If it feels like it has been too long since the last Enduro World Series event, it's because it has. The Whistler round, which went down during Crankworx a full month ago, saw the debut of Rocky Mountain's new Slayer, a 165mm-travel carbon fiber machine that the Canadian company says is designed for everything from enduro racing to ''bike park laps and big mountain lines.' It's the former for their enduro team this weekend, with the seventh round of the EWS stopping in Valberg, France.
Rocky Mountain's Florian Nicolai chose the Slayer over the less well-endowed 150mm-travel Altitude for this weekend's racing, and we tracked down his mechanic to get the details about how the Frenchman is setting up his new bike. Nicolai clearly likes a tall front-end, and the angle of his brake levers hints at a rearward riding style.
At 185cm tall, Flo has chosen to ride a large-sized Slayer, which is actually a step down from the extra-large Altitude that he was aboard last year. The move down in size is in name only, as the new Slayer is quite a bit roomier than the previous versions; it has a 444mm reach number in the slack geometry setting that Flo has chosen, and a 455mm reach in the steeper position. Compare this to an extra-large Altitude's 443 to 461mm reach numbers and a large-sized Slayer makes sense for Flo.
Florian also prefers to go tall and wide when it comes to his cockpit, with the 780mm handlebar and 35mm stem perched atop 20mm of spacers and a 170mm-travel Fox 36 fork. There's a good chance that his grips are farther away from the ground than what you'll find on many people's downhill bikes. His levers are also close to level, something that hints at a rearward riding style.
Rocky Mountain says that the Slayer works best with the Fox X2 shock's compression settings dialed to a more open position, so it's no surprise to see that Flo is doing exactly that with the low-speed and high-speed compression dials backed most of the way out. Rocky claims that they focused on creating support at the Slayer's sag point, something that can often make for a lively feeling and relatively playful bike, and it also means that riders shouldn't have to rely on as much compression damping, either. The bike's suspension is said to ramp up in a moderately progressive curve, with the idea being consistency over the whole stroke instead of a sharp ramp-up at the end of it, but Flo's mechanic did divulge that the maximum amount of volume spacers are used inside of his Float X2 shock.
I bet Flo is hitting things just a wee bit harder and faster than the average rider, though, and he also explained that his rider prefers more sag at the back of the bike than some other riders.
It's the opposite story up front, with the 170mm-travel Fox 36 running a much less forgiving spring rate, although this is adjusted as required by the track, as well as just two volume spacers. That more linear stroke is different than the maxed-out spacer setup that we see other pros often using, but at 70kg, Flo is certainly running a firmer spring rate than what most 70kg average riders would be okay with. The bike's Fox 36 is set up stiff but, with only two volume spacers, more linear than we've seen some racers run.
Flat tires automatically spell the end of any hope for a good overall result, so Nicolai doesn't mess around with mid-weight casings; he only ever runs Maxxis' dual-ply downhill casing tires, a set of High Roller IIs in this case. He also tends to prefer a bit higher air pressure than other racers, with his front tire at 27 PSI and his rear at 29 PSI, and both tires are mounted up to a set of aluminum rims from Stan's rather than carbon fiber hoops.
When it comes to tires and wheels, Flo is all about making reliable choices rather than rolling the dice with lighter weight rubber or carbon rims. Aluminum rims and dual-ply downhill casing tires for Nicolai.
The bike's running gear is nothing out of the ordinary; a mechanical drivetrain from Shimano is used rather than the XTR Di2 setup found on some of his teammate's bikes, and a 34-tooth chainring drives a standard 11 - 42 cassette. Flo also runs Shimano's Saint brakes at every event, and usually prefers 200mm rotors front and back unless the track is less demanding or there's a lot of pedaling, in which case he might drop down to a 180mm on the back of the bike. No batteries here; Flo prefers Shimano's mechanical drivetrain.
/ @foxracingshox / @Royal-Racing