Over the weekend we ran down to the Austrian Alps to catch the 4th round of the UCI Downhill World Cup held at Leogang’s bike park. We spent a couple of days meeting with pro team mechanics and roaming the pits looking for new goodies and came up with quite a few. We’ve got some good features in the works for some DH pro bike checks, but first we’ll jump into some prototypes.
It is always good when you spot a raw aluminum frame rolling through the pits, the sure sign of a testing prototype. This one is a new DH offering in the works from German company Cube whose biggest travel bike currently in production is their 180mm Enduro Fritzz. Hop on past the break for the details we got on this bike, as well as PRO-totypes from Reynolds, Saracen, Shimano, and Bontrager…
Cube’s test machine is said to be near production, with the suspension setup and tube shaping (adapted from the Fritzz) all but finalized, while an integrated rear shock fender will be added and cable routing in the rear end will get polished up before the bike gets any closer to reality. Having been out of the DH game for a year the Two 15 (that’s 215mm of rear travel) looks to be coming back soon with a 650b wheel update . The new bike carries over the split seattube from the previous version, but this time it is to make room for the shock instead of being pierced by the 4-bar suspension. The new bike gets a seatstay bridge that stiffens up the rear end, allowing for an overall frame weight of just 3kg for this prototype. Suspension action seemed incredibly plush, even as this bike was set up for a heavy rider, and the bike was catching a lot of attention from many other pro riders.
We saw a nice little touch on Greg Minnaar’s V10 small front fender. Even with dry conditions on the day of finals, the most common item on everyone’s bikes were the strap on fenders from UK Marsh Guard. It would probably be easier to list the pros not running one of the 12€ fenders, than the other way around. Anyway, Marsh Guard recently added a small extra called The Stash that goes in front of the fork arch to get closer to the tire to better tame front tire spray, and what better way to personalize it for one of the guys who helped develop it than a Stache special edition.
On the FMD Racing bikes of Tahnee Seagrave and Neil Stewart we found some new grips in development from Ergon. They basically look like a single soft compound version of the current GE1 lock on grips. The are kept a bit thinner, but carry over the taper and profiling of the current enduro-targeted grip.
Over in the Pivot Factory DH Team camp we caught a glimpse of some new carbon Reynolds hoops that were getting some racing in, laced up to Industry Nine hubs. The 27.5″ Blacklabel tubeless carbon DH rims are definitely wider than the widest current offering from Reynolds, the AM. The new DH rims look to have at least 35mm in between what looks like hookless beads, and they sport a slightly taller, more v-shaped profile than the AMs.
The Madison Saracen Team was riding team-only Myst Pro bikes with big, straight headtubes set up with custom machined eccentric headsets to be able to adjust the bikes’ geometries. Similar to the Chris King Buzz Works headsets of the Santa Cruz Syndicate, these headsets let the mechanics effectively lengthen or shorten the toptube without affecting the headtube angle. The team mechanics said the intention was to be able to adjust setups depending on the course, but so far the racers have opted for one position and stuck with it. The tell us this is most likely a team-only customization, so the next version of the Myst will probably stick with the tapered headtubes.
Spotted on the Saracen Myst of Sam Dale were a set of new Shimano prototype DH pedals. These are apparently a few generations through prototyping and include some interesting bits. The main body is composed of a machined aluminum SPD mechanism with a pretty sizable set of extensions that provide support for the rotation of the composite outer body. The outer body is a slick composite to help it slide over obstacles, but is capped off with a stainless plate on either end for durability and to hold 4 screw-in pins on each side. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a new DH pedal from Shimano, so hopefully this will materialize in time for the fall trade shows.
Lastly is another bit of pro-only kit, seen on just one bike, that of Kiwi champ George Brannigan. While all of the rest of the Trek World Racing team were running 203mm rotors up from and 180mm ones in the back, Brannigan prefers the bigger rotors all around. Combine the big rotor, super high speeds, and the lightweight Session frame and there is apparently a small opportunity for resonant vibrations in the frame if you are at the top of the sport. So to combat vibrations, Bontrager cooked up a vibration damper based on the same technology they were putting in the ends of road handle bars. Essentially a small brass weight, captured in a rubber baffle, it moves back and forth to counter the vibration. The tech seems to have been licensed by Trek/Bontrager from Bose where it was developed for speakers. The dampener is then bolted to the brake with a small aluminum bracket. In reality these have almost no chance of making it to the end consumer. Speaking with a team mechanic who ride the same bike and has tried the bigger rotors, he couldn’t recreate the vibrations. And since the entire rest of the team doesn’t need them, it comes down to just Brannigan. It looks like he is the only one who needs it, so he is the one who gets it.