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Pro bike: Brendan Fairclough's Scott Gambler

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Brendan Fairclough (Gstaadt-Scott) races on a standard large-sized Scott Gambler frame but with a few front-end tweaks to produce the handling characteristics he wants

Brendan Fairclough (Gstaadt-Scott) races on a standard large-sized Scott Gambler frame but with a few front-end tweaks to produce the handling characteristics he wants (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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How big a deal is Brendan Fairclough? He gets his own signature pedals from DMR. Note his pin setup, too, which exaggerates the concave surface and looks to provide heaps of grip

How big a deal is Brendan Fairclough? He gets his own signature pedals from DMR. Note his pin setup, too, which exaggerates the concave surface and looks to provide heaps of grip (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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A chunk of moto foam keeps debris from filling up the hollow spindle

A chunk of moto foam keeps debris from filling up the hollow spindle (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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Fairclough uses the direct mount option for the Shimano Saint rear derailleur. We find it hard to believe that the hanger and derailleur can actually flex enough to hit the chain stay but there's a bit of stick-on rubber padding in place just in case

Fairclough uses the direct mount option for the Shimano Saint rear derailleur. We find it hard to believe that the hanger and derailleur can actually flex enough to hit the chain stay but there's a bit of stick-on rubber padding in place just in case (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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We weren't able to get details on what sort of secret rubber compounds Schwalbe used for Fairclough's front tyre but it certainly smelled different

We weren't able to get details on what sort of secret rubber compounds Schwalbe used for Fairclough's front tyre but it certainly smelled different (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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Fairclough's DT Swiss Gravity rims bear two valves - the telltale sign that he's running Schwalbe's new dual-chamber tubeless system, which features a higher-pressure inner core that firmly locks the tyre on to the rim. According to Fairclough, the system has allowed him to drop pressure out back about 3psi relative to his old setup

Fairclough's DT Swiss Gravity rims bear two valves - the telltale sign that he's running Schwalbe's new dual-chamber tubeless system, which features a higher-pressure inner core that firmly locks the tyre on to the rim. According to Fairclough, the system has allowed him to drop pressure out back about 3psi relative to his old setup (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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Union Jacks are littered throughout the bike

Union Jacks are littered throughout the bike (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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The rear tyre is a standard Schwalbe Magic Mary but again with the company's trick new dual-chamber tubeless system

The rear tyre is a standard Schwalbe Magic Mary but again with the company's trick new dual-chamber tubeless system (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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Fairclough uses just seven cogs on his Shimano Ultegra cassette. Given how common the practice is, we're surprised DT Swiss hasn't made a downhill-specific rear hub with a shorter freehub body and wider hub shell to increase the spoke bracing angles

Fairclough uses just seven cogs on his Shimano Ultegra cassette. Given how common the practice is, we're surprised DT Swiss hasn't made a downhill-specific rear hub with a shorter freehub body and wider hub shell to increase the spoke bracing angles (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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Cables are routed on the top of the down tube where they're protected from impact. The head tube angle can be adjusted between 61 and 65 degrees but Fairclough opted for the standard 63-degree setup for the Windham course

Cables are routed on the top of the down tube where they're protected from impact. The head tube angle can be adjusted between 61 and 65 degrees but Fairclough opted for the standard 63-degree setup for the Windham course (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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Downhill team mechanics are big fans of stick-on Velcro strips to quiet down chain slap

Downhill team mechanics are big fans of stick-on Velcro strips to quiet down chain slap (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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The Shimano Saint cranks are bolstered with an e13 LG1+ chain guide

The Shimano Saint cranks are bolstered with an e13 LG1+ chain guide (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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Although the rear end is effectively a basic single-pivot layout in terms of axle path, the complex linkage allows for a carefully prescribed shock rate as the wheel moves through its travel range

Although the rear end is effectively a basic single-pivot layout in terms of axle path, the complex linkage allows for a carefully prescribed shock rate as the wheel moves through its travel range (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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Those polished links are definitely not stock. Team mechanic Ben Vergnaud says it took him about ten hours of hand polishing to get them to look this way - and Fairclough told us that he's super happy with how they look

Those polished links are definitely not stock. Team mechanic Ben Vergnaud says it took him about ten hours of hand polishing to get them to look this way - and Fairclough told us that he's super happy with how they look (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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Fairclough toyed with both the short and long chainstay settings during practice (the short one is shown here) but ultimately decided on the longer setup

Fairclough toyed with both the short and long chainstay settings during practice (the short one is shown here) but ultimately decided on the longer setup (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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There are also two available settings for the rear shock position. Needless to say, the paint has been taking a beating

There are also two available settings for the rear shock position. Needless to say, the paint has been taking a beating (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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Fairclough isn't on one of Fox's new RAD rear shocks but it's been factory tuned nonetheless

Fairclough isn't on one of Fox's new RAD rear shocks but it's been factory tuned nonetheless (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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A burly Fox 40 Float is used up front, again with a factory tune that makes it remarkably supple. Team mechanic Ben Vergnaud says that partly because of Fairclough's preference for flat pedals – he likes the front suspension to be markedly softer than the rear

A burly Fox 40 Float is used up front, again with a factory tune that makes it remarkably supple. Team mechanic Ben Vergnaud says that partly because of Fairclough's preference for flat pedals – he likes the front suspension to be markedly softer than the rear (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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Factory tuned Fox forks typically bear a personalised sticker on the arch

Factory tuned Fox forks typically bear a personalised sticker on the arch (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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A carefully trimmed decal keeps mud from packing up the back of the arch

A carefully trimmed decal keeps mud from packing up the back of the arch (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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Fairclough runs custom CNC-machined fork crowns with an additional 10mm of offset relative to stock models. The increased rake lengthens the wheelbase for more stability at high speed but also decreases the trail to maintain fluid handling. It's a geometry trick that's often seen on road bikes used for cobbled classics such as Paris-Roubaix

Fairclough runs custom CNC-machined fork crowns with an additional 10mm of offset relative to stock models. The increased rake lengthens the wheelbase for more stability at high speed but also decreases the trail to maintain fluid handling. It's a geometry trick that's often seen on road bikes used for cobbled classics such as Paris-Roubaix (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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How hard does Fairclough ride? The tyre rub on the seat stays should provide a bit of a clue - although it also suggests that the frame could do with a tad more clearance

How hard does Fairclough ride? The tyre rub on the seat stays should provide a bit of a clue - although it also suggests that the frame could do with a tad more clearance (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

Scott Bicycles recently debuted a totally redesigned Gambler downhill frame that incorporates all of the geometry tweaks that once had to be produced custom for star rider Brendan Fairclough (Gstaad-Scott). Even so, Fairclough's rig at the World Cup round in Windham, New York still featured a set of custom fork crowns to help give him an edge on tracks with lots of speed but plenty of flowy corners, too.

Brendan Fairclough (Gstaad-Scott) got his geometry wish list on the new Gambler but even the new bike has a set of custom fork crowns now, too

Fairclough's new frame may bear a resemblance, in profile, to the old Gambler – but the 210mm-travel alloy platform is in fact a ground-up redesign built around 27.5in wheels. Key for Fairclough is the longer front end, but there's still an enormous range of geometry adjustability available to suit the day's course.

For Windham's short but fast track, Fairclough went with the standard 63-degree head tube angle, a low 343mm-tall bottom bracket, and the longer 440mm chainstay setting. On paper, that would tend to yield quite a long, low, and slack geometry that would benefit all-out speed over the ability to turn. But Fox steps in with a set of custom 40 Float crowns that lend some extra manoeuverability without overly sacrificing stability.

An extra 10mm of offset in the custom crowns speeds up the handling while maintaining a long wheelbase

Compared with the standard 40 Float's forged aluminium crowns, Fairclough's special CNC-machined bits are offset an extra 10mm, which adds to the already-long and confidence-inspiring wheelbase but shortens the trail figure to actually improve front-end nimbleness. It's a trick we've commonly seen on road bikes specially built for cobbled classics such as Paris-Roubaix – and one we expect to see more of in downhill as racers continue to seek out even more tweakability for a given track.

There are a few visual twists, too. Stock frames feature black-anodised shock links but mechanic Ben Vergnaud has taken the time to hand polish them to an immaculately brilliant shine. He told us that he ultimately wants to give the custom crowns the same treatment, but given that they first have to black anodised and then still polished, it'll have to wait until time allows – and it'll be a fair chunk of time, too. According to Vergnaud, just the links took about ten hours to do.

Got an extra ten hours on your hands? Then maybe your Gambler links can look like this, too

Fairclough is running Schwalbe's new dual-chamber tubeless system, plus a special prototype tyre up front

Seven gears is all Fairclough needs
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