Now that we are two (a brief retrospective)

The imminent arrival in early May of Cranked #9 marks an important milestone: Cranked will be two years old. Not so much toddling around unsteadily, more breaking down the shed door to get to the bikes and go ride, we’re currently the UK’s fastest growing bike mag (by a country mile).

So, by way of a celebration (and because we’re all out of cake), we thought we’d take an irreverent look at some of the best bits of the last two years of Cranked. A trifle self-indulgent? Well, perhaps. But what are birthdays for, anyway?

Cranked #1 – Oh, Mr. Porter

Chris Porter – the man who spotted long, low and slack as a trend long before the big manufacturers had identified another bandwagon on which to leap trundling over the horizon – is one of the most outspoken and opinionated people I know. Tym Manley – the man responsible for Mountain Biking UK and several other bike mags – is the other. For issue #1 I thought it’d be fun to ask Tym to interview Chris. And you know what? It was. But it was more than that, it was an eye-opener too. Essential reading for bike geometry geeks.

Cranked #2 – Portrait of the Pope

No, not that one. Enrico Guala is one of a handful of individuals responsible for introducing the world to enduro and, by extension, giving mountain bike racing the shot in the arm it so desperately needed. For Cranked #2 our roving photographer and writer Matt Wragg visited Enrico at home and got the inside scoop, as well as one of our favourite ever double page spread images.

Cranked #3 – Lost

Ah, the awkward third album. Buoyed by the fact that more and more people were buying Cranked (from which we deduced that they must like what we were doing), we tried something different for Cranked #3. ‘Lost’ is a story of two ordinary blokes going for a ride on their mountain bikes… and nearly dying in the process. Really. Based on a true experience in the 1990s, we made up for the lack of photos with some beautiful, specially commissioned line drawings. But it’s the story that’ll have you on the edge of your seat. There but for the grace of something-or-other…

Cranked #4 – Brand Atherton

By the time our fourth issue was in production, people had figured out that we were probably here to stay. Which was useful, because it allowed us to arrange quite probably the most comprehensive interview, ever, with the prodigiously talented Atherton siblings. Exclusive behind-the-scenes photography from Steve Behr and no-punches-pulled questions from Tym Manley worked so well, we raised eyebrows with some of the, um, colourful language that resulted. Oh well. What’s that saying about omelettes and eggs?

Cranked #5 – Hack Bike Derby

What do you get if you bring together a bunch of frame builders, give them some guidelines and limited time to build a low-cost bike, and then set them loose for a weekend of impromptu racing? The Hack Bike Derby, that’s what. Laid low by ‘flu on the weekend in question, I listened to the rain hammering down and imagined a damp wash-out. I was wrong. The ensuing mayhem was quite possibly one of the best mountain bike events of the year; a kind of Mad Max-meets-Repack-recreationists-in-Somerset mash-up. Unmissable.

Cranked #6 – Down

When Cranked scribbler-at-large and resident columnist Alex Leigh suggested a feature on depression and riding bikes there was, shall we say, much sucking of teeth. I mean, it’s a big subject. And an important and difficult one. And one that a lot of people can relate to. It was that third thing that swung it. And so, after a lot of soul-searching and discussion and back-and-forth, we published one of our most talked-about features, based on first-hand accounts from several riders and beautifully illustrated by Jo Burt. It made waves, for all the right reasons.

Cranked #7 – Lotus Flower

An awful lot has been written about enduro racing. But few know it like sometime racer and commentator Richard Cunynghame, so we took him up on his offer of an insider’s view of the sport. We’re pretty relaxed about deadlines here at Cranked, but even we’d more or less given up on ever seeing the finished product when, a year after we’d first spoken about it, it finally arrived. It was worth the wait – the more so because Duncan Philpott’s sublime EWS coverage gave us the perfect excuse to run some slightly less run-of-the-mill enduro pics. Oh, and our favourite quote of 2016.

Cranked #8 – Erosion

It seems a bit early to be looking back on our current issue, but what the heck – you’re only two once. Jon Sparks’ Erosion feature is almost certainly the most comprehensive look at the thorny subject of riding bikes and, er, not wrecking trails this side of academia. It’s one of those not-very-sexy subjects that actually has the potential to impact all our riding. For the second time, I’m going to stick my neck out and say this is absolutely essential reading for all mountain bikers. We need trails. It’s axiomatic.

Still with us? Thanks for reading. If you like Cranked and you haven’t already subscribed… you’ll find you can claim a free t-shirt if you sign up in April (full details in the link… you’ll need to scroll down to find them). Hey, how about that? It’s our birthday and we’re the ones giving away the presents…



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