The list of people who've stood on a Red Bull Rampage podium is rather short, and it includes names such as Zink, Lacondeguy, and Semenuk, among many other legends. Oh, and a Utah native named Logan Binggeli who is one of the fastest downhill racers in North America. Sure, there are a few World Cup contenders who have traded the beeps of a start-house gate and course tape for the inflatable Red Bull arch and cliff-side lines but, for the most part, Rampage is the domain of riders who get paid for style and amplitude instead of their outright speed.
''It all started back in 2004, in middle school when I saw a poster and then went out to the Rampage to see Kyle Strait win it,'' Binggeli told us last year when we questioned him in 2015 about his path from grom to top racer, and eventually to the Rampage. ''Obviously, with Rampage you can’t just hop on the boat right away so I went back to my roots and started racing mountain bikes.''
He turned out to be pretty good at it, with his results allowing him to try to qualify for the Rampage back in 2008, although he didn't make the cut eight years ago. He did score a top-twelve in 2010, however, and then a spot on the podium in 2012. Crashes and injuries then kept him away until 2015 when he qualified fourth and finished fifteenth in a wind-affected final.
Just like in 2015, Logan is aboard on of the most interesting bikes at Rampage. Last year his bike was a prototype version of what would later become KHS' DH 650 race rig, with the production bike now looking pretty similar to what Binggeli was pointing off the Utah cliffs, and that's also true for 2016. ''We've dialed in the geometry a little better, and it's an extra-large with some lighter tubing for racing. That's the difference between the production and the prototype frame,'' he explained of his personal 210mm-travel DH 650 that's more of a lightweight race-special than a Rampage one-off. Weight is of close to zero concern here in the desert, of course, but Logan clearly wants to be on a bike that feels like home rather than something unfamiliar to him.
With taller a taller handlebar, even slacker geometry, and ridiculously firm suspension, it's probably fair to say that a proper Rampage bike would likely feel horrible anywhere other than, you guessed it, Rampage. Just how different is Logan's cliff drop-friendly suspension setup? Logan used a dirtbike analogy to get the point across: ''Way different; completely different. I mean, it's like going from outdoor motocross suspension to straight FMX, past Supercross.'' So it's firm, then. ''It's as stiff as the suspension will go, band-wise [in the shock] and clip-wise in the fork, and pressures. A lot slower rebound, and I've cranked the compression in,'' he went on to say.
|You know, you're not looking for much tracking or corner speed here; it's just compression, compression, compression, so you're basically just setting the bike up for massive compressions versus tracking, stability, speed, and whatnot. - Logan Binggeli|
Logan showed up in 2015 with a single-speed drivetrain that turned some heads, and he's back with a similar setup this year. ''You might not really even need a chain to get down this hill. Obviously, you're just going down cliff bands, so you're not shifting,'' he reasons, which does make a lot of sense. Truth be told, while the top slopestyle riders usually run a derailleur and some sort of modified drivetrain, this is likely down to sponsorship commitments rather than their need to shift gears on their way down a Crankworx course. The same applies here at Rampage.
Binggeli's KHS is running a set of Shimano Saint cranks, along with an e*thirteen chain guide (sans lower roller) and a KMC chain. Last year head he used two larger cogs to sandwich a single small drive cog on his freehub body, but he's gone with a proper single-speed kit this time around, along with the same burly Shimano Alfine chain tensioner.
There's also some trickery going on with the ENVE wheels on Logan's bike: ''I've got some prototype ENVE wheels; they're 33mm wide with some 'stripper technology' rim strips that should be available soon to the public.'' Zooming in to look at the rims reveals a strip that runs around their entire circumference, and on both sides, that appears to be some sort of sealing rim strip that extends up and over the sidewalls. If I were to speculate, I'd guess that this is a relatively stiff, plastic-like rim strip of sorts that fits into the rim bed to both seal the spoke holes and protect the rim's sidewalls.
/ @maxxis / @foxracingshox