4 Bike Checks from DarkFest 2020

Feb 10, 2020
by James Smurthwaite  
Not even the smallest gaps in the line are safe from Nico s steeze

Words and Photos: Samantha Saskia Dugon

It takes some pretty special riders to hit the huge jumps at Darkfest but it takes some pretty special bikes too. Here are four of our favourites from some Fest first timers to one of the founders of the whole series.

Are there any other words to describe Nico Vink other than 'all-round mountain biking legend'? Well, we had a chat with the legend himself at Darkfest and, despite already being over here for a month building the course with Sam Reynolds and Clemens Kaudela, he's still hyped to be here and hitting the jumps all day, every day.

One of the interesting things we came across on Vink's bike was his speedometer, usually a piece of kit that you'd see mounted on a road bike, yet here was one mounted on a bike belonging to one of freerides biggest riders, check out why below.

We're all so used to seeing Vink on a Gambler but he's signed with Bellingham-based Transition for the foreseeable future. He's already looking right at home with his Ohlins equipped TR11

Transition TR11 Details
Frame: Transition TR11, Medium
Shock: Ohlins
Fork: Ohlins
Wheels: Hope Pro 4, chrome with Hope Fortress 30mm rims, matte grey decals
Tires: Schwalbe Magic Mary, approximately 36psi
Drivetrain: SB1 Singlespeed kit, Hope Evo Cranks with 36t narrow wide chainring
Brakes: Hope V4, 203mm rotors front and rear, chrome
Cockpit: Hope Direct Mount stem, Signature Vink bars with 48mm high rise and 9 degree back sweep fitted with signature Reverse Vink grips.
Pedals: Hope F20
Saddle Reverse components saddle and seatpost

bigquotesFor Darkfest I’m running Ohlins suspension front and rear. Ohlins gives me specific tunes, just a lot firmer and slower rebound, just to be able to deal with the big impacts on the big jumps. Slow rebound to not get bucked in the takeoffs or when I case a jump and get bucked. I've got an SB1 singlespeed kit on for Darkfest, I don’t always run that, for example when I ride bike park I usually just run the Hope cassette with a SRAM 7-speed derailleur.Nico Vink

Hope's F20 Pedals
Hope V4 brakes to cope with the super-high speeds at the Darkfest course.

bigquotesFor years we’ve been just kind of guessing speeds, angles and everything and now we're just starting to measure more, to have more knowledge and a reference to go to when we're building more stuff in the future to have the exact speeds and angles and height. I just do a couple of runs with the speedo just to see how fast we're going on what jumps, it's a great way to gauge what we need to do for new builds in the future.Nico Vink

Ohlins set up Vink's suspension for him with a custom tune so he's actually not 100% sure of his pressures or spring weight. What he does know is that it works perfectly fine on Darkfest's huge hits.
Cockpit complete with a Jordie Lunn sticker

Forever - Jordie Lunn

After his first taste of the Fest Series events last year at Loosefest, Kaos Seagrave is back for more, but this time in sunny South Africa for Darkfest 2020. His first event since the FMD's move from Transition to Canyon frames and he's started off with a bang with a fluro pink custom frame. This is a standard Sender, not the prototype we've seen teased around the internet, but there are still plenty of cool details to check out here.

Kaos in full-flamingo mode.
South African dust is till on the chainring from the morning's sends.

bigquotesI love the new bike, it's got a rad pink paintjob, what more could I want?Kaos Seagrave

Canyon Sender Details
Frame: Canyon Sender
Shock: Fox Float X2, max volume spacers, 300psi
Fork: Fox 40, max volume spacers, 80psi
Wheels: DT Swiss: 240 hub and 511 rim, 27.5" front and rear, Peatys valves
Tires: Schwalbe Magic Mary custom G-Up tires
Drivetrain: Shimano Saint
Brakes: Shimano Saint
Cockpit: Renthal 45mm stem and Renthal Fatbar cut to 760mm, 31.8mm clamp, Ergon GD1 grips
Pedals: Crankbrothers Stamp large
Saddle Ergon SMD2
Mudguard MarshGuard
bigquotesIt's so sick to be here and ride with the Fest boys, it's a big hype watching everyone sending it!Kaos Seagrave

Schwalbe Magic Mary G-Up with pink Peaty's valves. Kaos normally runs about 26psi in his tires.

The chainstay is slammed into the short setting with 27.5" wheels front and rear for Darkfest.
DT Swiss 240 hub

The G-Up Crew decals are custom for Kaos

You couldn't miss this bike from any angle
It's even complete with matching MarshGuard mudguard

As Spanish rider Bienvenido Aguado makes his debut appearance at a fest series event, we got the low down on his YT Tues CF Pro and what his experience of Darkfest has been so far.

YT Tues Details
Frame: YT Tues CF Pro Race, Small
Shock: Fox Float X2, either 3 or 4 tokens with 260 psi
Fork: Fox Factory 40, 6 tokens with 85psi
Wheels: Spank Vibracore 350
Tires: MSC Hotseat 2.40, 36psi
Drivetrain: SB1 Singlespeed kit with 13t sprocket
Brakes: Front: Sram Code SC, Rear: Magura HC3
Cockpit: Spank M4 Stem, Spank Vibrocore Spike 800mm, 15mm rise, Sensus Grips
Pedals: Spank Oozy
Mudguard All Mountain Style mudguard with Happy Riding collab design

bigquotesIt's such a dream to be here! I've been dreaming about this for like 3 years, I just told Sam (Reynolds) that one day I want to be there and it looks like he was pretty stoked to have me here for this year's Darkfest. I'm enjoying every second and trying to be smart and not hurt myself so I can ride all day.Bienvenido Aguado

Bienve has custom top tube graphics on his Tues

Spank Vibrocore 350 Wheels
All Mountain Style, Happy Ridings Mudguard

Bienve's frame may not have survived Ramage but his custom link did and made it onto his latest build.
MSC Hotseat Tires

New bike and first Darkfest, it’s a big year for Norwegian downhiller Brage Vestavik. Back aboard a GT Fury for 2020, we caught up with him in Stellenbosch to check out his new rig and see how he’s getting on with the course.

How was it arriving in Stellenbosch for the first time?

bigquotesJust being in South Africa is pretty cool! It’s a pretty mad place, I didn’t think I’d be able to come here so I’m thrilled to be here. It took 28 hours and 3 planes, but worth it for sure! We then had the first session straight off the plane and straight into it that was pretty crazy!Brage Vestavik

Brage and his fresh GT Fury only 3 rides old
Fox 40s maxed out on the front with a Burgtec cockpit coupled with a Shimano Saint drivetrain

Do you have any goals for this year's course?


I would say my main goal is to just get through the course, I will be pretty stoked just to do some riding with these boys and flow through the jumps.Brage Vestavik

SDG Patriot Sensus I-Beam saddle with SDG Alloy I-Beam Seatpost
Crankbrothers Stamp 7 pedals

Is there anything on the track that you find particularly intimidating?

bigquotesThe last two jumps are pretty scary, the Rocket Launchers. I’ve been thinking a lot about them, seeing videos of them being built and I was pretty stoked to have gotten through them, I think it’s the biggest hit I’ve ever done. You're going so fast into it and the lip is so steep, it feels like you’re going up off of a wall, but yeah, it’s probably the sickest feeling I’ve ever had on a bike.Brage Vestavik

Back on Burgtec with the Burgtec Bartender Pro Grips

What did it feel like when you got the invite to come?

bigquotesI was pretty nervous, to be honest! I’ve been thinking about it a lot when trying to sleep, I was just so hyped. It’s so cool to be riding with all the big legends too, to be riding with the ones I was looking up to and watching videos of when I was really small is insane.Brage Vestavik


  • 153 6
 Kaos' Sender is all time.
  • 10 2
 nude tiem bb
  • 18 1
 Yeah that's one of the sickest builds I've seen... world, rampage... etc. Up there with Rheeder's Rampage bike and a few others as my favorites.
  • 28 2
 "Send Nudes" Wonder how many he gets from having that on his bike. Gonna try that, but... maybe I should ask my wife first? Ahh f*ck it... SEND NUDES!
  • 41 0
 @islandforlife: just for clarification, are you gonna try the chain stay protector or are you gonna try to send Kaos nudes? ????
  • 2 2
 Is Kaos and tanee twins?
  • 1 0
 After "Slap me hard", Production Privé made the buzz again! Want!
  • 1 0
 Any ideas on who did the paint? What company? And also any articles about that distortion technique?
  • 1 0
 @High-Life: I believe its the lighter colour under and let it dry and darker paint over top and its put in an oven or a heat gun so the paint dried with that effect
  • 130 0
 Pinkbike in chaos over Kaos's pink bike.
  • 16 0
 You should be writing for the Daily Bugle!
  • 31 0
 Two thoughts:
1: Is Nico on 27.5/650B now?
2: Does it even matter if it doesn't have a pink paintjob?
  • 15 1
 Yes, Nico’s running 27.5 wheels.
  • 11 0
 yes he's on 27.5 now
  • 13 0
 27.5 wheels are what he is on
  • 13 0
 27.5 is indeed Nico's selected wheel size
  • 24 0
 I don't know if this has been said yet, but he's on 27.5" now.
  • 12 0
 Never thought I'd say this, but he's on 27.5.
  • 9 0
 Yep he is on 650b
  • 6 24
flag theedon (Feb 10, 2020 at 13:04) (Below Threshold)
 I heard he’s running 27.69
  • 5 3
  • 10 0
 The are two possible colorways for bikes: black, and non-black. And non-black is debatable
  • 1 3
 29 next year!
  • 2 0
 Nico is not on 26", nor 29". He is in fact on 27,5". Just to make sure: This is not 28".
  • 2 0
 @T-Bot: so he's not on 27.5, as said above, he's on 27.5 right?
  • 4 0
 Sorry all for my late response but to answer your question, Nico is currently experimenting with 27.5" front and 650B rear to mix things up. He might turn that around depending on the conditions.
  • 32 0
 Nico might be Tom Araya's long lost son. Metal AF
  • 3 0
 Solid post bud
  • 1 0
 Oh man, so true \m/
  • 2 0
 He should have that 'Sensus' seat.
  • 1 0
 Yep, too true - good call!!!!!
  • 1 0
 Actually.... now I can see that! Smile
  • 2 0
 I don’t know... with the facial hair and sly grin, he could be a Zappa... still, Slayer works.
  • 31 2
  • 48 1
 Oh shit, can you please switch off the Canyon marketing mode.
  • 7 0
 @YellowFlowers: Ah my bad...
  • 24 0
 Fuck me. That pink burns my eyes. Was gona acid dip my ransom and leave it raw with some custom decals inspired by the USS Enterprise. Calling it the Senderprise. Though I want that pink now! Might do that capra in it.
  • 12 2
 The Spaceship? Or the Aircraft Carrier?
  • 7 0
 @CustomDeeks: Most valid question in Pinkbike comment section history.
  • 20 2
 Bienvenido probably hasn't done any frontflips off drops since his bike is still in one piece.
  • 9 0
 Never considered a TR11 before. But it's looking mighty fine hitting the big jumps.
  • 19 0
 This is the goal of sponsored riders. Random person see's sponsored rider sending it = random person thinks - "Never considered a ________ before. But it's looking mighty fine "insert _____ bike doing something cool".
  • 3 0
 @islandforlife: right?!? I was almost in shock when he announced the change... he, Fairclough, Vinny T and etc play a big roll on Scott marketing! I'm surprise that Scott didn't fight for Vink, or maybe didn't won... Or simply too many years with Scott...
  • 2 0
 @BruNreaL: it's all about money... Transition offered a better deal and Scott are already stacked they could afford to let him go
  • 9 0
 No prototype evil from aggy?
  • 4 0
 The whole thing doesnt make sense to me. Randomly shows up in Vital but all clips show aggy on the Wreck LB and there is no mention anywhere on Evils or Aggys insta re: whatever this pink bike is. I wish they would just tell us already what this bike is so i can shit myself appropriately...
  • 5 0
 Pinkbike not covering Evil... who would’ve thought
  • 1 0
 It's a long tradition. I think last year or the year before, there was an announcement for some new Fuji before the announcement of the Offering. No mention of the Calling.
  • 2 0
 @Deanosuar: he was riding that red prototype with the boxxer in a couple pics I saw from Darkfest. I also saw him on that green frame that looks production too, but hard to tell. Would be kind of neat to see an evil with modern numbers lol.
  • 1 0
 @nskerb: The green frame looks it might be a 2018 Wreckoning LB in the nuclear fallout green color.
  • 6 0
 LOOOOVE Nico's Transition. Love mostly black with a bit of yellow!!
  • 5 0
 Who the hell runs different brand brakes front and rear. SRAM Code front and a Magura rear...Mind blown!
  • 1 0
 Didn't even realize it, would never think to look! Has he ever said anything why he does that? Can't imagine the sponsors are happy about it.
  • 6 0
 he is probably not sponsored by a brake brand so he doestn care
  • 1 0
 Magura HC3 is the name of their adjustable lever blade. Doesn't say what actual brake he is using though
  • 3 1
 He's got a fly rotor on the rear as well as what looks like an MT8 Pro caliper. The Magura is lightweight--possibly 85g lighter than XTR 9100. Every bit of weight saved at rear wheel makes a whip easier to bring back, and makes the shock work better. Plus rear brake needs barely any power. If you used 9100 rr and 9120 front, principle would be the same.
  • 2 0
 In Rampage he was Fox stickers and now not. And the rear brake was a Sram...

  • 5 2
 Apart from some trick tuning are the suspension components pretty much stock? Crazy to think that someone could take the X2 off my bike, twist a couple knobs, and huck it 90ft. We're spoiled with how great bikes are now.
  • 2 0
 Seems like most riders are on stock shocks just rammed with bands and full slow rebound/compression... Niko says he has custom valving on his stuff and I know for Rampage some of the guys have custom valving as well both RS and Fox.
  • 7 3
 First two bikes: stunning, each in their own way. I want that Sender more though... just for the color.
  • 3 2
 I can't imagine Polygon gets a huge deal of sponsorship milage out of Sam Reynolds when their star freerider prefers a 2 year old bike over its replacement. Imagine a bike check on that: "this is my 2018 frame because I don't like their new one"
  • 2 0
 The come-down after seeing that pink paint job and knowing it won't be in my garage is devastating. My world isn't the same now.
  • 2 1
 You're right. Give up.
  • 3 0
 Vink's bike is just nasty sexy!
  • 2 0
 Nico has just inspired me with his single speed drive. Need to take a closer look on this.
  • 4 1
 This world needs more blacked out DH bikes.
  • 3 0
 Maybe they told Brage at GT he has to look like Wyn Masters.
  • 3 1
 Laos’ bike is really pretty.
  • 1 0
 That pink Sender looks absolutely stunning, I especially like the detailing at the seattube
  • 2 0
 Why no details on the GT ? Hmmm
  • 2 0
 The YT looked so plain when compared to that canyon.
  • 1 0
 holly sh*t, I had NO IDEA that Kaos does all those tricks with only ONE leg. Hell, he's even more bad ass that I thought
  • 3 3
 That YT frame is so chunky its the sexiest shit I have ever seen. bitch is Thiickkkkkkk
  • 1 0
 Damn that pink canyon stands out, job done.
  • 1 0
 They all look like iterations of the darkside to me
  • 3 3
 Bienvenido Aguado...whats the policitally correct terminology in 2020? Vertically challenged?
  • 1 0
 So Nico, what's the optimal speed? Light fast?
  • 1 0
 Any idea what that rear mudguard is on the back of that Pink Canyon?
  • 1 0
 * Hope Fortus rims, Pinkbike. Fortress rims are made by Dartmoor. Smile
  • 1 0
 Remys Proto Furious looks full lit bra.
  • 1 0
 All of them are gorgeous Drool
  • 1 0
 How wide are those bars? They all seem pretty narrow to me
  • 1 0
 I wanna carve the paint off of that canyon and eat it.
  • 1 0
 Anyone know where to buy one of those "Send Nudes" chainstay protectors?
  • 2 0
 They have the Production Privee logo on them, which is a small french company selling steel bikes. I didnt know they made this one, only knew the one which says "Slap Me Hard" Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @TurboTorsten: thanks, just checked their website out and I don't see the "send nudes" one, but I'll check back every now and again to see if they're available
  • 1 0
 @matt-15: No problem,
did you tried to shoot their customerservice a message?
  • 1 0
 Wow, Niko on a medium.
  • 1 0
 Singlespeed for the win!
  • 1 0
 *YT snaps* xD
  • 1 2
 Why this headtube GT?
  • 2 0
 The Fury frame comes with the chainstays and headset spacers for 27.5 or 29 and multiple headset reach options. There are a variety of cups for your length/wheelsize. That's probably why the 27.5 cup looks strange?

Is this the coolest bike check article ever? I'm thinking so.
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