The demo day was held at Holmbury St Mary, the second year for this location, and the rides left roughly every hour on a 35-40 minute loop. Regrettably it had rained beforehand and the trail was quite muddy in places but this didn’t detract too much from the day.
The E5 is a masterpiece of engineering in my book. It’s a lightweight piece of kit and I like the way they have turned back to normal tubing from their previous monocoque affairs. Being an owner of one such monocoque Marin I can confirm how much the frame amplifies any small noise. No such thing with the E5 from what I could tell as I glided over the track, really enjoying the spritely nature of the frame.
The new shock configuration seemed to work really well and the mud didn’t seem to get to it too much which is ideal for our winter riding. The frame seemed pretty stiff overall but I am a cross country rider by nature and don’t do drop offs. Then again, that’s what this bike is all about. The forks worked well and seemed to be stiff where needed. Overall a great package in my view, 5/5.
My next steed was the Marin Quake AL7, a freeride frame which seems to be aimed slightly to the extreme of the Enduro market. This is one of only 2 prototypes currently in existence and its the first time I’ve ridden such a bike but I just felt I had to give it a go. John Whyte has used the same sort of shock position and mount for this Marin as on the E5, one can only wonder how long before we see this carried through to the rest of the Marin range. Equipped with the Fox DHX shock this baby is more of a beast but it does go up hills quite well. Put it in the granny ring and spin it!
Holmbury isn’t going to have much to throw at the Quake but I was able to notice how much it flew when shown a downhill section. There was one particular swoop which has a bit of a kick at the bottom of it. Well it has on any other bike I’ve ridden but the Quake flattened it all out. If this bike is your sort of dream for Wales or the Alps then I reckon you should at least give it a go and see how it performs.
The final bike I rode was the Whyte 19. I feel more qualified to talk about this one as I have been riding my Inbred most of the Winter and hence know what I think a hard tail should be about. Well, I regret that I didn’t enjoy the 19 at all. It was as hard as nails on the track, might have a lot to do with the choice of saddle or maybe fuel for the “steel is real” argument but this bike felt too lively for me and plain uncomfortable. The forks are excellent though and the front end stayed well planted and in control.
One last thing to say is that this “review” is based on my opinions of about 35-40 minutes on each bike, set up by the company rep or a Cycleworks employee. No doubt they could all be tweaked more and feel better (or worse!!) and you may love the 19!! The whole day was excellent though and I recommend you attend a demo day if you are in the market for a new ride.