Merritt White, owner of Re:Cycles Bike Shop in Greensboro, NC, has been ripping the downhill courses throughout the south and mid-Atlantic for years, and regularly posts pics of big air and sick jumps from his local secret trails (that he still won’t tell us where they are!). Now, he’s built up a fully tricked out DH bike upon which to shred, the highlight of which is a conversion of Shimano’s XTR Di2 group to a short cage derailleur more suited to the tight gearing used for gravity runs…
The project starts with a 2016 Banshee Legend, a frame that was updated for the 2015 model year but kept its 26″ wheels and now, finally for 2016, makes the jump to 27.5″ hoops. Along with the wheel size change came geometry tweaks to optimize performance for the new tire diameter, reduce anti-squat and maintain a more consistent chainstay length throughout the suspension’s movement.
Banshee also stretched the medium and large frames even longer, deleted the small size from their catalog and added a proper XL for tall riders. The head angle slackened to 63º, the BB dropped another 2mm and rear tire clearance grew despite having to make room for the larger wheel size. Add to all that a stiffer frame, more travel (205mm) and lower center of gravity and the 2016 Banshee Legend looked like just the right platform on which to blow the budget with a chichi parts spec and custom drivetrain.
Up front, he’s running a Renthal Fat Bar and direct mount stem, ODI Disisdaboss lock-on grips and a Hopey steering damper. Brake levers are Hope v4 with braided hoses, which are mounted far inboard. Even further from the grip is the single shifter, a standard XTR Di2 two-paddle unit.
The Hopey Steering Damper allows for uninhibited slow speed turning and puts no damping on the return-to-center movement. Where it helps control things is on high speed hits that would otherwise try to throw your wheel off center and out of control.
The Di2 wire is taped under the bar before getting an extremely clean (and color coordinated) zip tie run alongside the brake hose.
The junction box is hidden inside the linkage…
…and as the wire exits the other side to go to the rear derailleur, it gets covered in a PET expandable braided sleeve to protect it from abrasions.
The battery is stuffed into the seat tube from the bottom.
The wire is secured along the frame at the usual points and then again on the B-link.
The Shimano XTR Di2 group was designed around their 11-40 (and larger) wide range cassettes. To make it work with the Shimano Ultegra CS-6800 11-32 road cassette used here, it needed a shorter cage. So, White pulled one off an 820-series Saint derailleur and swapped them out.
The rest of the drivetrain is made up of the 165mm Race Face SixC crankset with 36T direct-mount narrow-wide single chainring (with matching green rubber bootie) and a KMC X11SL DLC Green chain.
A carbon E*Thirteen chain guide keeps that beauty from getting off track.
Pedals are the DMR Vault Chrome, which he says sell like hotcakes despite the almost $200-a-pair price.
He chose Hope hubs because they offer a proper 11-speed freehub body on their mountain bike hubs, which let him run the road cassette with no spacing issues. They’re laced to DT Swiss FR570 rims with DT Swiss spokes.
Hope Tech 3 V4 four-piston brakes bring this beast back down from speed.
And keeping it stuck to the trail are Michelin Wild Rock’r tires, along with an incredibly plush suspension from DVO and a modified Cane Creek DB Coil.
The fork is a rare brown DVO Emerald, which felt amazingly smooth and soft without wallowing through its travel in our little parking lot test riding straight into curbs.
The Cane Creek Double Barrel coil shock gets a Ti-Springs upgrade.
Not shown are the Race Face Ride XC seatpost and Selle Italia Yutaak saddle. While he didn’t have a pile of receipts for us to inspect, the estimated retail value of the bike as shown probably around $9,000.
Looking for more recent Reader’s Rides? Check out Julian Da Silva’s XTR Di2 hack, too!