Adam Craig is training and racing in 2010 on the full-carbon Giant Anthem X Advanced SL he played a pivotal role in developing and though the current US national short track champion was previously known to utilize a hardtail from time to time, this latest bike's impressive performance has him using full-suspension exclusively for cross-country, short track and super D events.
"For the first time, I'm not getting a hardtail," said Craig to Cyclingnews while showing his new bike at a recent pre-season team training camp in Tehachapi, California. "In part, it's because I looked at the World Cups and there are no hardtail courses like Madrid or Schladming. But also, the bike's now light enough and stiff enough that there is no reason for me to race the hardtail anymore."
The production model is actually the fourth prototype that Craig tested and earlier versions were actually even lighter with the lightest being under 2kg. Craig and Giant ultimately decided that it was more important to gain more chassis rigidity but the new frame still weighs only 2.1kg (4.63lb) with the shock and hardware, making it 200g (0.44lb) lighter than last year's aluminum Anthem X and minimizing the weight penalty relative to Giant's XtC hardtail.
Giant says Craig's new Design elements borrowed from the road-going TCR Advanced SL such as the tapered front end, huge rectangular-section down tube and extra-wide bottom bracket shell with press-fit cups narrow the stiffness gap, too.
Craig is effectively riding the same bike as he was last year but he has recently switched sizes, moving from a large to a medium frame.
"I'm on a medium now. It's a little shorter, stiffer and lower," he said. "It rides more awesomely, and I feel like I have better handling.
"I was racing the final prototype last year. I'm stoked this frame is in production now. Carl (Decker) and Kelli (Emmett) have them now and everyone can enjoy them."
Stock Anthem X Advanced SLs normally come with a 100mm-travel Fox Racing Shox fork up front but Craig's is set up with a 120mm one instead. Craig said he made the change in part simply because he enjoyed the performance of the bike with more travel but also because "it slackens the head tube angle by about one degree," giving the bike the handling that best suits his style.
Most of the build kit comes from Shimano including an XTR group – hopped up with lightweight Yumeya bits – and wheels and cockpit components from PRO. The only major deviation for the former two-time national cross-country champion is a lightweight single 38T chainring setup with an MRP 1.X guide to keep his chain in place. Adding a wide-range 11-34T cassette still leaves Craig with a broad enough spread to get him through his races near the front of the competition.
Like his Giant teammates, Craig runs one metallic and one organic brake pad in each disc brake caliper instead of matched sets to get a better balance between stopping all-conditions power and noise. According to Giant global marketing director Andrew Juskaitis, "The two materials have different properties and with one of each you get the best of both worlds."
Unlike his Rabobank-Giant teammates, who ride and race Vredestein tires, Craig is personally sponsored by Michelin and he will again race its products in 2010.
"I have a slightly different kit being made than my teammates," said Craig. "It will have a more prominent Shimano logo and of course, I'm racing Michelin tires. I want to stay well with what works for me." Craig said the lines of communication have been opening with Michelin and he expects that working with them, they'll "be able to do some good things" going forward. His comments hinted at a partnership for more R&D though he didn't reveal any specifics.
Craig received his 2010 bike just prior to the team training camp but given that he is in the early stages of recovery from ACL reconstructive surgery in February, he had not yet ridden this particular bike and was still setting it up.
Craig said he's not planning any major changes in his bike position for 2010 although he will have his physical therapist look at him on the bike and advise of possible minor adjustments. He had just gotten enough range of motion back with his injured knee to complete a full pedal stroke, but is still working toward "pedaling normally."
Even so, Craig is hoping to return to competition – with his new bike – as early as June.