Thomas Frischknecht is one of the most decorated athletes in cycling with UCI world championship titles in cross-country, marathon and cyclo-cross disciplines, eighteen UCI World Cup victories, and fifteen world championship medals, not to mention three trips to the Olympics (for both road and mountain in 1996), eleven Swiss national titles and three UCI World Cup series victories. Not bad, to say the least.
Even in retirement, the 39-year-old rider is heavily involved in racing – as team manager for the Swisspower mountain bike team – and still remarkably fit though now it's by choice, not necessity. As part of that newfound freedom, Frischknecht has also traded in the Scott Scale hardtail and Spark short-travel full-suspension race rigs for a longer-legged Scott Genius as a daily driver with a healthy 150mm of travel at either end and a more versatile geometry, but still just 10.66kg (23.5lb) of mass to tow around.
"The Genius is now my fun bike for big rides in the Alps or to play around," he said. "I still ride my hardtail a bit, but the Genius is now my main bike. The Spark is a good bike, too, but much more race oriented, which is not my main target anymore."
As on his Spark, Frischknecht's Genius uses a monocoque front triangle plus a nearly all-carbon rear end, including both the asymmetrical chain stays, seat stays, and even the dropouts – just the upper links and a few hard points are made of alloy. Claimed frame weight is a staggering 2,250g (4.96lb) including the proprietary rear shock, rivaling many companies' full-blown race chassis.
A recent rework changed the suspension from a true four-bar design to a modified four-bar but much of the originally intended functionality has been retained in the unique Equalizer 2 rear pull shock. The three-position Tracloc handlebar remote selectively opens and closes various shock chambers, allowing Frischknecht to quickly choose between the full 150mm of rear wheel travel, a shortened 95mm setting, or a full lockout, plus appropriate geometry changes to boot. The low-slung frame design keeps the weight relatively low to the ground, too, and there's even enough room in the compact front triangle for a single bottle cage (a carbon one, of course).
Ritchey has sponsored Frischknecht seemingly since the dawn of mountain biking and that relationship continues even in retirement. Nearly everything that could say 'Ritchey' on it does, from the Superlogic carbon low-rise bar, WCS Streem V2 saddle and carbon post, all the way to the wheels and tires, the pedals, and even the grips. The WCS stem is a particularly special bit, too, as it bears a playful 'Frischi' logo underneath the clearcoated finish – an admittedly small touch but one that likely took years to earn.
We caught up with Frischi during the recent SRAM XX launch and naturally, his Genius was resplendent in the new group from tip to tail. Gearing is SRAM's most climbing-oriented configuration with 26/39T chainrings and an 11-26T cassette, 160mm rotors are fitted both front and rear, and the XLoc hydraulic remote for the RockShox Revelation Maxle Lite fork is neatly integrated into the right-hand brake lever clamp.
It's all pretty standard issue gear, and even Frischknecht admits that there is "no special stuff on the bike."
Frischi says he normally uses a carbon fiber DT Swiss EXC fork with a regular 9mm quick-release axle, though, along with a carbon Ritchey Superlogic front wheel to match the rear. In addition, both tires were fitted with tubes at the time we shot photos but he says he usually runs a converted tubeless setup to better deal with Tuscany's minefield of thorns.
Even with so many seasons under his belt, one would think that someone like Frischknecht would have a hard time leaving the competitive scene behind, right? Think again – on the contrary, it sounds like he's too busy having fun.
"I feel very comfortable in my new role as team manager," he said. "I still get to travel to the nice places and I’m part of the racing scene, which means a lot to me. But to be honest, I don’t miss the suffering at all."