While a tour of the pits of an XC World Cup doesn’t bring as much instant satisfaction as looking at all the springs and soft rubber of a downhill World Cup, a closer look can show up some impressive components and performance tweaks that the racers and their mechanics use. There’s a lot less room to weak a cross country bike, so the individual touches are subtle, but important. Here’s just a few we saw.
Leonardi Stem for Cannondale Lefty
Some people find that their handlebars, especially on 29ers are too high, so there are various negative-rise stems around. That won’t necessarily work for Cannondale’s proprietary Lefty fork, but luckily Italian firm Leonardi can help you out with this stem in minus a million degrees, in 100 or 110mm lengths.
Magura MT-8 brakes
Magura was showing off production versions of its 2015 MT-8 brakes. At under 300g a pair, they’re in the realms of the pro cross country racer and we’ve been seeing them turn up more and more on production bikes. We covered their launch a month or so ago here.
Suntour Auron fork
Suntour has been quietly making decent forks for reasonable money for years and we spied this new 120-160 travel, 27.5in fork on an Orange (with the wrong sized, 26in wheel in as the mechanic was in a bit of a hurry to show it off.) Claimed weight is around 2000g, with the fixed 150 and 160mm travel versions coming in around 1800g.
Look S-Track pedals
You don’t see many Look S-Track pedals in the wilds of the UK, but they’re popular with XC racers due to their mud-shedding and Look’s bearing qualities – and a weight of 142g can’t help either.
XC racing (and XC racers) is all about marginal gains. And so with a varied forecast and a fast-running, but gravelly course, this team mechanic got the job of clipping knobs of these Maxxis Beaver tyres to lessen the knobble amount to reduce drag, but still keeping the taller, (slightly) more aggressive tread. Some racers were running rear tread so minimal that it looked like it was drawn on with a magic marker.
XTR pedals and a grinder
This is Fabian Giger’s bike. Not only was he one of only three racers to be running new Di2 XTR, but we spotted this pedal trick we’d first seen on our own Dr Jon’s obsessive blog. The ‘Trail’ version of the XTR pedals has a bigger surface area for shoe support, but obviously weigh more than the Race pedals. The answer is to get the Trail pedals and then cut off the extra cage and voila! One custom pro-modded pedal with better shoe support and a similar low weight to the Race ones.
Super light AX-Lightness carbon wheels. Good enough for world champs then.
Pro mechanic tip – run an 8mm hex-head bolt rather than a 15mm thru-axle with QR. Then you can change wheels with an electric drill with an 8mm bit.