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Digital Subscriptions > Singletrack > 102 > THE MIDDLE GROUND

THE MIDDLE GROUND

ARE 150MM BIKES RIGHT ON THE SWEET SPOT BETWEEN ‘ALL DAY ADVENTURE’ AND ‘LET’S GET ALL ENDURO’? SIM FINDS OUT.

It all used to be so clear… 140mm of rear travel meant trail bike, 160mm meant all-mountain bike. A clear division of intent and purpose. For a lot of riders, 140mm felt like the sweet spot for UK riding – enough travel to take on the rough and tumble of the Lakes or Scottish Highlands, but without feeling lifeless at smoother trail centres. With suspension systems and frame materials increasing in capability while decreasing in weight, the boundaries between trail and big mountain have become blurred – why not have 160mm of travel when the weight penalty has never been lower?

It’s in this blurry middle ground that a number of 150mm bike have appeared, catering for those who are after a bit more capability from their trail bike without stepping up to a mini downhill bike.

Partly influenced by the enduro race scene, the balance between weight, travel and ability has never been so scrutinised. It’s now less about having your cake and eating it and rather about choosing what flavour cake you would like. The obvious flavour – sorry – material of choice for these bikes is carbon – lightweight, strong and (let’s face it) fashionable. But what about if you were to stay away from the lure of carbon and instead put your money into an aluminium frame with a top-drawer spec instead? After all, for the same cash as a carbon bike with lesser componentry, you can net a metal one dripping with lovely gear.

For this test we wanted to see what £3,500 could buy you in this new 150mm world. And if your budget won’t stretch that far, all three of our candidates here are available in lower specced and priced guises.

Colourful, much? Autumn is ace.

BIRD AERIS

Price: £3260.00

From: BIRD, birdmtb.com

Frame // 6061 T6 aluminium

Shock // RockShox Monarch Plus RC3

Fork // RockShox Pike Solo Air RC3

Hubs // DT Swiss 340

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About Singletrack

Here at Singletrack Towers, Wordsworth's words on the death of his son perhaps capture some of our feelings on Jenn's death: ...he is taken from me—yet in the agony of my spirit in surrendering such a treasure I feel a thousand times richer than if I had never possessed it. We've tried to do as Jenn would have wanted, and got on with doing what we do in every issue: bring you an array of adventures, features and product reviews to inspire you to ride your way through the winter. However in this issue we also pay tribute to Jenn and hope that it gives you that extra bit of oomph to get out there and get doing. We bring you: Singletrack Heroes - it could only be our own Jenn. Written by her husband Tom Hill. The Great Divide - one of Jenn's most popular articles, and one of her many amazing riding feats. We reprint this article in full. Mark's Mountain - Mark says 'no more maybe tomorrow' and heads of to the Alps to go up, up and up... The Matterhorn - Swiss cheese and chocolate pale into insignificance as Daniel Klawczyński finds himself face to face with the mighty Matterhorn. We join him as he explores the epic trails on all sides of this classic mountain. We Work Here - Hope​ Technology​ - Go green with envy as Hopetech invites Sam Needham to tour ​its factory. 24HR Pedal People - Chipps takes a look at the sleep deprived world of 24​hr​ racing​ and how it has evolved over the years​. He gets advice from the experts, including Guy Martin and Jason Miles, and puts their knowledge into practice​ by pitting for a soloist rather than riding for a change. ​ Classic Ride - Rachel Sokal and Olly Townsend head to Nottinghamshire to bring us a classic ride full of ​a​utumn ​c​olour. Bike Test: The Middle Ground - Bikes with 130-150mm rear shock travel. Where do they fit? Are they neither here nor there, or is this a happy medium? Low Carbon Adventure - Chipps and Beate go on holiday without costing the earth.
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