Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Harz 2010 - Trip 4 - part 3/3

Braunlage Bikepark. The newest bikepark in Harz - Germany. There is no doubt that this park is trying to establish itself as THE bikepark of the Harz, and goes head-on against such established bikeparks such as Hahnenklee Bikepark, that I visited the day before.
Ok, lets get it on, I bought a all-day ticked, and used my next 7 hours (!) to find out if there is more into this park than hype.This bikepark is HUGE, it has 4 main lines, DH, DH-Race, FR, and an "easy" Singletrack descend. Besides that there was a norhshore section, and a dirtjump section.

Want wall-rides? Go crazy:
(click to enlarge)
This place had loads of rocks and roots, a pleasent variation compared to the all-roots trails I had the day before. Oh, btw, want road-gaps? Go ahead, its even quite "beginner" friendly:
(click to enlarge)

Each of the main trails where divided into 3 (UP, MID, LOW section of the mountain) so that the riders could take a break before tackling the next section, the lines where very long(3000 - 4400m+), and I dont hesitate to say that they where 3 times longer than the ones we saw in Hahnenklee the day before. 
Some of the drops here where BIG:
(click to enlarge)
I wouldn't hesitate to estimate the drop on the far right to be at 4 meters, the transitions where fine, albeit a bit gnarly:
(click to enlarge)
Finally some rockgardens! The locals where battling this section, and for good reason, it was a very difficult section to ride fast:
You could easily interleave the different lines eg.; start with the FR line, ride into the DH, and end it all with the Northshore. I had alot of fun on the northshore section:
Small jumps and tables where present all over:

A small new section of the DH track opened up the very same day I was in the park. It featured 2 long berms (connected switch-back style), and a drop. The quality of this section was higher of what I otherwise saw here, so im confident that this park has a bright future if they keep up the standard. One looong berm:
(click to enlarge)

So was it all good? Nope, as this is a new park, some short commings where present. The upper sections of the mountain where less polished than the lower sections - particularly the FR line needed some more flow in the top, and some better transitions from some of the drops. Some lines still suffered from not being "bedded" in yet. However the lower sections of the mountain where some of the best in terms of speed and flow, some of it was just amazing fun and could be ridden pretty fast. I had a blast here, and its not the last time I visit this place.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Harz 2010 - Trip 4 - part 2/3

Second day went to the Hahnenklee Bikepark, the weather was cloudy, and the trails where a bit muddy and wet, well that just adds to the challenge.

Lars doing the northshore section:

Some local dude posing for the camera:

Bikesetup for these days was a bit different from last time I had my trip to the Harz. Most notably is the FOX DHX coil shock, also installed a new rear wheel tire, the Kenda Excavator to be more specific, it can only be better than that piece of shit performance I got out of the Schwalbe Fat Albert in wet conditions. To top it off I installed Maxxis FR tubes to steer me away from snakebites:
(Click to enlarge)

After beating up the park for the time, I really started to see its short commings (dont get me wrong, its a blast, particullary if youre a handfull guys dicking around the trails in a cat'n'mouse run), but this place is small, doesnt have any big drops or jumps, lacks a proper amount of features, hosts no rockgardens, pretty much no berms, and is short - but much more obvious, is the lack of flow. Its all a case of: "Lets make X, and Y, and lets connect those two points with... err, something!" no real though has been put into this park. Its a good beginner-bikepark, but not more than that. 

I dicided to reorient and head out to see something else, different and new. I went to Braunlage Bikepark, the newest bikepark in Harz, its just a little more than a year old, and allready strives to be the bikepark to visit when going to Harz - could this bikepark have something Hahnenklee didnt? Stick around for part 3 to find out.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Harz 2010 - Trip 4 - part 1/3

Packed my stuff and headed south to the german mountains in Harz for some bikepark riding, and some AM challenges. We where 9 men strong for 3 entire days, the bike-span was wast, from sub 9 kg hardtails, to post 17kg DH bikes, reflecting different missions. My ambition was to try out some new stuff, and to get some more challenge compared to our last trip. I got my wish fulfilled.

But before that we assembled a small team and went for an AM ride to a place we have been to before, but as a small bonus, we ended this trip with a very cool DH section down a mountain.

Oh, do I enjoy the rockgardens:

Next up was the bikepark.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Preview: Kenda Excavator 2.35"

So fall is slowly creeping up on us, and I figured Idd do some rear-tire testing for the conditions to come. I got put-off with my Schwalbe Fat Albert tire, so it can only get better from here - I hope.
This is the Kenda Excavator 2.35" one of the newer offerings from the Kenda family. It saw introduction in 2008, and was hailed and promoted as a moddable tire, as well as a (Kenda) Nevegal variant -but with more grip.
Sofar its proven itself to be a great workhorse, the grip is deffinately there on rocks and roots, and on soft soil as well. There is a above avarage rolling resistance, but I hope it pays off on the trail. Braking is good and predictable. The side walls seem a bit thin, that concerns me as ive had my problems with Kenda sidewalls in the past, lets hope these will do the job better.

The plan is to test this tire during the fall, and as much into the winter as possible. And youll get the concluding review right here on All Mountain Next.
(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

September AM riding

Been on quite a few rides recently, ive had so much fun this month on my favorite trails. It struck me the other day; as a rider progresses, so should the trail. Got a jump thats getting too easy? Tear it down, rebuild it, and make it bigger, more difficult or faster. Innovate, and challenge yourself, do stuff you didnt think about 3 months ago, its amazing how that can evolve your riding skills. Ok, thats just me thinking out load, here are some pics:

To make a true step-up jump is more challenging than we initially visualized. It takes alot of testing, and alot of fine tuning. And there she is, the prototype, behind me:

We realized that alot of speed is needed to make it satifying big, so thats beeing tweeked - in the best way possible. Landing area is seen where the red bike stands on the far right. Christian takes a test-shot:

Got myself on a coil now (FOX DHX 4.0 2010), man its great for aggressive riding! So damn progressive in the end stroke - its like im on a 200mm bike now when doing bigger hits ; ) More on the (TF-Tuned) coil later on:
(click to enlarge)

A bit fun on the coil:

The bigger coil test is right around the corner, stick around.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Weight Shaving Game part 1/2

When I came back from my trip to Poland and Slovakia I realized that it was time to shave some weight of the bike, as its gotten fat and heavy ; ) There is always that balance issue, as to keeping the bike strong and reliable, but at the same time trying to reduce some weight. I really dont buy into the hardcore weight weenie obsession - it doesn't spawn good mountain bikers - I do however sometimes see an opportunity to shed some grams. I wont go into ridicules compromises, e.g. im currently using a heavy 930g front tire - and its staying right where it is. So all im going to say is; Im doing this for the fun of it, and I wont castrate my bike for the sake of grams. Allright; lets begin:

This is my bike setup for when I was in Poland and Slovakia. Alot of the stuff on the bike was heavy-duty - for the sake of performance. Here it was specced with a freeride tube from Maxxis (300g) on the rear wheel, the Specialized Chunder SX dual-ply front tire (1050g), and the ISX-6 rear shock (480g) - among other things.

(click to enlarge)

And the weight is 14.03kg (30.87 lb) :
(click to enlarge)

So I swapped out some obvious things to make the bike lighter, but still keeping it strong and reliable. Changed the heavy tube, with a normal one, installed a single-ply Specialized Chunder tire (same size, but at 930g), put on the AFR-shock - its actually a good performing AM/trail shock at 280g, changed the XT cranks to RaceFace SIXC, put on a XT cassette and a Kmc chain. 

Ok, a bit lighter now at 13.36kg (29.26 lb):
(click to enlarge)

There is still alot opportunities to further reduce weight. Ive got some pretty damn heavy wheels (2200g), a heavy stem, bar and rotors. Ill look into these things in part 2 - at some point. For now its all good. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Review: BBG Bashguard 2010

I previously mentioned that Keith Bontrager once said: Light, Strong, Cheap - pick two. Well now I know that you dont have to settle with the two.
Light - this is one of the lightest bashguards on the market today, very few even comes close.
Strong - Ive been beating this guard all I could, it still holds up. BBG claims its "indestructible", I would perhaps not put all my money on that claim, but it does show and tell that they believe in this product.
Cheap - Yearh, its pretty damn cheap.
So is it all good? Well pretty much, but I do want to mention a single thing. When bashing this guard up, I sometimes broke the bolts holding the bashguard itself. Its as if the bashguard doesnt translates the impact forces away from the impact itself, and therefor absorbs all the power into the bolts, therefor breaking them. this happened 3-4 times, during 7 months of testing.

The good:

The bad:
-Doesn't spread the impact forces out well.

Score: 5/6
Light, very light. This is the 32t version:
(click to enlarge)
Its taken a little beating, but holds up just fine:
(click to enlarge)

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Sand Pics - Now in Hi-Res

Instead of flooding the blog with these pics, I decided to make this small gallery-post. The pics where shot by Thomas, and are just amazing, I tried to crop them to make them a bit more interesting, I hope you enjoy, and remember to enlarge:
(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)