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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

OVERLOOKED AWESOME

Three 27.5in-wheeled bikes that often get overlooked in favour of their bigger travel siblings.

On a recent holiday to California, I was brutally reminded of a side of human nature that I’ve never been very comfortable with. The ostentatious displays of material wealth and the traits that drive it were everywhere to be seen, from the size of the SUVs and trucks, the thousands of multi-million dollar beachfront properties, to the yachts in the marinas. The primal urge to have the best, biggest, fastest, or most technically advanced possessions from cars, laptops, phones and even everyday appliances such as kettles seems to be ingrained in us and almost impossible to resist. This is especially true when it comes to the choice of which bikes we ride. In the relatively short history of our sport, bikes have advanced at an exponential pace, and invariably these advances have focused on making bikes bigger and, as a result, faster. Forks and suspension have more travel, wheels are larger, handlebars wider, tyres fatter and frames longer, lower and slacker. And these trends are the result of the demands of riders wanting to go bigger, faster or further. They’re also a result of the same basic urge that makes us buy cars that can do double the limit at which we’re allowed to drive on public roads.

Bigger isn’t always better though. While bikes have changed beyond all recognition over the past 30 years, the one constant has been the trails. The first mountain bike guidebook I bought was written in 1997. The trails it sent me up and down are the same ones I ride today – fun and challenging on those bikes from 20 years ago and the bikes I ride now. Of course, I can ride them faster now thanks to the wonders of modern bikes, but the enjoyment and sense of adventure was pretty much the same then as it is now and in many ways, more so. However, the sense of achievement gained from the thrill of riding at the edge of your ability can be more difficult, and risky, to attain on a bike that is too capable. The question is where the sweet spot exists and which bikes facilitate it? In this vein, we’ve chosen to test three bikes which buck the trend for everincreasing amounts of suspension and larger wheels, and which we think are often overlooked in favour of their larger brethren. The Bird Aeris 120, Cotic Flare and Santa Cruz 5010 all fit squarely in the category of ‘mid-travel trail bikes’. They’re all made of metal too, just to be additionally contrary. We think they may provide the means to achieve the elusive balance between all-round technical capability, and keeping it fun by not making it too easy.

BIRD AERIS 120 LT

Price: £3,037.00 (as tested) From: Bird, bird.bike

Relative newcomers to the expanding group of small UK bike designers, Bird Cycleworks launched in 2012 and has rapidly made a name for itself with a fleet of trail bikes covering just about every niche in the category. Founders Ben Pinnick, Dan Hodge and Dave Cutts have a mission to produce a range of trail bikes with fully customisable componentry focused on ride quality and the wishes of the customers. The Aeris 120 has been around for a couple of years now, which might suggest it’s becoming a little aged. But as Bird doesn’t do catalogue years requiring annual redesigns whether they are needed or not, its longevity without any major updates indicates that it was ahead of its time at its release in 2017. The Aeris comes in two flavours: the standard 120, and the LT which provides an extra 10mm of rear suspension and a slightly more aggressive geometry by way of a lower bottom bracket and more progressive suspension curve.

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About Singletrack

Editorial: There Is No Right Or Wrong. Choose a bike, any bike, and enjoy it. International Adventure: Panning For Trail Gold In Arizona. Huw Oliver finds gold in the ghost towns of Arizona. Classic Ride: Don’t Mynd If I Do. Tom Hutton rides the Long Mynd in search of forgotten corners and new trails. Behind the Scenes: Colour Wheels. Sim Mainey finds out how the next bike fashions are decided. UK Adventure: Cornish Fasties Barney Marsh goes to the edge of the UK and finds a world of overlooked trails. UK Adventure: How To Lose Friends And Alienate People. Sanny reduces the nicest man in mountain biking to rude words. Hope’s Helping Hand. Chipps checks out a bit of innovative thinking from Hope Technology. Bike Test: Overlooked Awesome. Daz Hall checks out three smaller wheeled, shorter travel bikes that you probably should be riding, from Bird, Cotic and Santa Cruz. Column: Jason steps out of his comfort zone. Pete’s Pros: Rock[et] Science Manon Carpenter may not be racing much, but Pete Scullion finds she’s still aiming high. A Day In The Life: Fort William Saskia Dugon goes behind the scenes at this noisiest of World Cup races. MTB Culture: The Quiet Revolution Rich Rothwell argues that GPS technology has opened up a whole new world of mountain biking joy. Last Word Hannah gets to ride somewhere she thought might only be a far-flung fantasy.