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.
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