Unlike some riders that feel the need for radically upgraded gear year after year, Ryan Trebon (Kona) is on an identical frame to what he used last year and he's quite happy about it. In fact, the current US national cyclo-cross champion has been on Kona frames since 2005 and after years of tweaking and refinement, he feels it's a perfect fit both in terms of sizing and riding style.
Trebon's Major Jake is a custom-built frame but aside from an extra centimeter of length in the top tube and seat tube, is a virtual clone of the 62cm production model with the same butted and modestly shaped Kona Race Light Scandium tubing, an asymmetrically machined head tube, and a machined driveside chain stay stub for extra chainring and tire clearance. However, Trebon's frame omits bottle mounts on the seat tube and, of course, is covered in team-trademark bright orange paint.
"They're just a little taller in both the seat tube and top tube length but they're pretty close to the stock 62cm," he said. "It's the same tubing and everything; it's just a little bit bigger."
Not surprisingly, the riding position has been similarly refined over the years as well and has been very consistent over the past few seasons. Trebon says he starts every season with the same baseline settings and then makes only very minor adjustments from there based on feel – but only a couple of millimeters at a time in any direction to avoid injury.
The list of carryover componentry includes a well worn-in Selle San Marco Concor Lite saddle, wide-profile KORE Race+ cantilevers with SwissStop Yellow King pads, and a heap of parts from FSA, including an OS-99 forged aluminum stem, Energy T traditional-bend aluminum bar, SL-K Light carbon crankset with ceramic bottom bracket, and RD-488 deep-section carbon tubular wheels.
Trebon has switched from an Alpha Q CX20 carbon fork to one from Edge Composites, though, and also updates to Shimano's latest Dura-Ace 7900 group, too. Up front, there's a new FSA ceramic-bearing headset and the seatpost has been beefed up even further from years past to FSA's even-burlier FR-230. Total weight is barely changed from last year at 8.39kg (18.50lb) – a reasonable figure considering the bike's size.
In spite of the expansive lengths of tubing in between the TIG-welded joints, Trebon says the frame stiffness suits his explosive riding style well and he doesn't feel disadvantaged relative to the featherweight rigs of some of his competitors.
"Weight isn't everything," said Trebon. "I tend to ride a lot more out of the saddle and do really hard accelerations. Stiffness and handling are the most important to me."
That Selle San Marco Concor Lite saddle is clearly quite important to him, too, as the discontinued model is becoming increasingly difficult to find. However, Trebon is well stocked.
"That's the same one I used last year," he said. "I think I've got six upstairs and about ten in the garage. I don't really like them when they're brand-new. I like them when they're about a year old. When they get more broken in they feel better. That's when they fit the best, I think."
Perhaps even more so than usual, tire choice is likely to be a key factor for the main event on Sunday. We photographed Trebon's bike with aggressive Dugast Rhino tubulars and he says he's likely to stick with that tread if conditions stay sloppy. Yet even the grippiest tires are useless if they don’t stay on the rim.
Trebon says his gluing process "isn't magic" but he's deliberate, mindful of adequate curing time and swears by double-sided 'Belgian tubular tape' to create a rock-solid bond. Both the rim and tire get two base coats – with overnight curing time allowed between coats – plus another tack coat per side with the tape applied in between.
"In 'cross it's not so much the lateral cornering force but it's when the tire gets unweighted and then suddenly weighted that it cracks the bond," Trebon said. "I like the tape; it makes it really easy and is so secure that it's hard to get the tire off."