Film Review: Wheel Love

During the 2016 DH world cup season, Rob Warner referred to Josh Bryceland as “Perhaps the last derelict to win a World Cup.” It felt like the era of rock star downhillers was coming to an end, and clean-cut professionalism would be the only way to win a race from then on. With Steve Peat having retired, and then Josh Bryceland’s announcement that he wouldn’t race the 2017 season, it seemed like that era was dead and buried. That’s why we needed Wheel Love.

The long intro full of wobbly shots of friends messing around in the woods makes it clear pretty quickly that this isn’t going to be your typical bike film. Or at least that it isn’t going to be your typical professionally produced bike film. Instead it’s something that today’s hard-hitting, physics-defying films quite often miss out on. It’s not about sticking huge new tricks, or hitting impossible drops. It’s a film about feeling: about having fun on a bike with some mates. And the stuff that feels good to ride doesn’t always look good.

After the intro the film gets going, but the style doesn’t really change. There’s no story being told, no voiceover talking about the trails or the riders. Instead there’s a just a feeling that keeps building. It feels more and more like you’re one of the 50to01 crew, just having a good time in the woods.

The footage looks a lot like stuff from the mid 2000s, probably because shots weren’t set up with special lighting or top of the line video cameras. The guys also made no secret of the fact that they sessioned a jump or drop for ages before they moved on. Where bike films typically string shots together to create an illusion of endless flow, Wheel Love tells the truth. Most of the cool stuff in the film took quite a few attempts (crashes) to get right.

The most important thing about the film though, is the message it sends. The wobbly shots and ultra-honest editing are telling us the same thing that Ratboy told us when he left the world cup scene. They’re telling us that, as the industry grows and becomes more professional and corporate, we’re at risk of losing the feeling. The feeling is what we had when we were kids on derelict bikes, spending hours just messing around in the woods down the street. It’s what we had when race wins and Instagram views didn’t matter, but fun did. It’s a message from some of the best bike riders in the world: don’t lose the fun.

Article by Ryan Ellis.

All images are the property of 50to01.