SEVEN RECESSION-BUSTER BIKES
MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION
FIRST FIRST FIRST
TEST TEST TEST
Specialized Diamondback Titus
FIRST FIRST 21.25
TEST TEST Pounds
Att’n Retailer: Please display until July 2
Commencal Marin Cannondale
SPECIAL: WORLD’S GREATEST TRAILS
We go on location with some of the
sport’s biggest names at the most
beautiful trails. Page 68.
Photo by Christophe Margot
Photo by John Ker
Photo by John Ker
RECESSION-BUSTER 62 The Diamondback 116 Young Rippers
BIKES Mission 2 Introducing Mitch Ropelato.
A diamond in the rough.
Ride Ride happy days on bikes that will
into into happy days on bikes
put the recession bluesrecession blues
that will put the behind you.
86 The Specialized S-Works FEATURE
46 The Santa Cruz Blur XC Stumpjumper HT Disc
Committed to one thing:
56 How To Start Your Own
Taking carbon fiber to the next Mountain Bike Team
And maybe win 48 state and
100 The Marin Nail Trail 29er five national championships.
52 The Titus FTM
Titus unleashes a full-tilt surprise. Pounding nails has never been
so much fun.
112 The Chumba VF2 92 The Garage Files
A Bike born for Southern Dissecting your freewheel just
California riding. for fun.
124 The Commencal 106 Project Cannondale Rize
Building a real sub-22 pound
Its stripes are already earned.
MBA PHOTO GALLERY 120 Inside The Pros’ Bikes
Ryan Leech’s Norco trailbike.
68 On Location Around
So beautiful you’ll be packing COMPETITION
your bags tonight.
128 The Kenda Cup Fontana
PEOPLE Let the season begin.
50 Riders Who Inspire
Robin Lemonds teaches
others to share.
Two for the trail: These riders have kept
trails open to all through education,
information and recreation. Page 50.
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The word “downhill” means a lot of different things for a lot of different riders. To some, it draws a faint line along a topo map or down the spine of a distant,
untracked mountain. To others, it’s all about 3 minutes spent in The Zone focusing on precise wheel placement and measured in hundredths of seconds.
A pile of bikes in the back of a pickup and the smell of musty armor. The hum of a chairlift and the 5th run of the day waiting at the top, cold ones and
friends at the bottom.
Santa Cruz Bicycles: 104 Bronson st. #22 Santa Cruz, CA 95060 santacruzbicycles.com email@example.com Photo: Forrest Arakawa
The new Driver 8 is built for all of that and more - 8 inches of bump flattening next generation VPP travel, more durable pivot hardware than the
family truckster, built tough enough to get you down anything you sack up for, yet snappy pedaling and climb-friendly enough to get you back up.
Point. Drop. Grin. Repeat.
HAPPY TRAILS By Richard J. Cunningham
on the often precarious flanks of the San ally learn is to make best-scenario deci-
he International Mountain Gabriels, and I absolutely hate seeing sions based upon the resources on hand.
Bicycling Association’s most them ripped up by callous riders and Many of the switchbacks are impossibly
powerful tool is the Subaru rear-wheel skidders. Here’s my sermon: tight and steep for cyclists. The trails we
Trail Care Crew program. Subaru If you can’t ride without locking up had been riding on were built for the most
funds salaries and car allowances for your rear wheel, then face the fact; you part by rocket scientists at nearby JPL lab-
two IMBA trail access teams and one don’t really know how to ride. Seek pro- oratories long before mountain bikes came
in-house coordinator. Gary Fisher fessional help, and until you learn prop- along. Their Sierra Club Chapter was, for
furnishes mountain bikes, and er braking techniques, ride bike parks many years, the only group that built and
Yakima outfits the crews with bike and stay off public trails. maintained the trails in the San Gabriel
racks and trick-looking rooftop stor- So ride day comes along and it’s just Mountains, and much of their work
age pods. Armed with land-access Jason and I, as Inga was taking some R stands untouched and in great shape
negotiation skills and extensive trail and R time to shake a persistent cold. today. The Mount Wilson Bicycling
building experience, one team covers Trail Crews ride the Gary Fisher Roscoe, Association handles much of the work-
the East and the other heads west, which has captured the heart of Van load now, and their construction style is
traveling to hot spots across North Horn, who is not an easy sell. Jason far more bike friendly. While there is a
America to assist mountain bikers owns eight mountain bikes, each for a decided contrast in their techniques, both
and land managers in tackling any specific purpose, so living with only one groups work toward the same end—to
mountain-bike-related issue. do-it-all bike is a fresh concept. Within a keep trails safe and passable in the most
mile, it became clear that Jason was a improbable terrain.
Trail Care Crews must be prepared to sharp bike handler, and that touring ride Having done my share of trail work, I
switch gears quickly, as their weekly spots in four states had broadened his marvel at the ingenuity of JPL’s old-school
missions can encompass anything from skills. Jason’s tires rarely scratched the construction methods. I often point out
teaching proper trail building skills, sur- soil, and he was equally adept on the sections of WWII steel landing mats to the
veying potential routes, overseeing main- slow, tight sections as he was at flowing casual trail rider, or the fact that they have
tenance efforts, guiding a ride, cutting in over the faster places on the route. He been riding for a fourth of a mile on rocks
a new section of singletrack, and moder- would bust out a sufficient lead to beautifully stacked along a ledge. From a
ating conflicts between users, to preach- enable him to produce a full-size Canon rider’s untrained eye, the cliff-side single-
ing the mountain bike gospel at town SLR camera and be waiting in the bush- track looks natural, like an extension of
meetings. IMBA’s Subaru Trail Care es or on a rock outcrop for an action or the mountain. Jason, however, was quick
Crews demonstrate more often than not, scenic shot as I came into view. to notice and had an honest respect for
that wielding Pulaskis, McLeods and During the two-hour ride, we spoke the incredible rockwork that JPL’s wilder-
brush tools is the best way to win the about a wide variety of subjects that ness masons put into place sometime
backcountry battle against anti-bike fac- ranged from how to weave twitter around the Cuban Missile Crisis.
tions. accounts into mainstream web market- Riding with Jason afforded me a broad-
Jason Van Horn and Inga Beck are ing to the benefits of 29ers, but regard- er appreciation of the scope of IMBA’s
two of IMBA’s most recent Trail Crew less of the topic, it was clear that trail Trail Crew Program and a sense of pride
recruits, who uprooted from their home issues were Jason’s passion of the that people like Jason and Inga were rep-
near Portland, Oregon, around moment. Everywhere we paused, he resenting our sport where it is most neces-
Christmastime last year to begin a road would inspect and critique the trail sary. Jason and Inga will be putting the
trip that will last two years. Jason is an beneath us. Jason snapped photos of miles on their Subaru Outback as they hit
accomplished photographer and web cliff-side switchbacks supported by steel Trail Care dates in the Western U.S. and
consultant whose previous trail-building rods in bare rock, braced with fencing Canada. If you catch up with them (and I
experience was primarily sculpting wire and backfilled with rubble. He pho- certainly hope you will) be sure to show
jumps, which is a valuable skill, as many tographed trampolines constructed from them the A-rides in your neck of the
of IMBA’s affiliates are interested in saplings that were woven together to woods. Check out www.imba.com for their
building urban mountain bike parks. catch riders who stumbled off of cliff- next stop and meet the latest members of
Jason is also a contributor to mbac- side corners. We tossed around alterna- the IMBA/Subaru Trail Crew with your
tion.com (check out his trail reviews), so tive drainage strategies for rutted trail work gloves, water bottle and a posi-
when I learned that the couple would be segments. It was clear that Van Horn tive, winning attitude. I
working their way west from Texas, I knew his stuff, but what struck me was think you’ll be
invited them for a ride in the San how flexible his mind was when he was impressed.❑
Gabriel Mountains when the Subaru observing other trail builders’ work. The
train was scheduled to visit Southern lesson that all good trail builders eventu-
Loyal MBA readers probably know by
now that my favorite trails scour the
steep slopes of the San Gabriel
Mountains that ring the Los Angeles
Basin. My estimate is that there are over
100 miles of trails, which thread through
the range, all designated for multi-use,
and I take pride in showing the prime
riding there to selected visitors.
“Selected,” because the trails there do
not lend themselves to novice or unfit
riders. More importantly, I am protective
of the amount of engineering and man-
power that it took to build singletracks
THE MAC ATTACK By Jim McIlvain
Mountain Versus Moto
t was Norman on the phone. He’s
one of my best non-mountain-bike Cycling shoes don’t come up to your You have two kick-starters instead of
buddies. The guy lives in knees or weigh six pounds. one. They both go around in circles and
Vancouver, British Columbia, and ★★★ seldom kick back.
while his day job is running the fami- While motorcycle and mountain bike ★★★
ly’s printing business, he moonlights as tires cost pretty much the same (go fig- If the gap is too large to bunnyhop,
the publisher/editor/circulation direc- ure that one), it is easy to wear out a you ride through it.
tor of Motorcycho, the coolest little motorcycle tire in one ride. It takes a ★★★
motorcycle ’zine in existence. He is lot of riding to wear out a mountain You never get roosted, except while
also the president of the Scorpions bike tire in one year. riding through a stream, and then it is
Motorcycle Club. No, it is not a motor- ★★★ only water.
cycle gang. The Scorpions restore and You don’t rip the skin off your ★★★
ride late ’70s and early ’80s Japanese knuckles changing a tire. If something on the trail scares you,
motorcycles that have been converted ★★★ you can get off and walk around it.
for flattrack, hillclimbing and messing There is a sense of accomplishment ★★★
around in abandoned quarries. Yes, when you clear a nasty climb that Four inches of travel is plenty.
Norman is one boss dude. would be the twist of a throttle on a ★★★
So we talked moto for a while until I moto. You get amazing gas mileage, and if
changed the subject and told Norman ★★★ you run low on fuel, you can pop a few
about the amazing mountain bike ride You can pick the bike up and carry it Shot Bloks into your mouth.
I had at a place called Strawberry Peak. over stuff. ★★★
Norman was silent for a moment and ★★★ You have to spend $5000 to get a good
then said, “I just don’t get it, eh. Why The first words a park ranger says to moto, while $3500 will buy you an awe-
do you enjoy those silly mountain you are not, “You have the right to some mountain bike.
bikes so much?” remain silent.” ★★★
Norman’s comment got me to think- ★★★ Finally, I can beat Norman when we
ing just why I enjoy mountain biking Labored breathing is the loudest are on mountain bikes.
so much more than riding a motorcycle noise that emanates from the bike.
(something I’ve done since I was 14 ★★★ ched,
and still do today). The more I thought Jimmy Mac can be rea iting,
If the engine blows, it means pulling or wr
about it, the longer the list grew. when he is not riding que.com.
off the trail and getting your heart rate at Jamesmac@hi-tor
A bicycle helmet doesn’t weigh three
You can feel the wind in your hair
while wearing a bicycle helmet.
A bicycle helmet gives you three
mini fohawks, while a motorcycle hel-
met gives you a hullet (a cross between
a mullet and a helmet-head). The
fohawk beats a hullet in style points
You don’t have to wear goggles
unless you are sponsored.
When you put on Lycra shorts, you
are ready to go. For moto, a Lycra short
is a base layer.
You don’t need a chest protector.
You don’t need knee braces.
You don’t need a Leatt Brace unless
you are downhill racing.
The Sixsixone Raji is the lightest weight glove
on the market. Lightweight design stays
cool for all day epic rides and XC racing.
The tough 0.5 Clarino palm is thin for a
good feel on the bike and durable enough
for the biggest DH crashes. Go to
your nearest dealer and see why the
Raji glove is preferred by riders for all
styles of riding.
visit us at SIXISIXONE.COM or call 661 257 2756
in Canada call 604 542 5661
Fox Racing Shox has unveiled its 2010 mountain bike
suspension line. There are no major exterior changes to
the Float line but the internals have all received massive
changes. The downhill shocks get total makeovers.
The man: Fox suspension wasn’t named after a carnivo-
rous mammal. The name comes from the company’s
founder, Mr. Bob Fox, an engineer and former motocross
Fox F-Series fork: The F-Series forks for cross-country rac-
ing get new internals and lose weight. The production version
of the F100 RLC (external Rebound, Lockout and Compression
adjustments) is claimed to come in under 3.2 pounds, a change
that makes the fork’s weight attractive to the most discriminat-
ing weight weenie.
Fox Isolated Technology: FIT is a damper system that uses
a unique bladder design to provide reduced friction, reduced
fluid aeration, and reduced unsprung weight. The ergonomic,
handlebar-mounted remote lockout is now available in both left
and right hand versions. FIT dampers will be found in 32 F-
Series, Float (air spring), TALAS (Travel Adjustable Linear
Air Sping), and Vanilla (coil-sprung) forks for 2010.
All the Fox air forks receive new tunes to their air-spring
curves for better utilization of travel. The TALAS forks receive
a larger and more ergonomically friendly travel-adjust lever.
Fox 36 and 40 forks: Both lines have the RC2 damper with
the new FIT cartridge. Expect a reduction in friction for
improved bump sensitivity. The 20QR tool-free thru-axle sys-
tem increases fork stiffness and front-end precision as well as
ensuring quick, hassle-free wheel changes.
Fox Float shocks: The 2010 F-Series air shocks get Fox’s
patented Boost Valve damping technology. The Boost Valve was
first employed on downhill shocks. It is brought into the cross-
country and trail categories in the Float RP2 (external
Rebound and ProPedal) and RP23 (external Rebound and
three-level ProPedal) shocks.
DHX RC4 and DHX RC2 shocks: Both of these downhill
shocks get externally adjustable high- and low-speed, velocity-
sensitive damping and a completely redesigned Boost Valve for
position-sensitive damping and ending-stroke control that act
independently from each other. This allows the rider to dial in
a balance of traction, small-bump compliance and big-hit
absorption. A larger diameter shaft lowers internal pressures
and increases oil flow throughout the entire shock, allowing for
a wider range of tuning.
The 2010 Fox Float RP23 shock. The 2010 DHX RC4 shock.
High-speed Body cap
Rebound knob Shaft eyelet eyelet
Rebound cam compression Low-speed
ProPedal cam Low-speed
adjuster Shock body
ProPedal lever Reservoir
chamber Preload ring
Rebound rod Oil chamber
ProPedal rod Main air seal Internal floating
piston Shaft piston
Boost valve Negative air
chamber Schrader valve
Air sleeve seal Shaft
piston Wiper seal
The 2010 F-Series fork. FIT RLC low-speed FIT lockout lever FIT RLC lockout
compression dial force adjuster
Rebound adjuster Damper shaft
Piston/rebound FIT expanding
FIT damper tube
Lower leg Air spring Upper tube
Air spring plunger shaft
Claimed weight comparisons:
Model 2009 2010
F80 RLC 3.34 pounds 3.17 pounds
F100 RLC 3.34 pounds 3.17 pounds
F120 RLC 3.47 pounds 3.25 pounds
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 21
The Amazing 3D Racing B-29
We see our fair share of beautiful bikes, but when 3D Racing’s Chris Herting dropped by the palatial
MBA World Headquarters with his personal ride, our collective jaws dropped, too. His 3D Racing B-29er
cheater single-speed is a work of art too pretty to get dirty, but too functional not to thrash.
Cheater: The extra-large bike (21.5-inch-
es from the center of the bottom bracket
to the top of the seat tube) tipped the
official MBA scale at 27.8 pounds. If you
think you are looking at a single speed,
you’ve been had.
Flip the switch: Chris didn’t care for the
stock HammerSchmidt handlebar-mount-
Overdrive: The Truvativ HammerSchmidt ed shift lever. He adapted a RockShox
internal transmission crankset gives the B- fork lockout lever and fabricated a mount-
29 a high and low gear. “I rode this frame ing bracket between his top tubes. “I don’t
on the Durango trails for almost two years like handlebar clutter, and the stock Having some fun: The top tubes
as a single-speed and when the HammerSchmidt shifter is very large,” protruding in front of the head tube are a
HammerSchmidt was introduced, I had to explains Chris. “This location works fine cosmetic touch done for the fun of it. That
upgrade,” says Chris, whose company is because it is not like you have to shift all doesn’t mean Chris didn’t get some usage
based in the Colorado town. “Now, I can the time. Just reach down and shift when out of it. The rear brake cable enters the
get up pretty much everything.” you hit the climb.” frame at this point.
Internal memo: The rear
brake hose exits the left
seat stay just above the
brake caliper. While this is
Chris’ personal bike, he’ll
build one for you. The B-
29er SS Retro frame sells
for $1550 and with about
a two month turnaround
time. You can reach 3D
Racing at (970) 385-7840.
Plenty of options: The B-29er’s dropout is
designed so riders can have it their way. The
bike can easily be used with a single-speed,
two-speed (like Chris’) or a multi-speed drive-
train. The B-29er is not a prototype or show
bike. “I have thrashed this design,” says
Chris with a satisfied smile.
Steel is real: Chris uses steel frame tubing because it gives him “that ride-feel
you can’t match.” The parallel top tubes bend to form the seat stays. This was
not done for style. “This design gives the bike great bump compliance while
delivering the kind of lateral rigidity that a single-speed bike requires,” explains
Chris about his design. “It is a stiff frame that doesn’t beat the rider to death.”
Steve Larsen, the same guy whose name is
on the side of your Maxxis tires and was
teammate to some guy named Lance, came
out of semi-retirement to travel from his home
founder, owner and in Bend, Oregon, to the Fontana National with
CEO of Specialized his son, Massimo, who is just starting his rac-
Bicycles, made the ing career. How did the fast duo do? Pops
trip down to the nailed 33rd in the Men’s Pro cross-country
Fontana National to (not too shabby for a 39-year-old realtor)
watch his fast guys in while Massimo appears to be a chip off the
action. Not much of a old block, finishing third in the Junior Men’s
spectator, Mike 11-12 class. Steve, who was a national cross-
grabbed a bike (an country champion in his prime, now owns
S-Works Epic no less) Steve Larsen Properties in Bend, Oregon.
and took his own hot Being the boss makes it easy to sneak out for
lap of the cross- a little training.
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 23
Girlfriend To Camp
Remember that time you took your girlfriend mountain biking
and tried to teach her a bunch of stuff so that you could enjoy
riding together more often? It didn’t go so well, did it? You
probably stood there and gave her encouragement like “just
ride it” and “easy on the brakes” while she got more and more
frustrated. We’ll bet you were in the doghouse for a week after
that, weren’t you?
Hey, we’ve been in that same doghouse, and we know that
it’s no fun. So the Dirt Series by Rocky Mountain Bicycles,
Fox Racing Shox and MBA came up with an idea to solve
your dilemma: The Send Your Girlfriend to Camp Contest.
This contest will get you back in the good books and will
help your girlfriend or wife learn to love mountain biking
as much as you do. The grand prize includes a free entry
to a Dirt Series by Rocky Mountain Bicycles weekend
skills camp, along with a 2010 Fox Racing Shox 32
TALAS RLC 15QR fork and two-year MBA subscrip-
tion. That’s all worth around $1100!
The Dirt Series by Rocky Mountain Bicycles Hers, not yours:
(www.dirtseries.com) is a highly respected and proven Don’t even think about
women’s mountain bike instructional program. Led keeping the 2010 Fox
by dedicated, experienced and motivating coaches, Racing Shox 32
this Whistler-based program has traveled around TALAS RLC 15QR fork
for yourself. This fork
Western Canada and the U.S. for the past eight years, goes on her bike.
teaching over 5000 participants in the process. It’s a
fun and supportive way for riders from beginner to
advanced to learn new skills and fine-tune the ones they already have. The
camps pack a whole year’s worth of
learning into just one incredible
And after the camp, well, she’ll
have a ton of new confidence on the
bike and will be able to ride stuff she
never used to even try. You’ll be able
to enjoy ripping trails together. Maybe
one day she’ll even be waiting around
HOW TO ENTER TO WIN
Send an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject
line: Send My Girlfriend to Camp. Let
them know why your wife or girl-
friend deserves to attend the camp
and how having her attend will
improve your life, too. The deadline is
June 30, 2009. The winner will be
notified on July 10, 2009 after the
Dirt Series staff reviews all the
entries. For camp dates and locations,
check out their website at
Be smart: Let the Dirt Series by Rocky www.dirtseries.com. The winner is
Mountain Bicycles use their experience responsible for traveling expenses to
to show your sweetie the wonders of the camp as well as accommodation
mountain biking. expenses. ❏
CALL OF NATURE
Jimmy Mac’s observation about get-
ting all dressed and then having to go
answer the call of nature is so right!
That last-minute trip to “el bano”
seems to be an integral part of any
SAVED BY THE PHONE
I had a cold-ride day like that on
Sunday. I mounted platform pedals
on the bike. I got dressed in layers,
and while dressing the phone rang. I
ignored it. The cell phone rang. I
ignored it. Phone rang again. This
time I looked at the number and saw
that it was my wife’s cell phone. She
was out of gas! I undress and take
some gas to her. I notice that the
wind is just howling out. Got home,
hit the couch and watched the
Daytona 500. Maybe another day for
COTTONTAIL TIP November. We may be able to help you that ride.
Being off the bike now for a year get used to cold-weather riding Doug Gage
(open heart surgery tends to slow you (although on a good year, mid-November Brampton, California
down a bit) gives one a lot of time to may turn out to be a good day of cross-
read. So, when I read the tire fix article, country skiing). Practice makes perfect, RUSSIAN SUMMER
I had to share a little idea I’ve used for so you’d become a little more efficient at Living in Russia, I can share my
years. Pack a few cotton balls in your getting ready to head out in the cold. experience of snow riding.
pack. Use one or two to wipe the inside Alex Beaumont I use three layers of clothes. The
of the tire when you’re checking for Ottawa, Canada first layer is thermal underwear, then
what punctured the tube. Do this second are cycling jersey and pants,
instead of using your fingers, because it FROZEN RIVER and the outer layer is Cannondale’s
prevents scratching your finger or draw- Really enjoyed the cold-weather expe- shelter pants and Gore bike-wear jer-
ing blood. It works, the cotton is rience story and thought that I would sey (or maybe you call it shell). For
reusable, and even weight weenies won’t share my experiences. I am an avid hands, good winter gloves from
complain. cyclist who rides year-round. I go to col- Endura, and Louis Garneau winter
Michael Lewis lege and cycle to school daily and experi- shoes. Everything all together, this
Westlake Village, California ence everything from over half a foot of outfit gives you up to four hours of
fresh powder to -30 degree Celsius tem- comfort riding. And it takes not too
The April “Mac Attack” about cold- peratures. I am not going to lie. long to put everything on. Of course,
weather riding struck a nerve. Here are Sometimes it is more pain than fun, but if it is really cold outside, better to
a few of the responses. I would hate to walk. Even back in high stay at home and to stay alive.
school, I used to bike to my girlfriend’s Ruslan
COLD BUDDIES place year-round, and that was quite the Moscow, Russia
I found the cold-weather article hilari- trek during winter. Best way was to
ous. I have three riding buddies. We all cross the frozen river where snowmo-
snowboard and mountain bike together. biles had packed a trail and then head Write us at
We know how to layer and motivate through their trail for a while before email@example.com or hard
each other when it’s cold. The thermo- coming to roads on the other side of copy us at MBA Trailgrams, 25233
stat said 42 degrees for our Saturday town. You wanna talk about turning Anza Drive, Valencia, Ca. 91355.
night ride. We rode for an hour, and our some heads; I had those snowmobilers Include the town and state where you
group was even joined by two girls. At pretty confused as I rode this during the live. Trailgrams tip of the month: If
least we are only nuts in perspective. day and night. My rides include an you are not wearing a base layer
Joe Erne upgraded Norco Rival and a Gary Fisher under your jersey, you are losing
Asheville, North Carolina Piranha that has never seen the snow comfort points. These are not the T-
cause it’s my baby. Here in southern shirts you buy when vacationing at
OVERDRESSED Ontario, I use a cheap Schwinn, ’cause Disneyland. They are made from an
I don’t know how cold it was that day, the salt and the freeze and thaw of this ultra-sheer material that dissipates
but to wear that many layers it must area are tough on bikes. moisture. Wear the sleeveless type
have been around -20 degrees. You Curtis Morin during hot months and the long-
should try a week around here in mid- Ontario, Canada sleeve type in the winter.
Vermont Pine, Kingdom Trails, East Burke, Vermont.
I try to capture the befores, durings and afters
all us mountain bikers appreciate.
Lyndhurst, New Jersey
Sovereign Slick Rock, Moab, Utah. Blurred vision, Killington, Vermont.
THREAD THE NEEDLE
RIDING THE BIG O Rollin’ the gnar keyhole on the Keyhole
Ripping the Alpine Trail in Oakridge, Oregon. This is singletrack Canyon Trail in Lake Pueblo State Park,
heaven! Colorado. Trying to keep from running over
Phil Kaznowski my picture taker, Dave, who did a great job
Clio, California and had a lot of trust that I wouldn’t.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
The foggy Josephine Peak Trail in Los Angeles,
California. Just taking a break after almost two miles of rac-
ing uphill with friends, and I figured I might as well take a
picture. From the left are me (Eric), Xandei, Rich and Jon.
Eric E. Cruz
The Sardine Lakes
Overlook Trail near
Shalyn and Jason Gates
Just browsing through the video we
took while camping in Arrowhead (near
Huntsville, Ontario, Canada), and when
I froze the frame, this was the result.
The blurred image in the foreground is
my buddy, Nick, and I’m in the back- TAKE A BREAK BECOME ALMOST FAMOUS
ground. My bike, Scott, taking a rest We want to make you a star. Here’s how:
Erik Solymar during another great ride here 1) Image file size needs to be 600 KB or larger.
Ottawa, Canada in Italy. 2) Tell us what is going on in your photo.
3) Include your name and the city and state.
Nunzio Di Dio 4) E-mail it to Trail Mix (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Sicily (Messina), Italy Trail Mix rider of the month: Scott Tedro.❑
Advisory: Always use
The legendary FAT ALBERT now as an All Mountain twin pack. FRONT
for maximum steering control and braking grip. REAR optimized for
power transfer. Both have a lot more besides – SnakeSkin. The best
combination for Alpine crossings. www.schwalbetires.com
Evolution SnakeSkin, DoubleDefense, Tubeless | 26 x 2.25, 26 x 2.40
Schwalbe North America
THRASH TESTS Thrash test rating:
★★★★✩ Delivers above average value and performance
RACE FACE NEXT XC 3/4 HANDLEBAR ★★★✩✩ Recommended for intended application
★★✩✩✩ Shows potential but has drawbacks
★★★★★ ★✩✩✩✩ Save your hard-earned bucks
Designed to be light, strong and affordable
The Next XC 3/4 low-rise handlebar from Race Face was performance of this already incredible trailbike. Although
developed to allow for more aggressive riding by reducing only two inches wider than the stock bar, the Race Face
cockpit height. Next bar slowed down steering, making the front end more
Tech features: Built for cross-country riding, the carbon stable on high-speed technical descents and enhancing off-
fiber Next XC 3/4 bar has a three-quarter-inch rise, a 3.18- camber cornering ability.
millimeter clamp size, is 27-inches wide and weighs seven Entering the “Race Face Experiment,” we had a hunch a
ounces. Race Face claims their Next 3/4 handlebar ($110) slightly wider handlebar would improve the Tracer’s already
has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any carbon bar remarkable performance. Our hypothesis was not only cor-
available today. Race Face, (604) 527-9996. rect, but the experiment reinforced our belief that today’s
After the thrashing: As we’ve tested various trailbikes trailbike rider can overpower demanding terrain while
over the years, we’ve made some observations. Our consen- remaining in complete control.
sus is that a rider on a medium-sized trailbike with five to
six inches of travel will greatly benefit from a 26- or 27-inch-
wide handlebar. We recently raved about the 5.5-inch-travel
Intense Tracer VP, but criticized the 25-inch-wide handle-
bar. The 27-inch-wide carbon fiber Race Face Next 3/4 low-
rise handlebar seemed like the perfect solution.
Although it’s widely believed that a wider handlebar will
inhibit climbing performance, we experienced the opposite
on this bike. The wider Race Face handlebar and 90-millime-
ter Titec stem distributed the rider’s weight over the front of
the bike and kept the 5.5-inch-travel front end from wander-
ing. The improved climbing was an unexpected bonus, but
on the descents, this Race Face bar significantly boosted the
MAXXIS HIGH ROLLER 3C TIRE
★★★★★ up to braking forces. The side knobs have a harder rubber
on the interior of the knobs to prevent them from folding
The legendary performance continues
over under hard cornering, while the outermost side knob
rubber is softer and tackier for optimized grip. Although
Maxxis offers their High Roller tire in a 2.1-inch cross- Maxxis makes the High Roller in sizes from 2.1-inches to
country version, 2.35-inch trailbike version, and 2.5-inch 2.7-inches wide, only the 2.5-inch downhill casing High
and 2.7-inch downhill versions. We’ve been testing the 2.5- Roller is available with the 3C technology, featuring rubber
inch downhill race version featuring 3C Triple Compound with durometers of 70, 42 and 40. The wire-beaded High
Technology. Roller’s famous ramped knobs are designed to keep rolling
Tech features: Maxxis’ 3C Triple Compound Technology resistance low, yet provide enough biting edge for braking
is reserved for their high-end, competition-specific downhill power. The High Roller 3C ($80) weighs 2.8 pounds and is
tires. Perhaps you’ve seen their advertisements with Greg designed for hardpack and loose-over-hardpack terrain.
Minnaar and Sam Hill racing on 3C tires. What is 3C? Maxxis, (770) 962-5932.
There are three different durometers of rubber in the tread. After the thrashing: The High Roller has received high
The center tread rubber is designed to roll faster and hold marks ever since it hit the mountain. Designed for downhill
racing, the 2.5-inch High Roller 3C is ideal for hardpack ter-
rain or moderately loose trails. The 3C compound takes this
legendary tire and improves on its versatility by improving
high-speed cornering grip. It doesn’t take a herculean effort
to mount the High Roller to most downhill wheelsets, and
we raced them numerous times on both Mavic and DT Swiss
downhill wheels. You could poll downhill racers from
Southern California, Vermont and Whistler, and they’d agree
that if conditions are moderately dry, the High Roller is the
tire of choice. Unfortunately, as is the case with most high-
performance tires, the High Roller 3C is a race-specific
design that would likely only last you about four races, and
not even that long if you’re a brake dragger. Downhillers not
overly concerned with race-oriented rubber compounds will
appreciate Maxxis’ other High Roller models, which offer
longer-lasting rubber compounds and lower prices. Still, if
you’re a serious racer or money is no object, Maxxis’ High
Roller 3C is at the head of the downhill class for moderately
dry and loose terrain.
BIG WHEELS GO BIGGER
W.F.O. 9: NINER STABILITY MEETS FREERIDE ABILITY
TECHNOLOGY >> Our hydroformed downtube allows
the use of both coil and piggyback shocks, the offset
The result is our strongest and stiffest frame yet, bottom linkage makes room for an ISCG mount (the
choice of 135mm or 150mm rear spacing lets YOU
BONTRAGER RL MOUNTAIN SHOE
★★★✩✩ the toes at a slight angle in relation to the carbon-reinforced
sole to help stabilize the foot while cycling. The shoe uses a
A great trail riding shoe at an amazing price derby cut pattern, where the tongue extends to the toe. This
makes the volume of the toe box more adjustable in order to
accommodate a wider variety of feet. The RL Mountain shoe
comes with an insole exclusively designed for Bontrager by
eSoles, and the heel cup is designed to eliminate heel slip.
The shoe’s upper is made from synthetic leather and nylon
with an air-mesh tongue pad. Our pair of size 10.5 shoes
weighed one pound, 11 ounces without cleats. The shoes are
sold at Trek and Fisher dealers. You can get more informa-
tion by calling (800) 688-4324.
After the thrashing: Each RL Mountain shoe uses two
hook-and-loop straps and one ratchet strap. Once snugged,
the shoe offers a fit that rivals the best of Italian cycling
shoes. That’s saying a lot. There are no obvious pressure
points, and there is plenty of toe room. It is like the shoe has
been wrapped around your foot. The shoe offers great pedal-
ing performance (the sole is plenty stiff) and just enough
give for hike-a-bike sections. It also dries quickly. The shoe’s
Bontrager is the component and apparel division of the design and thick stitching appear tough enough to last at
Trek/Fisher family, and the $130 RL Mountain is one of least a few seasons, and at only $130, that’s impressive.
four shoes offered for mountain biking. Keeping the shoe from a higher-star rating is the large size of
Tech features: Bontrager begins with an inForm design the main strap’s ratchet buckle. It will occasionally catch on
that they hope delivers the ideal amount of toe-spring, with trail shrubbery or scrape on rocks.
HYDRAPAK POINT REYES
HYDRATION PACK ★★★✩✩
Never get caught thirsty, hungry or without sunscreen
Hydrapak continues to fine-tune their line of hydration
packs with the $65 Point Reyes.
Tech features: The nylon Point Reyes has a large zip-
pered pocket that contains a number of mesh pockets for
gear organization. A long pocket is accessible through a
hook-and-loop closure. Both of these are wrapped with
expansion straps for carrying oversized items. The 100-
ounce reservoir gets a pocket all its own. Quilted air-mesh
shoulder straps are fully
adjustable, and there are
removable waist and sternum
straps. The pack weighs one
pound, ten ounces. You can
get more information by call-
ing (510) 632-8318.
After the thrashing: The
Point Reyes is the perfect size
for the serious trail rider. We
were able to carry tools, food,
sunscreen, a bivvy sack, wind
shell, a helmet mosquito net,
spare tubes and derailleur
hanger, two pumps (shock and
tire), a camera and first aid
stuff. After loading all this,
there was still space for more!
Hydrapak has simplified their
reservoir over the years, and
The beauty of the Hydrapak this one is easy to access, easi-
reservoir is its easy access
for cleaning. Does the wide er to clean and never leaked a and valve are removable. The only problem you might have
flap cause leaking issues? drop. It can also be reversed with this product is that you can put too much stuff in it.
Nope. for easy drying, and the hose But that will be your fault, not the product’s.
WE CALL IT
In 2009, Deus resets the standard for mountain bike trail cranks.
Featuring our new, completely reengineered Turbine chain
rings. Machined in Canada with hard wearing 7075 aluminum,
Turbine rings feature optimi ed pro ling on all ring surfaces, LET US
giving you super quick downshifts and clean, fast upshifts.
Our ‘09 Team XC BB completes this high performance pack-
age. Utilizing a 16 ball retainer style bearing and packed with
waterproof Phil Wood grease, these BB’s are built for smooth
running and maximum mileage.
Crankset installation and removal is always a breeze with our
new EXI interface. At 850g, Deus cranks are light, stiff and
backed by an industry leading lifetime warranty.
Deus, aluminum made sexy.
HALO SKULL CAP ★★★✩✩
Take control of your sweaty waterfall
Halo makes a number of products to keep the sweat out of your
eyes (and off your sunglasses) while riding. The $21.95 Halo Skull
Cap takes over where the Halo II leaves off.
Tech features: The Halo Skull Cap is a pullover, vented-nylon
cap with a band made of two thin layers of Dryline fabric to evapo-
rate sweat. A feature dubbed Sweat-Block technology redirects the
sweat to the sides of the Halo if the Dryline fabric becomes saturat-
ed. The fabric that covers all this is made from micro fiber polyester
that has been embedded with silver ions. These silver ions are
claimed to prevent the growth of bacteria. The Halo Skull Cap is
available in black or white and stretches to fit all head sizes. You can
get more information by calling (800) 508-4256.
After the thrashing: Slide on the Halo Skull Cap, take the fit
pads out of your helmet (because the Skull Cap increases your head’s
diameter by approximately one helmet size) and put your helmet on.
The Skull Cap gives a more secure fit than you’ve ever felt with the
helmet’s stock sizing pads. The thin Skull Cap band soaks up sweat
during the longest of rides. No more unexpected salty showers of
sweat over your glasses or into your eyes. Going downhill, the Skull
Cap keeps the helmet from rocking on your head. And unlike helmet
pads, our Skull Cap never got stinky, plus it is easier to wash (just
throw it in the washer with your jerseys). While the Halo Skull Cap
delivers on all its promises, those of us with a full head of hair still
like the Halo II (a simple headband) better. If you prefer wearing
skullcaps, give this product five stars. ❑
Don’t ride around with that perplexed look on your face. Send your troubling question to “Inside
Line” and get the dirt from the most knowledgeable folks who mountain bike. E-mail your question to
Inside@hi-torque.com, and we’ll get it answered.
Most seatpost clamps are designed to work with standard
seven-millimeter seat rails or oversized eight-millimeter
rails, but there is really no industry standard. A good exam-
ple of how different seat rails can be is our own 7x9 millime-
ter ovalized carbon rail. The purpose of the ovalized 7x9 rails
is to optimize seat rail technology, allowing rails and saddle
structure as a whole to handle an increased maximum
capacity of weight and stress. While torque values for carbon
railed seatposts will vary from each manufacturer, the maxi-
mum torque value or recommended force for Fizik ovalized
rails is 18 N-m (Newton meters).
The industry doesn’t have a standard set of torque values
for tightening saddles to seatposts, as this is interdependent
on seat rail design and varies from material to material.
When working with titanium or chromoly, for example, the
key is to tighten enough so that your saddle won’t move, but
to avoid over-tightening to the point where you cannot get it
off, as nuts and bolts tend to tighten even further when under
CLAMP DOWN That said, two-bolt clamp designs like the Thomson’s are
Saddle makers use everything from steel to carbon more stable than single-bolt designs and require less torque.
fiber for their seat rails to save weight and add com- A general rule of thumb is that you should not need to crank
fort. On the other side, you have seatpost makers who down on the bolts with all the force and might of your body to
offer a zillion different saddle-clamping systems. How keep the saddle from slipping. The second general rule of
can you tell what clamp designs work best for your thumb is that if your saddle is slipping, it’s not tight enough!
saddle of choice? Also, how do you know how much If you absolutely cannot manage to keep your saddle from
torque to use to clamp the saddle to the seatpost? slipping, there may be a defect in the bolt or the clamp.
Jeff Feldman While most mid- to upper-level priced bikes are spec’d with
Seattle, Washington quality components, it would not be a first if you are simply
We asked Suzette Ayotte, who is the U.S. riding an original-equipment-specified seatpost with a very
Marketing Manager for Fizik Saddles, to take a cheap clamp or defective bolts. It happens. The best solution
seat and answer your question. we have found to this problem is simply to upgrade.
A buddy says I should keep the handlebar width a bit
wider on my single-speed than on a geared bike. How
come? I get that it makes for better leverage, but why isn’t
this true for any bike?
We posed your question to 3D Racing’s Chris
Herting. Chris makes both single-speed and multi-
speed mountain bikes from scratch in his Durango,
Your buddy’s suggestion is correct. Wider bars do equal more
leverage. On a single speed, you need all the leverage you can
find at both the cranks and handlebars. Any time the terrain
goes up on a singlespeed, you have to get out of the saddle and
use all your strength and body weight to crank up the hills and
keep whatever momentum you have going. On a geared bike,
the extra leverage is not as noticeable or needed, since you have
all those gears available for the varied terrain. With gears, you
can stay seated on the climbs and keep a higher cadence with-
out having to stand and torque on the cranks and pull with all
your might on the bars.
The only drawback to the wide bars is a tendency to over-
steer because of the extra leverage (as well as bashing your
hands into other competitors or obstacles on tight, narrow
GOING TO GREAT LENGTHS cranks provide a longer lever for a given gear. Longer cranks
Can somebody explain the pros and cons of running a can be a plus for climbing; for riding smooth, wide-open cross-
170-millimeter length versus a 175-millimeter length country trails; for racing time-trial events; or for pedaling a
crankarm for trail riding? slightly higher gear. If this sounds like you, crankarm stiffness
“Little John” Milnert and crankarm weight should also be considered important.
St. George, Utah Some riders may feel shorter crankarms allow them to accel-
Race Face offers their popular Deus XC cranks erate their pedaling cadence more quickly. They may feel the
in both lengths, so we asked Chris Johannes, who short crankarms make it easier for them to spin their desired
handles product development and testing for Race gear. However, a high gear at a lower cadence with a shorter
Face, to field your question. crank may actually be more likely to cause knee or joint prob-
Studies have been done on the effect of crank length, and lems due to higher loads.
there isn’t a clear-cut conclusion that a longer or shorter Shorter cranks are less likely to bottom out when pedaling
crank consistently performs better for all the trail condi- through technical and rocky terrain. The shorter cranks allow
tions an off-road rider may face. for better clearance around sharp corners at speed, and may be
There are various pros and cons to running different better suited for bikes with low bottom bracket heights due to
length mountain bike cranks (165-180 millimeters). To frame design or setup (suspension sag).
make the right choice, a rider needs to think about his body Remember that saddle fore/aft position, saddle height, and
type, bike geometry and style of riding. even cleat position (for clipless pedals) can all play a role in
Generally, the longer your upper leg (femur), the longer getting set up in a comfortable and efficient pedaling position.
the crank you should run to feel comfortable riding without Shorter/longer cranks usually require one to raise/lower his
risk of a possible strain to your knees and joints. Longer saddle height to compensate. ❑
Our brand was
bred from the
very roots of
rider: Nick Pescetto
automotive or any
We are unique and
photo: Matteo Cappe - www.mc-photographer.com
for your sport,
Taking Carbon Fiber To The Next Level
The Santa Cruz Blur XC
weight limit, and its component selection underscores their
he Santa Cruz Blur XC is the first carbon-fiber-
framed bicycle to emerge from Santa Cruz, and it commitment to reality-based engineering.
replaces the aluminum-framed Blur XC that has been
totally eliminated from the line. This new offering has the HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
potential to reset the handling standards by which the dual- Pedaling performance: The Blur XC’s rear suspension
suspension, cross-country race genre will be measured for will move around slightly as you pedal, but not in a way that
years to come. wastes energy. Those who view any shock or fork move-
ment under power as a bad thing can elect to switch on their
WHO IS IT MADE FOR? shock’s Motion Control pedaling platform and the ride will
The Blur XC is intended for cross-country racers, but that feel as rigid as a no-suspension 29er. With only four inches
is selling it short. This bike’s solid handling makes it attrac- of rear wheel travel, you will find its ride a little harsher
tive to trail riders who want to keep weight to a minimum than most of the Santa Cruz trailbike lineup, but not enough
without sacrificing comfort or control. to slow your pace when there is a chance to open her up.
Moving out: We hammered with and without the
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM? RockShox anti-bob controls and quickly discovered that the
Santa Cruz chose a carbon component maker to build new Blur was far more exhilarating to ride with the suspen-
the Blur XC frame because they had extensive experience sion left wide open. That’s where we left
learned from building intricate it. Staying seated got us the best results
parts like handlebars, cranksets during accelerations, and we found
and stems. This experience directly ourselves dropping down a cog just
addressed the problem areas of mountain because we could.
bike frames like shock mounts and linkage Climbing: The Blur’s short-coupled,
pivot locations. The Blur XC’s swingarm chainstays keep the rear tire pinned to
and frame are molded unidirectional carbon the ground without the need to take
fiber. Construction is extraordinary measures to
stunning, and Santa maintain traction up
Cruz says the steep or loose
inside of the grades. There is
molded frame noticable pedal
is almost as kickback when
beautiful. We climbing in the
were sur- granny gear if
prised to see the suspension
molded-in is near topped
depressions out (or in lockout
for the chain mode). Once the
stay protector, suspension moves
chain-suck plate into its travel, the sen-
and cable guides— sation disappears, but the
intelligent treatments that unwanted pedal feedback is going to
are mysteriously missing from longtime players in the car- annoy the cross-country racer.
bon game. The swingarm is triangulated by a single strut Descending: There may be some Blur XC competitors
as with the old aluminum Blurs. There is plenty of room who can claim to climb as easily, or perhaps, accelerate as
in there for big, 2.35-inch knobbies—and the chainstays well out of the turns, but there are few that can match this
are short at 16.6-inches. bike’s handling at speed. The Blur XC’s balanced suspen-
The dual-link rear end has four inches of wheel travel. sion, laterally rigid chassis and nonconformist, 69.5-degree
The upper link is carbon fiber and the lower is forged alu- steering angle combine to produce handling performance
minum. Pivot shafts are oversized for stiffness and run on that experienced riders expect from aggressive, long-travel
angular contact bearings that are specifically designed to trailbikes. Push the Santa Cruz to your personal limits and
handle lateral stress. Grease fittings on the lower link are you will be at once impressed by the Blur XC’s secure steer-
featured to make the Blur XC user serviceable, and the bear- ing and its ability to track a precise line—and disappointed
ings can be tuned to eliminate future side play due to bear- that you didn’t ride that section a little faster.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
WHAT COMPONENTS STAND OUT? The Blur XC’s suspension rate is quite linear, and its
Shimano XTR speaks for itself, as do the Easton EA90 leverage ratio is higher than many new designs, so you will
alloy stem and carbon fiber MonkeyLite SL handlebar. DT need to use a lot more pressure in the shock’s air spring. We
Swiss wheels and Kenda Small Block Eight tires are as light- recorded 225psi for average-weight riders (with heavier rid-
weight as they are reliable. Santa Cruz takes pride in the fact ers in the 250psi range) to keep the sag in the recommended
that its carbon fiber racing chassis does not have a rider- 20- to 25-percent zone. This will require owners to keep an
Fashionably late: Santa
Cruz waited for the big
brands to show their stuff
before releasing its first
carbon fiber cross-country
racer. The Blur XC’s frame
geometry breaks long-
standing rules—and the
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 47
The Next Level
eye on linkage bearings and perform shock servicing regular-
ly. Also, the shock has a 275psi limit which will be a limit-
ing factor for heavy riders.
Up front, we used RockShox’s air pressure recommenda-
tions. Bottom line is, use 25-percent sag, use the least
amount of rebound and compression damping as possible,
and go ride.
Racers will find the Blur XC ready and willing to take on
any competitor over any course. The chain feedback is a pos-
sible deal breaker for riders who find themselves regularly
attacking steep, granny-gear ascents. Epic trail riders will
rediscover the beauty of a lightweight machine that can han-
dle technical descents as if the trail were made specifically
for Santa Cruz riders.
It is truly lightweight, and its suspension-specific geome-
try finally puts the foolishly unstable road-bike-feeling hard-
tail numbers to death. This bike offers up bullet-fast acceler-
ation and good climbing performance in a handling package
that can run with the five-inch-travel trailbike pack.❑
Dual punch: Santa Cruz’s revised VPP rear suspension and the
Blur’s light weight make it an exceptional climber—and its
relaxed steering geometry gives it wings on the downhills.
SANTA CRUZ BLUR XC
Country of origin China
Weight 23.3 pounds
Hotline (831) 459-7560
Frame tested 17.7quot; (medium)
Bottom bracket height 12quot;
Chainstay length 16.6quot;
Top tube length 23quot;
Head angle 69.5°
Seat angle 73°
Standover height 29quot;
Suspension travel (front) 3.9quot;
Suspension travel (rear) 4quot;
Frame material Carbon
Fork RockShox SID Team
Shock RockShox Monarch 3.3
Rims DT Swiss XR4.2d
Tires Kenda Small Block
Hub DT Swiss 240 Disc
Brakes Shimano XTR
Crankset Shimano XTR
Shifters Shimano XTR
Handlebar Easton Monkey Lite XC (27.5”)
Front derailleur Shimano XTR
Rear derailleur Shimano XTR
Borrowing from its brother: Like the longer-travel Blur LT, the Chainrings Shimano XTR (44/32/22)
Blur XC’s VPP linkage rocks on angular contact bearings and Cassette Shimano XTR (11-34)
the lower link has grease fittings. The 2009 suspension geome- Pedals None (Weighted w/Shimano XTR)
try feels great under power.
And all mountain bikers
can do the same
ntil three years ago, 56-year-old Robin Lemonds
was the president of the Orange County, California,
SHARE Mountain Bike Club, an organization dedi-
cated to promoting responsible mountain biking. “SHARE Protect and swerve: Orange County’s Robin Lemonds spent five
years as the president of SHARE, an organization teaching
is a non-profit, IMBA-affiliated organization that coordi- responsible trail use.
nates trail work, hosts educational programs, and most
important, we ride!” says Lemonds. Robin jokingly monitor the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. It was an
describes himself as 29 and single, meaning he rides a sin- undermanaged open space area that was gradually being
gle-speed 29er mountain bike. His wife, Jane, has been a opened to the public over a seven-year period. It was a
big part of these projects, and his stepdaughter, son and multi-use space for hikers and equestrians as well. We
daughter-in-law all are avid mountain bikers. patrolled the land and educated the public about the park
“Jane has been a driving force behind my efforts,” says rules. That experience made me realize how the educa-
Robin. “She’s the realistic one on the team. When I come tional aspect of the patrol unit could be effective in bat-
up with harebrained ideas, she reels me in, and when my tling the increasingly bad reputation of mountain bikers in
enthusiasm changes (up or down) she puts me back on other areas of Orange County.
course.” “One of the first projects I did in that capacity was to
Although his five-year occupancy of the SHARE presi- organize a patrol program at our local Crystal Cove State
dency has come to an end, Huntington Beach native Park. They embraced our efforts almost immediately, as
Lemonds is still an active SHARE patroller. “SHARE has mountain biking is the main recreational activity at that
been in existence for 20 years, and I was the president park, and trail conflict was beginning to get out of control.
until a few years ago. It’s strictly a group of Orange County They were thrilled to have a group of mountain bikers
trail users who do all of the trail maintenance for state and come to them and offer to be the eyes and ears of the
county parks. It’s not an acronym, and it doesn’t officially backcountry. Their park management embraced that
stand for anything other than sharing the trails with other Crystal Cove program, and they eventually took over the
outdoor enthusiasts,” he explains. organization and scheduling of the patrollers. We now
“I started doing IMBA/NMBP (National Mountain Bike have two patrollers on duty every weekend day, and they
Patrol) patrols with a group that was volunteering to help have become a common presence in the park. They pro-
vide advice to new park users about good routes for hik-
ing and mountain biking, and carry water and tools for
unprepared trail users. They stay away from any type of
law or rule enforcement, but they do educate the public
when they see infractions like illegal trail use, littering,
smoking, or dogs in the park. Any problems they see
while on patrol are reported to the park rangers. Since we
didn’t want to appear to be an enforcement entity, we call
our group Trail Assistance Volunteers. Membership in
SHARE or IMBA is not a requirement to be in the pro-
gram, but we do encourage both. This program has
expanded into three other parks in Orange County, and
we now have approximately 40 patrollers.”
During his time as SHARE president, the most impor-
tant thing Robin learned from his experience was that
trail user education can go a long way toward reducing
trail conflicts and abuses to open spaces. He feels other
communities can embrace the SHARE methods, and trail
users of all kinds can enjoy the outdoors in harmony.
“I feel riders can pass on those principles to one
another, which will ultimately have a
Patrol team: Robin and his wife, Jane, voluntarily patrol the trails positive effect on those SHARE
ion on how
of the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, offering water and tools for mountain biking
For mor e informat ng and enhancing
communities.”❑ to protecti sit
unprepared trail users and suggesting the best routes. isdedicated rtunities, vi
biking oppo .com
50 www.mbaction.com www.share
Titus Unleashes A Full-Tilt Surprise
The Titus FTM
nent designs. Sure, the shock is valved for this bike, but
he 2009 Titus FTM (Full Tilt Moto) is a brand-new
model that falls into the same trailbike category as unlike a design that requires a unique shock, fork or drive-
the perennial favorite, the Titus Motolite. The FTM train, the FTM was engineered to accept conventional com-
offers a half-inch more rear wheel travel than the Motolite ponents. That means if Fox upgrades their Float shock next
and a completely different frame. That frame is available in year or the year after, the FTM will accept the upgrade easi-
aluminum (tested here), titanium and Exogrid (the propri- ly. This is a big plus for riders who plan to ride a new bike
etary Titus tubing that uses a laser cut titanium tube with a for years.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
WHO IS IT MADE FOR? The FTM falls into the same riding category as the
The Titus FTM is a trailbike. It is intended for the rider Motolite, and the Motolite is a bike we have recommended
who wants one bike to handle it all. That means it has to for years, so comparisons are inevitable. We can tell you
pedal efficiently, climb well, descend with confidence and right now, the FTM is totally different from the Motolite in
still offer a lively feel. both appearance and performance.
Moving out: Titus made sure the FTM was ergonomical-
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM? ly correct. The cables are expertly routed, the frame and
The FTM is available in three frame materials, and we stays all tuck in so there is no unwanted contact with the
stuck with the most affordable of the three—aluminum. The rider, and rider position feels more centered than on the
aluminum frame uses optimized, hydroformed, butted 6000 Motolite. While 19.25 inches (measured from the center of
series aluminum tubing. Titus calls the FTM’s stays their the bottom bracket to the top of the seat tube) is large for a
Light Rail System. It features asymmetrical, hydroformed medium frame, it doesn’t feel that large in the saddle. Don’t
chainstays and a one-piece carbon fiber seat stay with forged let that number scare you, this is a medium-sized trailbike.
and machined dropouts. The shock’s rocker link is a one- Hammering: Our FTM had a reasonable weight, and felt
piece, compression-molded carbon fiber design. Unlike the lighter than it actually was. The bike moves out well,
Motolite, which offers two rear wheel travel settings depend- whether you choose a small gear to spin or a big gear to
ing on the shock’s mounting position on the rocker link, the torque. The FTM’s rear suspension (the Horst-link, owned
FTM’s geometry is optimized for 5.3 inches of travel, and and licensed from Specialized) requires the shock to be run
that’s what you get. with the shock’s ProPedal lever on, or you will feel unwant-
WHAT COMPONENTS STAND OUT? Cornering: This is where the FTM pulls away from the
The FTM is sold as a frame and shock. Titus offers four Motolite (a bike we love). The FTM gives its rider a much
build kits that can have your FTM rolling for between more connected feel with the front wheel. Whereas the
$3595 (Kit 1) and $7195 (XTR kit). Our FTM was a custom Motolite has always felt a little tall in the front, the FTM
blend of parts that would run you about $4795. The beauty feels hunkered down, even with the fork’s travel adjustment
of the FTM is that it doesn’t use any proprietary compo- set to full. It loves tight, twisty, fast singletrack and doesn’t
lose its zest for corners when the speed increases. This
is a bike that will have you hammering the boring
sections so you can reach the tight, techie stuff.
Climbing: We had our best results with the
shock’s ProPedal turned on to the firmest setting,
the same setting as when hammering. The
lower-feeling front end allows the FTM rider to
leave the fork in its full travel and just spin
up the climbs. You don’t need a lot of
position change to maintain trac-
tion, except on the steepest of
Descending: Open up
the shock’s ProPedal lever
and let her rip. The Titus
Light Rail System works
well to hold the line you
are trying to nail. In
fact, the Light Rail
System is a big part of
why the wrecking crew
loved hammering and cor-
nering this bike. The qual-
ity rear suspension travel,
the Fox fork (with the
Making contact: The FTM
connects to the trail surface in a
way that makes a rider salivate
while waiting to get to the next
twisty section. The bike has a
hunkered-down feel absent in
many long-travel trailbikes.
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 53
15-millimeter thru-axle) and the solid chassis all work
together for an exhilarating feeling on the descents. And
when you get a little too crazy, you’ve got those amazing
Magura Marta brakes to slow you back down to a safe speed.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
You may be tempted to set the shock’s ProPedal on the
softest setting and simply leave it on all the time. That
works, but not as well as switching between full-strength
ProPedal and wide open. Luckily, the shock position makes
the reach to the ProPedal lever intuitive. As far as changing
stuff, we couldn’t come up with anything. This bike is ready
We bid the Motolite, arguably the most recommended
trailbike in the wrecking crew’s history, a fond farewell with
tears in our eyes. It will still be around, offered as a lower-
priced Titus trailbike, but the writing is on the wall. The
FTM takes the trail rider to a new level, with better han-
dling and more travel, without the penalty of added weight
or complexity. The FTM is a great, made-in-the-USA trail-
bike that takes the place of the Motolite on our short list of
bikes that will do everything you want and leave you stoked
after every ride.❑ No guess work: The FTM delivers 5.3 inches of rear wheel
travel. Unlike the Titus Motolite that offers two travel settings,
the one travel length freed Titus engineers to optimize the bike’s
Country of origin USA
Weight 27.9 pounds
Hotline (800) 858-4887
Frame tested 19quot; (medium)
Bottom bracket height 14quot;
Chainstay length 16.85quot;
Top tube length 23.5quot;
Head tube angle 69.25°
Seat tube angle 71.75°
Standover height 30quot;
Suspension travel (front) 5.5quot;
Suspension travel (rear) 5.3quot;
Frame material Aluminum
Fork Fox 32 TALAS
Shock Fox Float RP23
Rims DT Swiss 4.2d
Tires Kenda Nevegal (2.35”)
Hubs DT Swiss 370
Brakes Magura Marta
Crankset FSA Afterburner
Handlebar Maxm MX-5 (26.25”)
Shifters Shimano XT
Front derailleur Shimano XT
Rear derailleur Shimano XT Shadow
Full-tilt attack: We dropped in on some nasty sections to give Chainrings FSA (44/32/22)
the Light Rail System a true test. The FTM has a deep-suspen- Cassette Shimano (11-34)
sion feel that helps the rider through tough situations. Pedals None (weighed w/Shimano XTR)
It stood up to our beating.
Royal Chevron Jersey:
Durable simple construction that’s light
weight, yet trail tough. Large side to back
mesh vents to allow maximum airﬂow.
Royal Sub Short:
Light and durable all purpose short with
removable padded liner, a lower back
stretch panel, velcro side adjustments,
screen printed logo detail, and a velcro ﬂy
with dual pop snap closure.
Royal Pro Glove:
4-way stretch air mesh, direct inject visit us at ROYALRACING.COM or call 661 257 2756
TPR, and a vented Clarino palm. in Canada call 604 542 5661
How To Start Your Own
Mount ain Bike Team
And maybe win 48 state and five national
championships like Todd Booth
he Platinum Performance Team has 45 riders based in and around Santa
T Barbara, California. The team, formed by Todd Booth in 2004, already
has an impressive race-win history. In the five short years since its
inception, Platinum Performance Team riders have won the California State
Coed Team title four times. The team has produced 33 California State Series
Champions, 11 California State Champions, four National Champions and one
National Series Champion.
We asked Todd if he would share his secrets to founding and running a suc-
cessful mountain bike team and, to our surprise, he agreed. We thought that
maybe a guy as competitive as Todd wouldn’t want to give away his secrets to
success, but it turns out Todd has a big heart. He knows what a positive impact
Photo by John Goodma
his team has had and hopes that by sharing his insights he can benefit others.
IN THE BEGINNING
By Todd Booth
I work at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in the
Cardiac Catheterization Lab. On a daily basis, I see what Family affair: Todd is
the first one to acknow
a lack of exercise and bad living habits do to the body. edge that pulling off a l-
successful team require
the understanding of s
My goal in life is to influence my son by showing him your family. His wife,
Rosa, and son, Skyler,
that a healthy lifestyle and determination are keys to a are as much a part of
the team’s success as
successful life. the riders are.
I took my first mountain bike ride in 1989. After racing
Mammoth that same year, I’ve been hooked ever since. The I have raced for the Cielo Velo Team, the Revolution Team,
fields might have been bigger back then, but racing is a lot and before forming the Platinum Performance Team, the
harder today. The racers are more focused, and the start Amgen Cycling Team. While being part of a team is essential
line is filled with solid riders who put a lot more time and for today’s competitive racing atmosphere, I felt no connection
training into the sport. to my Amgen teammates. I was an out-of-town rider, so mak-
ing team rides or meetings was tough. That’s what got me
thinking about starting a team.
I wanted to form a team where everyone was like family. I
knew Santa Barbara had a lot of mountain bikers. Even so,
who knew that four years later Santa Barbara would produce
some 60-plus riders who often dominate their respective class-
es on the state and national mountain bike cross-country cir-
cuit? Much of our success comes from the way the team was
formed, and there is no reason why your team can’t be just as
successful. Keep in mind these basics:
IT IS A COMMITMENT
Running a team can be a full-time job, but not many of us
have 40 hours a week to work on it. Balancing a medical pro-
fession, training, team responsibilities and spending quality
time with my family is a challenge. My day includes taking
care of team issues by 6 a.m., commuting to work on the bike,
and putting in an eight-hour shift. That’s five times a week,
plus sometimes I’m on call. Before you commit to forming a
team, make sure you understand that not everyone is cut out
to run a team, and it is a major commitment. Luckily for me, I
can say that five years into the Platinum Performance Team, I
still love what I’m doing.
KEEP IT LOCAL
Forming a team with local riders has many benefits, like car-
pooling to events and high turnouts at meetings and training
Fertile ground: Bud Donatoni leads it up a climb with Team
Sho-Air and Team Amgen in hot pursuit. Southern California rides. Keeping the riders based out of the same area limits your
has a number of successful mountain bike squads, and you headaches. Dispersing sponsorship products, utilizing local
could have one, too, if you follow some simple suggestions. sponsors, and all team functions are executed more smoothly.
IT’S A LOCK.
The Lefty 130mm PBR. Air sprung for lightness, but tuned to
feel like a coil-sprung fork. With push button lockout and rebound
damping. Standard on the Cannondale Rize Carbon.
The good fight. cannondale.com
Mountain Bike Team
AGREE ON A NUMBER
Setting a limit to your rider roster is a very important step.
Remember, these tips are for forming a race team, not a moun-
tain bike club. There is a big difference. You have to find a bal-
ance between enough riders to make an impact on the race
scene and having enough product to give out to everyone. Last
season, we got up to 60 riders. That turned out to be too many
for one guy to keep track of. I’m very blessed with the most
understanding family in the world, and my wife, Rosa, is an
angel, but having that many riders was taking up a lot of time.
The other problem with accepting too many riders is that it
dilutes the sponsorship contributions that are shared among
all of the riders on the team.
FINDING A SPONSOR
If you go after sponsors who are already involved with
mountain bike teams and riders, your team may take a back-
seat. Seeking out companies that don’t sponsor other teams is
beneficial. This allows your team to form a stronger relation- Sweating the small stuff: When your team does land a spon-
ship with the sponsor. sor, it is your duty to make sure that support is rewarded. This
Our sponsor, Platinum Performance, was a small name on doesn’t necessarily mean winning races. It means the products
the human supplement front. They focused mostly on the are used properly and every rider becomes an ambassador.
equestrian and small animal supplement markets. It was a per-
fect fit, because our riders helped out with product testing and I took a chance and named the team after our major spon-
feedback, and they won a lot of events, which gave Platinum sor. The downside to this is that if the sponsor drops support,
Performance the exposure they were looking for. The team’s the team’s name will need to change. Still, our team’s commit-
success benefits the company, and in return, they reward the ment to Platinum Performance has made us more attractive to
team. them. Your sponsor has to feel good about supporting your
Our team’s vice president, John Goodman, explains that, team. The name goes a long way towards doing this.
“First, it’s important to consider what a sponsor will gain
through a bike team sponsorship. Does the sport offer them HANDING OUT THE FREEBIES
exposure they will benefit from? Can the team utilize the com- Keeping all the riders on the same product and race reim-
pany’s products and proactively support the sponsor through bursement plan prevents animosity. Every level of rider is a
regular use and promotion? The Platinum Team chose to tar- benefit to the team. My main goal is to motivate riders to race
get sponsors in the cycling and sports supplement business. at a higher level. I have set rules that each rider must compete
Their products and services are beneficial to the team, and the in at least eight of our team’s scheduled races per season. This
sponsor gains important visibility within the markets they was set up as an amateur race team, not a club.
want to be visible in.” Our sponsors have been very generous. Platinum
Performance has supplied the team with free supplements for
the last five years. Specialized Bikes has offered us great dis-
counts, so we encourage our riders to stick with one bike com-
pany. Our local shop, Bicycle Bob’s, has generously supported
our riders with discounts and labor for years. Rudy Project
does the same with glasses and helmets. Fancy Floors,
Crankbrothers, Goodman Graphic, Platinum Fitness, Elite
Performance, Jim Adam’s Chiropractic, Northstar Coffee, Solid
Rock Construction, Uptime, Kenda, and All Wheel Sports give
the team financial support as well as product discounts.
The team has to be fair with handouts, discounts and race
reimbursements. State Series Champions get the full series
reimbursed. We have a rider fund for those who need a little
more support. In addition to race finishes, the team offers rider
bonuses for lining up articles on themselves or the team in the
DON’T FORGET YOUR ROOTS
To stay competitive in the California State Series means
always maintaining your team at the entry level. That is one of
our keys to success. Platinum Performance constantly builds a
strong beginner base. Then we nurture and grow these riders
into strong expert-level competitors.
PICKING THE BEST RIDERS
Writer and rider: Todd Booth shares his secrets for running a Personality is the number one trait. A positive and motivat-
successful team, but don’t expect him to coach you on how to ed rider is way more beneficial to a team than a nationally
pass him during a race. ranked racer. If you can find both, you have hit the jackpot.
Mountain Bike Team
MBA FEATURE ON THE WEB
A huge bonus for any team is a professional and up-to-date
website. John Goodman runs Goodman Graphics and is the
master behind our website (www.platinummtb.com). This is
key to attracting new sponsors. It also keeps sponsors informed
Again, all I ask for is eight races minimum. I hope for about the team’s results with photos and race reports.
more, like helping out with team events, organizing rides or
writing race reports. I want riders who will represent the ON THE TEAM ELEMENT
sponsors in a positive way in competition. We hold a Sunday mountain bike ride early in the season
We do have a board of directors. A few of the riders even and add a Wednesday evening mountain bike ride as the sea-
help out behind the scenes with various duties. I try to com- son continues. Many of our riders also jump in on one of the
pensate them with race reimbursements. I love it when a abundant local road rides we have in this area.
rider is so motivated that he offers help without me coercing Team meetings are limited to clothing or equipment hand-
him. outs, rider suggestions, upcoming races, and future team plans.
I will turn it into a bigger happening by asking a sponsor to
SMOOTHING OUT THE BUMPS speak about their products as well. Since everyone is on a tight
I have been hit with unforeseen issues that your team may schedule these days, e-mail is the main way our team commu-
experience. Most of the problems come from riders not nicates.
thinking when it comes to sponsor obligations. In the begin-
ning, all the riders were required to wear the same gear. The ONWARD TO THE FUTURE
goal was to make the team more professional looking. Set new goals for every season. Keep the team in the fore-
Unfortunately, some of the riders were photographed while front of media coverage. Keep your riders motivated. This all
not wearing the approved gear. A sponsor saw the photos brings good race results, and good results lead to happy spon-
and was a little upset. That almost cost us the sponsorship. sors.
The latest problem was riders taking advantage of the This year, Team Platinum Performance will compete at the
local shop’s employees’ time by asking lots of technical ques- US Cup West, the California State Series and select regional
tions. It was pulling the employee away from the paying cus- events across the US. After we tackle that? Maybe Platinum
tomers. Other team members should have answered these Performance will be going after the World Cup Series.❑
questions. We put a stop to that before it became a problem
big enough to jeopardize our relationship with the shop.
GET IT IN WRITING
The problems mentioned above will not happen again
Photo by Todd Booth.
because the team now has a written agreement with each
team member. You need to spell everything out in the con-
tract and have the riders sign it. Once they have read the
rules and agreed to them, the problem is usually solved.
GET THE WORD OUT
My obsession is getting team race results out to the media
and to the sponsors as quickly as possible. The media loves
the full reports with photos, so they can post them, and that
keeps the team in the news. That’s what the sponsors want
to see. Keeping the team active on the race scene and in the
Team effort: Without the help of dedicated team members like
media is the way to keep sponsors satisfied. This will also team Vice President John Goodman (458), holding the gang
spark the interest of talented riders without the need to go together would be close to impossible. It doesn’t hurt that John
out and recruit them. is experienced in public relations.
Lots of work: Training and racing mountain bikes is nothing compared to organizing and running a team. Keeping riders, sponsors and fami-
ly members happy is a tough job that requires the right person. The Platinum Performance Team is a great example of a well-run machine.
Riding a cushion: The
Mission 2 softens the trail
like few bikes. There is no
getting around the bike’s
weight when climbing, but
for way less than $3000,
A Diamond In The Rough
The Diamondback Mission 2
stem and seatpost. The Hayes Stroker Trail brakes use white
iamondback is best known for their broad offering of
value-priced, value-packed, dual-suspension and calipers and reservoirs. The Diamondback guys even took
hardtail mountain bikes. While selling rows of moun- time to spec a different tire for the front and rear wheels.
tain bikes is good for a company’s bottom line, the hardcore Diamondback also throws in a free National Bike Registry
riders and designers at Diamondback (located just outside of membership with the Mission 2.
Seattle, Washington) wanted to strut their stuff and make a
statement. The Mission 2 is the result of their efforts. HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
The Mission 2 has a long wheelbase, and it’s noticeable as
WHO IT IS MADE FOR? soon as you settle into the saddle. Rider weight is centered,
The Mission 2 is such a versatile trailbike that it is easier and the rider position is classic trailbike (fairly upright).
to explain what it is not for. While the 2 is tough enough to The 25-inch-wide bar feels a little narrow, but the soft rub-
spend a day ripping the double-black-diamond trails of any ber grips feel awesome.
mountain bike park, Diamondback also offers their $3750 Moving out: This is not a light bike, but there is some
Scapegoat with a Truvativ HammerSchmidt two-speed inter- type of magic going on here. Setting the suspension with an
nal transmission crankset if you are a season pass holder. honest 20-percent sag results in the feeling of floating down
Outside the park, the Mission 2 will tackle any trail obstacle the trail. Leave the ProPedal off and enjoy the flying carpet
or situation you decide to attack. as the Mission 2 glides over rocks, ruts and roots. It is crazy.
You see obstacles coming at you, but never feel them as you
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM? roll over them. This is one smooth bike.
The Mission 2 is made from aluminum. No carbon fiber Hammering: Thirty-three pounds is a lot of weight to get
stays and no apologies. This bike is built for unabashed up to speed, but don’t despair. Stay seated, pick a comfortable
abuse. The frame’s top tube is hydroformed and angled to gear, and build up to the speed you want to hold. The amazing
reduce standover height. All the welds are beautiful. The rear suspension keeps the tire hooked up when other suspen-
rear suspension delivers six inches of travel through what sions would have the tire slipping or losing contact with the
Diamondback calls their Knuckle Box suspension. trail. We didn’t use the ProPedal lever, because even wide
The Knuckle Box is the triangular rocker that is located open, the suspension remains oblivious to your pedaling input.
low in the frame and positioned to accept a massive 200x51- Cornering: The Mission 2 is not going to dive under a
millimeter shock. This long stroker allows the Mission 2 to cross-country race bike in the tight corners, but who cares?
enjoy a lower leverage ratio than if the bike used a shorter Instead, the Mission 2 is a stable, somewhat slow handler
shock. The one-piece seat stays use an arch just in front of that doesn’t cross the line into feeling sluggish or too raked
the rear tire to firm up the rear-end performance. out. Diamondback gives you an seven-inch front and six-
inch rear brake rotor that work great in this application.
WHAT COMPONENTS STAND OUT? The Hayes Stroker Trail brakes offer good modulation, so
Everything stands out on the Mission 2. The WTB Pure V you never find yourself locking up the rear wheel or scrub-
Sport saddle gets white highlights. Easton supplies the bar, bing too much speed entering a corner.
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 63
Climbing: If you want to reach down and turn on the
shock’s ProPedal feature you can, but you don’t need to. Just
spin along in a comfortable gear and work your way up the
climb. Use the sweet suspension to pick the shortest line, not
the smoothest line. When the going turns steep, move to the
saddle’s nose and power away.
Descending: The Mission 2 rider is never aware there is
a full six inches of travel under his chamois until he starts to
descend. It is while hitting sizable obstacles at speed that
you finally notice all that travel. The rear end has a very lin-
ear feel as it moves through its travel, and even bottoming
the suspension doesn’t punish the pilot. The brakes work
well, and the tire selection was an astute choice. Torsional
flexing in the rear end is evident when slamming a berm, so
don’t use the Mission 2 for dual-slalom racing. That’s a joke,
because it is not a race bike. One wrecking crewer surmised
that the slight flexing in the rear end was one of the reasons
we all loved this bike so much.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS? Slow, not sluggish: There is a thin line between slow and slug-
The grips slipped, so we’d replace them with lock-on style gish, and the Mission 2 does not cross it. The bike is more fun
grips once they were worn out. Other than that, the the faster you push it.
Diamondback crew did all the work for you. The suspension
components, brakes and drivetrain should be left alone. bike than a recreational trail rider needs (Diamondback
makes the Sortie for them). The Mission 2 is for the rider
BUYING ADVICE who wants to push the limits on a bike that can keep up
The Mission 2 sells complete for the price of some bou- with his lofty ambitions. How good is this bike? If you took
tique brand’s frame and shock combos. But this is not just a a Mission 2 demo bike on a nasty test loop, you’d buy one.
great bike for the price; it is a great bike. In fact, it is more Mission accomplished. ❏
DIAMONDBACK MISSION 2
Country of origin Taiwan
Weight 33 pounds
Hotline (800) 222-5527
Frame tested 17quot; (medium)
Bottom bracket height 14.5quot;
Chainstay length 17.5quot;
Top tube length 23quot;
Head tube angle 68°
Seat tube angle 72°
Standover height 30.5quot;
Suspension travel (front) 5.9quot;
Suspension travel (rear) 6quot;
Frame material Aluminum
Fork Fox 32 Float R 15QR
Shock Fox Float RP2
Rims Sun Equalizer
Tires WTB Prowler
Brakes Hayes Stroker Trail
Crankset Truvativ FireX
Handlebar Easton EA50 (25”)
Shifters SRAM X-7
Front derailleur Shimano Deore
Rear derailleur SRAM X-9
Chainrings Truvativ (44/32/22)
Knuckle Box: The triangular rocker allows the use of a long Cassette SRAM PG-950 (11-34)
shock. This long stroker allows the Mission 2 to enjoy a lower Pedals DB Sound platform
leverage ratio that makes fine tuning a reality.
“I’VE ALWAYS LIKED GETTING MY HANDS DIRTY. PLAYED
WITH BUGS. BACKPACKED, CAMPED, SNOWBOARDED AND NURTURED AN OBSESSION
FOR RIDING MOUNTAIN BIKES. THE FASTER, THE BETTER. BUT THAT’S THE
BEAUTY IN WHAT I DO TODAY. I DEVELOP BIKES AND GEAR THAT LET WOMEN BE
THEMSELVES. NO MATTER WHO THAT IS.” D4WGEAR.COM
— RACHAEL LAMBERT, SPECIALIZED WOMEN’S PRODUCT MANAGER
MBA PHOTO SPECIAL
Amazing shots from around the world
Photo by: Colin Meagh
Rider: Andreas Hestler.
Location: Pot Peak Tra
Washington. Brand: Ro
Mo untain Bikes.
welve times a year, MBA does our best to
inform you about the newest mountain
bikes and components that are hitting the
mountain. Sure, the latest widget info is super,
but sometimes we all just want a glimpse of some
epic riding photographs. We’ve compiled a photo
gallery featuring some of the sport’s top brands
and riders, so sit back, relax, and imagine yourself
tackling the epic terrain on the following pages.
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 69
MBA PHOTO SPECIAL
Photo by: Christophe Margot.
Location: Dolomiti, Italy.
Brand: Scott USA.
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 71
MBA PHOTO SPECIAL
Photo by: Christophe Margot.
Location: Dolomiti, Italy.
Brand: Scott USA.
Photo by: John Ker.
Rider: Bryn Atkinson.
Location: Livigno, Italy.
Brand: GT Bicycles.
Photo by: Sterling Lorence.
Rider: Thomas Vanderham.
Location: Whistler, British
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 79
Photo by: Scott
MBA PHOTO SPECIAL
Brand: Scott US am.
Photo by: Christophe
Location: Dolomiti, Ital
Bra nd: Scott USA.
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 81
MBA PHOTO SPECIAL
Photo by: Ster aul.
Ride r: Cam McC Mountain
Location: High Hampshire.
Bike Park, Ne cles.
Brand: Trek Bi
Photo by: Viktor Strasse.
Rider: Timo Pritzel.
Brand: Scott USA.
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 83
Race form: Specialized
offers their S-Works
Stumpjumper HT Disc in
five sizes. The top tube
runs tall to its meeting with
the head tube and requires
a little getting used to
Committed To Winning
The Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper HT Disc
hile Specialized’s reigning cross-country world HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
champion, Christoph Sauser, did the deed on the This is an easy bike to evaluate because Specialized estab-
popular dual-suspension S-Works Epic, lished well-defined rules of engagement. This is a weapon
Specialized has not forgotten about the hardtail holdouts. whose trigger should be pulled when aimed at the start of a
The 2009 Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper HT Disc is cross-country race.
made for this small but enthusiastic group who want noth- While a hardtail race bike doesn’t need a lot of setup time,
ing to do with rear suspension. the Specialized’s Future Shock S90 needs some careful setup
attention to achieve its full potential. The fork, which
WHO IS IT MADE FOR? includes Specialized’s Brain Fade technology, is not intuitive
Many bikes fall into a gray area of usage. The Specialized to set up. You need to carefully read the setup instructions
S-Works Stumpjumper HT Disc (we’ll call it the SW HT in the owner’s manual or visit the Specialized website.
for the rest of the test) is not one of them. This bike is Following their recommendations will get you close to the
made for cross-country racing. Period. End of story. ideal setting from the get go.
Moving out: The SW HT puts you in a full-race position.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM? Your back will be close to flat as you stretch out in the long
The SW HT’s frame, available in five sizes, is cockpit. This position is not for comfort. It is for staying low
Specialized’s own blend of carbon fiber and cheating the wind. The bar has a sub-
called FACT 10M carbon. The SW tle bend, and the lack of suspension
HT’s frame appears to have been sculpted lockout levers cleans up the cockpit con-
rather than molded. It is a thing of beauty siderably. The saddle is firm without
that almost obsoletes the notion of frame being a torture device. Standover height
tubes, because every tube on is a bit intimidating, and the top
this frame morphs into the tube feels high.
next. The top tube and Hammering: The SW
seat stays form one HT feels lighter than its
solid arch. The seat 20 pounds (with water-
tube and downtube bottle cage, number
blend together at plate and computer
the massive bot- bracket attached).
tom-bracket shell. With that weight you
In a word: stunning. have a bottom bracket
The frame uses and rear stays that are
forged disc dropouts so stiff a sledgehammer
with a replaceable blow to the crankarm
derailleur hanger. The head wouldn’t bother them, giving
tube accepts a 1-1/8-inch cartridge bearing on top and a you a rocket ship. This bike doesn’t accelerate as much as it
1.5-inch cartridge at the bottom. An integrated, oversize explodes. In the saddle or out, as long as you pick the best
bottom bracket was designed together with Specialized’s S- traction, you are going to be moving.
Works oversized carbon crankset. Cornering: The SW HT doesn’t tolerate lazy riders. It is
a precision machine that takes rider input seriously. If you
WHAT COMPONENTS STAND OUT? are used to slow, heavy trailbike steering, you will find the
Specialized has decked out the SW HT with their own SW HT almost unridable. This bike does exactly as instruct-
crank, fork, wheels, saddle, grips, waterbottle cage, handle- ed and does it fast. What surprised the wrecking crew is that
bar, hubs, seatpost, tires, quick-release skewers and chain- the SW HT held its own on fast fire road descents where
stay guard. The only companies allowed to join the fun race bikes can become skittish. The SW HT held its line
were Shimano for the derailleurs, shifters and cassette; with authority.
Syntace for the stem; and Avid for the brakes. And even Climbing: Good tires, a rigid frame, ideal rider positioning
Avid had to agree to making a special version of their and the bike’s quality drivetrain will get you up your favorite
Ultimate SL Mag brakes with alloy-backed organic brake (or most hated) climb faster than you have ever ridden it
pads, a magnesium caliper and titanium hardware before before. Stay seated, pick any gear that won’t destroy your
they were invited to join the team. To say Specialized prod- knees and power away. The Brain in the fork relieves you
uct managers are a picky bunch is an understatement. from the chore of choosing between locked-out and open set-
Something important to note is that while some bike tings, and there is no tendency to wheelie. Even out-of-saddle
companies develop components to their own proprietary efforts are rewarded with a solid blast of acceleration.
standards (leaving you no way to experiment with other Descending: The SW HT requires mad skills for descend-
components or use components you already own), ing. That is the price you have to pay for a 20-pound race
Specialized went to great lengths to make sure aftermarket bike that could win a World Cup out of the box. There is lit-
components will fit this frame. If you purchase an SW HT tle margin for error. Apply too much brake and the wheels
frame, chances are most of your favorite components from will lock. Move too far forward and you risk endo’ing.
your existing cross-country racer will switch over. Hesitate and you will lose.
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 87
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
The wrecking crew was all over the board on the fork’s
Brain Fade setting. Some ran it full force, while others pre-
ferred between four and five clicks of platform. Riding
courses with soft or muddy terrain requires more clicks out.
Still, it boils down to rider preference.
The seatpost and seat tube were a sloppy match, and a
shim was added to assure that the seatpost did not suffer
creep during the ride. Speaking of the seat tube, we were a
little surprised that setting a 30.5-inch saddle height (from
the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the saddle)
required running the seatpost above its limit. That’s a big
risk on a carbon frame with a carbon post. We were testing
an 18-inch frame, so that saddle height should be accommo-
dated. Our advice is to carefully work with the bike shop to
make sure the frame you end up with accommodates your
saddle height requirements.
The Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper HT Disc does not
offer the versatility of a dual-suspension race bike like the Limited edition: The SW HT is the most technologically
Specialized S-Works Epic (and that would not be considered advanced cross-country hardtail race bike that we have ever
a versatile bike either). Making your buying decision even tested. The bike comes with limits that every rider should
understand before making the buying decision.
tougher is recent sightings of an S-Works Stumpjumper HT
with 29-inch wheels that will probably be a 2010 model
option. If you decide to add the S-Works Stumpjumper HT Disc
So is the Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper HT Disc a to your stable, one thing is for sure—you will have the most
great bike for you? We can see two scenarios where it technologically advanced cross-country hardtail race bike
would be a logical purchase. First, if you are rich or spon- that we have ever had the pleasure of throwing a leg over.❑
sored, this bike could be your second cross-country race
bike. Your first should be a dual-suspension race bike. You
would then choose which bike to race based on the race- SPECIALIZED S-WORKS HT
course you are attacking and the day’s conditions. The Price $6600
only other reason for purchasing the S-Works Country of origin Taiwan
Stumpjumper HT Disc is if you refuse to ride a dual-sus- Weight 20 pounds
Hotline (408) 779-6229
Frame tested 18quot;
Bottom bracket height 12quot;
Chainstay length 16.6quot;
Top tube length 23.6quot;
Head tube angle 71°
Seat tube angle 73°
Standover height 30.5quot;
Suspension travel (front) 3.5quot;
Suspension travel (rear) None
Frame material Carbon fiber
Fork Specialized Future Shock S90
Rims Roval Controle SL
Tires S-Works Fast Trak LK
Hubs Roval Controle SL X/DT
Brakes Custom Avid Ultimate SL Mag
Crankset S-Works OS carbon
Handlebar Specialized XC Carbon flat (23.5”)
Shifters Shimano XTR Rapidfire
Front derailleur Shimano M660 SLX
Rear derailleur Shimano XTR
Chainrings Specialized (44/32/22)
Parts department: (Clockwise from left) The Specialized Cassette Shimano XTR Ti (11-34)
Future Shock S90 fork, tapered head tube and massive bottom Pedals None (weighed w/Shimano XTR)
bracket shell with Specialized S-Works OS carbon cranks.
Race conditions change every
weekend and so do my tires. On Maxxis I always
know I have a tire that is up to the challenge no
matter what the weather.
— Geoﬀ Kabush,
Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain
Ultimate Lightweight Low-volume cross
hard-pack race tire country mud tire
Panaracer KENDA IRC Hutchinson Sram X.9 Trigger
XC Pro Nevegal Lite-DTC Mythos XC II Python New Gen Air
msrp $40 msrp $53 msrp $50 msrp $50
$1998 $3698 $1498 $2198
Stan’s Tire and
7 Disc Disc
msrp $250 msrp $110
Sram PC 971
$11998 $4998 ROCKSHOX Chain w/
Tora 302 Coil Uturn Camelbak
msrp $32 Mule ‘08
HFX 9 XC Blk Disc 85-130mm msrp $85
HFX 9 Chr
Chrome Disc msrp $224 $5998
XC Disc Brake
V6, V7, V8
A $15998 Giro E2 Helmet ‘08
msrp $150 msrp $130
Clothing, Bikes & Frames
view the complete Sette line
$40 Sette Spectrum
S te X 2
Sette XLR 25.4mm Torx ST-21 Dakine
Lo Riser $1998
Low Tool Kit Techwear Brick Fox Base
Sette msrp $20 Handle
Handlebar 21 Tools Gunslinger Wall Jersey
Air 2 Mini $ 98 Short Jersey ‘08
Pump 7 msrp $100
msrp $55 msrp $40 msrp $40
with Auto $4698
Head $1798 $2798 $1998
Cog in the machine
he rear sprockets (we call them cogs) on your rear is splined on its outer shell. The cassette sprockets (cogs) use
wheel are attached to your rear hub in two ways. these splines to properly slide and align on to the freehub
Some older bikes or low-priced mountain bikes use a body. A lockring threads into the freehub and holds the
freewheel system. You can identify this because the rear sprockets.
wheel has a large thread machined onto the hub. The The “Garage Files” is going to show you the steps to
sprockets are fixed to a ratcheting mechanism called a free- pulling the cogs off a cassette system. The main reason to
wheel. The freewheel threads onto the hub. The freewheel remove the cogs is to replace a worn cog. The other reason is
has a clutch or ratchet system inside that allows the sprockets for cleaning. Now, while the cassette cogs can be cleaned
to spin when you are coasting and locks when you are pedal- while attached to the freehub, if we have been through an
ing. When the freewheel is removed, all the sprockets come epic ride where the cassette was exposed to tall grass, mud
with it. and sand, we’ll take the time to pull the cogs off so we can
The other is a cassette system. A freehub ratcheting system clean not only the cogs, but the space between them on the
is mounted to the body of the hub. This freehub body, that freehub. Excessive use of chain lube will also gunk up this
also acts as a clutch when coasting and locks when pedaling, area, and that gunk can be cleaned out by disassembly.❑
Tools nehip, large crescent
a chain o dif-
You’ll need pline lockring tool (tw r
w rench, 20-s own), a paint marke
ferent styles d a cleaning solvent.
Slide the quick-release skewer back into the axle, through the lock-
ring tool and put the skewer nut back on the skewer. Snug the nut
and then back it out an eighth of a turn. The skewer and the nut act
as a holding device for the lockring tool. This is an optional step.
Think of it as added insurance.
Remove the quick-release skewer or drive-side axle nut. The
majority of mountain bike cassettes use a 20-spline lockring to
hold the cogs in place. Slide a 20-spline lockring tool into the
lockring. Use the chain whip to hold one of the middle cogs.
You should be able to turn the lockring tool by hand once the
5 skewer and skewer nut are removed. Keep turning the lockring
until it comes off the cassette. Careful, the cogs can slide off at
Use a large crescent wrench and adjust it to fit the lockring tool.
Turn the crescent wrench in a counter-clockwise direction while
pushing the chain whip in a clockwise direction (without the
chain whip, the cassette would rotate freely). It will take some
muscle to loosen this lockring, and you will hear and feel a click-
ing noise as it starts to loosen.
Remove the cogs and be careful to record what side of the cog
is facing outwards. If in doubt, dab the outside with a paint
marker. You do not want to flip them around by accident when
6 reinstalling. Also, if there are spacers between the cogs, note
their position between the cogs and keep track of the direction
they are facing. You want every component to go back on
Turn the crescent wrench just far enough to break free the lock- exactly how it was removed. We lay each piece on the work-
ring. Now remove the skewer nut and skewer completely. bench exactly in the order they will be reinstalled.
- super lightweight
all mountain stem
- 1 1/8 steerer tube in 50mm
65mm, & 80mm lengths
- 31.8 clamp size
- completely CNC machined
- 50mm (144g)
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in Canada call 604 542 5661
Clean up the cassette body just to make it easier to slide the cogs back on.
You don’t need to grease the body. This will only attract dirt.
Clean all the cogs thoroughly with a solvent and brush. It is difficult to see
cog wear. The rule of thumb is, if it wasn’t skipping, the cogs are still okay.
Slide the cogs and spacers back on in the order they were removed. If you
don’t, you will have one strange-shifting bike.
Grease the threads of the 20-spline
lockring and thread it onto the cassette,
hand snugging it with the special tool.
Leave the tool in place and slide the
skewer back in and snug up the skewer
nut. Again, this is optional, but it helps
keep the tool from popping out.
Use the crescent wrench to turn the
lockring until tight. Since you are tight-
ening in a clockwise direction, you do
not need to use the chain whip. The
cassette is locked in the clockwise
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 97
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Has Never Been So Much Fun
The Marin Nail Trail 29er
arin has increased its line of 29-inch-wheeled HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
mountain bikes to four models for 2009. The Nail We immediately noticed that Marin has lowered the stan-
Trail 29er sits at the top of the heap just in front dover height of the Nail Trail 29er a half an inch over the last
of the Pine Mountain 29er single-speed and two lower-price- Marin 29er we tested, and that makes all the difference in the
point geared offerings: the $1420 Palisades Trail and $785 world. It boosts a rider’s confidence to know that the top tube
Alpine Trail. is tucked out of harm’s way.
Moving out: Bikes with 29-inch wheels have taller gearing
WHO IS IT MADE FOR? than 26-inch wheeled bikes, and you are reminded of that on
The Nail Trail 29er is a hardtail trailbike that uses 29- the Nail Trail 29er. From a dead stop, choose either a lower
inch wheels. It is intended for the trail rider who doesn’t gear or a little more muscle to get up to speed. The Marin’s
want rear suspension. This rider is attracted to simple frame encourages you to take the latter approach, because it
mountain bikes that don’t require a lot of setup time or offers firm, flex-free performance. It likes to be ridden in a big
maintenance. gear. The Nail Trail 29er rider sits inside the bike, and the
lower center of gravity is noticeable immediately.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM? Cornering: If you tried early 29ers and hated the big-wheel
The Nail Trail 29er is constructed from 6061 alu- feel in the corners, you owe it to yourself to try it again. Frame
minum. The bike uses a proprietary triple-butted, hydro- geometry has changed over the years to compensate for the
edge-formed top tube and downtube. The seat stays and larger wheels, and Marin did it right. The bike steers light,
chainstays use double-butted aluminum. The stays are sticks like glue and doesn’t require rider acrobatics to make it
optimized for rigidity, with a distinctive bend and shape work. Staying seated (and centered) is all you need to do to
that isn’t easily discerned with the eye. These tubes need make this bike rail any corner. Toe overlap? Not one of the
to be touched to get an idea of how much engineering wrecking crew could get their fat feet to make contact in the
went into them. tightest of switchbacks.
Climbing: The big wheels smooth the trail, and this is a real
WHAT COMPONENTS STAND OUT? benefit on the climbs. The rider can concentrate on holding a
Marin didn’t build the Nail Trail 29er as eye candy. Its good rhythm instead of worrying about steering around every
battleship-grey frame and black and silver components were bump, rock or root in the trail. Again, we had the best luck
meant to blend in, not jump out. The bike appears to have staying seated and maintaining a comfort-
been constructed in partnership with Shimano. The new able spin up the climbs. The Nail Trail
Shimano SLX and XT components are all business. Filling 29er has a respectable weight, but it is
out the spec are items from WTB (Marin’s next door neigh- no lightweight trailbike, and the big
bor) and FSA. wheels mean you don’t have the low
gear of a 26-inch-wheeled bike.
When the going gets steep, it is up to
you to put down the effort. There is no
bailout gear on the Nail Trail 29er (or
Please touch: The Marin
Nail Trail 29er frame tubes
need to be touched to be
appreciated. There is a lot
of engineering in this
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 101
Descending: The big hoops take the sting out of flat-
edged bumps and at the same time stick to the trail like they
are an inch wider than claimed. The bike’s low center of
gravity increases confidence. Use the big wheels and frame
rigidity to their full advantage when descending and you
will fly by an equal rider on a 26-inch-wheeled hardtail and
give the dual-suspension guy a run for his money.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
The bike had a loose seatpost-to-seat tube fit. We needed
to add a shim to keep the seatpost from slipping. We would
convert the wheels and tires to tubeless after we had
patched the tubes a few times. Lock-on-style grips would be
a nice upgrade, but you won’t need them until the stock
WTB grips wear out. You can add a chainstay pad, but we
did not have any chain slap issues during our time on the
Nail Trail 29er.
Marin has delivered a hardtail trailbike with 29-inch
wheels that is ready to rage (right down to the pedals). The
big wheels smooth the trail and give you traction that was
previously only enjoyed by riders of full-suspension bikes.
There is nothing that this bike needs. You can buy one and
ride it for years without spending another penny on any- Trail mannered: The Nail Trail 29er steers light, sticks like glue
thing but normal-wear items. Marin nailed it with the Nail and doesn’t require rider acrobatics to make it work. Staying
trail 29er.❑ seated (and centered) is all you need to do to make this bike rail
MARIN NAIL TRAIL 29er
Country of origin Taiwan
Weight 28.2 pounds
Hotline (800) 222-7557
Frame tested 17quot;
Bottom bracket height 12quot;
Chainstay length 18quot;
Top tube length 23quot;
Head tube angle 71.5°
Seat tube angle 73.5°
Standover height 29quot;
Suspension travel (front) 3.9quot;
Suspension travel (rear) None
Frame material Aluminum
Fork Fox 32 F29 RL
Rims WTB Laserdisc Trail 29er
Tires WTB Prowler SL (2.1)
Hubs Shimano Deore
Brakes Shimano SLX hydraulic disc
Handlebar Marin MTN XC Series (27quot; wide)
Shifters Shimano SLX
Front derailleur Shimano SLX
Rear derailleur Shimano XT
Chainrings Shimano (44/32/22)
Firm fit: The Marin dropouts are forged for strength and deliver Cassette Shimano (11-34)
in the ride department. The derailleur hanger is replaceable. The
Shimano XT rear derailleur is reliable and easy to tune. Pedals Shimano M520 clipless
reg. $44 sale $24 reg. $29 sale $13 reg. $49 sale $29 reg. $99 sale $69
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CULVER CITY TOTALLY REMODELED *LOW PRICE GUARANTEE: SEE WWW.WHEELWORLD.COM OR ASK A WHEEL WORLD SALES ASSOCIATE FOR DETAILS. WOODLAND HILLS
Cannondale Project Rize
Cannondale and Newbury Park Bike Shop
build a beauty
e were impressed with the
2009 Cannondale Rize
Carbon 1 (tested in our
September 2008 issue). We concluded
the test saying, “The Rize is a trailbike
that thinks it is a cross-country racer. It
is light, responsive, slim and just as
effective (and fun) on the 40-minute
lunch loop as it is on a six-hour, I-can’t-
excursion.” We weren’t the only ones
The guys at Newbury Bike Shop in
Newbury Park, California, were equally
blown away. Then it happened. They
had just finished an after-work ride on
Los Robles Trail and were munching on
their Double-Doubles at In-N-Out
Burger, conveniently located right next
to the bike shop. Talk turned from
how fun it was riding the Rize to
how much fun it would be to build
a Rize from the frame out. The
Rize is available in five models
(two carbon framed and three alu-
minum framed), but Cannondale
also sells it as a frame/shock
combo so you can become the prod-
uct manager. A frame/shock combo
was ordered, and the Project Rize
Carbon NPLO was hatched.
THE PROJECT RULES
The Rize Carbon 1 we tested tipped
the scales at 24.4 pounds with
Crankbrothers Smarty pedals. The goal
of the Project Rize Carbon NPLO
(which stands for Newbury Park Locals
Only) was to trim at least two pounds
off that mark. There was a catch, howev-
er. It would be easy to lose the weight,
and at the same time lose the ability to
use the Rize as a trailbike. This was not
acceptable. The final build had to pro-
duce a durable, ridable trailbike.
In addition to shedding weight with-
out losing the essence of the Rize ride,
the guys wanted their project to attract
attention. This was not to be a sleeper or
subtle bike. They wanted to elicit jaw- Floating proof: The Project Rize felt just like the real
dropping reactions from riders who thing, only lighter. The bike’s light weight and long travel
walked into the shop. The gang went to made every trail easier to ride. It really pays off in slow,
work. technical sections.
The Project Rize Carbon NPLO takes
over three pounds off the production
Rize Carbon 1. This weight reduction
offers the biggest benefit on climbs. In
most instances, you are better off leaving
the chain in the middle ring and power-
THE RESULT ing up climbs. Dropping to the granny
It is estimated that 40 hours of labor feels like an exercise in bike balancing.
went into the creation of the Project The Project Rize makes easy work out
Rize Carbon NPLO. And this doesn’t of tight switchbacks. You can easily loft
include two weeks of acid baths and pol- the bike over trail obstacles. You can use
ishing of select components by The the quick handling and ample suspen-
Polishing Shop in Oxnard, California, sion travel to fly down descents, and
(805) 278-8274. Cannondale got word of that light weight is always egging you on
the project and threw down a pre-pro- to loft off or hop over stuff.
duction 2010 Lefty fork. Parts were Finally, a big surprise came directly
imported from Italy. The bike was metic- from Cannondale. The pre-production
ulously assembled. The result was a
stunning Cannondale Rize Carbon with
Crankbrothers Eggbeater pedals that
weighed a mere 21.25 pounds on the Importers: Italy’s Extralite components,
official MBA Ultimate Digital Scale. The like these chainrings, are hard to find in
bike’s value is in the neighborhood of America. That’s not a problem for
Newbury Park Bike Shop. They import
$8000. Extralite components directly from Italy.
THE RIDE 2010 Lefty Fork donated for the project
The Project Rize Carbon NPLO takes has a new feature that we have begged
getting used to. A rider has to treat it for. The fork’s lockout now offers a
like the precision instrument that it is. blow-off circuit, so if you hit something
That means deliberate, controlled brake hard while locked out, the fork will
application. It means that rider position move into its travel and save you from a
has a bigger influence on cornering, sizable jolt to the upper body.
braking, climbing and jumping than on Cannondale, we love you, man! Can’t
a heavier bike. It means gear selection wait to get a production version for a
makes a giant difference in forward full test.
momentum. This is a hypersensitive
trailbike, and that’s why we loved it. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
The Project Rize Carbon NPLO is a
dream bike come true. While you might
not want to drop $8000 to build your
own version, the guys at Newbury Bike
Shop can help you pick and choose the
First look: The Project Rize Carbon NPLO parts you need to get close to their cre-
used a 2010 prototype Cannondale Lefty ation. You can reach them by calling
Fork that did a lot more than reduce weight. (805) 498-7714.❑
Polished performance: Components
were polished for pure esthetic appeal.
The polishing did not reduce weight. It
added to the bike’s visual impact.
Newbury Park Locals Only (left to right): Shane Heid, Ben Cox and Anthony Aker are
three of the guys who made the Project Rize dream come true. Shane Kelly (not pictured)
was the bike’s builder. Somebody had to mind the store.
Fizik Antares saddle
with carbon fiber rails.
Schwalbe Rocket Ron 2.4-
inch tires, converted to KCNC Ti Pro Lite 2009 Cannondale Rize Carbon
Stan’s Tubeless System. scandium seatpost. 18-inch frame.
Fox Float RP23
Polished NoTubes KCNC QR seat collar. shock with a pol-
ZTR Arch rims. ished air canister.
Shimano XTR front
derailleur with polished
SPD rear hub.
Formula Alloy brake rotor,
six inch, with titanium
hardware. KMC X9SL-TI chain.
KCNC Alloy ceramic Stock aluminum
derailleur pulleys. swingarm.
Sunline V-One OS Carbon
riser bar, 26.5-inches wide. Weight: 21.25 pounds
ESI Silicon grips.
Polished Formula R1
XC3 SI stem.
Shimano XTR shifters.
Power Cordz cables.
Cannondale Lefty Max
Carbon (2010 prototype).
Formula R1 brake
caliper with titanium
Enduro ABI ceramic
SI SL crank.
Sapin CX-Ray spokes.
DT Swiss spoke
Cannondale Omega nipples.
SI Lefty hub.
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 111
Material mix: The Chumba XF2
uses proprietary aluminum
tubing for the frame and
carbon fiber for the stays. The
combo takes a full 1.5 pounds
off last year’s XCL trailbike.
A Bike Born For Southern California
The Chumba VF2
WHAT COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
humba has a long and storied history as one of
Southern California’s premier boutique brands, but Our VF2 had an eccentric mix of components, to say the
the exposure they received from success on downhill least. We got a smattering of cross-country-light Shimano XTR
racecourses was a mixed blessing. They earned a reputation components with heavy-duty trailbike touches, like the
for building tough race bikes that could withstand the most Syncros handlebar and rims, Fox 32 TALAS fork with 15QR,
brutal of beatings without breaking a sweat, but this rep and Thomson Elite X4 stem. This build brought the bike up to
made a lot of riders feel that a Chumba was overbuilt for a weight that is acceptable for trailbike use and out of the ques-
regular trail riders. The VF2 is out to change that percep- tion for cross-country.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
WHO IS IT MADE FOR? The VF2 has a classic Chumba feel with a twist. The rider
Chumba calls their VF2 a “lightweight, race-inspired, feels very centered between the wheels, but the bulk is miss-
cross-country bike.” That’s a stretch. Our VF2 build clearly ing. There are no giant gussets, fat top tubes or downhill-ready
falls into the trailbike category, with five inches of travel, a tires squeezed between the fork legs and stays.
trailbike fork and trailbike components. Since the bike is Moving out: The VF2 needs the help of the shock’s
built this way, we evaluated it as a trailbike, not a cross- ProPedal feature to keep the rear end from bobbing. Turn it on
country race bike. and stay seated or get out of the saddle and hammer. The VF2
responds with much more enthusiasm than a 29-pound trail-
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM? bike should. The top tube’s shape encourages the rider to
The VF2’s frame uses bead-blasted, anodized aluminum throw the bike from side to side, and the laterally stiff bottom-
with a custom-made, hydroformed, butted top tube. The bracket area can take whatever you can throw at it.
downtube is manipulated so it morphs into a continually Cornering: The VF2 has two personalities when cornering.
changing diameter and shape on its way to the proprietary, If the ProPedal feature is engaged, the rear end sits high. It
inverted bottom-bracket shell. The stays are full carbon makes the fork travel feel like less than five inches (it has 5.5
fiber, and Chumba employs oversized bearings for the inches). Applying the brakes with the ProPedal engaged
Specialized FSR rear suspension. Hardware is anodized requires the rider to move back or risk too much weight shift
seven series aluminum, and every nut and bolt appears to to the front. With the ProPedal off, the bike settles into its trav-
have been engineered for its particular duty. Claimed weight el and feels far more balanced. You just lose a little momentum
of the frame sans shock is 5.3 pounds (1.5 pounds less than exiting the corner because the rear suspension compresses
the five-inch-travel Chumba XCL we tested last year). under hard pedaling. Also, the high bottom bracket and tall
standover height hinder the VF2’s handling.
Climbing: You do not need to
crank down on the fork travel for
climbing, because the ProPedal
mode (and you need it climb-
ing) gives you the exact same
sensation. Flip the lever, stay in
the saddle and spin away. The
VF2 requires its rider to pay
attention when dropping to the
granny gear. Why? The bike’s
steering becomes ultra-sensi-
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 113
A Bike Born
tive in the smallest cog. Drop to the granny and you will need
to loosen your grip or you’ll find yourself scissoring back and
Descending: We had the most fun on the VF2 on the down-
hills. The rear suspension stays active during braking, the
chassis is everything a Chumba has always been, and that fatty
Syncros bar, vise-like Thomson stem, and Fox fork make for a
terrific trio. This bike will handle anything a five-inch-travel
trailbike is supposed to handle without breaking a sweat.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
The shock is cradled a good distance from the top tube, so
the reach to the ProPedal lever is a long one. Since the
ProPedal is an often-used feature, easier access would be better.
Unfortunately, inverting the shock will create clearance issues.
It is something you will have to adjust to.
The build of our VF2 used expensive Shimano XTR compo-
nents that shaved weight. If you built up this bike with less
expensive components, it would probably near the 30-pound
If your rides are on tight trails with lots of short ups and
downs, the VF2 will require a lot of lever throwing to reach its
full potential and is probably more bike than you need. The
VF2 is a trailbike that, intentionally designed this way or not,
is ideal for the kind of riding most of us face in Southern Steady as she goes: The Chumba XF2 benefited greatly from
the Syncros bar, vise-like Thomson stem and Fox fork when
California. These rides consist of long, uninterrupted climbs to negotiating rocky terrain.
the halfway point, then you turn around and head back down.
Both ways are littered with nasty rocks, ruts and uneven trail
surfaces. The VF2 is all about conquering this kind of
terrain.❑ CHUMBA VF2
Price $1849 (frame and shock)
Country of origin Taiwan
Weight 29 pounds
Hotline (714) 986-9100
Frame tested 19quot; (medium)
Bottom bracket height 14quot;
Chainstay length 17quot;
Top tube length 23.5quot;
Head tube angle 69°
Seat tube angle 73°
Standover height 32quot;
Suspension travel (front) 5.5quot;
Suspension travel (rear) 5quot;
Frame material Aluminum
Fork Fox 32 TALAS RLC 15QR
Shock Fox Float RP23
Rims Syncros FLR DS23
Tires Maxxis Ignitor (2.35”)
Hubs Chumba M5x/Shimano XT (f)
Brakes Shimano XT
Crankset Shimano XTR
Handlebar Syncros FL 7075 (25”)
Shifters Shimano XTR
Front derailleur Shimano XTR
Rear derailleur Shimano XTR
Open it up: The Chumba felt the most comfortable on the Chainrings Shimano XTR (44/32/22)
descents with the shock set on the soft side with an honest 25 Cassette Shimano (11-34)
percent of sag. This slackened the front end and made for Pedals None (weighed w/Shimano XTR
calmer high-speed attacks.
Introducing Mitch Ropelato
past year, and that gave me the confi- knew I could hang once I was old
dence I needed to give racing pro a enough, and qualifying ninth out of
shot,” Mitch says. “Last year I got 32 at the Jeep dual slalom race at 16
second in the Sea Otter dual slalom in years old had me stoked.”
Junior Expert and won the 4-Cross at The bike handling skills derived
the National held at Angel Fire, New from BMX racing translate to dual
Mexico. But, qualifying ninth in a slalom and 4-Cross racing, but down-
field of top pros at the Jeep 48Straight hill is a completely different animal.
dual slalom event in San Louis “Mitch is a fast rider, but he only fin-
Obispo, California—that was cool. I ished two of his first six downhill
wasn’t sure I would even qualify, but races,” says Mitch’s father, Kerry
I did well. I actually beat a lot of guys Ropelato. “I knew he was getting a
I never thought I would beat, but little frustrated, because he knew he
wanted to beat since I was a ‘youn- was better than some of the guys who
gun.’ It was fun racing against World would beat him only because he’d
Champions I always see in the videos, crash.”
like Greg Minnaar. In my first couple “It took me some time to get used
of years racing Junior Expert, I was to the downhill bike,” explains Mitch.
putting up mid-pack pro times, so I “I’m good at riding the steep, gnarly
t’s 1 p.m. on a Thursday after-
I noon. Seventeen-year-old Mitch
Ropelato and his father, Kerry,
have been on the road for eight hours
and are entering Mesquite, a town on
the border between Nevada and
Arizona. They’re still about five
hours from their destination of
Fontana, California, roughly 60 miles
outside Los Angeles, where Mitch
will be racing mountaincross and
downhill on the weekend.
Mitch has been on MBA’s radar for
over a year, as he’s had some impres-
sive runs at National events. His
head-turning style at race speed and
his BMX skills are evident in his bike
handling ability. Mitch’s skills on the
bike are unmistakable, and obviously
not acquired overnight. “I’ve been
racing BMX for 10 years and began
mountain bike racing about three
years ago,” explains Mitch. “I’ve had
success in BMX—for example, I quali-
fied for the UCI World
Championships in 2007, and I also
won the Redline Cup.”
From Ogden, Utah, Mitch compet-
ed in his first mountain bike race
three years ago at the Deer Valley
NORBA National in Park City, Utah,
and has been racking up notable wins
and podiums along the way in both
the Junior Expert and Pro divisions. Serious skills: Mitch Ropelato has head-turning bike handling skills. His BMX roots
“I had some good results over the translate well to dual slalom, and he’s coming into his own as a downhiller, too.
Tough crowd: At just 16 years old, Mitch qualified ninth out of 32 in a field of professional world and national champions at the
most recent Jeep 48Straight dual slalom series.
stuff. I used to ride the technical sport’s elite racers. Former BMX and Although still in high school,
downhill trails at Deer Valley on mountain bike world champion “E.C.” Mitch Ropelato has a full plate of
my hardtail. Downhill cornering is Eric Carter is quick to acknowledge racing in 2009. “My main focus is
what’s tough and gave me the most Mitch’s abilities. the World Championships in
trouble. I took Gene Hamilton’s “The kid has tons of talent,” says Australia,” Mitch explains enthusias-
Carter. “He rides so fast all of the time tically. “I’ll be racing both Pro 4-
Better Ride clinic and focused pri-
and is wide open on every section of Cross and junior division downhill.
marily on corners. It really helped
Before the Worlds, I’ll hit all of the
me to keep my speed and link sec- the track. Whether it’s practice or the
major North American events, like
tions of the downhill track togeth- finals, he’s flying. I think he’s going to
the Sea Otter, Crankworx in
er.” (Apparently Mitch is telling be a real player in the World Cup 4- Whistler and the Canadian World
the truth. He won both the Cat 1 Cross scene right away, and in down- Cups; and I want to do really well in
(junior expert) downhill and the hill it just takes time in the saddle on the Mountain States Cup events.
pro dual slalom at the “Mob In The those machines. It could take him Some of them overlap with the World
Mojave” event at Bootleg Canyon some time to become comfortable with Cups, but we’ll hit the ones we can.”
in Boulder City, Nevada, which the speeds of downhill at the World “I don’t push Mitch—I just like
we covered last month in our Cup level, looking really far ahead on spending time with him,” says Kerry
June issue.) the course and so on. There are a lot Ropelato. “And, the fact that he’s a
As a young, talented rider Mitch of variables in downhill that aren’t in fast bike racer makes this a lot of fun
is catching the attention of the BMX and 4-Cross.” for both of us.”❑
Race Face Evolve/Sram X9 All MTN Kit
Race Face Evolve DH X-Type Crankset/BB, SRAM PC-951
Customize your ride. Upgrade. Build.
Mtn. Chain, SRAM PG 950 9-Speed Mtn. Cassette, SRAM X-9
RD Medium Cage, SRAM X7 FD, SRAM X-9 Trigger Shifters.
Ellsworth Epiphany Float XO Kit
Race Face Evolve XC/Sram X9/XC Build Kit
Race Face Evolve XC Crankset/BB, SRAM X9 Trigger Shifters,
SRAM X9 RD Long Cage, SRAM X7 FD, SRAM 970 9-Speed
Mountain Cassette,SRAM PC-951 Mountain Chain.
$492.95 $319.95 With Avid Juicy 7 Disc Brakes $540
Race Face Deus/Sram X9/XO Build Kit
Race Face Deus X-Type Crankset/BB, SRAM X9 Trigger
Shifters, SRAM XO RD Long Cage, SRAM X9 FD, SRAM PG
-990 Mtn. Cassette, SRAM PC-991 Mountain Chain.
Truvativ Firex/SRAM X9 Drive Train Kit
Truvativ Firex 3.3 Team Crankset GXP w/ Cups, SRAM PC
-951 Mtn. Chain, SRAM PG-950 9-Speed Mtn. Cassette,
SRAM X9 RD Long Cage, SRAM X7 FD, SRAM X7 9-Speed Ellsworth Epiphany Frame with Fox Float R (RP23 +$50), Fox 32 Float 140 RLC Fork, Race Face Deus X-Type Cranks/BB, Race Face Deus XC Stem
Trigger Shifters. $387.95 $249.95 and Seatpost, Race Face Deus Low Riser Bar, SRAM X9 Trigger Shifters, SRAM XO RD Long Cage, SRAM X9 FD, SRAM PG-990 Cassette & PC-991
Chain, Avid Juicy 7 Hydraulic Disc Brakes, Mavic Crossmax Disc Wheels, Cane Creek S3 Headset, WTB Pure V Pro Saddle, WTB Mutano Raptor
Race 26 X 2.24 Tires. Ellsworth Epiphany Frame w/ Float R MSRP: $2595 Kit: $6150 $3999 Pro Build: $4199
Juciy 7 Hydraulic Disc
Elixir R Hydraulic Disc Juicy Ultimate Hydraulic BB7 Mechanical Disc 160/185, Front or Rear, Msrp: $146.95
160mm, Front or Rear, Msrp: $128.95 140/160, Front or Rear, Msrp: $259.95 160mm Front/Rear, Msrp: $60.95
185mm, Front or Rear, Msrp: $132.95 185mm Front/Rear, Msrp: $64.95
Elixir CR Carbon Hydraulic Disc G2 CleanSweep Rotors
160mm Front or Rear Msrp: $203.95 Choose size. Msrp: 160mm $39.95
185mm Front or Rear Msrp: $207.95 185mm $44.95 203mm $49.95
Saddles CLEARANCE Race Face/Sram XC Trail Bike Kit
Rock Shox Reba Team Air Fork, Race Face Deus X-Type Cranks/BB, Race Face Deus XC Stem, Bar,
& Seatpost, SRAM X9 Trigger Shifters & FD, SRAM XO RD, Med. Cage, SRAM PG 990 Cassette
& PC-991 Chain, Avid Juicy 7 Hydraulic Disc Brakes, ODI Rufﬁan Grips, FSA Orbit MX Headset,
WTB Pure V Pro Saddle, Easton XC One Disc Wheelset, WTB Mutano Raptor Race Tires.
WTB Pure V Race ‘08
Cromo Rails. $60 $33
WTB Pure V Pro ‘08
Nicro Rails. $90 $40
WTB Shadow V Pro
Nicro Rails. ‘09 $90 $41
WTB Laser V Team IS ‘08
Titanium Rails. $140 $75 2009
PG-970 Cassette PG-990 Cassette
11-32/11-34, 9-Speed 11-32/11-34, 9-Speed
Msrp: $38.95 Msrp: $99.95
XO Rear Derailleur X9 Rear Derailleur
Long Cage Msrp: $222.95 Long Cage Msrp: $98.95
WTB TIRES HUTCHINSON BULLDOG HUTCHINSON PYTHON TIRES
Mutano Raptor Race 26 x 2.24quot; $45 $20.25 MRC Med. 26 x 2.3quot; $60 $27.95 MRC Medium UST 26 x 2.3quot; $60 $28.95
Moto Raptor Race 26 x 2.24quot; $60 $20.25 MRC Med. UST 26 x 2.3” $70 $32.25 New Gen. MRC High UST 26 x 2.0quot; $65 $29.95
Prowler XT Race 26 x 2.3quot; $50 $22.50
KENDA TIRES X9 Front Derailleur XO Trigger Shifters
HUTCHINSON BARRACUDA High Clamp, 31.8/34.9, Msrp: $52.95 Long Cage Msrp: $233.95
HUTCHINSON PIRANHA TIRES Air Light 26 x 2.10quot; $55 $25.99 Tomac Nevegal 26 x 2.10” $60 $28.50 Low Clamp, 31.8/34.9, Msrp:$46.95
MRC High UST 26 x 2.0quot; $65 $29.95 MRC Med 26 x 2.3quot; $60 $27.95 Tomac Nevegal 26 x 2.35” $65 $31.50
PC 991 PowerLink GXP BlackBox
9-Speed Chain Msrp: $45.95 Ceramic BB Msrp: $199.95
Free Shipping on Orders over $89 in the U.S.!*
294 Depot St. Andes, NY 13731. Phone Hours: M-Th 9-9, Fri 9-6, Sat 9-1 (EST). Prices are subject to change without notice. We are not responsible for misprints or errors in descriptions or prices. Specs
on bikes and builds may change due to availability. Prices may vary between our store, magazine ads, and website. Prices do not include shipping. *Free shipping to orders over $89.00 to the Conti-
nental US excluding POB, AK, HI, & oversized items. International customers call 1.845.676.4440. Visa, MC, Amex, Discover, and PayPal accepted. Email: info@greenﬁshsports.com
orn in Vernon, British Columbia,
on February 20, 1979, Ryan Leech
started mountain biking at 13.
Ryan raced cross-country and downhill,
but all that changed the day he attended
a Hans Rey trials show.
“I was amazed at Hans’ bike handling 12
skills,” says Leech. “I immediately started
learning the moves.” Soon he was com-
peting in and winning most of the con-
tests he entered, including winning a
national championship when he was 16.
Around the same time, Ryan accepted 1. Norco Fluid LT,
an offer to join a trials team, and he six-inch travel,
began performing in shows. It turned aluminum frame.
into a profession that Ryan never “I only wanted to have
planned for. Today, Ryan produces his
own trials shows, including booking, set-
one mountain bike that
does well in all kinds of
ting up the obstacles, doing all the riding mountain biking. I like the
and signing autographs for his legion of uninterrupted seat tube
fans. He puts on about 200 shows a year because you can raise the
and has been doing it for ten years. saddle for cross-country riding
Back in 2000 and 2001, Cirque de and slam it down for trials.”
Soleil hired Ryan to dance his bike
around the stage in their “La Nouba” 2. Marzocchi 55 ATA fork, six-inch 6. Shimano XTR disc brakes,
show in Florida. His riding has also been travel. six-inch rotors.
featured in over 25 videos. Ryan’s latest “I chose it because I can lower it for “They’re light, strong, durable, and
trials film, “Crux,” won the People’s climbing, but it can still handle bike have great modulation when inching the
Choice Award at the Banff International parks or a downhill setting.” wheel forward in tight situations.
Mountain Film Festival last fall. They’re also strong enough to handle
In shows, Leech uses a special bike 3. Marzocchi Roco Air TST shock. long downhills at bike parks.”
that is designed only for trials. But when “I like that I can adjust it for climbing
not doing shows, Ryan gets back to his or for downhill. It’s a perfect, all-around 7. FSA Gravity Light seatpost.
roots and rides a Norco Fluid LT with a shock.”
few special “trials-friendly” touches. He 8. WTB Devo SLT saddle.
seeks out the most technically challeng- 4. FSA Orbit Xtreme headset. “Comfy, simple and durable.”
ing trails he can find, with rocks, logs
and other obstacles for him to utilize his 5. Kenda Nevegal tires with Stick- 9. Shimano XTR front derailleur.
trials skills. His current hometown of E Rubber, 26x2.35 inches.
Port Moody, British Columbia, is his “I like riding on slippery logs, and I 10. Shimano XTR cranks, 170-mil-
favorite place to ride, but he adds, “I like need the absolute traction and grip. limeter length.
riding wherever I’m at.” Here’s the bike These tires provide better traction than “The XTR cranks are incredibly
Ryan uses for trail riding: anything else I’ve ridden.” strong. They can take endless abuse!”
19 Weight: 31.5 pounds
16 Price: $6000
11. Shimano XTR chainrings, 22T
and 32T, used with an e.thirteen
bashguard instead of a large chain-
“In technical terrain with logs and 14. Shimano XTR chain. 19. ODI Lock-On grips.
rocks and steep roll-offs, having the extra “Since I’m a spoiled pro and can get a “I’m pretty picky with grips. They have
chainring clearance makes a big differ- new bike every year, I never have to to be grippy in all types of weather. They
ence.” worry about replacing chains. I know can’t be bumpy or too hard, and when
those XTR chains last for a few seasons, positioning the screws of the Lock-On,
12. Shimano XTR rear wheel. though—no problem.quot; they have to be twisted so they don’t con-
“It’s incredible how light but strong tact my hands.”
this wheel is. I use this wheel for uses far 15. Shimano XTR Shadow rear
beyond what it’s rated for and have had derailleur. 20. Shimano XTR cassette, 11-32
zero issues.” “The low profile of this design lowers teeth.
the chance of whacking it on tight
13. Shimano XT front wheel. rocks.” 21. Kenda inner tubes, Schrader
“I chose the XT wheel because the style, standard thickness.
XTR wheel doesn’t come with a 20-mil- 16. FSA Gravity Light stem,
limeter axle option for my Marzocchi 70-millimeter, six-degree rise. 22. Shimano DX pedals with the
fork. I always drill my rims out for long pins.
Schrader-valve tubes. Then at least I 17. Shimano XTR Rapidfire “Pedals are crucial for me. These are
have the option of using presta or shifters. just the right size, allowing my shoes to
Schrader when I’m out in the middle of curl over the front and back just a little.
the woods with a flat.” 18. FSA Gravity Light handlebar. They’re comfortable, grippy and light.” ❏
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 121
the Original MTB Mail Order Guys, ADs in Every MBA Since Issue#1 circa 1986
STILL Downhill Gloves & PROTECTION
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Tough going: Despite
being the budget model in
Commencal’s lineup, its
ing performance is evident.
The Commencal Supreme DH
wenty years ago, Max Commencal started ripped down our favorite shuttle trails. Here are some per-
Commencal bicycles. During that time, his line of formance highlights.
mountain bikes evolved to include everything from Ergonomics: In the saddle, you’ll immediately notice the
cross-country hardtails to eight-inch-travel downhill bikes. 32-inch standover height, which at first seems on the high
Although he’s had some top talent riding for him in recent side and a bit imposing. The two-inch-rise, 27-inch-wide
years (Anne Caroline Chausson and Cedric Gracia), in 2008 Commencal De Luxe handlebar feels too tall and is on the
his Andorra-based brand became even more visible as broth- narrow side for a competitive, downhill-specific build.
er and sister duo Gee and Rachel Atherton each captured Pedaling: A redeeming quality of single-pivot suspension
Downhill World Championships aboard their Commencal designs is efficient pedaling, and this trait is evident with the
Supreme DH World Cup edition bikes. We got our hands on Supreme DH. The 45-pound rig wouldn’t be described as a
one of these Supreme DH bikes for a test. snappy accelerator, and the Marzocchi suspension is very
active front and rear, but when putting down the power at
WHO IS IT MADE FOR? speed on a racecourse, the Supreme DH’s pedaling ability
The Supreme DH is a pure downhill performance shines through. The Truvativ Ruktion cranks use a 38-tooth
machine. With eight inches of front and rear wheel travel, chainring and an MRP G2 chainguide. We inevitably banged
the Supreme DH is for serious downhill competitors or the cranks on rocks and logs, but never saw any lin-
those who spend a lot of time riding lift-accessible trails. gering effects on the crank arms or pedal threads.
Commencal offers three complete models of the Technical descents: Commencal suggests
Supreme DH, all sharing the same frame: the optimum sag for the Supreme is 30 per-
the $6000 Team Replica, the $7999 cent. After setting sag, we dialed in the
Supreme DH WC, and our $4499 Supreme Marzocchi spring rate and rebound on the
DH test bike. fork. Since our local trails are often tight
with a lot of cornering, we opted
WHAT IS IT MADE OF? for the shorter of the two
The aluminum wheelbase options. The
Supreme DH is a sin- Supreme DH stakes its
gle-pivot design that claim as a World Cup-
uses Commencal’s caliber design when the
Contact System rock- trail turns downward.
er-link suspension. Commencal’s Contact
The Contact System is System rocker link sus-
engineered to provide pension gobbles up brak-
a progressive feel in the ing bumps, trail chatter,
rear and control the shock and repetitive hard-edged
ratio. It’s available in two hits, helping you feel in com-
sizes: small/medium and large/extra large. plete control on taxing terrain.
Racers who like to tweak and customize their setup have Aboard the bike, your weight is centered, which puts you in
the ability to adjust the Supreme’s head angle by one degree a proper position to attack technical trails. With the Supreme
(either steeper or slacker), the wheelbase by about a half- DH, you simply point and shoot through gnarly terrain and
inch, and the rear disc brake mount to tune how the rear trust the suspension to handle the load. The 32-inch stand-
suspension performs under braking forces. over height hinders the bike’s agility, but on steep, rocky ter-
rain, the Supreme remains balanced and stable. The center of
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT? gravity on the Supreme is around the bottom bracket; so
The Supreme DH is Commencal’s most affordable com- pumping terrain is an easy and efficient way to find more
plete downhill rig and is spec’d with a variety of tough, mid- speed when pedaling is not an option. The 17-inch chain-
level components to get the job done. The Marzocchi 888 stays are on the shorter side, which is great when you need
RC3 has 38-millimeter stanchions, features a direct-mount to manual or lift the front end. Lateral stiffness is an under-
stem, and has adjustable rebound, high-and-low compression, stated characteristic of the Supreme’s single-pivot design.
and air volume adjust. The coil-sprung Marzocchi Roco R One word describes the Marzocchi suspension on this
shock has a lot of tunability, including Trail Selection bike: active. Traction was always at a premium aboard the
Technology, rebound, spring preload and air-assisted bottom- Supreme, as an active shock and fork kept the wheels stuck
out resistance. Avid’s Code 5 brakes have World-Cup-level to the track. The Supreme’s geometry is dialed for downhill
stopping power—and set up with eight-inch rotors, they will terrain, and as the trail becomes faster and steeper, the
really keep your speed in check. The Code 5 brakes feature bike’s descending proficiency shows.
Avid’s Juicy lever, rather than the wider-bladed Code lever. Cornering: As with pumping sections of trail, the
Supreme is very balanced in corners as a result of the low
HOW DOES IT PERFORM? center of gravity. You can drive the wheels into off-camber
Although designed in Andorra for World Cup-level ter- corners and simply let the ultra-versatile Kenda Nevegal
rain, the Commencal Supreme DH made itself at home on downhill tires do their thing. The two-inch riser handlebar
our downhill trails. We raced it throughout California and is on the tall side, which forces you to exaggerate when get-
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 125
ting your weight over the front of the bike to stick the front
end into a turn. However, after a few rides it becomes habit.
Braking: Avid’s Code 5 brakes are built for keeping
downhill bikes under control. You can only ride as fast as
you can stop, and the Codes will keep your speed in check
if you’re riding on the edge. The suspension does stiffen
under braking forces, but this is usually only noticeable
when entering a whooped-out corner full of braking
bumps. The Supreme DH has three rear brake mount
options that alter the angle of force applied to the rear
wheel and suspension. We preferred the first setting (in
which the suspension has moderate squat under braking)
for better and more predictable handling. Tune in: Just because the Supreme DH has a rather basic sin-
gle-pivot suspension design, don’t think it lacks customization.
The head angle, wheel base and rear brake mount all have a
TWEAKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS? range of tuning adjustments that can better match the bike for
We could complain about the Supreme’s 45-pound weight, the terrain at hand.
but that wouldn’t be fair to this $4500, race-ready machine.
We did, however, have some trouble with the MRP chain- BUYING ADVICE
guide. After just a couple of rides we bent the mounting We’re not sure what the best thing about the Commencal
plate, causing it to rub the inside of the crank spider. The Supreme DH is. Is it the fact that you get a dependable,
two-inch-rise handlebar was another universally frowned ready-to-roll downhill racer for $4500, or that it slays steep,
upon component choice. Downhillers are going to great gnarly downhill trails? The Supreme has a rather basic sin-
lengths to reduce the axle-to-handlebar height, and these gle-pivot suspension design, yet a variety of additional hi-tech
were unnecessarily tall. Thankfully, a wide, low-rise alu- tweaks and adjustments allow you to create a customized
minum handlebar is an easy and affordable fix. feel. All three of Commencal’s Supreme DH bikes share the
If you spend a lot of time riding at mountain bike resorts, same World Championship-winning frame, so whether you’re
you will want to carry all the necessary tools, and maybe even setting your sights on the rainbow stripes like Gee and
a small pair of pliers in your hydration pack, because there is Rachel, or just looking to put in a ton of laps at your local
a lot going on at the rear dropouts. Removing and installing resort, there’s a Commencal Supreme that fits your budget.❑
the rear wheel takes some practice and a third hand.
COMMENCAL SUPREME DH
Country of origin Taiwan
Weight 45 pounds
Hotline (800) 558-8324
Frame tested Small/medium
Bottom bracket height 14.5quot;
Chainstay length 17.3quot;
Top tube length 23quot;
Head tube angle 65°
Seat tube angle 72°
Standover height 32quot;
Suspension travel (front) 8quot;
Suspension travel (rear) 8quot;
Frame material Aluminum
Fork Marzocchi 888 RC3
Shock Marzocchi Roco R
Rims Sun Ringle Equalizer
Tires Kenda Nevegal (2.5quot;)
Brakes Avid Code 5
Crankset Truvativ Ruktion
Handlebar Commencal (27”)
Shifters SRAM X.7
Front derailleur MRP G2 chainguide
Rear derailleur SRAM X.7
Shared greatness: The Supreme DH shares the same frame Chainrings Truvativ 38T
and suspension design that captured two professional downhill Cassette SRAM PG990 (12-27)
world championships in 2008. That pedigree builds confidence Pedals None (weighed w/Shimano DX)
and removes excuses.
Let The Season
The Kenda Cup
he official USA Cycling Pro
T Cross-Country Tour by
Sho-Air kicked off in
Southridge, California, the first of
seven events that will crown men’s
and women’s cross-country series
champions and men’s and
women’s Super–D champions. The
Pro Tour events take place within
the Kenda Cup West and East
Mountain Bike Race Series
presented by Specialized, where
amateur riders chase class
Although not part of the Pro
Tour or Kenda Cup events,
Fontana hosted amateur and pro-
fessional downhill and mountain-
cross events to bring all the differ-
ent disciplines together at
Fontana’s Southridge Park.
These are the riders that left an
Crowd control: Fontana’s infamous wall
had not been used for a national event in
years. Its reopening brought dread to many
a competitor’s heart. The brutal climb was
made worse by heavy traffic. Over 100 men
started the professional cross-country.
World Cup winner
Catherine Pendrel made
sure the Luna Team
would stand on the top
two podium steps by
Full moto: Adam Craig loves rid- finishing less than two
ing, and it shows. Adam jumps minutes behind the race
where others fear to tread. His leader. The Luna
aggressive style is backed up Women’s MTB Team
with great physical conditioning. gets it done.
Adam is building an army of fans
not seen since the Tomac days.
Rock star: The Fontana
course threw many chal-
lenging sections at the
riders. Sid Taberlay
almost sands down
his shoulder at
just after the
What ifs: Todd Wells snapped the chain on his prototype Specialized
S-Works Stumpjumper HT Disc 29er and played catch up all day. He
passed 103 surprised riders to finish in tenth place.
Sam the Man: Fisher’s Sam Schultz needs one big cross-country
national win and the confidence that comes along with it to make
himself untouchable. We said the same thing about Geoff Kabush
eight years ago.
Georgia on my mind: Georgia Gould played with the
women’s Pro field until she got bored and motored away.
The 29-year-old from Ketchum, Idaho, looks again to be
the one to beat. Heather Irmiger (5) looks on in frustration.
Carry on: Kris
upheld the Kona
Teammates: Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, 14th, after Ryan
at 31 years old, is one of the elders of Trebon couldn’t
the cross-country racing tribe. He used make the start due
Fontana to show his protégé (Sam to a broken frame
Schultz) the way to the podium. suffered the day
before the event.
Quick release: Sam Jurekovic had his
day cut short when a titanium quick-
release skewer snapped on the first lap.
Unable to take outside assistance, Sam Reason to suffer: If a cross-country race lasts two hours, what’s so important
finished the lap on foot. about the first two minutes? Everything. Riding ahead of the initial chaos can
give race leaders an immediate gap of minutes.
Late arrival: Canada’s Max Plaxton did-
n’t have a team slot just weeks before
the opening round. Scott Tedro, owner
of Team Sho-Air, signed him and Max
gave Tedro a signing bonus: a second
place finish in his first ride for the team.
rld Cup Proven
do rsed, Wo
al Slalo m Natio ain Cros
2008 Du 00 6 Mount
05 and 2
2003, 20 n
National Champio Champio
-Cros s World l Slalom
2004 4 -Straight
2008 Jeep 48 al D ownhill C s
3 Nation BMX Tit
1999 and 200 d World
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Mult iple Nat k de signer an
Ra ce prom
26 x 2.5 WIR E BEAD D DTC
26 x 2.35 G BEA
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26 x 2.3 FOLD ING DTC
26 x 2 FOL DING B
26 x 1.9
des the Ex ill class!
eam GT) ri Downh
Hannah (T men’s Pro
WS FLA SH - Mick up silver in
NE orld C
and UCI W
DOWNHILL ACTION THE OTHER RACE
The gloveless one: Canada’s Emily
Batty used winter training in Tucson,
Arizona, to beat the deep-snow blues Pink power: Kathy Pruitt put down a
and came to Fontana ready to rage. solid run for second place in the women’s
She did. pro downhill on the lung-busting Fontana
Young ripper: Youngster Brad Oien contin- course.
ues to mature riding his way into fifth place
in the Men’s Pro downhill. Not bad for a kid
from Huntington Beach, California, where
the biggest downhill is a sand dune.
Not again!: Geoff Kabush has been
pretty much untouchable on North
American soil the last few years, and if Vet Pro: Eric Carter is still winning
the season opener is any indication, downhill races at the tender age of 39
nothing is going to change soon. Geoff Gone again: If winning ever gets boring, years old. No, he doesn’t race the Vet
toyed with the men’s field like a cat and KHS’ Melissa Buhl is one bored racer. She class. He beats all the kids fair and
mouse. again cleaned house at Fontana. square.
DOWNHILL ACTION THE OTHER RACE
Crowd pleaser: While not part of a national series, the downhill attracted a large and
vocal audience. The large crowd softened the blow of riders who shot off the course.
Fontana KENDA CUP FONTANA NATIONAL RESULTS
MEN’S CROSS-COUNTRY MEN’S SUPER D
1. Geoff Kabush, Team Maxxis/Rocky 1. Carl Decker, Giant, 10:05.03
Mtn., 1:50:36 2. Adam Craig, Giant, 10:05.39
2. Max Plaxton, Sho-Air/Specialized, 3. Travis Livermon, Champion S, 10:21.82
1:51:19 4. Aaron Bradford, Onsite Ultra, 10:36.11
3. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, Subaru/Gary 5. Ryan Woodall, Dedicated Athlete,
Fisher, 1:52:14 10:38.50
4. Sam Schultz, Subaru/Gary Fisher,
1:52:15 WOMEN’S SUPER D
5. Adam Craig, Giant, 1:52:50 1. Kelli Emmett, Giant, 12:14.29
6. Sid Taberlay, Sho-Air/Specialized, 2. Sue Butler, Monavie/Cannondale,
7. Derek Zandstra, 3 Rox Racing, 1:55:17 3. Anina Aaron, Kenda/KMC, 12:50.84
8. Seamus McGrath, Jamis, 1:55:56 4. Maureen Kunz, Lost Coast, 13:23.58
9. Jeremiah Bishop, 5. Sarah Kaufmann, Titus, 13:37.58
10. Todd Wells, Specialized, 1:56:12
DOWNHILL PRO MEN
WOMEN’S CROSS-COUNTRY 1 Eric Carter, GT Bicycles, 2:11.2
1. Georgia Gould, Luna Women, 1:35:15 2. Kevin Aiello, GT Bicycles, 2:11.6
2. Catherine Pendrel, Luna Women, 3. Cameron Cole, Maxxis/Rocky
1:36:49 Mountain, 2:12.9
3. Heather Irmiger, Subaru/Gary Fisher, 4. Cody Warren, Specialized, 2:12.9
1:38:20 5. Brad Oien, ODI/Southridge/Turner,
4. Emily Batty, Trek Bicycle Store, 1:39:59 2:13.9
5. Willow Koerber, Subaru/Gary Fisher,
1:41:23 DOWNHILL PRO WOMEN
6. Amanda Sin, 3 Rox Racing, 1:41:25 1. Melissa Buhl, KHS Bicycles, 2:30.2
7. Kelli Emmett, Giant, 1:44:27 2. Kathy Pruitt, Jamis, 2:36.0
8. Pua Sawicki, Ellsworth, 1:45:04 3. Sabrina Jonnier, Maxxis/Rocky
On a roll: Seventeen-year-old Kevin Aiello
9. Melanie McQuaid, Sho-Air/Specialized, Mountain, 2:37.0
continued his excellent rookie pro season with
a second place in downhill. After this event his 1:45:28 4. Jennifer Wolf, Vixxen, 2:54.3
focus turns to the World Cup circuit. 10. Allison, Mann, IE Bikes 1:46:56 5. Michelle Rivera, Marin, 2:55.3
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 139
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July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 141
his issue we focused on trail
T riding jerseys and shorts from
some of the most innovative
brands. Below you’ll find trail-riding
kits to enhance your experience.
1 gear onRacing: You’ve likely seen Fox Racing
the likes of Kirt Voreis and Cam McCaul,
ranging from downhill to trail bike kits. The Fox
Flow jersey is made from 100-percent polyester
and has two side zip pockets, a sunglass wipe
sewn in at the hem, and custom pockets for inter- 2
nal cord routing for MP3 players. The Fox Attack
short is 95-percent polyester and 5-percent
Spandex twill knit. This short features zippered
front pockets and has an adjustable waist, elimi-
nating the need for a belt. Flow jersey $69,
Attack short $129, (888) 772-2242.
2 seyOakley: The short-sleeve, regular-fit Plate jer-
from Oakley is made from 100-percent poly-
ester and has three back pockets, plus a half-zip
back closure. The Ballistic short has been an
MBA favorite for years, and the latest version of
this 100-percent nylon short has a removable
mesh liner with a high-density chamois, front
mesh vents, a stretch fly, belt loops and an
adjustable static waistline. Plate jersey $75,
Ballistic short $125, (800) 431-1439.
3 Specialized features casual style and hasfrom
Specialized: The loose-fit Trail Top
Specialized’s Fieldsensor fabric that pulls mois-
ture away from the skin. Specialized’s Trail Short
has all of the essentials you’ll need for all-day
comfort on the trail. For 2009, the Trail Short is
two inches shorter, is 100-percent nylon, and has
a removable chamois liner. The waistband is elas-
tic with a draw cord, and the zippered pockets
keep small items secure. Trail Top $80, Trail
Short $95, (877) 808-8154.
4 from TLD is Designs: The short-sleeve XC Jersey
made from breathable, moisture-
wicking fabric, has a zippered collar, three cargo
pockets and one hidden zipper pocket on the back
of the jersey. Troy Lee’s XC Air Shorts are made
from 450 Denier polyester, have side cargo pock-
ets, and mesh panels for ventilation. Spandex
stretch panels are utilized in the side and rear
seat areas for increased comfort. XC Jersey $65,
XC Air Short $88, (951) 371-5219.
5 fashion and functionFew companies combine
like Oakley, and their grow-
ing women’s mountain biking apparel line
includes the 100-percent polyester Cable Tank
jersey, featuring three top-entry back pockets and
one side-entry zip pocket. The women’s Sprocket
short is 95-percent polyester and five-percent
Spandex. Has an integrated chamois, and the
back pockets have flap closures. Cable Tank jer-
sey $40, Sprocket short $85, (800) 431-1439.
6 sey from Royalcasual-cut Ventilator jer-
has a sweat-wicking,
quick-drying polyester fabric and a 3/4
zipper neck. The Royal Rivet short is an
aggressive riding short made from 600
Denier polyester, has a snap waste clo-
sure, waterproof zippered pockets, and a
sweat-wicking liner. Ventilator jersey
$69, Rivet short $119, (888) 520-
7 sleeve jersey made from moisture-wick-
Dakine: The MTN Shield is a short-
ing polyester and has an eyewear
chamois at the inseam. Dakine’s Skyline
short is also made from moisture-wick-
ing polyester and has a back stretch
panel, zippered hand pockets, inner leg
vents and a 15-inch inseam. MTN
Shield jersey $45, Syncline short
$85, (541) 386-3166.
8 Sombrio’s 100-percent Assault jersey
Sombrio: From their Epik fit line,
has a multi-paneled, short-sleeve design;
an anti-bacterial treatment; and a stealth
pocket for electronics and keys. The
Assault is available in both bright white
and pitch-black colorways. Sombrio’s
Lowline short has two lower leg pockets
with laser cut zippers, secure-zip side
cargo pockets, a moisture-wicking waist-
band, a seamless crotch panel, and stur-
dy seam construction. Assault jersey 9
$50, Lowline short $75, (866) 632-
9 O’Neal: Made with Coolmax micro
polyester, O’Neal’s Mayhem jersey is
designed to wick away sweat and keep
you cool. It features an elastic waist and
cuffs, a front hidden zipper and three
rear storage pockets. O’Neal’s Generator
shorts have four-way stretch Coolmax
panels, a seamless crotch, and two stash
pockets. Mayhem jersey $39,
Generator shorts $69, (800) 326-
DOWN THE TRAIL
he trails were just starting to feel
T the summer heat when the MBA
wrecking crew received a surprise.
Cannondale supplied us with an early
release of their 2000 Raven dual-suspension,
cross-country race bike/trailbike hybrid. We
hit the dirt.❑
Take the high road: The asymmetrical swingarm had
the right side chain stay dropping down to allow
derailleur clearance, while the left side took a more
direct route. The lack of cantilever brake bosses showed
Cannondale’s faith in the future of disc brakes.
Hear it comes: The Raven never snuck up on any trail user. The hollow
carbon monocoque frame would be a welcome addition to any drum cir-
cle. It amplified every ping and ding along the trail.
No twist: Cannondale was sensitive
towards criticism, so they made sure the Thinner and longer: The main frame was made from twin halves of thin, ther-
Lefty fork met or exceeded the torsional moplastic carbon fiber surrounding a central spine of magnesium. The cockpit
and bending stiffness of all comers. was lengthened based on rider input.