I feel very fortunate to be able to mix my passion of bike riding with my work, and every now and then I find a genuine reason to pack up my kit, and hit the road in the name of 'field testing'.
Easter weekend was one of those very occasions.
Having scoured the internet now for many months to try and educate myself further on the intricate balance of frame geometry, in particular, the balance of fork offset, trail and head angle, I decided it was time to set down the calculator and head out to verify if my thoughts and understandings were correct.
With new fork offset options now slowly becoming more accessible to product managers and designers in the last 12-18 months, they have opened up some new possibilities when it comes to bike design and geometry choices. I needed to really get under the skin of the effects of changing the fork offset and head angle to validate some theories that I had myself. Luckily, Northern Ireland is filled with a network of fantastic people within the sport and I was able to pull in a few favours to make it happen at short notice.
Mech Monkey is a local Independent Bike Dealer located in Belfast, owned and run by Kieran and Louis who have been riding bikes and building things for as long as I have known them. The guys were more than helpful in allowing me access to a few different bikes and forks to facilitate the testing.
Its also great to have a couple of mechanically minded bike nerds to help validate my thoughts and concepts with on a regular basis. Not to mention keeping me well stocked with bike wash and chain lube! Check their Facebook Page
Being based in Holywood Count Down, just 5 minutes outside of Belfast, I decided to head south to Rostrevor Mountain Bike Centre (home of the annual Redbull FoxHunt) where the mix of trails and DH runs are all serviced via a speedy uplift/shuttle courtesy of East Coast Adventure.
Rostrevor Mountain Bike Centre is another local family business run by Mark and Jennifer Cumming, (Their young son Chris is well on his way to becoming a top level DH racer with aspirations of World Cup success as soon as he is old enough!) and they are a friendly and welcoming face every weekend at the trail centre. After some careful bike set up, I hopped on the uplift and was dropping in for my first run within a few short minutes.
After multiple back to back runs on various bikes and fork offsets, it all started to fall into place and my theories really started to make sense.
Now its back to the office to try and make sense of it all on paper and start applying my findings to the next design project.