The Curve Downrock lives life on the edge, it takes you to the ledge, throws you over, dangles you by the legs and then miraculously drags you back as if nothing happened. This bike is more comfortable being uncomfortable. It slides and drifts way longer than feels ok, until it finds you grip you couldn’t imagine exists. It lives up to the press Curve give it on their website, not that I’ve seen a frill neck lizard fanging around on hot sand before, but riding this beast has given me fairly clear picture of exactly what this looks like. Look out for me on the dusty hillside of Ranmore this summer, and you’ll never need to watch a nature documentary about a frill neck lizard again. As soon as I found suitably steep single track, of which the Surrey Hills offers in abundance, I was treated to the raw, adrenaline rush Curve promise. The big dumb grin instantly materialised. Heck, if anyone saw me out in the hills that day, they probably thought I was high. The rapid reptilian metaphors Curve have associated with this bike, instantly ring true, as you whip round natural berms like a coiled snake unleashing it’s venomous strike. And this comes, having only just gotten back on to a mountain bike after 5 years of sticking to the asphalt. Testament to the confidence inspiring, trail loving geometry, Liam at Curve has so perfectly crafted.
When Ryan first told me about the Downrock, the bike they were soon to be unveiling over at Curve HQ in Melbourne, I was immediately struck with daydreams from my youth. Hanging out in the woods on mountain bikes and BMXs, digging jumps and ripping skids into the sunset. A romantic daydream and one I was buying into as soon as it popped into my head. Having lived at the base of Leith Hill all my life, the opportunity to get back to the local trails, and no longer be limited to the road was exactly what I was craving. It’s as if the Downrock was designed with these short, steep, fast and technical trails of the Surrey Hills in mind. A perfect adopted second home for this gloriously aggressive hardtail. For the extra effort and concentration you need to put in on a hardtail, the Downrock rewards you with maximum fun output - and I am only just getting started (given the current lockdown situation, precautions on safety and distance ridden are being taken). At G!RO, we’ve been asking #WhatsYourNextAdventure?, and the glorious Mountain Bike park adventures I am currently cooking up for the post lockdown world, certainly fit the bill. These will no doubt end up being whole blogs in themselves that I can’t wait to share those with you. For now, we keep it local, and familiar. And thank god I am fortunate enough to have some incredible single track right on my doorstep, keeping this adrenaline junkie Downrock happy.
The Surrey Hills quickly became a road cycling Mecca off the back of the success of the 2012 olympics, the beautiful lanes and variety of climbs offer roadies (like myself) some incredible riding. But long before then, Mountain bikers have flocked to the tiny village of Peaslake, right in the centre of the Surrey Hills because of the world class Mountain bike trails on offer. Trails where a hardtail 29er like my beloved Downrock are right at home. 29 inches of wheel help you hold speed when the trail gets rough, tough and technical, the lack of rear suspension and titanium frame helping it dance up climbs without suffering a heart attack and the sense that you earn every ounce of fun (of which there is plenty) as you battle the trail, testing every bike handling skill you have in your arsenal (my bike handling skillset is work in progress as many of you know - hopefully the downrocks deep end approach to teaching will accelerate the progress, either that or it will end in a heap on the floor…). And whilst the trails of the Surrey Hills are the dream adoptive home of this speed demon, it’s happy munching some serious XC mileage. The light frame not only makes it easy to ride back to the top of trails after getting your send on, it equally makes the bike the perfect companion for some XC adventures. Packup a frame bag of snacks and go and get lost in the wilderness. The downrock is just as at home meeting the local farm animals as it is getting sideways on a berm. Just treat it to the odd hell for leather descent after saying hi to the cows, so it doesn’t get bored.
It’s safe to say, this bike has taken me back to some of my favourite places already, the perfect lockdown companion to get nostalgic with and navigate these turmultuous times we’re all facing. A month of rediscovering the local wilderness and visiting old hangouts. It’s certainly an antidote to countless hours staring at the wall on Zwift that I’ve been doing otherwise. You can wheel out the Downrock, ride up to the top of the Leith hill, watch the sunset and then race the darkness home. Fingers crossed the rest of the gang join me on the trails when this lockdown is lifted and we can all get nostalgic about the glory days together, ripping the trails all day and enjoying a nice cold one at the local pub after. Hit up our IN-HOUSE Curve experts if you like the sounds of this rowdy rig on our curve enquiry email address firstname.lastname@example.org! And stay tuned for part 2 and BEYOND!