June 2017 - Good Month or Bad Month?

Jul 3, 2017
by Richard Cunningham  

Downhill Racing Fans
Three wild World Cups with three different winners.

For racing fans, the downhill World Cup was the best show - three venues with different winners in almost every category and unpredictable weather changes that reshuffled everyone's chances and sent teams scrambling for which tire, wheel-size or line choice could ensure a podium finish.

Beginning in June, most bets were on Rachel Atherton and Danny Hart. By June's end, however, Atherton was injured, Hart was playing catch-up, and Tracey Hannah and Greg Minnaar were sporting the number one plates. We also saw some new faces at the award ceremonies, most notably, Tahnee Seagrave, who edged out Tracey Hannah at Leogang by a half second to bag her first World Cup.
Congrats Tahnee Seagrave.
Tahnee finally put all the pieces together: Number one at Leogang.

So, we enter July with Tracey Hannah and Greg Minnaar dominating at Fort William, Tahnee Seagrave and Aaron Gwin on the top step at Leogang, and Myriam Nicole and Troy Brosnan taking the win at Vallnord. What happens next is anyone's guess, but it's a sure bet that we're all going to be watching.

Slopestyle Competition
Crankworx battle royale between Brett Rheeder and Nicholi Rogatkin.

Crazy crazier craziest. Nicolai Rogatkin is one of a kind.
Nicholi Rogatkin
Sheer disbelief. What a final...
Brett Rheeder.

Two Crankworx events in one month produced the best slopestyle battle we've seen in years. Canadian Brett Rheeder's convincing victory at Les Gets set the stage for an expected sweep at Crankworx Innsbruck the following week. Confident and powerful, top-seeded Rheeder was on fire in Austria, with 94.33 points on his first run, but it wouldn't stick.

Nicholi Rogatkin put on the performance of his life on his second run, earning 96 points, with a bag of tricks that defied the laws of physics. Rheeder, the last man on course, threw down everything he knew and put in a performance that probably would have won every slopestyle in the history of Crankworx, except this one. His score? 95.66 - a mere four tenths under Rogatkin's.

The magic of Innsbruck was that the course was right and everyone was on their game. It was the show that slopestyle needed to re-invigorate fans and break the long cycle of "win it on the first run" spoilers that has dampened enthusiasm for the venue. If you didn't see it, watch the replay.
One of the most ferocious runs the World has seen on a slopestyle course no bones about it.
bigquotesOne of the most ferocious runs the world has seen on a slopestyle course, no bones about it.Nathan Hughes

Tech Geeks
Designers gone wild.

When Chris Porter went public with his "GeoMetron" experiment, most designers balked when he claimed that a steep seat tube angle, combined with a slacker-than-downhill head tube and minimized fork offset could produce a better descending trail bike with acceptable cornering and climbing qualities. When Chris added thirty millimeters to his top tubes, some thought he had gone looney. Nicolai teamed up with Porter and re-designed most of its range accordingly, and now, a little more than a year later, some heady names are laying claim to the technology.

"Long and slack" are the buzzwords at product launches and "reduced offset" is the concept that everyone has has been working on for "a number of years." Transition debuted its "Speed Balanced Geometry," Specialized touted their reduced offset/slack head angle concept used on its (of all things) 2018 Epic XC racer, and Whyte, who has been playing with offset configurations for a while, launched their beautiful handling S-150 29er with moderated version of all of the above. While it is doubtful that designers at large will stretch their production trail bikes to the extent that Chris Porter is taking the concept, his influence has been set in motion and will be far reaching.
Nicolai GeoMetron Review
Chris Porter.

Beyond GeoMetron, BMC surprised tech geeks with Trailsync - an integrated dropper seatpost that is linked to the remote lockout device of a Fox shock. Trailsync was launched this month on BMC's Speedfox 120-millimeter-travel 29er trailbike. It's a stunner and after a month on the bike, it is apparent that the fast-reacting, one-lever system may be a game changer.

BMC Speedfox 01 2018
BMC Speedfox 01 2018
BMC's Speedfox debuted its Trailsync system that automatically opens up the shock when the post is lowered.

SRAM GX Eagle.
Game changers? I may be sardonic, but I'm calling out frame designers who still reserve that huge space above the bottom bracket in the anticipation that future mountain bikers are going to wake up one day and realize we were wrong, Shimano was right all along, and that we all need front derailleurs. Well, SRAM put the final nail in that coffin with the June release of its affordable 12-speed GX Eagle drivetrain. It's time to stick a fork in it and put that valuable space to better use - like wider suspension pivots. Until then, perhaps someone will make a tool box that screws into the derailleur bosses

Specialized designers realized that the advantages of carbon construction could allow them to build a one-sided shock mount for their Demo DH bike. It made sense, especially considering that switching out the shock on the old Demos was a time-consuming burden. Check out Orbea's new Rallon, with its asymmetric top tube and shock mount. The one-sided tension strut that parallels the shock counters the vicious loads that the chassis sees during a bottom-out event with the least amount of structure - and it facilitates servicing the shock. The significance of the two designs is that they break ground for future designers to abandon the symmetry imposed by frame configurations which evolved from the constraints of steel and aluminum and use the benefits of laid-up carbon construction to re-imagine future frame designs, and directly address issues like stand-over and wheel clearance, and better integrate suspension configurations
Orbea Rallon 2018
Orbea's 2018 Rallon is a whole new animal.


Rachel Atherton
Shoulder injury ends the longest winning streak in WC DH history.

"All good things come to an end," is the oft' repeated adage that Rachel Atherton occasionally used to remind fans that, sooner or later, another woman was knock her off the top step. Before she crashed in practice at the Fort William World Cup and dislocated her shoulder, the fastest woman in the mountain bike world was showing signs that something was amiss. Rachel has been training well. The Athertons routinely train in Southern California during the off season, where she was blazing fast according to all reports. The POV video she filmed while practicing for the Fort Bill round of the British Downhill Series a week before the World Cup, however, suggested that she was physically off form, which may have been the reason that she opted out of the race.
Rachel is under all the pressure once again but has been dealing with it quite well this weekend. With a 13 second lead in qualifying she heads into he finals with an added bit of confidence.
Ready to rock? I think so. Thirteen seconds between Rachel's qualifying time and second-place Tracy Hannah at the Fort William WC.

Whatever may have been bothering Rachel at the BDS round was behind her at the World Cup the following weekend. She smoked the field in qualies with a 13-second lead over Tracey Hannah and appeared to be well on her way to extending her unbroken string of wins well into the 2017 season. On the practice lap before finals, however, Rachel crashed and it was Tracey Hannah who would be the first woman other than Rachel Atherton to stand on the top step at a World Cup Downhill or World Championship for over two years. I'm sure that takes some pressure off of Rachel, but like most of her fans, I wished it had gone down differently - with Rach' at full gas in a head-to-head battle for the hot seat.

Enduro World Series
Hey, are we having fun yet?

Rain has plagued every EWS race this season, and June? June was the worst. The series that proudly touted professional enduro racing should challenge competitors at the highest levels of their technical and physical abilities has hit the jackpot. Nature must have overheard that conversation, and said, "You want tough? Okay, I'll give you tough," because nobody is having fun any more - except, perhaps a handful of Frenchies, who allegedly used their home-court advantages to sweep the podium spots at round five in Millau, France.

Millau capped off the EWS "month of mud" and proved to be the breaking point for many competitors. Milau entertained guests with 80 kilometers of steep transfer climbs, mixed in with some greasy-slick, survival descents, and was staged in a cold downpour for much of the two-day suffer fest. Soggy competitors are wishing for just one dry race, perhaps to remember what that may have been like. Next stop, the EWS sets sail for
Adrien Dailly was the man to beat but no one seemed up to the task.
Adrian Dailly pushes through the weather in France.
Aspen, Colorado, where the sun shines all day long in the summer - except for a half-hour of rain at four o'clock PM. I think the EWS can live with that. Watch the fun. Where do I sign up?

Posted In:
Industry News


  • 72 6
 *insert witty comment about how this is a good month for 27.5 wheels*
  • 57 0
 Every month is a good month...cmon man!
  • 37 0
 I'll have what ^he's having
  • 47 1
 @loopie: It's called California. One of the most expensive drugs in the world.
  • 9 0
 why you got to be so judgmental on the months man
  • 19 1
 did you just assume my month?
  • 4 0
 @loopie: make mine a double, please
  • 1 0
 ....but 3 of the weeks can be better than the other, Just sayin No dis.
  • 2 3
 @scjeremy: California??? According to Chris Porter Cali has no gnarly trails to ride. UK is where it's at. Hills>Mountains. Some people assume L.A or the Bay Area is all California has offer. Good, let them stay there.
  • 5 0
 @Boardlife69: Yep, no good trails in California. Don't bother coming here.
There's totally no reason Trek's and SRAM's MTB R&D branches are here other than the mediocre weather during the winter.
  • 1 0
Pretty sure the majority of their testing is done in the PNW though, which isn't California
  • 2 0
 @Waldon83: Listen...anywhere you have a dirt trail that heads down a hill you can have fun. That being said, California is huge, our mountain are huge, our terrain is extremely varied. You might find your favorite trail in the world here. To the keyboard warriors who keep claiming to know what California is like...stop trying, get on your bike and ride it. Its awesome....like many other parts of world. Cheers from Cali!
  • 1 0
 I was being sarcastic.
  • 39 1
 Bad month because it's another month without a "fails of the month" compilation.
  • 36 1
 Any EWS rider thats sponsored by Muc Off or Marshguard should get a bonus advertising fee this season.
  • 26 3
 Actually Sam hill is from Australia, no home advantage in France, and he seems to be doing pretty dann good.
  • 13 1
 Sam Hill was off the Podium at 6th place, Five Frenchies 1st - 5th. Not that Hill's not right there with them, I would love to see him come through in the second half of the season and pull a big overall W.
  • 16 0
 @RideTahoe707: Sam hill is second overall on the rankings.
On a season full of rain.
  • 11 0
 @enrico650: Its rained almost as many times on Sam Hill while he's racing as it has where he comes from all year.
  • 16 0
 I think the EWS should be in good month. Awesome racing, different winners and a chase for the championship. You couldn't ask for much more.
  • 7 0
 I have to agree that I'm enjoying the crazy weather element of the EWS! It's mixed it up massively after Rude just dominated the last two years. Now anyone decent could put in a great ride and be in with a chance - you've still got to be a brilliant and extremely fit rider but the balance of power and fitness to skill has shifted towards greater skill...
  • 3 0
 + t-mo for the replay
  • 3 0
 @slimboyjim: It's also good to see non carbon bikes at the top 10 , showing that you don't need the latest and the greatest to participate.
  • 4 0
 @enrico650: If they are in the top 10, maybe they are the latest and greatest? :showerthoughts:
  • 2 0
 @wpplayer18: Good point
  • 13 0
 the future month where I can push a lever on the left side of my handlebar and my bike turns into a robot with laser weapons--that will be a GOOD month. this month was a lot like the other months--okay, but no special lever robot feature yet.
  • 16 5
 "nobody is having fun any more - except, perhaps a handful of Frenchies, who allegedly used their home-court advantages to sweep the podium spots at round five in Millau, France."

Seriously?? Are you salty or what? The French dominance on Millau EWS doesn't prove anything. As said in the comments, riders from all over the world are well above good in those conditions too. Weather is part of the game, if you don't like it, then launch an Indoor Enduro series!
By the way, as hard as it can be, I am pretty sure they have lots of fun in mud conditions.
  • 14 1
 Yeah and since when France is considered as a rainy country? I thought Ireland, U.K. And PNW were the factories of "good mud rider"...
  • 6 2
 @zede: Exactly, If it is all about rain, UK and Ireland riders are considered the bests riders imo... This point is written like if it was the frenchies' fault and goal to have the rain on this EWS... Unbelievable!
  • 3 1
 Frenchies used their home advantage in France. Yes maybe, like in New Zealand, or in Tasmania, or in Ireland... Ah, a French rider won in some of these races. Maybe, we had 5 French riders because they have the skills to be at this ranking. Maybe. An Sam Hill is a wonderful rider, he won last year in valberg, maybe he will win this year in another race, an not on home soil. Or maybe not. Maybe he just want to be world champion an want to finish all the races.
  • 9 0
 Hmm...I don't think I see salty here as much as defensiveness from the French.

Millau was an amazing race and venue. The home field advantage comment is probably not related to the rain. It is more likely to be based on the fact that the time for practice was too short to even fully pre-ride (arguably a good thing for enduro) and that the tracks were what the rest of the world thinks of as quintessentially French (tight, technical, awkward turns where flow is challenging to find and there are very few chances to put down power).

It is clear that this type of track favors the type of riders that France produces because the terrain and trail history is reasonably common throughout the country.

If the rest of the races this year had more balance - i.e. Some favor power, some endurance, some technical skill - instead of the rain swinging the balance to the primarily technical side then perhaps Millau would have received the credit it deserved.

Hard to be positive on the sport when most of the riders are grumbling about the races.
  • 4 0
 It's a good month for 29ers as more and more Downhillers are available with the 'wagon wheels' and for enduros too, like the Orbea Rallon, Transition Sentinel and others.
  • 2 0
 I think it's wrong to mention Chris Porter concerning longer top tubes and generally longer bikes without mentioning Cesar Rojo. He's been at it as long (if not longer) as Chris and it's definitely his influence behind the Mondraker family of bikes and Forward Geometry. Before that, much of the up-sizing that many riders were doing (Mark Weir, Gee and Rachel Atherton, and others) was a result of his thinking as well.

As for trail and offset, it was only a matter of time before bike manufacturers started paying more attention to what has always been a serious consideration in motorcycle design.
  • 3 0
 Anyone heard what's happened with Red Bull's mini series? Like where is On Track and also Aaron gowns Off Season has seemed to stop.
  • 1 0
 See Fast Life with Loïc Bruni
  • 1 0
 I'm pretty sure on track is returning for another season
  • 14 0
 Pretty sure the clue to why the AG series stopped is in the name!
  • 1 0
 what the hell happened to the Syndicate series too!
  • 2 0
 @alexhyland: Just cuz it's race season doesn't mean the series has to stop! Just seems like a incomplete series with only 3 episodes! But it's all free so Red Bull can do what ever they want I guess!!
  • 2 0
 Interesting how non symmetrical frames are taking off. I guess we've seen that before, for instance in the excellent Santa Cruz Tallboy (which has a singlesided rear triangle vertical strut).
  • 8 3
 SC has been using non symmetrical chainstays since 2005 or so with their Blurs.
  • 21 20
 "Shimano was right all along, and that we all need front derailleurs. Well, SRAM put the final nail in that coffin with the June release of its affordable 12-speed GX Eagle drivetrain."

Shimano was and still is right. We do need front derailleurs and manufactureres in Europe has realized that there is huge demand for it. For next year at lest one big producer in Poland is working on a long/slack frame with mounting for front derailleurs added. What we don't need is ridiculious 4x teeth cog the size of a dining plate.

Europe has some great natural trails to ride and that why front derailleurs are still in high demand.

Mark my words.
  • 15 7
  • 7 4
 Recently moved to Europe and love my front derailleur!
  • 15 0
 I'm waiting for Shimano to release it 27 geared 1000% range gearbox..... Bait caster fishing reel.
  • 9 3
 Agreed.... for now until the technology refines further.
I can often appreciate the overlap in gears when running 2 x 10. I also hate the large shifting gaps/bridges between gears on 1 x drivetrains.
  • 11 2
 Yeah, I agree to a point. It seems like anything else in the mtb world. The manufacturers market stuff as the "future" making anything else "obsolete" etc. It's not true. The stuff is just different. Like different flavors of ice cream. I speak from experience because I have both old and new bikes in my garage. All the bikes have high end components so I'm not comparing XO or XTR to X7 or SLX. Here's my take for what it's worth. Riding a bike with a 1x 11 SRAM XO with a race face turbine crank is excellent for most things including simplicity. The gap jumps between gears are definitely noticeable and you find yourself in the "wish gear" on some longer climbs. Switching to a smaller CR helps the wish gear factor but your top end does lack a little bit. Riding an XTR 2x10 with a race face turbine crank(same crank) gives you a nicer choice between gears. It's easier to find your goldilocks zone and you've got the low gears you need without the big jumps between. The shifting on the XTR feels a bit smoother to be honest but not by much. They're both excellent in their own way but different. If I lived in a really mountainous region I think I'd opt for the 2x on my trail ride only because of finding the right comfort zone for my legs in all conditions. Again, not better just different. Manufacturers should offer choice not the take it or leave it approach that they tend to do. In the same vein, try taking one of these slack head angle big wheeled bikes out for a ride in tight really tight, twisty low speed pedally single track with lots of low speed log overs and similar obstacles that you need skills bordering on trials type stuff to do. I'll take my old 26" steep HT angle trail bike any day of the week over the Bronson sitting in my garage for that type of stuff. Ripping high speed trails that are wide open with plenty of different line choices? Grab the lower slacker bigger wheeled machine. Not better, just different. Both are awesome. Right tool for the job and the day. Manufacturers don't get this stuff.
  • 7 1
 "Europe has some great natural trails to ride and that why front derailleurs are still in high demand."

What the heck does that mean?
  • 4 3
 Bin provision for a front Derailleur?? I don't think so. Some of us don't fall for the 'Massive' 1x gear range crap that keeps getting spouted.
I'll be keeping my front gears on bikes that actually need a range for you know, going up steep hills in wales or not spinning your legs like mad at 15mph on a fire-road. And not have to spend the best part of a grand for approx 18-52% less gear range (compared to a bike of a decade ago i might add), while barely saving any weight at all.
  • 5 3
 complain about rain and mud on a MTB race is like road bikers complaining about a asfalt that is too slick... come on MTB are made for mud! we have mud tires and tear off
  • 5 3
 Yeah 27.5 did better than the experts expected .cue the angry 29er comments.
  • 4 1
 Not too much into slopestyle, but where is Semenuk?
  • 6 0
 He just doesn't like Europe, and crowds in general. He is probably too busy training or shooting in some awesome place doing crazy tricks, or he is just racing in his rally car.
  • 5 3
 Word on the street is that it is going to snow in Aspen...
  • 4 0
 Sesame Street rules !
  • 2 1
 Is it possible to run a front derailleur with 2 or 3 chainrings AND the Eagle 12 cassette?
  • 5 0
 I don't think there's a derailleur that has enough capacity to run this setup. But if you don't mind not using the small/small and large/large combo (you should avaiod those anyways), then why not? Just be carefull, because shifting into the large/large with snap your derailleur and small/small the chain will not be tensioned.
  • 3 0
 @AntN Sram hammerschmidt might work.
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