MEET THE RIDERS AND THEIR RIDES
GT’S MARTIN MAES
Martin Maes is a phenomenal rider. Besides being one of the top enduro racers on the planet, he’s also one of the top downhillers. He’s won numerous Enduro World Series (EWS) races, as well as the final downhill event of the UCI World Cup series in 2018. On top of that, a few years ago he also won the Pro Men’s Dual-Slalom race at the Sea Otter Classic—an event said to be equal to a Dual-Slalom World Championship.
To say that Martin has remarkable speed and bike-handling skills would be an understatement. He’s practically superhuman when it comes to going fast on a mountain bike. Read on to learn more about Maes and his GT Force Carbon Enduro bike.
Name: Martin Maes
Birthdate: January 27, 1997
Birthplace: Liege, Belgium
Height: 1.84 meters (6 feet, 1/2 inch)
Weight: 70 kilograms (154 pounds)
Helmet size: Medium
Marital status: In a relationship
Current home: Nandrin, Belgium
Started racing or competing: At the age of 6
Turned pro: 15 years old
Favorite course: Fort William for downhill and Whistler for enduro
Heroes: Travis Pastrana
Most embarrassing moment: When I lose a race because of a stupid mistake.
Always takes on a trip: A bike or motorbike!
What you would be if you were not a racer: It is a challenge for me to not imagine myself racing. Probably something physical—a gardener or a farmer!
Martin Maes and his GT Force Carbon 29/27.5 enduro bike
Frame: “I’m riding a GT Bicycles ‘mullet’ 69er Force Carbon with 150mm of travel, front and rear. Since 2019 we decided to ride a 29er wheel at the front and a 27.5 wheel at the back. It’s been very, very good.”
Shock and settings: Fox Float X2; settings depend on terrain and race.
Fork: Fox 36, 29 inches, 150mm travel; settings depend on terrain and race.
Tires: Schwalbe Magic Mary, front, 2.35-inch width, ultra-soft at 1.6 bar (23.2 psi); and a Schwalbe Nobby Nic at the back, soft, 2.35-inch width, at 1.75 bar (25.4 psi).
“We also run a cut Dirty Dan when conditions get slippery or super dry for more traction. Air pressure remains the same.”
Wheels: Stan’s NoTubes, Neo Ultimate wheelset; front, 29-inch Flow MK3; rear, 27.5-inch Flow EX3, with a Cushcore (tire insert).
Brakes: Shimano Saint, 180mm rotors.
Stem: Race Face Atlas 50, 35mm diameter.
Handlebars: Race Face SIXC carbon, 35mm rise, 780mm width.
Grips: ODI Elite Pro
Shifter: Shimano XTR 12-speed
Rear derailleur: Shimano XTR 10-45, 12-speed
Pedals: Crankbrothers Mallet E
Cranks: Shimano XTR, 170mm.
Chainring: Shimano XTR, 34T
Chain: Shimano XTR, 12-speed
Rear cassette: Shimano XTR, 10-45t
Saddle: Fabric Scoop Line Pro
Seatpost: Fox Transfer, always 150mm of travel.
Headset: FSA integrated
Extras: “We run Cushcore rim protection in the rear and a OneUp multi-tool/plug in the steering tube.”
Weight: 15.5 kilograms (34.17 pounds)
Estimated value: “Invaluable. Around €7000 ($7920), probably.”
MBA: Where did you grow up?
Maes: I grew up in Neupré, Belgium. It is a super-chill village surrounded by a lot of forests. I consider myself lucky to have grown up in a place where it is easy to go mountain biking and do outside activities. Our trails are some of the best!
MBA: What kind of work do your father and mother do?
Maes: My father is a mountain bike coach. He runs a mountain bike school that has gotten very popular over the last couple of years. He manages to teach over 200 kids every week. My mother takes care of babies in a nursery.
MBA: When did you first start riding a bicycle?
Maes: At the age of 2 years and a couple of months. My parents still think it was very early!
MBA: When did you first start competing on mountain bikes?
Maes: Pretty much as soon as I could. My dad was an ex-professional rider. I’ve always looked up to him, and I wanted to follow his path since the very beginning.
MBA: How did you do in your first mountain bike event?
Maes: I was 6, and I was racing against older kids of 9 years old, so I didn’t win at first, but I still remember that I really wanted to win. My older brother also played a big role. He was 3 years older than me, but I wanted to keep up with him so bad. We had quite a few jealousy fights of course.
MBA: What titles have you won or come close to winning?
Maes: I still remember finishing second at my first BMX race when I was 8. I went back two weeks after and won. Winning has always been important to me—it’s kind of in our blood in the family.
MBA: Did you attend college?
Maes: I turned professional very early, and I was still at the school. It was important for me to finish school till 18 to be able to go to college if I needed to. Being a professional athlete requires a lot of time and sacrifices to perform at the highest level. It was a general school. I actually enjoyed my time there, as we could go out road riding twice a week for a few hours. There were talented road riders who’ve turned pro now, so it was a great challenge to ride with them, and I still benefit from all the training we have done now.
MBA: Do you have any other career training?
Maes: My main focus is to be competitive every weekend!
MBA: What other sports do you do besides mountain biking?
Maes: I ride motorbikes, run and go to the gym, but, more important, I ride my bikes and have fun!
MBA: If possible, please tell us something interesting or unusual about yourself or your family that is not widely known.
Maes: I can’t give you all of my secrets, can I?
Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that’s 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we’re still having fun.