Race Tech: 2007 Mountain Bike World Championships, September 14, 2007
With most major new product announcements made at Eurobike the previous week one would think that there was little in the way of exclusive tech action around the pits this year in Fort William. However, there were still a number of interesting setups to see, provided you looked closely enough.
Lightweight hoops in aluminum and carbon
For the cross-country racers, this year's MTB World Championships were dominated by featherweight wheels using either carbon fiber rims or aluminum ones from Stan's NoTubes. The NoTubes ZTR-series rims have long been popular among elite riders thanks to their ultralight weight and easy tubeless compatibility. The readily available consumer versions are already shocklingly light at roughly 350g a piece, but rumors circulating around the pits suggested that certain riders competed on special 240g versions.
In contrast, some riders opted for tubular Reynolds Topo rims made from unidirectional carbon fiber. These were laced to Hope Pro III hubs with custom Dugast tyres for what was not only easily one of the trickest setups in the field, but one almost completely impervious to pinch flats as well.
DT Swiss launched a new carbon fiber road wheelset at this year's Eurobike show but stealthily debuted a mountain bike version at Fort William that was compatible with standard clincher treads. In a possible attempt to go unnoticed, the new rim looked remarkably ordinary and was almost entirely unmarked save for the 330g sticker and giveaway carbon weave. These were paired these with DT Swiss' new 190 ceramic hubs to yield another featherweight wheelset that at least appeared to be reasonably durable as well.
New Rock Shox SID AWOL in Fort William
There has been a lot of fuss made lately over the new Rock Shox SID. Rock Shox officially unveiled the new fork at this year's Eurobike show and BlackBox-sponsored riders have already been using it on and off this season. At Fort William, however, nobody was actually found riding it and the nearest you could get to one was hugging 'Mr. SID' and looking at the sample fork on display at the SRAM stand.
Certain Fox-sponsored riders (such as the Athertons), however, were seen riding unique 40 downhill models with specially-coated stanchions and custom-tuned internals. According to some riders the fork is more progressive and while we aren't allowed to look inside the improvements are supposedly very real.
Yeti's revamped 303 hits the dirt
Yeti Cycles' 'bike on rails' has been updated for 2008 with a new front end that knocks about 225g (0.5lb) from last year's version. According to Yeti, the frame is also noticeably more rigid for more precise handling while retaining the original's enviable suspension performance.
Random bits and pieces
Surfing the pits and start pens is always a bit of a lottery - you never know what you are going to find, and new or experimental components are rarely advertised as such. Nevertheless, some of the Subaru-Gary Fisher-sponsored women were clad in a very retro Nike slipper, while at the Animal/Commencal tent it seems the team will do anything to shed weight, even drilling seatposts on the 4X bikes.
If you ever wondered how to combine the love of bike fettling and drinking there's only one answer: the BoXXer World Championships. This event has evolved into a regular annual event, and some argue it's even more exciting than the action out on the course!
With former DH world champion (and neverending entertainer) Greg Herbold on the microphone and competitors drinking whiskey and beer, things were bound to get messy. Nevertheless, highlights included a stroppy German and an all-UK final where Gary (say 'Gaaaaareeeeee' for the full HB effect) walked away the winner from renowned suspension tuner Tim Flooks.
Interestingly enough, though, one of the biggest product launches of the weekend was a special edition whiskey and beer from British DH powerhouse Steve Peat. Extensive sampling proved tough, but proved well worth the effort!