Women’s enduro racing is tighter than ever. At the EWS season finale in the Tweed Valley. Scotland, just 00.32 seconds separated Trek Factory Racing’s Hattie Harnden and Ibis Factory Racing’s Bex Baraona, who clinched the win. Further back, 50 seconds separated the top 10 women over this 30 minute race, making the women’s racing just as tight, if not tighter than the men’s field. This raises some serious questions around athlete pay checks, as it is still the case that the top men are often paid twice as much as the top women, for doing the same job (as highlighted by a recent Gowaan Girls video that i’ll post at the bottom of this article for those interested).
I’m super stoked on the topic, hence that minor digression. The point I’m trying to make is, watching the racing is more exciting than ever, thanks to up and coming racers, like Estelle Charles and Ella Conolly. These women, along with so many others, are a driving force behind the growth in women’s mountain biking, giving the field incredible depth in talent, skill and determination. And, their bikes are SICK! Here’s more on Estelle’s as-of-yet unreleased Rossignol Heretic and Ella’s gravity-cavity rocking Cannondale Jekyll.
Pro Bike Check: Estelle Charles’ Rossignol Heretic
- Rider: Estelle Charles
- Nationality: French
- 2021 Season Best Result: 5th at Crans Montana
- Bike Model: Rossignol Heretic Prototype
- Height: 154cm
- Weight: 52kg
You’ll be far more familiar with Rossignol from the world of Skiing, of course. The brand is now diversifying into mountain biking with the all-new 160mm travel Heretic enduro bike, with prototypes raced by Estelle Charles and her brother Clement at the 2021 EWS. The Heretic runs an alloy frame with a Horst-Link suspension platform.
Though she runs her small frame setup in the mullet configuration with a 29″ fork, Estelle tells us the Rossignol Heretic will be a fixed geometry 29er in frame sizes medium and large, dropping to a complete 27.5″ for the S and XS frames. Expect the bike to make it to production in 2022.
Fast suspension delivers 160mm of front and rear travel, with the SC4 damper cartridge for the former slid into a FOX 36 chassis. Here, it offers external adjustment of low- and mid-speed compression damping, the former for comfort and grip, the latter for managing braking dive and mid-stroke support. The fork runs an air spring, with 58 PSI and 2 tokens.
Estelle rides their Fenix Evo coil shock on the rear with a 450 lbs/in steel spring, featuring a climb switch and external adjustment for low-, mid- and high-speed compression damping, as well as rebound.
Pro Bike Check: Ella Conolly’s Cannondale Jekyll
- Rider: Ella Conolly
- Nationality: British
- 2021 Season Best Result: 5th at Val di Fassa
- Bike Model: 2021 Cannondale Jekyll
- Height: 165cm
- Weight: 65kg
Ella Conolly rides a small 29″ Cannondale Jekyll enduro bike, updated this year with an all-new high-pivot suspension platform complete with rearward axle path and chain idler. Upfront she opts for a 170mm travel RockShox Lyrik Ultimate fork, in place of the 38mm stanchion ZEB the stock bike comes with.
That’s paired with a Super Deluxe Ultimate rear shock, housed within the gravity-cavity created by the downtube’s unique twin spar design. That delivers 165mm of rear wheel travel; Ella’s shock is custom-tuned to the Light Linear Tune. That tune allows her to run 140 PSI, setting the rebound at 4 clicks from fastest and the low speed compression at 3 clicks from open.
Ella Conolly runs a 20mm rise, 760mm carbon handlebar from e*Thirteen, paired with a 40mm stem. Fabric Funguy grips, Fabric S-Line saddle, and Crankbrothers Mallet-E (long spindle) pedals complete the contact points.
Gowaan Gals: The Rise of the Women of Enduro