Our man in Nepal Tangi Rebours has been busy.
Words By Tim Grant & Steve Day – Photos, Steve Day
Bike check is back and we have something a little unusual. Which catch up with Steve Day. You remember the guy who bears a resemblance to a certain X-Men. He also tends to like a challenge as well (who-are-you-the-wolverine-steve-day.) Well not one to disappoint he’s at it again. Sometimes it’s not just the racing that challenges but it can be getting that “just right” set up. So we find out what Steve is
In the woods near Nottingham you may hear the distinctive sound of tyres buzzing a trail or carving a turn. There’s no sound quite likes it. Or you may find a someone in a Skatepark pulling tech moves. You won’t miss him with his trademark Full face and Vest. Now whilst out on the trail he grabs the big bike inside it’s the complete opposite end of the scale in the form of a BMX. Nothing new there you think…. Well in this case he use to use a Hardtail mtb. But now he pulls moves that would give the impression it’s what he has always done. In fact it’s only 6 months since he took up the 20″ rig. But that in itself isn’t the biggest challenge. So from Bombing trails to nailing rails we catch up with a man with a mission… Of course we have to ask….
Who are you?
Marin Nail trail 7 29er 2017
A little while ago I was lucky enough to get a test ride on the 29er version of the Marin Nail Trail 7. This is the top end model of Marin’s “Hard-core” hardtails. It’s designed as a trail bike which climbs and descends without compromising too much in any particular area. So how did it perform?
At £16oo it’s not badly specced. Nothing too flash but that means what is on there is all reliable and functionable gear. The frame is Marins series 3 6061 spec aluminum with internal routing for a dropper. This meant it was light, agile but not too stiff. With this one however the tyres had been swapped for something more appropriate. It didn’t feel as long as I thought it might and proved to be pretty agile even on the tighter stuff. This might not surprise you as bike companies have managed to get bikes pretty dialled now. It does like to get a bit of a shift on and once it is up to speed it’ll either stay there or want to go a bit faster. It’s very agile and if I had more time on it i would of been interested in seeing what it can cope with. climbing it makes a big job more manageable and given the hills here might not be huge they are a bit on the steep side at times.
The Nail Trail looks pretty good too and the pictures in the catalogue don’t do it enough justice. It is in the longer, lower slacker camp but not so much it wallows about. Like I said it does shift and in order to deal with faster speeds it needs something up front to sort things out.
Fortunately that’s not a problem as hits on the front are taken care of thanks to Rock Shox’s rather good 120mm Yari RC forks. These were a pleasant surprise as to start with I thought they maybe a bit soft. However once out on the trail this was not the case. they dealt with small bumps rather But this being Exmoor it has some harsh conditions too. Once again the Yari didn’t let me down. they handled bigger rocks and a few drops with ease and only on the big stuff did they get close to using all their travel.
Of course once you are up to speed you’ll need to slow at some point and this duty was left gto Shimano Deore hydraulic disks. around here I would probably up the rotors a size, not that the 180 front and 160 rear were short of power. marin have managed to sneak the rear brake inside the rear triangle which did help to keep it all nice and neat. The Deore’s feel pretty good too.
The Trans X dropper post was simple to use. The neat cable operated switch felt spot on and had a pretty light feel to it. It all looks pretty good too.
Of course you have to have a good drive unit too and once again Shimano is specced with Slx 11 speed mech, Sun race’s 11-42 cassette on the back and Marin’s own brand cranks with a 32t narrow/wide chainring up front. The Slx 11 shifter was light action but not so much you shifted too many gears at once. Kmc took care of the drive duties without any fuss even when it got a bit messy. it took a bit of getting use to have 11 speed but it faired pretty well around here and once again the shifts were pretty faultless.
Wheel duties are a Formula and Marin’s own brand set up which were a little flexi if you pushed them hard. They would need a bit of TLC if you did ride rough stuff. but they aren’t heavy and span well. I would however want to up them to something a bit tougher for around here.
All in all in the brief time I had on the Marin Nail Trail 7 it was rather good fun and we certainly knocked out a good few miles in a variety of conditions. It left a smile on my face and was just plain fun. No Fuss no drama just a damned fine trail machine. Yes there are a few things I myself would change but for the most part it’s a great bike.
Cheers to Dan for sorting the beastie out.
Schwalbe Fat Albert
650b -2.35 TL Easy Front (Trail Star) & Back ( Pace Star)
Well these have been on the bike for a fair few months now and have been put through the mill in more ways than one. But how have they coped? Those of you old enough to remember may see a passing resemblance to a old 90’s tyre from WTB. But times have changed. It’s not only times that changed but the tread design of Fat Albert has too. Not just a bit either.
They come in front and back treads and they are notably different. The front is very much a directional pattern that’s aimed at aggressive cornering in softer conditions. . The rear is much more about grip and getting the power down. Or so you would think. As it happens they are designed to work from reasonably hard to fairly soft conditions. Think of them as a Jack of all trades. Now I have put these through pretty much every condition I can. From Rocky North wales trail centre to wet Winter Mud feasts, from dry dusty Bike Park to exposed moorland and wooded hillsides. So they’ve been thoroughly worked.
The strange thing is they haven’t really excelled at anything particular but also by the same token they haven’t actually let me down. It’s the most confusing set of tyres I have ridden. They do offer a good amount of grip especially in softer conditions where they can get a good bit of bite into the ground.
They still grip well but if you push on a bit they do give way and slip a bit. Not a lot, but enough to raise your heart rate just a bit. They have dealt with everything I have thrown at them. They aren’t a fast tyre on firm ground as the treads are quite aggressive so therefore a degree of drag and noise come with them. But they still roll well enough. they suit Trail centres and Bike parks in Winter/Spring/ Autumn seem better than Summer.
Roots & mud
Roots tend to throw them a bit and if they are wet roots it’s a bit of a gamble. This is partly due to the wide spacing I imagine. In the mud they work well unless it’s so slippery that nothing short of a full mud tyre is going to do the job. A couple of recent rides have shown they are capable of gripping well when you might think they won’t. They clear well to. Wide spacing and aggressive tall treads help here. Climbing can be a bit of a tricky one as they can dig in a bit too much.
I was pleasantly surprised how well thes coped with rocky conditions. From big boulders to smaller stones. Unless it was soaked they didn’t let go once and once I got use to the idea that they weren’t going to let go I could push on a bit.
Puncture resistance and fitting.
Fitting needed the ol “Fit a tube first” trick to get the tyre to sit before sneaking one side off and converting to tubeless. This worked well and they went up ok on a standard track pump. A Booster pump might of cut out a bit of faff. They are TL Easy ( Tubeless Easy) which means they do fit with minimum fuss but I found I needed to do the aforementioned trick. Once up no problem. They come with Schwalbe’s Sankeskin casing which helps reduce punctures. Puncture wise though they did seem to puncture on the most unlikely places. They are a bit thin in the wall to what I would like as the punctures were caused oddly enough by rocks. Not sharp ones either. A tougher wall may of reduced the chances of this.
They are a good all round tyre which seem to work reasonably well in most conditions. I would lean more to the darker wetter months to use these more than drier months. They are a bit of a strange tyre and may not be to everyone’s liking. They haven’t shown much sign of wear either. Which given how much stuff is costing is a good thing. A Jack of all trades.
Lizard skins- Danny MacAskill signature grip
137mm length (inc collar) 29/30mm diameter
These are Danny MacAskill’s signature grip so you can imagine they have been thought out. They are a single collar loc on affair which have a knurled main pattern and a slightly wider part near the collar for improved ergonomics and to reduce some of the impact. They are a super tacky compound which by some strange alchemy they don’t wear too quick.
They are a bit on the hard side if you don’t wear gloves even with the tacky compound. They are good grip wise and I haven’t lost my grip once since using them no matter what the weather. They are a nice width and diameter and being a single loc on there’s no bulky section at the end of the bars. They are aren’t too bad comfort wise even if a bit firm.
They wouldn’t be out of place on any bike really and i have considered fitting them to my normal trail bike too. I would prefer a slightly softer compound but that could be just me. They come in a variety of colours so you should be able to find some to suit your choice. I went for the red which has now faded somewhat after many days in the elements.