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World Cup DH, Pro Bikes Check: GT Furys of Gee and Rachel Atherton

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The guys on the GT Factory Racing team all ride the Fury World Cup in this super bright yellow team edition. Reigning World Champion Gee Atherton has ridden this bike to two World Cup podiums so far this year, while his sister and teammate Rachel Atherton placed second in the first World Cup, before going on to win the next three rounds. The teams’ frames themselves are pretty much the 2015 stock 6069 aluminum 27.5″ production units, but suspension duties front and rear are handled by new model year 2016 bits from Fox.

We sat down with the team and mechanics for a little inside look at Gee and Rachel’s World Cup setups. Jump past the break for an up close look at what sets their bikes apart…

GT_aluminum_Fury_World-Cup_DH_bike_Gee-Atherton_new-Saint-cranks GT_aluminum_Fury_World-Cup_DH_bike_Gee-Atherton_personalized-Crank-Brothers_Mallet-DH-pedals

The world champ got a fresh new Saint group in time for the 3rd round of the World Cup, but stuck with mostly standard components. The team does opt for a bit of extra rubber stuck on the chainstay to keep the alloy bike quiet. And Gee gets a set of custom labeled Mallet DH Race pedals from Crankbrothers that don’t look too beaten up after just a few races into the 2015 season. Both Gee and Rachel run the same pedals and seem to like to keep the retention pins set pretty low to make getting in and out of the pedals fast and easy.

GT_aluminum_Fury_World-Cup_DH_bike_Gee-Atherton_wire-on-grips GT_aluminum_Fury_World-Cup_DH_bike_Gee-Atherton_slam-that-stem

Gee’s contact points stick mostly to their eponymous Atherton Star Series of components from PRO, including DH bar, direct mount stem, saddle, and seatpost. He does however opt for a more old-school wired-on grip. Not quite slam your stem territory here, but it gets close as the team uses a reducer Hope headset to fill out the straight 1.5″ steerer of the aluminum Fury.

GT_aluminum_Fury_World-Cup_DH_bike_Gee-Atherton_Stans-Flow-Carbon-prototype-wheelset GT_aluminum_Fury_World-Cup_DH_bike_Gee-Atherton_Stans-Flow-Carbon-prototype-rims

Sneakily labeled as Flow EXs, we spotted these prototypes of the new 32mm wide carbon rims that we showed a couple of weeks back and should be available to buy in the $1900 ZTR Bravo wheelsets any day now. While Stan’s bills these as Trail or Enduro wheels, they were developed in partnership with the Athertons and have been raced to several DH podiums already. Building them out of carbon, Stan’s was able to develop a rim that could deflect elasticly 10mm without damage, which allows these pro downhillers to run lower tire pressures for better traction with less of a risk of flatting when they bottom out. This addresses an issue we’ve heard repeated a lot from the XC side, where super stiff carbon wheels are not deflecting enough, and actually requiring racers to increase tire pressure to avoid pinch flats even set up tubeless.

The video above shows only the 7mm deflection of the Valor when fully tensioned. Just imagine 3mm more for the Bravo carbon hoops.

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Rachel gets her similarly mostly stock GT Fury World Cup in a nice Atherton Racing special team blue, which she has now raced to three-in-a-row World Cup wins after Round 4 in Lenzerheiden. She rides a more well worn Saint groupset in a classic example of don’t mess with what works. The mechanics in these bigger top-level teams are often telling us that they don’t really need to resort to any crazy setups, as the newest bikes, groupsets, and suspension are offering them so much performance out of the box. It doesn’t hurt to have some talented riders too, we guess.

GT_aluminum_Fury_World-Cup_DH_bike_Rachel-Atherton_PRO-Atherton-Star-Series-cockpit-details GT_aluminum_Fury_World-Cup_DH_bike_Rachel-Atherton_driveside_27-5_IDrive-suspension-detail GT_aluminum_Fury_World-Cup_DH_bike_Rachel-Atherton_non-driveside_27-5_IDrive-suspension-detail

Rachel’s bike does spend a lot of time with a number one strapped to the front. Her cockpit stays completely with the PRO Atherton Star Series components from grips, DH bar, and direct mount stem to saddle and DH seatpost. A lot of lines on the PRO Atherton team bars help Rachel’s mechanics set her brakes and shifters up exactly every time, which goes a long way to prevent arm pump in these intense DH courses.

Suspension is handled by the new for 2016 Fox 40 FLOAT FIT4 fork and  Fox DHX2 shock with external high and low speed rebound and compression adjustments, and the new rod valve system (RVS). And like the rest of the team Rachel sticks with actual Flow EX aluminum wheels and again Conti Mud King tires in new for 2016 27.5 x2.3″.

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Mortimer
8 years ago

You seem to have consistently misspelled Atherton “Atheron” throughout the article and headline. Or Crankbrothers got it wrong on those Mallets.

DC
DC
8 years ago

“Atheron” – sound like some sort of Prototype robot / cybernetic organism sent from the future with the specific purpose of World Cup DH domination.

Waki
Waki
8 years ago

Even poorly tensiined alu rims don’t flex in vertical plane almost at all unless they are hit so hard that they get pushed beyond their edge of plasticity, resulting in a permanent damage, hence there can be no talk about flatting due to too stiff wheel. Sheldon Brown says hello. Marketing bs covering simple fact that carbon rims are way too stiff for anything else than XC racing.

DM
DM
8 years ago

The deflection on those carbon rims looks elastic to me, not plastic. Plastic deformation = rims are finished. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deformation_(engineering)

Mr. P
8 years ago

@Waki, I’m not a guy that subscribes to the “soft” radial stiffness wheels ideal. But I can recognize the rims do have some give – even if tiny. Ask the guys who ride Mavic MTB rims and eject spokes from the hub. Aluminum can flex without bending. You know this.

I agree that it seems carbon rims seem to be destroying themselves due to stiffness.

Ripnshread
Ripnshread
8 years ago

All rims flex under load. Its what makes a spoked wheel work. Have someone sit on their bike and check the tension on the spokes in the 6 o’clock position. They will be pretty darn loose compared to when they are not weighted. The ones at the 5 and 7 position will be tighter. This is due to the rim flexing and flattening out at the point of contact.

Dustin
8 years ago

Wheel Building 101 – spokes that get overloaded and lose tension and flex, they fatigue and break. This has been a known fact for a long as people have been building tensioned wire spoke wheels.

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