Round Up: Wet Weather Setup Tricks from EWS & World Cup Racing

Nov 16, 2021
by Ed Spratt  
Every rider has their setup quirks and when it comes to tricky weather conditions each has their own solution to the problem. We decided to look through the Pinkbike bike check archives for the more wet weather setups that we have spotted at World Cup and EWS races over the years.



Probably one of the most talked-about wet weather setups in recent years has been the use of tape on the downtube at the Olympics and some of the World Cup XC races. Jolanda Neff has her Olympic gold medal-winning bike fitted with some wavy tape, the idea for this is to make it harder for mud to stick to the frame. If mud does end up getting stuck then you can easily just pull the tape off for a mid-race bike clean.

Tricks of the trade - A few riders were spotted sporting duct tape on the downtubes as mud guards. It helps keep mud from sticking too.
The Les Gets XC World Cup saw plenty of XC riders running the wavy tape including Nino Schurter and Mathias Flueckiger. We wouldn't be surprised to see this become a common sight at future XC races.



Noga Korem GT Fury
The classic wet weather setup has to be a front fender. It does a great job of keeping some mud and debris away from the downtube and depending on the size it can help keep your vision clear. While most races tend to run the shorter fenders when conditions get really bad we see some riders opt for some sizeable setups.

Kevin Miquel bike check
While more rare some riders run a fender out the back, most likely this is fitted to the frame to keep mud away from the rear suspension.

A fender isn't always the best solution for riders though, we saw plenty of racers ditching the fender at the mud infested 2020 Leogang World Champs. At this race, the mud ended up being so sticky that it would block up fenders making them more of a hindrance than providing any advantage.



A little extra grip for Marcelo Gutierrez. While this was needed in the mud of Les Gets we assume it will be removed for more tame track in Lenzerheide.
An old school wet weather setup for DH racers used to be attaching an old piece of tire to your saddle to add an extra bit of grip when things get very sloppy. This setup comes from 2016 when Marcelo Gutierrez wanted a more secure saddle for the Lenzerheide World Cup.

A more modern solution is this SDG I-Fly Storm saddle with specially designed knobs on the seat for added grip. Neko Mulally was running this setup so that if he had to sit down to pull a tear-off/roll-off he wouldn't have to worry about slipping on the saddle in a crucial moment.



Yesterday s dust was a bit harder to wash off today.
Another classic for muddy conditions is using foam to block up frame cavities. Using the foam allows racers to not have any areas where mud or water will collect on the bike and add unnecessary weight to their race machines.



After the incredibly wet and wild 2020 EWS race in Zermatt, Joe Barnes shared some creative hacks to battle the conditions. Joe's crafty creations include modified handguards to remove windchill, heated grips for toasted hands and more.




Kevin Miquel bike check
While not always used for wet weather many racers do add a small bit of grip tape on their levers to add some extra control and grip. The last thing you want is to slip off your brake levers during a wet and muddy race.



BMC
BMC
Tire choice for muddy races isn't always about getting the most amount of grip. During the XC World Cup this year in Nove Mesto the BMC was trying to decide between running a faster rolling tire or one that could clear the mud faster. For the BMC team, they were weighing up the decision between a Vittoria Mezcal that would be faster rolling and could clear some mud on the tarmac sections or the Peyote that would clear the mud faster on most sections of the course for more grip when the racers needed it.



Last year, Max Hartenstern was running a unique composite brake protector on his calipers to help stop any grit or mud from getting inside and keep consistent levels of braking in sloppy conditions.



Bike Check
No matter if racers are running flat or clipless pedals they will often extend their pins (if they have them) to give some extra grip.



Mud repellent tape-armor from an Italian bike protection company.
While we have seen riders running wavy tape this year, Danny Hart was apparently running some stickers coated in a 'mud repellent' on his Mondraker in 2016. We aren't sure quite how they worked, but riders did face some pretty tricky conditions.





128 Comments

  • 276 2
 But what tire tread is best zip tie to your saddle? Gotta be an assegai, right?
  • 123 1
 Using a dissector sounds particularly unpleasant!
  • 103 4
 @kcy4130: go for a combo of the two: Ass-disector
  • 15 1
 spike tires must do the work
  • 47 0
 Rocket Ron not ideal. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
  • 22 0
 @jpat22: Ha! Same goes for Nobby Nic!
  • 14 2
 obviously a muddy marry. When you start prairie dogging due to the intensity of the course, the mud spikes dig in and really grip you.
  • 14 0
 I like the little pegs on my Magic Mary’s.
  • 32 5
 Most of my buddies make fun of me for being an Assegai because they're all boob guys
  • 6 1
 "An Assegai for ye ass, my guy…"
  • 20 1
 Get a butcher for a decent rump roast.
  • 2 0
 Billy Bonkers might have a wholly different meaning in the UK now
  • 1 0
 @jpat22: But Big Betty know just how to...
  • 5 0
 Change your saddle/shorts comobo regularily when using Dirty Dan
  • 2 15
flag excavator666 (Nov 16, 2021 at 9:06) (Below Threshold)
 Genuine question. What is so funny about the tyre name Assegai?

I just can't see where the inuendo is without making a pretty big interpretive leap.
  • 1 1
 Wrong post. Sorry
  • 8 0
 @excavator666: don’t be such an ass, guy
  • 7 0
 WetScream for feel.
  • 4 0
 I think Schwalbe has a couple new ones that may work...the Chunder Chode and the Gooch Gobbler....still prototypes though...
  • 5 3
 @excavator666: I guess you're more of a boobs guy
  • 3 0
 @kcy4130: a Magic Mary sounds much more pleasant
  • 117 8
 Tape on the frame, are these the new tear-offs? Can't wait to hate on the XC riders who now not only litter the trails with gel and bar wrappers, but also with over a meter of tape in the bushes.
  • 21 0
 @vinay this was exactly my thoughts as well... absolutely ridiculous.
  • 24 4
 @RBalicious: Yeah, would love some constructive input from my downvoters.
  • 6 0
 Agree. At least someone make some paper tape or something.
  • 11 0
 Would silicon spray not work well?

Sticking a load of crumpled up gaffer tape on a super expensive XC race whippet is a travesty and I doubt the efficacy of the endevour.
  • 11 4
 @vinay: generalizing is just lame, I've seen more "bros" litter than actual XC riders, but that's my experience, reality is that littering people come in all types.
  • 10 2
 @Narro2: The tape seemed XC race specific in that it was only mentioned to be used on XC bikes used in competition. If it is also being used in other competition I'll take it back. This was the first time (this article) I've seen it and never before, hence how I got there. As for disposable food packaging and CO2 cartridges, same. I've only seen road racers and XC racers use those. Myself and others I ride with typically either don't carry food or a small container with something (I posted a recipe for some bars a while ago, could look it up if you wish). But yeah, that's just my perspective from my tiny world. I've you've got a different perspective from where you are, it evens out and indeed my comment was too generic and I'll take that back. I'd have to rephrase it just hating anyone who litters shit trailside.
  • 2 7
flag Narro2 (Nov 16, 2021 at 9:39) (Below Threshold)
 @vinay: just go out and touch the grass man.
  • 5 1
 @vinay: Nobody is going on regular rides with tape on their bikes. Your clarification completely negates any point you were trying to make with your original comment. High level XCO races are done on small courses at venues expecting their trails to get ruined. Ripping off a meter of tape in an important race shouldn't contribute to more litter if racers go and pick up their trash after the race, or just rip it off in an area with lots of spectators. It seems like the chances that you'd ever see a meter of tape used for this purpose in the bushes on a normal trail ride is astronomically low.
  • 7 0
 @KeeganPelton: When have you ever seen a racer pick up their trash, or random litter after a race? "Oh yeah, I forgot about that gel packet I dropped a mile into the course, I need to go get that" - said no racer ever... IF that does happen, it is done by a trail sweeper that rides the course afterwards. I have seen garbage left behind from race events well after they have taken place.
I do agree that the chances of finding a piece of tape in the bushes is low, but probably not as low as you would think. Being one of the few that maintains the trails where I live (a remote area an hour away from any city), I find tape & other garbage riders have discarded trailside on the regular. The point is, We ALL need to do our part and not litter as well as clean up trails when we see it.
  • 4 0
 @fielding: That's Mr. Fred to you.
  • 5 0
 Found this at my local pumptrack yesterday, growing by the curve a few meters from the garbage can.

Can i generalize who litters? No, but this looks like very convincing evidence.

m.pinkbike.com/photo/21660224
  • 3 2
 @Narro2: a growing plant = litter
That is new to me. And yes, I recognize what kind of plant that is. This is dubious example at best. I'm not even sure what you are on about at this point...
  • 1 3
 @RBalicious: you do know how that plant started to grow there...
  • 2 1
 @Narro2: by the looks of it a seed. Is a seed littering? Nope. Could it be a clone? Possibly. Would that be considered an invasive for that area? Yep. Again, this comparison you are making is completely invalid. Maybe some locals (or non) were participating in the electric lettuce and a seed happen to fall out of their baggie, who knows? Trying to make a comparison of an annual plant, that WILL NOT SURVIVE in your climate beyond a couple more months is an egregious comparison to human created materials littered in the woods. Figure it out.
  • 1 1
 @RBalicious: dude, you are doing lots of mental gymnastics...

just accept this fact --- Littering people come in all types --- and period.
  • 1 1
 @Narro2: Incorrect. Look up the definition if you need some help. Wink good luck.
  • 2 0
 @RBalicious: dubious or doobie-us?
  • 1 0
 @fielding: well played sir, haha!
  • 1 0
 Shit I'm confused now. The article specifically describes a method for dirt-o-phobic XC racers to litter the trails so I commented on that. Apparently that was frowned upon as (outside the context of the article), others seem to litter trails too. So I explicitly took it back and rephrased it to something more generic. Still some uproar. Sorry, what's the deal? Littering is bad, mmmokay? Someone accidentally dropped a seed, it absorbed some CO2 and now it is a plant. Would birds eat it and choke or die of plastic in their belly? Would it travel up the food chain? Would it contaminate the soil? Now ask these same questions in the context of tear-offs, tape, bar- and gelwrappers.

@KeeganPelton : Yeah, that's what I would think of foodwrappers, tear-offs and CO2 cartridges too. I don't see why someone would use those on a training ride, still I'm seeing this trash. So for me this tape is no different. If it is here described as something clever and pro, seems to me the same who fall for the aforementioned stuff may be the same who fall for this "solution". If the article is wrong (as claimed elsewhere) and the tape is supposed to stay in place and never be littered then by all means secure it with loops of tape around the downtube. But your claim of racers cleaning the trail after the race, that's a beautiful one. Racers picking up transparent tear-offs, mud covered pieces of black tape in ankle deep mud, doing proper hard work to find all those small triangular pieces they tear off to open a gel or bar packaging. I think this side of their race weekend should be better documented on the PB race reports so that we as keyboard warrior get more appreciation for how they clean up the mess they make.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: precisely my thoughts as well. I do my best to see things from as many perspectives as possible in this age of sensitivity and opinions over truth. @Narro2 and @KeeganPelton are spare parts.
  • 1 0
 come on guys, move on seriously.
  • 1 0
 @RBalicious: "I do my best to see things from as many perspectives as possible"
"An XC rider might go pick up a meter of tape they tore off"
"Spare parts!"
  • 1 0
 @KeeganPelton: nice try on quoting me, you only partially got it correct though. Wink
  • 81 2
 Spray entire bike in silicone spray. This prevents mud from sticking to important components such as grips and brake rotors.
  • 31 0
 I took a tip from the Roadies and dunk my whole bike in hot wax.
  • 2 8
flag DavidGuerra (Nov 16, 2021 at 4:55) (Below Threshold)
 There are plenty of nanoparticle sprays around that are allegedly effective for components and/or clothing, even if they have to be reapplied before every ride.
  • 25 1
 @DavidGuerra: But most nanoparticle sprays are highly toxic for the environment, I'd rather hose my bike down after riding.
  • 5 28
flag azzyp (Nov 16, 2021 at 5:52) (Below Threshold)
 Good luck using your brakes with silicon spray on the rotors!
  • 7 0
 @Losvar: good old Dr Oetker’s cake release spray does the same thing without the nasties
  • 3 0
 Cyclocross racer friends of mine apparently used to spray their tires+frames with Pam cooking spray.
  • 3 1
 @azzyp: Ill be mud free and setting Strava PRs left and right!
  • 3 1
 I collect plastic recyclables and grind them down to microplastics. From there, you can just hose down the muddy sections of the trail. Boom! Two birds one stoned.
  • 22 1
 You don’t pull the tape off, you rub your hand down the waves and the dirt just falls off.
  • 3 1
 ^This^
  • 6 1
 What am I missing? How is this preferable to just rubbing your hand down the (non-taped) downtube to wipe the mud off?
  • 5 0
 @barp: it will cake up on the downtube, the tape allows it to just kinda flick off
  • 1 0
 @barp: you just can’t wipe the sticky stuff off the downtube, but it just falls off the tape.

Same mastic I make waves with a chain stay silencer. Works great.

If you’re in CO - Ride CB mixed/moto trails in October and you’ll see what I mean (teo, drs, Reno/flag/deadman) or even summit county mixed moto trails after any rain (please don’t ride the mtb trails after a rain…)

Fwiw I don’t use this technique (yet) but… I may next time I ride those spots… the mud is terrible!
  • 17 0
 Strange not to see any trick to protect dropper posts although it's very useful and pretty simple to manage with a cutted inner tube and few zip ties. No use to wrap the whole stanchion in a tubular shape (which might not be convenient BTW), only the back of the seatpost (exposed to tyre projections) has to be protected. It's discreet and not ugly at all if it's well done.
I use this trick on my bikes for years and it works great, and it also protects the seals from dirt and dust during the 4 seasons.
  • 2 0
 Haha I also do this, mostly so dirt won’t work it’s way down into my seat post and cause creaking
  • 12 1
 So I feel pretty silly asking: downhill racers sit down?
  • 44 0
 To rest during long straight sections. Except Danny Hart - his balls are too big.
  • 2 0
 @tremeer023: Exactly, we still haven't answered the question of how he sits down. Big Grin
  • 7 0
 How much mud can a tape strip stop if a tape strip could stop mud?
How much mud can a tape strip stop if a tape strip could stop mud?
How much mud can a tape strip stop if a tape strip could stop mud?
  • 1 0
 Carpenter: Oh shut up.
MKI2
  • 11 2
 When conditions get dirty, ride a clean line!
  • 22 1
 Just need to make sure the clean line is between the gates...... not outside them!
  • 8 1
 My tip: ride a rigid bike, even less to worry about you are going so slow that you don't even need a mus guard.
  • 26 0
 If you’re gonna go to that extreme I say really lean into it and go unicycle. So much less to go wrong, and so much more to look forward to. The turning radius. The speed wobbles. Endless no-handers. The list goes on…
  • 5 0
 @chamberlink: make it a lefty and you dont have to worry about tyre clearance either
  • 1 0
 @chamberlink: and it's single speed! Unicycle FTW.
  • 2 4
 That was my number one reason to start MUni (mountain unicycling). No maintenance, less likely to damage gear, less likely to get injured. Just ride, put away dirty.
  • 6 0
 What...no condoms on shock shafts? Nobody pays attention to the public health professionals anymore...
  • 4 0
 My top tip: Move from the UK to Arizona (although I do have to give my bike a quick dust off every time I've been there, so there is that to contend with.)
  • 1 0
 Arizona??? Why not morroco?
  • 3 0
 @unrooted: Andalucia is closer, and full of british people already.
  • 2 0
 @opignonlibre: Is that the shooting sites in the days of '39
  • 1 0
 ExPat living WestSlope of Colorado, lots and lots dusty fun! Found using an air compressor to get my bike clean is propa satisfying and simple.
  • 4 0
 I'm confused by the whole wave tape thing. doesn't it just make more surface area for the mud to stick to? Someone explain plz.
  • 6 0
 The sticky out loops fold over and shed built up mud, when they get heavy enough. Makes a weak unstable surface for mud to stick to? It could work, I guess? I'm not entirely convinced, tbh.
  • 7 7
 According to the article, the point is that the rider can pull the tape from the bike and litter it trailside. Because it is caked in mud, people won't immediately notice until the place is infested with the stuff. A bit like a goggle tear off, just bigger. According the article, it is expected we'll see this more often so if you see a clear patch of dirt now, cherish this moment as our future trails will be wrapped in tape.
  • 1 1
 @vinay: that sounds like a great way to ruin your paint job.
  • 4 2
 @danielfloyd: I suppose it depends on the tape being used. Use a super strong tape (on a frame other than a plain titanium frame) and it might indeed rip of the coating or instead leave a stubborn sticky coating. Alternatively, use a tape that releases more easily and it might stay in place when clean but it will eventually drop off (and hopefully wrap around the rear hub) as it gets weighted down by mud. Not sure whether there is a middle ground but I don't get why people would not just wipe the downtube with the back of their glove and move on. If you don't want mud on your gear, don't ride in the mud. There is a road for you.
  • 10 1
 @vinay: that's wrong. Not even close to how it was used. The tape stays on the entire race and wiggles the mud off easier.

Nino and a few others had it on during wc races this year. No one was littering.

An XC racer can't take time to fool around pulling off tape from their downtube mid race.
  • 3 2
 @Ososmash: I haven't seen it, just read the article. And this is what it said: "If mud does end up getting stuck then you can easily just pull the tape off for a mid-race bike clean." Any idea where that comes from. Does it not happen at all? Either way, whether or not it happens then I think it is kinda disturbing to see it being described here. Too many people seem to want to be "pro" and use disposables they don't really need. CO2 cartridges whereas they could just carry a pump, prepackaged bars/gels whereas people could just as well take their lunch in a reusable container. So I'd hate it people read this and indeed are going to ditch a gunked up piece of tape trailside.

Either way, if it works as you say, maybe it'd be nice if frame manufacturers would design a (semi)permanent bumper (or whatever you'd call it) on the downtube just like we're seeing permanent chainstay protectors. That would eventually safe us from people going with the disposable option.
  • 5 0
 Those tape loops are meant to steepen the surface which mud tries to hold on to. You can easily see the downtube surface becomes larger, but most part of it is now vertical-ish, making it harder for the mud to stick to it. I may or may not be right, though.
  • 4 0
 many years ago when I used to race cyclocross we'd spray Pam all over our pedals to keep mud from collecting, worked damn good
  • 1 0
 Yea haven’t we seen all these before? How bout an article on DIY painting a carbon fiber or alluminium frame .The clear coat on my SC HT needs some looking after and Im having a hard time deciding whether I should take it somewhere or DIY they won’t warranty cosmetic stuff right now due to the demand issues Ive been told
  • 1 0
 I wonder if a rain-x or silicone solution applied to a high gloss paint job would be effective at keeping the mud from building up on the bike to begin with…inb4 kashima coated frames
  • 4 0
 Yes. Hydrophobic coatings work pretty well. It’s the same principle as the Danny hart stickers. I had leftover ceramic coating from one of my cars and used it on my main bike before winter this year. It worked really well to keep things easy to clean and shed mud easier than without. Next winter I will try adding a dedicated hydrophobic glass treatment on top.
  • 2 0
 @Afterschoolsports: that process makes a lot of sense, same as ceramic coating a truck. Layering a glass treatment on top of a ceramic coating sounds like a much easier and cheaper way to go compared to a wrapping solution but admittedly less protection from large rocks & debris.

Xpel works better than rain-x in my experience on auto glass, but the applicator might not work as easily on a bike.
  • 1 0
 @sjma: I will have to look up xpel. I just used rainx on my car this year because that’s what I already owned. We use a special hydrophobic coating on some of our optics at work. I put some on my GoPro and it works like magic, mud virtually bounces off it. It’s far too expensive to “evaluate” on my bike or car though.
  • 1 0
 @Afterschoolsports: my mistake - the product I was thinking of is called Aquapel; Xpel is a PPF.

The consumer ceramic coatings are expensive enough, I can only imagine how much commercial-grade optical coatings are. I took a chance on Aquapel last year after I got a new windshield and it seems to have worked longer than rainx did after clay barring my old windshield.
  • 2 0
 Rain-X works miracles on goggles
  • 1 0
 Maxima Silicone Spray is commonly used for this. I know of several brand reps who spray down their demo fleet with it to keep them looking clean between rides during large demo events.
  • 1 0
 @jkella: I've wondered about this. No issues with RainX and plastic lenses???
  • 2 0
 @JDFF: RainX also makes a formula specifically for plastic. (Headlight etc.)
I ride in mud a lot. It helps a lot. It also works better than the regular stuff on paint, I find,
although a good coat of wax is still more effective.
  • 1 0
 @CarbonShmarbon: excellent, thank you.
  • 1 0
 @Afterschoolsports: got my aluminum frame done with cerakote, sheds dust and mud real easy with a towel
  • 1 0
 What about goggle fog does the rain x help W/that or any other ideas for goggle fog we used to use something for scuba masks but i can’t remember what it was @CarbonShmarbon:
  • 1 0
 @Crankhed: there is an anti-fog product for ski goggles called "Cat Crap" (seriously, not joking). No idea how it works for mtb goggles.
  • 1 1
 Why not stick a long piece of foam to the downtube instead of the tape that looks terrible. The foam can be cut to match the shape and curvature of the downtube and even painted to match.
  • 2 0
 Composite brake levers are also less cold for your fingers than metal when it gets really cold
  • 1 0
 When mud is too sticky for fenders, a good old cut-open inner tube between (lower) fork crown and arch still works perfectly fine.
  • 2 0
 K9 Industries bikes had non-stick paint, back in 2010
  • 1 0
 Furniture spray polish or cooking oil spray works well without having to put tape down your down tube.
  • 1 0
 Who makes the foam mentioned in the article? What kind of foam is it? Thanks
  • 2 0
 It's usually called "moto foam" or "skid plate foam", because dirtbikes used it first.
  • 1 0
 @barp: thank you!
  • 1 0
 @s-g-d: Cheers!
  • 1 0
 Putting a sponge into frame cavities to keep the water away... Doesn't sponge keep the water in?!
  • 1 0
 Here's the thing... I'm happy to takes any riding advice Neff is willing to give BUT that wavey tape is ugly AF.
  • 2 0
 What is wet weather?

Sincerely, Arizona.
  • 1 0
 Legit would buy Joe Barnes' heated grips
  • 1 0
 Interesting knobs on the saddle
  • 1 1
 I'm so confused. Can't you just spray your bike off and have most of the mud gone relatively quickly with no waste?
  • 1 0
 i like the caliper cover idea
  • 1 0
 Tape idea just sounds like littering to me.
  • 5 6
 The wavy tape is really stupid, if anything the wave pattern makes it easier for mud to stick.
  • 3 0
 I’m not sure I would increase the surface area if I wanted to avoid collecting mud. Maybe it’s based on the idea that the tape will move easily and allow the mud to fall off rather than sticking?
  • 1 1
 @Afterschoolsports: Yes, but doesn't that just increase drag, which is part of the point in the first place?

I gotta say, I feel as though this "solution" was not vetted in the engineering department. It just seems like a good way to store mud and increase wind resistance. Ok... I can pull it off mid-race, but isn't it just making things worse until that point?
  • 6 0
 Go watch it in action on the WC races. Then let us know if it was stupid.
  • 1 1
 @Ososmash:

Well tell us then, what made it so impressive?

Was it:

Option1: cool to see it all caked with mud, and then ripped off for the 2nd half of the race?... so the rider could start "clean" for the 2nd half? If it still got caked with mud, then it wasn't really doing its job right? And likely there was MORE mud with tape than without for half the race (and the same amount for the 2nd half). OR

Option 2: the tape flapped in the wind, preventing the mud from sticking in the first place... ok, cool, but was the drag from extra wind resistance worse than the extra weight of some mud on a downtube? I would bet $$$ that it was.

Rather than putting tape to catch extra mud, or increase drag... why not just take your glove off and run a finger down the downtube if the mud gets really bad?
  • 2 0
 @bhuckley: It was neither of those options. And I didn't say impressive. I said not stupid. No one is reaching down ripping the tape off. That idea is asinine. But I am happy to see you double down on it.
Next time you are out riding I look forward to hearing about how ripping duct tape off your DT went while trying to ascend or descend at a WC pace.

The flappy tape does just that. It flaps. It loads up with mud and then flaps the mud off. It helped prevent extreme build-up before it was shed from the bike. If it is better than Pam / some other non-stick spray I don't know. But, it did work well.

With how muddy the course was wind resistance was the least of their concerns. The drag from the mud sucking their tires sort of throws any concerns over "aero" out the window.

But sure aero-drag /s
  • 1 1
 There's still nothing to review these days?

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