The Pinkbike Podcast: Episode 130 - Aaron Gwin on High-Pivot DH Bikes, Chasing the Money, & Riding with Eli Tomac

Jul 1, 2022
by Mike Levy  
Pinkbike Podcast
Art by Taj Mihelich

From winning a World Cup without a chain to winning on many different types of bikes, Aaron Gwin is one of the quickest downhill racers our sport has ever seen. After coming close in 2010, Gwin won his first World Cup the next season and never looked back, going on a run of success that's not only rare for American racers on the international circuit but also remarkable in a sport that's often measured in millimeters and just tenths of a second.

Episode 130 sees Aaron Gwin and I chat about high-pivot versus dual-link suspension designs, bike testing and development, training with John and Eli Tomac, that crazy chain-less win in Leogang, and if he really is "chasing the money" by choosing less common sponsors.

July 1st, 2022

Did you know that cricket chirping sounds can reach up to 100 decibels? We did not.

Featuring a rotating cast of the editorial team and other guests, the Pinkbike podcast is a weekly update on all the latest stories from around the world of mountain biking, as well as some frank discussion about tech, racing, and everything in between.

Previous Pinkbike Podcasts
Episode 1 - Why Are Bikes So Expensive?
Episode 2 - Where the Hell is the Grim Donut?
Episode 3 - Pond Beaver Tech
Episode 4 - Why is Every Bike a Trail Bike?
Episode 5 - Can You Trust Bike Reviews?
Episode 6 - Over Biked Or Under Biked?
Episode 7 - Wild Project Bikes
Episode 8 - Do We Need an Even Larger Wheel Size?
Episode 9 - Why Are We Doing a Cross-Country Field Test?
Episode 10 - Getting Nerdy About Bike Setup
Episode 11 - Are We Going Racing This Year?
Episode 12 - What's the Future of Bike Shops?
Episode 13 - Are Bikes Too Regular Now?
Episode 14 - What Bikes Would Pinkbike Editors Buy?
Episode 15 - What's Holding Mountain Biking Back?
Episode 16 - Who's Your Mountain Biking Hero?
Episode 17 - XC Field Test Insider
Episode 18 - Electronics on your Mountain Bike: Good or Bad?
Episode 19 - The Hardtail Episode
Episode 20 - MTB Conspiracy Theories
Episode 21 - Stuff We Were Wrong About
Episode 22 - Does Your Riding Style Match Your Personality?
Episode 23 - Grim Donut 2 is Live!
Episode 24 - Why Even Buy a DH Bike?
Episode 25 - Fall Field Test Preview
Episode 26 - The Three Most Important Mountain Bikes
Episode 27 - The World Champs Special
Episode 28 - All About Women's Bikes
Episode 29 - Freeride or Die
Episode 30 - Would You Rather?
Episode 31 - Wet Weather Riding Tips & Tricks
Episode 32 - What Needs to Change in the Bike Industry?
Episode 33 - Behind the Scenes at Pinkbike Academy
Episode 34 - Grilling Levy About Field Test Trail Bikes (and His Bonspiel)
Episode 35 - Story Time - Stranger Than Fiction
Episode 36 - Grilling Kazimer about Field Test Enduro Bikes
Episode 37 - The 2020 Privateer Season with Ben Cathro
Episode 38 - Editors Defend Their 2020 Best-Of Picks
Episode 39 - Predicting the Future of Mountain Biking
Episode 40 - The Pinkbike Awards!
Episode 41 - Racing Rumours and Team Changes
Episode 42 - Mountain Biking's Guilty Pleasures
Episode 43 - Dangerholm's Wildest Custom Mountain Bikes
Episode 44 - Mountain Bike Suspension Decoded
Episode 45 - What Makes a Good Riding Buddy
Episode 46 - The RockShox Zeb vs Fox 38 Deep Dive
Episode 47 - High Pivot Bikes: The Good, The Bad, and The Why?
Episode 48 - Rides That Went Horribly Wrong... & Why That Made Them So Good
Episode 49 - What's the Best DH Bike?
Episode 50 - Are Bikes Actually Getting Less Expensive? (Value Bike Field Test Preview)
Episode 51 - Should MTB Media Post Spy Shots?
Episode 52 - Our Most Embarrassing MTB Moments
Episode 53 - Should Climbers Still Have the Right of Way?
Episode 54 - Best and Worst MTB Product Marketing
Episode 55 - Big Dumb Rides & Staying Motivated
Episode 56 - What Were the Most Important Inventions in Mountain Biking?
Episode 57 - What Were the Best (and Worst) Trends in Mountain Biking?
Episode 58 - Debunking Mountain Biking's Biggest Myths
Episode 59 - Value Bike Field Trip Surprises & Spoilers
Episode 60 - What Kind of Mountain Biker Do You Want to Be?
Episode 61 - Athlete Pay, Lycra, Equality and More from the State of the Sport Survey
Episode 62 - Editor Preferences and Why They Matter
Episode 63 - Our Best (And Worst) Bike Buying Advice
Episode 64 - Who's On Your MTB Mount Rushmore?
Episode 65 - The Hardtail Episode
Episode 66 - The Best and Worst of Repairing Bikes
Episode 67 - The Story of Mountain Biking's Most Interesting Man: Richard Cunningham
Episode 68 - Who Are Mountain Biking's Unsung Heroes?
Episode 69 - The Good, Bad, and Strange Bikes We've Owned - Part 1
Episode 70 - The Good, Bad, and Strange Bikes We've Owned - Part 2
Episode 71 - The Story of Mountain Biking's Most Interesting Man: Richard Cunningham - A Pinkbike Podcast Special, Part 2
Episode 72 - Hey Outers!
Episode 73 - The Details That Matter... and Some That Shouldn't
Episode 74 - The Best Trails We've Ridden and What Makes Them So Special
Episode 75 - Things MTB Brands Waste Money On
Episode 76 - MTB Originals and Copycats
Episode 77 - Interview with Outside CEO, Robin Thurston
Episode 78 - Modern Geometry Explained
Episode 79 - What's the Future of eMTBs?
Episode 80 - The Best Vehicles for Mountain Bikers
Episode 81 - You've Got Questions, We've (Maybe) Got Answers
Episode 82 - Behind the Scenes at Field Test
Episode 83 - Does Carbon Fiber Belong On Your Mountain Bike?
Episode 84 - Explaining RockShox's Computer Controlled Suspension
Episode 85 - Is the Red Bull Rampage Too Slopestyle?
Episode 86 - Greg Minnaar on the Honda DH Bike, World Cup Racing, and Staying Fast Forever
Episode 87 - How to Love Riding When it's Cold and Wet
Episode 88 - Mountain Biking on a Budget
Episode 89 - The Derailleur Pickle
Episode 90 - Is Supre the Future of Trouble-Free Drivetrains? (with Cedric Eveleigh of Lal Bikes)
Episode 91 - Riding Every Double Black in the Whistler Bike Park with Christina Chappetta
Episode 92 - Does Bike Weight Really Matter?
Episode 93 - Staying Motivated and Overcoming Burnout
Episode 94 - PBA Contestant Tori Wood on Her First Race and Finding the Right Mindset
Episode 95 - Field Test Down-Country Bike Debrief
Episode 96 - PBA Contestant Israel Carrillo on Riding in Mexico and Why It's Not Always About Speed
Episode 97 - Can We Predict the Future of Mountain Biking?
Episode 98 - Field Test Trail Bike Debrief
Episode 99 - New Year, New You?
Episode 100 - Q&A with the PB Editors
Episode 101 - MTB Tradeshows Explained
Episode 102 - Should MTB Media Be Going to Press Camps?
Episode 103 - Secrets from the World Cup Pits with Henry Quinney
Episode 104 - Lachlan Morton on How to be a Happy Bike Racer and the World's Longest Climb
Episode 105 - The 3 Bike Budget Challenge
Episode 106 - What's Your Ideal Ride Look Like?
Episode 107 - How (And Why) Did You Start Mountain Biking?
Episode 108 - Behind the Scenes at the Value Bike Field Test
Episode 109 - Berm Peak's Seth Alvo on Making Videos 24/7, Soul Rides, and Building a Bike Park
Episode 110 - Trying (and Failing) to Reinvent the Mountain Bike
Episode 111 - The Pinkbike Racing Podcast: Episode #1 - It's All Downhill From Here
Episode 112 - The Pinkbike Racing Podcast: Episode #2 - The Lourdes World Cup Post-Race Wrap-Up
Episode 113 - PB Editors Answer Your Questions (again)
Episode 114 - The Placebo Effect and Your New Mountain Bike
Episode 115 - We Are One's CEO Talks Future DH Bike, E-Bikes, & Domestic Manufacturing
Episode 116 - New Bikes and Gear from Sea Otter
Episode 117 - Mountain Biking's Worst (or Best) Cliché Crimes
Episode 118 - Music and Mountain Biking
Episode 119 - Road Trips Gone Horribly Wrong
Episode 120 - Gee Atherton on Titanium Additive Manufacturing, Million Dollar Machines, and 3 New Bikes
Episode 121 - How To Film Rampage & Field Tests with the PB Team
Episode 122 - Do Social Media & Mountain Biking Go Together?
Episode 123 - The Pinkbike Racing Podcast: Episode #3 - Fort William World Cup Wrap-Up
Episode 124 - Bike Parks or E-Bikes?
Episode 125 - Nino Schurter's Mechanic on Prepping Race Bikes & His Favorite Tools
Episode 126 - "One More Run" and Other MTB Superstitions
Episode 127 - The Pinkbike Racing Podcast: Episode #4 - Leogang World Cup Wrap-Up
Episode 128 - Summer Solstice Adventures
Episode 129 - Are There Too Many MTB Videos? Interview w/ IFHT's Jason Lucas

Author Info:
mikelevy avatar

Member since Oct 18, 2005
2,032 articles

  • 36 4
 It would sure be nice to see Aaron back in the mix.
  • 21 0
 11th at the last race I think? If he can stay healthy he should still be around.
  • 1 10
flag SeanC1 (Jul 2, 2022 at 9:17) (Below Threshold)
 yep, when's the last time he won anything?
  • 23 0
 Bmx background…….
  • 1 0
 Pba season 3???
  • 1 0
 @Oregon29: just needs a fake beard and a pair of glasses.
  • 18 1
 My dad use to race against Eli’s dad, John. Then my parents named me after Eli. Eli if you see this, sup dude I’m named after you.
  • 15 1
 I can b**** with the worst of them but am always stoked when PB has 2 podcasts in a week...thx so much people. Can we get one of Kaz on his 6-day France bike trip? Live Mike-Mic & misc recordings, this, that & whatever. Would be fun to hear about.
  • 13 0
 Loved this one. Want to hear so much more about training, riding, moto, etc. with Eli. Two legends of their respective sports just before their careers went to the next level.
  • 2 0
 Hearing about the training and riding with the Tomacs was really cool.
  • 5 0
 check out the Gypsy Tales podcast with Gwin, he talks a lot about his start in DH and his moto stuff as well, pretty good listen, almost 4h long.
  • 3 0
 @gramboh: agreed, have watched it. 4 hours of Jase is a bit much, but Gwin’s story about chasing down and tackling a burglar was great.
  • 12 0
 great interview, solid, genuine dude.
  • 11 0
 Solid dude. Great interview!
  • 5 0
 This is a fantastic podcast! Thank you Aaron!!
I was getting some crap for my comments against catalog bikes not getting the benefit of the R&D of the big brands.
I’m officially justified..
  • 8 1
 Aaron is awesome, humble bloke and a racing legend.
  • 6 0
 Great to hear him being such a nerd about bikes and kit, and being so honest.
  • 4 1
 While I missed the 2015 Windham WC, I did get to see Gwin take the win in 2012 and even captured a pic. If you get the chance def get to a WC event...unreal how fast these racers are!
  • 6 0
 My favorite sign from the 2015 Wyndham world cup "I want you gwinside me"
  • 2 0
 They only negative was that it didn't go for twice as long. I could listen to Aaron talk about bikes all day. So much insight and experience. I'll be sad when he hangs up his boots, though I'll be excited to learn about all the inner secrets of racing that he has to hold tight lipped at the moment.
  • 2 0
 Great interview. Perfect questions from Levy. Impressed by the depth of Aaron’s answer. He’s not just a sound byte generator. Made the 1.5 hours of stop-n-go in 109 heat on interstate 15 between Las Vegas and St. George go by faster.
  • 5 0
 that was a good one, thanks aaron and mike
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer I've been running the old Shimano am41 shoe since 2013 and I'm finally coming to grips with the fact that they need to be retired as the soles are finally coming apart. In short these shoes were bullet proof (also weighed like they were bulletproof) and kept the water out with their lace coverings. What is the best replacement these days for a PNW enduro rider that balances cleat connection, water resistance, looks, and weight?/What is your go to for clip shoes? Stick with Shimano, crank brothers, rc, specialized?
  • 1 0
 @hallj2 Last year I made the switch from the AM41, which I lovingly called "Clown Shoes," to the AM9. No regrets. Lighter, narrower, and the speed lacing, of which I was skeptical, has worked flawlessly. Toe protection is still solid and I like the updated ventilation hole layout which breathes better. The AM41 would sometimes be hard to disengage from the Mallet3 platform in certain crank positions due to their Clown shape which impeded rotation. The AM9 doesn't have this issue. Also, the updated sole of the AM9 is better suited to hike a bike situations. I still use the AM41 for trail work and wet days so my "Blue Suedes" don't get messed up.

I would like to see more manufacturers offer covered lace options. In the meantime Shimano is killing it in the All Mountain shoe category.
  • 1 0
 @EricHarger: thanks for the feedback! How waterproof are they? Have you tried the specialized 2FO or crank brothers?
  • 1 0
 @hallj2: My riding is mostly dry/fog conditions, never really in the wet stuff. Those shoes, per a quick search, don’t seem to have lace covers. No covers? Not interested.
  • 5 0
 This was very well done. More of Gwyn please.
  • 1 0
 Can y'all link the photo epic from the 2015 Windham World Cup? I was at that race and I remember the energy being absolutely insane. I probably scanned through that photo trove half a dozen times just reliving the craziness.
  • 3 0
 First result on google, this wasn't exactly hard to find Wink
  • 3 0
 I was there as well and it was absolutely amazing. Remember the dude with the air horn fed by an air tank? Once gwin crossed the line he just let it rip until it ran out of air.
  • 5 0
 @rarerider: The request was certainly also for others peoples enjoyment Wink
  • 1 0
 @tjbiker38: omg that thing was ridiculous. Thought I was gonna go deaf when he blew the horn near me lol. Crazy crowd all weekend. I raced XC and had a great time - fun course and hilarious fans, even for slow guys like me.
  • 4 0
 Welcome to Big Sky Country Aaron! Great to have you here.
  • 4 0
 Gwyn’s business mind is surprisingly developed and sharp
  • 3 0
 I was at Windham 2015, it WAS NUTS!
  • 2 0
 I was to and it got me hooked on WC racing! Snowshoe in a few weeks....
  • 3 0
 “No ounce of rest allowed” — says it all right there
  • 1 2
 Maybe I missed it but I wish somebody would ask him how much sag he likes to run on his race bike. Seems like if his suspension is so stiff he wouldn't have much sag and bike would sit high. I guess this would sort of compliment his style of wanting a more responsive or poppy bike, but center of gravity is going to be higher.
  • 2 0
 Not going to lie, I zoned out and just focused on and enjoyed the birds chirping in the background
  • 2 0
 Is there a transcript or CC for this episode?
  • 3 0
 In the works!
  • 4 0
..and Levy!s questions were on point! Start to finish.
Classic podcast..
  • 2 0
 Favorite Pinkbike Podcast Interview yet, Nice work @mikelevy
  • 3 2
 Hearing moto references on a MTB podcast gives me the biggest boner!
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