In South Africa, a Bobcat B730 backhoe loader and E55 mini-excavator have proved themselves to be the machines of choice for constructing some of the best mountain bike (MTB) trails ever seen in the country and anywhere around the globe. Not too long ago, cycling was a niche sport, and the industry comprised a handful of retailers selling a narrow range of bike brands and specialist gear. Today, it is the largest participation sport in South Africa.

Working on land forming part of the Vuurberg Wine Farm in Stellenbosch, the Bobcat B730 and E55 have been used under the direction of professional trail builders to construct trails with jumps of a magnitude that have never been seen before, providing an unequalled challenge to riders from all over the world.

Kevin Purcell, National Sales Manager for Bobcat South Africa, the exclusive national dealer for Bobcat, said:“To build parks and tracks like these, and the big exciting jumps that are required, needs specialised equipment. Our Bobcat compact machines are ideal for this unique application. We are proud to be associated with these prestigious events, which ensure wonderful experiences for participants and organisers alike.”

The Choice of MTB Trail Builders

One of the most notable tracks involving the Bobcat machines was that built for the international DarkFEST 2020 Mountain Bike (MTB) event held earlier this year on the Stellenbosch site and involving top competitors from 11 different countries. The Bobcat machines played key roles in assisting course builder, UK MTB star and Red Bull Rampage best trick award winner, Sam Reynolds, to design and construct the biggest ever jumps seen at an event like this, as this video shows:

Bobcat South Africa supplied the Bobcat B730 backhoe loader for the works on the new DarkFEST trail, working together with the E55, which is owned by the Vuurberg estate and was purchased from the Capetown branch of Bobcat South Africa. 

Commenting on the role played specifically by the Bobcat B730 backhoe loader, Sam Reynolds said: “We used the Bobcat B730 to help build the DarkFEST jumps. It has been super useful for jobs around the farm for moving dirt around in the tighter places where you can’t get in a larger excavator, digging drainage to make sure the water doesn’t run on the jump. It has a super powerful turbo engine with over 100 horsepower and we would not have been able to build the DarkFEST trail without this beast.“

The Bobcat B730 is a versatile backhoe loader that can be configured for a diverse range of job applications, from digging to trenching, breaking and materials handling. The engine delivers all the power needed for the most demanding applications. 

An enclosed cab (with an optional high-performance HVAC system) is also offered. The operator compartment has easy cab entry, easily reachable controls, a tiltable steering column, a fully-adjustable seat and high visibility. Loader performance is characterised by powerful breakout forces, strong full-lift capacities and enhanced load-over-height and reach in order to deal with demanding materials-handling jobs as effectively and as efficiently as possible.

Bobcat E55 Excavator a Natural for Trail Building 

The E55 owned by the Vuurberg Farm is also ideal for trail building. Like all Bobcat machinery, the E55 is built using computer-assisted design techniques, highly durable materials and structures which are endurance-tested under extreme conditions. 

Justin Novella, another mountain biker and professional trail builder, spoke about the E55 as his desired machine for constructing the Hellsend trail, one of the other MTB trails on the farm: “The E55 features an improved boom swing control. The boom swing is controlled by a thumb wheel located on the left joystick, instead of the pedal control used on many competitive machines of this size. This feature offers the benefit of improved controllability of the boom swing function while creating more floor space for the operator.“ 

Bobcat South Africa Community Support 

Kevin Purcell added: “Bobcat South Africa is proud to be involved in MTB events like DarkFEST and Hellsend, but also with community projects by donating its specialised compact equipment and operators to assist in building cycling tracks and features. Not only is it a perfect fit for Bobcat’s corporate social responsibility initiatives, it is also a great showcase for the toughness and capabilities of Bobcat equipment.“