My A.130 is Gee Atherton Approved!

02 July 2024

About Martyn Souter: Peak District MTB Enthusiast and BBC Camera Supervisor


Martyn Souter works for BBC news as a Camera Supervisor. He’s been working in Broadcasting and riding the natural trails of the Peak District  twice a week for over 30 years and still constantly finds new challenges at work and at play!


See the A.130

Expertise in Bike Selection

Martyn has a wealth of experience which means he is very confident about choosing the bike and components that will suit his riding best. He chose an AM130x Size 10 470 regular number 345 with a custom spec. Rockshox lyric/ultimate deluxe. Hope Tech4/E4 200/180. Shimano XT drive train, DT Swiss xm481 rims on Hope Pro 5 hubs, Continental Kryptotal 2.4 trail tyres. Brand X descend dropper, Renthal bars/stem and a Burgtec oval front ring make for a highly capable and dependable build.

Martyn said “I wanted a build that was good but functional. I’ve had Hope parts for years, likewise, Shimano and I’ve got the tools and experience to work on those bits. I also didn’t want to have a mega blingy build with rare parts, the dropper I specced is probably one of the cheapest on the market but I’ve used them for a while and they are dependable and really easy to fix!"


MTB Riding in the Peak District


I live and work on the edge of the Peak District in the UK so I’ve got classic locations like Edale and Hayfield on the doorstep. Hope Valley and Castleton are just a half-hour drive. The Dark Peak has big ups, and rocky, rough downs. We aren’t blessed with a massive amount of forest singletrack, but it does exist if you know where to look.

I’ve ridden full suspension bikes for probably 25 years, starting with a GT STS, then a Turner 5spot, Pivot Mach 5.7, Bird AM160 and now the Atherton. I’m not a serial bike swapper but have always had fairly capable bikes. The ability to pedal uphill is crucial.

When I started riding what we did was called cross country. We still do that. There aren’t any bike parks nearby, we ride natural stuff all the time. It’s a fairly simple formula, Meet riding mates. Ride around a bit. Go to a café/pub!

I’m really lucky that my wife is also a passionate rider so we can share our riding time! The group we quite frequently ride with are also couples so we have a good mix. The Peak District is a popular place for MTB and there are plenty of groups dotted around that would satisfy any type of riding you want. It’s always nice to see others at the top of a hill or gate stop and compare notes on route choices!

We try to ride as much as possible, at least twice a week if time and shifts at work allow. We are very lucky with where we live. We can ride from the door and have an awesome day out, or just a quick hour blast. The Peak District is such a classic mountain bike destination it’s hard to beat. We do try to holiday in other great UK mountain bike spots. Wales (obviously!) Parts of Scotland although there’s still a huge amount I’d like to explore up there! Trail centres are fun and provide a quick and easy “riding fix” but I enjoy the natural stuff.

We are definitely at the more “wheels on the ground” end of the spectrum but that’s not to say there isn’t a little bit of competition both up and down.

See our Bikes

A 50th Birthday Gift!


Bikes have always played a fairly big part in my life, I actually couldn’t imagine not having a bike and not riding... My first real bike, My Raleigh Burner took me all over and I guess that’s the genesis of enjoying the outdoors and cycling especially…as a kid bikes brought freedom and independence, as a grown-up it’s a release, it’s a way of unwinding and just enjoying being out there. Getting on an MTB (rigid) and riding off-road just sparked something for me. I’ve never been interested in road riding, the road scene is really strong here but it wasn’t for me!

My oldest mate was a catalyst for all of this. He bought a Marin Hawk Hill back in 1990 something so I felt I should probably sort out a bike for myself. After a false start I bought a Specialized Rockhopper and it kinda went from there! We still ride together now. Sometimes shifts allow for days off in the week so I’ll go out on my own and enjoy the relatively peaceful trails!

The Atherton was my 50th birthday present to myself! I mentioned that I’m not a serial bike swapper. I had my Turner 5spot for probably 10 years, the Pivot after that maybe 7. Because of where we live I do like full suspension and just got on with the 4 bar/DW systems on the previous frames.


New Bike Checklist


When I began looking for a high-end bike to celebrate my birthday the shortlist was.. well pretty short!

I wanted something a bit different.

I mean Santa Cruz makes good bikes but they are common around our way.

I’d had a Pivot, and I just didn’t like the look of some of the other bike brands.

I also wanted to make sure that no matter how niche a frame may be, parts wouldn’t be an issue.

I was aware of Atherton Bikes through Rachel’s success and had looked into the brand. The A.150 was a lovely-looking bike but I just had a niggle it was too “big” a bike for my riding. I didn’t want a bike to just bulldozer through everything so it sat in the back of my mind until the A.130 was released. That looked like a bike for me!


The experience of buying an Atherton Bike...

I made an initial contact with Atherton and spoke with Joe via email giving him the bike history, and type of riding I do and just asking the general questions. Through this conversation, it became clear that I could get a whole bike from Atherton with my specs. The seed was sown! It happened that my wife Helen and I were staying in a holiday let about 15 minutes outside Machynlleth and I was able to arrange a visit to the HQ.

Joe took us on a factory tour and explained all the processes, talked specs and patiently answered all my questions. I didn’t worry about buying without a test ride, with 22 sizes.. something is going to fit! And clearly, the Atherton family’s pedigree means the bike was going to ride well. So all the boxes I was looking at were ticked on that visit.

All in all the buying experience was just that, an experience!

It was clear pretty much from my first contact that the team are passionate about the brand and products and knows them inside out.

What stood out was the personal touch. You’re not dealing with a faceless corporation.

You can, if needed pick up the phone and speak to someone directly involved in the process of creating the bike. The fact I was able to visit the factory and see what went on was a massive bonus. I placed the order when we got back home at the end of that week and the wait began!

The build updates with photos were a lovely touch. I also liked that I didn’t get a photo of the completed bike. The reveal when I picked it up at HQ was nice. I genuinely felt like a kid again.

How the A.130 Rides...

Collecting a brand new bike you are desperate to ride in December, in the UK is awkward.. the weather isn’t inspiring and most of the local trails are either very wet or actually quite unpleasant to ride.

Straight away the bike felt fast, I’m not a PB type and certainly don’t chase KOMs or anything like that, but this bike FEELS quick. That might be partly because it’s so quiet.

There is no cable rattle and I find with carbon fibre bikes that the frame seems to damp sounds a little bit more than an alloy one. The other big standout is that my previous bike took me ages to get set up.

If I’m honest I never actually quite got it to fit and be comfy. The first time sitting on my 130 it just felt right

I’m fortunate to be in the position to own an Atherton, something that’s as close to a bespoke custom build as I need it to be. The quality shines through.

Because the bike fits so well, straight out of the box it really is an inspiring ride. I have felt quicker and more confident on some of the trickier stuff we do. I’ve been looking for more features to pop off!

I don’t see myself doing massive gap jumps or huge drops but that’s not what I ride anyway! The ability to climb is just as important as the stability and prowess downhill and the Atherton offers me all of that and more.

Interestingly, the Atherton has a similar suspension platform to quite a few of the other bikes I’ve owned so it feels familiar, but better!

I found setting up the Atherton pretty easy. For me, part of the fun is setting up and experimenting with what the new technology can now do. Don’t forget when I started riding if you wanted to tune a fork you changed the little rubber elastomers that were inside. That was it.

So great bike, great advice and overall experience… the icing on the (50th birthday) cake was on collection day when Gee wandered over to check out the new build. It seems everyone likes a new bike day!