Archive for the ‘Equipment’ Category

Riding on the ‘ Heath

Friday, April 15th, 2011

NW London’s worst kept secret is “the heath”…

Yesterday, ex-esher trail crew member Jesus John and ex-esher shop manager Rob C went riding on “the heath”

3.5 hours of brutually steep climbs, hammering along singletrack and some fast steep descents make for a fun riding time!

John was riding his Ellsworth Moment Mk2 all-mountain bike

Rob C was riding his Devinci Dixon Split-Pivot all-mountain bike

We encountered many strange sights during our ride, including a russian millionaire shouting at his workmen to ‘work faster’ on his house extension, I saw the well known enviromentalist “Bill Oddie” out walking, and a number of well known celebrity-type people including tv presenters, models and yummy mummies during our travels up, along and down the heath

Makes a nice change to the usual grey skies and dog poop that seem to dampen the spirits on typical UK riding sessions!

Freeborn Esher has now closed

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

We are sad to announce that Freeborn Bikes of Esher has now closed its doors, due to circumstances beyond our control, and related to the failed redevelopment of the Esher X bike park and legal problems with our landlord Sandown Sports Club

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to all of our customers over the 8+ years that Freeborn Esher operated, and also to all the riders that used the Esher Shore bike park, and helped to support the shop

Unfortunately, all good things do come to an end….

….but we are moving forwards and upwards, with many exciting developments at Freeborn Horsham including lots of demo rides of Ellsworth, Devinci and Mythic bikes; weekly shop rides on Pitch Hill in Surrey, many custom-bike builds, bike magazine tests, a strong “grassroots team” representing our brands, and an ever-expanding on-line business!!

For any former customers of Freeborn Esher, please take a short trip to Freeborn Horsham (35 Freshwater Parade, Bishopric, Horsham, RH12 1QD) where you will experience the same high standards of customer service, fast and price competitive workshop , awesome attention-to-detail and an unrivalled stock level of the highest quality bicycles, frames and leading brand components

On behalf of all the staff that worked at Freeborn Esher over the years, and to all the hard working volunteers trail builders of the Esher Shore bike park, and to the boss who gave us this great opportunity to build something special at Esher, you all have my sincere thanks and much respect

Hope to see you all out on the trails, very soon!

Rob Cole

Manager, Freeborn Bikes Esher

Ellsworth and Devinci on Bike Radar – Show report

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Some great coverage on leading website “Bike Radar” from the recent trade-only Core Bike show at “The Bike Place”

Haven distribution showed the 2011 range of Ellsworth’s new SST2 frames and Devinci’s Split-Pivot frames and complete bikes

The guys from Freeborn took a trip to the venue (near Silverstone race circuit in Buckinghamshire) to check out the new models alongside many other dealers and lots of bike industry people including all the magazines and big websites

Devinci Bicycles even sent their marketing guru ‘Gabe Fox’ along to the show to support the Haven guys and answer all those tricky questions that often get asked at trade bike shows? The hard working crew from Haven Distribution certainly benefitted from Gabe’s expertise and laid-back Canadian charm to deal with the hordes clambering all over the bikes on the trade stand!

As well as the new Devinci and Ellsworth models, we also got to check out the brand new “Loaded Components” range of coloured finishing kit which included some nice bars, stems, seatposts and headsets in bright matching colours for that final ‘bling’ touch when doing a custom bike build or hopping-up an old bike!

Check the article out here:

all images courtesy of Bike Radar / Future Publishing Ltd.

2011 Devinci Dixon SP

Friday, February 11th, 2011

well here she is…my new ride for 2011

the Devinci Dixon SP All-Mountain Trail bike

SP means “Split Pivot“, which is Dave Weagle’s patented concentric-pivot suspension system

It looks simple and many would comment it just a single pivot with a floating brake, but there is alot more to it that meets the eye!

Huge amounts of development time went into the placement of the suspension pivots, the rocker linkage, creating a very low leverage suspension layout, physical packaging of the Split-Pivot itself (it uses the Syntace 142mm x 12mm through-axle) and then months were spent by Dave Weagle personally developing a custom shock tune with Fox suspension

What this means to the rider is that the Dixon pedals like a hardtail and does not appear to be moving but the ‘o ring’ on the Fox RP23 BV shock has moved down the shaft indicating its moved through most of its travel!

A more simple explanation is that the suspension feels “transparent” whilst riding, whether pedalling, coasting or braking hard, it just quietly gets on with absorbing the bumps and finding traction to keep you moving forward without any excessive movements, any squatting or any brake stiffening

My custom built Dixon bike is based on the Dixon SL frame that we sell at £1699 with Fox RP23 XV BV shock and FSA Orbit 1.5 ZS headset

I’ve added a Fox 36 fork, SRAM 2 x 9 transmission with E13 bashguard and Shimano XTR front derailleur, Hope Hoops (Pro II on ZTR Flow) wheels with Stan’s No-Tubes and Specialized Control tires, and then some lovely ‘Haven’ finishing kit from Easton and a Renthal handlebar with Sunline grips

Pedals are the superlight and grippy Wellgo MG-1, cranks are Shimano SLX and braking is taken care of by Avid with the Elixir hydraulic discs

Not had a change to weight the Dixon yet, but it definitely feels light but also extremely rigid in the rear whilst pedalling or making sharp turns (the 142mm x 12mm axle helps here..), its also a great length at 23″ in the top tube for the medium size which means I am running a 55mm Easton Haven stem to suit my 5’10″ sizing

Head angle with the Fox 36 160mm fork is a slack 65.5 degrees but the bike has a 72 degree, full length seat tube to put you on top of the cranks for easy pedalling and efficient climbing up the steeps

Its early days yet, but the Dixon is a really stunning bike to look at, and more stunning to ride

Devinci have a “sleeper” hit on their hands with the Dixon, its one of those bikes you have to “try” out and just 1 ride will convert you to the potential of this new bike for the trail and all-mountain rider

My top 10 of 2010

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

2010 is nearly drawing to a close and I’ve done alot of riding this year including trail centres, bike parks, pump tracks, dirt jumps, muddy night riding and even a Downhill race!

I’ve used lots of different bike parts, accessories and clothing during the year, but have come to realise the parts that really helped my riding this season

here is my (Rob C) personal top 10 for 2010:

1. Renthal Fatbar

British manufactured by the legendary Motocross company Renthal, the Fatbar in 750mm x 20mm just feels…perfect!

Great shape, highest quality manufacturing, Renthal’s legendary strength-to-weight ratio and a wonderful anodised gold colour which lets the World know you have chosen the best bar on the planet

Forget carbon fibre, Renthal knows its all about high strength aluminium-alloy, and did I already mention its British made??


2. E13 LG1+

E13 revolutionised the chain device market some years ago, and have continued to bring new innovations to chain devices every season or two

The LG1+ is a “taco” style device meaning that the chainring and chain are protected by a large lexan (polycarbonate) wedge that sits underneath the backplate, ready to greet any nasty rocks or tree roots on the trail

The “+” designation means this is the latest LG1 featuring a redesigned backplate which accomodates any frame style with regular, narrow or wide angle settings – just choose ISCG OLD or ISCG 05 to suit your frame, and you can run E13′s bottom bracket adapter if your frame does not have ISCG mounts

In use, the LG1+ is “transparent” (you won’t notice its there); the chain stays put whatever abuse you give your bike and a great feature for our wet climate is the ability to properly clean the chainring / chain as the lack of a bashguard means you can get at the chainring teeth whilst cleaning your bike


3. Specialized Control Purgatory tire

A bit of a “sleeper” hit in the Specialized tire lineup, this is easily my favourite front tire for all-mountain bikes and trail bikes

Light at sub 650 grammes with its kevlar bead, very large volume for a 2.2″ tire (as large as a Maxxis in 2.5″), dual durometer which means a harder centre knob line and softer edge knobs for cornering, and a great tread pattern which always feel predictable even in mud and snow, and clears extremely well considering its not a mud specific tire

The other huge bonus is the “2 bliss” membrane that all the “control” series tires have – meaning easy setup with tubeless systems like the Stan’s No-Tubes conversion kit


4. Hope Pro II hubs

Hope have been making excellent, tough wearing kit for years, and the Hope Pro II hubs are another example of their excellence!

Legendary for their rolling performance, wet weather durability, fantastic strength-to-weight ratio, ease of servicing (with all spares available next-day from Hope) and adaptability for different axle standards and dropout styles

Both my bikes run Hope Pro II hubs in the 20mm front and 135mm x 10mm ‘screw-in bolt’ variants in 32H and black

I’d always suggest black as the hubs will last so long that you might find you use the same hubs on different rims and bikes and so black works great as its a “colour” that is almost neutral in that it works great with different coloured rims and other coloured bike parts


5. Wellgo MG-1 pedals

You won’t find these on our website yet, but they are due very soon…

Wellgo is the world largest pedal manufacturer, making pedals for a good number of the leading brands, as well as doing a very brisk business under their own ‘Wellgo’ name in the aftermarket and OE sectors (original equipment for complete bikes)

I was turned onto these MG-1 (magnesium) pedals by my buddy who managed to find a spare pair for me, and I have not looked back since – they’ve been used and abused in mud, rain and snow and used for dirt jumping, XC trail riding and a downhill race

A decently large sized and relatively thin platform design with good quality sealed bearings, a good concave and removable steel pins, all mounted into a magnesium-alloy body which means one of the lightest pedals on the market at a low price (typically £40) without the stupid expense of titanium axles or hand-machined US made exotica!

I’ve actually found them so grippy with 5-10 shoes, I’ve had to remove 4 pins per pedal face, which is easily accomplished using an allen key


6. Fox RP23 BV shock

Now this is something really special, if you want to run an air shock, this is about as good as it gets!

It looks deceptively simple, but works brilliantly, many would argue its actually better than the DHX Air?

The RP23 is based on the venerable Float air shock, but with the Boost Valve trickery cleverly crammed inside, adjustable air pressure, adjustable rebound and a 3-position pro pedal control which also has an on/off setting

In practise its very very good – with the larger “XV” version ideal for all-mountain bikes and even FR / DH bikes previously fitted with coil shocks

Great small bump sensitivity, great ‘pop’ on jumps and good control through the mid stroke into the long stroke with no harsh bottom out or funny habits even at high speeds and big impacts – highly recommended – I have these fitted to both my bikes!

7. 661 Kyle Strait knee pads

Something for your body – the 661 Kyle Strait (or ‘Slim’ as its also known) is a brilliant pad that truly changed the body armour market

Its simple but very effective with a neoprene construction and hard plastic cap embedded inside the knee area, with high density foam padding behind the cap, and above / below the cap, and also on the sides to protect the vulnerable patella from top tube or terrain impacts!

Easy to fit, easy to use (you won’t notice you are wearing them even on XC rides) and giving a good level of protection whilst not getting in your way or affecting your riding style, and also easy to clean after use

After years of wearing bulky and restrictive hard shell knee/shin guards I only use the 661 Kyle Straits – they are a great choice to keep your knees warm during winter XC rides, and also for freeride, dirt jumping and downhill racing where you want the freedom to move whilst protecting the vulnerable knee during the inevitable crashes!


8. Shimano SLX HT2 crankset

Shimano have shot themselves-in-the-foot with the Shimano Hollowtech SLX crankset – unless your bike has an 83mm bottom bracket shell (meaning you need Shimano Saint) there really isn’t any reason to buy any crankset but SLX

I’ve used this on my short travel freeride bike for 2 seasons including some stupidly big gap jumps, drops and dirt jumps – never even looked at the cranks since fitting..

I also use these on my all-mountain bike and once again they are fit and forget and as most of the most important parts of any bike, a great crankset you can truly rely on!

Perfect balance of strength and weight, extremely tough with the steel pedal insert and washer, easy to setup with single ring, dual ring with bash, chain devices or triple rings – Shimano include their well sealed and super durable bottom bracket, the price of SLX absolutely kills any competiting brands and SLX is only 40 grammes heavier than the more expensive Shimano XT!


9. Endura Baa Baa base layer

If you have unpleasant memories of a woolen jumper your granny gave you for Christmas, don’t worry – modern ‘mercerised’ merino wools do not itch, and give you an incredible performance than modern synthetics cannot hope to match

Merino wool is incredible warm even in thin plies, retains warmth whilst wet and importantly is naturally anti-bacterial so will not retain the odour that afflicts many synthetics

Enduro’s “Baa Baa” long sleeve top is brilliant as a base layer in cold weather conditions, or even for wearing under normal clothing during the colder months – you may find yourself wearing it for several days….

10. Madison Shield glasses

My final item is critical for night riding, or riding during the winter in poor weather conditions  (any riding where you don’t need sunglasses)

Very affordable but also very functional – the clear lense Shields glass keeps your eyes safe and sound from mud, gravel and rogue tree branches or sticks

As they are very affordable you don’t have to worry if you ruin them by wiping muddy glasses with your gloves, or lose them on a night ride, or sit on them when back in your vehicle (which I once did to a £130 pair of clear Oakleys…)

Freeborn Esher is still open!

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

There seems to be some confusion on the Interwebz about the closure of Esher Shore Bike Park in Surrey (1st September 2010)

We’ve been receiving calls from riders concerned about the Freeborn Esher bike shop closing when the Bike Park shuts down?

To clarify, Freeborn’s Esher bike shop is independant of the Esher Shore bike park, and has been getting busier and busier, whilst the Esher Shore bike park has been getting quieter and quieter over the past 2 seasons!

The Freeborn Esher bike shop is open from 10am-6pm on Monday-Saturday, and 11am-4pm on Sunday and Bank Holiday’s, and can be reached on 01372 476 969 during these hours

The Freeborn Esher bike shop takes in lots of servicing work, does specialist work like custom wheel building, suspension servicing and custom bike building

As well as selling the full range of Specialized, Devinci, Ellsworth and Mythic bikes / frames and components / kit from leading companies such as Easton, Thomson, Sunline, DMR, SDG, Stan’s, Rockshox, Fox, Maxxis, Park, Finesse, Light & Motion, Electron, Endura, Giro, Bell, 661, and other leading brands, etc.

Mythic Legend MK II finally available

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Mythic’s “Legend” DH race frame has been A LONG TIME coming

nearly 5 years of design and development including 50 test riders on the Legend Mk I frame across the Globe – amateur riders including qualified engineers, designers and products testers, who have pumped their ‘feedback’ back to Keith and Jay at Mythic / Banshee Bikes

Tweaks have been made to frame geometry, small problems addressed, and most critically the move from IGUS composite bearings back to INA ball bearings on the frame pivots

Freeborn have finally received the “production” Mk II Legend frames, in a limited supply – in the words of our head mechanic – “silky smooth” rear suspension with the rear shock removed…

Mythic / Banshee design engineer Keith Scott explains the Legend in this short video from the “Sea Otter” event in the USA

If you want a Legend Mk II you need to move quickly as we have just a handful of frames available, until the next production run…..

2010 Devinci Wilson custom build

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Its always great to see a happy customer with his brand new, custom built bike

Here is my customer Rob with his 2010 Devinci Wilson

Rob chose the “Racer” Wilson colour scheme, and has the new Fox RC4 coil shock absorber installed

His custom build can be seen in more detail in the bike photos – 2009 Rockshox Boxxer Team with PUSH damper upgrade and fully tweaked by the nice people at TF TUNED SHOX (please get in contact with us, if you want any PUSH tuning done on your shocks or forks), FSA reducer flush sealed headset and direct mount stem

I built a brand new sets of wheels for his build – Hope Pro II hubs in 20mm front and 150 x 12mm rear, laced with DT Competition double butted spokes and DT brass nipples onto Mavic EX729 DH rims and topped with Maxxis High Roller dual ply tires

Shimano Saint HT2 crankset in 83mm shell to suit the Wilson’s bottom bracket, E13 LG1 chain device and Middleburn DH chainring, a mix of SRAM X-0 and X-9 shifting, SRAM PG-990 cassette and PC-971 chain, and Hope Tech V2 DH brakes with 203mm floating rotors and braided hoses

Finished off with a Thomson Elite seatpost, SDG Bel Air SL saddle and ODI lock-on grips

Overall a really solid build, and pretty too!

As well as custom built bikes DH based around Devinci(Wilson), Ellsworth (Dare) and Mythic (Legend) frames, we also offer complete DH production bikes from Devinci (Wilson 2,3,4) and Specialized (we have the very rare 2010 Demo 8 II still available) – please get in touch with either of the shops for more info!

Mythic Rampant bike check

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Don’t need to say anything about my Rampant - I’ll let your eyes wander over the picture and you can drool in the privacy of your own home ;)


Mythic Rampant, 100mm suspension frame, short size

Fox RP2 air shock with specific tune

Rockshox Pike 454 Air U-Turn fork (lowered to 90mm)

Thomson X4, 50mm x 31.8mm stem

Devinci Daredevil 720mm x 31.8mm mid rise bar

Avid Juicy 7 brakes, 185mm front rotor and 160mm rear rotor

SRAM X-9 (9-speed) shifter pod and X-9 mid cage rear deraileur

SRAM PG-990 11-32T 9 speed cassette, SRAM PG-971 chain

Shimano SLX HT2 crankset with 38T chainring and Gamut bashguard

E13 STS ISCG 05 chain device backplate, lower roller and wear plates

Stan’s ZTR FLOW rims on Hope Pro II hubs with DT Swiss Comp D/B spokes and Brass nipples

Specialized Control Fast Trak tires with Stan’s No-Tubes tubeless conversion

DMR Pivotal seatpost with FIT BMX pivotal saddle

Aluminium bolts in low stress areas….

its 29.4lb on digital scales, and will take a serious beatdown as my summer vacation to Winterberg Bike Park in Germany proved last year!


Rob C

Mythic Bikes / Freeborn bikes

new STEM goodness from HOPE

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

We sell alot of Hope Pro II hubs here at Freeborn (usually custom built onto Stan’s and Mavic rims by our experienced wheel builders)

But something else that has caught our attention is Hope’s new range of stems, as seen below:

Hope offer their all-mountain / cross country in addition to specialized “Direct Mount” stems for both the Fox 40 and Rockshox Boxxer dual crown downhill suspension forks, and a really trick Fox 40 top crown / stem combo

We love Hope because they are a rare example of a UK manufacturing company that makes some of the best kit in the World, and they have affordable prices, great customer service and many choices when it comes to colours!

We also like the thought that they run a “just in time” style of manufacturing operation, which means they make stuff as and when needed….they often don’t have spare stock lying around on their shelves

Its very cool to think that when you place a special order with Freeborn for a Hope stem (or hubs, brakes, etc.), we call Hope up and they actually make it for you, and ship it out within a day or so!