Rubena Triton XFR Review

Having used this tyre for a massive variety of riding styles and conditions over the last 9 or so months, I can safely say they make a great all round tyre, not particularly excelling in any one condition but never feeling outclassed or lacking.

Dry and dusty conditions work well with the Tritons, the style of centre knob rolling well for an aggressive tyre, this makes them particularly useful for an enduro style bike and reduces the energy needed to propel the bike on ups and flat terrain. The grip in corners is really nicely judged, just enough to really lean on but never so much that it troubles the stiffness of an enduro style fork or frame.

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In wetter conditions the tyre clears incredibly well, never collecting mud like some others do therefore functioning as its designed to for more of the time and carrying less weight. The grip drops off quite a bit in wetter conditions and the tyres struggle to get decent traction on muddier trails. Having said that, trails with sharp edges like rocks or roots remain easily passable as the soft compound finds grip very well even when wet.

I haven’t had any punctures whilst using the Triton despite some ham-fisted riding, the sidewalls seem to hold up very well and have outlived my rims. At Bike Park Wales, they managed to provide good grip, great rolling speed and massive puncture resistance in very adverse conditions, yet still managed a big xc lap of Afan bike park like a decent lightweight tyre.

All in all another very good tyre from Rubena and another favourite for the team.

Check out the Rubena home page for more details: Rubena Triton Tyre

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Rubena Scylla Racing Pro Compound 2.1″ review

The Rubena Scylla is a tyre designed for intermediate hard packed conditions. We’ve spent a fair amount of time of time using these tyres in a wide range of conditions from the stony and rooty trails of Aston hill, to Chicksands Bike Park’s smooth sandy loose surfaces to the hard-pack fast rolling red dirt of Redhill Extreme.

2013-07-13 09.44.38Scylla’s on and ready to roll.

Whilst these tyres look narrow, they provide a decent amount of cushioning on all trails and never feel as narrow as they initially look at a standstill. The tread pattern is reversible to suit different situations and conditions. Also the tread is aggressive feeling like they have a nicely angled transition from dead upright to cranked right over. Speaking of that, they really do allow absurd angles of lean on hard pack surfaces, without any hint of drift. They roll really fast, and quietly, building speed on all surfaces easily and quickly.

The Scyllas are a great dry condition tyre for nearly all harder surfaces, only losing out some grip to the Harpies when the going gets very loose or a little damp.

They make a very capable fast rolling trail tyre and in turn a great 4x tyre for the harder packed venues that are on the national circuit. Highly recommended and available from Rubena Tyres.

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Hot weekend of racing at British 4x Round 5 and British 4x Championships

British 4x Round 5

Words: Si & Arth
Pictures: Si & Claire

Bridgnorth was to see not just the 5th round of the British Fourcross series but the National Championships as well.

The track had been recently re tweaked by Scott Beaumont, and boasted a new first straight to test the best of the best. With a very short start ramp and mere strip of run to an almost impossible double. This was going to make anyone who was relying on good gate technique to think again, as to contend with the power needed to jump this 25ft gap was going test all riders to the max. Followed by a step up and then into what can only be described as a 180 wall, very high and steep, ending in a off camber drop or step down. Which as predicted saw a huge amount of action over the racing weekend.

So with usual pre race, preparations taking place. Saturdays racing was to be not only of high calibre but a testament to rider’s abilities in heat wave conditions. With midday temperatures reaching up to the 30’s, hydration was key.

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Motos underway, our female rider Claire Pollard, took to the gate with optimism as a good mix of tyre choice, Rubena Harpie on front and new Scylla on the rear. Giving maximum grip to rolling potential. Flowing well in the first straight using her BMX pumping technique and good gating skill, she was looking to make a few changes to her game. Keeping good speed and holding a steady line she kept her pursuers in the dust behind her, keeping it low and fast to the line. Taking a 3rd and 2nd in Motos 1 and 2 respectively. Moto 3 saw an unfortunate crash after taking a hard a fast line through the right hand berm, hitting the double shot resulted in Claire bumping the front wheel of bike and going over the bars, landing nasty on her previous AC joint injury. After crossing the finish line, it was clear, some damage was done to arm and to her chance of continuing her day.

Junior rider Arthur Cotterell was looking to redeem himself from his last disappointing round at Redhill. Piling some pressure on was having a bad effect, and after Moto 1, his 4th position was not where he wanted to be. So with a quick pep talk with manager Simon Cotterell, a new attitude was adopted. Which seemed to work, with faster and faster gates, clever lane choices and unstoppable determination, resulted in great moto finishes. Putting him into the semis.

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With a continued positive attitude, fueled by his ambition and a new race recovery diet. He kept his cool in the midday sun, with another well-crafted race, taking a spot in the A final along side his peers and mates.

With a stacked final gate, Arthur took 2nd behind Jordan Fermor on the first straight, with Jordan Scott and Chad Boxall following behind. After a battle in the first corner, Jordan Scott snuck past putting Arthur back into 3rd. The racing was fast, loose and exciting with his Rubena Scylla tyres running fast and giving plenty of sliding grip into the corners sending dust flying. Using all of his focus and racecraft, Arthur pulled a stunning corner overtake in the last berm reclaiming 2nd position behind Fermor. A brilliant final to end some fast, loose and exciting racing!

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After such a big day racing, the team felt ready to take the battle to the National Champs the next day!

British 4x Championships

Words: Pete
Pictures: Claire

As the sun come up it was National Championships day, that special day that comes once a year, which decides who wears the coveted Champs jerseys for the next 12 months.

Another gloriously warm and sunny day at Bridgnorth met us and we begun by walking the track to check the changes that had been made. The first corner had changed a little bit and there was a new bottom section that most riders seemed to like the look of.

Claire begun by racing the Women’s time trial to see who would get though to the finals and go for the Jersey. Unluckily and by the smallest margin possible she just missed out on making the knockout rounds (.2 of a second!!), a real shame after her performances yesterday.

Arthur being in Junior class had the standard Moto format to his racing. He duly won all three Motos with some awesome overtaking moves on his rivals.

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In his semi final he again gated well and put a move in to gain the win setting him in great stead for the final.

He again gated well, getting a good drive down the first straight and round the first corner he came out leading, Luke Cryer managed to find a way past and left a door open for Mr Bembridge to get through too. Try as he might Arthur just couldn’t get back past them this time and finished third at the line, a great effort in his first Junior year.

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A great racing track that produced some really good moves and. Made for a close two days of 4x action. Well done to all the national Champions and Old Skull will be back next year hungry for some stripes!

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Tough weekend at the British 4x Round 4

Words: Pete.
Pictures: Si and WDC Cuts.

As usual for an event in the British summertime, a wet weekend was forecast so it was with great excitement we awoke to a dry and dusty Redhill Extreme on Sunday morning for Round 4 of the British 4x Series.

Practice was fast and furious and Claire was looking to capitalise at the very pumpable track with her ever improving skill. Arthur was looking effortlessly smooth and stylish as per normal and is fitting into the Junior class nicely.

Pete had to sit this round out on the sidelines as his elbow is still healing after his operation. Hopefully see him back as soon as he can get here though!

We got underway after practice with the motos to decide who would make the finals. Claire had a steady start to the day with a 4th in her first moto but slowly progressed in each of her three motos. Placing third in the next one and an excellent 2nd in her last. She was really unlucky to not make a semi final and missed out by only a point. She really enjoyed her racing though and it’s really impressive to see the great turnout of girls continuing at every round of the Series. Well done girls, let’s hope it continues!

1052536_878974468801_2046633143_oClaire on the motorway section (photo by Si)

Arth started his motos with a third. His starts weren’t up to his own standard and the Redhill track makes passing a fine art with the lack of braking zones down the hill. He continued with another third leaving himself a lot to do to make finals. In his third moto he was holding a good second before dicing for the lead in the final corner and having an unlucky slide out. So close but so far!

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This ended his day of racing, his first time off the podium this year. He’s going to be back for Bridgenorth. Fitter and with a little bit more racecraft too.

Racing in all classes was brilliant all day, no major injuries and an awesome Men’s Elite final with a battered Scott Beaumont taking the win on the final corner from a hard charging Tom Dowie. Great day out.

A big thank you goes to our sponsors; Rubena Tyres for their amazing tyres, the Scylla performed brilliantly in the dry dusty conditions, Surf Sales UK for Kali Protectives gear and our Transition frames.

If you didn’t come to watch then why not? Another great event at a great venue, awesome banter and atmosphere. Get down to Bridgenorth and Leamington for the next rounds! Check here for more details: British 4x Series.

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British 4x Round 2 at Falmouth – What a difference a day makes

Words: Si Cotterell
Photos: WDC Cuts, Blue Green Blue and Reece Richards.

There will always be a great deal of expectation and hype when going to race at a new venue. But with the added preconceptions of a brand newly built track thrown into the mix that happens to be one of the furthest distances to drive on the series, there was a lot that could upset the apple-cart.

550358_502528483130187_65981703_nThe long Falmouth track.

We arrived in a good mood around lunch time to a sunny dry Cornish hillside, we had been previewing photos and comments on the track from our acquainted racers for the last few hours and as we drew up we could see the epic scar on the field on the route to the camp-site. With eager curiosity we made our way to get a closer look at what would be one of the most technical tracks on the national circuit, we met a lot of mixed views regarding its design and suitability, but I think this was mostly nervous trepidation. On first inspection we found that the track was very loose and felt quite slow,looking like it would not be easy to maintain speed for the pro line, most of the riders on track who where attempting having to abort sharply before the first of the keenly sized doubles. The tentatively titled chicken line, was hardly a walk in the park with a blind entry to a rock garden and a series of tables and doubles meeting at the junction of the pro jumps into another quite unforgiving rock garden or coffin gap following the track down, it began to calm with some roll-able doubles, log drops and nice roosty flat corners, it would certainly make for some creative and exciting racing lines. There were some minor changes made to the track after some discussion with riders and after a few hours we saw a good afternoons practice going on, with the track allowing the more skilled riders to take advantage of the quicker lines.

4Xi (1 of 1)Arthur railing everything in sight.

Old Skull riders Pete, Arthur and Claire took to the track with mixed feelings, an open mind and a healthy amount of fear, but with their mix of age and experience they all took to it well, mixing it up and sharing ideas finding, opportunities to use their own unique riding style to break it down into sections, session it and fine tune any weaknesses. By the end of the day we saw a different expression on our faces, and the team were ready to give it all they had on race day. A good hearty meal and a few flagons of ale would see our day end with well deserved sleep.

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We awoke to another clear sunny day, made our way to the track from our humble lodgings and started preparing for what was to be another full on day. Bikes and riders prepared, a short amble up the hill to join the other racers eagerly gaining as much last minute practice as was allowed before track closure, and battle began.

It was good to see a fine turnout with spectators. It may have been a combination of the good weather and local curiosity or the fact that they would see some of the best four cross racing from all levels in the UK, including a guest appearance from world class pro riders Tomas Slavik and Felix Beckeman, disappointed I think not.

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With the qualifying motos under-way we saw our masters rider Pete Bowcock, get to a good start, with his usual snap out the gate, taking a good position through the berm before the pro line, setting himself up to go big. The advantage paid off and with a safe ride to the end took 2nd, his other motos were not to be without excitement. Unfortunately due to his elbow injury the first gate had caused him some pain, leading to him having to nurse his way through the rest of his day. A remarkable effort, not gaining the lines he would have like caused a few problems with a bit of a hang up on the first of the pro line in his 2nd moto, still managing to get to the bottom and claim 2nd position again after a spot of reversing. With another great gate in last moto Pete took to the front, keeping his lead to hit the pro-line, this time with a little less dead sailor, and a bit of style, finishing in number one spot, leaving him in good spirits for a semi final tussle.

4Xi (1 of 1)-5 Pete railing in practice on Saturday.

Next up in the proceedings came the ladies. Claire Pollard, having to battle not only with her other racers, but with her own fear of this track, she was not alone in her respect of the relentless course. Amongst the experienced of of our British ladies are a new bunch of female riders who have taken to the sport, coming from all disciplines of MTB and BMX. They have all had a steep learning curve and have stepped up to ride this track. Claire’s motos offering a great opportunity to show her gating skills which can be attributed to her BMX racing, good positioning off the gate and finding her cadence, she rode the track with gusto, taking good opportunities to keep her in contention.

She finished her motos with a respectable two 3rd places and a 4th, this unfortunately was not enough to allow her to continue racing. With her final position standing in 9th place, more importantly taking away great race experience from this track to enhance her future racing.

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Last up motos for our junior riders. Arthur Cotterell took the the start for what was to be some fine racing. Not always having the best gates, it seems his extra training had paid off, getting a good boost allowed an advantage to the first corner. Very crucial in this class as most of the lads took advantage of the pro line, so holeshot was absolutely vital. Maintaining a good line and setting up for the first of the doubles just behind the leader. trying to push his luck for the lead, but was kept off by his worthy competitor. Moto 2 was his best, with a strong gate he took his lead with plenty of bar banging into the first corner, keeping a calm head to get a good entry for his approach to accelerate for the pro line off the flat berm, nicely over with some style, a good safe run, needed no panic to take the line. Unfortunately third moto was thwarted by a four way scrabble for lines out of the second berm, Arthur having a great run collided with Chad Boxall, who came off a little worse (get well soon Chad) leaving the others to take first and second with ease, Arthur found time to make sure Chad was OK and riding back up the track to get some speed for the pro-line, taking the opportunity to add some steeze.

Pete was up at the start again to make his bid for a place in the A final, like deja vu, gated well and placed himself correctly to keep out of trouble, going through the pro line with no real drama, some nice moto style drifting on the loose, in the bottom flat corners. taking another 2 spot. In true west country style, we treated to a little bit of the wet stuff, with a good dampening to the track, it changed the whole game. The dry fast running surface became sticky, clogging tyres and making the corners even more unpredictable, playing safe was not going to be a decision made lightly. Pete sat in the gate looking keen, dampened from the drizzle and aching from his day, just one last push and victory to the podium would be decided on this ever changing surface. Gate dropped clogged tyres spewed trapped mud, pinging the metal surface, burning calves pushing through the slick to gain grip. four riders into the corner before pro-line, this was not going to be easy. reluctantly Pete was forced into the longer route and with other riders getting to the decision quicker, it left him with a an arduous battle to pursue. With a last well fought few moments, fourth place was the end result. Happy with his efforts our Master in Masters will take home another trophy and more memories.

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With gaps in the weather now making it a game of roulette with track conditions, our Junior rider Arthur, lines up for his A final, knowing he is taking home a trophy isn’t enough its top spot he wants, but so do the others. Gate drops Arthur holds his nerve, takes the snap and smashes down the ramp, bars locking and banging down the track to the 2nd berm, who wants that pro-line first.

Arthur locked together with Jordan Fermor, Jordan hits the floor, like a replay of moto 3 the others take their leave and make it a personal battle of their own, Arthur, frustrated makes a frantic dash to get back up to try and catch up, negotiating his way around the pro-line almost claims his balance again, and spins himself into the bunting, with Jordan now back riding and looking for a better result. the crowd spur them on and a last minute battle begins. With his frustration tamed Arthur digs in and rolls over the line to take a well deserved 3rd. These junior riders are definitely going to have a hard series as they are all stepping up the pace.

A day older and a day wiser.

921259_502529379796764_1806229583_o Matt Sills cruising over the pro-line whilst Claire, Pete and Si have some media time with Extreme TV.

For all our riders. I have to say that what started as a very controversial track, turned out to be one of the best technical racing tracks we have raced yet. Harthill, what will you bring? watch this space. Big thanks to all you riders racers, supporters. Thanks to Adam Rous at Bike Tyre Store for assistance with our Rubena Tyres, once again winning choice for grip. Thanks to Surf Sales UK, for Kali Protectives and Transition frames, keeping us safe and rolling.

A mini Old Skull edit from Chris Ratford:

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London Urban XC – Photos

Every so often, the Old Skull team like to mix it up a bit and head into the Big Smoke to have a big XC ride with strategic stops at some of the cities best BMX and pump track spots. This time round Haggerston, Mile End and Hornfair Park were on the menu. Claire took her camera along and took some shots of the team doing what they do best. Having a damn good time on two wheels.

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Claire takes 3rd at the Eastern Regional BMX Round 1

After I tried BMX racing on my 4x bike last year and really enjoyed the different style of racing, I thought I’d get myself a cruiser and try to race the Eastern Regional Series this year. Not only being brilliant for fitness, the extra racing and gating will help me get more confident on the track for my 4x racing.

2013-03-17 12.56.14Claire’s super retro looking SE Racing Floval Flyer

I raced Braintree first back in February in the last round of the Winter Series when it was a lot wetter, and the track was a lot mellower. The cruiser ladies had been very welcoming and we had a good giggle racing in the wet, so it was really nice to see some familiar faces when I returned for Round 1 of the Eastern Regional BMX Series last weekend. Since the winter series race, the track has been lovingly resurfaced, and the pump section on the third straight made much more peaky, making pumping it very tiring! Also the finishing straight has been extended by 5m meters, meaning you really have to race to the line or risk being caught out!

Motos were put up, and I was the only 17-29 Cruiser lady who raced on the day, but I got mixed in with the 30+ ladies category so we could have a decent sized class.

The format we had on the day was three motos and then onto the final. I was consistent all day, getting 3rd in each moto. I spent my motos chasing down the first and second place girls and trying to create some passing chances in the big berms, but couldn’t quite make them stick.

Claire pumping through the rhythm section on the 3rd straight at Braintree
Claire in the third straight, photo by Spencer Moret

As it came to the final, my gates had been improving all day and I was getting confident sprinting the first straight. So I just went for it! I lead along the first straight by half a bike, but in the was caught in the berm by Tracey Clarke of Braintree Bullets and she got past. As I was getting down the second straight Sarah Fuller of Milton Keynes BMX managed to squeeze past as I didn’t make my pumps as smooth as I could’ve done over the big doubles. I chased as hard as I could, but couldn’t get back in a position to make a move so I took third with a big grin on my face. The next round is at the start of May in Norwich, and I can’t wait!

The video of my cruiser final:

In the meantime, the whole team is heading down to Falmouth for the next round of the British 4x Series. With a brand new track, and such great results from the first round, we’re all pretty excited about making our mark in Cornwall!

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Old Skull’s View From Round 1 of the British 4x Series.

Words: Pete
Photos: Dave Franciosy and Claire.

Well, a suprisingly dry and fast track met us as we ventured into Wales for the first round of national racing in 2013.  A very welcome sight compared to the snow of a week ago.

Practice on Saturday went well for the team, Claire was making the most of the excellent training session put on by Messrs Beaumont and Curd and using the experience of these two heavyweights of 4x. Arthur quickly got to work on the track and was getting quicker all day, he nailed the pro line and was clearly enjoying himself throwing down his relaxed style. Pete was taking his time getting back into the racing swing slowly but surely. He was gaining confidence and riding sensibly. There’s a long way to go this season!

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Race day came and if anything, the weather just got better. Bright blue skies and mellow temps for all racers and spectators made the long trip worth it. Motos to kick off the day and Pete was first up. The top section of track suiting him well and he was using it to his advantage winning all three of his motos comfortably.

Claire was next up. Battling with her new found aggression in every moto she got herself in a position to challenge in the run off for semi finals. The bmx work clearly paying off.

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Arthur had a good run through motos in his step up to junior category doing more than enough to see him in contention for finals. He was using great racecraft when he found himself not leading too, a new found skill for him.

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Finals time. Pete made a slight error gating in his semi final after cruising through his quarter. He tried to make passes all down the track but had to settle for third by half a Bike length putting him in the b final. He promptly used his speed at the top of the course to win the b final and take 5th overall absolutely shattered from the effort.

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A great result and something to build on for Falmouth. Claire was really quick out of the gate in her run off and tried an audacious inside line in the first corner. Unfortunately for her it was a little too tight a turn and she met the ground. Great to see her pushing hard though. Claire took the 9th place spot. Arthur ripped his semi finals to get into the a final and made a great start. He was flying and making the track look a lot smoother than it was, a great end to the day with Arth taking 2nd! A brilliant result for his first outing as a junior. More to come, were sure.

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There you have it. An awesome weekend. Great weather, great track in good condition and the best family of racers you could ever wish for. 4x as ever was brilliant.

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Special thanks to Surf Sales and Kali Protectives for the help. The Kali Protectives pads and helmets were awesome. Great fit, great looks, and there when you need them. The Rubena Tyres’ Harpie we all used this weekend were simply astonishing. The level of grip is outstanding. Lightweight and not one puncture for the whole team. Can’t wait to ride some more on them.

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Video of the action:

2013 Schwalbe British 4X Rd 1 Afan a Mountain Biking video by AspectMediaUK

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Winter Series Overall standings… so far…

With only a few days to go until the final round of the Winter Series, you can find the overall standings on our Winter Series page (click here). We’ve been hard at work preparing for Sunday’s final round, including making the trophies to hand out to the series winners! Will you get your hands on one?

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The last few race places are available here:

Eventbrite - Chicksands Winter 4x Series Round 3

We sold out last time so don’t miss out!

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Winter Series: Round 3, the final round, entry open now!

Register your place for the Old Skull and Chicksands Winter 4x Series now! The last round sold out a few days before the race so get on it to avoid disappointment!

(If the form does not appear, it can be found at Eventbrite).

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