A Pro bike riders requirements differ from race to race, and Mountain Bike Stage Racing can offer some unique demands on not only an athlete, but their equipment as well. The recent Breck Epic Stage Race was a great example of how different riders had varied views on what bikes would suit them best for the six days of racing.
Every Stage Race is different, and the Breck Epic is singletrack heavy, and favours fit riders who are talented bike handlers. As such, bike spec reflected this. Looking over the bikes of the general classification podium finishers showed a broad range of bikes. In the Open men’s race, 29er Hardtails were the weapon of choice, and this carried a long way down the ranking too. Across other categories, 29 inched wheels were still a strong choice, although there were some very ‘trail’ oriented hardtails and full suspension bikes on the lower steps in some categories.
The Open Women’s race was a close fought affair, between Amanda Carey (Kenda-NoTubes) and Yolandi Du Toit (Squirt Lube). While Du Toit was riding her BizHub Team Issue Scott Scale 29er Pro, Carey was mostly on her Felt Edict Nine.
The Edict Nine is the new 29er variant of Felt’s popular Edict model. Carey has the top carbon frame, which boasts 100mm of rear wheel travel. It’s designed around gruelling Marathon and Stage Races. So a good choice for the Breck Epic.
With the rocky terrain, but large amounts of climbing at Breckenridge, Carey pointed out how important it was to have a light but dependable tyre and wheel setup. Being sponsored by Kenda and NoTubes offer a good choice.
“Kenda’s new line of SCT (Sealant Compatible Tyres) have a reinforced sidewall. So they air up really quickly, but the reinforced sidewall is really important here because it is really rocky. So much of the descending is high speed rocky, it’s not like in Pennsylvannia where you’re going so slow you can be really careful and pick your lines. And the rocks here are sharp! It’s not the old mountains of the Appalachians. The Rockies are new mountains. Everything is sharp and pointy, so it’s really easy to slice a sidewall.”
Tyre sidewall is one thing, but the volume and pressure of the tyre is also crucial. Being on the new Felt Edict Nine dual suspension frame, Carey opted to run higher pressures to look after very light wheels.
“I’m running high. I have chosen to run my Stans race Golds, which are great, great race wheels. They roll really fast and they’re super nimble. I’m going for way higher pressure than normal. I’m running 26 in the front and 27 in the rear. For me on a dually I’m actually really comfortable with that. I’m running the new Kenda 24/7 tyres which are definitely very low profile, but again on this dually it’s just so stable and I’m really comfortable on the rough stuff.”
To go with the 2013 Felt Frame, Carey also has a 2013 Fox Suspension Fork, the new 32 Float 29 with the Climb, Trail, Descend adjustment. The whole fork has been redesigned for 2013, with a significant drop in weight.
“I have the Terralogic on my hardtail, but I prefer this and I really like having the control. Being able to turn it on, middle or off. Climb, Trail, Descend.”
29er bikes require slightly smaller chain ring sizes to have similar gearing to a 26 inched bike. Plenty of 2 x 10 options are available, but the main component manufacturers don’t always have the exact setup that people need. Carey runs RaceFace Next cranks, with after market chainrings.
“Wick Werks allow a custom chain ring setup, so I can have a 40 and a 26 chainring. So I don’t have to choose between the 39/26 and the 42/28. Wick Werks rings are awesome, they’re bomber, they shift really well. Being a female on a 29 you really want to have that wider range. The first year I ran a two by I was really nervous about it, but I’m strong enough.”
The rest of the drivetrain is mostly Shimano XT or XTR. Carey runs Shimano XTR Shadow Plus GS Rear derailleur, which is especially useful on 29er dual suspesnion bikes. Smaller chain rings and deep chain stays can increase the chance of chain slap induced chain suck. The chain tension afforded by the ‘clutch’ makes a massive difference.
“It’s phenomenal. I haven’t had a single dropped chain all year. It’s so quiet, and as long as you know how to fine tune the clutch, it’s great. My husband is a phenomenal mechanic and figured it out quite well.”
As with many shorter riders on 29er bikes, Carey runs her stem pretty much slammed. She also raced with a Garmin unit, which helped keep her on course.