The Best Tech From Nove Mesto XC World Cups

May 22, 2020
by James Smurthwaite  
Everyone will be chasing gold here in the Czech Republic this week.

The XC race season was due to kick off this weekend at one of the all-time classic venues, Nove Mesto. The Czech course always attracts rowdy local supporters who come out in droves to make it an extra-special round for the racers, but its traditional position near the start of the season makes it interesting for bike tech dorks too. We've been attending races at Nove Mesto since 2014, and the speed at which the bikes have evolved since then has been staggering. Let's take a look at some highlights from 6 years at the venue.


Unusual Dropper Posts
Matthias Fl ckiger s new lightweight dropper post. Weighing in at 380 grams it sheds over 120 grams over its rivals. Matthias has been working on it for over a year now and continues to fine tune his design. The dropper is actuated by the new Fox Transfer remote operated from the left side of his handlebar.

Matthias Fluckiger first started experimenting with his own dropper post at the 2015 World Champs when he couldn't find a post to fit his 27.2mm seatpost. He used an aluminum stanchion and carbon tube to make it then used strips of pre-preg carbon fiber for reinforcement. For more info on that post, check here.

By the time the 2016 World Champs rolled around he had a much more refined version that can be seen above.

Matthias Flueckiger s home-designed and build dropper post. Weight 230 grams. 4 5 centimeter drop.
The 2015 version had 45mm of travel and weighed 230 grams
Working upside down Matt said this improves rigidity as well as improving sealing and lubrication.
The weight was upped to 380 grams on the updated version, but that's still significantly lighter than its competitors. Matthias went with an upside-down design to increase rigidity, sealing and lubrication. It was actuated with a standard Fox transfer remote.

Stumbled across this JBG dropper post straight out of Poland.

This JBG dropper out of Poland is another inverted design that we spotted just last year. Weighing just 315 grams with 60mm of travel, it's advertised as an XC specific dropper post and can be yours for a cool €750. The one we found in the pits used a Bontrager lever, but it looks like JBG have had their own produced since then.

Very interesting way to route the cable in.
JBG say that the Gravity Dropper style external routing allows mechanics to work on the post more easily.



The Evolution of Schurter's Bikes
Unsurprisingly, Nino Schurter has won at Nove Mesto more than anyone else, with four World Cup victories and a World Championships title under his belt in the Czech Republic. We've had plenty of opportunities to check out his bikes each time, so here's a rundown of how his set up has evolved through the years:

2014

Nino Schurter is back for race three and looking for a win. This is the steed he aims to take it on. He is the only elite to run 650b in a sea of 29 inch wheels which makes his Spark rather interesting.
In 2013 and 2014, Schurter opted for a hardtail and won both years despite Nove Mesto being one of the more technical courses on the World Cup circuit. What is also unusual is that he was the only racer to be on 650b wheels amongst a sea of 29ers. Other things to note are the 240 gram, titanium Ritchey pedals, the 9 gram hexagonal Ritchey grips and the signature Dugast tubular tires that are glued to the rim.

2015

Nino Schurter s Scott Spark
2015 saw Schurter switch to the previous generation Scott Spark full suss. This again was a 27.5" bike using those same tires made by Andre Dugast. At the time we said this bike tipped the scales at 19lbs, four pounds from the UCI's lower weight limit for road bikes.

2016

Images from 5 Cross-Country Speed Machines - XC World Championships article
Nino rode the 2016 World Championships on the updated Spark that also allowed him also to move up to 29" wheels. The release of SRAM's Eagle drivetrain saw him make the step up from 11 to 12 gears and drop from a 40T to a 38T chainring.

2017

Nino Schurter s custom Scott Spark Photos by Matthew DeLorme
After his Olympics gold medal in 2016, Nino was rewarded with this custom painted bike. He also swapped out a few sponsors including RockShox for suspension, Maxxis for tires and Syncros for controls and contact points.

2018

Photo: Syncros

Nino was running the Syncros Fraser iC SL Special Edition one-piece bar and stem for the first time in competition in 2018 plus an updated prototype of the SRAM AXS (or as we were calling it then, Eagle eTap) shifter that looks pretty much like the finished production version to us now.

2019

Nino pushed hard today but it wasn t enough when Mathieu decided to get a move on.
The back and forth between Schurter and MVDP was one for the books.
We didn't get a bike check of Nino's bike in 2019, but if you look at the photos of him racing you can see some prototype Maxxis XC tyres



Bike Checks
Jaroslav Kulhavy's Specialized S-Works Epic - 2014

Kulhavy s S-Works Epic. This bike is set-up pretty close to stock. Note the mega steep seat angle and low front end.

Kulhavy is known for his wild setups and his 2014 bike was no different. Check out his saddle angle and stem length!

FOX Specialized Future shock on Kuhlhavy s bike. For the most part the bike is stock with only a few minor adjustments.
A Fox/Specialized Future Shock on Kuhlhavy's bike
Custom levers on Kulhavy s Avid XX brakes in memory of Burry.
A tribute to Kulhavy's Specialized teammate Burry Stander who passed away in January the year before.

Jose Antonio Hermida's Merida Big Nine - 2014

Jose Antonio Hermida s Merida Big Nine race bike. With the addition of the RS1 Jose is running an aluminum wheel up front because Fulcrum doesn t have the carbon wheel ready for the RS1 just yet. Hermida says the aluminum wheel actually works well with the RS1 because it has the right amount of forgiveness to compliment the fork stiffness. Hermida is one of three riders running the RS1 in Nove Mesto the other two are TLD SRAM s Russell Finsterwald and Unior Trek s Tanya Zakelj.

Jose Hermida was one of the last riders to still be running bar ends in XC racing and they've completely vanished now (although some riders do have thumb rests inboard from their grips). He was also one of only three riders to be running the RockShox RS1 inverted fork at Nove Mesto in 2014.

Hermida is running XX grip shifts and Procraft bar ends. I m the only one still running bar ends he said no one understands it.
Bar ends and GripShift... what year is it?
Merida s Flex Stay technology designed to give the bike a bit of the supple suspension feel in the rough stuff.
Flexy rear stays will have been useful on the technical Nove Mesto course.

Julien Absalon's Team Elite 01 - 2015

BMC s Team Elite 01 gone softtail. Identical to the fully s setup Absalon will decide which bike to race on Saturday.

Julien Absalon had both this BMC Team Elite hardtail and a Fourstroke full suss set up identically for him to A/B test on the Nove Mesto racecourse, which is just one of the perks of being reigning World Champion. He ended up racing on the full suss but we thought this hardtail was the cooler of the two bikes. BMC use two aluminum shafts and bushings to soften up the ride yet keep rigidity at the desired level.

Its back. Softtails are popping up all over the place. BMC s incarnation utilises two aluminum shafts and bushings to soften up the ride yet keep rigidity at the desired level.

Catharine Pendrel's Orbea Oiz - 2017

Catharine Pendrel Bike Check Orbea

Catharine Pendrel's 100mm/27.5" full suss not only had electronic shifting thanks to Shimano Di2 but also electronically controlled suspension from Fox.

Custom battery mount
he Shimano Di2 battery is mounted externally on custom bottle cage mounts.
Catharine Pendrel Bike Check Orbea
The electronic compression adjustment from Fox was linked to the Shimano Di2 system and power supply.

Vlad Dascalu's Protek 29 FS - 2018

Vlad Descalu Junior WC racer

There's not much clever to say about this one... just look at it! Protek use T800 carbon fiber with a 12k weave, which is what gives the frame such a distinctive look and it a low weight (1.7kg without shock).

Vlad Descalu Junior WC racer
Vlad Descalu Junior WC racer

Vlad Descalu Junior WC racer
Vlad Descalu Junior WC racer

Chloe Woodruff's Pivot Mach 4 SL - 2019

Chloe Woodruff s new Pivot Mach 4 SL.

Much like Catharine Pendrel, Chloe Woodruff also had some electronically controlled suspension, although hers was a bit more sophisticated thanks to Fox's Live Valve. She won Live Valve its first-ever race in the Nove Mesto short track, which becomes even more impressive when you consider she did it on a full suss, not a hardtail with a rock-solid fork.

Five green lights: Chloe's Fox Live Valve battery/processor unit is set to firm up as quickly as possible after an impact.

Live Valve fork sensor.
An accelerometer and input cable on the fork



Other Randoms
Colnago s dented tube.
Colnago molded in a downtube dent for fork clearance on their lugged carbon frame.

Nove Mesto WC XC race tech images
Maybe taking some inspiration from enduro, here's a plug ready to go taped to the back of a seat tube.

Lightweight remains key in crosscountry racing. Its a good thing races do not last hours like they used to.
Looks comfy...

Kingdom Vendetta X2 steel hardtail
For those of you who don't really like XC and have made it this far, well done. Here's a 170mm hardcore titanium hardtail from Kingdom as a reward. This bike was displayed outside the SRAM pits last year.

Gluing gluing gluing. Keeping Scott Odlo running means gluing the custom Dugast tires never ends. Luckily these are the stock for the games in Rio. It s good to be ahead of things.
Some XC racers used glued tubular tyres instead of clinchers. Here is a rim being prepped for application in 2016.

That bottle to the left saved our bacon and won Scott the day.
Of course, our most important work in Nove Mesto was the Espresso Machine World Champs last year. Scott came out on top although a shot of grappa might have influenced the decision. The full event can be found here.

Results are in Nine shots in a little under an hour for Matt and I. I m sure we ll sleep fine tonight.
The results
We did this for you so you didn t have to.
The result



59 Comments

  • 34 2
 Nino's bike gets hotter every year. But there's gotta be an end to the sexiness, right? A bike can't just get exponentially sexier every year... I guess we'll find out.
  • 11 16
flag WAKIdesigns (May 22, 2020 at 0:54) (Below Threshold)
 I agree. And looking at offerings from other companies I think Yeti 100 is it’s only competitor.
  • 4 0
 Nino’s bike CAN get sexier each year - Mk4 Spark is coming (apparently now delayed from MY21 to 22)
  • 3 5
 @cws196: let’s just hope they won’t screw it up
  • 1 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Agreed. I think that Scott XC bikes will continue in the right direction and honestly believe they'll nail the next iteration of the Spark (with a surprise or two thrown in for good measure).
  • 7 0
 @WAKIdesigns: do you have a creaking suspension fetish?
  • 2 0
 @clink83: Yeah, I know 2 people that had Scott Sparks ('17 & '18 I think). They basically creaked from the get-go, and never completely stopped. It was a while ago, so maybe Scott has fixed this problem. Haven't been around any new ones to know...
  • 1 0
 @krka73: my scale BB was 2mm oversized on the drive side lol...never creaked though. The SI linkage on the sb100 has/had issues, which is what I was referring too.
  • 1 0
 @cws196: Any evidence for the that delay?
  • 1 0
 @between: just hearsay heard via Scott reps so may end up not being 100% but also Scott like to unveil new design at the Olympics....
  • 1 4
 @clink83: I believe you have a case for Hambini then! Didn’t know it’s that crappy. I have personally little sympathy for Scott. A kind of small brother complex of Spec and Trek I reckon.

I will be honest though, It’s mainly about that handlebar for me... maybe the head and seat angle.

What so you reckon? Nino on dropper for 2022?
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Why? Not really, Top Fuel it's pretty good as well and not only, it's aesthetics of frame and graphics pretty much.
  • 26 2
 Thanks for some XC ! Keep it coming please
  • 21 1
 Awesome to see more XC content.
  • 3 0
 I remember that short period of time when I thought tubulars were going to take over in XC racing. I was even close to building up a set myself. Then we all came to realize that high quality tubeless tires just make better sense.
  • 3 0
 Just out of curiosity, I built a superlight tubular setup for my xc bike and rode it for a few months. It wasn't that great. The steering was more precise, but the rolling resistance was higher than tubeless. After some research I found this is a common complaint among roadies. The lightest rim I could find was around 300g. Now I ride 300g tubeless rims. Tubeless technology has matured to the point that I made my tubular set a wall hanger.
  • 1 0
 Nino got like 5 flats that season and went back to clincher tubeless after a handful of races
  • 14 0
 Du. Dugast. Dugast mich.
  • 1 0
 @iamamodel: well played!
  • 5 3
 "She won Live Valve its first-ever race in Nove Mesto, which becomes even more impressive when you consider she did it on a full suss, not a hardtail with a rock-solid fork."

Why would it be a surprise to win on a full suspension bike in Nove Mesto? On these rougher trails almost all riders will be quicker on a full suss than on a hardtail.
  • 10 0
 She won the short track race.
  • 6 0
 It was on the short track, so a very fast and less technical course than the XCO.
  • 6 0
 Ahh, thanks.
  • 3 0
 Two years time the PB images will be of him riding a pixelated censorship blob.
  • 5 0
 40t Chainring!!
  • 1 0
 Xc geo and stems length still confuses me . Look at the bikes On this page seat tube angle . They do a lot of climbing yet most look pretty slack?As for stems is it so they feel more like their road bike?
  • 6 3
 Steep seat tube angles hurt climbing performance. XC bikes are designed to climb and petal well, not. To have a compromised seating position due to geometry not conducive to climbing like gravity oriented bikes.
  • 2 1
 I will say one of the best things I ever did for climbing on my Transition Patrol was to angle the seat down like on Jaroslav's bike. Of course, it does have 17 pounds on Nino's bike...
  • 22 0
 I'm thinking WC XCO professionals know more about going fast up climbs than the rubes who think an 80 degree STA is the right thing for every application. Or PinkBike pundits, for that matter.
  • 14 1
 There are a number of factors at play here, but remember that most of these bikes are a couple of years old. We are beginning to see a few XC bikes with slacker head angles, longer reach/shorter stems and -slightly- steeper seat angles.

First off, most of the bikes pictured have fairly traditional reaches, so they don’t need the seat to be forwards to compensate.
In addition to that, some XC riders lock out their suspension for climbs, or at the very least- run stiffer, shorter travel suspension. Compare this with a progressive long-travel bike, sagged well into its travel, and the actual seat tube angles on a climb may be quite similar.

A steep seat tube may be ‘good for climbing’, but not in every use case. Steep seat tubes allow you to sit comfortably in the middle of the saddle, and spin your way up the hill, saving your energy for the descent.This is obviously great for gravity-focused recreational riding, and enduro racing with un-timed transfer stages.
XC riders on the other hand, are against the clock at all stages of the course. An overly-forwards seat tube can negatively effect pedalling dynamics on flat or rolling terrain, where XC racers must be able to keep up a constant pace.
Climbs are the most critical time to gain position, and a comfy, balanced saddle position isn’t really that important when you’re hovering on the seat to make a full-power, uphill attack.

Finally, most XC riders are running lightweight, short or medium travel dropper posts.
You really need to have a long dropper to get the saddle out of the way with a steep seat tube, but with a traditional angle this is less critical.
  • 12 0
 @alreadyupsidedown: Dude, steep seat tube angles put the saddle forward in relation to the BB and kill power output, and put more pressure on the knees. There are no "advantages" to a steep STA, its to accommodate for crappy geometry (in respect to climbing and seated pedaling). Gravity oriented geometry is shit when it comes to trail riding where you actually have to pedal. The reason XC geometry exists is to put the riders in a position that optimizes power.

www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10255842.2013.815937?src=recsys
www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14763141.2016.1176244?src=recsys
  • 8 1
 It's all about getting to 73-74 degrees ESTA when sagged. These folks are running 80-100mm rear travel with relatively high air pressures so they don't lose much effective seat angle when sagged. Conversely, most people will need a 76-ish degree seat tube on their 160mm-ish travel bike with 30% sag to get to around the same effective seat angle, especially as their weight shifts back when climbing.
  • 6 0
 @jnroyal: I would agree that the 73-74mm seated STA is ideal, but I think people have gone way beyond that in the name of fads. You have pinkbike reviews of short travel bikes where the reviewer pushes the nose of the saddle in front of the BB and mondraker athletes have to push their saddle all the way back to get around the assnine steep STA on the podium.
lulz:
www.mondraker.com/uploads/images/pages/5cee38cee683b_primaflor-mondraker-rotor-uci-mtb-wc-nove-mesto-finals-14-jpg.jpg
  • 2 0
 It's because they have very little sag to account for. The static, unweighted angle is very close to the riding angle, unlike long travel bikes that get significantly slacked when you sit on them and sink into the shock.
  • 3 0
 @dthomp325: We understand that. What we don't understand is why people are clamoring for super steep STAs for these short travel racing machines, when they aren't appropriate for the task.
  • 1 0
 @clink83: That first article says, "The forward position was associated with greater peak of quadriceps force." Seems that efficiency is lost with a forward seating position though. Interesting articles
  • 1 0
 @dthomp325: There are 2 problems with that
1) the fork sags too, so the STA isnt going to change enough to make a 78 degree STA into a 74
2) The front center:rear ratio on enduro bikes are so much larger than an XC bike that if that did actually happen, you wouldn't be able to climb anything because your COM is so far to the rear on climbs that you would wheelie up climbs.
  • 1 0
 @rdwigs: yes, hams and glutes get left out with forward saddles.
  • 1 0
 @JohanG: The glutes being far and away the most powerful portion of the lower body. Not sure why someone would want to put the load onto a weaker muscle group (quads) instead of the glutes. Makes no sense.
  • 1 0
 @clink83: Dunno... on my Mondraker Superfoxy (size XL) I have the SQ Lab saddle pushed as forward as it can be and still not in ideal climbing position (27% sag). Effective STA is only half of the story and make sense only for midgets with a seatpost fully stacked in.
  • 1 0
 @clink83: Enduro bike typically has double the sag on the rear. 25-30% sag rear and 10-15% sag front. At least for race setups.
  • 1 1
 @dthomp325: sounds like a jacked up setup
  • 1 0
 Those droppers are the most eco friendly ones on the planet. They have been recycled countless times for 6 years and still looking as good as they did the first time we saw them. Bravo.
  • 2 0
 I dont know, I have a bunch laying around my garage. Like cigarette butts.
  • 1 1
 Remember when XC was the test bed for what actually came to market? Now enduro race bikes do that. Which makes sense, an enduro race bike could easily be your day to day bike and be enjoyable and fun on most mountain bike terrain without even swapping out parts. We are lucky!
  • 2 0
 Putting the tire plug on the FRONT of the post would make more sense. This would keep mud off it better and make a better seal if it is used.
  • 2 0
 That flex-pivot / dropout sculpting on the Protek is giving me issues in the trouser department.
  • 2 0
 Don't you mean the chamois department? But thanks for mentioning it as I had a second look. It's very nice.
  • 1 0
 It is a pretty crazy thought that people would be making their own DIY dropper post. Everyone making a dropper post now.
  • 1 0
 At first, I thought the Kingdom was just a really weird looking cross country, then I read the captions.
  • 1 0
 Last bike of the Nino has 120mm/110mm
  • 2 2
 What tech? I wanna what drugs they got!
  • 1 0
 Bar ends FTW
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