Two new bikes, meeting great people and a lot of good riding
It is a mix of excitement and nervousness when showing your new bikes to the media for the first time. Will they understand the ideas behind the features? Will they agree with your opinions? Will they like how it rides? Luckily, our media tour was a success in all regards, meeting great people, a lot of good riding and eating, encouragement and positive feedback.
Having brought two prototypes over straight from Taiwan, we started our tour in pouring rain at Zurich airport. We headed for Stuttgart, where we were welcomed by Alex, Christian and Andre of the Roadbike and Mountainbike. The presentation of our bikes developed into a real good discussion about bikes in general and it seemed we had similar ideas about what matters for a good bike. Alex and Christian particularly liked the details on the Escapee, the low weight of the disc brake bike, and seeing Campagnolo components on it. We could already map out a plan to get them a bike, so we should soon have a review in Roadbike, with all the objective testing that goes with it.
Next we went to the picturesque town of Leonberg, where the Enduro and Granfondo online magazines are located in a beautiful office with probably the best coffee in the bike industry. Here, the focus shifted to the enduro prototype that we took with us. Another great discussion with people clearly passionate about what they are doing, and presenting it in style.
A night at a bakery (of course we had to taste all forms of the German craft of baking) followed, before we left for mtb-news.de. Again a great team passionate about bikes and their website, headed by the ever so kind founder Thomas, who even shifted his appointments to meet with us. We spent a full morning talking about ARC8, our bikes and bikes in general. All our bikes were weighed and then shot in detail in a nearby park. Unfortunately the weather did not allow for any riding, but we headed back to Switzerland knowing that we met great people, have some testing arranged and people seem to like our bikes.
Next we were on the way to the region of Valais, known as probably the best are for riding in Switzerland. We met with Amäel, a Swiss national coach and writer for the French magazine Velo Vert, at his home in Bex. After an inital talk about ARC8 and our bikes, we went for a ride on his favourite loop "for XC and gravel bike testing". Little did we know about what that means for a rider of the skill and fitness of Amäel. It turned out to include parts of an enduro race segment and a Maxi Avalanche downhill. Nonetheless, Amäel was very happy on our prototype of the new XC hardtail, surely in parts because it offers a geometry that was designed with technical descents in mind.
A long discussion with local beer on his sunny balcony followed. We left our Escapee db for test riding with him, only to see it pop up in a picture being ridden in the snow the next day?! Sure we will learn soon how that went.
It was only a short drive up to Champéry, well known for probably the hardest DH world cup track of all times. It was a last minute appointment with Dan of Pinkbike, but it turned out to become a great experience. Dan was kind enough to let us stay at his home. Besides writing for Pinkbike, Dan is a frame engineer as well, which led to a long discussion about the details and challenges in engineering bicycles, the great tools available today for doing that, and all the inside stories of the bike industry. Next morning, we set up the the Enduro prototype for Dan. As the sky turned dark, we went for the sunnier and dryer enduro trail at Sierre, so Dan could get a first feel for the bike.
Since Dan was motivated to get more riding on it, we decided to change plans and stay one more night. Dan wanted to explore the limit of the bike, so he put on sturdier tires and we went for the wet and rooty trails of Champéry, finishing on the famous world cup track. We headed up one more time to take pictures on the respectably sized jumps at the entrance of the downhill track before wrapping up a great weekend of riding and talking bikes with our generous host Dan.
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Dan Roberts of @pinkbike putting our prototype through its paces. We spent a full two days with Dan and had a great time riding, talking bikes and nerding about bike engineering in Champery. Stay tuned for more! #mtb #enduro #mountainbike #engineering #pinkbike #champery
Our next destination was Aosta. Our car broke down on the way, but luckily it could be solved easily and we could continue our travel, but not before a local persuaded us to accept his beer to cool down our nerves.
In Aosta, we met with Gerrow, an American journalist living in Italy and writing for Singletracks. After going through our bikes he too opted to ride the enduro Prototyp. We pedaled up through stunning nature and amazing views of the surrounding mountains. That was followed by flowing trail that offered all kind of surfaces from lose to loamy to rocky and more than 1000 m of descending. Gerrow was particulary excited about the trail passing through a narrow tunnel, a first for him. A pizza later we went for a second ride on the same loop, before Gerrow had to leaves us for a meeting.
We turned back to Switzerland to meet with Marco, who is running the mtb-mag.com website that is available in Italian, Spanish and English. His office is shared with YEP components, so we could have an interesting discussion about dropper posts as well, before riding out into the mountains above Lugano. With our riding sharpened during the days before we had a blast following Marco down back to his office. Marco was riding our enduro prototype and apparently liked it, passing his benchmark climbing test and then feeling alive and quick on the way down. After another brief discussion and watching Nibali attack on the Mortirolo we were on our way back home.
The three hours drive gave us a lot of opportunity to talk about the experience, all the great people we met, the riding and the bikes. We felt it was a positive trip throughout, and we are definitely looking forward to meeting with everyone again when we can hand them bikes for long term reviews.
Prototype No. 1 - The Extra
The Extra is our upcoming enduro bike. Expect a no gimmicks bike built for enduro racing, with a long and slack geometry, 29er wheels and some interesting features, including cable routing through the headset. We expect first delivery of the Extra towards the end of September.
The Extra is also sporting a prototype carbon stem, the first product we are working on to be made in-house.
More information on the Extra will be released soon. Make sure not to miss it by following is on Instagram, Facebook or subscribing to our newsletter.
Prototype No. 2 - The Evolve
The Evolve will be our first hardtail frame. It is designed for the modern, technical XC courses and therefore slacker and longer that what you can find on the market today. If you are not into XC racing but want to get rowdy on a hardtail, you could even put in a 120 mm fork to make it a very capable trail bike. Besides the aggressive geometry, it also features the same stem with internal cable routing as our Escapee road bike, tube shapes designed not to collect mud and a dropper post optimized design.