Updated: Dec 12, 2020
With racing wrapped up for another year we take a look at the bike we used on three of the four races we took the start line of in 2020. This bike steered to a podium at the Velovert round of the UCI World Marathon Series and seventh place at the UCI World Marathon Championship so it's a capable machine when the pilot puts everything together on the day. From huge Swiss mountains to rolling Turkish hills and technical rough descents this bike can do it all.
Frame: Simplon Razorblade, size medium.
Fork: SR Suntour Axon Werx 34 Boost, 85 psi, 6 volume spacers.
Wheels: Nextie carbon, Rotor Rvolver, DT Swiss Revolution, DT Prolock.
Tyres: Schwalbe Racing Ray and Racing Ralph, 20 to 24psi depending on track and conditions.
Drivetrain: Rotor hydro 1x12, INspider, Q-ring, 11-52 cassette, Time XC8 Pedals.
Brakes: Magura MT8 SL with 160mm Storm SL rotors.
Finishing kit: Mount Zoom bar 680mm, 80mm -17d stem and 27.2mm seatpost. Fizik Tunda 00 saddle.
Drivetrain: Rotor 1x13, Rotor Kapic Carbon Crank and Rotor INspider.
There's a lot of bling on this bike but the hydraulic Rotor groupset really stands out as something special. My first Rotor groupset was fitted by my local bike shop to my full suspension bike, I had some apprehension about whether my mechanic skills were up to the job of fitting this second groupset to the hardtail. Actually the whole job was a prety easy. Essentially you bleed the system in a very similar manor to the Magura brakes I'm using, there was very little faff and the gear lever felt positive after the first bleed.
The groupset can be run 12 speed or 13 speed, we are running it 12 speed. At the time of the pictures we were using a Sram Eagle cassette but since then we've been using Rotors super lightweight 11-52 tooth cassette which saves a further 20 to 30 grams of weight. For flatter courses I have a 11-46 cassette which provides some closer ratios. The groupset uses a KMC 12 speed chain.
The crank is a Rotor Kapic Carbon (175mm), bolted onto this is a Rotor latest power meter, the INspider. I switch between 34 and 36 tooth oval Q Ring's depending on the terrain. I have been a long term user of Q-Rings having found they help remove the deadspot at the top of the pedal stroke giving me a smoother pedal rotation which helps save energy, reduce fatigue and better traction on steep climbs. The crank spins smoothly on a C-Bear MTB Pressfit 41 Ceramic bottom bracket, another product chosen for reliability for this mile munching bike.
Suspension: SR Suntour Axon Werx 34.
SR Suntour were a new sponsor for 2020 providing both suspension forks and rear shocks. The Axon Werx Boost with their 34mm stanchions and carbon crown / steerer is noticeably stiffer than the previous suspension forks I'd used both under braking and cornering. The setup was easy to tune with the external compression and rebound dials, small air pressure adjustments and air volume spacer changes.
Changing the volume spacers and servicing the fork was something I'd not done myself but the simplicity of the job made it a rewarding process. Servicing has been pretty minimal as reliability has been fantastic and small bump sensitively has remained excellent throughout the year.
With my current setup of 6 volume spacers I can run slightly less air pressure than normal which gives good small bump sensitivity and a progressive ramp through the travel with good bottom out resistance.
Wheels: Rotor Rvolver / Nextie Carbon and Schwalbe tyres
Weighing in at just under 1200 grams this wheelset transforms the bike from a fast climbing goat into a rocket! Rotational weight is said to be six times as important and certainly that can be felt when these wheels are accelerating or whilst your trying to maintain pace.
At the center is the Rvolver hubs from sponsor Rotor. The freehub design is slightly unconventional with a range of cylinders and springs to engage the freehub. The system is super easy to maintain with only the need for two 12mm allen keys to undo the axle end caps.
These hubs are built on Nextie Carbon Ultralight 27mm 29" 28 hole rims. We have gone as light as possible without compromising strength. The rims at 27mm are quite old fashioned with the new approach being to run wider rims to create a larger contact patch between tyre and ground. Connecting the hubs and rims are DT Swiss Revolution spokes and Prolock nipples.
I have a range of tyres available from sponsor Schwalbe including the Nobby Nic, Rocket Ron and Thunder Burt but you'll normally always find me using a Racing Ray on the front and Rocket Ron on the rear. I find that the Racing Ray needs something to dig into so works really well on the loamy loose soil we have here in the summer or a little mud. Where there's hard pack conditions or loose gravel I will run a Racing Ralph front and rear to increase contact area between tyre and ground. Tyre pressure varies between 20 and 24 depending on how rough the terrain is and how muddy he conditions are.
Tyre width is always 2.25 and 99% of the time I'll be using the Addix snake skin versions. The tan walls are an added bit of bling to this already great looking bike. Inside the tyres I use Orange Seal sealant, this combination has been super reliable all year long, having ridden over 20,000 km's this setup has a great track record.
Braking: Magura MT8 SL
Magura have been a long term sponsors, as you'll have already read I appreciate and require reliability for the long distance marathon racing I'm doing, even more so when your hurtling down a steep technical mountain descent you've not pre ridden. The MT8 SL have been a fit and forget kind of product, easy to fit and bleed at the start of the year, then they just work perfectly all season.
The carbon lever and one piece caliper make this one of the lightest brakes on the market at just 195 grams. I'm using 160mm Storm SL rotors front and rear to keep weight to a minimum. I switch between the Performance brake pads in wet conditions and Race brake pads in dry conditions, I prefer the quicker bite from the Race pads so use them as often as possible. Calipers are secured to the frame and fork with titanium bolts.
The bike is finished with an assortment of bling from sponsor Mount Zoom with their Ultralight Carbon flat bar with 9 degree bend which gives me a bit more control and comfort over a straighter bar. This handlebar is sold as at 760mm but I cut it down to a relatively narrow 680mm, a width that I find works for my shoulder width and height. Also from Mount Zoom is the new ultralight stem, the inline carbon seatpost, 6 gram seatpost clamp, side pull carbon bottle cages, olympic carbon spacers, headset expander plug, topcap / stem bolt combo. The -17 degree stem is mounted on top of the headset with no spacers between to give me the lowest possible position, even with this setup I have very little drop from saddle to bar with my saddle height set for my short leg length. The 27.2mm seatpost can be seen flexing when seated, this along with the thin frame seatstays provide some comfort compared to other much stiffer hardtail bikes. No dropper seatpost here, I previously had an eLECT from Magura but couldn't justify the extra weight for the saving. I only tested the dropper on local trail however and can see why there would be more benefit on more aggressive trails we often race. We've switched out the quick release style shimano frame bolt through axle for a Mount Zoom Shimano 148mm thru axle to save even more weight!
On the handlebar is an outfront Wahoo mount for our Elemnt Roam bike computer and some colour matching red Bike Ribbon silicone grips. I opt for the thicker SIO2 Soft Grips to give a bit more padding for long days of racing.
My seat of choice is the now discontinued Fizik Tundra 00, with carbon rails and base. The carbon wings flex to provide comfort for those epic rides.
With the bike weight optimized to be lightweight and reliable you don't want to weigh it down with heavy spares. Most of my race day spares are carried in a Lezyne saddlebag, spares includes two 20 gram co2 gas cans, a trigger drive co2 inflator, a carbon 10 (yes more carbon) multitool, plus the tubeless repair kit with tire worms and insertion tool.
A spare set of KMC chain links are taped securely to the brake cable up front. Up front either taped or secured with a Mount Zoom Handy Strap is a Tubolito S-Tubo tube which is super lightweight at 45 grams, roughly a third of what a normal tube weighs!
Depending on the race i'll also carry in my back pocket a Lezyne Carbon Drive Pump and XL Power tyre lever which helps with quickly removing a tightly fitted tubeless tyre.