Bike Checks: Nino Schurter & Kate Courtney's 'Supersonic' Scott Sparks

Oct 1, 2020
by James Smurthwaite  

Nino Schurter and Kate Courtney have come into the 2020 World Cup season with a pair of custom painted bikes that are sure to make them unmissable, even in the gloomy weather of Nove Mesto.

Nino is on a purple and blue Scott Spark that is complemented with purple shoes, gloves and helmet that we saw tearing through the field today after he recovered from a weak start. Kate kept her signature colourway near the front of the race all afternoon, but just missed out on the podium as she finished in sixth, 20 seconds off Laura Stiggers' hardtail heroics in fifth.

For these bike checks we wanted to get a good look at the new colours and the pair's setups for Nove Mesto. If you want a more in-depth look at their base setups, check our bike vs bike piece from earlier in the year, here.

The Riders

Kate Courtney
Fresh shiny new lid for Kate Courtney this week.

Height: 162 cm
Weight: 54 kg
Age: 24
Instagram: @kateplusfate
Nino Schurter
Job done for Nino Schurter.

Height: 173 cm
Weight: 68 kg
Age: 34
Instagram: @nschurter

Kate Courtney


Unlike Nino, Kate goes for the SL Sid with 100mm of travel. She's much lighter than Nino so the SL helps her shave some grams for a better power to weight ratio. Kate is running two tokens in her fork here at Nove Mesto. Nino opts for the Ultimate and gets 10mm of extra travel for cushioning.

Tire choice has been a big talking point given the changeable weather in the Czech Republic this week. Kate is on Aspens and has been switching between 2.25" and 2.4" widths to try and find the right mix. The 2.4s may be heavier but the extra comfort they provide is all the more valuable when it comes to lap 5 of a race and she's on the limit.

Kate Courtney's grip blips are from the SRAM Red AXS time trial road groupset and allow her to combine Scott's lockout systems with her AXS dropper.

Kate's mechanic has also cut down her left-hand grip to get her fingers closer to the controls.

Kate has been puzzling over the size of her Blackbox Power chainrings too, but her mechanic thinks that they will settle with 34T for the short track and 32T for the XCO.

This minimalist device adds a little extra security against a dropped chain.

A carbon Topeak bottle cage shows that Kate is determined to pinch grams wherever she can.

SRAM Level brakes provide the stopping power

The Synchros Fraser bar might not be for everyone but it undeniably makes for a clean stem area.

Both riders have oil slick clipless pedals from HT.

Nino Schurter


Nino pairs his 110mm fork with 120mm of rear travel.

When asked what size chainring he runs, the answer for Schurter will normally be, "the biggest possible." In this case, it's a 38T Blackbox Power ring.

Interestingly, Schurter has stuck with the 10-50T cassette from SRAM, not opting to go for the 52T extender. But then, he probably doesn't need it unlike some of us spaghetti-legged mortals.

A -30° rise on Nino's Fraser stem.

His signature bars measure 680mm in width.

Nino s mechanic made him a custom lip on his lever to make actuating it a lot easier during racing.
Nino's mechanic made him a custom lip on his AXS paddle to make actuating it a lot easier during racing.


There are purple accents everywhere on this bike.



177 Comments

  • 115 3
 Damn both color schemes are sexy as hell. Not an XC guy myself, but can appreciate the machines
  • 19 4
 Do you love his sexy purple helmet as well?
  • 52 2
 680mm , dayyyyyum
  • 169 5
 What is this? A handlebar for ants?
  • 39 1
 @bentown: It needs to be at least....three times bigger than this!
  • 35 5
 @DRomy: That‘s what she said
  • 15 31
flag SpecSRAM (Oct 1, 2020 at 13:27) (Below Threshold)
 Schurter is also 5'6", which would explain why he rides with a children's sized bar...
  • 28 2
 Funny how people point that out. But when someone is 5’4 and had 800 mm bats it’s normal. Whatever feels comfortable people not what “cool”
  • 20 0
 @DRomy: We're likely only 2, maybe 3 seasons away from your desired 2,040mm bar length based on industry trends
  • 3 0
 @SpecSRAM: Isn't he 5'8"? That's his "billed height" anyway....
  • 2 0
 @DRomy: Lol...thanks for that
  • 1 0
 @SpecSRAM: I was looking at his bike next to Kate's and was thinking that must be the case
  • 6 0
 @SpecSRAM: 173cm isn't 5'6"
  • 2 3
 My bars are 5” wider than his...he must have some crazy T-Rex arms ????????????????
  • 25 0
 To be honest for XC racing it makes total sense:
- Narrower bars will descrease aero resistance (like it or not, those seconds saved can make the difference between 1st or 2nd place).
- Narrower bars make it easier to overtake other riders or to gain your position/overtake when a part of the trail gets packed.

So to save some seconds, it makes total sense for XC racers to go for the most narrow bars they can get away with while keeping control.

I've ridden 680mm bars on my old XC hardtail commuter, which I used on XC trails every now and then, and it worked all fine.
  • 13 0
 @Mattin: Those are all the reasons road racers use narrow bars too. Makes sense to me. Nino obviously isn't lacking control of the bike.
  • 9 6
 1992 called and asked for their purple narrow bars back.
  • 14 1
 @switchbackbikes: No...He's just a better rider than you and doesn't need those wide bars to control his bike.
  • 3 2
 I'm 6'4 and ride sub 700 width bars..always have and always will. I tried going wider since that became more of the trend, and friends were making fun of me.... Wider bars feel clunky and unnecessary to me, and I like the flicky feeling of narrower bars...but I did start riding when we mostly had XC type bikes so narrow bars was what I got used to, and I do tend to ride pretty tight trails and I like tossing the bike around in these tight areas...wider bars means less clearance. I've also noticed the racing buddies that were making jokes on me have now been going more narrow
  • 4 0
 @GlassGuy: there is more to geometry than just the bars, the stem matters too, and the frame length. If you're on an older bike with a long stem narrow bars and 'small' wheels it would probably just feel weird to slap an extra 120mm on the bars anyway. Xc racers run narrow bars because you have maneuver through crowds, wide bars are a trail bike thing.
Im 6'5" and run 785mm bars, i see plenty of children and small adults on xl frames with 800mm bars. 60% of the wide bar thing is fashion, but don't hold yourself back from possible advantages because you want to be anti-fashion.
  • 3 0
 @savage47: An 800mm bat sounds terrifying!
  • 2 1
 @RonSauce: I tried wider....don't like it. I've also been "picked on" for being a tall guy and not riding 29" wheels..don't like 'em, don't want 'em, and, I am either on the back end of these same race guys making jokes or trying to pass...and I'm doing it with more style. So it isn't that I'm "anti fashion", it's more that I like what I ride and I don't care what may be "cool" or new. I will give things a try with an open mind, but I am not going to do something just because other people don't think it looks cool. I've been riding for 25 years and have progressed with the sport and buy modern stuff, but with experience I've learned what I like a bike to feel like, and I'm not a ride-right-over-things rider...I find every little thing to pop off of and jump..and on the tight trails, so again...wider isn't necessarily better depending on your style and what you like
  • 3 0
 My last XC bike was 680, current came with 720. For most of my racing that is fine. But if I jump into a pro race again in the next year, I might get some narrower bars. If you think fighting for position in the front is bad, imagine what it is like when you are in a pack of 50 fighting for 80th place! My Enduro has 800mm bars though.
  • 1 0
 @plyawn: and 90 degree seat angle...
  • 1 0
 @JSTootell: since you jump between two sizes...what are the big advantages you see in jumping to the larger bars?
  • 1 0
 @Svinyard: The big bike has a 45mm stem and is used for big hits and steep DH terrain. The 800mm bars really give some leverage when things start getting on the edge of control. And you can definitely apply more torque to the bars (which is handy when it weighs twice as much).
  • 1 0
 @GlassGuy: As a fellow old guy this is how we convince ourselves we're not old men who are set in our ways, but WE ARE! Lean into it - go ahead and yell at that no good cloud!
  • 1 0
 @plyawn: call yourself old....no thanks, man! Being set in ways...maybe, and I don't mind at all....I gave up on pretending a long time ago...I do what makes me happy...and I got me a lotta happy, baby!! Smile
  • 1 0
 @Allen82: 173 cm × (1in / 2.54 cm) = 68.11 in = 5' 8.11"
  • 1 0
 that surprised me as well!
  • 1 0
 @Mattin: Is there really an aero benefit thought in XC mtb racing? It's not like they're going 25mph like roadies are. What maybe 17-19mph on average?
  • 1 0
 @SuperHighBeam: I'd be surprised if they'd average that much, but there is definitely an aero advantage.

For an average Joe like me it's really irrelevant, but if a pro can save 20 seconds on a 1 hour race, it can be the difference between winning a race or finishing 10th place.

For them every second counts (comfort etc are irrelevant for them). Where for me I measure a good ride in how big the smile on my face is.
  • 2 0
 @Mattin @JSTootell: I guess when you put into the context that the top 5 or even top 10 racers in XC are typically less than 10 seconds apart an aero induced advantage of 20seconds over the course of the race would be worthwhile. But yeah, the aero advantages only serve the [maybe] top 5% of riders while for the rest of us aero improvements yield no real advantage and there is no need to spend on such things as a result. My point, only top tier models of mountain bikes need weight weeny upgrades and aero upgrades. The rest of the bikes just need to be nice, durable, and comfortable to ride.
  • 1 0
 @SuperHighBeam: I have only ever had a few results that were within seconds of someone else. And the difference was probably finishing 76th instead of 77th. So, yeah, I agree.
  • 36 2
 Shurter should just bolt his bars to the fork crown already. Wink His bars seem to be doing the limbo and getting lower and lower.
  • 19 2
 He needs to attach his stem under the head tube.
  • 11 1
 The funny thing is, his bars are actually not that far below his saddle, despite the -30 degree stem, considering the rear wheel is in the air in the pics.
  • 3 11
flag vinay (Oct 1, 2020 at 13:23) (Below Threshold)
 Surprised fork manufacturers still haven't done this yet really, direct mount stems on the fork crows of XC forks. The negative rise stems don't allow a full rotation of the bars anyway. They only need a small ring clamped to the steerer above the headtube to keep the fork in place but that's it. This could allow for taller headtubes too, making it easier on the headsets (being spaced further apart). And obviously cleaner cable routing, especially for remote fork lockout and to lesser extend the front brake hose.
  • 1 4
 he's so short he should be riding 26".
  • 1 0
 @vinay: Whoa, chill. I still run a little rise on my XC bike, I don't want to have 400mm of spacers now.

What I dont get is why they don't all just run thir droppers backwards and offset the saddle forward. That goes for the seattube nerds on pinkbike too, get that 89* sta they have all needed since 5 months ago.
  • 1 1
 @RonSauce: Yeah, but I don't mean to say the direct mount stem is supposed to place the handlebar lower than it is now. Just meant to say that it might make for a lighter solution if they want to have the bars as low as they have it now. Just with a direct mount stem on the (lower) crown, with positive rise. It may just make things easier structurally as the load path got shorter. Not sure whether the stem may become that much heavier. The fork crown already extends a bit in front of the head tube, so that's length already gained. I think it could be an option. That said, I see my post got downvoted so for everyone who got offended by my suggestion, sorry for that. Didn't mean to hurt your feelings and I'm sorry I did.

As for the dropper seatpost, I suppose most of them don't have offset so running them backwards won't do much. Tilt adjustment is limited too on most modern seatposts so with the seatpost backwards you can only go from perpendicular to the seatpost to a lot of nose up. Nose up is uncommon it seems on modern bikes. Even on "gravity" bikes but especially on XC bikes so I don't think it will appeal to many XC riders.
  • 28 1
 Am I the only one with "Teenage Mutant Ninja Schurter" going on in my head?
  • 26 0
 “Hero with a half-lid!”
  • 22 0
 @g123: SCHURTER POWER!
  • 27 2
 Who makes those bars? Hard to tell.
  • 13 2
 Fox I think...
  • 8 26
flag sherlockh (Oct 1, 2020 at 15:16) (Below Threshold)
 @Dropthedebt: syncros
  • 6 0
 @sherlockh: how did I miss that? Eek

/s (see profile) Attention
  • 16 0
 @sherlockh: Name checks out
  • 1 0
 @number44: lol...
  • 1 0
 I can't see any logos Wink
  • 19 2
 That Supersonic paint job and kit is outstanding, but anyone thinking Nino had a 'weak start' surely wasn't watching the start loop. HTF did he manage to go from fourth row to the front of the race that quickly? That was faster than Sagan at Rio, and almost definitely the reason his first and second full laps saw him go backwards so quickly... but the start really was supersonic. (see what I did there?)
  • 30 12
 For my eyes, these chainrings kill any elgance on current xc race-bikes. Look like a mix of a buzz saw and those plastic chainring covers used on cheap kids-bikes and city-bikes.
  • 20 2
 Underforking must be the next big thing.
  • 6 1
 Also the reverse mullet. 27.5 front -- 29 rear.
  • 15 3
 @tacklingdummy: I ran reverse mullet on my freeride bike back in 2000, a SC Bullit. Had a monster T on it, wanted to get the front a bit lower, so 24x3.0 up front and a 26x2.2 out back...looked, well....worked pretty good
  • 1 1
 I bet he would run 120 if it preserved the steeper head angle. Rumor is he has a custom link to keep the stock geo with the 110 mm fork. Maybe they couldn't do a linkage that kept that geo with 120 mm up front?
  • 1 0
 @briceps: any word on whether it's just a different link from the normal spark rc, or if he also runs a different shock?
  • 1 0
 @something979: No idea sorry. I would be willing to bet that version doesn't even make it to final production but who knows.
  • 4 0
 I suspect the underforking is to keep his bar height where he wants it, I heard he is very particular about his bar height.
  • 1 0
 Is Nino on a 110f / 120r , and Kate on a 100f / 120r?
  • 2 1
 @RadBartTaylor: My 29er is set up reverse mullet right now because I mullet-ed my 27.5. Swapped the front forks and wheels on both of them. However, I haven't ridden it. I should try it for the heck of it. I'm sure it will climb well, downhills not so much.
  • 9 0
 @tacklingdummy: 24" front and 29 in the back = the hot rod
  • 2 0
 @tacklingdummy: Ive always wanted to try a 27.5+ in front with a slightly longer fork and std 29er in back
  • 1 0
 @RadBartTaylor: I run a 29+ front with regular 29 rear in the winter on my hardtail and it's so good I'd like to do it to my main bike.
  • 1 0
 @tacklingdummy: and more travel in the back than front.. odd that....
  • 1 0
 @SonofBovril: I thinks he's short, so he just needs them as low as possible.
  • 1 0
 Pretty sure that’s a mistake. 100mm rear 110mm front is what the spark rc has.
  • 3 0
 @deadbeat: The Spark has 100mm, 110mm, or 120mm rear travel depending on what model you get. I'm sure they just use a rear shock with different stroke to adjust the travel. Schurter is running 110 front/120 rear and Kate is running 100mm front, but does not state what her rear travel. It states that in the photos. I'm sure it is right that Schurter is underforking because he wants a more aggressive pedaling position.
  • 2 0
 @briceps: When he went to a 120mm fork he went form a -25° 90mm stem to a -30° 100mm stem to preserve his position, maybe syncros can't make a 110mm -35° stem?
  • 11 0
 Went to Snowshoe last year to watch DH, and was amazed by the XC races. Those riders are in 100% beast mode with both strength and strategy. It’s like racing Trophy Trucks vs Sports cars. Both are impressive in their own way.
  • 12 1
 Did I miss the part where they tell us how much the bikes weigh ? Sweet looking rigs !
  • 11 1
 38 tooth ring and -30 rise bar that’s 680mm wide. Get outta here! This dude isn’t human!
  • 9 1
 Purple seems to be a hot color right now. Are companies moving on from Spare Bedroom Beige?
  • 3 0
 Every room in my house is Agreeable Gray, I wonder if companies have considered this neutral colorway
  • 5 0
 Well they certainly exhausted Hunter Orange quickly...
  • 5 0
 @slayersxc17: I feel like if this has happened, it was Santa Cruz.
  • 7 1
 I wonder how often (if ever) nino uses the 50t cog? I wonder if he wouldn’t be better served with like a 10-40t 10 or 11 speed to shave a few grams?
  • 16 1
 He probably would not be allowed to go 11 or 10 speed by the marketing department. They are supposed to convince people to buy the "latest and greatest"
  • 2 0
 If he's not using it, they should make the largest cog out of cheese and paint it grey. There might be some sweet weight savings to be had.
  • 1 0
 Hence why he is running the 38 up front
  • 1 0
 @konrad1972: yeah SRAM obviously has an interest in him running the newest stuff. But I do wonder if he had a choice what his cassette would look like.
  • 5 0
 With that giant chainring the 50t is more useful to him. He also has the advantage of using bigger cogs front and rear for a given gearing, which are more efficient. Probably never uses the 10t either.
  • 1 0
 @mtb-sf: it says he runs as big of a chainring as he can. Which I assume to mean he runs as big as the frames clearance will allow and he would run bigger if he could. I may be implying too much but that to me seems to say he doesn’t have a use for the 50t. I mean you drop that cog you could be saving 40 or so grams of unsprung mass. When you consider the lengths these guys go to to shave grams that is not insignificant.
  • 1 0
 If he wasn't using the 50, his mechanic could shave away just about every shred of metal that holds it together so that it is only there for looks. I assume some journalist would have noticed that by now.
  • 11 4
 So xc riders go uphill a lot yeah? Look at the st angle!!! Pinkbike moaners whatcha talkin about!?
  • 5 1
 Seat tube angle doesn't matter at all as long as the saddle ends up in the right spot und there's enough dropper travel to get it out of the way. Most overrated geometry feature.
  • 4 0
 I'm pretty sure your comment is entirely facetious, but just for the heck of it: they also spend a shitload of time standing up and powering up stuff and steep seat angles get in the way of that.
  • 2 0
 @SickEdit: Function of seat tube is to put the saddle in the right spot isnt it? I would say it matters quite a bit unless your running 200mm long rails on your saddle..
  • 1 0
 @j-t-g: not at all facetious, sta is just the latest trend that everyone is fixated on. Thanks for pointing that out but I’m pretty sure they spend a lot of time in the saddle too, otherwise why make it more like a road bike geometry . Like the long and slack thing I find it’s much more down to body shape and terrain.
  • 5 0
 Longer travel = more sag, which is exaggerated on climbs by weight shifting rearward. It's the dynamic geo that matters, not static geo when it is sitting on a bike stand. XC Bikes and hardtails can get away with slacker static st angles.
  • 5 0
 Interestingly, Schurter has stuck with the 10-50T cassette from SRAM, not opting to go for the 52T extender...........yeah because who wants that huge jump in a cassette really? I don't. Messing up the cadence when shifting.
  • 3 0
 Combining the control of the dropper post and the pedalling mode for the suspension makes a lot of sense. I guess this is an area where mechanical systems (with cable actuation) would have trouble acheiving what can be done with an electronically controlled dropper.
  • 3 0
 With regards to Nino's bike setup and skill level, anybody that knows the Laguna Beach area of SoCal, there is (or was now) a trail called PG. Nino rode it on his XC bike (on a bet) with the saddle up and cleaned it. This trail. www.redbull.com/us-en/my-pov-ride-steepest-socal-trails-richie-schley
  • 2 0
 38t is exactly right for a 50t rear cog. Not saying it's not a big deal. but he's got a huge rear cog.
maybe he doesn't use the biggest gear much or at all.

Same ratio as my 32t f + 42t rear : 0.76
and I have spaghetti legs...
I try to stay off mine except for emergencies too.
  • 5 1
 Nino's cockpit from above look sooo scary with those bars, I'll be over those in not time Smile
  • 6 1
 not if going uphill!
  • 2 0
 Nino is like "whats the biggest they make?" I know what he means. I'm on a Trek Stache 9.6 2017 and the biggest I can get is a 34t and I'm still pushing the hardest gears up the hills.(xx1 1x11)
  • 1 0
 Probably more what can fit in your frame too. I'm limited to 34t in my intense. Surprised he could fit it in when you see how close the 34t is in Kate's frame
  • 6 2
 Anodized purple is for life!
  • 4 0
 Awesome rigs and holy @$#% they don't look like a Session!
  • 4 0
 No dropper for Schurter. Interesting...
  • 3 0
 What are these Blackbox Power meters? Haven't found any easy hits on Google. Keep looking?
  • 1 0
 The wide bar fetish is getting ridiculous. A 68 cm bar for a medium sized xc racer is an excellent choice for aerodynamics, maneuverability and maybe even for a slight weight advantage.
  • 4 1
 has underforking been a thing in XC?
  • 3 3
 Not as a general trend, no. But many XC racers make choices for their setup that would have average riders shaking their heads.
  • 1 0
 @BenTheSwabian: I don't think he is underforking per se; he probably just thinks the current xco tracks are a little on the heavy side and 120mm do not mess the peddaling so much that he would need to use the 100mm version.
  • 2 1
 Blips are not specifically from SRAM's TT groupset. They are compatible with either a Blip Box (Aero/TT setup) or any Red or Force AXS shifter/lever.
  • 1 0
 I thought all the AXS stuff was wireless, what’s the wire coming from the Blip?
  • 3 0
 @leecozens: The Blip has to be wired to a shifter or junction box in order to function. It doesn't have its own battery.
  • 2 0
 @leecozens: Blip is just a button with no wireless transmitter, nor battery. So you need the Blip box which has the brains to connect to the rest of the system. Much like Shimano Sprinter Shifters, they are just buttons and have to be connected to the brake/shift levers, they will not work when connected directly to the splitter box.
  • 3 0
 What are those chainrings? Are they powermeters?
  • 1 0
 Yes
  • 3 1
 That purple to blue SID is goooooorgeous 38T sheesh
  • 3 2
 So TIL that if I was a World Champion then I would be given a really, really nice bike.
  • 3 1
 Oil Slick Bolts! True progress in the industry.
  • 2 0
 Maxxis Aspen, wow, they deserve even more respect.
  • 2 0
 Reminds me of my ringle purple peace cable hangers (in a good way)!
  • 1 0
 Schurter doesn't need that 52 tooth cassette just like the rest of us. Doesn't look good, and only to +1 Shimano ...
  • 2 1
 When I race XC I don’t have a staff member handing me bottles as I wiz by! Therefore I need two cages. SWorks all the way
  • 1 0
 Not S for me, but same sentiment.
  • 2 0
 I wonder if they are using 25mm or the 30 mm rims?
  • 1 0
 Top picture (for Nino) Rekon Race front all others on Aspen! He makes magic happend during photoshoot!
  • 5 5
 on Nino's bile there are so many purple accents .... they're you cannot say accents anymore
  • 2 1
 Anyone know which chain device is that? Very neat!
  • 1 0
 Looks like it has a Syncros logo, but I checked there site and didn't see it. May be unreleased. Also could be a oneup guide with a 3d printed piece.
  • 3 0
 Mine came OEM with my Spark RC. It bolts into the main pivot so incompatible with other bikes and v.v.
  • 1 0
 Nino's bike is absolutely beautiful.
  • 1 0
 Kate Courtney is the hottest thing on two wheels! There, I've said it!
  • 1 0
 My Deliveroo curry was very hot...
  • 1 0
 "A -30° rise on Nino's Fraser stem."

...so is that rise? lol
  • 1 0
 Negative rise
  • 1 0
 Guys, who knows, what garmin they use?
  • 1 0
 Wish they had better pictures of the AXS shifters and levers.
  • 2 1
 I want that chainring!
  • 1 1
 Very sexy pose there by Nino.
  • 1 1
 120mm of rear travel on a Spark would actually be nice...
  • 2 1
 They make that on the non-RC Sparks. Those are a bit more trail-bike than pure XC, though.
  • 2 1
 2021s non RC versions are 130 front 120 rear
  • 1 0
 I had a Spark Plus with 120mm front and rear, and 2.8" tires. Except for the seat tube being too long it was a very fun bike.
Below threshold threads are hidden

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2020. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.023304
Mobile Version of Website