Skip to main content

Team Giant mechanics, managers ready for season

Image 1 of 13

Cross country and marathon racer Oli Beckingsale works on his bike.

Cross country and marathon racer Oli Beckingsale works on his bike. (Image credit: Jake Orness)
Image 2 of 13

The mechanics have come up with an ingenious way to stash cables within the team rig for easy retrieval. They are stowed in this tube mounted to the ceiling of the trailer.

The mechanics have come up with an ingenious way to stash cables within the team rig for easy retrieval. They are stowed in this tube mounted to the ceiling of the trailer. (Image credit: Jake Orness)
Image 3 of 13

The Giant Factory team's soigneur, Felice Beitzel.

The Giant Factory team's soigneur, Felice Beitzel. (Image credit: Jake Orness)
Image 4 of 13

Giant Downhill team manager and mechanic Joe Staub.

Giant Downhill team manager and mechanic Joe Staub. (Image credit: Jake Orness)
Image 5 of 13

Team mechanic Justin Morse cleans one of his rider's bikes.

Team mechanic Justin Morse cleans one of his rider's bikes. (Image credit: Jake Orness)
Image 6 of 13

The Giant team camp and presentation was buried in snow, despite being in Tehachapi, California. This rig will visit downhill and cross country races nationwide.

The Giant team camp and presentation was buried in snow, despite being in Tehachapi, California. This rig will visit downhill and cross country races nationwide. (Image credit: Jake Orness)
Image 7 of 13

Giant team mechanic Joe Staub and cross country racer Kelli Emmett talk about her bike.

Giant team mechanic Joe Staub and cross country racer Kelli Emmett talk about her bike. (Image credit: Jake Orness)
Image 8 of 13

Giant's downhillers push their bikes up for another practice run to dial in their suspension.

Giant's downhillers push their bikes up for another practice run to dial in their suspension. (Image credit: Jake Orness)
Image 9 of 13

The team goes through hundreds of tires in a season.

The team goes through hundreds of tires in a season. (Image credit: Jake Orness)
Image 10 of 13

Giant's new signing, Danny Hart, works on setting up his bike for the season.

Giant's new signing, Danny Hart, works on setting up his bike for the season. (Image credit: Jake Orness)
Image 11 of 13

There are always bikes to wash.

There are always bikes to wash. (Image credit: Jake Orness)
Image 12 of 13

The Giant Factory Off-Road Team shuttles its downhill bikes and riders for another run to set up its suspension.

The Giant Factory Off-Road Team shuttles its downhill bikes and riders for another run to set up its suspension. (Image credit: Jake Orness)
Image 13 of 13

Kelli Emmett's locker in the Giant team rig.

Kelli Emmett's locker in the Giant team rig. (Image credit: Jake Orness)

At a recent Giant Factory Off-Road Team training camp in Tehachapi, California, Cyclingnews took a tour of the team's race rig as mechanics finished setting up the team's equipment for the forthcoming mountain bike season.

While the team may focus on racing during the spring and summer months, the mechanics and managers focus their preseason time on procuring equipment, performing initial bike builds and helping riders get sorted with their new gear.

"I think we build about 40 bikes throughout the year. Sometimes they are race bikes, sometimes prototype bikes," said Joe Staub, who doubles as the team manager for the downhill part of the team and head mechanic for both the downhillers and the domestic cross country team.

Staub and mechanic Justin Morse had just returned from Idaho, where the team's truck and trailer are kept and where its equipment is stored. There, they spent 10 days building a majority of the squad's bikes. "We still have about 10 more to build," he estimated.

Staub has been with Giant since 2008 and says that the team's long-term relationship with its sponsors makes the early season setup much easier. "There have been no major changes in sponsors. We have multi-year deals in progress."

"This year, we're racing on equipment from Shimano, Michelin, Fox and fi'zi:k saddles," said Staub. "The cross country riders are on Shimano XTR kits and we'll be running the upgrade kit Yumeya for XTR. It includes titanium bolts and gold doodads. It's nice stuff and adds polish and finish on the cross-country race bikes."

"On the downhill bikes, we have a solid build with Shimano Saint and Fox suspension. We're running Mavic rims with DT spokes."

Staub is excited about the team's signing of two promising young downhill racers, Danny Hart and Duncan Riffle, who will join Jared Rando on the gravity team. "We're really stepping it up on the downhill side this year. Giant's had a long legacy of racing downhill with Rob Warner and Myles Rockwell, and it's really cool to see the program take a step forward with a bigger program and more support at the World Cup level."

Bikes, bikes everywhere

In a given year, the downhill and cross country racers will get several bikes. "Most of the gravity riders get about five or six bikes per year, depending on what they're doing," Staub continued. "The cross country athletes, like Carl Decker, Adam Craig or Kelli Emmett, get four to five bikes."

"Some years that changes. For example, when we bring a new rider in, like Duncan or Danny, they get more bikes because they need a road bike and a cross country bike. We give them a complete quiver of bikes so they can train on whatever bike they need to suit their purposes."

Cross country racers will usually receive both hardtail and full suspension bikes while the downhillers will get whichever models of bikes best suit the types of courses they'll encounter.

Given the ever-increasing prices of transporting bikes overseas for World Cup and World Championship events, Giant has established infrastructure on multiple continents to support the team.

"Ideally the guys have race bikes at their house and then one on each major continent where stuff is happening. So we have race bikes and infrastructure in the US and in Europe. It's important to not have to cart back and forth a lot of expensive gear."

For other less frequently visited countries or other continents like Australia or South Africa, Staub says the team has no choice but to transport its gear there and back.

Staub himself will travel with the rig to most major races. "I'll be at four Pro XCT races and three or four Pro GRT races. It's different from some teams because we have downhill and cross country riders so sometimes we have to be in two places at once domestically. We do our best to get our riders at all the appropriate events with the best support we can, but sometimes you just have to compromise with a schedule that accommodates the budget and rider needs and also gets us the exposure we need."

The rest of the gear

Staub and overall team manager Frank Trotter also have to handle the acquisition of lots of other gear, not just bikes.

"We ordered 45 chains this year and last year we ordered the same amount and had to order another 20 more," said Staub. "It's not because they break but we make sure the equipment is 100 percent all the time."

"On the downhill side, we probably go through 40 tires per rider per season for just World Cup racing. On the cross country side, it's usually less than that. If you factor in all the local races, the training and non-World Cup events, it's quite a few tires. Maybe 100 per rider in some cases."

"A guy like Adam goes through a lot of tires - all mountain, cross country and downhill tires. A guy like Duncan goes through a few less tires - less cross country tires for him, but more downhill tires. I'd estimate it average at 30-60 tires for racing and about the same number for training."

Behind every good racer is a good support crew

Giant backs its riders with talented support staff. "I don't know another program that has our support," said Staub. "For example, our soigneur Felice Beitzel is a doctor with a PhD in exercise physiology."

"We have a coach that is a veteran World Cup racer with tons of experience, Oscar Saiz. He raced for Giant for several years and he's one of the most intelligent people here with a mind toward racing. He's good at taking preparation off the track and helping riders get solid results. He's in a new coaching capacity for 2010."

Downhill team mechanic Morse backs up his wrenching duties with plenty of experience. "He's a mechanical engineer and a smart guy," said Staub.

"We're setting ourselves up for a super season. I'm psyched," summarized Staub.

Look for Giant's factory team downhill and cross country racers, along with the team rig, at international and domestic US events throughout 2010.