For everyone who’s been
following our Fort William social media feed, you’ll be well aware that it is non-stop up here at Fort Bill. With a new racecourse and plenty of new bikes being put to the test, the tension is building amongst competitors and their teams. Combined with one of the best crowds of the World Cup Series, the atmosphere is absolutely palpable!
For a visual rundown of the action, make sure you check out our mega photo galleries from
Friday’s practice, and Saturday’s qualifying. Alongside that, be sure to have a look at our list of prototype bikes from Fort William, including that brand new 29er downhill bike from Intense.
There’s been loads of other gems shining in the pits, and our cameras have caught all of it along the way. If you love seeing what the world’s fastest mountain bikers are riding and how they setup their bikes, then get settled in for a virtual tour of all the tech bits and bobs in the race pits at the 2017 Fort William World Cup.
In the Polygon UR team pits, we spotted the Collosus DH9 downhill bike equipped with a rather strange-looking rear shock. The custom rear shock features a cable-activated arm that offers remote control of the compression damping. The shock is entirely custom, and it’s built by one of the team mechanics at Polygon. A standard Shimano XTR front shifter has been retrofitted to the shock’s remote lockout. Neat! Also in the Polygon race pits was this Collosus DH9 equipped with a full-blown telemetry setup for acquiring suspension data. A custom machined strut bolts onto the shock linkage to hold the piston rod for the telemetry unit. Tracey Hannah’s bike gets a tune-up in the workstand following her first practice run. Hannah battled traffic during practice day, but she was loving the course. Spank cockpit and Trickstuff brakes on Hannah’s Polygon Collosus DH9. German-made disc brakes from Trickstuff. According to the team mechanic, these are the best brakes they’ve used. Mick Hannah’s bike was getting a full rebuild, and we noticed some expanding foam inside the hollow downtube to help buffer the internal cabling to minimise noise and vibration. Quiet is smooth, and smooth is fast. Temperature gauge on the damper of Troy Brosnan’s RockShox Vivid Coil shock. Canyon brought double the number of spare wheels to Fort William. This track eats them for breakfast. Canyon head mechanic Nigel, has a very minimalist and lightweight toolbox for international travel. Bikes being checked for bar plugs before they’re allowed onto the gondola. There isn’t a lot of mud at Fort Bill this weekend, but what there is is sticky and stubborn. The privateer race pits are buzzing this weekend. Dedication from each and every athlete. The YT Mob is out in force this weekend, with the TUES carbon fibre downhill bike the chosen whip of team riders Neko Mulally and Aaron Gwin. The YT TUES team bikes are running powerful 4-pot TRP Quadiem G-Spec brakes. With 208mm of rear travel and 27.5in wheels, will the YT Mob’s TUES race bikes be able to match the speed of the 29ers this weekend? Speaking of 29ers, how’s the carbon Specialized Demo prototype that Loic Bruni is racing this weekend? Bruni’s bike runs a Joystick cockpit including a tidy direct-mount stem. Bruni gets his own signature lock-on grips from Lizard Skins. Like the rest of the Specialized Gravity Team, he’s also running Formula Cura brakes front and rear. Bruni’s also been spotted aboard this carbon demo equipped with full-blown telemetry setup. A custom carbon fibre back end on the computerised Demo? Note the sensor for the rear hydraulic brake line, and an interesting upper jockey wheel on Bruni’s rear derailleur too… Telemetry setup for the Ohlins dual-crown fork up front. Also in the Specialized race pits was this gold anodized fork from Ohlins. The Swedish suspension company is testing and developing a lot of prototype gear here at Fort Bill. The bike for one of the fastest mountain bikers on the planet. Gwin’s race bike is running Fox air-sprung suspension front and rear, with carbon E*thirteen wheels and Onza tyres. Gwin’s mechanic ensures everything is tip-top before practice. Preparation in the Trek Factory Racing pits. Rachel Atherton’s new Session 9.9 RSL gets a checking over following her practice runs on the mountain. Her brother Gee is out of action following a dislocated hip caused by a crash at the Fort William round of the British Downhill Series. So his teammate Graeme Mudd has borrowed the Session 29er for a blast this weekend. 29ers are changing the game on the downhill World Cup series. The riders on the big wheels are looking FAST! Also spotted in the Trek race pits was this interesting device mounted to the rear disc brake callipers. Turns out it’s a brake silencer. Using a machined alloy housing, the unit holds a brass weight suspended inside an elastomer ring that helps to dissipate vibrations to allow for a quieter bike with less braking noise. According to the team mechanics, it plays a large role in helping riders concentrate on the trail ahead. Aussie fast man, Sam Hill, took a break from the Enduro World Series to race the Fort Bill round aboard his Nukeproof Pulse. Sam Hill may not be a regular sight on the World Cup downhill circuit anymore, but people notice when he does saddle up on the start line. Sam also had his Nukeproof Mega 275 on display at Fort Bill, complete with moto guards for the brake levers. The Mega 275 that Sam is racing on is a prototype carbon fibre bike – essentially a carbon version of the existing alloy Mega 275. We’re eagerly awaiting for more details on the new bike, but for the time being we can ogle at its lovely lines and that sweet custom mudguard on the rear. Mechanics are flat-out at Fort Bill, keeping racer’s bikes in race-ready condition all weekend long. How’s this setup for the Dude Of Hazzard himself; Joe Barnes? Juliana released the brand new Strega on Thursday, and Santa Cruz had one on display at the Fort William World Cup. The 170mm travel beast looks mean in the flesh. The new Nomad also made a cameo, in that discreet ‘Ink’ colour that is our pick of the bunch. A closer look at those new Santa Cruz carbon wheels. The rulers are out! Young Frenchman, Loris Vergier, gets a final check on his prototype Santa Cruz V10 29er. Seen out the back of the Syndicate race pits were these funny-looking e-bikes. Cube’s Greg Williamson is ready to take his Two15 downhill bike up onto the chairlift and onto the brutal Fort Bill track. Who does this belong to then? That would be Tahnee Seagrave, who’s rocking a carbon fibre prototype Transition downhill bike this weekend at Fort Bill. ‘Quick, into the workshop!’ Patriotic spoke nipples on the Novatec wheels of Connor Fearon’s Kona Operator. Brendog is testing a prototype linkage on his Scott Gambler race bike. The plates offer a much harder ramp-up at the end, which means the bike sits deeper into its sag too. The Gambler frame offers adjustable chainstay length with two-position dropouts. The team runs the bike in the longer position for more stability at race speeds. The Mondraker team mechanics have been busy all weekend long. Sam Blenkinsop of the Norco race team debriefs following practice. Manon Carpenter has a new bike sponsor for 2017, and is now on a Radon Swoop. The speedy rider from Wales is hoping to string together some solid results for the 2017 World Cup season. At Fort Bill, there are loads of bike companies setup in the race pits, including the small British outfit from Empire. We’ll have more details on this unique mountain bike coming soon… In case you hadn’t heard, Fort Wiliam is hella tough on wheels. This Antidote Darkmatter has gotta be one of the best-looking downhill bikes going. One of the mechanics at Orange had a lovely custom-painted Five hung up in the pits. The tales these brake levers could tell. Andorran brand Commencal has got plenty of downhill bikes being raced this weekend, but it also had a brand new e-MTB on display in its booth. We’ve already seen Commencal’s Meta Power hardtail before, but this is the first time we’ve seen the yet-to-be-released full suspension version. Spotted on the Pivot Phoenix 29er prototype bike was a set of Reynolds carbon downhill wheels in a matching 29in diameter. British rider Jack Reading has been spotted aboard this Nicolai Geometron that’s got a very interesting modification… Underneath the green tape you’ll find lead weights that Jack has added to his bike’s frame. Is heavier faster? Jack’s Nicolai has a Hope handlebar that’s detailed with adjustment guides for getting the levers exactly in the right place – an OCD mountain biker’s dream! Not a race bike modification, but a fascinating setup used by bike journo Tommy Wilkinson, who mounts both brake levers, the rear shifter, and the dropper post lever on the left hand side. Because of a separated nerve in Tommy’s neck, he can’t use his right hand properly, and hence why all the controls are on the left side. To keep the steering stable, he’s running a Hopey steering damper in the headset too. Laurie Greenland was the fastest man in practice on Friday, and he did it all on his regular 27.5in wheeled Mondraker Summum. Perhaps big wheels ain’t as fast as they’re hyped up to be?