Have you ever wondered how much World Cup racers change their setup from weekend to weekend? The last stop was the fearsome and fast Val di Sole course, but this weekend's track in Vallnord, Andorra, is different in that it's steeper than the VDS track, and with plenty of bomb holes to plow through, but not as rooty and rough overall.
Pinkbike's Ross Bell tracked down a handful of World Cup mechanics to figure out what's different about their riders' bikes between the two weekends.
Having wrenched for Danny Hart for many years, and now doing the same thing at the Madison Saracen Factory Race Team, Dave Garland is one of the most experienced mechanics on the circuit. He explained that Hart's bike (pictured above) is actually quite a bit different than how it was in Val di Sole, with a bit lower tire pressure up front (exact pressures weren't shared) but a touch more spoke tension as well. Danny had a 38-tooth 'ring in Italy, but he's moved down to a 36-tooth here in Andorra.
A common theme in the pits is a taller front-end combined with a softer rear-end in an effort to deal with the steepness here in Vallnord. Danny's Fox X2 shock sees a bit less low-speed compression to have it sit a touch deeper into its stroke, while the fork has a little more "sit up," Garland said, presumably referring to more low-speed compression.
Grant Sides wrenches on Marcelo Gutierrez's Giant Glory (shown above), and it's a bike that's also seen some changes from Val di Sole, the most notable of those being a switch to different rubber. Gutierrez is a big fan of Maxxis' DHR II, so it was no surprise to see him use those in Italy, but he's gone for the new Assegai on both ends here in Vallnord.
Marcelo's suspension sees some updates, too, with a firmer compression tune on the fork and the shock, but a lighter spring rate on the latter to have it sit into its stroke a bit more. Again, that's to deal with the steepness of the Vallord track, as is Gutierrez's handlebar height that, while taller than usual, is actually the same that he ran in Italy.
Jesse Wigman is the lucky duck who works on Greg Williamson's drool-worth Unno Ever (shown above), which is probably the sharpest looking downhill bike in the pits. Williamson has made an interesting change from his setup in Val di Sole, with Wigman explaining that his rider his moved from the 780mm wide handlebar that he usually uses to an 800mm width for Vallnord.
He also prefers the 31.8mm diameter clamp to the 35mm size for a "different feeling," according to Wingman. Williamson is back on an air shock, too.
Pierre-Alexandre Roche spins wrenches for Santa Cruz's Loris Vergier, with Roche explaining that Vergier's V10 29er (above left) is back to its 'Lo' suspension setting for a slacker head angle and lower bottom bracket height. The change in shock mounting would usually call for a slightly higher spring rate, but he's stayed with the same spring as he used in Val di Sole to get the rear-end to sag a bit more than usual.
Finn Iles' Specialized Demo (above right) sees the same treatment as the other bikes: Finn's mechanic, Kevin Joly, said that his rider is running a softer rear-end combined with a firmer front-end.