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Pro Bike Checks: XC World Cup’s fastest mountain bikes, Valero’s MMR Kenta & Absalon’s BMC Fourstroke prototype

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We’ll finish our World Cup XC bike coverage for the day with the mountain bikes of the two elite men to round out the podium behind Nino Schurter. David Valero earned a second place racing a MMR Kenta 29 that appears to have longer than standard travel, and not on the new short-travel XC prototype that some others on his MMR Factory Racing team were riding. Then perennial favorite Julien Absalon came in third on a BMC Fourstroke 01 that was sporting a prototype Impec upper suspension link, that we’d be curious whether will cross over onto future production bikes. Get a closer look at both bikes after the jump…

David Valero – MMR Kenta 29

As we mentioned in our look at the new short travel XC prototype from Spanish bike maker MMR, the Kenta 29 that David Valero rode to the second step of the podium doesn’t actually show up in their current bike offerings for 2017. We believe that to be due to the imminent release of the new single pivot bike. But in the meantime this Horst-link 4-bar is still doing the trick.

Interestingly the stock Kenta 29 has 120mm of rear wheel travel (with travel length printed on the upper link), but Valero was racing a bike that claimed a longer 130mm of travel with a Deluxe RL Remote shock and new SID fork. While most riders opt for short travel on the XCO WC circuit, maybe the Spanish rider had different ideas on maintaining traction over the steep up & down course?

The 1.9m (6’2″) Spaniard is a stark contrast to Sina Frei whose bike we looked at this afternoon. One of the taller XCO racers on the circuit Valero rides an extra large bike with a lot of seatpost extension. Because of that long post Valero uses a zero offset version of Ritchey’s WCS carbon FlexLogic seatpost which almost looks bent forward, combined with a SLR saddle slid all the way forward to get his weight back closer over the bottom bracket.

Like the majority of the top-placed bikes we saw this Kenta 29 was built up with a 1×12 SRAM XX1 Eagle groupset. Valero was pushing a bigger gear than many with a 36T X-Sync chainring, and an e*thirteen TRS+ high direct mount chain guide keeping it running smoothly. Like a few of the other rider we caught up with, Valero was riding on Ritchey WCS XC pedals. He was also racing Maxxis tires on the Prototype (not prototypes) Team Carbon 29r wheels, but the fast rolling Aspens instead of the Ikons that were very popular in Nové Město.

While he is tall and comfortable on the 29er Kenta, the MMR with its more upright & stable marathon racing geometry, Valero made some adjustments to get a more aggressive position on the bike. First a special eccentric upper headset cup in the frame enables him to steepen the headangle by about 1°. But then with the added stack height he has to resort to a forged alloy -25° Ritchey WCS C260 stem to get the bar back where he needs it.

Julien Absalon – prototype BMC Fourstroke 01

Frenchman and current EU champion Julien Absalon was riding his familiar BMC Fourstroke 01, a bike that hasn’t really changed very much for many years other than several spec updates, including Absalon’s use of a KS Lev CI dropper seatpost on the 100mm travel XC bike. The short link 4-bar bike with both carbon front & rear triangles does look poised to get an update via a new Impec carbon upper link.

Impec Lab is the name that BMC gives to their most advanced carbon production, and that’s what we see faintly printed on the side of Absalon’s new one-piece carbon shock rocker. The refined finish of the carbon link (see above right) even on its inside suggests to us that this might be a part ready for production.

The short, wide carbon link could offer improved stiffness over the current two-piece welded aluminum link, while also shedding precious grams. The Fourstroke still uses 12x142mm spacing, so maybe a new rocker could be a good opportunity to update the rear end spacing as well?

Absalon’s Fourstroke is another ride to take advantage of Fox’s electronically actuated iRD suspension control, again with the latest in Factory Float shock and Fox 32 SC fork variants.

The bike’s XTR 1x drivetrain was setup again uses the nice BMC branded carbon chainguide that bolts to the frame’s low chain guide mount just in front of the bottom bracket. Absalon’s pedals are the same Time ATACs that he’s been on for around a decade, although no longer in a signature edition.

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7 years ago

The Fox iRD suspension would be great to hide Fox live valve inside for testing purposes right? Curious when we will see the live valve popping up.

6 years ago
Reply to  Frank

Still waiting……
electronics are long overdo in the bike scene

7 years ago

No mention of the dropper post on an XC world cup bike!

7 years ago

Jenny Rissveds is running a 30mm dropper this year.

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