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The Best Tech from Maribor Downhill World Cups

May 1, 2020
by James Smurthwaite  
One of the main things we're missing about a lack of racing is snooping around the World Cup pits to find new and exciting bits of tech. To make up for it we're going to start looking back at our favourite bits of tech from all the races we're missing this year.

We're starting with Maribor, which made its comeback to the race scene after nearly a decade away to kick off the season last year. The only race at Maribor where we had previously covered tech was back in 2010 so there's quite a contrast in what we're looking at in this roundup. It does show us what a decade of bike development at the top of the sport looks like though.

2010 was when we started to ramp up our tech coverage and these three new bikes from Specialized, Yeti and Intense instantly caught our eye at the inaugural round of the season.

New Specialized Demo

The 2010 Monster Energy Specialized team is one of the most exciting in history with Sam Hill, Brendan Fairclough, and a young Troy Brosnan all coming into the season charging. They brought with them a new version of the Demo that was under tight wraps in the pits with no close-up photos allowed.

It was a successful first outing for the bike with both Fairclough and Hill landing on the podium (Sam even had time to crash in his finals run and still end up on the box), with Troy Brosnan riding to 48th despite still technically being a junior racer.

Some instantly noticeable changes over the 2010 Demo included a slimmed-down profile with a svelter front triangle and a tightened sprawl of stays in the rear end. There was also a new shock position that we guessed was intended to lower the center of gravity and allow the bike to sit into the corners easier. The frame would later be revealed as the 2011 production Demo 8 with a raft of changes more changes that were less obvious to the eye. These included a 0.75 lbs weight drop, an increase in progressivity and better mud shedding - something that would come in useful at this sodden Maribor race.

We eventually got our hands on this bike in July at Silver Star Resort and Levy even got to ride Brendan Fairclough's with his exact set up (minus a UK-Canada brake swap) the following year, you can read more about that, here.

Similar geometry but with a different shape - the 2010 Demo 8 in is in red and the 2011 Demo 8 is in black

Brendan's production version of the bike from August the same year.

This new yoke allowed Specialized to put the pivot next to the tyre and tune the leverage ratio.

Yeti 303 DH

2010 was the calm before the Gwin storm as he started to build towards his unstoppable streak at the start of the decade. For his last season on Yeti, he was riding this new version of the 303 DH that was painted in retro colours to celebrate the brand's 25th anniversary of racing.

The bike eschewed the linear rail of the previous model and instead was revised to work with a single sliding pivot and top link. The short black link controls the shock rate while a hidden vertical rail controls the wheel path. This modification simplified the design while adding stiffness and rear wheel stability.

Gwin raced this new frame to 3 podiums in 2010 and finished 7th in the Maribor mud on his way to finishing fourth in the overall. The next season would see him switch colours to the red and black of Trek Factory Racing and make winning a World Cup look like child's play.

Yeti would go on to release a limited run of 250 of these bikes (alongside a similarly painted 575) as a frame only for fans of piranha necklaces, drop bars on xc bikes and high-speed Mammoth Mountain victories.

Jacob Gibbins snapped these photos of the bike at Eurobike later that year.



Intense M6 EVO/M9 Prototype


M1, M3, M6, Intense's M series had a seriously impressive pedigree already in downhill racing by the time the M9 (or the M6 EVO as it was called during prototyping) came along. We got our first look at the M9 FRO (For Race Only) at the Maribor World Cup under the MS Intense and Chain Reaction-Intense banners.

It was still based around the VPP platform with a classic Intense swooping shape. This was a super-adjustable platform with travel, geometry and progression all tunable, a Cane Creek angleset even came as standard on this bike.

Check out our first look at the production bike, here.

The Intense M9
An M9 on its way to completion.

M9-F1 Lotus Tribute bike
The M9-F1 Lotus Tribute bike, a strong contender for sexiest bike ever.

Cannondale's Two Shock Downhill Bike


The Lefty fork, the Fulcrum dual-link downhill bike and, erm, this, Cannondale has a history of thinking out of the box when it comes to racing. Don't get us wrong, we think that's a great thing, especially as it brings about fascinating bikes like the dual shock prototype we saw last year.

At a time when most bikes are tending towards a standard Horst Link design, Cannondale blew the doors off it with this experiment. We only got glimpses from the outside of the pits of the bike in Maribor but we would be allowed a bit more access when Fort William came around.

The best photo we could get in Maribor of Cannondale's wild bike from the side of the pits in Maribor.


The new Shimano XTR brake on the Santa Cruz Syndicate rigs.
New Shimano XTR brakes spotted in the Syndicate pits.

Mitch Ropelato s bike may or may not have something on it we aren t supposed to see yet.
Andy Vathis aka "The Firestarter". Can you spot what we weren't meant to photograph on Mitch Ropelato's Santa Cruz?

Pivot s fresh off the lot Pony Express.
Pivot's Pony Express was bought for €125 on Facebook.

Neko Mulally s Chris Kovarik throwback kit from Fox.
Neko Mulally wore a tribute kit to Chris Kovarik, who won in Maribor in 2002

Dakotah Norton's Devinci Wilson

Joe Smith's Propain Rage

Danny Hart mullet Saracen Myst

Aaron Gwin's Intense M29

Author Info:
jamessmurthwaite avatar

Member since Nov 14, 2018
1,770 articles

  • 53 0
 Santa Cruz had the new Coil Over Grip.
  • 11 1
 Steber always had the best design sense. Then apparently handed it over to a committee...
  • 27 0
 They best be on it for next year. I Wana see some WILD ASS SHIT!! I Wana see forks, one side normal, one side upside down. I Wana see wheels that are half 29" and half 27.5". I Wana see 13.5 speed, with a dh version that is 3.5 speed for twice the retail. I Wana see spring that change colour and glow in the dark flavoured stantion coatings.
  • 5 0
 Well you don't ask for much do you
  • 7 0
 Goggles with a HUD that overlays the best line and apex of corners
  • 19 0
 Uhhh, what about the 1999 Maribor World Cup and Dave Cullinan’s Schwinn / Yeti Straight 8 Lawwill DH bike with prototype Shimano side-by-side dual-floating-rotor 4-piston brakes?
  • 1 1
 "The only race at Maribor where we had previously covered tech was back in 2010 so there's quite a contrast in what we're looking at in this roundup"
  • 2 0
 @gnarnaimo: Yeah, but they previously showed that 99 Schwinn in a Pinkbike article about Maribor... Maybe they had a copyright issue with older pictures or something, because if they’re doing a historical retrospective of bike tech at Maribor World Cups from companies like Yeti, Intense, and Shimano, they should include Maribor from 98 to 02. Especially to show the continuity and also evolution of certain tech...in particular 4 piston Shimano brakes, Yeti bikes, and Intense bikes (with Neko’s throwback Fox kit, a tribute to Kovarik’s Fox kit in 02) =). So yeah, most likely copyright issues, I’m guessing.
  • 2 0
 @gnarnaimo: Specialized bikes too — Voreis and Palmer had some good looking bikes in 98-99 — certainly better looking than that Demo =)
  • 17 1
 That Yeti....damn that was a rad and sex bike
  • 5 0
 It sure was. Even when I got ran over by one when the team was practicing at keystone one year. I remember even in pain I was star struck.
  • 17 3
 The 2010 Spesh demo is still one of the best DH bikes I've ridden today. Such a smooth and well made bike.
  • 23 0
 You and @hamncheez need to duke it out.
  • 8 1
 @mammal: Would he have a problem with my obviously correct assessment?
  • 7 0
 @Ajorda: Based on his comments, he may.
  • 15 4
 @Ajorda: Not enough progression. Shock yoke blows up rear shocks. Wheelbase too short. Heavy frame. Poor race results.
  • 39 0
 hamncheez deals a heavy blow, surprising the all-too-patient Ajorda. Can Ajorda bounce back from this early setback, folks??
  • 28 0
 @Ajorda: And that's it everyone. hamncheez gets the early KO with his devastating one-punch take down. I'm as surprised as you are folks!!
  • 30 0
 @mammal: I'd like to thank my sponsors, Sick! Bicycles. They stand behind me just like they stand behind all their customers.
  • 3 4
 @hamncheez: heavy frame? but its a DH bike, no one cares about weight on a DH bike!
  • 2 0
 one of my favorite appealing bikes I have owned except for literally snapping shocks. too much stress
  • 4 0
 @hamncheez: f*cking glorious comment right there hahahaha!!
  • 13 0
 The sign that says no photos??
  • 11 0
 I remember drooling over the M9. Ended up getting one. Now it hangs on the wall, seldom ridden. How times change. Always some new gizmo we strive for.
  • 11 0
 I’d ride an M9 again if it was a XXL. That bike in the 9.5inch travel mode stuck to the ground like Velcro.
  • 3 0
 Magic carpet ride
  • 1 0
 My L-sized one with 27.5” wheels is pretty capable! Big Grin
  • 2 1
 Literally the best DH I’ve owned......imho. 26 for life!
  • 13 2
 Can we all just agree that Yeti need to be back on the DH scene. Thank you for your cooperation.
  • 2 0
 sb200 does have a ring to it....
  • 6 1
 This is just my opinion but I feel like if Hill had stayed on Ironhorse and Gwin had stayed with Trek (yes I know there are contracts, team restructuring etc.) both would have had much more success in what have become very successful careers. I really think being comfortable and trusting your bike set up is the biggest advantage. I mean look at Hill, he was still relatively young when he went to Specialized but he got injured in Fort Bill and never really came back the same way. Gwin was healthy but they changed that bike SOOO much for him over the course of his three years with Specialized. Another example was Gee Atherton with GT bikes, he slayed it on a Commencal for so many years and just never looked comfortable on a GT. Just kind of goes to show that all these amazing riders, would probably have an ideal suspension design/component list but are stuck because of what's available from their sponsers. Sometimes it's a perfect match other times it's not.
  • 4 0
 Gee Atherton didn't win anything on the Commy V3, and he went first first second in the first three races on the aluminium Fury!
  • 2 0
 Let’s see a side-by-side of Kovarik with his yellow Fox kit and red M1, and Neko with matching Fox kit & red M29.
  • 3 0
 ....the Canfield One.2. pure metalgasm.
  • 3 0
 that green intense! wow! what a looker...
  • 2 0
 Mulally's bike is ahead of time Big Grin
  • 2 0
 I think progressivity = progressiveness
  • 1 0
 These Schwalbe Weaked Will tyres on the Yeti; never saw them before.... and I never saw a Yeti DH bike anymore!
  • 1 0
 @RadBartTaylor: thanks for the link
  • 1 0
 I remember wanting that 2011 Demo so bad! This was right as I started getting into DH/FR
  • 7 8
 not gonna lie that generation of Demo kinda sucked. Not enough progression, yoke blew up shocks, heavy, and lets not get started on the chainstays.
  • 8 0
 Shhh, you will wake Protour up. Big Grin
  • 5 0
 @bman33: Say his name 3 times, and he will appear!

@Protour Protour Protour!
  • 4 1
 @bman33: hasn’t protour been vindicated by the design of the new demo? And yeah hamncheez is right about the leverage rate. Much too flat for a downhill bike
  • 1 0
 @kleinblake: vindicators pt 4?
  • 3 0
 I agree with all you brought up, but some of them are pluses for a park bike. Achieving different Low/High speed compression works better on the linear designs, where on very progressive bikes, the wheel movement around the sag point translates to tiny vibrations on the shock, and slow compression can fall into the high speed response. Being able to use a stiffer coil and higher low speed compression feels less of a pig on the jumps and less dive into sharp corners. True, it may not fit as a race bike that has to iron out the train, and at the same time not bottom out at big hits. Also, although it has 8" of travel, it has 421mm CS, which does not help at high speed (Gwin didn't like it), but adds to the fun factor. I wish there was a modern bike designed with the same goal, fun and maneuverable, but with 8" of safety net. I need a bike that motivates me to go sideways, and be less of a dead sailor. The new demo is the extreme opposite with the 500mm CS.
  • 2 0
 220mm SRAM brake rotors?
  • 3 2
 Looking for the E-Bike version!
  • 1 0
 That Propain is a sexy bitch
  • 1 0
 wow these all look so good! Especially that saracen.
  • 1 0
 Completely forgot the new 2020 Demo
  • 1 0
 There was actually only 100 of those yeti DH frames!
  • 2 2
 M1 Frame amazing. Lotus Style not so much...
  • 3 0
 I blame the wheels
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