Cory Wallace, from Jasper in Alberta, Canada, is an unassuming figure in endurance mountain biking. But when the races get painfully long and hard, he tends to shine. As an endurance specialist, Wallace travels the globe competing in the world's toughest mountain bike stage races, single day marathon (XCM) and even the occasional Olympic discipline (XCO) race – such as the upcoming World Cup round in Cairns.
While Wallace was staying in Sydney, BikeRadar was able to take a look at his 2013 race bike. Wallace says the machine has over 70 days of racing in it, and judging by it's appearance we're inclined to believe him!
The bike was ridden in 2013 to overall first place finishes at the Mongolia Bike Challenge and Canadian national marathon championships; and second place finishes at the Crocodile Trophy and TransRockies. Wallace says his 2014 bike – sitting safety at home in Canada – is basically the same but with a Stan's No Tubes wheelset.
As part of the Kona team, Wallace has access to both carbon hardtails and dual suspension bikes. Even though he tends to be on his bike for hours on end, a hardtail is the usual choice because of its all-out reliability and the fact that many marathon races end in sprint finishes.
Wallace picks the King Kahuna for most races. He uses this carbon 29er with large 2.2" tubeless tyres to help soothe the miles
Wallace admits a dual-suspension is the more comfortable option, especially for events such as solo 24-hour races, but between the carbon frame and large volume 2.2" 29er tyres, there's still enough to take the sting away.
Wallace doesn't travel with a mechanic and so the bike needs to be as servicing-free as possible: at 9.7kg (21.34lb), his setup sits on the obvious side of reliability.
It features a near-full SRAM XX1 drivetrain and, Wallace tells BikeRadar, "you couldn't pay me to ride anything else. The single ring setup with a wide range cassette is perfect for everything I do and the reliability is by far and away the biggest selling point". At the time of photographing, Wallace was riding with an XO1 rear derailleur – according to him, "a rock stole my XX1."
Imagine riding more than 850km, with 14,000m of climbing in just seven stages. Now imagine doing all that with just a 36T chainring. That's exactly what Wallace did to win the Mongolia Bike Challenge in 2013
Matching up with the 10-42T 11-speed rear cassette, Wallace pushes a rather large 36T front chainring – something he claims is well suited to the longer road and open sections found in most marathon races.
This Kona has thru-axles both front and rear – something that's quickly becoming a standard of even the lightest hardtails – with RockShox's Maxle system making an appearance at either end.
Wallace's nickname 'Wally' is engraved into his grip lockrings
A few other pieces standout to add some character to this borderline-abused Kona, including some custom engraved ODI lock-on grips, which feature Wallace's nickname 'Wally' and a WTB Silverado saddle that is begging for retirement.
Wallace's upright bike setup features a handlebar height higher than his seat; something he chooses for both XCO and multi-day stage racing.
Compared with many of his elite competitors, Wallace's setup is very upright
While some riders may change setup and even bikes depending on the style of race, Wallace told us that his bike setup doesn't change one bit – except for an additional bottle cage in races such as the Crocodile Trophy.
"Making sure your bike is set up efficiently is seriously important: I see the guys at Balance Point Racing at least once a year. When you're spending lots of time on the bike, you need to be confident your position is exact."