The final round of the British Downhill Series
saw a collection of riders from back in the day who all came together to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the great Jason McRoy's passing. The gathering of old school racers, known as the BDS Legends event, brought together thirty legends who were all trying to see if they still had it in them. Predictably, this made for a race to remember, with the legends easy to spot on the course as many were wearing their original race kit... even if it was a little too tight for some.
Something else that stood out was the shiny new bikes that are a far cry from what these gladiators used to compete aboard. Consensus came back on how good these new machines handled and rode compared to what was used years ago, which was hardly surprising. The new bikes inspired a lot of confidence, enabling the legends to ride even faster than they anticipated, which, of course, called for a visit to the medical tent for some of them.
During the event, longtime Giant rider Rob Warner had spotted a partly period-correct Giant ATX One locked up in the finish arena that belonged to the BDS Events Village Manager, Tony Standish. After taking the bike for a quick spin around the car park, Rob came back having reignited some old, fond memories of racing a similar bike during his prime. We asked him if he fancied a spin down the track on it for old time's sake, which would have been quite the photo opportunity. He, unfortunately, declined with a determined focus on putting in some good practice laps and having a respectable time and position come Sunday's race, but we did manage to talk him into taking part in a bit of an experiment.
Seeing Rob on that old ATX One got the creative juices flowing, and after a quick chat to BDS head honcho, Si Paton, a plan was hatched: timed practice at the legendary One Giant Leap Llangollen, a steep and technically demanding course where the emphasis would be on the bike and handling skills rather than fitness. And how to make it even more interesting? Back-to-back runs with Warner on his 2015 Giant Glory and the nearly antique Giant ATX One.
Rob jumped at the chance, and the date was confirmed.
So, what did Warner have to say after spending the day riding the ATX One and the 2015 Glory back-to-back?
|It was such a wicked day, getting the chance to ride two Giant DH bikes with over a decade between them. The track wasn't that rough, but where there were braking bumps, the ATX One definitely felt rough and definitely a lot harsher in comparison. The ATX One obviously had inferior brakes, tires and narrow bars amongst many other factors. The narrow bars weren't the end of the world, though, but it seemed harder to find balance coming out of a turn. The ATX One was also a little small for me, but it definitely felt like an ATX One.|
All those memories of that bike came flooding back; just the way it felt, the way it sounded. On this day, the tires on the ATX One really made it difficult. They were period-correct Tioga's and they were desperate - it must have been the compound as the tread was still really good on them. The main problem was that I literally could not slow down on the slippery track, especially on the steep bits. This meant I could not get off the brakes like I could on the new Glory. In the dry there would have been different issues like the brakes not being as strong and the suspension would then have been more of a factor. Even on this day, I used two fingers on the lever a lot in an attempt to stop.
I really don't think the bikes are miles apart, unlike the times. My Glory is full factory and it was up against an ATX One that is damn near original but was never set up for me, either. Everything just works a bit better on the new bike, but the biggest improvement for me, at 6' 5", has to be the geometry. The new DH bikes are long, solid and safe feeling, and they inspire confidence throughout the ride. Although not as far off as the time tells, the ATX One just didn't perform, but a huge amount of that could simply be put down to the tires and lack of traction.
Eleven seconds separated the two bikes, but that difference wasn't spread out over the entire length of the track. ''Looking at the times, the 2015 Glory was eleven seconds faster in the steeper part of the track,'' explained Chris Roberts, Head of Action Sports Timing. ''Between the two split points on the flattest part of the track, there was no difference, but then on the short, steep sections where it goes down over the jumps and drops, the Glory was another second faster.'' And what do that eleven seconds look like on the speedometer? ''The average speed between the two different bikes was only 2km/h,'' Roberts said of the difference, which apparently adds up.
If you want to get timed like Rob Warner then Action Sports Timing
are now offering this service to everyone. "Practice like the Pros
" with Professional Race Timing with at their Timing Days service at venues across the country.
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