The Best Tech From Val di Sole Downhill World Cups

Sep 12, 2020
by James Smurthwaite  
Remember the first time you heard the name Hugo Frixtalon It was last year here in the mud for qualies. Can he repeat in the rain tomorrow

Rough, steep, long, and full of holes, Val di Sole is notoriously brutal on bikes and bodies. It's a place where mechanics show their true worth as they nurse bikes through a weekend while eking out every advantage they can. it's also a great testing ground for new kit and can show up a weakness in any prototype idea, so we tend to see plenty of testing going on here too. Put it all together and it's a great space for spotting tech. Here's the best we've seen since 2010.

2010

In 2010, we were keeping a close eye on the Specialized Monster Energy team as they were testing out a new Demo but we also spotted this interesting 6-speed cassette from SRAM. We've seen everything from 4 to 10 cogs on the back of racers' bikes but what made this special was the fact it went down to 9 teeth on its smallest gear. Most cassettes start with a 10-12T cog but this goes one lower. Why does that extra tooth make a difference? Well SRAM told us it allowed racers to run smaller chainrings, which gave more clearance when Specialized designed a bike with a lower BB.
In 2010, we were keeping a close eye on the Specialized Monster Energy team as they were testing out a new Demo but we also spotted this interesting 6-speed cassette from SRAM. We've seen everything from 4 to 10 cogs on the back of racers' bikes but what made this special was the fact it went down to 9 teeth on its smallest gear. Most cassettes start with a 10-12T cog but this goes one lower. Why does that extra tooth make a difference? Well SRAM told us it allowed racers to run smaller chainrings, which gave more clearance when Specialized designed a bike with a lower BB.

DT Swiss stepped in with a custom made freehub body that accepted smaller cogs. We never got confirmation on how it worked but we'd guess it was similar to Shimano's commuter intended Capreo group that also uses a 9 tooth small cog.
DT Swiss stepped in with a custom made freehub body that accepted smaller cogs. We never got confirmation on how it worked but we'd guess it was similar to Shimano's commuter intended Capreo group that also uses a 9 tooth small cog.

2011

Track side tomahawk debris. I can t recall who ate it here but she needs a new brake.
The trackside at Val di Sole is a treasure trove for yard sale parts.

Danny Hart wanted to work on his tan this morning as he warmed up for racing but the glaring sun reflecting off his pasty British skin was simply too much for the Syndicate boys across the pit row... I was nearly blinded a couple of times as I was setting up Peaty s brand new carbon swing arm until Danny covered up. It was rough there for a few moments. -Ricky Bobby Santa Cruz Syndicate.
Danny warms up in the sun but in a couple of weeks' time, he'd cement his place in mountain bike history in the pouring rain.

The neatest tool box on the circuit. Any guesses as to who owns this meticulous piece of work
A mechanic's arsenal on display from the VdS pits

The track shoot through deep dark woods and into glaring sunshine and back again. Clear vision in conditions like this make the difference between hitting your line and hitting a tree. Goggle choice is just one more key to making the grade. For Troy Brosnan the only lens that seems to work is good ol clear. I tried a bunch of lenses but my eyes seem to like the clear the best.
With the dappled light hiding the rooty terrors on the length of Val di Sole's Black Snake track, lens choice is key. Baby Brosnan goes for clear as possible here.

So how do you know when a track is steep Take a look at the tape and see how many times it s been reconnected. This is a right hander at the bottom of one of the chutes here. I wouldn t suggest standing below it.
This is how you know a corner is tricky.

Guido Txchugg has a novel way to see who s been sitting in on his training runs on the 4X track.
A D.I.Y GoPro mount to help spot lines in 4X from Guido Tschugg.

Check the beading on the welds of this Santa Cruz V-10. Spotless right That s because that would be a nice bit of Carbon Newness for the Syndicate boys. That s right Santa Cruz has gone full carbon on the V-10
The full carbon Santa Cruz V10 made its debut in Italy in 2011.

2012

Dialing in exactly what he wants. A lot of riders won t touch their bikes Slugger ain t afraid to get dirty.
2010's winner Marc Beaumont is not afraid to give his own dials a spin before heading out for another practice run.

That would be Greg s bike weight in pounds. Without any extra ti bits anywhere other than the ti bits already stock on the carbon linkage Unbelievable.
The magic number for Minaar's V10. This had grown out to 36lbs last time we did a bike check on Minnaar's 29er bike in 2017.

Nick Beer putting his Redbull sponsorship to good use after slamming a pedal into his Achilles Tendon.
Nick Beer putting his Redbull sponsorship to good use after slamming a pedal into his Achilles Tendon.

BIg things coming this week in Val Di Sole...
The carbon Demo was being kept under strict wraps in 2012.

You know you re fast when you have your own Rock Shox tune.
You know you're fast when you have your own RockShox tune.

2013

Sam HIll s pinkbike tradition continues on his new Nukeproo Chain Reaction Cycles team. Once again this year he is running pink gear and a pink Pulse to raise money for breast cancer research. Stay tuned for info on how you can win this one off bike.
Sam Hill's pink race bike tradition continued after joining the Nukeproof team. This pink Pulse was raffled off for breast cancer research.

For the mechanics the long transfer to Italy from Scotland and the pit set up means a long night of bike building to come as riders will be starting practice at 9am on Thursday am.
A long journey from one wheel battering track in Fort William to another in Val di Sole in one week meant some late nights for the mechanics.

Debate over Wyn Master s bionic arm will rage for weeks until the UCI make a definitive decision on whether robotic power gives him an unfair advantage on the competition. Actually this is just Wyns wrist brace by Texas-born Allsport Dynamics who have become almost standard arm adornment for a lot of motocross riders in the states. Wyn reckons he ll be getting a second one for his other wrist as a preventative he is so impressed with the range of motion and security of the guard.
Wyn Masters' wrist brace came from Texas-born, Allsport Dynamics, who have become almost standard arm adornment for a lot of motocross riders in the states. Wyn was so impressed he reckoned he would be getting a second one for his other wrist as a preventative measure as he was so impressed with the range of motion and security of the guard.

2015

Convincing ad but now what about rust
Tempting...

As mechanics did their thing to cope with the mud so did many of the riders.
The mechanics resort to silicon spray, moto foam, and mudguards to keep the slop at bay but for the riders is a bit of an easier job.

No chances are taken at the Mondraker pit on a course as brutal as this one... Sealant keeps the tubeless tires welded to the DT rims.
Mondraker's special blend of extra strong sealant keeps the tubeless tires welded to the DT rims.

Time to make those cages as short as possible. Those rocks bite.
Time to make those cages as short as possible. Those rocks bite.

Mods to someone s bike. Three guesses who it belongs to and the first two don t count.

Brook MacDonald smashed his knee cap out of place on his last training run during a crash in pinball alley up top. Luckily it popped back into place but he was still in quite a bit of pain as he pushed on to 11th.
Brook MacDonald smashed his knee cap out of place during his final training run before qualifying but it popped back in and he was able to register the 11th fastest run later that day.

2016

Ben Arnott applies Copper paste to the titanium bolts to prevent them sticking in the aluminium components at the YT Mob pit.
Ben Arnott breaks out the copper paste to stop Ti bolts sticking to the aluminium components on his team's YT bikes.

Greg Minnaar s Santa Cruz V10
2016 was Val di Sole's second World Champs. Here's a selection of some of the coolest custom stuff starting with Minnaar's V10.

A close up of the detail on George Brannigan s Commencal
A close up of the detail on George Brannigan's Commencal.

Adam Brayton s Scott Gambler. Hope anodize in house so can do all kinds of custom jobs for their riders.
Mick Hannah has some anodized trickery on his brakes this weekend to match his Aussie paint job.
Trickstuff and Hope making their riders' brakes look fresh

Bikes of the Best - Val di Sole DH World Champs 2016
Luca Shaw's custom helmet.

It was neck and neck right down to the very end.
Kev was the first to take on the big green bottle but Evan was hot on his heals.
The Boxxer Worlds run alongside the World Champs and are the mechanics' chance to show that they're the fastest in the world. 2016's was one of the rowdiest in recent memory. Evan Warner's chugging skills saw him take it from Kev Joly on the line, a video of the final is below.


2017

Damien Bideau Commencal - Ruffin Brothers
As the tracks the get steeper, the stacks get higher.

Although they now have another frame ready to go it s only Jack Moir who is going to be riding it this weekend.
Jeff Steber showing off a raw version of his M29 frame ready for decals.

Some custom fidgetery from Intense to keep the riders minds steady for this final round.
Intense delivering the most important tech with these custom fidget spinners.

If you re a WC mechanic this is how your Wednesday afternoon looks.
If you're a WC mechanic this is how your Wednesday afternoon looks.

Carbocage chain device complete with a 3D printed lower section.
A Carbocage chain device complete with a 3D printed lower section.

Quark brake monitor
Cecile Ravenel was running a Quarq brake monitor that measured torque using a modified version of its Prime crank power meter. SRAM was hoping to understand more about how much riders drag their brakes and there was no better place to do that than Val di Sole.
Quark brake monitor
Quarq's Qollector combines braking and rpm information with GPS software and can transmit that data wirelessly.

2018

The Effigear gearbox on the Cavelrie Falcon of junior racer Emilie Rilat who races for the AM Dorval team.
Emilie Rilat, who races for the AM Dorval team, was the last racer to regularly use a gearbox on the World Cup circuit.

Keeping an eye on braking temperature in the Canyon pits.
Keeping an eye on braking temperature in the Canyon pits.

SCOTT mechanic Gavin Black paying extra attention to all he small details.
By contrast, Scott's Gavin Black was turning up the heat.

A rawed frame for Flo Payet.
Flo Payet's ginormous raw frame.

2019

Titanium goodness from Pro-Bolts gracing the Commencal team s bikes.
Titanium goodness from Pro-Bolts gracing the Commencal team's bikes.

CNC machined Hope derailleur pulleys are a thing of beauty.
CNC machined Hope derailleur pulleys are a thing of beauty.

Some neat cable management from the Polygon UR mechanics.

The Commencal team had plenty of options to play around with when it came to shock position.

Mick Hannah s tribute helmet to the late great Italian DH racer Corrado Herin
Mick Hannah's tribute helmet to the late great Italian DH racer Corrado Herin.





35 Comments

  • 65 1
 Ah when fidget spinners were a thing. Simpler times
  • 26 0
 I thought that was the mechanics fancy weed grinder
  • 4 0
 @Yaan: me too, especially given the caption
  • 34 0
 Its amazing how much better that m29 looks without all those horrible graphics
  • 6 1
 Those are pogs
  • 1 0
 I thought they were fancy top caps
  • 17 0
 Im here because i read " Val Di Sole"
  • 10 2
 The Boxxer Worlds are probably the best thing in mountainbiking
  • 2 0
 Dang I hope those were old forks ????
  • 7 1
 What about the tech from the 2020 WC round? Oh yeah........
  • 10 0
 That'd be Jordi explaining his athletes how to set up their suspension over a conference call. Video conferencing is the new fidget spinning yo.
  • 5 0
 When do we get to see the review on the OChain anti-pedal kickback chainring? That is some DH technology I'd like to see.
  • 8 0
 Vital has you covered.
  • 3 2
 Just run a low poe rear hub, it does exactly the same thing. 24 poe hub = 15 degrees of 'float'. Ochain gives 9 degrees, so a 60t hub +Ochain = 15 degrees of float.
  • 5 0
 @inked-up-metalhead: yes, kind of.
As vital point out, you never know where in the hub poe you are - anything between 0° and 15° for your 24poe example.
The Ochain always starts at 0° until the chain pulls back on it.
  • 1 0
 @Velocipedestrian: true, but that only comes into it at lower speeds, other than that forward speed negates it as the ratchet ring is moving faster than the impact/chain pull. Tbh I'd like the concept more if when pedalling it didn't move fully through the travel (if at all) so on rocky climbs it works to stop chain tension increasing from interrupting smooth pedalling, as it is with a 36t dt swiss 350 hub, I've never noticed pedal kickback when descending.
  • 2 0
 @Velocipedestrian: and tbf depending on hub design you can know, if it's a sprag clutch instead of pawls it will also always start at 0 deg.
  • 2 0
 @Velocipedestrian: slight self correction, if you could have a sprag clutch with a certain amount of lag in the engagement, obviously they're usually instant.
  • 2 0
 @Velocipedestrian: It wasn't thorough enough test for me. I'd like a second opinion from PB.
  • 6 0
 Power meter rotor data would actually be pretty awesome to look at.
  • 2 0
 I reckon!
  • 2 0
 Does anybody here have experience with those wrist braces? I follow on Instagram @wristbraceguy and I'm curious. Thoughts? Which model do you recommend? Cheers
  • 1 0
 I saw a review of the Mobius X8 a while back. I think it might have been on the Loam Wolf.
  • 1 0
 @yonderboy: cool, I'll look for that ????
  • 3 0
 After destroying my wrist last spring in a bike crash, I started to ride again after 6 months with the support of a Mobius X8. I still need it and can‘t recommend it enough. Once you have your hand on the bar, it doesn‘t feel like you range of motion is limited but it provides just the right amount of support and stability.
  • 3 0
 Is there a longer lasting mechanic/ rider partnership than Marsh and Minaar?
  • 2 0
 How long have Gee and Polish Pete been a couple? Tilbury and Hannah have a good few seasons under their belts... But I think you could be correct.
  • 2 0
 Fearon/dupelle?
  • 5 0
 Hill/Shumilak
  • 3 0
 Love this. Ah, the memories through this past decade. Love this sport!
  • 2 0
 Pulleys Hope “Silver Colour” for Sram X01 7 speedSmile ) Good combinationSmile )
  • 1 0
 The only place I saw the WC 4 times. Until 2020 came along
  • 1 0
 That has brought back so many awesome memories, thanks Pinkbike!
  • 2 1
 Brosnan looks so silly!
  • 3 6
 2017
As the tracks the get steeper
lmao get that second "the" outta there

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