Malverns Classic mega
All the best bikes and tech from the 2023 Malverns Classic Festival
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By Nick Clark
Published: August 30, 2023 at 5:16 pm
The Malverns Classic Festival is a staple in the UK mountain bike scene, with deep roots spreading all the way back to the 1980s.
Taking place in Eastnor Deer Park, Herefordshire, the event celebrates all disciplines of mountain biking, from downhill racing to trials, with young and old riders alike gathering for a weekend-long bonanza.
That includes no shortage of tech, including rare retro bikes and the latest rigs of some of the top riders in the sport. Step forward new men’s downhill world champion, Charlie Hatton.
We sniffed around the festival to find the most interesting bikes and tech on show, from old classics to Hatton’s recent World Championship-winning ride.
Fat City Cycles was at the top of its game in the 1990s, producing bikes such as the Yo Eddy XC race bike.
This Buck Shaver features the same frameset as that iconic bike, made from True Temper double-butted chromoly tubing and with routing that sees all three cables (including the front derailleur) running along the top tube.
Originally specced with Shimano LX (which separated it from the Yo Eddy in Fat’s range), the Buck Shaver on display at the Malverns uses a Suntour XC Comp derailleur with triple chainring.
The bike is the passion project of Dave Broadbent who has put over 60 hours into the build so far, and is hesitant to say whether it’ll ever be finished.
Broadbent has given the bike a hefty dose of pink, with the crankset and ControlTech stem both paint-matched to the two-tone frameset.
The fork is somewhat of a hybrid, with Answer Manitou 1 lowers and internals married to a Shocktech crown and uppers due to compatibility issues with the steerer size of the Manitou.
Mavic M231 rims are married to some equally dated rubber, while dice-shaped dust caps and custom-blinged brake calipers finish off the pink theme.
From something old to something new, Tora says this new RAD prototype is based on the 1994 Sunn Radical, a bike the Tora designers longed for but could never afford when younger.
With 160mm of rear travel and a 180mm fork, this is firmly in the enduro category, though the brand says it has worked hard to make the bike an all-rounder.
The RAD uses a high-pivot linkage with an idler pulley.
Tora says this is its first prototype of the RAD, and that the finished bike will feature a machined linkage as opposed to the plate-bolted design used for testing.
Future prototypes are also expected to test greater tyre clearance and space for a water bottle, as well as a longer shock stroke of 175mm.
The bike features an array of purple-oxidised Hope components, with the brakes, discs, headset, wheels and cranks all provided by the British brand.
Hope’s Fortus 30 wheelset is wrapped in Maxxis High Roller II tyres, while Marzocchi takes care of suspension with a Bomber Z1 fork and Bomber Air shock.
The Giant ATX 990 is a bike very much associated with the legendary John Tomac in the collective memory of mountain bikers.
This example, created by Andrew Griffiths took first place in the Gtechniq Retro Show and Shine competition, a Concours-style event in which amateurs can display their classic bikes for the chance to win prizes and, just as important, appreciation.
While the bike looks like it’s straight out of Giant’s archive, Griffiths has gone to great lengths to create his idol’s machine, even securing a unicorn of retro mountain bike tech – the Tioga Disc Drive rear wheel.
Griffiths found the wheel in need of love and restored it with great difficulty, finding new old-stock fittings for the Kevlar cords and refining the glue compound to keep the wheel together – a process he likened to restoring an antique.
The frame is from a late-90s ATX that he had to rework, retro-correcting the geometry to the steeper angle it would have featured in 1994.
There is a Tioga Showa fork with 57mm of travel at the front of the bike, while a Noleen shock controls the rear suspension.
Shimano M900 XTR of the era is matched to a Tioga Revolver chromoly crankset featuring a single 54t chainring.
The cockpit features a 560mm Tioga DL-2001 handlebar with Powerstud bar-ends, connected to a lengthy 150mm Alchemy AL2 stem that has been powder-coated to match Tomac’s bike.
Griffiths says the bike was finished only a week before the competition, with the decals applied the Sunday before the bike went before the judges eyes.
The Radical Bicycle Company is a Shropshire-based bike manufacturer that produces UK-built aluminium hardtails and gravel bikes.
The Supacat prototype is the company’s first electric mountain bike, and a first foray into carbon manufacturing with the frameset featuring a full carbon fibre construction.
A Bafang M820 250w motor is paired to a 410w battery, which the brand says offers 75nm of torque. Radical says it plans on having a UK supply of motor and battery spares for servicing.
The prototype is sat on Marzocchi suspension, with a 160mm Bomber Z1 at the front and a Bomber Air controlling the 150mm of rear travel through the 4-bar linkage.
The brand says the head angle is around the 64-degree mark with the seat tube at a 76.6-degree angle.
Radical says the bike will be sub-20kg when it is put into production and expects the retail price to be around the £5,000 mark.
Fresh from a UCI World Championship victory, British rider Charlie Hatton’s Atherton AM.200 was still sporting the Fort William race plate clipped to the fork stanchions.
The frame is handcrafted, with Atherton’s design process allowing for high levels of customisation in the bike’s geometry, as the carbon tubes can made to measure for the 3D-printed titanium lugs.
Hatton’s bike features a number of neat little details, with a Union Jack formed into the titanium lug connecting the top tube and seat tube, while his mechanic Ben Oakeley’s name is featured next to this on the carbon top tube.
That just shows how much value Hatton places in a top-class race mechanic.
The bike features an O-Chain used on the crankset to reduce pedal kickback when the suspension compresses.
The device uses polymer inserts to allow the chainring to rotate under load and is said to keep the bike composed on big hits.
The AM.200 runs on a mullet wheel setup, and being sponsored by Continental, Hatton’s bike features Kryptotal tyres.
A Fox Factory 40 fork supports the front of the AM.200 while a Fox Factory X2 coil shock controls the 200mm of rear suspension travel, provided by the Dave Weagle-designed 6-bar linkage.
Matt Jones is one of the familiar faces at the festival, this time finding himself drenched after taking part somewhat unsuccessfully in the Lake Race.
He brought along his Marin Rift Zone to compete in the downhill event.
Öhlins takes care of the suspension, with a RXF 36 m.2 fork and, out back, TTX 2 rear shock looking after the 130mm of rear travel.
The bike rolls on a blacked-out 29in Halo wheelset wrapped in 2.5in Goodyear tyres, with an MTF front and MTR rear.
A Shimano XTR groupset is used, including the four-pot Trail brakes, although an FSA Comet crankset is used at the centre of the bike.
The GT Xizang represents a time in history when the thirst for lightweight could only be quenched by that rarest of frame materials – titanium.
The Xizang used GT’s famous triple-triangle frame design, which in theory made the rear triangle more complaint by mounting the seat stays to the top tube.
This example spotted at the festival features a full Shimano XTR groupset, with a triple crankset and cantilever brakes to match.
A black Chris King headset adds understated bling to the front of the bike, below which a period-correct RockShox SID is mounted.
The bike also features suitably-dated rubber in the form of green and tan Michelin Wildgripper tyres wrapped around Mavic X517 ceramic rims.
Tiny Rock produces full -uspension mountain bikes for kids, with bikes starting at a 20in wheel size.
The US brand displayed this 24in carbon enduro bike at the Malvern Classic – a bike that would make any young shredder’s wish list.
Tiny Rock says the bike is designed for riders roughly between the ages of seven and 12, with the frame featuring a 65-degree head angle and 76-degree seat tube angle.
A SRAM drivetrain, including an NX rear derailleur and SX crankset, is used to shift gears, while single-caliper Shimano hydraulic brakes take care of stopping.
The bike also features premium tyres in the form of a Maxxis DHF on the front and a DHR II on the rear.
Suspension is taken care of by an X-fusion 02 Pro rear shock, which provides support for the 120mm of rear travel, while a 120mm Manitou fork features at the front.
Nick Clark is a digital writer for BikeRadar, focusing on all things mountain bikes. Having raced XC for most of his youth, he has a deep understanding of the sport and loves bounding around the UK to spectate at events. A mountain biker at heart, Nick helped create a community of trail builders in his local forest in North Wales. Nick also loves road cycling, where he has completed the holy trinity of spectating at all three grand tours in their host countries. Described as having a good engine in his racing days, it’s now common to see Nick wheel-sucking on club rides and sprinting for town signs. He also enjoys bike touring and has completed numerous travels on the west coast of Europe, most recently riding from Lisbon to Roscoff. Nick has built many of his bikes from the frame up and has a keen eye for technical detail. He is currently riding a YT Capra on the trails and a Focus Izalco Max for the road.
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