Set up for Success
Suspension, tire pressure, cockpit design - getting bike settings dialed is an integral part for an XC athletes’ performance. For World Champion, Kate Courtney who is racing at the highest level, that means that she leaves no stone unturned when it comes to her bike being 100% ready on race day.
Brad Copeland, Kate's Mechanic, tells us what that means in his own words.Why Testing Matters
Testing equipment is not only about getting the best bike set-up possible. It is equally important to find out what works best for you, and finding the perfect harmony between the athlete and the machine. In racing, every detail matters. That’s why you want every detail to be sorted, and that’s why it is highly important to spend a lot of time testing multiple set-ups. Every race course is different, and conditions can change overnight, so we adapt and modify the bike set-up prior to a World Cup race accordingly. Get the Right Suspension Set Up
We work from a baseline set-up of established pressures, compression and rebound settings that we can adjust to suit different weather and course conditions. During the off-season, or when evaluating new equipment, we test the bike’s suspension settings until we arrive at a happy baseline number for pressures and damper settings that we start from at every race. That way, we have a consistent reference point for the bike’s handling and feeling that makes it pretty easy to detect what changes we may want to make if the course or conditions warrant it. Because we have spent lots of time in the off-season figuring out exactly how we want things to behave, making the small changes to tailor the bike perfectly to a given race course doesn’t take much time or cause too much stress in the days leading up to a race. Usually after just a few laps on course we have the desired settings sorted out for the weekend.Get Your Tire Pressure Dialed
There’s a fine line between just enough and too low! Typically, running lower pressures yields better grip, lower rolling resistance over rough terrain and a bit of added comfort as well. Of course, taking it too far exposes you to increased risk of pinch-flatting the tire from hard impacts when there’s not enough air in the tire to keep it from bottoming out in the rim. Like with suspension, we spend time riding together and adjusting pressures to test the feeling and bike behaviour, sometimes stopping throughout the ride to change things for immediate comparison. Again, we work from an established pressure as our baseline for each tire option and make small changes depending on course conditions or if we experience wet weather.Organize your Cockpit
Everyone is different and has their own preferences for the feeling at every contact point on the bike. With shifting, dropper post switches and suspension lockout controls all at your fingertips, it’s important to make sure the feeling and function feels natural and easy to manipulate safely and comfortably to ensure that the rider experiences the most efficient operation that minimizes time spent searching for the controls and makes the bike feel like a natural extension. Kate’s cockpit reflects many adaptations that were necessary to accommodate her small hands and limited reach— we cut grips shorter, run a custom dropper post switch and dial lever reach in much farther than “normal,” but I track her control placement to the millimetre because we have arrived at a perfect position that we mirror across every bike she has. Dial your Relationship with your Mechanic
Easier said than done! Having someone you trust 100% to prepare the equipment a rider uses during a race is a special type of trust. Trust that it’s safe, to begin with, and that all settings are deliberate and set with intent after extensive testing and communication between rider and mechanic have led us to the chosen specs. Beyond that, the mechanic’s job is to be able to quickly assess and make rapid and sometimes improvised repairs swiftly mid-race, even when the pressure’s on. Fortunately for me, Kate is wonderful to work with and shares the success we’ve been working so hard for. Our friendship and trust in one another has been in development for five years now, and we both appreciate what the other one does. That’s very important in a sport in which so much of the outcome can be determined by performance and integrity of the equipment!
More episodes to come later this summer. Watch the previous episode Here
: Brad CopelandVideo
: Rainedupon Media Photos
: Sven Martin
, Jochen Haar