Neil Braidwood takes this affordable entry-level mountain bike for a spin.
Iâ€™m a regular cyclist, always on the road, and usually commuting to work, so I am very much a mountain bike novice. Having been invited to try out the Selkirk MTB Marathon, I thought I should get an upgrade from my eight-speed hybrid.
Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative came to the rescue, suggesting their own Revolution Ascent bike, suitable for beginners like myself, but with enough features to make the experience a memorable one â€“ for the right reasons.
This is a hardtail aluminium-framed mountain bike, meaning there is no suspension at the back. For the routes I am riding, Iâ€™m not likely to need that level of sophistication, but I am glad of the SunTour suspension shocks at the front.
These have a hydraulic lockout key, if you prefer a fixed fork.
Another decent addition to this model is the disc brakes front and rear.Â I love the stopping power these have, and when youâ€™re hurtling down a hill at 30mph, itâ€™s good to know they are there when you need them.
Larger than average 27.5â€ wheels with seriously chunky tyres help you stay upright on narrow tracks, and give you more speed and traction when you need it. In addition, the clearance between front wheel and the main frame is different from hybrid bikes. Even the tubing is a different shape â€“ but overall the appearance is seriously solid.
I rode the bike home the five miles from Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operativeâ€™s Edinburgh Bruntsfield store, and was instantly smitten. On tarmac, at least, this bike was pretty fast, with more than enough gears and a good, wide stance on the handlebars. One of the things I dislike about my commuting bike is that it has stubby bars. They allow me to weave in and out of traffic, but on long distances they can be uncomfortable, so these wider bars felt good.
The bike comes with pretty basic pedals as standard, and the assistant in the shop removed the fitted toe clips for me, as he suggested I probably wouldnâ€™t need them. I am used to my feet being clipped in, and these pedals felt a bit strange.
I met Tom Nash, of Durty Events, and his friend Scott Kimber the next day at Yair forest. Seasoned single trackers, they were going to show me around some of the Selkirk MTB Marathon routes. These trails were pretty much in their back garden, so they knew every inch. Read more of what I thought of that route here.
We got under way, climbing three abreast on wide gravelly forest roads, past loggers and felled trees. â€œJust thinning it oot a bit,â€ came the shout from one of the forestry workers.
The incline was gradual, but long, and I was still getting used to having 21 gears. More than once, I got caught out using the changers, and struggled to keep my momentum up for the many steeper hairpin bends I encountered. The pedals were annoying me, and I slipped a few times, catching my shins.
By the time we reached the summit of the Three Brethren, my blood was flowing, and I needed a drink of water. But then so did everyone.
The descent was my first time on a proper single track, and this one rates red on the scale â€“ so relatively tricky. No pressure.
Tom was a great coach, though, and suggested I sat up off the saddle, and leaned back a bit. Feet needed to be parallel and heels down to give more control.
As I gained momentum, I felt like I was tilting forwards at 45Âº. It was all I could do to hold the bike steady and steer round the twisty turns and avoid either crashing into a tree or going over the bars.
I was braking way too much and the back wheel slid out from under me a few times. Speed, I have since discovered, is actually your friend in this type of situation, but you also need control, confidence and the ability to see far ahead of you, rather than concentrating on the tree root at your front wheel. I think I need more practice.
I had to get off and walk a couple of times â€“ I just felt too out of control â€“ but itâ€™s nothing to be ashamed of. I had only just taken delivery of the bike, and never done this type of riding before.
The rain began, and the ground turned to mud. The chunky tyres spat dollops of the stuff up at me, front and rear. Some bikers attach â€˜crud catchersâ€™ â€“ small mudguards to deal with the worst of it â€“ and there are fixings on this frame to allow you to do this.
The bike had held up brilliantly throughout. Solid, lightweight, and with quality fittings, itâ€™s a great value buy. The one thing I would change â€“ and my companions agreed â€“ was the pedals. They just feel cheap, and let the bike down. A decent platform pedal with pins might set you back Â£40 or so, but they will be worth it when paired with the right shoes.
â€¢ Weight: 15.42 kg (without pedals)
â€¢ 21 speed Shimano gears
â€¢ 90mm alloy stem
â€¢ 640mm alloy handlebars
â€¢ SR Suntour shock forks
â€¢ disc brakes front and rear
â€¢ 27.5â€ x 2.25â€ wheels
RRP: Â£339. Comes in 14â€, 16â€, 18â€, 20â€ and 22â€ frame sizes, and any colour as long as itâ€™s white. (It shows the mud better)