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We featured previous World Champion and Olympic Gold medalist Jaroslav Kulhavý S-Works Epic last year at the Méribel World Cup, but several things have changed since last season, plus this weekend he rode his new bike for the win at the first cross country round of the UCI World Cup at his home country race in Nové Město na Moravě, Czech Republic. His mechanics walked us through what they were calling a mostly stock bike build, with pretty much everything on the bike available to consumers. They also noted right off the bat that the crazy looking saddle angle was not a mistake, as Kulhavý favors this for better positioning while climbing. Kulhavý also has had a few injuries over the last year and seems to have tilted his Phenom saddle even more to this -14° angle that ends up pointing down directly towards his stem. The mechanics shrugged their shoulders a bit, saying who are they to question him when he’s winning.

Read on after the break for some more unique details and the bike’s actual race weight at the start of the season…

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Riding in a Czech National Champion kit with rainbow stripes from his previous world championship, so far this year Kulhavý is sticking with a completely stock S-Works Epic 29 World Cup frameset and the Specialized-only RockShox RS-1 with Brain internals, without any custom paint job as in years past. The RS-1 fork does get its travel reduced down to 90mm to give a lower front-end and slightly quicker handling to match the 95mm of travel of the WC frame.

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The newly updated S-Works Phenom saddle is held in place with a 25mm offset Truvativ Noir T40 seatpost with an aluminum head, which was necessary to get that steep, roughly -14° saddle angle. The two bolt layout of the head lets the Specialized mechanics flip the lower cradle around to get the angle needed and conveniently lines up the clamp markings, back into normal territory (which can’t be accommodated by any of the Specialized post configurations.) Also because of a combination of the extended position of the front bolt, the flexibility of the saddle, and Kulhavý’s forward climbing position, he has mechanics fix a piece of hard foam under the saddle as a bumper to keep from bottoming out. Kulhavý doesn’t get custom paint for now, but at least gets a small name decal, as if the saddle position wasn’t enough to denote his bikes.

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His aggressive positioning puts him in the slam-your-stem club, with the top bearing cover of the headset removed to get down every last millimeter. While it looks like there is a spacer under the stem, it is actually an integral part of the adjustable 17° S-Works CLP Multi Stem that lets mechanics set the angle down even more to -21°. Braking is handled by SRAM Guide RSC brakes for now, but will likely be swapped out for the Ultimate version once they are available to the team. The excellent ESI Chunky grips carry over, as we found on a number of other pro bikes we saw. Tires for the damp course conditions were the same S-Works Fast Traks that were on his bike last year, but without custom labels. The team races on a special pro-only sticky rubber compound, making them one of the only things on the bike not available to the public.

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SRAM Guide brakes and Roval Control SL 29 wheels are standard, but the pro team mechanics had swapped out the Maxle QR for the lighter 7075 X-Lock bolt-on option from Carbon-Ti. Out back to keep hose routing a bit more tidy and secure, mechanics have zip-tied the brake line to the Brain to keep it close to the stays when the suspension compresses.

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With an XX1 drivetrain, Kulhavý used a 36T X1 X-Sync chainring to mate to the standard 104BCD of the newer S-Works Carbon Mountain cranks with an integrated spider. Team mechanics fitted a custom made chainguide that mounts to the main suspension pivot to prevent chain drops on the root-covered Nové Město course, the morning before the race began (earlier shots and weight from the day before don’t include it yet.) Since Specialized in not sponsored by Shimano, even with the new groupset readily available Kulhavý sticks with tried and trusted M980 XTR pedals.

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Total bike weight as it was ready to race was 10.39kg (22.91lbs) putting it mid-pack of the full-suspension race bikes we weighed over the weekend. While it can’t be seen, the mechanics are moving the team completely over to all Ceramic Speed bearings wherever they can. This bike had only gotten the new bottom bracket in time for the first World Cup, but will have new derailleur pulleys and wheel bearings in time for Albstadt.

25 COMMENTS

  1. The older stock sworks bike was lighter with a front derailleur. What happened?

    Also, I think this bloke needs a bigger bike, shorter lower stem. But I’m sure he knows what he’s doing 😉

  2. I have a trial question about kulavy 🙂
    Long time strava users may remember his photo used as screensaver while the app was loading.
    He is pictured riding a specialzd road bike, but wearing shoes from the competition 🙂
    Name the shoe brand to win 🙂

  3. Btw kulavy, shurter and most of the top xco males, do have hidden chainguards since 2013. When things get muddy, 1X chain drops…

  4. The chainguide is shown in one photo, not on the bike in another. WTF is going on, Bikerumor? (deleted)
    Editor’s note: You are right; the chainguide was installed just prior to the race, while we shot the other pics the day before.

  5. @J

    the RS-1 happened… that thing isn’t light, especially with the torque tube hub. Nothing like a 1+lb weight hit for a worse steering, harsher, slower wheel change fork.

  6. The bike is a Large first of all.

    The RS 1 (deleted) shock is where some of the additional weight is coming from compared to last years. He has a chainguide, and those sram brakes. That’s your 22.9lbs.

    seat angle is like that on a lot of the WC riders. Not quite so drastic but nino’s, Julians are way nose down also. It keeps them more level on the bike as they climb seated.

  7. Anyone notice that the actual rider’s position on the bike is totally normal? Why get your panties in a bunch over how he gets there?

  8. awesome bike with some ‘unique’ setup, great to see what the pro’s ride

    I ride a Stumpjumper Marathon carbon (hard tail) with an “evo” setup for XC trails not as unique as this pro bike but a great ride

  9. Nice to see a real weight for this bike. Too many mfg claim weights that consumers will never see. Without trick parts your WC Epic will likely be 23-24lbs in a large size. Ride it and have fun. Just don’t expect it to be 20lbs.

  10. Satis and Holee right. Obviously pro’s aint’ sitting here yapping about bike pics and a pro don’t need the lightest of light to win a world freakin cup. I have ridden the RS1 compared to SID WC and Fox and it is WAY stiffer steering, but as everyone knows, it is way heavier and way more expensive, so RS got one thing. Maybe they can get back to work on refining design?

  11. Why bother with an RS1 when you can just ride a Giant with Overdrive 2. Ive ridden both, the RS is similar but doesnt have the advantages of a standard fork.

    Giant were first to market with tapered forks. Overdrive 2 is the ravens beak.

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