We recently got wind of reigning Enduro World Series champion Richie Rude being in the UK and that he was well up for a visit to MBUK for a day or two. Now, we're big fans of Richie here, and knowing he's built like the proverbial brick er, outhouse, we nominated own northern powerhouse and staff writer Ed to see just what a world champion is really made of. So we challenged him to seven gruelling tests that examined his strength, skill, endurance and beer-drinking abilities (well, we needed a chance at winning something), all hosted at BikePark Wales. But who came out on top?

Richie Rude riding with Ed Thomsett at BikePark Wales
Our Ed watching closely as he follows enduro world champion Richie Rude down one of the trails at BikePark Wales. Could we beat the champ though?

One of the biggest dates on the MBUK calendar is the Fort William World Cup. We love everything about it – even the 10-hour drive to get there – and this year we had another top weekend in the Highlands. But what makes it so consistently great? We wanted to find out more about how all the elements of a top World Cup round come together to provide the spectacle and experience so many of us enjoy. So we got ourselves an access-all-areas pass and spoke to some of the key riders, team managers and commentators to get a bit of insight into how they prepare for such an event.


In the first part of a new Challenge MBUK series, we headed to the Maritime Alps – that's basically the southern bit of the Alps on the French/Italian border – to see if we could ride from the snowline to the shoreline before the sun went down. The guys rode around 50km with over 3,000m of descent, tackling trails that ranged from fast and flowy to super-low-speed tech with some loose and rocky tracks thrown in for good measure – but did they reach their goal?

Tom Marvin riding the snowline to shoreline in Maritime Alps
We set the challenge to ride from the snowline in the Maritime Alps to the shoreline near Nice before we lost the daylight

This month's biketest looks at the best hardtails for under £1,000. It's an interesting price point that can see an awkward crossover of high-quality frames and parts and more compromised money-saving kit and chassis. The good news, if you're a UK buyer, is that our homegrown brands generally take a detailed interest in this price bracket. That’s because £1,000 is the cut-off point for the government-backed ‘cycle to work’ tax break schemes, which make these bikes a lot more affordable in real terms to a lot of riders. As a result, they tend to really sweat the details and produce very good, cost-competitive bikes, even compared to the global competition. You can find out which of the four UK-designed rigs gets our seal of approval.

Jumping to £1000 hardtails at Black Mountain Cycle Centre
Four UK hardtails for under a grand were tested to the limits to find out which offers the best value

We've also tested a selection of the latest 650b trail tyres and some first aid kits, for those moments when something goes wrong on your ride, as well as bringing you our verdicts on Magura's MT Trail Carbon brakes, the new Troy Lee Designs D3 Carbon full-face helmet, Fox's Launch Pro D3O knee pads and more.

And if you're looking to boost your skills for maximum fun on the trails this summer, we teach you how to drift round corners with style, Danny MacAskill shows you how to hop up obstacles with ease, you can learn how to user a kicker ramp to create a stepdown, get yourself ready for riding cross-country and more.

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