Before you all go, “Ooh, another bike flick, yawn,” allow us to point out that Fundamentals is something a little bit different. It’s a member of that rare breed, the instructional mountain bike video. But it won’t teach you how to ride a bike. What it aims to do is teach you how to ride a bike down hills faster.
It’s the latest video from Dirt Magazine, who also did the eminently watchable Earthed. Like Earthed, Fundamentals is directed and produced by Alex Rankin, formerly of Sprung fame. Knowing that, and glancing at the list of names gracing the cover (including, but not limited to, Steve Peat, Nathan Rennie, Greg Minnaar, Eric Carter… You get the idea) you’d imagine that this’d be pretty good, and you’d be right.
The main part of the film is split into a load of chapters, each dealing with a particular technique or vital skill. They’re not in any particular order, so you can watch it through from beginning to end or jump straight to Pre-Jumping or Line Choice if you so wish. The format of each chapter is fairly similar – one of the experts talking you through whatever the skill is, demonstrating how to do it and commenting on a few passing riders.
Despite being from Dirt and featuring DH and 4X riders, Fundamentals is of broad appeal. There’s plenty here that’ll be useful to recreational trail riders, especially since everyone seems to be using bigger bikes and going faster these days. You might not think you need to learn how to pump a rhythm section on a 4X track, but similar lumpy bits often crop up on purpose-built singletrack and you can tackle them in exactly the same way.
As well as the main riding feature, there’s a host of extras. You get a bunch of bike set-up and fettling advice from the likes of Clive Gosling and Tim Flooks, a special suspension section and some odds and ends that are of less practical utility but are quite entertaining – rambling Frenchmen, Rob Warner’s pre-race preparation and so on.
It’s a lot to take on in one hit, but the beauty of the DVD format is that you can just keep dipping into it and picking up little nuggets of information. And there’s plenty to pick up.
Packed with useful stuff, most of the pros make good presenters/instructors
Occasionally feels a tad parochial
DVDs lend themselves very well to this sort of thing, letting Fundamentals work either as a film to watch or a reference bank to dip into. Don’t be put off by the downhilliness of it, everyone who rides a bike off-road will learn something from it.