I spent a fantastic weekend in Switzerland near to the city of Bern. Through a mutual friend, I visited an engineer at Scott bikes who has just recently finished work on the new Scott Genius LT full suspension bike.
I was able to go for couple of great morning rides with Joe and got to ride last year’s Genius frame which was a carbon, full suspension beauty.
We set off early on the Saturday morning pedalling out of the picturesque town of Fribourg, nestled in a deep in a river valley. The morning mist rose from the river’s surface.
I was more than slightly jealous of Joe’s location next to the hills and I found myself comparing the trails to those near Tbilisi, where I was living last year.
We entered a forest section. I weaved the light and manoeuvrable bike through fast, narrow, tree-dotted sections gliding over moist roots.
I gulped in the Swiss mountain air. It took me a while to remember how to properly ride a full suspension bike. It involves sitting down and pedalling through bumpy sections letting the suspension do it’s work.
The bike had a ‘Tracloc’, handlebar mounted travel adjustment, which I found myself using intuitively to synchronise the bike with the terrain. Seeing a technical rocky bit coming up I could flick it into full travel mode. I could flick it into the locked-out position for blasting a fire-road.
A section of the morning’s trail followed alongside the winding river. Up and down, the bike invited me to throw it into the corners. It carried its speed in a way alarmingly well and on a couple of occasions I had to make some emergency adjustments to my steering. As Joe mentioned, ‘you can go faster over rougher terrain, but you crash faster too!’
We went riding again the following day. I visited the Scott factory. We did a bit of riding on the ‘pump’ track. The idea is that you maintain you speed by ‘pumping’ the bike up, over, and into the jumps. It is surprisingly hard work and sweat inducing. One of the top cross-country riders was there recently and managed around 27 laps without pedalling.
I took a peek at the offices and the showroom of 2011 bikes. It was cool to get a glimpse into the business behind bikes.
Joe’s housemate, James was doing a Masters in vehicle design at the Royal College of Art. I was thrilled to be shown through James’ portfolio of design. James had done some work for Moulton bikes.
My dad has an old Moulton bike, in a state of disrepair. I have been inspired to get some new tyres and tubes for it and start using it. A Moulton looks similar to a Brompton with small wheels. The ride of a small-wheeled bike is very different to a larger-wheeled bike because of less friction. The wheels turn faster.
Overall, the weekend was a great and it has reminded me that the best bike designers think big and build bikes that are designed for purpose and don’t compromise
It was wicked to spend some time with some true bike enthusiasts. I was also introduced to a relatively new bike book/journal/magazine called ‘The Ride’. It is a beautifully illustrated published quarterly with highly distilled articles from distinguished folk of the biking world.