Milan Vader has gone with an unconventional modification on his Cervelo ZFS-5 for his short track racing. The rear shock of his ZFS-5 has been replaced with a fixed linkage, eliminating the rear suspension element. This modification aims to optimize the bike's performance for the demands of short track racing, which typically involves shorter, more intense laps on relatively smooth terrain. By removing the rear suspension, the bike may gain increased pedalling efficiency and responsiveness, allowing for quick accelerations and efficient power transfer.
This experiment with the fixed linkage is an interesting concept, and it demonstrates Milan Vader's willingness to push boundaries and find unique solutions to optimize his performance in specific race scenarios.
The Cervelo ZFS-5 has been specifically designed to meet the demands of modern XCO and short track courses, which require a balance of efficient pedalling, agile handling, and the ability to tackle rough terrain. With a 67.8-degree head tube angle, the ZFS-5 provides the necessary precision for fast sprints and close-quarters racing, giving riders the confidence to navigate elbow-to-elbow encounters.
The customized version of the Cervelo ZFS-5 that Milan is using features a unique machined linkage in place of the standard Rockshox SID LUXE shock. This link is specifically designed for Milan's short track racing needs. While the current aluminium link is a prototype, Cervelo plans to replace it with a carbon part in the future. However, the final version will undergo some changes. The goal of the link is to create a hardtail-like feel and enhance power transfer for Milan while maintaining the familiar touch points he is accustomed to from his bike in its standard configuration. The link is designed to position the bike at Milan's desired 20% sag point.
Milan and the team are really happy with how the bike feels with the aluminum link, and they have been exploring further development of this concept. The upcoming carbon link will incorporate a flip chip in the rear, allowing the team to fine-tune the virtual sag position. This adjustment capability will enable them to modify the bike's geometry for different tracks, optimizing performance based on specific race requirements.
Right now you might be saying, 'I can do this by locking out my rear shock, though,' and you make a valid point. While it may be tempting to simply lock out the shock to achieve a similar effect, there are some key differences to consider. When you engage the lockout on a standard shock, there can still be some residual flex in the bike, typically around 5-10mm, depending on the specific bike and shock setup.
In contrast, the purpose-built fixed link provides a beautifully simple solution with zero flex. By eliminating any potential flex, the link ensures optimal power transfer and a more rigid feel, which can be advantageous for certain racing scenarios. This allows the bike to excel in short track then with a quick turnaround be ready to race XCO as well.
Milan's short track bike is equipped with a 120mm Rockshox SID suspension fork. The fork features a remote lockout, allowing Milan to quickly switch between open and locked positions for efficient climbing and sprinting. The fork is set at 66psi, with one token installed. The rebound setting is adjusted to 6 clicks from the closed position.
Milan also makes use of RockShox's TwistLoc remote lockout to allow him to make changes to his fork with minimal movement of his hand.
When it comes to brakes Milan uses an brand new set of SRAM Level ULT brakes with the new levers.
Milan's cockpit setup is provided by FSA, with the SL-K Pro flat carbon handlebar cut down to a width of 720mm. It is paired with an FSA SL-K Drop aluminum stem, which has a -20 degree angle and measures 100mm in length. Milan takes advantage of the SRAM MatchMaker system to mount his shifter and dropper remote directly to his Level brakes, ensuring a clean and compact control setup.
Milan's cockpit is finished off with a set of foam grips.
Milan's Team Jumbo-Visma are sponsored by SRAM, with the brand providing him with their latest Transmission AXS wireless electronic groupset.
Milan's choice of Reserve 28 XC wheels with a 28mm internal depth and reinforced spoke holes is geared towards durability and strength while maintaining a relatively low weight of 1387g. The Vittoria Terreno Graphene 2.0 tires with a width of 2.25" provides a balance between traction and rolling resistance. Milan prefers to run a tubeless setup without inserts, but he may use a rear insert for added protection on particularly rocky tracks. His tire pressures of 16psi in the front and 17psi in the rear are subject to adjustment depending on track conditions and weather.
Milan has a Rockshox AXS Reverb dropper post for both short track and XCO racing. This is something that is beginning to be much more common within the World Cup XC field.