by Wil Barrett
January 10, 2017
Earlier this week, the news was leaked about the Specialized Gravity downhill team parting ways with SRAM & RockShox. Given the close working ties between both companies, it wasn’t information to be taken lightly. In fact, shortly after we broke the news story about the split, the message was taken off the Pure Agency Facebook Page – so it seems that news wasn’t quite ready for the public. However, all has been revealed, with Specialized Gravity’s official press release that you can now read in full below.
So, what’s going on then? Basically, Specialized Gravity will no longer be running a full SRAM/RockShox sponsorship. For 2017, the team riders will still be running SRAM drivetrains, but that’s it. Instead, riders will be rocking Ohlins suspension both front and rear and will be using Formula brakes to slow things down. The Ohlins sponsorship makes sense, especially given that Specialized and Ohlins have been developing proprietary rear shocks for the past few years.
As for the fork, this is the first time an official announcement has come from Ohlins about a dual-crown fork. Riders have been spotted previously with gold dials on the top of the fork stanchions that have clearly hinted at Ohlins guts lurking beneath, but this is the first full top-to-bottom Ohlins dual crown fork has been shown off. Except that it’s not really a full Ohlins fork…
If you look closely at the casting for the magnesium one-piece fork lowers, it is actually an identical shape the X-Fusion RV1 fork. Right down to the angular dropouts and pinch-bolt axle, this Ohlins branded fork is most certainly using chassis parts from X-Fusion. Given the bulges for the bushings around each outer tube just below the fork arch, we initially suspected a RockShox Boxxer chassis. But X-Fusion also uses the same bushing bulges, and the other elements of the fork are the same as the RV1.
Ohlins has been working on an upside-down dual crown fork of its own complete design, with various prototypes having been spotted over the past three years. But given this fork shown on the Specialzied Gravity Team bikes, perhaps there’s more work to be done. Is the company’s first production DH fork nearing reality? Will we see Bruni piloting a full Ohlins package on the World Cup circuit? Only time will tell…
Specialized has been rocking the Ohlins TTX coil rear shock on its Demo downhill bikes for some time already, but as you’ll see from the small silver machined alloy yoke bolted on the rear eyelet in the above photo, the Specialized Gravity team appears to still be playing around with different geometries and suspension characteristics.
The other big piece of news in the press release from the Specialized Gravity team (though it’s right at the bottom of the PR) is the signing of a female rider called Miranda Miller. A Canadian downhill and EWS racer, Miller hails from Squamish and grabbed some serious attention at Crankworx Whistler last year where she took 4th in the Canadian Open Enduro, and 1st in the Garbo DH. Miller fills the spot of outgoing Frenchman, Loris Vergier, on the Specialized Gravity team.
As Specialized Gravity enters its second year on the World Cup circuit, it proudly announces a partnership with renowned suspension leader Öhlins for the 2017 season, with all team riders using exclusively Öhlins suspension, including an all-new downhill-specific fork. Öhlins is regarded as the premier name in motorsports racing and has been conducting extensive R&D with Specialized since 2012.
Torkel Sintorn of Öhlins had this to say, “We are super excited to work together with Specialized Gravity – one of the world’s best MTB racing teams. Öhlins has a long and successful background in motorsport but this is the first time we are going into mountain bike racing. We believe that together with Specialized and their top athletes we can supply and develop next-generation, race-winning products.”
When asked about the newly-deepened partnership, Brad Benedict from Specialized had this to say, “After years of developing suspension from the ground-up, this move will take our efforts to the next level. Alignment between the athletes we support and the exact products we spec will only help further development of our bikes and suspension, as well. Öhlins has top-notch knowledge in the suspension business – I’m hopeful to see more podiums and wins this year.”
2015 World Champion, Loic Bruni is excited about the switch to Öhlins, “It’s great to see such a legendary brand enter into MTB, and being the chosen team to put the products on the top step is a big honor. They’ve been working hard and close with the guys at Specialized and we are all very confident about the products. I’m pumped about this relationship and I know we will be successful on it.”
Öhlins is not the only exciting change for the team, Bruni and Iles will also make the switch to Fox Head apparel.
”FOX is proud to equip the Specialized Gravity team as gear partner. Loic Bruni and Finn Iles represent the future of the sport – they’re both driven by passion and in constant search for perfection. This partnership is the association of two premier brands in the MTB industry, driven by a common appetite for innovation and a constant will to bring premium products to market. After almost 20 years, and the first association between Fox and Specialized around Shaun Palmer, we are lined up to write a new chapter of MTB History.” -Matthieu Bazil – Fox Head, Inc.
“People at Fox are very innovative, like at Specialized, and the products are next-level. The fabrics and custom fits are going to make us look rad. They listen to us and our expectations so we are very excited about starting a long relationship with this huge name of the off-road industry.” – Loic Bruni, 2015 UCI DH World Champion.
Top bearing maker, CeramicSpeed has also come onboard with the team, providing their best-in-class bearings, rounding out the total performance package and leaving not a single detail overlooked.
“We’re excited to bring our expertise in performance optimization to Specialized Gravity for 2017. Our work with such a cutting-edge program will further advance our development of high-quality mountain bike products.” – Martin S. Banke, CeramicSpeed.
Equipment isn’t the only exciting change for 2017, Miranda Miller will be racing the full World Cup with Team Specialized Gravity plus select Enduro World Series events. Miller had this to say about joining the team, “Thanks to the crew at Specialized and Pure Agency, I’m getting the opportunity to transition from a privateer to now racing a full season with the best support available. This is a dream come true and I can’t wait to progress in a setting I’ve never experienced before, alongside a couple of World Champions and a killer staff.”
– End Press Release –