Described in a Cycling Plus magazine as a pioneer of downhill mountain biking, Felt’s product manager Scott Sharples agrees.
“I probably was. When I started riding downhill it was right after I did the ‘Uphill Race’. You rode up the hill and then you had to go down the hill, so they might as well time you. Sometimes we would cheat and put our seats down.”
These rudimentary beginnings were one of the origins of sanctioned downhill racing.
Like many riders of his generation, Scott started his racing career in BMX. From there he transitioned to BMX freestyle. Scott graduated to racing mountain bikes and was one of the first Australians to race mountain bikes on the international scene.
At a young age Scott has always been a tinkerer, which is ideal for this position at Felt as the Mountain Bike Product Manager. “I think my first mountain bike was when I was 13. I had a road bike I used to go to school on. I took some pipe and made (straight) handlebars out of it because I thought this is how handlebars should feel like.”
While Scott is known primarily for his downhill racing skills, he originally was a cross-country racer. As a professional racer, Scott’s resume includes two Australian national championships.
Once his professional cycling career ended Scott transitioned into coaching. He coached the Australian national downhill team and in 1996 was named Australian coach of the year. Scott was also the Australian national coach for the 2008 Beijing Olympics BMX team, as well as training many of the legendary riders of the sport, including former downhill world champion Sam Hill.
When asked what tips he’d give to a mountain biker, he was sure to point out the fundamentals.
“You’ve got to have the fundamentals of cornering and absorbing the terrain mastered and peak fitness to be at the pointy end of the race field,” said Scott. “But you also need to work on areas to boost your confidence. You also need to work on strength, agility, and challenge yourself. You can watch the world’s best on a tricky bit of the course and they too can look amateurish to begin with. However, they will not leave a challenge until it’s mastered.”
While Scott still dabbles in coaching, he entered the bike industry as someone with the dirt credentials to improve a mountain bike line. After working for several bike companies the Perth native joined Felt in early 2013 as the Mountain Bike Product Manager.
“I come up with a product line for the various mountain bike categories. I spec the bikes and make sure we’re producing the best bike possible.”
Part of that is having his ear to the ground as well as realizing what is new and important in this always evolving sport.
While Scott isn’t racing anymore he still likes to ride hard on his mountain bike when given the chance.
Currently Scott can be seen in the local trails on a Compulsion with 160mm of front and rear travel, kitted out with whatever requires testing.
“If I’m riding with someone I want to go fast, but not to race them. Going fast is more about challenging myself, and setting up a good drift, most importantly.” said Scott. “That’s why we ride – it’s fun and it feels good. Mountain biking is feeling based, it’s about expression, it’s about living life.”