With spending a lot of his time on a BMX (he recently built a custom 22" wheeled version) and years on 27.5" bikes, Dan found the switch to the 29" prototype hard as it offers a different dynamic to the smaller wheel sizes. From a time perspective, he said that he understands the advantages and would choose the big wheel size if he was racing, but as Dan now spends most of his time riding for fun and tackling more bike parks. When asked about trying a smaller wheel in the rear he said that would mean still having a 29" front wheel which is actually the bigger problem: "I dunno about putting a smaller wheel in the back, even the front felt weird. In the air, turning and playing around, it's fast but it's just not as fun," he explained.
"It's actually the first 29” bike that I have ever ridden. I have struggled with it, to be honest. It's definitely faster, it is bloody fast, but it is such a different thing to ride," Dan said of his early time on his prototype.
For suspension duties, the Athertons have all stuck with Fox; they've been with them for years which gives a bit of familiarity to the new bike. There's a Fox 49 up and a DHX2 out the back with a 475 in/lb spring. In terms of air pressure for the fork, Dan says: "I have put a bit of weight on recently as I have been doing too much in the office, so I have gone up to 93/94 psi. I have no idea how many tokens though."
Dan and Gee wanted to adjust the rocker to run lower spring rates for the early part of the season.
Because they have had input at every stage of the development of the bike, Dan says that working with Dave Weagle on the DW6 link has been amazing. Getting to make even the smallest adjustment to the kinematics has had a big change on how the bike feels to ride. "In January, me and Gee were already up on the 525 in/lb spring. It was early in the season and we weren't riding that fast and already being on such a high spring rate was not what we were looking for."
"We then worked with Dave to play with the function of the rocker and change its kinematics slightly in order to come down two spring rates to 475 in/lb. This means we have more room to play with in terms of riding harder and faster." The rocker on the bike Dan brought to the London Bike Show is from before the change.
The mostly hidden back side of the suspension design. There's a lot more going on here than it might look like at first.
Stans was a long time partner for the Athertons before riding with Trek and Bontrager, but now that they're running their own team they've returned to the brand. They're using the new Flow EX3s, and Dan says it's great to be back riding their wheels. "You know the guy who owns the company, Stan, is a super passionate guy who also loves Land Rovers, so we get on quite well."
Another returning brand for the Athertons this year is Continental. Living in west Wales, Dan says Cambrian Tyres, one of the biggest distributors of for Continental in the UK, is close by to offer plenty of local support. He also says the guys over in Germany are great to work with and are really good in terms of product development. Dan is currently running a 2.4'' Der Kaiser tire at 27/28 psi, although for bike park duties he would run them between 32 to 34 psi.
Dan runs FSA's new Gradient DH cranks.
One interesting thing spotted on Dan's bike was the FSA Gradient cranks. Dan says these are pretty rare to see and are the beginning of FSA moving into downhill and supporting the Atherton team in a big way. He says FSA has been an interesting company to work with so far and its a good to be linking with them when moving forward with their own frames.
The Trickstuff Maxima brakes are expensive, rare, and very powerful.
Another new sponsor for the team is Trickstuff and their Maxima brakes. All three Atherton siblings can't stop talking about how impressive and powerful the brakes are. Dan has found them to be the hardest thing on the new bike to get used to. "They are so powerful its nuts, the difference in arm pump is amazing. You are just working less." Although offering a ton of power, Dan also says that it offers a nice amount of modulation.
Currently, he is running 203mm rotors front and rear but because of the power offered by the brakes, Dan is thinking he may be able to go for a smaller rotor and not miss out. This would not be for every track but for bike park terrain Dan doesn't see why with the brakes power you would need a such a large rotor.