Lošinj World Cup DH Opener
Lošinj, Croatia's downhill course may well be the shortest on the 2018 calendar, but what a show. The mountain-to-the-sea track had enough rocks to restore a castle. Racers had to thread between and launch over stone walls at mach speeds and drift through cobbled streets to a sea-side finish. Brook Macdonald muscled his way to top qualifier, but crashed out of competition. It was Aaron Gwin who took the win, joined by Luca Shaw and a first podium for Dakotah Norton. The Women's race was at least as thrilling, with Myriam Nicole trouncing all - 3.5 seconds over Rachel Atherton on a 2.5-minute course. Fifth place was also an upset, as Cecile Ravanel, the reigning queen of enduro, put the hurt to the rest of the women's field.
29er Downhill Bikes
Almost every team has one now
Last year, PB photographers were scrambling to get any spy shots of 29-inch-wheel downhill prototypes. This year we were mowing through press releases and fake spy shots "leaked" by their makers to decide which ones were most newsworthy. Pivot, Commencal, Norco, Saracen, Transition, Trek, Cube, Santa Cruz, Scott, NS Bikes, Mondraker, and Intense top the list, with more big-wheel big-bikes on the way, but the real story here is that racers are actually going to ride them this year. Four out of five on the men's podium at the Croatia opener were on 29ers. (The women's podium was all 27.5-inch.) It's a safe bet that the 2018 World Cup series will become the battlefield that will determine the outcome of Wheel War II.
PB Celebrates its 20-year Anniversary
Pinkbike celebrates its first 20 years, beginning at the Sea Otter Classic, where we put together a timeline of events and historic bicycles that marked the crazy journey that began with free website and went on to see its membership become the largest mountain bike media channel in the world. Pinkbike was established in 1998 by Radek Burkat, as a medium for early-day freeriders to get together and show off pictures of their bikes and the features of their home trails.
Legend says that the name was decided upon after a lengthy dinner meeting, where Radek and his chosen ones brainstormed names for the startup-website. (Alcohol was involved.) Domain squatters
had already begun to eat up every name in the English language that had to do with mountain bikes. So, it turned out that every powerful descriptor that the motley crew of freeriders came up with had previously been registered by one of those scum sucking cheaters. As a joke, one of the guys said, "Why don't we pick a dumb name, like 'Pink Bike' instead?" Of course, the lad was immediately slapped down, but after the effects of the previous evening wore off, "Pinkbike" was the only name that anyone could remember. Radek searched it and the domain was free. The rest, they say, is history.
Big crashes in the season openers
Tracey Hannah has never been faster than she has demonstrated during 2017 and coming into this year. How fast? Hannah was way up in the green, then crashed, midway down the course at the 2017 World Championships in Cairns. She recovered and still managed a bronze medal, only two seconds off the winning time.
Unfortunately, the Aussie superstar has suffered two big offs this year that put her out of contention: the first, at Rotorua Crankworx and the second, at the Lošinj, Croatia, World Cup. Clearly, Tracey has the speed and form to stand at the top step, but she'll have to keep the rubber side down if she wants to walk away with the number one plate this year.
Future Bike Buyers
Asian-made products are going to cost more
Bike prices are going up. Asian currency is gaining strength at a rate, especially against the US dollar, that cannot be absorbed by many bike brands. Specialized was the first to announce that it was raising its prices this April from one to 12 percent to offset some (not all) of the higher costs of importing bicycles and components from Japan, Taiwan and China. Other bike brands are secretly planning to do the same, so bikes are going to cost more soon.
Currency fluctuation is always a factor when importing and exporting goods, but this trend has been looming for a number of years. Reportedly, China has traditionally kept the value of its Yuan in step with US and European markets, but most indicators say that China will make an "adjustment" soon that will significantly raise the price of its
exported goods. Other Asian nations are expected to fall in line. A number of years ago, similar currency adjustments, first by Japan and later, Taiwan, resulted in significant upward spikes in global bicycle prices.
The most anticipated World Cup pre-show crashes hard
Much to the dismay of fans, Claudio Caluori's pre-ride video was not aired at the DH World Cup's opening round, reportedly, because his monstrous crash was deemed too visceral for the general public. Claudio, the master of disaster, is well known for shaking off crashes, precipitated by following champion DH racers down World Cup venues, often without the benefit of pre-riding the tracks.
His luck came to an end in Croatia, where he was hospitalized by the crash while filming the Lošinj course. Not to worry though, Claudio assured his public on a Facebook post that he would be back on the horse, wired for sight and sound, at Fort Bill.