5 Race Bikes from the 2022 Leadville 100

Aug 15, 2022
by Mike Kazimer  
Hannah Otto - Women's Winner
Hannah Otto. Photo Life Time
Pivot's Les SL hardtail was Otto's weapon of choice as she completed the 105-mile course with a time of 7:24.12.

Hannah Otto. Photo Life Time
Kenda Rush Pro tires to keep the rolling resistance down.

Hannah Otto. Photo Life Time
Fox's Transfer SL dropper post and a carbon-railed Prologo Dimension saddle

Hannah Otto. Photo Life Time
Hanna Otto.

Keegan Swenson - Men's Winner
Keegan finished 14 minutes ahead of the second place finisher, putting down a blistering fast time of 6:00:01 aboard his Santa Cruz Highball. The following day he switched bikes and competed in a 142 mile gravel race in Steamboat Springs, which he also won, with a time of 6:16:57.

Keegan raced the Highball with a rigid seatpost, Reserve 28 carbon wheels, 2.4" Aspen ST tires with a 120 tpi casing, and a 38-tooth chainring combined with a 10-52 tooth XX1 Eagle cassette.

Alex Wild - 16th Place
Alex Wild - Photo The Feed
Alex Wild is auctioning off his Specialized Epic race bike to support Outride, a nonprofit organization dedicated to getting more kids on bikes.

Alex Wild - Photo The Feed
Specialized Renegade Control tires are mounted to Roval Control SL carbon wheels. The RockShox SID SL Brain has 100mm of travel, and uses Specialized's inertia valve technology to remain firm until an impact occurs.

Alex Wild - Photo The Feed
Alex Wild - Photo The Feed
A 36-tooth chainring up front is paired with a 10-52 tooth cassette. The chain has gone through Ice Friction Technology's lubrication process.

Alex Wild - Photo The Feed
SRAM Level Ultimate brakes with 160mm rotors. The handlebar is a 720mm wide Specialized Carbon XC.

Alex Wild - Photo The Feed
An 80mm BikeYoke Divine SL post gets the seat a little bit out of the way for the descents.
Alex Wild - Photo The Feed
A Hammerhead Karoo 2 computer to keep an eye on how far away the finish line is.




Sarah Sturm - 4th Place
Sarah Sturm. Photo Grady James
The Leadville course isn't particularly rough, so hardtails with fast-rolling tires are a common sight. Sarah Sturm's race day didn't go exactly as planned - she was feeling a little under the weather, and at one point was actually hit by a cow that was crossing the road. She still managed a strong showing, though, finishing in 4th place.

Sarah Sturm. Photo Grady James
34-tooth chainring with an XX1 Eagle 10-52 tooth cassette. The course has 13,000 feet of climbing at an altitude between 9,200 - 12,500 feet, so going with the lightest bike possible is the norm.

Sarah Sturm. Photo Grady James
Specialized Epic S-Works hardtail.

Sarah Sturm. Photo Grady James
SRAM Level Ultimate brakes and a Specialized cockpit with Tog's installed to provide another hand position (they're the nubbins sticking out next to the inboard portion of the grip).

Sarah Sturm. Photo Grady James
It's hard to go wrong with a King titanium bottle cage. A Dynaplug Racer tire plug tool is mounted next to it for quick access in case of a puncture.

Sarah Sturm. Photo Grady James
Specialized Renegade Control tires in a 2.2" width on Roval Control SL wheels.


Stephan Davoust - 23rd Place
Stephan Davoust. Photo Life Time
The paint job on Davoust's Giant Anthem Advanced pays homage to his 2021 title as XC Marathon National Champion.

Stephan Davoust. Photo Life Time
HT's M2T pedals weigh just 260 grams thanks in part to a titanium axle. They also have a 176 pound rider weight limit, so they're best left to lighter XC and trail riders.

Stephan Davoust. Photo Life Time
Another Fox Transfer SL dropper post

Stephan Davoust. Photo Life Time
Live Valve, Fox's electronic suspension system, doesn't seem all that necessary on a course like Leadville - I have a feeling it spent a lot of time in the 'Firm' setting - but it does mean a racer doesn't need to worry about remembering to lock or unlock their suspension.

Stephan Davoust. Photo Life Time
2.25" Maxxis Aspen tires in the 170 tpi casing that's reserved for their sponsored athletes.


See full results from the 2022 Leadville 100 here.




Photo credits:
Hannah Otto, Stephan Davoust, & Keegan Swenson - Life Time
Sarah Sturm - Grady James
Alex Wild - The Feed


137 Comments

  • 71 6
 What about Keegan Swenson's bike? I mean c'mon he won both events in Leadboat, let's see his rig.
  • 5 4
 I was thinking this as well.
  • 9 10
 Right? That new Blur is a freaking weapon. Nice job in designing it, Santa Cruz!
  • 20 1
 it has road bike pedals
  • 2 2
 Are those bacon strips and tool I see taped to his brake hoses?
  • 20 5
 @ShreddieMercury: Yes, this is shameful. Pinkbike Mods, please move this feature to Outside's Gravel publication...
  • 3 0
 And his number plate is warped too. Possibly to be more aero?
  • 5 0
 @ShreddieMercury: which is interesting to say the least. Also a sign that the dude is an animal. Most of the Leadville riders walk a portion of Columbine, but with his time and pedals I doubt he did.
  • 1 0
 @sunringlerider: Definitely not but you can see he is in the 52 in that image.
  • 1 0
 @Supermoo: but still 38-52!!
  • 2 0
 @ShreddieMercury:

I dare say that Steamboat Gravel, the following day, may have been more technical than Leadville. However, what an animal.. Nice job Keegan
  • 4 0
 @sunringlerider: I attempted Leadville last weekend. I cannot fathom riding up the second half with a 38/52. It is ridiculously steep and not a smooth fire road like the lower half.

Personally, once I hit 11.5K of elevation it was a whole different ball game. Was fine below that elevation, but above the nausea crushed me. Committing to pedaling everything with road pedals is insanity.
  • 1 0
 They have his bike there. The SC Highball.
  • 1 0
 @TucsonDon: Added after I made this comment Smile
  • 1 0
 @FloridaHasMTBToo: Started to think that as I read the rest of the comments Big Grin
  • 51 0
 Hit a cow and finished 4th, amazing.
  • 9 0
 yea i believe hitting a cow, like youre tired and look off one way and drift and bam you hit a cow. but it said the cow hit her? how does that happen? cows aren't too fast are they?
  • 6 0
 @Mrtonyd: if they want to go fast they can. They also tend to move slow and get in the way, a track hazard for sure
  • 16 0
 @Mrtonyd: if spooked (by another rider), they become unguided missiles. Hard to predict where they are going.
  • 9 0
 @mi-bike:

My closest call: rode round a huge white boulder in the shade of an olive tree...and the boulder stood up and bolted! WTF?!?!
  • 12 0
 @Mrtonyd: Not until you've been chased by one, an angry one. Then you'll think they're way too fast.
  • 1 0
 @Mrtonyd: Up to 25mph.
  • 3 0
 @Mrtonyd: Got hit by a calf last year. It panicked and instead of running away, ran straight into me.
  • 5 21
flag blackthorne (Aug 16, 2022 at 0:09) (Below Threshold)
 I have to request some media balls here about reporting the cow being the belligerent perpetrator. Cows don’t hit people out of nowhere. This claim devoid of context isn’t helpful. People placing responsibility on animals for their lack of podium finish doesn’t mean you, Mike, as a ‘reporter’, needs to write it down as fact even if you didn’t really give a hoot.
  • 4 3
 In other words, she hit a cow. Done.
  • 2 0
 @Mrtonyd: The little ones especially are quick, erratic, and will dart out in front of you. If you are ever out west driving in the open range you got to be on the lookout and slow down if they are close to the road.
  • 2 0
 Used to live on a property where the owners had three PET cows. They move quickly when they want to. Also, when fully fed and not kept in pens to be slaughtered grow quite large. As in weighing tons. Bruno was the size of my E350 van.
  • 2 0
 @blackthorne: I’ve been hit by a deer, a big ass turkey and had multiple rabbits run into my bike.
  • 1 0
 @zephxiii: So a calf is the brain of a squirrel combined with the weight of 2-3 Keegans?
  • 41 4
 I can't imagine riding a 7 hour mountain bike race on a hard tail, no matter how much the course "isn't particularly rough"
  • 7 0
 At that high altitude too. I can’t even hike well. These racers are pushing the limits
  • 2 0
 And road cleats?
  • 6 0
 I have done plenty of 12 hour races on a HT. Bottom of my feet start to hurt, but otherwise not a problem. Finally sold my soul and bought a FS frame that I like. I think I am faster, and more comfortable. So I hate myself now.
  • 2 0
 @JSTootell: Don't get me wrong, I have an aggro titanium hard tail that I shred, but man it beats you up. Yes, you can go pretty fast and have a wild ride, but it makes my feet, quads, and arms cramp up. And thats on normal, sub-10 mile rides.
  • 1 0
 I did the Gunnison Growler on my hardtail. Considered by folks who've done both to be harder than the LT100 (might not have been the smartest choice in hindsight...). I did the 24HITOP, Grand Junction Off Road (unintentionally because I broke my FS two days before), and Whiskey 50 on the hardtail as well. Oh and 18 Hours of Fruita, won that. Sometimes it seems like the best choice if there's a lot of climbing. Sometimes gets a little rowdy on the descents. Much more doable with a dropper though. Also White Rim in sub-8 hours... I really like my little hardtail.
  • 29 2
 Hmmm. Judging by these set ups this is not a race that’s very high on my to do list.

All power to those racing, just not my thing…
  • 16 1
 Yeah, leadville 100 is a road race on mountain bikes. If you want endurance MTB racing there are better (and cheaper) options in Colorado.
  • 16 24
flag powturn (Aug 15, 2022 at 21:04) (Below Threshold)
 If you can race it on road pedals, it is not an MTB event. Thank god Olympic XC has reclaimed its soul by heading back into the park for real technical challenge. Time to retire Leadville and leave 6hr+ gravel jeep-road events to the roadies.
  • 3 0
 @powturn: Sea Otter Classic is also non technical. Come to the Skyline Classic XC in Napa dude. Super chunky and fun!
  • 4 0
 Now Sea to Sky XC races
  • 2 0
 @winkeyless: spookfest?
  • 23 5
 @powturn: I get that road cleats and shoes aren’t ideal for hiking or running off the bike during a race, but they’re also very stiff and thus have fantastic power transfer with a bigger but still light platform. If it’s not an overly technical course, why use mountain bike shoes and pedals if only for the street cred?

How often do you see top level racers off the bike anyway? Not much these days. I say all the more power to Keegan. Do what it legally takes to give yourself an advantage.
  • 8 6
 @powturn: how often do XCO riders have to dismount and push their bikes? Thats the only situation where mtb pedals (shoes really) have an advantage. You could race a downhill in road pedals and wouldnt notice a difference
  • 11 18
flag WarOnErrorism (Aug 16, 2022 at 0:36) (Below Threshold)
 @gdharries @GZMS: you've both got this completely bassackwards. Road tech is lighter, faster rolling, and way more aero, so let's just dispense with the inconvenience of dirt & obstacles entirely and ride it where it provides maximum advantage: on the road. If a course is smooth enough that brutally-stiff, yet thin & brittle carbon road pedals and soles aren't a major liability both for failure and fatigue on repeat impacts small and large, then it is not an actual offroad race, but rather a road race in dirty drag. I spent decades racing both road and MTB marathons, and have broken more than my share of stupid-light pedals and shoes in both categories. XCO has *finally* turned its back on the stupid-light-bikeorexia of the past to embrace tougher, smarter tech like inserts, tubeless, and droppers that add strength, control, and speed to technical riding. Leadville is a dinosaur: let a gravel organizer have it and revise the course to make it 100% drop-bar friendly for the masses and dispense with the whole MTB pretense.
  • 3 0
 @WarOnErrorism: Leadville is organized by Lifetime who also organize gravel events like Unbound and Crusher in the Tusher. So a gravel organizer already has it.
  • 2 0
 @GZMS: XCO riders dismount quite a bit (muddy conditions on the climbs, bottlenecks on technical bits, crashes). But this wasn't an XCO event, and likely didn't require dismounting.
  • 17 1
 @WarOnErrorism: yeah it is a dinosaur with a massive turn out. Don't see it going away anytime soon. It might be a road race on dirt for some but for others it is a huge accomplishment. If you dont like it, then just dont read or watch anything on it.
  • 1 1
 @joedaho: with the exception of Toonies, there aren't any more
  • 1 1
 @joedaho: with the exception of Toonies, there aren't any more
  • 1 1
 ..
  • 3 3
 @GZMS: Downhill on road pedals??? my heals hurt just thinking about it. Man the amount of wishful ignorance is just immeasurable.
  • 20 1
 @WarOnErrorism: seems to me like the main problem is your need to classify the race... the course is the course and people will run whatever setup they think is best. If it sounds lame, don't sign up.

Nobody is claiming it's anything like XCO, so what's the point of that comparison? People know what they're signing up for and it's still super popular - enough so that you need to qualify, log volunteer hours, and enter a lottery to even get to the start line. Whether you like the course or not, there are loads of people who are stoked about it.

It's not like there's a shortage of 100 mile drop-bar gravel events around, not sure why Leadville should be turned into yet another one. Personally I wouldn't be interested in racing Leadville but I think it's cool to see what sort of setups people end up choosing for these oddball races. People have done it on gravel bikes, but obviously Keegan (and all the other top finishers) don't think that's the fastest setup. Pretty hilarious the see people nitpicking setup choices **on the winner's bike**, lol.
  • 5 0
 @bkm303: Agreed on all points. I raced Leadville last weekend, and it is an incredibly well organized event with a cult-like following, for good reason. An XC race? Not really, nor is it a gravel race. I only saw two drop bar bikes all day, and I rode the bike I had- a Tallboy. The bikes featured here were the choices of well informed riders. XC full sus or hard tails were the weapon of choice. Not sure why people on this are complaining, other than that some will complain any time a PB article isn’t about enduro events or trails.
  • 3 0
 @dcaf: congrats! How'd you do? Make any weight weenie / watt-saving mods to the tallboy for the race?
  • 1 0
 @MDW83: yes , also dry xco events dont require dismounting… but the guy/girl i was replying to was cheerful that xco events are not ridden in road shoes, while for many of them thay absolutely can be and probably be faster..
  • 2 0
 @WarOnErrorism: thin and brittle carbon soles?? Ahahaha.. you should probably work on your technique if you are constantly receiving rock strikes into you shoe soles (not sure how thats even possible??) so severe it would brake a carbon shoe…
aero tech only for the road?? Ahaha.. keegan did 25kmh avg.. if you dont realise that with such a pace aero drag is the #1 resistance force then idk, you should probably keep racing for a few more decades until you realise that..
Now the only part where you might be onto something is regarding fatigue with such setup, but fatigue is so personal that “it’s just your opition, man”.. sometimes the best strategy to minimise fatigue is to minimise time on course
  • 1 0
 @bkm303: I had a great experience on Saturday. It was my first race, and in my mid 50’s, my goal was to finish sub-12. I ended up just under 10:45, so I was pretty happy with that. The only thing I did to the bike was to swap in some XC tires. A Santa Cruz Blur would have been faster, but I didn’t happen to have one!
  • 2 0
 @WarOnErrorism: If you had dared to look carefully, you'd have realized that the high end XC and road shoes from a given manufacturer are the same shoe with the same carbon soles. Only difference is how many holes they prepare foe bolting cleats and they glue a handful of additionnal pieces of tread on the XC ones to makes them walkable without slipping on mud. One is not more or less thin/brittle as the other.
  • 26 1
 I like the fact that most people here complain that this race is too "road-centric"/not real mtb but would never be actually able to ride the 100 mile distance, at the pace of the pack.
  • 8 0
 Or even get up Columbine starting from the bottom
  • 4 3
 We're not trying to be the best at exercising either ...
  • 18 0
 Those blue-black S-works paint jobs are lovely. I don't know why so many manufacturers paint their frames neon booger or aqua mustard when they could just do something like that.
  • 3 0
 ^This
  • 16 0
 38T chainring. What a beast.
  • 17 5
 In an article that focuses so much on weight of components and having a light weight bike no one thought to take the extra 30 seconds per bike to weigh each of them? Brilliant.
  • 2 8
flag sfarnum (Aug 16, 2022 at 3:57) (Below Threshold)
 Would the manufacturer/sponsors want the bike weight published?
  • 15 1
 "This article Sponsored by TrainerRoad"
  • 2 0
 Lol. Pretty much!
  • 9 0
 I feel Pidcock / VDP would clear up here
  • 1 0
 Wouldn’t even be close!
  • 4 0
 It would be cool to see Keegan go up against some of the big boys! He's dominated everything in the states the last couple of years. I applaud him for doing his own thing but not getting to see him against the top tier in the world cups is a bummer. Hopefully more of them will come over for early season Epic Rides events.
  • 3 0
 P. Segan did unbound gravel this year and wasn't anywhere close to Keegan (though he very may well have been treating it as a training ride). I agree that it would be interesting to see Pidcock and MVP take these marathon off road races on, but I wouldn't automatically consider them favorites.
  • 4 0
 You have to consider the age of the event and the course. It's nearly 30 years old. The course hasn't really changed. Bikes have.

Speaking as an ex-DH racer, hobbyist enduro racer, and sub-9-hr Leadville 100 finisher, that race sets up a significant advantage to actual MTBers. On the descents and the two big climbs, you can tell who knows how to ride a mountain bike (or who doesn't) and you can make up significant time. The Powerline descent is best ridden on my enduro (fine without it, of course, but much slower). I race a 120mm Commencal Meta AM HT at Leadville.
  • 6 0
 Swenson on road pedals, I guess he didn't plan on walking powerline (is that the name of that steep climb?)
  • 1 0
 Yes, just savage
  • 2 0
 Interesting that on the Pivot all 3 right-hand-control cables/hoses get shoved into just 2 ports on the left side of the bike, while leaving the 2 ports on the right side completely empty. Surely it would have been easier to run the dropper or shifter to a right side port instead of, I'm assuming, manipulating a port cover to fit 2 cables.
  • 5 0
 Swanson raced over 12 hours in two days. Last month I sometimes-kinda rode my bike hard for about 9 hours.
  • 6 1
 yes you can ride a bike w/o a dropper, love it! Went rigid on my new FS XC bike and I'm taking a lot of flack for it
  • 4 0
 Sounds like Sarah narrowly avoided an udder disaster.
Q: Why did the cow cross the road?

A: It was trying to avoid Sarah, but she was mooooving too quickly
  • 5 1
 I would pay outside if it means more bike checks…in any discipline of course
  • 4 0
 What about those Maxxis Aspen ST tires used by Keegan Swanson?
Are those for sponsored athletes as well?
  • 5 2
 Davoust's Giant has Colin Edwards USA flag Honda at Laguna Seca 2002 (World Superbikes) vibes
  • 1 4
 Can someone more cultured than I educate me on this reference

I do find it funny to fly those colors and not be often on top, though he could still kick my ass Wink
  • 2 2
 More like it has the yu-gi-oh abridged “IN AMERICA!“ vibes
  • 6 0
 @user178323: perhaps you missed the part where it says 'payed homage to his 2021 title as xc marathon national champ'. Is that not enough to 'fly those colors'?
  • 1 0
 I couldn't remember the livery, so I looked it up. And no, it doesn't (to me). Nor the American Racing Team Moto2 bikes at CotA.
  • 6 4
 From a purely asthetics perspective, I can no longer live with droppers where loads of lower post is visible. Never saw past the posts. We all have our thing. That is mine.
  • 4 0
 Seat tubes have got too short for us gangly people. I’ve got about 80mm below my 175 dropper
  • 4 2
 All in the name of reducing frame weight. They have been torturing us tall folks with too-short headtubes for close to 20 years now!
  • 7 0
 Pick a dropper post lower post length and be a dick about it
  • 4 0
 Go Hannah! Sick ride.
  • 2 0
 OK, Mike. If you could get your size, which bike at of this lot would you set out on during the Leadville race?
  • 3 0
 I think Hannah's bike already looked the fastest!
  • 2 0
 Anyone able to recognise that nice little saddlebag on hannah otto's pivot?
  • 2 0
 Reminds Me, Marry Swansons as Samsonite.
  • 15 15
 Hardtails with nearly treadless tires and long stems for the Leadville Gravel 100. Hard, yes. Mountain biking-maybe/barely.
  • 5 0
 Retro MTB?
  • 1 0
 Seems like if the terrain causes most folks to ride a mountain bike, it's mountain biking. MTB has a range of disciplines. Heck, what I do looks almost unrecognizable from what the DH pros do, lol
  • 2 1
 Swenson with road shoes and pedals. Way to go bro
  • 1 0
 These riders are machines.
  • 1 0
 That's a new Epic 2023 frame hiding in plain sight.
  • 1 0
 HT or FS?
  • 1 0
 @jqwan: FS

I wasn't sure at first if it was just a new linkage / Yoke but there are a few other subtle tweaks on the rear triangle design, upper shock mount, headtube sculpting etc.
  • 1 0
 @wingguy: I don't think so. Frame is identical to my 2022 SW Epic.
  • 1 0
 @kjeagen: Ooooh I see what happened - I’m going crazy.
  • 11 13
 "reserved for their sponsored athletes", nice marketing there Maxxis, as if the prices on your regular tires aren't high enough you keep the best versions off the market.
  • 21 2
 Aaron Chamberlain talked about this particular tire in the last pinkbike podcast... not only would this one be prohibitively expensive to retail ($150+) but it's fragile as hell and is really only meant to last a race or two on XC tracks
  • 43 1
 The reason you are slow is because Maxxis wont give you a race only tire ;(
  • 4 0
 I wonder if its a slight dig at the Maxxis Sharpie crowd
  • 4 1
 Higher tpi = less durable. 170 isn't worth it for us mortals.
  • 1 0
 ok, feel free to dm me if you wanna buy a pair for $300 Big Grin
  • 2 0
 @canned-slammin: the Scott team is using them for XCO's only but usually not for long distance races without support. The thinner sidewalls make them more supple, so it all depends on the terrain and if there're sharp rocks. They also have their own mold and really measure 2.125 on 29mm rims. The 2.4 is also narrower, slightly over 2.3.
  • 2 1
 Why would you want to buy extra flimsy race-day-only tires that will only last a few rides anyway?

The type of rider who pays for their own tires is not the type of rider who would want / benefit from these in the first place.
  • 1 0
 King Cages 3
  • 3 4
 Road pedals on a MTB is a crime
  • 5 0
 Only in Singapore.
  • 1 1
 @hllclmbr: ah ah ok
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