New tricks, new lines, new best times. Boundaries are there to be pushed. This applies in the world of mountain biking, as in any other extreme sport. When street trials and freeride pro Gabriel Wibmer sets his sights on such a limit, it is usually spectacular – often with the attribute “don’t try this at home”. This is also the case this time, when everything revolves around the Austrian’s choice of bike. Instead of enduro or downhill, he sends his CANYON gravel bike on a tour de force through some of the most famous bike parks in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
The Lienz and Kals bike parks in East Tyrol, the Bike Kingdom Lenzerheide in Switzerland, the Innsbruck and Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis bike parks in Tyrol, and the Samerberg bike park in Germany are true mountain bike paradises. But instead of full suspension, wide flat bars and knobby tires, Gabriel Wibmer relies on the exact opposite: no suspension, drop bars and – at least for him – an unusual geometry with significantly narrower tires. That’s right, Gabriel Wibmer rides his CANYON Grizl gravel bike. In fact, only two identical bikes were used in the entire edit, both of which survived filming unscathed.
And that’s saying something, because Gabriel didn’t spare himself or the material: “Riding trails on the gravel bike was intense. I’m used to zero suspension from the trials bike, but the drop bar and the geometry were quite a challenge. Your head is so far forward that you’re almost hanging upside down on the bike, the brakes on the drop bars are elsewhere than I’m used to and that combined with single trails and jumps – that was pretty intense. The low weight of the bike was also a problem when jumping, as even the tiniest gusts of wind could cause real trouble. Estimating the right speed wasn’t easy either – the gravel bike is so much faster than a downhill bike. Also, you feel every single stone and every brake bump.”
The most difficult scene turned out to be the Crankworx Whip-Off jump in Innsbruck. Despite Gabriel and his team only needing two attempts, they were primarily a mental challenge. For more “normality”, Gabriel held the bike at the top of the handlebars and therefor had no chance to brake during the roll-in. Bottom line: he had to jump, whether it was too fast, too slow or just right.
“We wanted to do something completely new that no one had done before us. And since gravel biking is generating a lot of hype right now, it made sense to do something cool with it and take it into a new level. At the beginning we didn’t really know how far we could push things. I’m super happy with the result and how we made every idea come to life. However, during the video shoot, I also realized how cool it is that mountain bikes exist.” – Gabriel Wibmer
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