Even though competition on the road in Rio kicks off this weekend, there are two more weeks until the mountain bikers get to race for Olympic gold. With ex-World Champion Maja Włoszczowska racing for their Kross Racing Team during the season, now representing Poland in the games, she’ll be competing on a new version of the company’s top cross country hardtail. Debuted at the UCI World Championships a month ago in the Czech Republic in its Rio-special edition, the new 2017 carbon Level B+ hardtail is pretty much a wholesale redesign of the current version of the bike with the same name. Take a closer look with us, as we check out the pre-production bike Maja has been riding so far this season and the colorful one she’ll be racing in Brazil…
With a claimed frame weight of just 970g, the new Level B+ carbon 29er frame trims a good bit of weight off the current version. It mostly does that with the use of a new layup with two carbon types that better lets Kross balance stiffness and controlled flex, but also shaves a bit off though a redesigned and simplified seat cluster.
The new bike uses a new kinked toptube that allowed Kross to slightly improve the handling stiffness at the front end of the bike while keeping frame stack to a manageable low level to satisfy their elite cross-country racers. With the new frame also comes an increase in frame reach for a more modern fit.
While clearly an XC race bike at the top level (that’s Maja above warming up on the rollers just before the start of Elite Worlds) the new bike builds in some other small tricks for versatility. While a lot of pros have taken to light full-suspension bikes to race the ever-more-technical XCO courses (like all four of this year’s World Champs), the new Level B+ includes stealth dropper post routing so that racers like Maja can get back behind the saddle for more technical tracks like in Nové Město.
The new frame design gets rid of the separate plate-style carbon dropouts, and instead incorporates the rear thru-axle in a hollow carbon section at the end of the chainstays. Its seatstays are also thinned out a bit which along with more seatpost extension should add a little comfort at the saddle. The new frame’s seattube flares at the PressFit bottom bracket laterally to boost stiffness, but now is a bit thinner front-to-back above the BB for more comfort. The last significant reshaping is around the chainstays, which now head straight to the dropouts for drivetrain efficiency.
Maja’s bike builds tend to use a good bit of subtle tuning and light parts to keep overall weight low, and her colorful Rio special bike is no exception. While her Worlds bike was set up with a dropper post, the Rio bike swaps in a Tune post (and again that saddle) to get the complete bike weight down to a claimed 7.9kg/17.4lb.
A full SRAM Eagle XX1 doesn’t hurt in keeping the weight off, but it is things like the Tune carbon bar, alloy stem, carbon DT Swiss XRC32o wheels, light Schwalbe tires, and lighter Blackbox SID fork that make a big impact.
Details are still a bit thin on the new bike, but it looks like frame sticks with 12×142 spacing in the rear and it certainly does stay with external routing of the rear brake and derailleur. Routing is still under the downtube, but now it gets a new clamp-on systems that uses full length housing to the rear mech. The new frame also doesn’t appear to have any accommodation for a front derailleur, but from what we’ve seen on other bikes, that might only be true of this top-level race bike.
Maya’s Rio toptube gets a colorful depiction of her to make sure you know who bike it is, and the carnivale themed graphics from top to bottom. While many of the tube shapes throughout the frame are updated, the bulging, wrapped headtube and wide downtube remain mostly unchanged. The only update would be that driveside port to route a stealth dropper.
Maja rode to 4th place in Nové Město at Worlds on the new bike, but will be hoping to step at least one place into medal contention in Rio de Janeiro in two weeks time. We expect to get more details on the new Level B+ including pricing and availability at the end of the month at Eurobike.