Solid Reverse Factory Racing – The underdogs, one year in.
Born in the heart of the Black Forest of Southern Germany over 10 years ago, the family run company Solid Bikes have always had a passion for Downhill riding and racing. In 2015, they have made their presence felt in the World Cup scene with their factory team setup featuring 6 DH racers from across the globe.
The 7-strong team features 6 World Cup DH riders and one Slopestyle/big Mountain “freeracer”, Max Kruse.
Joshua Barth- Germany, Josh Lowe- England, Morganne Charre – France, Harry Molloy – England, Stefan Garliki- South Africa, Joe Connell – Scotland.
Solid are one of the first direct sales brands featuring a full factory DH team and despite taking up a relatively small space in the paddock compared to some of the bigger teams, the wildcards have pulled out some impressive results this year. From the insanity of the Loosefest , to the challenge of IXS Cups across Europe to the UCI World Cup circuit, the team has been making its mark, with a South African Champs title and finishing off with podium at the World Champs in Andorra from Morganne Charre. Not a bad first year.
The family based nature of the company seems to have rubbed off on the racers as there is a relaxed vibe going on between the riders, sharing banter about practice runs to what pizzas they fancy at the end of the day, certainly not the corporate feel which you get with the bigger teams. But despite that, the aim and intent is there, racing is about results and that’s the focus. In between practice, qualifying, and race day, we had a chance to chat with the riders and find out what life is like riding for a factory team just starting out, how they fared this year and their aims for 2016.
DW: So 2015 was the first season for the Solid Factory Team. What is unique about riding for Solid and how has it gone this year?
Harry Molloy “The first year has been spot on! The whole team has got on great together and we’ve all helped each other to get some of the best results we have ever achieved. Being the team manager and a rider for Solid-Reverse Factory Racing is pretty unique I guess, but, behind the scenes what’s really awesome is the relationship between the riders and the guys that run Solid and Reverse. It really is a big family.”
Joe Connel: “What’s unique about riding for Solid is that you have a real close link and connection with the company, everyone from the Owner to Peter, to the guys assembling bikes in the workshop in Germany. With a lot of other teams, your main contact is the Team manager and it’s rare to speak to, or even know the Owner of the bike company behind the team. With Solid it’s cool, I could call up Matthias the Engineer and discuss future ideas for the bike and how it could evolve, for example, and then see those changes come to life down the road.”
Josh Lowe: “Riding for Solid Reverse this year has been an absolute pleasure! It is very rare that you get to ride for a company that welcomes you into their Team as a kind of family member. Everyone involved wants the best for you, and this certainly means a lot when you are racing.”
DW: What was the highlight of the 2015 race season for you?
Josh Lowe: “I would like to say the whole season! But in particular, the first tour around Europe. The team traveled in the Team-Camper for around 6 weeks going from Leogang, to schladming, to Todtnau, to Lenzerheide, and finished off in Les 2 Alpes for European Crankworx. Riding my favourite tracks with some great company, it couldn’t really have been any better! “
Stefan Garliki: “Definitely winning the South African championship, it was something I had been after for a long time so to finally get it was amazing.”
Max Kruse: “The invitation for the Loosefest-Festseries from Nico Vink was definitely my highlight”.
Morganne Charre: “I think my 4th place in Lenzerheide after a long time out of the podium was the most exciting moment this season. I had so much fun all week on that track and it was so good to finally get back on the box! “.
Harry Molloy: “Lenzerheide World Cup was for sure a high for me. I loved the dusty and full on track and got a top 30. Without being able to feel at home with my team the results wouldn’t have been possible. Another great time from the season was cruising around New York City with Joe and Stef, going up the Empire State building, eating sushi in China town and generally just racing around on the bikes!”
DW: What was your favourite track of 2015 and why?
Joshua Barth: “Val di Sole! This is downhill. All natural, steep and technical. I love it”.
Morganne Charre: ” Andorra was defenitely my favorite track this year. The weather was horrible the first days which made the track even more crazy! It was a bit like riding a sled down the steep muddy mountain.. So much fun. “
Josh Lowe: “This is a close call between Schladming and Les Deux Alpes. I mean everyone loves Schladming, because it’s technical, fast, and flowy…who doesn’t love that? But Les Deux Alpes, which may not be every racers favourite, was super dusty and absolutely flat out! So I would say Les Deux Alpes for the Euro Crankworx is my highlight, especially when I came 15th in the Superfinal.“.
Max Kruse: “Kranjska Gora! It was a new track in the ixs European cup series and I never heard of this place or tracks before and it was a true downhill track !”
Harry Molloy: “Schladming for the European IXS cup… It’s a place that you can’t not like… its got jumps, roots, ruts and huge compressions all at a scary speed and rough as hell! I really hope they get to host a World Cup again soon.”
Stefan Garliki: “I think Windham in the US, just because of the speed and the jumps, it flows really well.”
DW: Peter Schmidt (Solid Bikes Owner) seems a fairly relaxed guy. As a rider on their Factory team, what is your relationship like? Do you get a chance to speak with him?
Joe Connell: “Yeah, Peter is a legend. He has so much enthusiasm for his company and riding. When I first met him at the start of the year down in Malaga, he was riding gnarly DH tracks with his wife, Heike, and I thought that was pretty cool. From the first day I met him I had a lot of respect for him.”
Morganne Charre: “Peter is such a relaxed and passionate guy, he’s amazing. I met him last year during our winter camp in Malaga and I immediately knew that it would be a good year working with someone like this. He always send us a message before the race and he’s always happy with our results, he doesn’t put us under pressure and just want the best for us. Heike (wife) is amazing too. “
Max Kruse: “– Yes ! Peter is the best boss ever! Peter is a good boss and friend. What I mean is that not only the results are important for him. “
DW: What do you think makes the Solid Strike a good World Cup downhill bike?
Joe Connel: “The Solid Strike has a lot of attributes that make it an awesome bike for racing World Cups. A Slack/long/low geometry that feels so comfortable on flat out tracks yet still corners in the tight stuff really well. A brilliant suspension system that takes the big hits really well and is really sensitive on small bumps. It’s light yet strong as anything, I’m on the same frame now that I was on the start of the year and I haven’t had any issues all year.”
Max Kruse: “The engineer Matthias Reichmann is a good rider and racer he knows what’s going on and what’s important for a fast bike. And everybody who works with the bike (rider,mechanics,engineer) all talk to each other and work together to make it perfect.”
Morganne Charre: “I had the chance this year to work on a special bike and to adapt the Strike just like I wanted it. The Solid Strike Flare came out of this project. It’s perfect size for me, light, flexible and works amazingly in the rough stuff. Real race bike and still super fun to ride! “.
Harry Molloy:” When I first swung my leg over a Strike and had a play everything just felt right. It’s a bike that anyone can jump on and feel at home. Matthias, the engineer, has developed the Center Force System along with the geometry to make a gem of a bike. If I told you any more he’d have to kill me.”
DW: With all the guys in the same category, is their some rivalry between you for results?
Joshua Barth ; “Everyone wants to be faster than the other guys, but when it doesn´t work, you are excited for the faster guy”.
Josh Lowe: “Of course! I like that though, especially between Harry Molloy and I who always ride together when we are at home. Friendly rivalry always helps to push one another to do better. However everyone in the Team gets on well with each other and we all want everyone to do well.”
Morganne Charre: “No rivalry for me 🙂 “.
DW: Apart from Josh and Harry, your all from different places, where will you spend the offseason and what will you get upto? Will you get a chance to all meet up and ride together through the winter?
Josh Lowe: “I currently study at the University of Exeter, which pretty much runs throughout the off-season. The university helps me with training, so it works out pretty well.”
Stefan Garliki: “I will go home to enjoy the South African summer! I will be training and start working on selling Reverse products in SA. I don’t think I will get a chance to see the rest of the team unless they come and visit me? Which could be cool!”
Harry Molloy: “We’ll all meet up I’m sure before the whole team meets up for a pre season camp anyway. I will be coaching for ‘Flow Style’ over this winter season and who knows where that will take me, the world’s my office.”.
Max Kruse: “My plan was to visit josh and Harry in the UK when I’m back on the bike and in 2016 go for a time to South Africa to Stefan and then straight to our team camp , I hope that the guys visit me in my slopestyle park and home trails that we have time just to ride without pressure.”
DW: What do you do when you’re not racing? (Do you have jobs, studying etc.?)
Morganne Charre: “For the last 3 winters I’ve been working in a aircraft company where I do quality control. It’s interesting and I’ve learned a lot with that. We’ll see how it is for next winter.”
Josh Lowe: “I currently study at the University of Exeter, which pretty much runs throughout the off-season. The university helps me with training, so it works out pretty well!”.
Joe Connel: “I spend the winter working for Roost as a guide as it’s the best fit to the racing and allows me to still train and ride all winter. If you want to keep up with what I get up to this winter, follow me on Instagram – @joe94connell”. ( Editor: Good work Joe, blatant plug! )
DW: If you hadn’t found racing bikes, what do you think you’d be doing instead?
Harry Molloy: “Well I wouldn’t be watching football matches from my couch getting fat if that’s what you mean… but I’d probably be doing something similar like MX..”
Stefan Garliki: “I would probably be studying Architecture as that’s what I originally planned to do. I don’t really know though, bikes are all I have wanted to do for my whole life.”
Morganne Charre:“I think I would be traveling a lot too and live in another country like New Zealand maybe? I would like to be working in the studying and protection of the nature. “
DW: Finally, what would you like to achieve in 2016?
Harry Molloy: “I want to be a more frequent top 30 rider and hit the top 15 in the World Cups.”
Morganne Charre: “I’ve got some projects in my mind but it’s hard to talk about it yet. But my main project is to have a wild race season, give my best, have fun with my mates and smash some good results! “
Josh Lowe: “I’d like to build on this season and get into the top 10 at European Cups as well as be qualifying consistently and getting some good results at World Cups. I am going to be training hard this off-season and I’m already motivated for some results next year!”
Joe Connell:”I’d like to get upto where I know I can be in the results, so first my goal is to have an awesome off-season and come into 2016 stronger than ever and ready to race.”
Stefan Garliki:” I want to break into the top 30 at the world cups and world champs. I also want to defend the National champs title as well as win the African continental championship. But most importantly have fun!”.
Joshua Barth: “More top 80 qualies in the worldcup and nominated for the worlds”.
Thanks guys, best of luck with the racing in 2016.