Sina Frei has a résumé stuffed full of results that would be the highlight of any racer's career; U23 World Champ, 2017 European Champ, 2nd overall in the U23 World Cup last season, and she's also the three-time Swiss mountain, road, and cyclocross Champion.
Thing is, the 20-year-old Swiss racer is still in the early stages of her senior career, so there's a good chance that those results will be eclipsed by even more impressive finishes. There's no doubt that a podium in Stellenbosch is well within Frei's sights.
She's chosen to ride the Lector carbon hardtail in South Africa instead of Ghost's full-suspension bike, and the eclectic build kit includes a few interesting choices (check out the Pepi tire inserts below) and a slew of ultra-light Tune components that are likely to make any gram-conscious cross-country racer drool. Pinkbike photographer Irmo Keizer caught up with Frei to check out her exotic Lector before the horn goes off for the first World Cup XCO of 2018.
Sina is running SRAM's 12-speed Eagle group, but unlike the majority of riders who opt for the classic trigger shifter, she's changing gears with a Grip Shift setup that's even lighter. A cut-down ESI foam grip is butted up next to it, and her old-style Reverb remote (the Stellenbosch course is relatively technical) is also on the right-side of the handlebar where it doesn't interfere with her SID's remote lockout lever that she controls with her left hand. The Reverb appears to be a 100mm-travel version.
She depends on the narrow/wide SRAM chainring to keep derailments from happening - there is no lightweight, bolt-on guide as we sometimes spot on World Cup cross-country bikes - and it's no surprise to see her bike decked out in the latest DUB crankset and bottom bracket combo. Pedals are from Crankbrothers, and they're the lightest Eggbeater 11s that are said to weigh just 179-grams. That weight is possible via titanium everything; the spindle, wings, and body are all made from it.
The weight that you have to turn over is what counts most, and you'll often find some pretty exotic wheelsets in the World Cup cross-country peloton. Frei's Tune Burner Skyline wheelset weighs just 1,200-grams, a low number that's possible due to a bare rim weight of 290-grams. I don't need to tell you that these things are about as cross-country specific as you can get, with a 95kg rider weight limit that Sina comes in well under.
The 24mm wide (internal) rims are laced to Tune's own hubs with Sapim CX-Ray spokes, and you bet your ass that there are ceramic bearings all around. No wasted watts here.
Her rubber is equally sporty, with a Schwalbe Racing Ralph up front and a Thunderburt out back, but there's a twist: Pepi's tire inserts have been used front and back to provide more support, possibly let her ride out to the tech support station on a flat, and run lighter weight tires with up to 0.3 bar (4.3 psi) lower pressure. That number might not sound like a big deal, but when you're a light rider who can already run extremely low tire pressure, it makes a big difference.
Like most other tire inserts, the Pepi noodle effectively divides the tire into two chambers; the air and sealant next to the tire casing, and the foam insert up against the rim bed. No word on how much these cross-country specific inserts weigh, but they have to be quite light for them to be used at this level.
The finishing touches on Sina's race bike are equally as wild, of course. Guess how much her Tune Wassertrager 2.0 bottle cage weighs... it's 12-grams. Twelve. Grams. And that includes the two aluminum bolts that hold it in place. The Tune front thru-axle comes in at just 43-grams, including the quick-release lever, and the Tune rear axle is just 37-grams. The Lector's seat post clamp is just two bands of thin carbon fiber that are barely even there.
Total bike weight? The exact number remains a secret, but I'm positive that it's well under 19lbs.