I previously raced motocross at a state and national level from the age of 12 until the age of 23. I never quite got to the level I wanted and lost the enjoyment for riding in the last 2-3 years. As a kid I could be found building jumps on any piece of land I could find and spent the day tearing it up on the BMX. I switched to MTB at 16 as a form of cross training for motocross and fell in love with it. I rode for fun up until 2015 where I did my first race, The Golden Triangle Epic. I guess on two wheels is where I’ve felt comfortable. Turns out I’m not too shabby on the MTB and started getting decent results right away with a 3rd in class in my first race. Pressure from friends to have a crack at racing more seriously finally persuaded me to enter more races leading to winning the 2016 XCO MTB National Title in Expert Men, pressure is on now!!
Where I ride
I’m lucky living just south of the Macedon Ranges. It’s such a beautiful area to ride the roady and the MTB with hills a plenty. Riding areas such as Gisborne/Bullengarook, Macedon, The famous Wombat Trails and local trails that I’ve been building with friends are all within 15 minutes of my doorstep. I like to mix it up as much as possible and head to other regular riding spots like Redesdale, Bendigo, Plenty Gorge and the You Yangs. My faves are definitely the more naturally formed, technical trails that require bike handling skills.
Hard to say really, can’t say I watch myself! I’m definitely a spinner when I’m seated as my chicken legs probably don’t have the watts of the big fellas to spin the big gear. I think my motocross background also leads me to spend a lot more time out of the saddle. I can’t believe the number of riders that sit down through technical sections. If we did that with motocross a coach, friend or parent would take the seat off our bike so we couldn’t sit down! So much more control when standing. I like to attack technical sections as I’m a big believer of momentum being your friend. If you’re moving forwards it’s much less likely that an obstacle can disrupt you, although it has been known to lead to some epic fails….
Bike I used to ride…
Giant Anthem Advanced 27.5
It’s a great machine and super plush over the rough stuff. Doesn’t quite have the punch of the new 29er hardtails with the developments in frames, wheels and materials as well as the Victorian tracks suiting the hard tail 29er. Great fun to ride in all conditions, but doesn’t feel as race oriented as the Focus.
I’m riding Focus because…
They are amazing, just a beautiful machine. Good looks have got to be worth at least 40-50watts! I’ve ridden a Focus Izalco Max roady for a year now. When I was looking into getting a new roady I tried quite a few different brands but I just couldn’t go past the Focus. It did everything well and the finish was stunning. I figured the same quality and performance would carry over into the MTB range and I wasn’t wrong. I was lucky enough to get an ambassador role through Focus Australia and my local dealer Sunbury Cycles who recently added Focus to their stable. The light weight hard tail frame, 29er wheels and race oriented geometry and vision hopefully further improve my racing. It’s awesome to have the support of my local dealer who I previously rode the Giant for, with the community also benefiting from having two leading bike brands in store.
What I changed on the bike before I rode it…
The grips were really thin and hard with 100m in the carpark enough to realise I wasn’t a fan. I switched them out for my regular Ritchey WCS foam grips with a massive increase in comfort and control. Not sure what the euros are thinking with the front brake on the left and the rear on the right either! Literally couldn’t ride the bike like that so swapped them over pronto. Apart from the usual contact point adjustments and the obligatory “I’m a racer so I need to slam my stem” everything else is standard…..for now.
My thoughts on…
One word, AMAZING! Unbelievably light yet so stable no matter what you throw at it. I wasn’t sure how much of the advertising regarding built in flex in the seat stays was true or just sales spin but the difference to previous hard tails is huge. Not sure how they can provide the level of compliance in the rear while keeping the bottom bracket and head stem so stiff. You just point and shoot and the bike will rail any corner or rock garden with the control I didn’t expect from a hard tail, particularly coming from the full suspension anthem. The acceleration when standing is the other standout of the frame, it bounds forward with ease forcing you to keep clicking gears. I just hope my chicken legs can keep up.
Cockpit(handlebars, stem, grips, shifters) (room for garmin?) etc
Being the Team edition everything is top notch. The bars and stem are Focus’ own in house brand Concept and are both carbon with the bars being a 720mm flat bar with 9 degree back sweep. I wasn’t sure about the width as I usually run a 690mm but I’m giving them a crack and being patient as I think I feel like I’m going to be on the wide bar band wagon very soon. Being 1 by and having the ispec shifter mounts there is ample room for the Garmin as well as lights for the late night training rides. I’ve always been a Shimano fan and with the Raven Max coming with SRAM XX1 I was a little nervous. The nerves were settle within 5 minutes of riding as the adjustability of the mounts and position of everything is top notch. I also prefer the smooth finish on the shifter paddles as I tend to slide my thumb off when I shift and the Shimano dimples took their toll after a few hours, I’m a bit precious.
Still not sold on the SRAM XX unfortunately. The feel is better than the Shimano’s I normally ride with but the power just isn’t quite there. I might upgrade to 180mm front rotor and some softer pads to get a little more bite in the future. In saying this they are very comfortable under the fingers and I’m really nit-picking.
The Fizik Tundra so far seems great. I like the microfiber cover as it provides a bit of traction for the rear end but still allows plenty of movement. The real test will be the first long ride but so far so good
Wheels and tyres
The DT Swiss wheels seem stiff and spin up quickly. The Continental Race King Race Sport tyres roll brilliantly and seem to hang on alright but aren’t tubeless ready. I tried for 3 days to get them to seal up but they just wouldn’t play with constant burping under cornering and sidewall leaking meaning they wouldn’t stay inflated longer than half an hour.
The best. If you don’t have it, get it.
RS1 forks wow are they a talking point with everyone that lays eyes on the bike. They do look awesome and they are super rigid with no flex under hard braking and rough surfaces which inspires you to attack the roughest of terrain. In terms of action I’m yet to feel confident in them with a firm small bump compliance and a tendency to blow through the stroke on the bigger hits with a fairly solid thump. I’m still playing with air pressures and have been told they do take a while to bed in and benefit from altering the bottomless tokens as well as a service. I’ll wait and see but at this stage probably a little underwhelming compared to the Fox Factory Kashimas I rode previously, they were buttery smooth from the get go and loved the big hits. In saying this I can feel the initial part of the RS1 stroke smoothing out so fingers crossed it’s just a bedding in period and set up refinement.
8.5kg with tubes and no pedals in a medium. So once set up tubeless and with my XT pedals well under 9kg ready to race. Feels like a road bike. How do they do it?
Any changes you think you will make to the bike in the future?
Definitely tyres, waiting on a set of Mitas Scylla to come in and will have them tubeless in no time. The wheels are ready to go with only the valves needing to be installed and supplied at purchase. As I said earlier I may increase the front disc size but to be honest the brakes are perfectly fine and I’m just being picky. I just need to work on the legs so I can ride it the way it wants to be ridden!
Who would you like to thank?
A massive thanks to Sunbury Cycles, they have been so supportive with everything in the past year. If you need a new bike definitely head in there and have a chat as they are willing to do whatever it takes to get you on the right machine. Also Focus Bikes Australia/Derby Cycles for jumping to support myself and my partner (relative newcomers to MTB) with only the smallest of meetings. Such a great company, with a great product and supporting the MTB public. VeloOne apparel for making the raddest socks on the market (Aussie made!!) and the best fitting cycling kit going around. Check out their website at www.veloone.com.au and get yourself an easy 30-40 sock doping watts. My partner Courtney for supporting me with racing when I was still a uni student and being there on the tough days, as well as providing the best bottle and pit support you could ask for. My Dad for getting me into motocross and spending most of his wage on making sure I could always have a bike to ride and could get to the races. He still does the same thing now with the MTB and is the best support going around. Whether it’s bottles, a simple chat, or lending me his van so I can drive all over the state and keep myself and my gear safe, there is nothing he won’t do. The van has this magic ability of filling itself with fuel each time I get it too! Finally to my coach Adam Kelsall who just seems to know the right thing to say and provides that extra bit of support and knowledge all competitors need to be their best.