Video: Specialized Racing at Sea Otter 2013

Apr 23, 2013
by Fraktiv  
Specialized Racing were out in force at last weekend's Sea Otter Classic. Riding his Specialized S-Works Enduro 29, Aaron Gwin took the win at the Pro Men Downhill race and Troy Brosnan took seventh place despite being within a second of Gwin's time; racing was that close! World 4X Champion, Anneke Beerten completed the day by taking third in the Pro Women Downhill race on her Specialized Stumpjumper FSR 29.


Learn more about the riders, their bikes and equipment at www.iamspecialized.com

Video produced by Specialized Bicycle Components, Inc.


119 Comments

  • 114 37
 Honestly if a race is won by a couple mila seconds, wheel size really isnt making a huge difference
  • 20 22
 So true!
  • 127 18
 Invalid statement as the rider that won by a mila second may not have won on a different sized wheel...
  • 21 2
 ^ yeah depends on course
  • 40 11
 descendant, i figure the exact opposite. If gwin only won by .01 then he may have lost if he rode the slower rolling 26. If gwin and others think the 29'er seems to have a distinct rolling advantage at this race, maybe the 29'er gave him that extra .01 or more to win. not to mention in a race where the difference between 1st and 6th is .6 seconds, id have to say the wheel size made a huge difference even if the 29'er gives you .01, in a race, u will run the 29'er
  • 14 3
 @descendent but that doesnt take in fact that rider fitness and skill have a large part to do with it also.
  • 16 2
 sea otter is an easy, not technical course, with a few uphills and many riders opting for shorter travel bikes and bigger wheel sizes. the advantages of a 26er are less apparent with a course like sea otter. so there you go.
  • 55 6
 @ dhridernz and carlmontnative

I'd argue that the statement is valid:

1) You're operating on the assumption that on a DH course a 29 would roll faster. A 29" bike doesn't roll faster than a 26" bike. A 29" bike maintains it's velocity at a lower rate of energy: IE, it's easier to ride faster on a 29" bike over a certain distance. Mathematically speaking this means that the bike will maintain speed easier, but will do so at the cost of taking longer to accelerate and decelerate. If the course rewards a single consistent speed (as is often the case in a XC race) then a 29" will have the advantage. If the course rewards speed adaptability (as is often the case on more technical DH trails) a 26" will have the advantage. In the end "Faster" will most likely be determined by the course and how the rider rides it.

2) Statistically speaking there is no proof that Gwin was 'faster' than his average run. There is only one data point. So, the assumption that Gwin would have lost is he had been on a 26" is actually invalid. He very well could have won on a 26" bike. In fact, if you were to accept this single data point and compare it to his average time over the rest of the field then it would appear that he was in fact slower on the 29er. I'm not entirely certain what the specific would be, but from what I've gathered I'd estimate it being somewhere between 3-5 seconds.

So long story short- There is no way of definitively telling if Gwin riding the 29er provided him with a distinct advantage. And there is no way of telling whether or not Gwin was 'faster'. At least from an objective standpoint at least. However, judging from the race results it would appear that a 29er did not provide a hands down ADVANTAGE, nor a DISADVANTAGE.
  • 20 22
 honestly, if a dh race is dominated by a bunch of guys using short travel 29er's, then i think the course should be either redesigned or dropped from the race calender. ive never been to sea otter, and havent seen to much of the track, but from what i have seen its looks to be nothing more than a relatively calm smooth bike park trail with a few booters on the staights, not a wc dh trail. and if they banned skins suits because it didnt properly represent dh riding, then why keep running courses that can be ridden on cross country bikes?
  • 61 2
 I understand that people live far away from California, but from the massive amount of media coverage any pinkbiker anywhere should be able to glean that the Sea Otter downhill is not "on the calendar" because it's a rad DH race. Sea Otter is held at Laguna Seca. Sea Otter comprises dozens of different races and other events, and it includes an individual time trial on a mostly downhill course that a lot of amateur and pro downhill riders like to enter. Long story short--it's a "downhill race". It is never, never gong to be on the world cup circuit, so don't sweat it. The Sea Otter DH is the best that the location can offer, which as a zillion PBers have pointed out, isn't much. You're missing the point. It's barely spring in the northern hemisphere. Really tall mountains with really gnarly DH tracks are not only not great spots for a huge bike expo, they are also probably under snow. Enjoy Sea Otter for what it is.
  • 16 2
 ^Well said
  • 6 3
 let's just see what happens the rest of the year. gwin for the last few years has had some dominant wins. if people are drinking the 29er kool aid over his win by .1 second then his fans should be worried once the season starts and he's back on 26' wheels. if he only won because of the 29" wheels then that means his rivals have truly upped their games and he should be worried. specialized wins though for sure as all the 29er zealots can now say a dh race was won with 29" wheels which has always been 26" riders fall back argument against 29". now their heads are exploding and so are specialized sales
  • 7 1
 @marlfox87,
Im operating on the assuption that the 29'er at this race will get you across the finish line quicker than a 26, sorry for the "roll faster" phrasing, technically speaking your right, a 29'er dosnt "roll faster" without any other variables playing a part.

iv raced the sea otter "dh" 7 times now, so i have a fairly good idea on how the course rides. I touched my brakes 3 times during my last race run, only to brake check going into the slight drifty turn. this means that there is little meaningful deceleration at this race. the 29'er is able to "maintain its speed easier", which means on this course, with the same energy output, at the exact same points on the course, taking the same lines (which at sea otter is dead straight), one would think that the 29'er has the advantage. Obviously nobody on the face of the earth has the statistical data to prove or disprove this, that is why i said "may" and "seems". im basing this OPINION off of the choices of gwin and others, and considering the fact that gwin was able to feel the difference and believe the 29'er would get him across the finishline faster, ya id say thats worth at least .01 seconds. if the human body can detect this less than subtle speed difference, id say again that the 29'er is worth more than .01. and sorry, im assuming (and can not statistically prove) that the human body can't tell the difference in speed of .01 seconds over 2 minutes of trail.

And for the record i raced it on a 26 dh bike because i cant afford a 29'er. id pick the 29'er if i had the choice though
  • 3 1
 @ Marlfox87 You are right in the fact that there is no conclusive proof that gwin was faster on the 29er but there was also none that he would have been faster or equal speed on a 26. Different riders are also incomparable as power outputs and fitness(time to produce that power) varies as does a riders ability to carry speed etc. Therefore No conclusions about which bike was actually faster can be drawn from comparing riders or from the times. the only true way to tell is for each individual rider and that would be to do a number of runs on each bike over a long period of time (reduce rider fatique effects) and average the results. this woul also need to be done on a rider by rider basis.
  • 4 1
 @qbert2000

sea otter isnt a gauge of where you stack up against the field on world cup caliber dh courses. it gives a personal idea of ur fitness level. local xc pros cracked the top 30, but lack the skill to qualify at a wc.
  • 5 2
 Almost all of the riders who had access to larger wheels rode them. You can get really lame and say its just marketing, but what would happen to the marketing if Gwin ran 26" wheels and was beaten by a rider on a different wheel size? Oh wait, that already happened!! It would look like Spesh had inferior equipment and the reigning champ can't win on it.

So far we have seen numerous articles showing the stopwatch runs by the bicycle companies and the suspension manufacturers show a significant advantage to larger wheels. No team in their right mind is going to lose on purpose to push a certain design. Winning is the best advertising, and look how many of the nonbelievers lost the "26 or die" mentality already. If 650b was inferior, or the Enduro 29er was actually just marketing, they would get beat regularly, and no one would ride them. People win on them, beat 26" bikes, and people buy them. Anyone who has some reasonable time on a larger wheeled bike knows the advantages to be had. Anyone who doesn't have time on the larger wheels can delude themselves all they want, but there is a real performance advantage.
  • 3 6
 @carlmontnative: you raced a 26 dh bike because you can't afford a 29? you ride a devinci wilson carbon with boxxer world cup and saint. im guessing that costs at least around 6k. now, an entry level longer-travel 29er (a bike that can take the sea otter course) costs roughly $2500. now, if you could please explain to me, because i am at a loss, how you cannot afford a 29er.
  • 6 1
 spending all my hard earned money on a bike i ride 3 times a week and love > buying a complete bike id race once a year

not much money in part time bike maintenance too
  • 6 1
 The logic that people will buy what wins is so funny to me. It might be true but its completely impractical. Most riders don't race, so why should they care about what wins? Do you care about split times when you're riding with your buddies, or are you more concerned with the actual feeling the bike gives you along the way? I compare it to driving an AWD turbo-charged car with a DSG paddle shift gear box versus driving a N/A rear-wheel drive car with a manual. You might go faster in the techno-monster, but you'll be more connected with the experience of driving the manual, and it will require more finesse and skill. It all comes down to what you want out of your ride. But it would seem that most consumers should be more concerned with what feels fun and playful, not necessarily what is the fastest.
  • 3 2
 Gwinn is all moto brah and probably though the 29" was gay until Mitch slaughtered him at Fonturkey. He could have rode the 26" like Troy but he chose the 29" and won. Nuff said.
  • 3 0
 I think now the 29ers will go into hibernation until PMB World Championships in South Africa.
  • 4 1
 I ride a 26 and I am fine with that! Period!
  • 2 3
 But if he was running 26" then the bike would be a little lighter, and little smaller to through about... at the end of the day 26" will always be DH
  • 5 0
 Honey, wake the kids, someone is wrong on the internet.
  • 2 0
 @ Hypermoto, I agree its silly for people to buy what wins. The best race bike and the best rider's bike are going to be different. Geometry and suspension settings SHOULD vary wildly between pros and enthusiasts. But, and it is a big BUT, people look at brands. How many people would have thought of carbon for harder riding until Brian Lopes signed with Ibis. There were predictions of career ending crashes from frame failures. Didn't happen. Most people are now aware of the strength of carbon excepting some knuckledragging retrogrouches. Look at the impact he has had on X-Fusion suspension. 4 years ago, people laughed at their very good products, now they are considered good products.

Don't kid yourself, the marketing isn't the ads, its the application of products at the highest level of competition. If you can compete at the highest level, you are obviously good enough for the consumer. No one who matters to the manufacturers doubts the Enduro 29ers capabilities now, or the effectiveness of 650b. They are not the money grabbing disadvantage that has been claimed by the uninformed, to the point now the uninformed are crying foul and claiming an unfair advantage.
  • 3 0
 I don't know if this has been mentioned or not but I think I'm right in saying that Minnaar came just 0.3 back on Gwin riding his V10, with 26" wheels.
  • 5 1
 "wheel size really isnt making a huge difference"

The diffrence is coming in 1st place as opposed to 2nd thru last, thats big enough.
  • 2 0
 Given the tiny spread between times, it seems obvious that wheel size played a factor. However we don't know for sure what the effect was. If wheel size made you .1 second faster or slower, that could win or lose a race like this. Perhaps it made gwin .1 second slower and he actually would have won by more. Or perhaps the opposite is true and he would not have won. When dealing with such close results, even tiny factors are worth the attention of a well staffed and funded professional racing team.
  • 2 2
 dont you guys see what specialized has done. we're all victims of marketing - genius on their part. "Hey aaron, ride the 29er in sea otter dh. if you win, watch all the pinkbike sheep argue about what wheel size to run in DH"

a win means a win - like hypermoto said above, MANY people will see it as just that and buy 29er dh bikes for that reason alone. the logic is simple, and it takes no thought, but its working for specialized. this thread is proof.
  • 2 0
 SIK MIK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 3 1
 Who knows which wheel size would have made Gwin Faster on that day. Who's to say that he wouldn't have won by larger margin if his wheels were smaller. We will never know. But what cant be disproved is the science behind the big wheel technology. Saying that, 26 for life.
  • 4 0
 i might have to give up all hope if people dont stop going on about wheel sizes...and lets face it, gwin could probably win with any size wheels
  • 4 0
 ^ which has just been proven with his sea otter win. it doesn't matter what size wheel. riding is not racing.
  • 26 4
 Aaron seems a lot more stoked to be on Specialized than Sam on Nukeproof
  • 10 6
 Sam picked nukeproof. And chose to leave Specialized.....
  • 11 4
 don't get me wrong I like Sam but after watching his interview the other day, it left me wondering
  • 3 1
 it might just be me but gwinny seems visibly faster than other riders. hes just insanely good
  • 4 11
flag dvbwn (Apr 23, 2013 at 20:16) (Below Threshold)
 Aaron also has more of a smug ass look on his face when he wins than Sam does
  • 2 1
 I have no idea why Hill chose to leave Specialized for Nukeproof. I won't even try to guess. But it wouldn't be the bike - he was an active part of designing the current Demo 8, and according to Hill himself (at least in his past interviews), he was a driver of several of the bike's defining features.

And after being at Sea Otter, the decision is a complete mystery to me. The contrast between the support, equipment, and resources available to both teams was stark. CRC/Nukeproof with an inflatable tent and furniture blowing around in the wind vs. Specialized with a full paddock of bikes, mechanics, and a support trailer nicer than most condos.
  • 4 0
 I'm sure specialized wouldn't have that luxury in CRC's home. ( their local city )
  • 7 0
 Well, I believe that's just Sam's way... he always look like that during interviews, so...
  • 3 1
 Sam didn't get the results specialized needed. They are pushing the Enduro 29er, and likely have a 29er Demo in the making as well. They needed a champion to win for them to prove the bike is capable of winning, and disprove the naysayers. With Gwin losing at Fontana, then changing bikes to win at Sea Otter, he's doing what he was hired to do: win on equipment some hard core riders doubted could ever win in this environment. I don't think Gwin lost on purpose, racers don't usually have that kind of personality (Remember the "let Broc by" from moto years ago? Hannah waited until the last corner proving he was fastest, and obviously team tactics for Broc to win.) I think both Spesh riders were unsure if the bike would win, and they had a bet that Gwin won. He lost in the end because of it. After much testing at sea otter, Gwin was obviously confident the 29er was the quickest way to the bottom. Sam needed a ride, and it is unlikely he will ever be a champion again, so he took a good job as a development rider for CRC. Sam is a great rider, but his serious injuries have affected him significantly. Sam hasn't been second fiddle in a long time. It would be difficult for him to stay with Spesh, and not be the main guy.
  • 7 0
 gota love the keyboard warriors on here !!
  • 3 1
 In all likelihood Sam's career is in a slump. He hasn't been posting the results and Specialized has deep enough pockets to want a champ. Hill's contract was up and Spec wasn't too stoked about their star rider, esp. when Brosnan was at his heels or beating him outright. CRC may have approached Sam with a good enough offer for Hill to jump on it before finding himself up shit's creek with a turd for a paddle.
  • 3 1
 true.. it's only going to be a few years before Troy is totally dominating
  • 3 0
 Sam dominated on a Iron Horse and they surely could not provide the support of a Specialized. For him to move to CRC from Spec is not a huge deal to me because it's all about the rider. To make my point, name the other riders from other teams that have awsome support and just can't get it done....the list is long.

Just to throw this out there, maybe Sam wanted what Gwin wanted; his own signiture line and Spec wasn't willing to do it for him the way their going to do it for Gwin.
  • 6 0
 How many 29ers are going to get trashed by amateur DH racers? Answer: none because they don't want to wreck their trail bikes. I'm sure some of it has to do with the right bike for the right track but these guys are so good they could beat you on a Walmart rig.
  • 3 0
 maybe, but the wlmart bike would probably break in half.
  • 9 0
 Bike selection sure was weird this year.
  • 2 0
 What is fastest is different from what people believe. It is weird.
  • 3 0
 Don't forget, Sea Otter is a bike festival with a huge marketing opportunity for companies. Getting big name pros to race their products at the Otter is a great advertising opportunity.
  • 6 0
 Refreshing to see a DH recap video with some real-time footage instead of every shot being in slow-mo. Awesome to see how fast they are actually going!
  • 4 0
 this is brilliant on the part of specialized, having the dominant DHer run a 29er... and then the win! i'm impressed that gwin won in such a tight race (how the heck does he do it? but marvel at the fact that he DOES it, regardless of details.) as is often the case, we are providing great market research to the bike corps as we spray here on pinkbike. i'm not complaining. i'm willingly complicit!
  • 7 0
 Maybe it proves that Greg Minnaar is fit on his V10...
  • 2 0
 thats one thing no one is talking about. what if greg went with a lighter shorter travel 26er or 29er?
  • 2 0
 I suspect Greg could have won this if he was on more efficient equipment. He is one of the few riders who have straight up beat Gwin in the past couple years. Huge props to Greg for his performance.
  • 5 0
 is it just me or does gwin not suite the specialized vibe. way chiller with sam
  • 1 0
 i feel that way too. never was able to explain it, but it seems like an awkward fit.
  • 5 0
 Why are they running XX1 for downhill? Publicity?
  • 3 1
 Because it is the future and no DH groupo compares.
  • 2 0
 Full on DH components are not needed here. XX1, XO, and even XX are strong enough for most conditions. Even the old Truvativ Noir was used in Enduro racing for years prior to the newer carbon cranks which are even lighter and stronger.
  • 1 0
 Errrr XX1 is a little more unique than the other group sets you mention. I think you've missed my point.
  • 3 0
 I'll say it again, Minnaar was in the same second on a fully WC ready V10, everyone else just went to the turbo trainer, he's on it for World Champs.
  • 5 0
 giant 4x course....
  • 1 0
 More like BMX
  • 4 1
 saw a kid riding the top section with a bmx no brakes. lol
  • 2 2
 To be honest can you really call that a dh track? Looks pretty smooth to me that's why that bike would handle it ok ! Ride it down fort William or a number of other downhill tracks then I think it would be a different story !?
  • 3 0
 This video needed moar Mitch.
  • 1 0
 Who cares about wheel size, should it not all be about dh going soft, wont be long until the debate is boxxers or lyriks for most tracks, 10" or 6"! What is fastest?
  • 2 0
 Were skinsuits allowed at this race?
That could have saved at least .10 right there!
  • 3 0
 29er is the best and fast
  • 1 0
 fast riders are fast.

Is it me or does Gwin sound the same in all of his interviews. Doesn't seem super excited or really super bored ever. Maybe he's just a humble dude?
  • 1 0
 Brosnan is looking a little older with his hair slicked back. I wonder if he will get any facial hair anytime?
  • 6 8
 The real issue is that the timing system at Sea Otter is not all that accurate. You start when you hear the final of six beeps. If Sea Otter used a laser or timing chip then you might actually be able to say that someone won by 1/100ths of a second. Currently that seems to be well within the margin of error of the timing system.
  • 10 0
 seriously? that's ridiculous... might as well just call the podium a draw then.
  • 1 0
 um, they start any time in the last 5 seconds of however long the gaps between riders are. when they do, they cross a timing gate...or is that really not the case at sea otter?
  • 1 1
 No, they do not cross a timing gate. I was there so I saw that with my own eyes. The clock starts automatically every 20 seconds. Not sure whether they use a trip sensor at the finish. I was told, however, that they use a stop watch.
  • 2 1
 Those guy's would have killed even more if they would have chosen Specialized new 24" rides. Simple physics .
  • 1 0
 is ropeleto on the specialized uci team or does he just race north american events?
  • 1 0
 Hello what's the song in the backing of this video and who sings it please ?
  • 1 0
 Is the title of the band correct? I cant find anything about the band, not even on Google??
  • 1 0
 me too, love the song but can't find them on itunes or google. Where are they??!!
  • 1 0
 Aaron's TLD helmet looks awesome!
  • 1 0
 glad to see Brosnan back in action. i cant wait till june for round 1!!
  • 1 0
 Gonna be an interesting season...Does anyone know what song this is?
  • 2 0
 Track Name: Wild Ones 5
Artist: The Combine Chiefs
  • 1 0
 Not familiar with the song anyone know it?
  • 1 0
 just try using shazam or one of many other music recognition apps
  • 2 1
 I can't run shazam and the video at the same time
  • 1 0
 it says "Wild Ones 5" by The Combine Chiefs in the description, but i can't find it anywhere
  • 1 0
 that chick is fuckin FAAAAAAST. And fearless. Jebus.
  • 1 0
 Is it true that Sam Hill has been using clipless pedals?
  • 2 0
 yep, mostly on his trail bike...
  • 1 0
 why little to no footage of Mitch? Frown
  • 1 0
 One of them should have raced the p. slope just to compare
  • 2 0
 What it that song?
  • 1 0
 Anneke Beerten can make a 29er look good. i am crazy in love with her.
  • 1 0
 Woo Hoo ! Sick Mic taking it to Gwin. 26inch wheels forever thank you.
  • 1 1
 would suck if Gwin spent his whole carrier on that big wheel as opposed to the demo
  • 1 0
 sound hound won't match it either...
  • 1 0
 Troy Brosnan is an artist on wheels......
  • 1 0
 Those big wheels look funny
  • 1 0
 Pinkbike Internet warriors assemble!
  • 1 0
 Can't remember the last time a millisecond was fun...
  • 2 2
 29ers and six inch rotors don't really work were the rippers roll suckkaz
  • 1 2
 Yeah everyone rides at the same speed except me... because im Aaron Gwin. Woo Hoo!
  • 1 0
 woooooo love it
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