Good Month / Bad Month: Carbon Failures, Electronic Everything & Racing Miracles

Oct 5, 2021
by James Smurthwaite  


Dramatic Racing Finales

World Cup champions come from behind to take glory

With October now in full swing, it's time to bid a fond farewell to the 2021 race season. After COVID wrought havoc on the 2020 season, we returned to somewhat normality with crowds lining the courses and race calendars almost back to their full length. One other thing that picked up right where 2019 left off is exciting season finales in Snowshoe, where we saw the two favourites for the title flounder while long shots took their chances and ended up with the titles.

For the women, it was Vali Holl who finally found her full form at the Elite level and delivered a brace of wins that had been coming all year. While in the men's field Loic Bruni, a racer you can never count out, spent the first few races trying to manage a broken heel but scrapped his way to enough points to be able to strike as others faltered ahead of him.

Snowshoe delivered a week of pure drama and, as the controversial finale of the EWS proved, downhill definitely doesn't have a monopoly on exciting racing action.
History repeating Bruni celebrates a second overall in the Snowshoe finish area.




Electronics Fans

Motorized machines and electric suspension on pro bikes


We've spent years trying to silence the creaks, clanks and slaps out of our bikes so that they're stealthy speed machines on the trails however get prepared for those noises to be replaced by buzzes, whirs and clicks as electronics are coming to mountain biking in a big way.

In September, we saw electronic gizmos on pro racers' bikes running both Fox and RockShox systems. Myriam Nicole was spotted with a cable connecting her shock to a Live Valve box while Charlies Murray's enduro bike was running a pre-release version of what we now know to be RockShox Flight Attendant. Add this to the electronic suspension we saw on Tom Pidcock's bike at the Olympics and it seems we're on the cusp of the next wave of suspension tech.

On top of this, Eurobike and the IAA Mobility Show came with their usual bounty of battery powered bikes at the start of the month.

Depending on your perspective, the wave of electronics on bikes could be a good thing or a bad thing but for a glimpse into the future, a PB editor recently told me they went on a bike ride with six batteries on their bike. I'll leave it up to you to guess what each one was for...



Honouring Stevie Smith

Chainsaw's legacy lives on

More than five years on from his passing, the mountain bike community has proven once again that Stevie Smith's memory and legacy will endure with the sport.

At the start of the month, at the Steve Smith Memorial DH Race, Tianna Smith, Stevie's mother, was surprised with a Bowhead Adaptive bike that will allow her to explore the trails around the island, and even ride Prevost, where she had shuttled Stevie countless times.

Then Anthill Films announced Long Live Chainsaw, a documentary that tells "the incredible true story of the meteoric rise, untimely death and long-lasting legacy of Canadian downhill mountain bike legend." The trailer is due to drop in October with the World Premiere screening on November 5 in Stevie's hometown of Nanaimo, British Columbia. There won't be a dry eye in the house...








Carbon Components

High profile failures on the race track and in our test


Who would have thought that a 3 foot ramp could wreak so much havoc? The Huck to Flat test was never meant to be a bike breaker but we've now had two (three if you count Jason's ankles) serious failures thanks to our bro-science shenanigans. This Field Test, it was the turn of a Praxis crank mounted on the Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL. Praxis said there had been very few of the cranks warrantied and that "Either during prior ride testing of the Kenevo SL there was some type of rock-strike or blunt hit that created an internal fracture that didn't show itself until your test... or two, there was some type of unfortunate manufacturing flaw that showed itself at your test."

That crank wasn't alone. Carbon components also buckled at the downhill World Championships and the World Cup in Snowshoe. Both times it was an Enve rim on a Commencal/ Muc Off Team bike.

Humans are naturally wired to spot patterns, even when they don't exist. It would be absolutely wrong to write off carbon on the strength of these three incidents, but it's clearly not been a great month for fiber and resin.




Mountain biking couples

French power couple announces split


At the start of the year, Pauline Ferrand Prevot announced she was joining her long-time partner on the Absolute Absalon team. The two legends of French XC would work together on the BMC-backed team with Julien as team manager as Pauline aiming to defend her World Championship and World Cup overall title from 2020.

The partnership started well for the pair with Pauline leading the World Cup overall after the opening round in Albstadt but she struggled more as the season went on, eventually announcing she would be ending her season early in Lenzerheide due to being, "deeply tired, mentally and physically" from racing. The past few weeks have seen some more details emerge over social media as Julien and Pauline announced their split.

Pauline cool and calm before the start.

bigquotesAll is well, life follows its path and sometimes we take different ones. After six beautiful years, we decided to turn a new page in our history of our private life with Julien, giving everyone their freedom. We are neither angry nor angry ... this is just life! That’s why we will continue to work together, and take advantage of our shared passion to get the most out of it!Pauline Ferrand Prevot (translated)

bigquotesI'm a quiet person, I never post private things on my networks but it seemed important to us, Pauline and I to put an end to the rumors and to clarify our personal situation. We have decided to end our life together but we get along very well, we are not angry, we are just going to live differently and continue to work together. We will be hand in hand next year to go for victoriesJulien Absalon (translated)

While they will no longer be romantically linked, the pair will continue to work and race together in the 2022 season. We wish them both the best and hope to see Pauline recovered back at the top again next year.




XC Racers Doing Full Seasons

Road cycling teams pluck XC talent

While enduro and downhill team moves generally steal the show in Silly Season, there have been quite a few interesting moves in the cross country world this year. Following the success of Van der Poel and Pidcock, road cycling teams are starting to pluck the very best talent from the fat-tired world. So far this year, Milan Vader has signed with Jumbo Visma and Victor Koretzky with B&B Hotels/KTM. Both riders will now split their time between tarmac and dirt in a similar fashion to MVDP and Pidcock.

So, what’s the plan here? Is cross country just going to become a feeder series for road racing and all of its best talents will be frittered away to grind themselves up Alpine passes for a living?

Well, hopefully not. Van Der Poel and Pidcock still race mtbs because they value it as an important part of their race calendar and it keeps their skills sharp through the year. Much like cyclocross, XC mtb gives riders incredible sustained power and the ability to handle their bike better than the average road rider, these skills have proved to be a successful combination for riders such as Wout van Aert and Julien Alaphillippe.

XCO racing itself is also growing in viewership and prestige. Red Bull is never too open with its viewing figures but we know its streams passed 1 million views in 2015 and that it grew by 50% in 2018 alone. Add on top of this the drama and excitement of the Olympic Games and it’s clear mountain biking is a sport on the rise that teams’ sponsors will want high-profile riders to be involved in. Jumbo Visma has an annual team budget of €20 million, which we imagine is bigger than the rest of the XCO World Cup teams put together, and add to that the reported €50 million budget of Ineos Grenadiers and you can start to imagine a significant financial boost for the sport of XC. Hopefully this isn't just a flash in the pan and we see the profile of the sport continue to grow as it becomes more accepted by the cycling mainstream.
Victor Koretzky chased Nino down in the last lap and passed him meters before the final straight. His patience earned his his first World Cup win and in spectacular fashion.



90 Comments

  • 293 14
 September was a bad month for people who don't want to see a big white banner reminding them what's coming for their favourite website.
  • 60 1
 Download the Adguard extension. Select "Block an element." Click on the links. Select "Block an element" again and select the white background.
  • 4 0
 @GBeard: You're a damn genius!
  • 6 1
 @GBeard: That works great - but now there's a blank up at the top of PinkBike. I'm sure once Outside finds that, they'll block PinkBike from being accessed and you'll hit the big paywall, similar to Forbes and other news websites!
  • 8 2
 I tried to upvote this but the damn arrows are too close together. Please mentally subtract 1 from the downvote column
  • 16 1
 On the hardship scale it would score a solid 3/100.
  • 7 1
 1. install ublock origin
2. add these filters

www.pinkbike.com###outside-header-items1
www.pinkbike.com###outside-header

3. profit $$$!!!!!!
  • 3 0
 Note: there is no white banner ad for pinkbike when on other site like peloton or beta
  • 10 5
 Or just live with it. Not difficult
  • 1 0
 Oh god, hadn't noticed it before, now cant unsee.
  • 2 7
flag Doogster (Oct 6, 2021 at 9:18) (Below Threshold)
 @NZRalphy: "NO! I want all this content for free! and I don't want to see their stinking ads!" all the whiners in the comments section.
  • 5 3
 @Doogster: bootlicker of outside +
  • 1 1
 @nowaybro: @nowaybro: haha. I should get my little piece of flair if I am bootlicker. @mikelevy Can you make that happen? Thanks!
  • 72 3
 bad month for: slalom skiing and richie rude
  • 5 1
 Wasn’t he DQ’d this month?
  • 3 3
 @extratalldirtrider: That was in October, this is for September.
  • 3 0
 What's happening with slalom? I hear Super G is on the chopping block, but haven't heard about slalom.
  • 2 0
 @millsr4: that’s my point. Thank you.
  • 4 1
 Bad month for salmon but a good month to be a bear.
  • 51 13
 Friendly reminder that Enve rims are utterly trash.
  • 8 3
 They are World class brand In brand recognition lololol
  • 55 2
 And carbon isn’t the best material for cranks. "Either during prior ride testing of the Kenevo SL there was some type of rock-strike or blunt hit that created an internal fracture that didn't show itself until your test... or two, there was some type of unfortunate manufacturing flaw that showed itself at your test."

I don’t know about anyone else, but the ends of all my aluminium cranks usually end up pretty battered after a season of riding, if Praxis are blaming it on a possible big whack then maybe they aren’t the right tool for a gravity bike with a pretty low BB that will be ridden in rough terrain
  • 32 3
 @CustardCountry: what's the point to try to save 200gr on a 40lbs+ ebike anyway...
  • 19 0
 @ybsurf: When you want to tell everyone it is “under 40 pounds”. Smile
  • 2 0
 @carym: make sense Wink
  • 14 0
 @CustardCountry: Word up, if my cranks were to be written off due to a hard 'rock strike' I'd be replacing my cranks several times a season. Fortunately, I'm too poor to spec carbon cranks so I can carry on bashing my aluminum cranks against all sorts of hard objects to my heart's content.
  • 2 0
 @CustardCountry: Yeah, ti is the way for sure.
  • 3 13
flag MatLax00 (Oct 5, 2021 at 16:15) (Below Threshold)
 @ybsurf: My 2012 Trek Superfly 100 AL with Bontrager Duster wheels (heavier than original equipment), an external dropper post, Fox Factory fork and shock and converted to 1X? 26lbs

Trek Supercaliber 9.6 made of carbon? 27lbs

I'll stick to aluminium, thank you very much.
  • 12 0
 @MatLax00: Carbon isn't just about weight, despite what some of the industry wants you to think. The Supercaliber, besides having rear suspension, is very likely stiffer laterally and torsionally while also being more compliant vertically (besides the aforementioned suspension), and a lot of that stiffness is likely around the BB and headtube for power transfer and steering directness. Comparing a hardtail and full suspension from almost a decade apart is not actually comparing, it's contrasting.
  • 3 2
 @MatLax00: wow like @justinfoil mention you cant compare those 2 bikes, not even close... I dont know what to say.
  • 3 3
 overpriced and overhyped, yes. Trash, no. They have quite a few WC podiums to go along with their failures, no?
  • 1 1
 @justinfoil: Carbon frames now a day Vs carbon from 6-7 + years ago are not the same. They used to be very light... and break all the time! Now they are much more durably IMHO. I still don't buy into Carbon hoops on a MTB, On road yes,
  • 2 3
 @justinfoil: They're both Trek's offerings as XC bikes 10 years appart was why I compared them and the Supercaliber isn't a hard tail.
  • 2 1
 @MatLax00: yes, you're right, supercaliber isn't a hardtail. but superfly was. Did you miss where I wrote "besides having rear suspension" about the supercal?

And what about the procaliber? That's the 10 year comparison to superfly.
  • 3 2
 @MrDiamondDave: you are right about carbon improving, though "broke all the time" is a big of an exaggeration. For example, beat the shit out of a 2009 (!!) Mojo SL (for SuperLight, BTW) up til 2018, and it was quite solid (until I tried messing with shock sizing and did some math wrong, but that's not the carbon's fault).

Thing is, same thing goes for carbon wheels: they're continually improving, and for most riders in most conditions they're almost invincible nowadays. If you break a recent carbon rim, you already would have broken an aluminum rim as well.
  • 4 0
 @justinfoil: Well, I'll be damned, I'll go check my bike again but I remember having a rear shock on it!

archive.trekbikes.com/us/en/2012/Trek/superfly_100_al_elite#/us/en/2012/Trek/superfly_100_al_elite/details
  • 1 3
 yeah they're basically about projecting loudly how much cash you dropped on your wheels
  • 1 1
 @MatLax00: well, then it was both full-sus and HT under that name: archive.trekbikes.com/us/en/2012/Trek/superfly_pro#/us/en/2012/Trek/superfly_pro/details

I didn't notice the "100" in your first post. Still not the most even-handed comparison, since the supercal is definitely more durable and stiffer in all the right ways.
  • 1 0
 @CustardCountry: End of a seaon? A couple of weeks after putting new m8100s on my bike they were looking like zebras!
  • 1 2
 @BiNARYBiKE: when they crack they go in the TRASH
  • 1 0
 Well carbon bikes have come a long way...I cracked a 2011 frame around the BB. Newer bikes have way more material there these days. The fact remains, carbon doesn't dent, it fractures or cracks with a hard impact and you may not even know it's damaged. I'm running 2013 SLX cranks on my HT. Before that they survived a Giant Reign and the cracked Enduro I mentioned above. I expect them to last a few more years...
  • 4 1
 @leviatanouroboro: not true carbon can be fixed
  • 2 2
 @ybsurf: I don’t think a carbon rim repair is really the smartest…

An Enve wheel would just splinter and explode anyway.
  • 2 1
 @justinfoil: Broken more than one carbon rim, always been able to bend my alloy rims back into working order.
  • 1 0
 @leviatanouroboro: not worth to repair a wheel when you have lifetime warranty on it but I got my frame fixed and it cost way less than a crash replacement.
  • 23 0
 I think they were a bit selective about it being a bad month for mountain bike couples. Vaea Verbeeck and Bas VanSteenbergen won about half of all the races at the three Crankworks BC events then posted cute shots together on Instagram. Imagine if they had a kid. He or she would basically become the Kwisatz Haderach of mountain biking (reference only since the Dune movie is coming out soon).
  • 3 0
 Surprised not to see a mention of Blevins XC World Cup win. First American man to win World Cup XCO Gold since in almost 3 decades. That makes it a pretty good month for a lot of us.
  • 19 0
 Until you see salaries on par with what big road teams can offer, they will continue to poach, especially after what they have seen from MVdP and Pidcock. When a team like Jumbo Visma can offer...2..3x or more of their normal salary its sort of hard to turn down. Pidcock is probably making a huge amount of money because Ineos has the cash and he is worth it. But if he was just on a mtb specific team you can bet that salary would be a fraction of what he makes now.
  • 3 5
 Here in the West, you see far more mountain bikes than motos or road bikes. Its frustrating that mountain bikes don't have the cost-reduction that scale bring to motos (seriously, how many people have performance dirt bikes??) nor the draw of road bikes, and the amazing $$ road riding brings in.
  • 2 0
 Pidcock is making a ton of money I’d hope, ineos’ budget is over 50 million euros. The amount of money these road teams have is insane compared to mountain biking. Not only the salary though, you know pidcock got into see one of the best surgeons in the world after his collarbone and you know they have some of the best coaches, a team of physiotherapists, nutritionist and they’ll bring you to elevation camps to train and I bet ineos bough pidcock the heat tent he used to train for the olympics. Mountain bike teams can’t compare in salary or the huge other benefits.
  • 4 1
 @hamncheez: fewer people own performance dirt bikes, but there are also far fewer manufacturers of them. I wouldn’t be surprised if KTM sells more dirt bikes than Trek sells mountain bikes, for instance
  • 2 0
 @chrisclifford: It is interesting and I’d like to get an economist’s take on it. Fewer competitors (dirt bike industry) can often mean higher prices. But compared to bicycles it seems to be the opposite. Two wheels and a chain, yes, but I guess they are apples and oranges.
  • 6 0
 @chrisclifford: Trek sells 1.6 million bikes vs KTMs roughly quarter-million annually …
  • 4 0
 @therealjoeleejr: read my comment again, I said mountain bikes. Obviously they sell more total bikes but the majority of those are hybrid/commuters and road bikes
  • 1 1
 @gnarlysipes: For monopolistic power, its not just direct competitors. Dirt bikes are a luxury item (luxury from an economists perspective, as in they do not help you increase your income like food and shelter does, or your work truck), and so are boats, ATVs, Jeeps, UTVs, etc. If motos started getting ridiculously expensive, we'd see more Polaris Razors running around, and other "substitute goods"
  • 5 0
 @therealjoeleejr: how many of each model get sold before retooling is needed though? I know it’s a Suzuki, but the DRZ400 is going on twenty some odd years old, with only small changes. Our constant thirst for the latest and greatest MTB is what’s hurting us.
  • 4 0
 @kylar: that and the fact that each mtb has a unique frame and needs 4-6 sizes of each frame. Whereas Yamaha or KTM have 4-5 dirt bike models that all use the same frame and 80% of the same parts
  • 16 5
 That ankle shot is gross, just saying, didn't expect to see that while chilling and eating Froot Loops
  • 15 1
 sounds like the only thing jason broke was your appetite
  • 5 3
 gimme a break
  • 3 5
 @EnsBen: Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat Bar!
  • 2 0
 @MrDiamondDave: Too soon!
  • 6 2
 Its not even broken, or bleeding. No exposed fracture also. How can you be so sensitive. All you are seeing is a twisted ankle.
  • 6 1
 Pidcock and VDP both raced (and won a good bit) cyclocross, road, and track (Pidcock) before MTB, so can't really make the argument that XC might become a feeder series for road, like, at all. The reverse seems to be the truth using your examples.
  • 2 0
 Cx is the best place to find talent right now it seems. Wout van Aert, pidcock and mvdp are all top riders and all came from cx. May have to watch some cx this winter in all honesty.
  • 5 0
 @Daledenton: You should check it out. Super crazy racing with attacks and the weather always causing chaos!
  • 2 0
 @ridestuff: Also really really fun to participate in.
  • 7 1
 And how many times did way more than 2 alloy rims get exploded in a single race, let alone a month? Were those bad months for metal rims?
  • 5 0
 I cant remember any in a race run. I seriously can't, have you got any examples?
  • 2 2
 @russthedog: what does a race run have to do with it? You think carbon or alloy cares if it in practice or finals?

How many get broken in practice or even in the 60-40th finals runs that don't get tv time? Likely lots that we never see.
  • 1 0
 @justinfoil: how would we ever know how many carbon or aluminium wheels get smashed in practise though? Its not broadcast and athletes wouldn't want to show it off.
  • 1 0
 @russthedog: yeah, that's the point. wheels get smashed up in all the time during a race weekend, and no one who wasn't there know about them. we get to see two (of the probably many that happened that weekend) happen on the live feed, and all of a sudden that's a reason to give carbon fiber wheels a "bad month"? makes no sense.
  • 9 1
 "We have decided to end our life together" ouch shit... suicides Big Grin
  • 2 0
 Yeah, If you're going to auto-translate something at least give it a quick proof read...
  • 1 0
 We definitely know why they made sure to note that the statements were translated.
  • 1 0
 @Kopy666 "We have decided to end our life together" is singular, as in their shared life and going their separate ways.
Now if they would have said "We have decided to end our lives together" that would imply a suicide pact.
  • 3 0
 6 Batteries? I counted 7

1 - ASX left lever
2 - ASX right lever
3 - rear ASX mech
4 - ASX dropper
5 - crank pedal detector
6 - rear shock
7 - fork.

Which battery did Kaz forget to put in?
  • 3 0
 But this is what most people want. Shimano tried it with one battery and nobody liked it because of routing cables ...
  • 1 0
 My guess is the future of quality control for carbon and components is in decline; due to the turbulent times and lag in manufacturing / shipping to hastily get orders out. So not so good but more bad months on the horizon unfortunately.

Hope I'm wrong about it tho!
  • 1 1
 But has it been a bad month for business like dispensaries and cheeba hut and places that cater to people who smoke resin?
  • 1 0
 Duuuude, put down the bong.
  • 3 0
 when even your cranks take a "Blunt hit"
  • 1 0
 Good, since i had NBD for me and my kids
  • 1 0
 Those Praxis cranks... On my 3rd set with the Ebike.
  • 1 0
 Outside should've been kept outside.
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