Current US national cross-country champion Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Gary Fisher) won the inaugural Mellow Johnny's Classic on a Gary Fisher Superfly 29er hardtail but chose a full-suspension Superfly 100 this time around to better cope with the course's relentless rocks.
Though offering 110mm of rear wheel travel - as compared to none - Horgan-Kobelski's Superfly 100 isn't much heavier than its non-suspended cousin. Frame weight is only around 2.2kg (5.85lb) thanks to a clever all-carbon construction and a svelte 44g carbon swing-link, and the complete build is an impressive 10.69kg (23.57lb) in full race trim with a CO2 inflator and computer - lighter than many riders' 26" hardtails.
Front triangle stiffness is impressive too, owing to the ultra-wide BB95 bottom bracket shell with press-fit bearings and a tapered head tube. And out back, the efficient modified single-pivot suspension design and clever ABP dropout pivots help keep wasted power to a minimum and also work to keep the rear end planted under braking.
In contrast to the stock Superfly 100, suspension duties are handled at both ends by team sponsor RockShox instead of the usual Fox Racing Shox bits.
Bolted to the swing-link is an air-sprung Monarch 3.1 rear shock - which Horgan-Kobelski says he left in the mid-gate position the entire race - and up front is RockShox's latest Reba 29 XX World Cup fork, complete with a tapered carbon fibre 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" crown and steerer assembly that team mechanic Matt Opperman says shaves roughly 140g as compared to the standard alloy version.
Old habits die hard though, as team mechanic Matt Opperman says that Horgan-Kobelski runs a relatively firm 160psi in his rear shock, paired with a more standard 110/110psi positive/negative pressure up front.
"Jeremy runs his rear shock probably a little more firm than a lot of riders because he comes from a hardtail background for most of his career," he said. "But he's been experimenting a lot with rear shocks so he's been getting progressively more comfort and with the issues with his back, this really works for him."
Further aiding on the weight front is Horgan-Kobelski's SRAM XX component group, dressed in versatile 26/39T chainrings and an 11-36T cassette to better match with the 29" wheels' longer rollout.
Lone substitutions include standard stainless steel Avid G3 rotors in place of the aluminum-and-steel XX units and a steel-caged SRAM Red road front derailleur bolted to the direct-mount tab on the seat tube with a custom mount made by high-end auto parts manufacturer and importer Stratmosphere.
Keen-eyed readers will note Opperman's inclusion of Torx-head titanium bolts in several locations such as the water bottle cage and front derailleur cable anchor bolt. However, he quickly points out that while they do save a few grams, it's more for his own convenience than anything else.
"More so than anything they're T25s," he admitted. "We did shave some weight on this bike with the all-carbon crown and steerer tube on the BlackBox fork but other than that the XX stuff is so light there's not a whole lot of weight savings we can do with our sponsors. The stuff's all pretty light and durable."
Horgan-Kobelski has famously preferred to run fast and relatively narrow tyres on his 29ers and this latest Superfly 100 is no exception. Mounted around his Bontrager Race X Lite wheels are a set of lot-knob Bontrager 29-0 tubeless-ready clinchers measuring just 1.90" in width.
According Opperman, Horgan-Kobelski at least opted to run a fairly conservative 33psi both front and rear to prevent pinch flats.
Wrapping things up are a carbon fibre seatpost and low-rise bar plus a forged aluminum stem, all from Bontrager, light-yet-grippy ESI silicone foam rubber grips, a firm fi'zi:k Tundra k:ium saddle, previous-generation crankbrothers Eggbeater 4ti pedals, slick Nokon red-anodized aluminum housing and sealed cables, a Cane Creek 110 headset, and a cheeky Trek Time Watch analog clock.
Not to go unmentioned, either, is the custom stars-and-stripes paint job. As compared to the standard livery, the rich red, white and blue hues almost assuredly add back some of grams that were so painstakingly shaved away (paint is surprisingly heavy) but given how hard Horgan-Kobelski worked to earn that title last July, we doubt he minds much.