Three-time Olympian. Fifteen-time National Champ. World Cup winner. BC Bike Race winner... Enduro racer? Geoff Kabush has a résumé that any cross-country athlete would happily trade their power-meter for, but the Canadian is again branching out to a very different kind of racing aboard Yeti's new SB130, a 130mm-travel trail bike that he's spec'd to fit his enduro needs.
Geoff's machine has been built to suit his strengths: fitness and covering ground as fast as possible. That means that rather than going for a longer travel, slacker, and heavier enduro-specific setup like the equally-new SB150
, Kabush's SB130 has been assembled with a mix of relatively lightweight but enduro-friendly parts. Total weight: Geoff doesn't give a damn.
Intended use: trail / enduro
Fork travel: 160mm
Wheel size: 29''
Frame construction: carbon fiber
Head angle: approx. 65-degrees
Seat tube angle: 77-degrees
Kabush's SB130 is setup for the Trans-Cascadia, an enduro race in the Pacific Northwest that sends riders down timed stages that they've never seen before.
With over two decades of top-level cross-country racing behind him that kicked off in 1995 with his first World Championship event as a junior, the forty-one-year-old Kabush likely has far more racing experience than most of the people reading this. That sort of practical knowledge led him to choose the SB130 platform over the more enduro-focused SB150 for the Trans-Cascadia, a four-day enduro stage race that sees competitors fly down trails they've never seen before. If it were me who was racing blind, I'd want some squishy, slack, and forgiving to save my ass.
But not Geoff.
''There's the option to get the big SB150, but the SB130 is a nice compromise in general,'' he said of his bike choice. ''It's been a bit more physical pedaling down in Oregon, and I don't really know where we're going, but this will likely be a good compromise.'' Sure, but with a motor that can probably push out more watts for longer than most, if not all, of his enduro competitors, why not take the weight penalty for a bit of extra travel, more relaxed geometry, and more room for error? ''I guess I'm not as confident in my fitness advantage,'' he replied with a laugh. ''I've always enjoyed that part of racing, the figuring out of equipment and taking risks. I mean, there's going to be some super-high-level guys there; Francois Bailly-Maitre is coming, and his performance at the BC Bike race was... It's no joke how fit that guy is.''
Bailly-Maitre usually focuses on enduro events but finished second overall behind Kabush at this year's BC Bike Race, and Kabush is the two-time Trans-Cascadia defending champ, so we might be treated to a hell of a battle.
The new SB130 still uses Yeti's Switch Infinity system, but a revised shape to the frame allows riders to mount a bottle under the shock. I assume that Geoff is happy about this.
Geoff might have chosen a shorter-travel bike than many other racers will be on, but he has made one important change: The SB130 sells with a 150mm-stroke Fox 36 up front, but he's gone for 160mm slider instead. ''Yeah, a little more forgiveness,'' he said of the reasoning for his fork choice. ''Typical of their lunch ride, a lot of guys at Yeti put a little more travel up front, and I'm going to be racing it at a blind enduro at Trans-Cascadia. So it's always nice to have a little more on the front-end, and I've got the big 203mm rotor up front for those emergencies, too.''
The SB130 is rocking a 65.5-degree head angle with the stock 150mm 36, but the extra 10mm up front will slacken it out by a bit less than half of a degree, which isn't exactly a bad thing when you're blindly tossing yourself into roots, rocks, and God knows what. Out back, there's a Fox DPX2 with the stock tune, although Kabush did mention that he's looking forward to trying the SB130 with the more adjustable Float X2 shock as well.
Kabush might be far from the gram-geek that a lot of pro-level cross-country bandits are, but his roots still show in the carbon Stan's Arch CB7 29er rims (26mm internal width, 475-grams) that were on his SB130 when I shot it during Crankworx. ''I've been running carbon wheels on all my bikes,'' the Yeti racer explained before this caveat: ''Because it's four days of racing at the Trans-Cascadia, I might put on some aluminum rims. I might take the conservative option for a four-day race.'' Remember, you can usually pull the dents out of an alloy rim, whereas a carbon hoop might need less attention but can also turn into a bunch of pieces of useless carbon fiber in a worst-case scenario.
How does one choose tires for a race where they don't know the trails? You go with what you do know, of course, and that sees Kabush on Maxxis' Aggressor out back and a Minion DHF up front, both in the mid-weight EXO casing. In my mind, a lot of enduro events call for true downhill rubber, but the Canadian isn't so sure: ''Right now, I'm running EXO [casing tires]. That's usually good enough for me, but I've been talking to the Maxxis guys and they've just released the EXO+, so I'm looking at the timeline to see if I could get a couple of those for enhanced protection.''
The '+' designation means that there's about 80-grams more protection in the tire's sidewall, whereas a Double Down can add between 200 and 250-grams over an EXO casing tire.
The Canadian racer had a set of Stan's Arch CB7 carbon rims on when I shot the bike, but he'll likely be running a set of aluminum Flow MK3 rims at the Trans-Cascadia.
But what if the course points riders down some seriously rocky shit? ''Probably the Double Down [casing],'' he answered, nixing the idea of using tire inserts. ''Coming from my cross-country background, I'm used to managing my tires and, generally, at the blind enduros you're not pushing as hard, just because you never know what's coming. Especially because I'll probably be running the 2.5s, which have the air volume, so if it gets a bit rocky, I might just adjust the pressures.'' Geoff will run anywhere between 20psi and 25psi, depending on the terrain and conditions.
With the Trans-Cascadia still a ways out when I cornered Geoff and his SB130, the bike's spec could change come race day. For now, Kabush is running last year's XTR group with a tiny bolt-on guide from OneUp for some extra insurance, as well as OneUp's EDC tool stashed in the steerer tube of his fork.
It's last year's XTR all around for Kabush, including a 200mm rotor up front. The new XTR 9100 is rarer than barends on an enduro bike.
So, how much does all that add up to? Geoff isn't sure, and he's not too fussed about weight, either. ''Throughout my career, I've always been more concerned with stuff that works, whether it was being an early adopter to thru-axle forks, or disc brakes,'' he said, countering my weight weenie jokes. ''My biggest concern is that it works and is reliable, and I know the guys are making it as light as they can.''
Kabush knows that his days of World Cup action are behind him, and he's switched his focus to multi-day stage races like the BC Bike Race and the upcoming Trans-Cascadia. But does that mean his training has been switched up, too? ''I'm racing a ton and adding stage races to the mix, so I'm obviously still working hard in the winter, but once the seasons comes on, the racing is training. I can count on one or two hands the number of specific workouts I've done since the season started. These days, I'd rather jump into some fun events for my training.'' Fewer intervals and more fun for Kabush, it seems, which is in-line with his ''Keep riding until the fun stops'' motto.
What about some enduro specific training? ''No, I think it's mostly just getting as comfortable as I can on the bike, and especially for the blind races. You want to be really comfortable and know how the bike is going to react. When I come back to BC, I'll just do a lot of trail riding; there's not a lot of road riding here. I don't even have a curly-bar bike up here right now. These days, it's just about trying to stay fresh and healthy between races.''