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In an unusual twist, we take a look at the unboxing of a new mountain bike… RIDE Media’s owner, Rob Arnold has treated himself to some off-road joy.


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After years of testing road bikes of all shapes and sizes, it is refreshing to change tack and consider something from another realm of the cycling market. Mountain biking is a big part of my life, an activity that I’ve enjoyed doing for around 25 years, but it’s not been part of my professional repertoire despite a long history of working with the cycling industry.

Finally, after seven years on a Trek Fuel 9.8 from 2012 – yes, 2012… like, the Dark Ages in MTB terms – the time came to get with the times and seek out something new to ride off road.

It has proven to be a most interesting exercise, one that has filled me with motivation and given me a chance to look at the cycling market as something of an outsider. The experience has been refreshing, educational, at times confusing, at times enjoyable… it has also given me a strong reminder that innovation continues to improve cycling.


– To watch the first episode of ‘Story of my (MTB) bike’, click the link below. –

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At the end of last year, having destroyed the rear shock of my Fuel, I put a post on RIDE’s FB page asking: what MTB would you buy in 2019?

It was great to get reader feedback; the opinions offered varied greatly and often came with follow-up questions. Many brands of bikes were nominated, but also a list of queries about my riding intentions flooded in.

Mountain biking is many things for me and my family. Together with my two sons, we have explored plenty of our city on weekend riding adventures. Once they got their skill level up, we rode further and actively searched out new trails.

We continue to do a fair bit of city riding – we live in Sydney’s inner-west and it’s not always possible to ride off-road, per se. But no terrain is off limits.

The old favourite road trip for Sydneysiders, the weekend away to Canberra, has happened often and Mt Stromlo has been the site of many hours of off-road riding.

There have been trips to the Snowy Mountains and rainforests alike. We have travelled to New Zealand to sample some trails and gone places where a road bike wouldn’t have lasted long.

And, of course, there have been crashes, lost skin and even a few cracked ribs to remind me of my age… but 48 is just a number. Once a rider, always a rider.

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The maiden voyage (above)… a gentle cruise down to the harbour.


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Focus eventually got the nod, partly because of a family connection (it is the brand of choice for both my eldest son’s bikes – road and MTB), partly because of familiarity (my road bike is a Focus Cayo), partly because of price (at $5,499 you get a lot of bike for your bike), partly because of availability (when you want it, you want it now!), partly to do with a friendship formed with Focus’ founder, Mike Kluge… and largely because it’s a fantastic bike with all the mod-cons that suits my needs.

The Jam 8.9 is one of large range from the brand with German heritage. The colour, as you’ll learn when you watch the review, isn’t exactly my ideal choice… but that’s only an aesthetic criticism.

What matters most is that the bike suits my needs, fits me well, and responds to my commands.

There is a lot to say about this bike, but this is just the introduction to the build. So I’ll hold my tongue a little longer, ride a little further, explore a little more, and share my experiences and observations as I find out more about what is an impressive bike.




– By Rob Arnold

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Woolys Wheels will celebrate its 40th anniversary as a bike shop in Sydney in 2019. 

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– Big thanks to Michael, Jeff and Paul from Wooly’s Wheels for making this build so easy and enjoyable. –