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Bike Park Wales is located in the southern part of an old redeveloped coal mining area commonly known as “The Valleys”, in south Wales near Merthyr Tydfil. (How to say it… mer-tha-tid-ville). It’s a purpose built Bike Park that has become a focal part of the local area attracting bikers from far and wide. It was built with a focus on normal gravity riders, we thought it would be a great place to go and check out for e-bikes. It’s located on leased land which means it’s private and you have to pay to access the facilities and trails. We had heard about its reputation from so many people we thought it was time to see if it could beat the alps for fun factor.
Bike Park Wales – In Brief
It has been built with a Finance Wales loan and with funding from the Welsh Government, including a Visit Wales EU funded Sustainable Tourism project grant, these are aimed at developing Cycling Centres of Excellence in South Wales. Our time at the park for a day was short and sweet, but we managed to try a lot of the trails. On about one charge we managed three or four runs, as we pedalled up and down the 250 meter hillside. We were surprised to find Wales has one of the best bike park style locations we have ridden in Europe in the last few years. By e-bike, the trails are fun and accessible to all with different levels of skill. £ 12 (14 €) per day ticket seems a very reasonable price to pay for a quality ride experience. We documented our time there with our camera and rode as much as we could in a day.
Bike Park Wales – Location
The land and hillside are pretty ideal for a bike park. The area is forested and has really easy access from the main UK road network. It is about 3 hours from the centre of London, in a westerly direction. Merthyr Tydfil as a location means the weather is fairly damp through the winter months, but never really cold, with very few if any days with snow on the ground in winter. The park director told us during our stay that maybe there were three days in a year when it was closed due to poor weather. Otherwise the land and location is drained pretty well and made of the right mix of stone and soil that the trails never become super muddy. You might be riding in the Welsh woods, but the trail lines are well maintained and in great condition. The day we visited we felt like we could have been in the south of Europe as there was so much sun.
The hub of operations at Bike Park Wales is the visitor center. Once you arrive and park in the ample parking, you have to check in here and make sure you read and sign their liability clauses and riding rules, pay your entry fee and then go ride. Trails up to the top start at the visitor center.
Inside the visitor centre is a fully stocked bike shop, rental facility, restaurant and repair shop. Here is also where the shuttle services start for those who wish to shuttle. Obviously we didn’t as we have an e-bike and its more fun to ride up. However we were told that from spring to autumn the shuttles can be booked up to three months in advance. So if you want to turn up and ride with no stress and get as many runs in as you can then e-bikes seem to be the way forward.
The shear number of trails means we did not have time to sample them all. But all difficulty levels are catered for. We spent most of our time on red and blue level trails. There is a pretty cool climbing trail to the top that winds it’s way up through the woods and can be ridden in our experience by all levels of rider. Alternatively riders can pedal up the gravel fire roads.
Each trail has a short start section called a “qualifier,” which lets the rider know more or less how difficult the rest of the trail will be. We found our favourite trail of the day, a blue trail, to be “Terry’s Belly,” which we rode a lot of times, fast fun and super flowing.
Once you step off the blue trails onto the red trails the going gets a bit tougher and some Enduro skills are required to take on the rock garden features and small drops.
On the e-bike the trails were simply great to ride and with banked corners plus more natural wood sections, we were able to test the different characteristics of the Orange Alpine 6 E we had on test for the week. We recommend if you want to ride all day, take a second battery especially if you are riding around in turbo mode all day. We didn’t spot many recharging sockets anywhere, which gave us the idea e-bike usage here is pretty low at the moment. Eventually as the center develops we are sure they will be added in.
Most trails were hard packed with gravel packed down on the surface of them. Riding was fast and fun, we didn’t find we needed to be particularly wary of any unknown trail features that would jump out and surprise us. The blue trails especially, were one endless flow ride, the faster you went the more fun they became. Many of the trails had some perfectly formed jumps to practice on as well. In the wooded sections the trail bases were softer and well formed, great real e-mountain biking.
The jump sections are all well shaped so that the bike takes off and lands without becoming unstable in the air. As the lip to air transfer is smooth and landings sweet and perfect, some of the best jump lines we have ridden anywhere.
We didn’t really ride the pro level trails that much as our focus was on e-biking and flow. For what we did try we can say that they will keep you on edge and in some cases we think a downhill bike might be ideal, maybe the perfect place for the Haibike DH…
Trail centers have become a welcome part of mountain biking culture over the last 15 years in the UK and having a place like Bike Park Wales to ride at is really great. We highly recommend heading there whenever you can. The trails are as good as any bike park related experience in the alps. And the trail maintenance which takes place all year and services we found present, will beat a lot of the big mountain locations in Europe, which to be honest surprised us. As for e-bikes, the UK is slightly behind the curve when it comes to market penetration. So the numbers seen on the trails will be quite low. However if you don’t want to shuttle and want to ride as much as you can, there are some really fun smooth flowing trails at Bike Park Wales for your e-bike.
Who of you knows the Bikepark Wales? What are your favourite spots?
Text & Edit: Alex Boyce | eMTB-News.de
Photography: Alex Boyce, Cinzia Montemaggi
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