Bike of the year

We took on a massive undertaking in 2017 – to test 20 long-travel enduro bikes head to head in search of one ultimate all-rounder. An upper price limit of £3,000 was set and we included a bike from nearly every manufacturer who fit the budget or would send us a bike. Through countless winter hours battling through mud and rain, we narrowed the selection down and took our top picks out to Italy for a final showdown in Punta Ala.


We're planning the same test again, with a fresh selection of 2018 bikes, at the start of next year, so stay tuned for that. It promises to be the ultimate guide for bike shopping!

Drifting a corner on a mountain bike with a view of the sea in Italy
Testing out in Punta Ala, Italy for Bike of the Year. The dusty trails and sea views made up for a winter spent in dank UK woods! Credit: Andy Lloyd

Danny MacAskill as guest editor

For our Scotland special we fired our regular editor Danny Walter (sorry Danny!) and enlisted the help of one of the greatest trials riders in the world to help us compile a whole range of Scotland-orientated content. We had an eight-page feature on Danny's career so far, including how a YouTube viral video started his rise to being a household name. We also took a look at his Santa Cruz 5010 CC in our Superbike section, scoured the Highlands in search of Scotland's 10 best 'Wild Routes' and spoke to the ever hilarious Dudes of Hazzard about railing ruts, living in vans, eating baked beans and more.

danny macaskill riding on front wheel down steep slope
Danny MacAskill shows us the skills that have made him an internet sensation. Credit: Dave Mackison
Danny MacAskill riding doing a wheelie
Our Al went to Scotland to get the lowdown on Danny MacAskill and the Scottish trails. Credit: Dave Mackison

Fort William World Cup

For us, Fort Bill World Cup is the pinnacle of the DH and XC racing calendar. It's an event that seems to grow every year and the 15th edition was no exception. We had our biggest ever presence at the event, with bags of MBUK merch, athlete signings, a Trek Session DH bike giveaway and a ride out from our stand, led by Tracy Moseley. Of course, besides this, we all enjoyed slipping back a few jars, chatting to race fans, meeting our readers and cheering on the world's best. We're already looking forward to 2018, and Fort William is back again, hosting round 2 of the series on 2/3rd June.

Fort William World Cup fans dressed as women
"Hullo laydees!" There's never any shortage of fancy dress outfits at the World Cup
Wet and muddy riders in the pits at Fort William World Cup
Tracy Moseley leads a ride out from the MBUK pits. Who's scared of a bit of rain?
South African Greg Minnaar racing at Fort William
The King of Fort William, Greg Minnaar, on his way to another win at the 2017 race

The time we arm-wrestled Richie Rude

Enduro racer Richie Rude arm wrestles at BikePark Wales
Winning an arm wrestle against possibly the strongest racer on the EWS circuit was always going to be a tall order. Credit: Steve Behr
Richie Rude riding with Ed Thomsett at BikePark Wales
Richie Rude leads out Staff Writer Ed down the A470 line at BikePark Wales. Credit: Steve Behr

Riding with Rachel Atherton

Rachel Atherton is indisputably one of the greatest downhill racers of all time and she holds the record for the most consecutive World Cup wins. When she invited us up to her home in the Dyfi valley to hang out, drink tea, chat bikes and ride some of her brother Dan's new bike park, who were we to refuse? In our interview (which you can find in MBUK 344), Rachel talks candidly about her relationship with racing, her brothers and how her remote mid-Wales home provides the perfect antidote to her hectic life of racing at the highest level.

Rachel Atherton and Ed talking
Rach and our Ed chat bikes in the sun before first runs. Yep, blue skies, we know – this really is Wales! Credit: Andy Lloyd
Rachel Atherton drops off a rock on a downhill bike at Dyfi Bike Park
Rachel Atherton drops in at Dyfi Bike Park. Credit: Andy Lloyd
Rachel Atherton and MBUK Staff Writer Ed ride together in Dyfi, Wales
It took all we had to hang on to Rachel's wheel through the rocks of Dyfi. Credit: Andy Lloyd

Climbing Everest in a day

OK, so we used an e-bike, but still 9,345m of climbing, 162.22km ridden and 19 full runs of a black-graded Alpine downhill track is no mean feat. The purpose of this challenge was really to see just how much we could achieve with battery power on our side, plus Features Editor Al wanted to challenge himself to push beyond his limits. Even thunderstorms, horrendously muddy trail conditions and punctures weren't enough to stop Al 'summiting Everest' – 19 climbs of Morzine's Le Pleney and 10 exhausted batteries later. Read the full story in MBUK 348.


Ed ThomsettContributor

Former Mountain Biking UK features editor Ed Thomsett is a downhiller at heart but has been riding bikes of all types since a young age. He's raced both nationally and internationally in downhill and enduro, and has spent several summers living in the Alps and Canada, riding, roadtripping and living the dirtbag lifestyle. Now Ed calls upon his years of experience riding bikes to the limit as a writer and reviewer for MBUK and BikeRadar. He's also an avid trail builder and has scraped out numerous steep and technical lines in the woodlands of his native North Yorkshire. These days Ed will happily turn his hand to any discipline and believes the sign of a good week is when every bike in his shed ends up muddy by the end of it.