15 Short Travel Slalom & Slopestyle Bikes - Crankworx Innsbruck 2019

Jun 13, 2019
by James Smurthwaite  
With practice for dual slalom, dual speed and style and slopestyle all going off in Innsbruck yesterday, there were plenty of short travel, big fun bikes rolling around the pits. We grabbed as many as we could for public delectation:

Kade Edwards' Trek Ticket


Bas Van Steenbergen's Hyper


Carson Storch's Rocky Mountain Slopestyle Prototype


Brett Rheeder's Custom Geometry Trek Ticket S


Martin Soderstrom's Specialized P Slope


Kaos Seagrave's Transition PBJ


Cam Zink's YT Play


Peter Kaizer's Trek Ticket S


Louis Reboul's Scott Voltage


Lucas Shafer's Radon Slush


Alfie Stephens' Identiti Dr jekyll


Greg Watts' Mongoose Fireball


Mike Ross' Santa Cruz Jackal


Reed Boggs' Trek Ticket S


Garrett Mechem's Specialized P Slope


DJ Brandt's Commencal VIP Absolut SX



Regions in Article
Innsbruck


101 Comments

  • + 149
 It's a crying shame that 4X is no longer a spectacle in our sport.
  • + 38
 As well as Slalom
  • + 4
 4X just doesn't happen to be a part of Crankworx (whereas DS is) but there still is the 4X protour: www.4xprotour.com Not as interesting for you maybe but recently there was also a round of the European series (which sadly happened to coincide with a round of the 4X protour). Not sure if there is a North American series though. Unfortunately I can't find a race calendar on the 4X Protour website. But considering it is a world tour, I would expect some rounds outside Europe too.
  • + 8
 @vinay: Nothing in North America. The tracks could use some more terrain variety like some of the courses in the world cups of the previous decade imo. Today's courses look identical to BMX tracks.
  • + 1
 @me2menow: Yeah, had a discussion about this a week or so ago. There has been a while where tracks got rougher and shifted more towards mountainbiking and away from BMX (Vigo '07 comes to mind) but eventually everything reeled back in. That said, we're seeing this development in more mountainbike disciplines.
  • + 4
 @vinay: laziness, likely politics, and a lack of vision and big-hitter participation

Edit: yeah maybe, but there comes a point when all we get is crap:
www.pinkbike.com/news/uci-sanctions-downhill-snow-racing-with-potential-world-cup-series-in-2020.html
  • + 4
 @vinay: It must have been circa 2006-2008 that I watched 4X live at Anglefire. That course was rowdy and if there was a tour with courses like that and Redbull backed it like they do Crashed Ice, I think it would be a highly followed series.
  • + 3
 @me2menow: Different theories. Mine is that video coverage has become huge these days and tracks are being adapted to make this possible. Look at the Leogang WC DH track. Lots of trees cut, more wide open sections etc make it easier to catch the complete race on video. And the lower speed tech stuff just doesn't look pretty on tv for a random audience. It takes a mountainbiker to understand what's going on. Big jumps and high speed look exciting even for someone not into mountainbiking. So the low speed tech we saw in Vigo. Lofting off boulders at low speed, loose corners, multiple lines... It just doesn't sell to anyone other than the true mountainbiking fan. Of course Vigo at the time was something new, riders didn't really come prepared and there were loads of crashes. But once they've got that dialed, riders bring proper tires and a bit more suspension, I think 4X like that could be amazing.

@bluntaaronr Yeah 4X was huge back then. You even had the Jeep series (where the series winner gets a Jeep). Sadly Tara Llanes came off really bad and is now in a wheelchair (still rippin though) but I recall it was a huge event. Jill Kintner won a couple of Jeeps, Anneke Beerten got one too. I think prize money is nowhere near that level these days.
  • + 5
 I'm just going to guess and say it's probably just not relateable for most people due to the speed and skill at speed required, and therefore doesn't get as many spectators as DH, enduro or xc. Not to say that those riders aren't skilled or disciplined, but it takes some serious discipline to ride elbow to elbow with one or 3 other riders, hold your line, go fast, jump, ride tech and turn. People really just want to see other people go fast and do some tricks.
Now that I've said that, it really isn't a good representation of what (imo) mountain biking is, but it is the epitome of skilled riding and discipline.

My favourite discipline was always dual slalom. The closest big coverage comes is pump track..
  • - 1
 4X?
There's the 4X Pro Tour, without the evil hand of the UCI, just like everybody wished.
Does anyone gives a single f#ck when reports from those races show up here on PB?
Exactly, just about 0 people.

4X is dead. Other than old BMXers from 3 or 4 countries it doesn't apeal to anyone, riders or industry.

It was nice while it lasted, but it really is dead.
  • + 0
 I think what killed off 4x was what we seen with Vali Holl crashing in DS jeopardising her DH WC bid. The pro DH riders teams told the riders that 4x wasn't worth the risk to their DH campaigns....
  • + 4
 @AntN: could be partly true. However, not long ago DH racers did DS/4X as a given. Similar skillets. In addition,. Crankworx provides more payout and exposure over a week than mamy UCI events..
  • + 2
 @bluntaaronr: I'd love to see Crushed Ice on bikes with studded tyres.
  • + 5
 4X track requires lots of land to purchase then lots of work to build and maintain, then lots of skill to ride, then pays little for the athletes. Then even at the top riding level most tracks are a laugh considering what BMX racers deal with on daily basis on 20” wheels.

On another hand dual slalom requires a fricking grass field, a few poles and one day of digging if you want some berms. You can use Poles to dig

@AntN if 4X would get any more professionalized DH racers would have no place there, they’d get mauled by BMX racers if they were paid enough so it would be worth to compete.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: I don't remember the exact cost but it was a huge expense when Windham hosted the first World Cup and 4X race. I thought the 4X race was awesome to see in person but the cost and time to build a course for one weekend of racing cannot be profitable.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I've never been so hard for me to judge...but could you send 4 people down a Air DH track like A-line..?
  • + 1
 @kj845 course it’s a huge expense, both in terms of work itself that needs to be put in to build it, then maintain and in terms of land it occupies. Land is precious. It just is. Theoretically you can convince a venue that runs a bike park on regular basis to form the last bit of their expert flow trail like A-line to be suitable to host a 4X event. Otherwise you’d need to build it on the ski slope and which snow park manager wants to spend extra money on covering all that with extra snow so it is skiable/ snowboardable in the winter?

Then everything is about participation and we have to look at it from the perspective of both racers and the people using it as a play/training ground. For racers, you want crabapple bits sized jumps all he way. Otherwise what’s the point when BMX racers send insane tripples? Having stuff like that will not attract average riders. You can theoretically form these jumps so that they are tripples or have a smaller lip next to them but that’s extra construction/ maintenance/ land cost issue. And back to average riders big stuff simply means more risk of injuries. And the rates of injuries on such stuff are high. I have a feeling that 4X is romanticized mainly by upcoming big mouth wannabies who wouldn’t send that stuff themselves anyways. Amd racers? Really? How much can you get paid for racing 4X?

Now back to it being participation sport because that’s what really drives everything, since people pay money for riding stuff they like. You can get financing from the local authorities but for that it has to be very accessible. That is why pumptracks are so great. You can place them anywhere and get all ages with all sorts of bikes to ride them. From a kick bike, 12” strider to Enduro bike. BMX tracks are a similar case. You can build them near city centers and get kids to ride them. Municipalities are 10 thousand times more likely to give money for a pumptrack and BMx track than a 4X track. Examples like Szczawno Zdroj in Poland where the track is visited by locals as well as tourists passing by on the way to the mountains are extremely few, possibly no more than 3.

And then to go back to Slalom, a ski/bike resort can just put a few poles in the open grass field at the end of the ski slope AND(!) you can train people on them, have skills clinics from cornering, with huge benefit to the overall biking community. Little money, big effect.

Not everything is down to the buck, resorts are often run by passionate people, but when it comes to 4X you get very little for huge sums of money.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: agree with everything you've said... however IMO a good 4X would offer more that a bmx track. Not only various styles of jumps but Drops, rock gardens, mogals, wood berms etc Though all this exacerbates the cost of construction and single event use issue. However if there was anywhere where 4X could be big again it would be crankworx. If done right it would be a main attraction.
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: BMX tracks are very expensive in the sense that the tracks the WC racers race on are suitable for only a small subset of riders. Others would destroy themselves on the first roller after the start hill. I wouldn't be surprised if the BMX track my actually be the most expensive facility at the summer olympics relative to how much it is being used. Sure the swimming pool may be more expensive but it is being used constantly. And after the circus leaves town, they can use it for the paralympics, recreation, swimming lessons... A top level BMX track is a huge investment yet is pretty much useless for everyone but the top athletes. Then of course BMX racing is olympic so governments are willing to cough up. But other than that, what you say about a 4X track goes more for a BMX track. Sure the BMX tracks at the regular clubs are very doable hence plenty out there. And the same could go for a 4X track. But I'd say a top level 4X like Vigo doesn't necessarily have to be as expensive as a BMX track. It doesn't need to be as smooth, perfectly bermed, even across the full width. BMX needs that or it just won't work. 4X doesn't. The terrain doesn't have to be perfect, it can evolve, you can leave roots, rocks and ruts in place and just leave it up to the athletes to work their magic. By no means do I say that one is better than the other, I just say they can be very different and be great at that. I loved to watch Niek Kimmann last weekend choose like eight in the finals again and win from there. It is amazing to see how smooth they can be and how much speed they generate from the ground. Mountainbikes sure have an overlap but they also have other qualities that could make for exciting racing. It is about line choice, reading difficult terrain, low speed tech sections even. If 4X plays to these strengths I think it could be pretty amazing. In fact I think considering the berm fest a DS race is, it would be even more exciting do do that kind of stuff with race BMX. Gearing and suspension doesn't add much to that I'd say. But add something new tech to BMX racing... The first time there was UCI WC race at the Papendal BMX track they had introduced a box jump. It wasn't much appreciated as riders who had too little speed just couldn't get on top of it. The feature was soon removed for subsequent WC races. So yeah, BMX bikes and mountainbikes are very different and they can make for great racing if you play to their strengths.
  • + 0
 @vinay: A small town of Lerum as well as the town of Kungsbacka which both lie close Gothenburg have BMX tracks. And they have training at least 3 times a week. You and me would die if we tried to jump the first table all the way on a BMX. And they are small compared to a supercross track. But it can be ridden all the way so that 8 year old kids can ride them. Cost is half relevant if the track is located close to a big city. It's simply a communal recreation project. Possibly 3 times as expensive as a pumptrack but it still has much more "social" value that a 4X track. Then BMX is an Olympic sport, that boosts credibility by a LOT. 4X? A few Peter Pans trying to hurt themselves and gettign covered in mud/dust. Then you would also die on the first jump of a proper 4X track. So I see no reason to bash BMX track for that then. I've seen the track in Val Di Sole in person and it's NASTY for my standards. As to strengths, remember that gate starts in 4X are made so that BMXers don't get the advantage. If you have a HQ smooth 4X track the only thing BMXer misses is a bit of cornering skill. Too bad he is most likely to get into the front of the pack before the first corner so he has all the room for himself. Why do you think Graves was dominating the World Cup. Then with all due respect, 4X racing had only a few moments of glory with wallride overtake being the pinnacle. Rest is first guy at the first corner wins for 99% of the time and the rest do a try hard show.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Yes, a regular (not supercross) BMX track is already great and way more people will ride there than people would ride a 4X track. I agree there. The discussion just originally went into the question of why we're seeing fewer top level 4X races now and how much it has to do with the cost of the track. It is guesswork mind but I suppose because of the high requirements on a BMX track mentioned earlier I just expect them to be more expensive than a 4X track the same length that is fine with being left a bit rough.

That said, I don't bash BMX by any means. To be honest it's been good while that I've seen a life feed of a mountainbike race. I saw the pumptrack challenge from the semi finals onwards yesterday but that's it. I've watched a good few UCI WC BMX races right until this past weekend (France). Even though it is often decided after the second corner (after that it typically only changes because of a mistake or maybe when it is close and someone sprints faster on the final straight) I just love to see how they jump. Because the bike is so low they've got so much room to move around, I love to watch that.

But yeah both 4X and BMX are typically decided after the second corner. Unless there are many lines tech lines to choose, like what Vigo had. Features like that wallride that Michael Marosi overtook on help too. BMX can't have that. You can have big jumps but you can't have rough terrain. They can go fast but they can't be effective at both high and low speeds which bikes with gears can. If you loose your speed on a BMX, you've lost. So this is what 4X could be. Multiple tech lines, slow and fast, rough and smooth, features like wallrides and box jumps. Basically make them big BMX bikes so that they could go fast and big didn't do them justice.
  • + 1
 @vinay: every quality you describe that 4X could deliver (and more) is achieved by dual slalom. At much less money. Dual can be even more mountain bikey than 4X
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: I can't yet imagine how multiple line choice would work for dual slalom but yeah if it could be like what I envision 4X to be then of course that's all great. Dual slalom as I now see it is that parallel snake run (which seems like quite a difficult track to build if they need to be about equally fast) and that slalom around flags like they do in ski sports. It probably has its place as it is now though.
  • + 1
 @vinay: erm just put poles up in the grass field...
  • + 72
 Loving the 1998 Rock Shox stickers on Peter Kaizer’s fork.
  • + 20
 Judy SL ftw
  • + 5
 I only came here for the Judy sl colour scheme and to cry over the memories of snapping the stantion on mine fitting the bike into the car...
  • + 1
 Yes love that one to Smile
  • + 2
 Is it just me or do Cam Zink’s Fox and the retro Rock Shox look like they have a fork offset of like -5mm?!
  • + 33
 Best looking bike type by a mile in my opinion. Proper selection of drool worthy bikes here.
  • + 3
 the rocky in particular
  • + 2
 @dughead123: something we can actually agree on! the rocky has the best shapes. (closely followed by the commencal)
  • + 1
 @tobiusmaximum: yeah they're both great looking bikes
  • + 4
 @tobiusmaximum: don’t forget that Transition. My god that’s gorgeous. So simple.
  • + 21
 Kaizer's Ticket S with that throwback Judy SL fork is the $$$$
  • + 20
 Hardtail DJs are the most aesthetically pleasing bikes to look at.
  • + 2
 This can’t be upvoted enough times!
  • + 18
 I don't fancy Bretts chain tension.
  • + 1
 beat me to it..
  • + 2
 Looks like the (wheel removal) cage pin is still pushed in
  • + 11
 I thought long, low, and slack was a good thing?
  • - 3
 @nojzilla: gee, really?
  • + 2
 @thesharkman: yeah no shit
  • + 1
 What's puzzling me is how Brett's ticket looks nothing like Kade's... Different bike same name or just a typo?
  • + 3
 @landscapeben: Ticket: hardtail, Ticket S: full squish.
  • + 1
 @bikebike69: Ah ok just a mislabelled photo then, thanks for clarifying Wink
  • + 11
 What the ladies don't have any bikes with them? Just gonna run down the DS course?
  • + 5
 In case you can't read "We grabbed as many as we could" ... Translation: Not all bikes were either attainable or within the vicinity.
  • + 0
 @thesharkman: can read just fine. Going to tell me 1 out of 30 ladies bikes was not available? Lol.
  • - 4
flag DarrellW (Jun 14, 2019 at 0:20) (Below Threshold)
 @onemanarmy: The ladies who lost went home cyring, and those who won had to get their makeup done pronto for photoshoots.
  • + 11
 Oohh that SX, dream bike!
  • + 11
 Kaizer's bike wins in the looks department.
  • + 5
 That 98(?) Judy look made me think about my Quadra 21R.. and how after about a week of riding it had more travel fore and aft than it did vertically.
  • + 1
 Right. That bike is sick.
  • + 5
 That YT Play is a work of art Drool
  • + 4
 That 26 life....for those that know!
  • + 3
 Rheeder's tiket s is lat different than everyone else's ticket s frames.
Can anyone explain why?
  • + 4
 It's a prototype
  • + 3
 And Tyler McCauls bike: a picture of grass #WestJet
  • + 1
 Every time I see Martin Soderstrom I think of that one GoPro video where someone said "no braking" right before he dropped in and he massively overshot the jump
  • + 3
 DJ, with a DJ, with a piggyback.
  • + 1
 these would have all qualified for our Urban Assault bikes of the early 2000s...specialized P1s on steroids.
  • + 1
 Rocky Mountain is my favourite I think, even with digressive rear suspension.
  • + 1
 Reed Bogs Ticket is the best looking imho. Gotta love a red camo paint job!
  • + 1
 Anyone know which saddle/seat on Louis Reboul's Scott Voltage ? Looks nice!
  • + 2
 Trek lays down the sickest paint/graphics!!
  • + 1
 i would like the pbj more if it didn't have skinwalls. the fireball looks sweet...
  • + 1
 Yeah. They still look the same as they did 5 years ago.. not that that's a bad thing
  • + 1
 Nice.. that’s almost like a 4x bike for really tall people? Looks fun..
  • + 1
 @tobiusmaximum: Can be made with shorter geometry if needs be...
  • + 1
 Some of those sure are "short travel" alright... Tire pressure dependant compliance? Smile
  • + 2
 Lowering those Z1's is a beautiful looking idea.
  • + 2
 Be better if they just made a 26in z1 dj
  • + 2
 Surprised no 5010. They are killing 4x races.
  • + 1
 I had to go to Hyper’s website to make sure I wasn’t confusing it with the pos Walmart bikes. I was.
  • + 1
 Same brand yo
  • + 1
 The super deluxe is sweet on DJ's bike!
  • + 1
 Well, nobody can say these look like sessions.
  • + 2
 I'm digging that Hyper.
  • + 1
 With that helmet hanging, the picture is all kaos.
  • + 2
 bret rheeders trek. mmmm
  • + 2
 Wow, so many Sessions Wink
  • + 1
 No canyon 720. Best looking full suspension slopestyle bike, IMO. Tight!
  • + 1
 F & R discs and a 120mm pike for Martin? It’s almost downcountry
  • + 1
 Red frame, yellow decals for the win !!
  • + 2
 mcDonalds
  • + 2
 That YT Play is yesssss
  • + 1
 Jackal is best
  • + 1
 where's my polygon trid?
  • + 1
 Nice Trek Ticket S
  • - 2
 Look like slope style bikes too me, but can use for slalom, but not all were?
  • + 0
 Yep, they all are lovely
  • - 1
 bar there hyper, all these bikes r droolworthy
  • - 3
 Look like kids bikes
  • - 2
 YT Play, play at not going OTB with that super steep head tube angle...???
  • + 1
 The intention would be more to go over, around, behind and whatever any other way those flipping awesome athletes want to throw those bikes around!
  • - 1
 Sorry 1997

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