5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships

Jul 2, 2016
by Mike Kazimer  
Jaroslav Kulhavý's Specialized Epic

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
The 2011 World Champion, Jaroslav Kulhavy would like nothing better than to regain the title in his home country.

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
A 38-tooth SRAM 11-speed chainring (yes, Kulhavy is running a 12-speed drivetrain) is mounted up to a set of Quarq powermeter equipped cranks.

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
The bike is close to a stock build, with a Fox / Specialized Brain rear shock for the bike's 95mm of travel...
Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
...and a RockShox RS1 up front.

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
The blue knob at the right of the photo allows the rear shock's threshold to be adjusted. With this system there's no need for a remote - the shock uses an inertia valve that opens automatically when an obstacle is encountered.

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
Kulhavy's known for his extreme-looking setup, but with a World Championship title and an Olympic gold medal under his belt it obviously works for the 6'2" racer.
Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
This stem is the opposite of short.



Simon Gegenheimer's Rose Thrill Hill

Simon Gegenheimer Rose Thrill Hill
Simon "Mustache Man" Gegenheimer's Rose Thrill hill rolls on 27.5" wheels.

Simon Gegenheimer Rose Thrill Hill
DT Swiss' 313 Carbon shock takes care of the bike's 115mm of rear travel.

Simon Gegenheimer Rose Thrill Hill
A handlebar mounted remote allows for the shock to be switched between its three settings.

Simon Gegenheimer Rose Thrill Hill
Fresh tires getting broken in for race day.




Julien Absalon's BMC Fourstroke

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
When you're one of the fastest riders in the world you get goodies like a carbon fiber shock link, and of course, Shimano's Di2 XTR drivetrain.

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
Absalon deserves credit for helping to spread the notion that a dropper post is a good idea even on an XC bike.

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
The KS Lev dropper remote is situated underneath the toggle switch for the rear shock.

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
A closer look at the carbon rocker link.

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
A dropper post and a chainguide - Julien must be taking advice from his enduro-racing younger brother, Remi.




Rudi van Houts' Superior Bikes' Prototype

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
Superior are working on a new version of their Team 29 Issue frame. The seatstays appear to be thinner, perhaps as a way to add a small amount of compliance to the carbon frame.

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
A minimalist guide is in place to ensure there's no chance of a dropped chain.

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
Aero is everything.

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
The chainstay profile differs from the previous model as well - it looks to be a little taller closer to the bottom bracket area.




Nino Schurter's Scott Spark

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
Nino's new Scott Spark 29er was shining in the sun - the bright yellow frame and gold drivetrain was hard to miss.

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
The DT Swiss shock is connected to a handlebar remote, allowing Schurter to control the feel of the bike's 100mm of travel.

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
A 38-tooth Eagle chainring up front for Nino.

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
SRAM Level Ultimate brakes keep things under control.

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
DT Swiss' carbon XRC 1200 wheels.

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
The result that Schurter is hoping for.


Must Read This Week

118 Comments

  • + 102
 Alright. Guess I got some training to do. My 28 tooth front ring just isn't going to cut it...
  • + 7
 34...I'm almost there! Maybe I'll just throw a 38 on and suffer for a few months...
  • + 16
 Don't forget you will be needing a 50 tooth on the rear!
  • + 7
 I mean 38t up front on a 50t on the back with an eagle setup would be easier to pedal than running 1x10 with a 30t up front and a 36t granny on the back.
  • + 1
 CRAZY!
  • - 2
 @topherdagopher: it should have been 38 50 from the start of the xx1 stuff
  • + 3
 You know its funny i used to be a track sprint cyclist thats always loved mtbing. When i was still training properly for track i could push a 36 front by 36 on the back up just about anything. Now my legs have, err shrunk down a bit (read lots) i struggle up the same stuff on a 32 front by 42 rear!! Aerobic fitness feels around the same (havnt tested Vo2 max for a few years though) but its my power and strength that has gone down a lot! Dont do trainer, gym or plyometric work anymore.
  • - 1
 So glad big chairings are back! Those tiny rings up front look stupid
  • + 6
 new bikes, you win. I just can keep up and I just don't care anymore. I just love being out there and riding what I got.
  • + 1
 @topherdagopher: it depends on what wheel size you're running. On a 29er it's harder to push a 30-36 than it is on a 650b
  • + 4
 Posts up, seats pointed down, its hemaroid time and nobody wins this race.
  • + 5
 @fecalmaster: sorry about your ass problem
  • + 3
 No denying how sorry you are.
  • + 2
 @fecalmaster: actually I love denial
  • + 2
 @bkm303: I gots my 36 up front! But it seems to be broken. It only spins when I'm pointing downhill... Must look into that...
  • + 2
 @bluechair84: pro tip: if you don't put a chain on it, you can spin any size chainring you want!
  • + 45
 Dropper post, sensibly sized stem without the extreme negative drop, and a proper chainguide... I'm liking Julien's rocket! Wait... that didn't sound right.
  • + 2
 And by the looks of it, proto Shimmy chainring.
  • + 2
 @dragonaut: Looks like a regular XTR M9000 ring to me.
  • + 3
 @seraph: Nah,

the teeth look more rounded. Maybe it's those upcoming NW chainrings Shimnano is planning to release.

These are the regular square ones
www.pinkbike.com/photo/13664054

and a Absalons are different shape
www.pinkbike.com/photo/13664140
  • + 1
 @dragonaut: It's shim's DCE (dynamic chain engagement)
  • + 1
 wonder what that black box is on the rear shock?...a remote lockout? This bike is trail worthy and lust worthy.
  • + 2
 @madmon: fox ird.


Electronic lockout.
  • + 16
 "A 36-tooth SRAM Eagle chainring is mounted up to a set of Quarq powermeter equipped cranks."
The 38T ring picture would beg to differ.

Also Nino's bike is sporting a set of unbranded Maxxis Aspen's. I find that quite amusing.
  • + 4
 yeah, he's normally running dugast tubulars. that's probably not his race setup.
  • + 2
 it doesn't even look like an eagle chainring/tooth on that Spec Epic, much more like a "normal" 11spd narrow-wide chainring. But that shouldn't work with 12spd right? I am not even sure if SRAM offers an eagle chainring in another option than direct mount
  • + 6
 @ultralord: SRAM probably hasn't made an Eagle ring yet for the BCD of the Quarq spider. Probably direct mount only to this point.
  • + 1
 @UtahBrent: But in the press release about eagle sram stated that the chain wouldn't work with the 11spd chainring. So did they lie?
  • + 3
 @ultralord: Probably, yes. If anything they probably gave him the go-ahead, to test it out.
  • + 4
 @UtahBrent: He propably would not want to test it out at world champs, this is pretty much proof that it works flawlessly (that's if it actually is an 11spd chainring)
  • + 1
 @packfill: Looks like he raced on the Aspen's mounted to DT carbon hoops. For sure a change for Nino.
  • + 7
 I wonder how much longer Jaroslav's top tube would have to be to fit him properly without the hideous stem and saddle geometry Band-Aids. +10cm?
  • + 32
 I don't think the general mass on pinkbike understand that a short stem on xc geometry feels like shit as it makes it sooo twitchy
  • - 27
flag Someoldfart (Jul 2, 2016 at 13:40) (Below Threshold)
 @rrsport: bullshit. The pros are often just superstitious about change. That bike does not fit him.
  • + 38
 @Someoldfart: Please explain it to an olimpic/marathon world/xco world cup champion. Smile
  • - 13
flag Matt76 (Jul 2, 2016 at 15:10) (Below Threshold)
 @rrsport: Thats the biggest load of bullshit ive ever read on here!
  • + 12
 I always get ready for the extremes of bike set up when a WC xc race is on and the responses from the broader mtb community. Bike setup is a highly personal thing and the pro riders whos bikes are getting scrutinized here spend enough time in the saddle to know what they like/dont like. .........heres a thought instead of nit picking their set ups maybe we might be able to learn from the experts!?!?
  • + 5
 @Someoldfart: so you would be prepared to sit down with Jaroslav and explain to him that hes riding the wrong size bike eh!?
  • + 5
 I'm going to guess that ALL of the general mass of Pinkbikers commenting on an article like this have experience with XC racing.
Factoring a standard length XC stem, and not a downhill stem (really had to clarify that?), bike looks a few sizes out fit wise from what every other pro above is on.
And it sears the eyeballs.
  • + 0
 The Epic is a pile of shit. Most of the Spesh team run a size too small do they can get their weight back enough to compensate for the stupid head angle. People saying Kulharvy knows what's up etc should watch him get destroyed by Niño and Absalon on the descents. I'm sure half the reason is the really bike.
  • + 6
 @Matt76: I'm gonna go with him on this one. Short stems and slack angles may very well work on our all mountain steeds. But with a headangle much steeper, what is the HA on that epic? 71 Degrees?! You'll want something to slow down the 'twitchyness' from that angle alone.

Horses for courses?.....
  • + 0
 @steviestokes: so you're saying you want a load of weight in front of your axle on descents to make it less "twitchy". Yeah, that makes sense. The bottom line is the geo on the Epic is a relic from the road to MTB geo era. Nino's bike is plus 2 degrees slacker.
  • + 6
 @jclnv: 2015 Nove Mesto, Kulhavy passed Nino on the descent to win a world cup. If you watch the replay, he actually jumped the double and passed him in mid-air on that descent with roots, rocks, etc.

But I have to agree, the Specialized is set up like a two-wheeled abortion.
  • - 1
 @slowrider73: yes. I would explain why his set up is slow. If I was his coach I'd get a longer frame set up for the same fit and get him to ride it a while on technically challenging stuff then make him go back to his current set up.

Pros are some of the dumbest people with regards to set up. Fabian Cancellara was set up on his TREK tt bike in the wind tunnel with a power meter and the raised his bar a couple centimetres for the best power v aerodynamics position. He won races that way. Next season on the new bike he's not doing so well. They check out his bike and he had dropped the bars down 2 cm because he thought it was faster, even after they showed him it was not. Pros can be dumb.

Sure a shorter stem moves your hands a small amount closer to the steering axis. It is not the length of the stem that changes that aspect but the distance your hands are from the steering axis. If you go from a 120 stem to a 60 your hands will be about a cm closer to the steering axis. That is not significant to twitchyness. But a 6 cm shorter stem on a correspondingly longer frame will be much more stable in technical descents. Wider bars help even more with stability.
  • + 0
 @Feideaux: I'll check that out. I watched the race and seem to remember him dropping Nino on the climb before the last descent. Remember 2014 when he went over the bars in the rock garden.

Still, I've seen him struggle a lot on descents in the past.
  • + 1
 @Someoldfart: assuming a 650mm bar, each hand would be 15mm closer going from a 120 stem to 60mm (pythagorean theorem) - equivalent to running a 30mm shorter bar, which I think we'd all find noticeable. But distance from the steering axis isn't the only factor that affects handling. With a long stem the steering motion is very different (almost like you're moving your hands side to side), and just putting forward pressure on the bar makes it track straight. It's actually kinda desirable when you have a steep ass head angle like on the Epic (until you start going downhill) because the extra steering effort and exaggerated motion offsets the awful twitchiness of the 70.5deg HA. Good luck getting weight back for the descents though.

Still, if we were all still running 70.5deg HAs, I don't think you'd be recommending short stem/wide bars so strongly. I tried it on my old XC bike to see what all the buzz was about and it felt awful... like the bike just didn't want to go straight. I wasn't really able to feel the benefits until I got a bike with a more reasonable HA, and even then I don't really like running stems shorter than 65mm or so.

But yeah, while I'm sure he has his preferences and all that, it sure does seem like he's on the wrong size bike. Only reason I can think of for him not sizing up would be wanting to get the bars as low as possible at all costs, which is basically the same as your Cancellara story.... silly.
  • + 1
 It's interesting that he rides the normal Epic w 100mm travel instead of the WC which has 95mm and shorter chsinstays
  • + 1
 @dypeterc: It is the wc version? Look at the chainstay and lack of fd mount
  • + 2
 @rrsport: tried a 60mm stem on my rocky mountain vertex once, worst feeling ever.
  • + 1
 @jclnv: kulharvy is not a good technical descender, it's not all the bike.
  • + 1
 @rrsport: You're right but normal Epic is 100mm, which was referenced in the photo of shock. Maybe normal Epic rear triangle combined w/ WC front. Or XL frame has the extra room for the +5mm travel.
  • + 1
 @dypeterc: it's definitely a full wc version, the normal epic has a different chain stay as well as a fd mount
  • + 4
 @tigerteeuwen: same here. That's why I was saying further up that distance from steer tube isn't the only factor that matters. Going from 75 to 50mm stem (and widening bars) turned my bike (69 HA) to absolute crap. Very unstable feeling and couldn't climb for shit. Some extra stem length makes perfect sense on XC bikes. Jaro's still looks crazy though.
  • + 1
 @bkm303: Well your bike oviously fits you with the long stem. Go up a size then run a short stem and it will fit plus handle better.
  • + 4
 @jclnv: I think you missed my point.... I wouldn't want to size up because (a) it would be huge, and (b) I would have to be super exaggerated in shifting weight for climbing, wheelies, etc.

The point was, I don't think XC bikes will ever come with 50mm stems because long wheelbase, slack HA, and high speed handling are what the "new school" of geometry are based on, and that's kind of opposite of what you need in an XC race situation. The slackest XC bikes are about 69deg, which is still fairly twitchy. If you want to stabilize the handling without growing the wheelbase, you use a longer stem. It makes a huge (positive) difference, especially handling at low speed and on steep climbs. Forward pressure on the bars makes the bike want to go straight, which is extra advantageous when you're super exhausted and don't have perfect control over your arms (which is most of an XC race in my experience).

I've ridden several other bikes that fit the current trail/am trends, and they feel awesome at speed. But they'll never climb as well as a true XC bike or be as nimble/controllable at lower speeds. XC geo is the way it is for a reason, and for bikes like this I still think stems in the 70-90mm range make perfect sense.

Kulhavy's looks like 120 though.... yuck. That bike can't possibly fit right.
  • - 4
flag jclnv (Jul 4, 2016 at 7:11) (Below Threshold)
 @bkm303: I couldn't disagree more. 68 HA and 50mm stem on my XC rade bike. Climbing performance is down to seat angle, not stem length/head angle. This whole dated XC geo thing is just marketing.
  • + 3
 @jclnv: You clearly don't have any experience or knowledge of xc bikes and how shit they feel with short stems... go back to enduro brah
  • - 2
 @rrsport: Actually it has nothing to do with the discipline, it's a bike with varying geometry and weight distribution. The same effects on performance apply to 100mm as they do 160mm travel. If you find a bike twitchy by running a short stem you should head down to your local DH race and convince the riders to try an 80mm stem as the number one ride characteristic DH racers are after is stability.

Good luck with that.
  • + 3
 @jclnv: You are a douche. 69-71 degree head angles are very different from the 63-65 on a dh bike and therefore require different set ups. A slack head angle is inherently stable at high speeds but is slower to turn which is why short stems have come about. A steep head angle is inherently Unstable (twitchy) and longer stems are used to slow the steering inputs down.

Next you will be trying to tell me the entire peloton at the tour de france is incorrectly set up as they use 140mm stems...
  • - 2
 @rrsport: You're totally ignoring weight distribution. A long stem will put more weight in front of the front axle on descents compounding the already too steep head angle. Rubbish.

If stability is required, centralise weight distribution, don't hang weight outside of the wheelbase. What about adding lead weights under the saddle to increase climbing performance? Equally stupid.

Your example re road can be explained thus, they run the smallest frame possible due to weight and the longest stem possible for aero. Grip is rarely compromised so they can get away with it.

Keep going if you like. This is page one stuff for me but if it helps you learn I'm fine with it.
  • + 3
 @jclnv: except you are wrong again and again and again. An xc race bike is not designed to have short stems. Many people have stated it.
  • + 3
 @rrsport: well at least you understand what I was talking about. Bike setup will vary with the goals of the bike. Enduro and DH bikes are only timed on the downhill... so they don't need to climb the way XC bikes do. That's not to say I can't climb on a modern AM bike. It just takes way more rider input at the bars, which is something you don't always have the energy/motor skills for in a XC race when your heart is going flat out.

@jclnv your examples gp back to DH. Nobody is saying DH riders need long stems... they don't need them because of the low head angles and long wheelbases AND THE TYPE OF RACES THEY COMPETE IN. In a race where virtually all of the time is won/lost on the CLIMBS, you WANT more weight forward. The fact that you're simplifying climbing performance down to simply seat angle means you're the one buying into the marketing hype, not me and @rrsport . Show me even one WC XCO racer riding a 50mm stem.
  • + 1
 @rrsport: 2017 rumors are of no changes to Epic. Maybe PB got their specs wrong and it's 95mm. 2017 SJ HT gets new frame design and name change to allegedly Epic HT.
  • + 1
 @rrsport: I'm also surprised that they could run 38T chainring on Epic. I was under impression that 36T was max capacity according to Specialized
  • + 2
 @dypeterc: I was just looking at all the rumors before on a 2017 epic, I could only find mentions of boost 148, getting rid of the brain in forks, and possibly the chance of the sworks version being spec'd with fox live since nothing much has mentioned about it since last year on pb
  • - 1
 @bkm303: if you read my earlier posts I stated that the steep head angles are the half the problem. Funny enough the argument of running a long stem to make a bike less twitchy goes away when a adequate (sub 69 degree head angle or so) is applied.

The long stem for climbing argument makes little sense. Literally all of the mass when seated climbing goes through the seat (out of the saddle it goes through the BB). 1 degree of seat angle (as well as rear centre length) has a far, far, greater influence on keeping the front wheel on the ground on seated steep climbs than a 150mm long stem.

You see how what you take for granted in DH, slack head angle, short stem, weight behind front axle etc applies in the same way at the other end of the bike when ascending? It's not marketing, it's just physics.

Well no, you're correct, I don't see any current racer using a 50mm stem but I can think of reasons why that don't have anything to do with performance. Including far too short top tube and reach measurements on most XC bikes, stubbornness of racers to make changes (see dropper posts and full suspension etc), psychological effect of using a longer wheelbase more stable bike that can 'feel' slower. Like going from 26" to 29" etc.

As others have said, there is no way Kulhavy's bike is optimised for anything other than his own querky ideas. 6 months on a larger bike would be all it would take I bet. However, as said, try getting a racer to deviate from any weird habit/idea, especially if they had success with it. Almost impossible. A great 110m hurdler from England ate a large bar or chocolate before winning the national championship and subsequently atributed the result to the chocolate. He spent his entire career eating that same chocolate bar before every race even though he eventually couldn't stand it. Funny eh?
  • + 3
 @jclnv: steep(ish) HAs are not going anywhere for XC racing. Lengthening the TT, steepening SA, and slacking HA necessitates lengthening the wheelbase, which, again, is great for maching downhill alone but not desirable for XC racing where you need to handle in packs of riders, make hairpin switchbacks, etc. It's like the difference between crit road bikes (snappy handling in crowded packs -> shorter WB) and TT road bikes (go fast in a straight line -> slacker, longer WB). Which sounds more like an XC race?

XC race bikes already have fairly steep seat angles, so idk what you're on about there. Trek, Giant, Spesh, and Cdale seat angles for their XC frames are all within about 1deg of those on their enduro frames, and once you sort out the difference between virtual and actual SAs, leg length and seat height, along with the fact that a rider can choose to run different amounts of seatpost offset, the difference is trivial between the two.

And just for the sake of argument.... let's assume they did steepen the SA, and that the rider used the same seatpost offset. You're shifting the whole rider forward... so the bars have to shift forward.... so the stem gets LONGER in that case, because, as mentioned before, the WB is not going to get significantly longer in an XC race bike.

We've agreed from the beginning that Kulhavy's bike looks like shit. But it's ludicrous for you to think you've got the holy grail of XC race geometry there in your head, and not a single rider or mechanic on the entire WC XC circuit has thought of it before and sized up a frame or something. These guys all shred on trail bikes as well as XC whippets - Nino rides a Genius LT all the time and he can blast enduro downhills right along with Fairclough. Shit, Scott basically designed the new Spark and Scale specifically for Nino. He knows all about new school trail geometry - it's just not the right horse for the course when it comes to XC.
  • + 1
 @rrsport: I agree with bkm303. I too had an XC race bike, Santacruz Highball, which I ran with a 75 stem and 720 bar. Medium frame but I am 5' 4". Small was not made. The ETT on that is 23 inches whereas I had always been on 21.5 or so and 100 mm stems. Ultimately I ended up on a 60 then a 50 mm stem. That bike was not twitchy in the least. With a 120 fork it had about a 69° HA. Nor was the steering too slow to climb nasty steep tight switchbacks that we have in spades in North Vancouver and Whistler where I live.
  • + 1
 @jclnv: totally agree with this too.
  • - 1
 @bkm303: @bkm303: Have you ridden a bike with say a 60mm longer wheelbase than what your're used to on tight switchbacks? The difference is minimal to say the least as accurate wheel placement is easier at slow speed. Whereas the difference in descending stability is noticeable.

Re seat angles; yes as long they're steep enough, which you rightly point out many are, then little can be done to increase climbing performance apart from lengthing rear centre/lowering BB. My point is it makes far more sense to add length in reach, not stem. I promise you that no matter what Scott says in marketing videos, the geo of Nino's new bike was tweaked from the existing model on CAD drawings. I doubt even Aluminum protos were built, let alone carbon moulds. Would you like to bet that Nino or any pro XC racer for that matter, has ridden an 100mm bike with AM geometry? Can you imagine how much easier descending would be when you're maxed?

99% of companies are conservative with sizing and geo and just do the same old crap as they're scared of poor sales etc. Smaller companies like Mondraker correctly pushed things and almost everyone else has since added a load of reach to their AM/trail bikes. If someone did the same for XC bikes I bet the reviews would be favourable and everyone would play catch up again. Maybe that might just happen?
  • + 1
 @jclnv: I think you need to go down to your local specialized dealer, grab a demo epic, put a 60mm stem on it, then you'll see why no xc racer will ever do what you think they should
  • + 2
 @jclnv: I've ridden a Smuggler, 5010, Trance, and Scale within the last year or so, in addition to my old school XC FS (designed around a long ass stem) and my trail HT (currently with 75mm stem after experimenting down to 50mm and hating it with a passion).

It's not that the Smuggler or 5010 won't climb things, I thought they were pretty solid climbers. It's just that the physics of a longer wheelbase require more exaggerated weight shifts to keep the front wheel down or lift it up over things, and to stop it from wandering on steep climbs. I found myself off my intended line pretty often - but the bikes did have a "crawl over things" feel that let me get away with it sometimes. The shorter bikes only require tiny weight shifts and like to thread the needle a lot more. Plus there's no need to even think about keeping the front wheel weighted and straight because your weight is already forward on the wheelbase. In an XC race where I'm climbing virtually the whole time I don't want to think about keeping my chest low - I want it to be there by default. I do use a dropper for more confidence descending though, which I think will catch on as courses get rougher. I do enjoy the extra confidence when I'm maxed out.

For switchbacks, I'm sure anyone can learn to get around them on a longer bike, and I got the hang of it, but I wouldn't call the difference minimal at all.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see more XC bikes at 69.5 HA instead of 71. I definitely acknowledge that current XC bikes aren't that fun on the downhill but I'd take one of them for climbing/racing 100% of the time over a longer, slacker bike unless my XC courses were all fire road climbs. I guess we'll see over time if/how the bikes and courses change. But for now.... slicing up a climb on a short bike is FUN and pretty hard to beat IMO.

And FWIW, the Scott guys did prototype the Spark several times in Aluminum and carbon over 3 years or so. www.youtube.com/watch?v=toXlB2VCJZQ

The spark has shorter CS, slacker front, and steeper SA than its predecessor. They're just not going as far as you want them to go.... I think they've already taken their cues from AM geo but it's probably at a pretty optimal point for racing. www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfY_U9iS4pc
  • + 1
 @rrsport: oddly enough i happen to like that twitchiness. Allows me to throw the bike quickly around corners. I hold my sholders firm going up hill, keeps the bike in-line.
  • + 1
 @XCMark: how technical are your trails though? Around here it's constant rock gardens so when I tried a shorter stem on my race bike it felt horrible and I switched back to the 90mm I had
  • + 4
 Love the coverage of these bikes. The fact that tracks are now finally technical you can't simply run a hardtail is encouraging. Never been a huge fan of the "Brain" shock. I had a 2014 Epic and either the shock threshold is too stiff that it's horrible on downhills, or its too soft the rear end just bobs uphill. I wonder if Kulhavy gets a total custom tuned one.
  • + 1
 In the woman's race 2nd place up till the very end almost was on a hardtail.
  • + 1
 @tigerteeuwen: Hardtail with a dropper post Smile I'm not sure but maybe it has something to do with Maja's flat in the last lap. With the seat dropped maybe she could push it too hard on one of the rocky downs - but it's just my speculation. And also, Kross probably doesn't have a WC level fully racebike.
  • + 1
 @bosnianrider:

It's funny though because they say that full suspension is more problematic with flats because you think the suspension will alleviate things, where as with a hardtail you can feel and dampen that from the feedback your getting.
  • + 1
 @tigerteeuwen: I am not sure how much feeling she had in the last lap of the race. But Spitz rode a fully and flatted in the last lap too... Smile
  • + 1
 @bosnianrider: very good point.... hsha
  • + 5
 I'm hoping for a battle to beat all other battles with all the drama of an afternoon soap opera and the excitement of a Labrador chasing a tennis ball.
  • + 2
 Some nice looking bikes there. I can see one day that xc race bikes will catch up with road bikes in terms of aerodynamic performance. The speeds on the climbs may not be the same but it all must count. Looking at the's bikes that leaves room for improvement in rims, fork, handlebars etc.
  • + 1
 Hmmm, road bike bar tape for grips. Would be able to dial in the feel, and easier install than ESI. And if you rip it, you would have lots of leftovers. The silicone tape would feel awesome. Just another thing to add to the list...
  • + 1
 It is good to see that full suspension bikes have earned a place in the XC mainstream. It was a matter of time before the benefits of improved traction and speed through rougher sections would be recognised as outweighing any slight weight penalties due to frame build issues and the inclusion of the additional rear suspension components.

I wonder whether XC bikes are now due for some basic geometry changes as well? Are long stems really so advantageous for XC riding? Or, does frame stiffness and weight considerations explain why the front-centre has remained short on XC bikes while on mountain bikes in other categories (where weight isn't quite so important) it has increased, sometimes greatly? These are genuine questions, I don't pretend to be able to offer adequate answers to them. Still, it would be interesting to see some XC bikes manufactured using the latest and greatest materials with a stretched front-centre (and longer reach and horizontal top tube) to see how such a thing would perform in practice, by all the normal standards, e.g. bike tests, head-to-head performance comparisons and race results.
  • + 1
 I use the saddle as Jaroslav Kulhavy does, it helps a lot when climbing and I like the extra freedom when going downhill . I don't have a dropper post and only on very long and steep descends I put my seat post down.
  • + 3
 I wonder how much that Rose bike weighs. It looks chunky but I'm sure it's much lighter than it looks.
  • + 2
 Agreed. It looks several pounds heavier than the other bikes
  • + 3
 Wow Kulhavy's seat is unreal! May as well just sit atop the seat post...
  • + 0
 Xc coverage is dandy and all, but I'm disappointed in the lack of anything on pinkbike pertaining to prime line this weekend.
  • + 1
 Must be an illusion but Nino's bike looks pretty slack for xc? Looks like the front wheel may be turned a little.
  • - 12
flag likeittacky (Jul 2, 2016 at 11:03) (Below Threshold)
 For having such good bike handling skills,its hard to see why He runs His stem upside down.
  • + 1
 69ha and revers arch make it look slack.
  • - 1
 @dragonaut: I can never get used to looking at the reverse arch. And am even surprised at 69ha. I don't follow xc is that the norm now?
  • - 1
 @xjohnx77: I actually love the look of the revese arch.

But nowdays, XC bikes are following the Enduro long, low, slack!
  • + 0
 Right, and he isn't on Dugast tubular tires this time (or just training setup?). Disapointed by his latest WC experience?
  • + 0
 WTF??!!
Nino riding with Maxxis Aspen tires?
  • + 0
 @Clem-mk: We'll see tomorrow...
  • + 1
 One hardtail and the rest are single pivot... interesting
  • + 2
 Absalon's bike is a VPP/DW-like double link design BMC. Of course, he still has to run a remote, despite what all the Santa Cruz, Pivot, etc. fanboys will tell you.
  • + 0
 @LeDuke: thank you for clarification! Smile
  • + 0
 When did Nino stop running tubular tyres? What brand of tyres does he use now?
  • + 3
 Maxxis Aspen by the looks of the tyres above
  • + 1
 when did Nino go to 29 wheels?
  • + 1
 No more Dugast tyres for Nino?
  • + 0
 The winner here is DT Swiss for making one of the nicest looking shocks with an absolutely atrociously ugly remote.
  • + 0
 Since when os nino running 29er? :-o
  • + 0
 Since the last race.
  • + 0
 Spesh still makes sexy weapons for racing.
  • + 0
 I guess flex stays will be the next big thing.
  • + 0
 I know I'm not the only one bothered by the upside down Lizard Skins logo.
  • + 0
 Go Absalon!
  • - 1
 N1no best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • - 1
 Nino's bike also looks to have DT Swiss version of the Evol air canister
  • - 1
 n1no for the win!
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