Mountain Biker Goes 104 MPH Down a 45-Degree Slope

Get the lowdown on Max Stöckl's V-Max project as he attempts to break an MTB downhill speed record.
By Rajiv Desai

Markus "Max" Stöckl is driven by the need for speed. The general manager of the World Cup-running MS-Racing Mondraker MTB Team likes nothing better than to go down a slope as fast as possible and has been setting speed downhill mountain-bike records for over 20 years.

Watch his attempt in the video player above and scroll down for more

Markus Stoeckl performs during V-Max 200 at the Atacama Desert, Chile on December 10, 2016
The Atacama Desert, Chile – 11,000 miles from home © Philip Platzer/Red Bull Content Pool

Beating his own record

For his new V-Max project, 42-year-old Stöckl was aiming to beat his own speed world record for cycling down a gravel-based mountain on a production mountain bike. The current record was set in 2011 when Max bombed down the volcanic cone of Cerro Negro in Nicaragua at 102 mph (164.95 kph).

Stöckl and his six-man support team identified Chile’s Atacama Desert on the country’s Pacific Coast. Nothing thrives here, all that can be seen is boulders and stones for miles and miles.

The [Nicargua] run wasn’t fun enough — it wasn’t a real challenge. When I came back home from Nicaragua, I started right away to look for a new mountain to ride down. We found that here in Chile.

Max Stöckl
Markus Stoeckl seen during V-Max 200 at the Atacama Desert, Chile on December 12, 2016
Boulders and stones as far as the eye can see © Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

Chile's Atacama Desert

To quench his thirst for speed, the Austrian national chose a mountain slope in the desert that had a summit of 13,031 feet (3,972 meters) altitude, a 45-degree slope at the start area and a run-off that was 3,937 feet (1,200 meters) from top to bottom. There was also ideal wind resistance in the surroundings at this spot.

Markus Stoeckl seen during V-Max 200 at the Atacama Desert, Chile on December 13, 2016
Ready to drop in... © Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

Safety first

To make the speed attempt as safe as possible, Max wore a special suit, an airbag — similar to the ones ski racers and jumpers use. The helmet used was self-made. His mountain bike of choice was of course a Mondraker downhill bike. Nothing was added or changed on the bike to make it go faster.

I wanted to have the chance to ride my bike really quickly again.

Max Stöckl
Markus Stoeckl performs during V-Max 200 at the Atacama Desert, Chile on December 10, 2016
Eight test runs to determine the perfect line © Philip Platzer/Red Bull Content Pool

Stöckl tested the slope eight times to work out an ideal line and to get a taste of the speed he’d been running down the slope at before going for the run to try and beat the world record.

Markus Stoeckl performs during V-Max 200 at the Atacama Desert, Chile on December 10, 2016
Building up speed... © Philip Platzer/Red Bull Content Pool

When you’re cycling above 100 mph (160 kph), each and every extra mile (kilometer) per hour requires an enormous effort. This force has an impact on the bike and the entire body.

Max Stöckl

Speeding to success

That actual run clocked up a speed of 104 mph (167.6 kph) thus beating his previous record. It took Max 11 seconds and 2,133 feet (650 meters) to reach his top speed. Not bad for someone who isn't considered a professional athlete.

Check out the GoPro footage of the record run in the player above

Relieved and of course delighted, Stöckl was quick to express his emotions after the run.

“It was so exhausting, even though the ride only lasted for 20 seconds. I just can’t express the feeling in words. Even if you know it is only going to be 6 or 9 mph (10 or 15 kph) quicker than the last training run —standing up on the summit of the mountain, looking down and feeling the adrenaline was a very moving moment!”

Want to know more about the V-Max project? A full documentary will air on Red Bull TV on April 20, 2017.

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