Wise Words | Chris Smith.

Wise Words is our interview series talking to some of mountain biking’s most switched on people.

We’ll ask our short list of questions to a heap of influential, inspiring and outspoken people that we feel are driving the direction of mountain biking today. Some will make you think, some will make you laugh, some will be plain dumb, some will inspire you to better yourself and your riding. We hope!

Wise Words this week come to you from none other than Chris Smith.

Back in the early 2000s you could see Chris Smith flinging himself off or over sizeable amounts of dirt as the spearhead of the then burgeoning UK freeride scene. Since then he’s gone on to be a GMBN presenter and now represents Haibike as an ambassador making the most of his talents of riding up a bike up, down, off and over everything in sight.

Photos by Darren Cordingley.

How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?

A crazy but calculated old b*stard who should know better by now.

What thing or things have you bought in the last year that had the biggest effect on your life as a mountain biker / cyclist / person that works in the bike industry?

Couple here. A Ride Shotgun seat for my eMTB, its so cool with the little handlebars that clip on mine. The youngest loves it and really immerses him into the ride, we have done wheelies and rode street together… ”Don’t tell mum…”

A Reset Bikes ebike conversion kit. My son who’s 8 comes on some proper little rides now after adding this to his 20” Spesh , it works from a drill battery, proper pedal sensor hub drive kit that works great and puts a huge smile on his face.

What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?

Seeking out weird stuff to ride ,its often super scary and sometimes undoable. Or if it were to go wrong things could get pretty nasty like my bridge ride in my Haibike launch video, I sometimes ask myself, why?

What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?

Progression is key in our sport and I think when you’re starting out it’s a really slow curve that you need to treat with respect as it can and will bite you in the ass pretty quick. 8 weeks out with broken bones is a lot slower than just building up to it over a few weeks, let alone the confidence you also lose.

People get so wrapped up in suspension settings sometimes and are constantly changing it, more rebound, less compression etc. Just set it up at a mid setting and ride the damn thing , if you’re constantly swapping it about you’ll never know where you are.

If you could go back and re-ride one day from your life so far, where/what/when/who would it be? Would you change anything?

Probably go back to 2002 and not hit the line when I broke my back and ankle on a huge step down. It was step too far at the time (52ft down and out) probably the biggest line in the UK at the time. I massively misjudged the speed and had to jump over the bars straight to my ass cheeks. Took me out for a while that one.

What have you wasted the most time on in your life as a rider or bike industry career that you wished you’d given up years ago?

Pushing downhill/freeride bikes up the sides of mountains…

How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?

I watch videos. Sometimes some of my old stuff just to get the creative juices flowing and think what I can do at those same old spots with a bit of ebike power. I also like to ride motorcycles. I used to compete in expert moto trials for quite a few years. I do a lot of green-laning still and the odd long distance trial now and again.

What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?

I love overcoming fear and sticking fingers up at my own brain, telling me “no you can’t do that, or yep you can but you’re going to be sh*t scared doing it.” That mix of adrenaline and the feeling of overcoming fear can’t be beaten. When you roll away clean from that trick or line that has been playing mind games with you has to be the best feeling on 2 wheels.

What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?

Ebikes with separate batteries for everything. I think I had one with seven on once including the bikes big one. Way too much charging going on there.

What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?

I want to see some ebike-specific climbs being built at trail centres just to spice things up after riding a great trail down the hill. It’s sometimes a bit boring just cruising up a fire road.

Who else should we ask these questions to?

Steve Geall, the Godfather of UK freeride.

You can keep tabs on Chris’ adventures on his Instagram feed here.

You can catch all our previous Wise Words interviews with the likes of Sven Martin, Manon Carpenter, Ric McLaughlin and plenty more here.


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