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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

RUBBER RENDEZVOUS

Singletrack’s self-confessed rubber snier takes a tour of the Hutchinson tyre factory in France to see what puts the knobs into our knobblies.

I’m oating in the centre of the fuselage of a large passenger jet having the time of my life. Except that I’m not really oating – I’m standing on solid ground about 100km from the nearest airport, on the outskirts of the quiet French town of Montargis. And the aircraft I’m in has no seats, no pilot and no crew, while the only passengers are myself, a fellow journalist, an Australian importer, and a technician from French tyre manufacturer Hutchinson (our guide Alex has chosen to sit this one out). Oh, and the aircraft doesn’t actually exist outside of the three walls I’m standing in, as it’s an incredibly accurate 3D projection, powered by a fridgesized supercomputer tucked away in the corner of the room along with some of the largest video projectors I’ve ever seen.

In spite of this rather confusing set-up we’re all grinning like idiots, waving a fancy joystick around to control the model, taking it in turns to explore the inside of the aforementioned aircraft, while video cameras around the room track nodes on the glasses I’m wearing to position me within this virtual reality and make sure I’m seeing an accurate rendition of the aircraft.

I’m here under the pretence of out how you turn various amounts of natural and rubber, carbon black, Kevlar and nylon mesh into a mountain bike tyre, but I’m getting somewhat distracted by things that on the face of it have absolutely nothing to do with bikes whatsoever. I mean, moments earlier I was in the smaller of the two virtual reality studios, crawling through the manifolds of a small family car and slicing it apart on multiple planes to see what exactly what sized gaskets are needed to eectively deaden road noise.I’m oating in the centre of the fuselage of a large passenger jet having the time of my life. Except that I’m not really oating – I’m standing on solid ground about 100km from the nearest airport, on the outskirts of the quiet French town of Montargis. And the aircraft I’m in has no seats, no pilot and no crew, while the only passengers are myself, a fellow journalist, an Australian importer, and a technician from French tyre manufacturer Hutchinson (our guide Alex has chosen to sit this one out). Oh, and the aircraft doesn’t actually exist outside of the three walls I’m standing in, as it’s an incredibly accurate 3D projection, powered by a fridgesized supercomputer tucked away in the corner of the room along with some of the largest video projectors I’ve ever seen.

In spite of this rather confusing set-up we’re all grinning like idiots, waving a fancy joystick around to control the model, taking it in turns to explore the inside of the aforementioned aircraft, while video cameras around the room track nodes on the glasses I’m wearing to position me within this virtual reality and make sure I’m seeing an accurate rendition of the aircraft.

I’m here under the pretence of out how you turn various amounts of natural and rubber, carbon black, Kevlar and nylon mesh into a mountain bike tyre, but I’m getting somewhat distracted by things that on the face of it have absolutely nothing to do with bikes whatsoever. I mean, moments earlier I was in the smaller of the two virtual reality studios, crawling through the manifolds of a small family car and slicing it apart on multiple planes to see what exactly what sized gaskets are needed to eectively deaden road noise.

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About Singletrack

Going to Extremes It’s always hot and dry in Utah, right? Except when you’re caught in a flash-flood summer thunderstorm. Washed away, baked dry, and sweating, Adam Klimek and pals take on the White Rim trail. Tramping In Torridon Joe Delves packs friends, bikes, camping gear and a dog and seeks a low cost getaway in Torridon, where the trails are good enough to be worth the effort getting there. Tour de France The Fun Way While the roadies are pedalling up these classic TdF climbs, enduro rider Jerome Clementz is whooping his way back down them, taking the rocky switchbacks and forest trails. Classic Ride: Helvellyn Which way should you go up this Lakeland must-do? And which way should you come down? There’s much debate to be had about the best routes on Helvellyn, but everyone agrees you have to ride one of them at least once. James Vincent takes us on his pick of the options. Staying Professional Geoff Waugh talks to Scott Beaumont about getting – and keeping – sponsors. Behind the Insta-bangers and high fives, it’s more businesslike than you might think. Bike Test: British 29ers British manufacturing ain’t dead. We test out three full suspension 29ers from Orange, Robot Bike Co. and Swarf that showcase the range of modern manufacturing skills and processes currently happening in the UK. Interview: Dan Stanton Ian Bailey talks philosophy and company ethos and ‘a different kind of capitalism’ with the man behind Stanton bikes. Malvern Magic Chipps dons his tie-dye T-shirt and Oakley Mumbos and reminisces about the original Malvern Hills Classic ahead of the new version of it, returning to our fields this year. The First Trail Centre Chipps tells the story of the UK’s oldest trail centre: Coed Y Brenin, where the first trails still offer great riding, with the bonus of being away from the crowds. Hutchinson Tyres James Vincent goes on a whirlwind tour of the French home of Hutchinson tyres.