Now luckily with the sort of person you get riding with us in TFIT, they are normally very receptive to lending less fortunate accomplices various pieces of equipment, including their newest and dearest bikes. The only proviso it seems is that you have to give a write up afterwards (and the usual ‘you bend you mend’ policy) so here goes…

With the chainstay well and truly knackered on my Stumpy, Mark was quick to lend me his Specialized Enduro 29er. Notwithstanding the fact that it needed some tlc (fix the flat tyre, degunk drivetrain and get all 11 gears operational). With that done and with some extra pressure in the shocks and fork we headed off for our usual romp in the Surrey darkness. It was on my way to the meeting point I felt an urgent need to raise the saddle as even in the ‘up’ position my knees were far to close to my chin.

That quickly sorted we were off, I can only say that this bike was like wearing a comfy slipper, the handling felt almost exactly like my own wheels, but with the added bonus that the monarch plus rear shock was a revelation, ground hugging, plush without excessive bob and still plenty of deep down grunt when everything got a bit more vertical and quick. Some quick Strava times confirmed that this is a bike I could live with very happily. I would put some thicker sidewall tyres on to help with a couple of sideways moments, and tune the front brake to prevent it being so grabby, but otherwise a very stable machine.

A week later and it was a very kind Matt who offered his very new and incredibly shiny Transition Smuggler, again in the 29 flavour.

Now, there was a slight difference in the condition of this bike. I did find a speck of dust on the frame, but thought I’d leave it, just in case that was how Matt liked it. I also resisted the urge to change any of the shock/fork pressures or the positioning of handlebars or saddle as Matt has a micrometer and he’s not afraid to use it. To be honest though his size is fairly similar to myself so this wasn’t really much of an issue.

The ride I did on this was a little different to our usual Thursday outings as I was with my nearly teenage son, so just a 9 mile trip starting from Puttenham and heading over to the Crooksbury pumps and jumps. Again immediately I got jealous of the ability of the rear shock (another Rockshox offering) and has me wondering about upgrading my Fox CTD. This bike was another ground hugging trail smasher, for myself I would raise the stem and handlebar upsweep to get me into a more comfortable position when attacking a downhill section or getting airborne, but when on uphill, gentle or flat terrain this bike was effortless. But oh my god the SRAM XX1 drive train was like a dream, so light and precise. A mere four hours later of washing and cleaning and the bike was ready to give back to its owner.

So just another thank you to the boys in question, it’s a good eye opener to realise the pro’s or shortcomings of your own equipment.

And if any TFITers, needs to borrow my bike (and I’m not using it) then just ask. I might just need to injure my bike more often.