What kind of mountain bike do you need to send it big at the Red Bull Rampage? We take a closer look at several of the custom bike builds and unique setups rocking the Rampage today down the brutal cliffs of the Virgin, Utah desert – from modified downhill, freeride & enduro bikes to custom paint jobs for all…
Custom freeride mountain bikes of the 2021 Red Bull Rampage
In a word, it takes a big bike to compete at the Red Bull Rampage – which is going down right now! Watch it live here. We gave you a sense of the scale of this insane event yesterday, but it’s really hard to understand the context unless you stand at both the top & bottom of the desert clifs.
What we can tell you is that whether on full DH bikes, freeride bikes, or what looks like modified enduro bikes, you need a lot of courage to go with all that travel (and probably a diminished sense of self-preservation!)
Many riders now compete in the Rampage on carbon downhill bikes. But they are almost all modified, and not all are even the latest generation. Carson Storch’s carbon Maiden DH bike isn’t even in Rocky Mountain’s current line-up.
But it does still get a pretty cool custom paintjob, reminding Storch to “Ride or Die”.
Drivetrains are all 1x setups with chain guides, but also most often reduced to just a few gears out back to maximise chain retention when gearing range isn’t a concern.
Whether 27.5 or 29″ wheels, most rims are alloy (although some are rocking carbon). And most are also running conventional inner tubes with tires pumped up over 30-35psi to make sure the tire stays mounted to the rim even in the case of a bad landing. The low-pressure benefits of tubeless that we all love, go out the window when stability is a bigger concern.
Of course, these are all some of the most capable pro mountain bikers in the world, so there are a lot of custom paint schemes.
Suspension is all over the place with air & coil forks & shocks from many different manufacturers – Riddel is rocking SR Suntour on his full carbon Transition.
But save for 1 rider, everyone looked to opt for 200mm double crown DH racing forks.
Big brakes are in order as well. Everyone was rolling at minimum 200mm rotors and 4-piston brakes. Looking around and Shimano Saint stoppers seemed to be the most popular choice.
Now is Jaxson Riddle running a non-Boost front hub in his red, white & blue themed Industry Nine wheelset? That looks to me like a set of alloy spacers between the hub’s 6-bolt mount and his Shimano rotor!
Vincent Tupin was also on an all-carbon Scott Gambler DH bike, customized with a nice looking set of Hope cranks, and brakes, plus a pared -deon Box drivetrain and a rear FOX air shock.
Cam Zink is one of few riders not to get a unique custom paintjob. He’s riding a blacked-out full carbon DH bike, but not from his Canfield sponsor. Instead, it’s an older generation YT Tues, like we’ve seen dominating in years past on the downhill World Cup circuit.
Brage Vestavik is one of two to ride GT’s carbon & alloy Fury DH bike, finished off with Fox air suspension.
Tyler McCaul is the other on the same carbon & alloy GT Fury DH bike, but he swaps in a Marzocchi Bomber DH fork instead.
Szymon Godziek is another to run Hope cranks & brakes, plus an Öhlins fork on his new alloy NS Fuzz.
Two riders are also on Commencal’s alloy FRS alloy downhill bike, renamed from its old Furious moniker.
Commencal custom finished Andreu Lacondeguy’s FRS & RockShox Boxxer fork to make it look like it had some serious rust issues.
Kyle Strait is riding the exact same bike, but his gets a less worn-looking paintjob – although it does still have some ‘rust’ peeking through its distressed blue & white paint.
Tom Van Steenbergen is also riding an all-aluminum downhill bike. But we’re not really sure if his custom-built alloy prototype Hyper DH bike will ever make it into production, after having been around for a few seasons?
Semenuk’s Rampage-winning Trek Session Park
A few riders were on slightly shorter travel carbon freeride bikes, often when their sponsors didn’t offer a full-on DH bike.
That’s not the case for Brandon Semenuk and his previous model – debuted all the way back in 2014 – carbon & alloy Trek Session Park freeride bike. He prefers the shorter travel version paired to a single crown 190mm RockShox Zeb Ultimate freeride fork, making this bike look more like an enduro setup. But why?
It’s because of the tailwhips. Semenuk has already turned out some killer tricks, and without the double crown DH fork, he was doing some wild, sideways whips too!
Semenuk is also rocking an old-school Mullet on his late-model Session Park, a 26″ rear wheel with a 2.4″ Maxxis Minion DHR II paired to a 27.5″ wheel wrapped in 2.5″ Assegai rubber up front.
Besides the new Zeb, it’s also modern with a wireless SRAM XX1 AXS Eagle derailleur to shift across a tight 7-speed DH range of gears.
Update: Looks like Semenuk made the right call, as his multiple, monster bar spin & tail whips helped net him a 4th Rampage win!
Check out the Rampage-winning runs here!
Kurt Sorge’s Evil Insurgent carbon freeride bike was one of the shortest travel setups out on the cliffs.
But Sorge is still running a proper DH fork with this Boxxer giving him plenty of travel up front.
Reed Boggs was also on a shorter 165mm freeride bike. Actually, we might even call the Yeti SB165 an enduro or park bike, but again that Marzocchi Bomber DH fork plants it firmly in the big freeride category.
And even with the shorter travel out back, it doesn’t seem to be holding Boggs back as he takes on the massive Goblin Drop step down yesterday…
Watch it all go down live right now over at Red Bull TV…