,
Salut!
Dennis Dales

Glad you like the site, this kind of mail keeps me going on the long writing / scanning / programming / video-editing sessions! If you ever come over to the UK drop us a note and come out on a ride with the MTBB crew. Not sure if we'll be able to show you a route to blow away the best of Quebec though!

Something to do with inner tubes...

well, I dunno what they're called, but the little guards that stop your chain rattling against the frame made by lizard skins and the like cost a blinkin' fortune! A friend of mine suggested that (and this is an eco friendly thang too ya know!) you can use your old inner tubes for this job, just cut along the seam and add cable ties - hey presto - recycled bike thingy! If you publish this, can I just say hi carumba to Dean, Keith and Rob, our mbiking posse - HI GUYS! Great site by the way!
Graham

Chain-stay protectors, you can make one out of all sorts, but a thick inner tube sounds like a good idea. Thanks for the praise, my fragile ego needs regular support :o)

Tubeless Tester

Hi Gareth,
We did Coed y Brenin this weekend (and it was exceedingly wet too!) I had just put some of that Stan's tubeless goo in my front tyre and it was brilliant. No punctures, hardly any air loss at all and very satisfied with the result.
Well done for recommending them, BTW the sealant is latex carpet adhesive, a bit like Copydex. If we could replicate the valves we could steal the idea! I couldn't get my rear rim to seal, it's a Rolf Urraco, and has all the spoke drillings on one side, so its nearly impossible to seal. 
Anyway, we stayed at the log cabin village and were very impressed with that too. The food was great at Rhiw Goch and I don't think I heard a single complaint all weekend. We didn't see anyone at all apart from a young lad and his dad on the first bit of Red Bull/Karrimor and it would appear that many people just park their bikes up and sit in the cafe all day apart from the ones who ride up to the top of the last bit with all the berms and jumps and roll down a few times with their pals videoing them!
John Gartside 

Good to hear you had success with Stan's. The system doesn't work with all rims and tyres, especially loose tyres and odd rim drillings. We found it difficult to set up Mavic 221 rims which have a very narrow inner rim well. Also tyres with pronounced moulding ribs across the bead cause failures. Loose tyres need the addition of a Michelin plastic rim strip on top of the tapes. Stan's Tubeless Review

We probably could replicate the idea, but Stan's put a lot in to it and deserves the relatively small price we pay IMHO. His valve stems are made in small numbers so they're the expensive part at $9 each.

Spot on with the comment about the cafe crowd. Some are there for the duration when it rains...

Beautiful Bullit

Hi Gareth,
Well I got the bullit so here is my review as promised. Not had the bike long yet but have given it some abuse (already got a chip on the nice red paintwork).
Got a small bullit, set up with psylo SL`s because I got them cheap, blarrr blarr. Anyway first impressions before even riding up a kerb were, wow, this really does feel like the nicest bike I have ever ridden. Take it downhilling and it eats everything in its path, I rode down a hill as fast as I could pedal, hit a small take off at the bottom, and still had confidence it its ability. The bike is definitley faster than I am! For the first time I started to get worried about the speeds as I was getting. It tracks up hill well also, little bob considering the amount of travel, in sandy conditions it tracks better than my old hardtail ! I was worried about moving from a hardtail to a full sus, thinking the change might be too radical, but it ain't a problem.
The bike jumps like a dream too, better than my old hardtail, even the local BMX`rs who had a ride on it say its the best feeling mountain bike they have jumped. Once they rode it they wanted to go again and again, wow BMX`rs wanting to ride a mountain bike! Just turn up the compression a bit on the twin clicker and hit those jumps, mind you though you do have to hit jumps twice as fast and pull the front up more than normal, but hey I can live with that. Anyway what can I say, couldnt have bought a nicer bike in my view for what I wanted. A nice Downhiller, Jumper, Street and occasional XC (Yes you can ride back to the car park).
10/10
Keef

We can't say we're surprised. What is surprising is how many people buy XC Race-worthy hard tails/full sussers then never race. If you're riding to have fun this is the sort of bike to splash out on.
Counseling is available through our professional service to those with slightly chipped paint work on their brand new super bikes. No sniggering at the back, this can be very distressing for some people...

Coed y Brenin News

Hi Gareth, two weeks ago a cloudburst over CYB caused a thirty foot wave to crash down the valley opposite to the centre. This is the first substantial bridge on the old MBR route. Some swine had taken the signpost at the first turn right off the A470 and I followed the old signs at the second turn which finished at the awesome sight of a completely demolished bridge-apparently a tractor was swept along with boulders and trees and now there is a yawning gap, across the rocky chasm with no way over to the other side. The bridge lower down was also swept away which takes out the Pink Heifer route as well.
I retraced my steps and went down the last section of the Karrimor. Back at the centre I discovered an enjoyable addition to the Red Bull. Start by the Red Bull gate go across the minor road and past the big clearing on the left. Continue for 200m and a slender wooden pole with MBR pointing left is a really sweet flowing bit of singletrack to forest road. Here do not go left with MBR sign, but turn right and follow forest road uphill. You can either take the second track on the right which joins up with the Red Bull at the corner and you can do all of it or just continue up the forest road until you get to the top of Pop.

Recommended AUTAN stick which contains only 20% DEET but is formulated to be as effective but much gentler than more concentrated insect repellents. It is sticky and stays on much better than sprays and creams even when you sweat. It smells nice as well! I It did keep the bluebottle flies away but I did not get a single bite from the ferocious midges and mossies of CyB.

Have you come across Finesse products, a British firm that makes superb oily, cleany sprays and lubes?
Paul Davies

I've posted Dafydd Davies reply on the state of the bridges at CyB :-( The Autan Stick is well recommended in the summer. Finesse products rock!

We've seen the bridges, pictures in the news section. We were able to cross the river at both bridges, but this is serious adventure stuff, not for those who mind wet feet. On a wetter day or following rains it would be suicidal...

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