18/12/2019 - Sam's Demo Highlights of 2019

Sam's Demo Highlights of 2019.

2019 has been another busy year in demo. With Darren joining in the summer, it's only gotten busier. For me it feels like it's been a really wet year, lots of journeys have involved the wipers on full speed, and I've seen more mud than dust. However there have been some brilliant moments, so in no real order, here are my demo highlights of 2019 and some random pictures from other, non-demo, highlights of the year.

Grinning up the Golfie, sneeking laps after Tweedlove with Baybutt & Cy

Barry Sidings.

After running the demos for almost 4 years now, there's an ever decreasing number of places in the UK I haven't ridden a bike, so it's always nice to check out a new venue. Barry Sidings in South Wales was one of the stand out new venues for me this year. There's a strong local scene here, which is no surprise given the size and number of hills in the area. The trails here all feel natural, but have clearly been built by riders who know all about techy flow. They mostly have steep entries and exits to deter dirt bikes, but once you're in, the gradient eases enough for maximum fun with minimum pedalling. The climb is a steady one with big views over the valleys, and the cafe is run by riders. It's just down the road from Bike Park Wales, so next time you're in that area, make sure you check it out, it's well worth stopping by. 'Coal Dump' and 'Mates Race' are two trails there you should definitely check out. I'll hopefully be back with the demo van next year.


I had my first bikepacking experience this year, did the Sandstone Way in Northumberland with my Dad and Brother. Keen for more next year.


I'm often asked where my favourite place in the UK to ride is. The exact venue changes every time, but one thing is a constant, it's always somewhere in Scotland. Earlier this year I returned to Pitfichie in Aberdeenshire with the demo van, and this time the riders who turned up had a really good knowledge of the forest, and were happy to take on some of it's more challenging trails. One of which, built for an enduro race, is called 'Macchiato' on trailforks. If you've ridden 'Flat White' on the Golfie, the name makes total sense. It's like a more condensed version of that. Fast, twisty, flowy and fun. You can always see just far enough ahead to react, but no more than that, and it almost never goes in a straight line. Well worth a look if you're that far north. Open to suggestions for more demo venues in the north of Scotland for next year, drop me an email.

South Lakes Bike Fest.

This summer was a tough one for events in the bike world, with Tweedlove's Transcend being a total mudfest, and both Malverns and Ard Rock getting cancelled due to biblical rain, we haven't been to many big events this year. We did however make it to the South Lakes Bike Fest, which instantly became one of my favourite events. The whole 'just done for the sheer hell of it' vibe was a breath of fresh air, and you can't fail to enjoy riding in the Lake District. The charity ride on the Friday night from the Eagle & Child in Staveley was great fun, mid ride beers, jagerbombs and cake were a treat! Lots of happy demo customers, local beers, wood fired pizza, a live band and a true grassroots festival atmosphere. We are definitely heading back next year, and you should too. Group rides for all abilities and fitness levels, skills coaching for the kids and plenty more; plus it's moved to the August bank holiday weekend for 2020, winner.


Eagle and Child Charity ride with Darren and my better half, Kelly.

Grizedale Cotic CC Ride.

Talking of the Lake District, a big highlight for me this year was our Grizedale Cotic CC ride. We managed to get a rare, rain free, day in November and headed out for a brilliant ride with a bunch of Cotic owners. Mixing sections of trail centre with classic Lakeland bridleways, we splashed, skidded and wheelied our way around the woods and moors. I've been riding round Grizedale since I was a nipper, and it never gets old. Despite my cranks dying and Grizedale Bikes very kindly driving me back to Hawkshead to grab a demo bike, I had a blast. Riding the new Bfe reminded me just how much fun a hardtail is. So much so, I might have ordered myself a new SolarisMAX frame, in purple. Obviously. Look out for more Cotic CC events and owners rides in 2020.

Steel is real 2019

We snook a quick lap in after the madness of the Steel is Real demo day.

No.1 Peebles Road Cafe Exclusive Demo.

Sometimes bike rides are scary in all the best ways. Back in March I did an exclusive demo with Craig from No. 1 Peebles Road Cafe in Innerleithen and his weekly night riding buddies. As you probably know by now, everyone here at Cotic is in love with the Tweed Valley, but I'd never ridden any of it in the dark before. Night riding heightens your senses on any trail, but slithering down freshly cut steeps in dense, dark pine forests, inches off the back wheel of a local who knows exactly where he's going definitely gets your heart racing! Just as we reached the top of the last section of Cresta Run, about to rail those corners, one of the group suggests we ride 'Date Night' instead. I'd heard of this trail, and heard it wasn't an easy way down. Full commitment, maximum exposure, minimum traction. I'm not sure if it would be better in the daylight or not, I'm taking more brave pills and big boy pants next time either way! Everyone loved the bikes though, and got to ride them on the trails they ride every week. If you like the sound of this, get in touch to arrange your own exclusive demo for you and your mates. It can be on gnarly chutes in the dark, in winter, but it doesn't have to be! Twisty woodland singletrack on a summers evening or a chilled Sunday round a flowy trail centre are less scary options if that's more your thing. I must plan another Tweed Valley trip...


Riding local steeps in summer heat on the best bike I've ever had.

Big thanks if you came to any of our demos this year, if I've not made it to your local trails yet, let me know. I'll be doing lots of planning in January, and I need suggestions, so hit me up.

Have a great Christmas break; eat too much, drink beer and ride your bike.


2020 demo days starting to be announced…

I ride a RocketMAX for almost everything, check it out here…

I'll be shredding on a new SolarisMAX as well next year…