FEST Series Flyer
To say that Kyle Jameson has some unique demands when it comes to his downhill bike might be a bit of an understatement, with his riding at the FEST series actually requiring a completely different suspension setup compared to what his Scott Gambler would normally employ on an average day. Eighty foot jumps will do that, though, won't they? His bike, which is rolling on 26" wheels, is built up around a large-sized frame that suits Kyle's 6'2 height, and it's done up in custom FEST motif that includes a hand painted graphic on the top tube.
He's also not a rider who's really concerned about how much his bike weighs, which makes sense when you consider what he might be getting up to aboard his Gambler on a Saturday afternoon, and he wasn't sure how much it actually weighs. He did say that he feels safer on a heavier machine that's more stable in the air, though.Two Different Suspension Setups
While most of us can ride our downhill bikes in the park and then go session our local set of jumps without issue, Kyle lives in a different world where many of the jumps that he's sending are nearly as long as a basketball court. Those eighty foot jumps necessitate two different suspension setups: a stiffer, slower rebounding configuration that makes for a calmer, more stable ride when he's at somewhere like FEST event; and a more active, quicker rebounding setup that's more forgiving when he's in the bike park or shuttling on trails that don't have motocross-sized gaps.
FEST Setup: Big jumps require stiffer suspension, and Kyle says that he runs 130 PSI in his is World Cup BoXXer when he's going to be in the air over a single jump for longer than most of us will be during an entire day of riding. He also runs quite a bit of low-speed compression damping to create a more stable platform that stays high in its travel, and that can also help a lot when he needs some 'pop' off of a massive lip. There's even four volume-reducing Bottomless Tokens screwed into the underside of the fork's top cap to make for a more progressive stroke.
The Vivid R2C shock has been fitted with a 550 in/lb spring that's fairly stiff for Kyle's 185lb weight, but he's also running a lot of compression damping and seventeen clicks of rebound that makes for a relatively slow and stiff setup that won't do anything unexpected off the face of a fifteen foot tall lip.
: Kyle's stiff and slow suspension makes sense for sending it, but it's also an unforgiving ride that isn't ideal for everyday use when he's in the park or shuttling with friends. For these days, he goes with 20 PSI less in his fork, with 110 PSI and much less compression damping for a more active ride that also provides more traction. He does leave the four Bottomless Tokens in there, though, so it's still a relatively progressive setup. The same 550in/lb spring stays on the Vivid R2C shock, but he backs out the rebound knob by three clicks for slightly faster and more playful suspension action. Bike Setup
Kyle's bike isn't home to any wild parts that are still in the prototype stage of their life, with the emphasis being more on reliability than anything else. A Chromag Director stem with 47mm reach clamps onto a FU40 aluminum handlebar that's been left at its full 780mm width, and the spacers under the BoXXer's top crown and 1.6" of rise in the 'bar make for a relatively high setup. The bike's drivetrain is an X0DH setup, with a compact seven-speed cassette and 165mm long carbon cranks - the only carbon you'll find on the entire bike. There's no chain guide, surprisingly - I'd run one if I was pedalling into eighty foot gaps, but that's just me - and he uses a 36 tooth direct-mount chain ring.
The tires are a mix and match affair, with his 26" Hope Tech Enduro rims fitted with a Bontrager G5 2.35" tire up front and a Maxxis Minion DHF 2.35" out back that are hand-me-downs from R-Dogg and Brandon Semenuk, two other riders who prefer 26" wheels for how they ride. Much like Kyle's suspension setup, he resorts to two extremely different amounts of tire pressure depending on what the day's riding has in store: 40 PSI front and back while at the FEST series to keep the tires from folding over on take-off or landing, as well as for rolling speed; and just under 30 PSI for day to day use. He also uses tubes rather than a tubeless setup. Photos by Toby Cowley