2014 looks to be an interesting year for Mountain Biking in Australia!
We are coming off the back of some huge results – Buchanan and Van Der Ploeg are World Champions, Henderson won the U23 World Cup and McConnell has a World Cup win under his belt and his 2nd overall. Surely those results are hard to top?
In 2014, we’ll host a UCI World Cup round in QLD which will hopefully give the sport a big injection of enthusiasm both locally and abroad. Maybe even some funding from the Government?
Also new in 2014, our national body, MTBA, will attempt to host XCO, XCE and XCM national series events. Some of the scheduling is questionable with one XCM event tacked on to the end of Nationals. Other XCMs on back to back weekends and in two different states. I am not sure thats a good idea… Who can travel that far? Who can race XCM and XC IN ONE WEEKEND? Who can race two XCMs within 7 days? Maybe some of the heavily supported Elites and Chuck Norris, but definitely not the bulk of Australia’s MTB community! If we want to increase participation, increase sponsor exposure and limit the dilution of elite fields, we might need to re-think! But the last announcement that came out of MTBA sounded promising for the national series and it sounds like there are new people at the helm. Fingers crossed for the future!
Another thing that is new, but sounds very familiar to an old series that used to kick ass, is the super exciting Maverick Marathon Series! It will see four well established, popular and appropriately scheduled Marathon races held over the year! A riders best three performances will carry points towards the series which will conclude with the almighty Highland Fling! This series is definitely one of my goals for this year!
In my world there are many things NEW for 2014! Team ONYA/GIANT came to fruition! With the support of Giant Australia, ONYABike Canberra, Bright Consulting and Lazer Helmets we now have five riders on our team. We are all kitted out in the flash new team kit, stealthy Lazer Genesis Helmets and the top of the line 2014 Giant bikes from the 27.5 range! Also can’t forget our appropriately coloured and gloriously long socks courtesy of Stromlo Forrest Park!
If you read the mags, the articles and Giants information that they put out. You will know that they have been working on this current 27.5 range for years! Giant jumped in both feet and invested in the research to lead the industry in developing a full range of 27.5 mountain bikes for men and women! The results are awesome!
I chose to ride the 2014 XTC Advanced 27.5 0. The stuff out there says that Giant believe that the 27.5 inch wheel is not the middle man between the 26i and 29i – in fact it is much closer to the 29er! After riding the hard tail for over two months now, I agree!
The 27.5 has it over the 29er in a couple of areas – it accelerates quicker, it turns easier and changes angle quicker.
The one area that I can see where a 29er hardtail might have an edge is on a fast and rough descents. Not that the 27.5 is any slower, it is just more harsh on the body.
In other areas, I think it matches the 29er on the fireroads. Many people say the 29ers hold their speed and make life easier on fireroads, the 27.5 is no different.
I find minimal difference in the ‘roll over’ factor – bumps, rocks, roots, drops are all eaten by the 27.5.
Overall, the new XTC 27.5 is an awesome addition to Giant’s top end range! With standard features like SRAM XX1, built-in frame and stay protectors, internally routed cables and the remote lockable RockShox fork, this bike is sweet! This year, not only do you need to choose between Hardtail and Dually, but you also choose between superior acceleration and agility of the 27.5 or the smoother ride on the 29er. If you are lucky, you will have both!
My race diary for this season will include the Maverick Marathon Series, Chocolate Foot 7hr Series (Pairs) and hopefully Nationals. No doubt there will be other races spotted in and around these including the Mont and Scott 24hrs. Looking forward to a solid year with the ONYA/Giant crew, hopefully we can cause some ripples out on course!