Red Bull Rampage, Utah
WORDS Mike Levy
PHOTOS Colin Meagher
The Red Bull Rampage is one hell of a place to put a prototype machine through its paces, but that is exactly what Hyper's Cam Zink is doing aboard this new long-travel rig. And if Cam has it his way, he'll be pulling off one of the largest moves in mountain bike history: a backflip off of the largest step down on the course, a drop that measures somewhere in the neighbourhood of forty to fifty feet down. The bike that he'll be using is a brand new, yet to be named 8" travel rig from Hyper, with Cam being in possession of the only two 26"-wheeled prototypes that have been manufactured at this point in time, while Hyper's Eric Carter has two frames back in California designed around 650B wheels for testing. Word from Hyper is that they plan on going ahead with the bigger wheel size for production... unless there is a large amount of interest shown in the 26" version, that is. Which wheel size would you prefer to see put into production?
Prototype DH bike details
• Rear wheel travel: 203mm/8"
• Wheel size: 26" (650B prototypes as well)
• Floating lower shock link
• Tapered head tube
• ISCG 05 chain guide tabs
• Frame weight: 9.5LB (production should be lower)
• Availability: TBA
• MSRP: TBA
|Cam wanted the bike to be a little more resistant to bottoming out than normal for the stuff he rides, which I like as well. I feel it creates a ''platform'' that allows for a very animated DH bike, one that a rider can manipulate the suspension on to hop around and over things, and to get to different lines. - Eric Carter, brand manager|
Suspension Design: You would be only half right if you guessed that Zink's 8" travel Hyper employs a single pivot and rocker arm layout, although you'd be forgiven considering that's pretty much all that is visible in terms of the bike's rear suspension when viewing it from the drive side. Have a look from the opposite side, though, and you'll immediately spot the floating lower shock link that is home to the lower mounting point for the bike's RockShox Vivid Air R2C shock - that means that the shock isn't attached to the front triangle. How does it all function? The chain stays move up as the rear tire hits a bump, pulling upwards on the lower linkage while at the same time compressing the shock with the rocker arm, effectively compressing the shock from both ends. Hyper's Eric Carter told us that there are a number of benefits to the design, most notably the ability to make changes to the bike's suspension characteristics by swapping out lower link components rather than having to replace the bike's rocker arm, thereby giving Hyper a cost effective method of suspension tuning during the bike's development.
As you might expect from a bike that is going to be ridden by Zink at Rampage, his suspension has been tuned for the massive airtime the bike we see this Sunday. Hidden within the RockShox Vivid Air R2C is a much stiffer compression tune than what a regular rider would require for more run of the mill terrain, and the shock's air pressure has also been bumped up from what he would normally use. All of this is on top of a bike that, according to Carter, has been designed to offer more resistance to bottoming out than many other machines. This setup has no doubt been mirrored up front on his RockShox BoXXer fork, complete with the new and still BlackBox-only Charger damper.
Just as we saw on Hyper's prototype all-mountain and slope bikes, the downhill rig's suspension has been designed with rigidity and reliability in mind. This much is obvious when inspecting the bike's welded together, one-piece rocker arm that looks ready for anything Zink is planning to throw down come Sunday's big show. And while it is always a good strategy to assemble a burly prototype that errs on the side of safety rather than saving grams, Carter is adamant that the same approach will be used on production bikes as well - "One of my goals is to keep the Hyper phone from ringing with issues,
" he explained to us when we asked about the tough looking captive dropout and seat stay pivot assemblies. You also won't find any aluminum pivot bolts, at least on Zink's Rampage machine, with everything being held together with steel bolts and flush aluminum caps. There are even replaceable steel nuts that fit into keyed holes to hold the shock in place, giving riders access to inexpensive replacements from the hardware store if something does happen to go south. No, that isn't a completely new idea, but it's one we'd like to see more of. Components:
Zink's drivetrain is an interesting mix of components, some of which you might not expect to see on a bike that is going to be ridden at the Rampage, and the biggest surprise is actually the one component that isn't
present in the build - a chain guide. That's right, Cam's Hyper is setup sans guide, with the 36 tooth X-Sync chain ring from SRAM left to fend for itself. Crazy? Not as much as you might think, as a bottom bracket case on the course would likely mean the end of a run regardless of if the bike were equipped with some sort of protection or not, and the X-Sync chain ring and clutch derailleur setup has proven to be very effective when it comes to chain retention. It remains to be seen if Zink will run a full guide come Sunday, but we wouldn't be surprised if he leaves it as you see pictured here. The other interesting point to note is that the X-Sync ring has been bolted to a standard X0 carbon crank from Truvativ, with the ring using a 104 BCD pattern that allows it to be fitted to non-XX1 or X01 cranks, a recent development that has gone mostly under the radar.
Something that hasn't gone unnoticed, though, is the ultra-short cage X01 derailleur on Cam's bike, a piece of kit that we've seen on a number of SRAM's elite level BlackBox racers throughout the 2013 World Cup season. While the unit pictured above is obviously in the prototype stage, it would be foolish to not suspect that SRAM is working towards a production version that we might see in the future. How many speeds it will be intended for is still up in the air, but Cam's machine has been fitted with a ten speed cassette. His bike is finished up with a set of Mavic's Deemax wheels shod with Geax Neuron tires, Deity's direct mount stem, handlebar, and platform pedals, and a set of Sensus non-locking grips. www.hyperbicycles.com