It’s Fort William British Downhill Series this weekend and today’s unofficial practice session is fast turning into a mini World Cup.
interview by Jamie Edwards, photos by Ian Lean
Two unique bikes on show are Danny Hart’s Mondraker Summum 29’er and Gee Atherton’s Trek Session 29’er – both prototypes being tested here at Fort William.
Danny’s prototype is made up of a standard 27.5” Summum rear triangle run in the longest setting and a new, specific-for-29” front end which is also aluminium. Tyres are 29 versions of his standard Maxxis tires and, he told us, there’s no difference to his suspension set up.
What is interesting is how uninterested Danny is in the hype around 29”. I asked him what he thinks about the fuss they’re creating… his answer? “Get a life, get off the internet and go ride your bike!”
Mr Danny Hart, tell us about your new bike.
This one’s aluminium.
It’s got funny size wheels though hasn’t it?
Well, they’re not funny. They’re just a bit oversized compared to normal. It’s as funny as you make it.
Yep. What do you think of all the hype around 29”?
It’s just another industry do innit. It’s just one of those things that everyone’s trying. It’s fast – I just did one run down here and I was blown away by the straight line speed into the jumps.
So when did you get the bike? What’s the story behind the one you see here?
We’ve tested it a little bit, but I wouldn’t say a lot. We’ve probably been 4 days on it. I’ve been here since Monday and rode Tuesday and Wednesday on my normal bike. This is the first day on the 29’er.
How would you describe the differences between your 27.5” downhill bike and a 29’er?
An inch an a half on each wheel!
But what about on track?
Well – I’ve only done one run. But yeah, it’s different. It’s a lot smoother. It’s going to allow me to push on a little bit more I think. It’s going to make this place a hell of a ride I tell you. It’s all relative though, isn’t it? You’re going to go as fast you can on this and it’s going to be just as uncomfortable or as comfortable as it is on smaller wheels.
Are 29’ers faster?
We’ll see on Sunday! I think there’s going to be a couple of different wheel sizes. If I’ve got anything to do with it this will be faster!
Danny: See – this is my dog Ruby. Look at her face. That’s what she reckons about 29’ers!