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Pro bike: Rebecca Rusch's Specialized Fate Carbon 29

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Rebecca Rusch's team-issue Specialized Fate is the women's analogue to the Stumpjumper HT, built with specific geometry but also smaller-diameter tubes.

Rebecca Rusch's team-issue Specialized Fate is the women's analogue to the Stumpjumper HT, built with specific geometry but also smaller-diameter tubes. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The Specialized Fate frame uses PressFit 30 bottom bracket cups.

The Specialized Fate frame uses PressFit 30 bottom bracket cups. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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SRAM's XX rear derailleur features a forged aluminum parallelogram and a carbon fiber outer pulley cage plate.

SRAM's XX rear derailleur features a forged aluminum parallelogram and a carbon fiber outer pulley cage plate. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Slim tubes on the rear end of the Specialized Fate carbon 29er hardtail promise a smooth ride.

Slim tubes on the rear end of the Specialized Fate carbon 29er hardtail promise a smooth ride. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Claimed weight on the Specialized Roval Control Trail SL 29 wheels is just 1,530g thanks in part to carbon fiber rims.

Claimed weight on the Specialized Roval Control Trail SL 29 wheels is just 1,530g thanks in part to carbon fiber rims. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Rusch pairs the Avid XX World Cup brake calipers with a 160mm rotor up front but a 140mm out back.

Rusch pairs the Avid XX World Cup brake calipers with a 160mm rotor up front but a 140mm out back. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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A women's-specific Specialized Ruby Expert saddle is mounted atop a two-bolt Specialized S-Works carbon seatpost.

A women's-specific Specialized Ruby Expert saddle is mounted atop a two-bolt Specialized S-Works carbon seatpost. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Specialized uses the distinctive seat cluster treatment as an exit point for the internally routed front derailleur cable.

Specialized uses the distinctive seat cluster treatment as an exit point for the internally routed front derailleur cable. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The curved seat tube allows for short 436mm chain stays.

The curved seat tube allows for short 436mm chain stays. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The custom etched Carbon-Ti skewers add a neat personalized touch to team bikes.

The custom etched Carbon-Ti skewers add a neat personalized touch to team bikes. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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These tires are marked as 'prototype' but the tread design has now been made into the standard Specialized Fast Trak model.

These tires are marked as 'prototype' but the tread design has now been made into the standard Specialized Fast Trak model. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Rusch says she opted for the second-tier 'Control'-level tires instead of the lighter S-Works model given the Arizona desert's abundance of rocks and cactus needles.

Rusch says she opted for the second-tier 'Control'-level tires instead of the lighter S-Works model given the Arizona desert's abundance of rocks and cactus needles. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Crankbrothers' latest Eggbeater 11 pedals are screwed into the ends of the SRAM carbon crankarms.

Crankbrothers' latest Eggbeater 11 pedals are screwed into the ends of the SRAM carbon crankarms. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Rusch uses Avid's lightest XX World Cup hydraulic disc brakes.

Rusch uses Avid's lightest XX World Cup hydraulic disc brakes. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The trick machined steel cassette is undoubtedly one of the gems of SRAM's XX group.

The trick machined steel cassette is undoubtedly one of the gems of SRAM's XX group. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Specialized equips team riders with personalized seatpost collars and skewers from Italian company Carbon-Ti.

Specialized equips team riders with personalized seatpost collars and skewers from Italian company Carbon-Ti. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Rusch pairs her Quarq power meter to a Garmin Edge 500 computer head.

Rusch pairs her Quarq power meter to a Garmin Edge 500 computer head. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Rusch says the weight penalty on the Quarq SRAM S2275 BB30 power meter is so minimal that she has no issues running it for both training and racing.

Rusch says the weight penalty on the Quarq SRAM S2275 BB30 power meter is so minimal that she has no issues running it for both training and racing. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Carbon dropouts and post mount caliper tabs are built into the rear end of the Specialized Fate.

Carbon dropouts and post mount caliper tabs are built into the rear end of the Specialized Fate. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Rusch runs the custom RockShox/Specialized SID fork with a carbon fiber crown/steerer assembly and Brain inertia damper.

Rusch runs the custom RockShox/Specialized SID fork with a carbon fiber crown/steerer assembly and Brain inertia damper. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Ergo-style Specialized Body Geometry grips provide lots of cushioning and surface area.

Ergo-style Specialized Body Geometry grips provide lots of cushioning and surface area. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The internally routed derailleur cables are fed into the frame just behind the tapered head tube.

The internally routed derailleur cables are fed into the frame just behind the tapered head tube. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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The Specialized-exclusive Brain inertia damper has adjustable threshold to help fine tune the ride.

The Specialized-exclusive Brain inertia damper has adjustable threshold to help fine tune the ride. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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29er critics often point to the segment's often-heavy wheels but that argument doesn't really apply in this case.

29er critics often point to the segment's often-heavy wheels but that argument doesn't really apply in this case. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)

This article originally published on BikeRadar

Mountain bike endurance racing specialist Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) took her latest victory in the duo category with Nat Ross at the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo aboard Specialized's new women's-specific Fate carbon fiber 29er hardtail. According to the 'Queen of Pain', the light overall weight, comfortable ride quality, and fast rolling wheels and tires were just the thing for conquering the Arizona desert.

"What I have available to me for bikes with Specialized is the pick of the litter, which is sweet," she told Cyclingnews just a couple of hours before her first lap. "I've been riding the Fate almost exclusively since Leadville last year and somewhat experimentally with stage racing, taking it to Costa Rica for La Ruta and Trans Andes.

"I wasn't sure about four days in the saddle on a hardtail," she continued, "but I've been really pleasantly surprised with the fact that I think a 29er just gives you slightly more cush – not like a full-suspension bike – but in a lot of those endurance races, the lion's share of riding isn't super technical. And the fact that it's so light, it's so fast on the road – it does ride like a road bike on dirt roads and stuff like that so I'm pretty stoked with it."

Rusch is keen to point out that her switch to 29in wheels wasn't driven by sponsor pressures or marketplace trends, either, but rather back-to-back testing in race conditions.

"A few years I did my own little experiment where I rode my 26-inch Era for half the laps and a 29er Stumpy hardtail for the other half – I had to see for myself. It was really interesting doing the exact same course for a whole day and comparing the two bikes for myself and that's really what sold me. I can ride over stuff better and hands down, the wheel size is faster. And now they've gotten lighter with carbon wheels – there's no excuse now."

Claimed weight on the Specialized Roval Control Trail SL 29 wheels is just 1,530g, thanks in part to carbon fiber rims

Indeed, Rusch certainly couldn't have pointed to a heavy bike if things didn't happen to go her way - actual complete weight as pictured here is just 9.14kg (20.15lb) without the bottle and computer. Helping things along are a SRAM XX group with the lighter-weight World Cup brake option and 140mm rear rotor, a carbon fiber crown and steerer on the Specialized/RockShox SID World Cup fork with Brain inertia damper, carbon rimmed Specialized Roval Control SL 29 tubeless wheels, and lightweight aluminum and carbon fiber cockpit goodies from Specialized and Truvativ.

Rusch wisely doesn't prioritize weight above overall function, however, particularly in the context of a 24-hour event where reliability is key.

"I'm running the Control tires here, which are thicker, because of thorns and that kind of stuff," she told us. "That's a slight weight penalty but I've found that sometimes it's really worth it. A flat can cost you five minutes and then once you've got a tube in in the desert, you're kind of screwed so I'm going for a little bit of insurance on the tire casing."

Another change from previous setups is the Truvativ Noir T30 handlebar, which is uncut at 700mm across and also boasts a generous ten degrees of backsweep – but also 70g lighter than Truvativ's lightest option.

"What I'm finding is that for comfort, control, and keeping your hands from falling asleep that that's been a really good move for me."

Rusch tells Cyclingnews that a switch to Carmichael Training Systems for coaching services has prompted the last major changes – a Quarq power meter and Garmin Edge 500 – which she now uses full-time for both racing and training.

"I've got a new coach and they're all about the power – and I really wanted to try it. I first saw the new Quarq power meter at Interbike and there's hardly a weight penalty. I rode Trans Andes and recorded all the power for that and I'll record all the power here so it'll be really interesting to compare the first and last laps."

Rusch says the weight penalty on the Quarq SRAM S2275 BB30 power meter is so minimal that she has no issues running it for both training and racing

Rusch has rightfully earned her reputation as the dominant force in women's endurance mountain bike racing but what's also very impressive is how well she knows her equipment – after all, cycling is a sport of man and machine. Be it tire pressure, tire construction, fork pressure, bar width, bar sweep, or gearing, 'Reba' can not only pedal like mad but also knows what she's pedaling – pun intended.

"I'm a new rider and I didn't learn to mountain bike when I was five like a lot of these people and I've found that I need to stack the odds in my favor," she admitted. "I'm interested in the gear and I want to learn about it. I didn't even know anything so it's been a fun education but I'm way off the back – the gear changes so fast. But I figure that if I'm going to tell people about it or if women are going to ask me, I need to say, "this is why I chose this", instead of, "oh, my mechanic put it on my bike."

"That's part of the beauty of endurance riding – I don't always have a mechanic working with me so I've got to assemble my bike myself, I take it apart myself, I don't like to work on my bike but I have to sometimes, so it's been good. Then I don't just hand it over to somebody and have no clue what's going on."

While that tech knowledge makes Rusch better equipped to handle questions from fans and clinic attendees – she's the headline attraction for SRAM's Gold Rusch Tour – it also directly helps her sponsors. For example, Rusch noted that RockShox's printed-on air pressure guidelines only go down to a rider weight of 140lb.

"A lot of men and women I know are lighter than that!" she said.

According to Rusch, SRAM gave her a guideline of dropping 2psi for each five pounds of rider (plus gear) weight but she suggested simply extending the chart to eliminate the guesswork – something that SRAM is apparently considering for future production.

Rusch will use this same bike this August to defend her Leadville 100 title. The Queen of Pain undoubtedly will hope for an incident-free ride but even if some sort of mechanical does occur, it sounds like she'll be well prepared.

Complete bike specifications :

Frame : Specialized Fate Carbon 29, 17in
Fork : RockShox/Specialized SID World Cup 29 w/Brain inertia valve damper, 80mm travel, 80psi positive/negative
Headset : FSA Orbit integrated, 1 1/8-to-1 1/2in tapered
Stem : Truvativ Stylo T30, 90mm x -5°
Handlebars : Truvativ Noir T30 10S Flat, 700mm
Tape/grips : Specialized Women's BG Contour Locking Grip
Front brake : Avid XX World Cup, 160mm HSX rotor
Rear brake : Avid XX World Cup, 140mm HSX rotor
Brake levers : Avid XX World Cup
Front derailleur : SRAM XX
Rear derailleur : SRAM XX
Shift levers : SRAM XX trigger
Cassette : SRAM XX, 11-36T
Chain : SRAM PC-1071
Crankset : SRAM S2275 Quarq MTB Powermeter BB30, 39/26T, 175mm
Bottom bracket : S-Works OS, PressFit 30
Pedals : Crankbrothers Eggbeater 11
Wheelset : Specialized Roval Control Trail SL 29
Front tire : Specialized Fast Trak Control, 29x2.0in, 25psi
Rear tire : Specialized Fast Trak LK Control, 29x2.0in, 27psi
Saddle : Specialized Ruby Expert
Seat post : Specialized S-Works SL Carbon 2-Bolt
Bottle cages : Specialized Zee Cage Right
Computer : Garmin Edge 500 computer
Other accessories : Custom etched Carbon-Ti X-Clamp seatpost clamp and X-Lock skewers

Critical measurements :

Rider's height : 1.7m (5ft 7in)
Rider's weight : 61.2kg (135lb)
Saddle height, from BB (c-t) : 714mm
Saddle setback : 36mm
Seat tube length, c-t : 432mm
Seat tube length, c-c : 398mm
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem) : 548mm
Saddle-to-bar drop (vertical) : 25mm
Head tube length : 90mm
Top tube length : 575mm
Total bicycle weight : 9.14kg (20.15lb w/o bottle or computer)