Three Days And Three Different Bikes In Whistler

Aug 2, 2011
by Mike Levy  


Mike Levy and friends. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
  There's really no two ways about it, I have an incredible job. Besides being paid to ride my bike without actually having to be anywhere near as good as a proper professional mountain biker, I also get to spend a good portion of the year traveling to media camps around the world to ride new gear before nearly anyone else gets to. Yup, I'll admit that I have a damn good life. Every now and then it manages to get even better though... You've most likely seen our non-stop coverage of the Kokanee Crankworx festival - basically the center of the freeride and downhill universe for the last week - but there were a lot of great times being had away from the hustle and bustle of the Kokanee Crankworx crazyness as well. The guys at SRAM used the opportunity to bring together a group of handpicked journalists from around the world to ride their new XO components. But this wouldn't be just any old press camp where we sometimes do more talking about the gear than actually putting it through its paces, but rather three days that would see us test ourselves and our bikes on some serious terrain in and around the Whistler area. Adrian Marcoux's amazing photography tells the story below of my three days with SRAM, on three very different bikes and three very different types of terrain.

Mike Levy riding the Superfly 100 on the Lost Lake trails. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
Mike Levy riding the Superfly 100 on the Lost Lake trails. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
Mike Levy riding the Superfly 100 on the Lost Lake trails. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
  Saddle down, fork up, that's how I like to ****! Foot out and flat out on the 29'er early in the day when I still had enough gas in the tank to get loose, long before we hit the twisting and technical singletrack of Comfortably Numb. Our first day in the dirt had us on true cross-country steeds, Trek's 110mm travel Superfly 100's, and began with some loops on the popular Lost Lake Trails just outside of the Whistler village. The idea was to take some time to dial in our bikes for what ended up being a proper 40km day in the saddle, although most of us also used the opportunity to get a bit rowdy for Adrian's camera... if it looks like I'm about to take him out in the last photo it's because I thought I was about to do just that! I wasn't the only rider that had to drop the anchor hard coming into this corner though, and I'm betting Adrian has plenty of practical knowledge when it comes to dodging out of control hooligans on bikes, myself included. Having visited Whistler on a regular basis for the past decade I was a bit ashamed to admit that I had never ventured into the Lost Lake area up until this day's ride, but what I found was an incredible network of singletrack, much of it challenging enough to require all of your concentration, that's only a stone's throw away from the village. If you are coming to the park to ride the lifts but also have a trail bike at home, don't hesitate to bring it and spend some time away from the full face lids and keeners who are trying to bang out as many hot laps on A-Line as possible. You'll be glad you did!

Fisher 29 er Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
  Have you ever really thought that you'd dislike something, only to find that once you've gotten over your preconceived notions or whether it's ''cool'' or not, that you really dig it? I'm not talking about your secret stash of Hansen songs or that fixie bike that you have hidden away in the garage, but rather Trek's Superfly 100, a 110mm travel 29'er that has me seriously questioning if I really do need anything more. No, you won't likely be seeing any reviews of full-on XC bikes on Pinkbike anytime soon, but I have no shame in admitting that I fell head over heals for the white and black rocket ship, and all it took was a set of Truvativ platform pedals and a shorty stem. The bike's 100mm travel SID XX, with its 15mm Maxle Lite thru-axle, surprised me even more than the larger wheels though, especially after finding the fork's air pressure sweet spot - vital when working with just 3.9 inches of travel given the gnarly terrain we were passing over.

Fisher 29 er test rig. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
  The Superfly 100 was fitted with Truvativ's XO carbon cranks (left) that used the new 22/36 gearing option, an ideal choice for 29'ers - even if they do happen to be stupid light like the Superfly - simply due to the bike's larger wheels. I was thankful for the new smaller inner ring during some of the steep and technical ascents on Comfortably Numb, a notoriously challenging trail in the Whistler valley. The SID XX's XLoc Remote (top right), admittedly not something that I would generally make use of, came in handy on more than a few occasions during the day's 40km cross-country ride. This was especially true as we neared the end of the ride and the pace began to pick up, with riders trying to win imaginary sprint points - to be redeemed for beer later on in the night - or to simply hang on to the tail end of the fast moving pack. Going mostly unnoticed, which is a positive thing to say about a rear shock, was the diminutive Monarch RT3 damper (bottom right). Knob turners and button pushers may want more to fiddle with, but the simple air pressure, rebound and Floodgate adjustments made setting up the bike's 110mm of travel quick and easy.

Mike Levy and friends. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
  When I'm hurting on a climb, when I want to stop but know I can't, I like to pick a tree a few hundred feet up the trail and make it my goal to not shift up or lose any speed until I reach it. Once I get there I pick the next tree, then the next and the next, and the payoff is always worth it. You're looking at one of those moments right now as I do my best to keep up with SRAM's Tom Zurawski. All aboard the pain train! I'm a big believer in pushing a single chain ring up front, even on my XC rigs, but there is simply no way that I could have managed that on this trail. At this point, about halfway into what turned out to be a solid day of riding, I was very happy that the Superfly 100 was equipped with the new lower dual ring gearing. Mere mortals such as myself should be tickled pink about the fresh 22/36 and 24/38 ring options, especially when paired with a big spread cassette out back. 2 x 10 isn't just for the racer-types!

Mike Levy and friends. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
  There really was a lot to smile about during the day's ride, or maybe that's my evil grin as I hatch a plan to try and beat Tom Zurawski and Mark Jordan (foreground) up the next pitch. It didn't work.

Mike Levy and friends. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
  There is certainly nothing to complain about when getting to ride these top tier bikes in locations like Whistler, but jumping on an unfamiliar bike, even if it is decked out with the best of the best, and trying to ride hard while noting how the bike is performing can sometimes feel a bit intimidating. It pays dividends to spend a few minutes to sort out your bike's settings before going out , and thankfully we had access to SRAM's race mechanics to help us along. MBA's Scott McClave talks to the Shawn Cruickshanks, also known as the Wizard by those who have had suspension work done by him (left), while I discuss the finer points of rallying a XC bike(right) prior to heading out on our cross-country ride.

Truvativ rings and guard.
  Bikes are now being widely spec'd with dual ring 2 x 10 setups that make a ton of sense for a lot of riders, but many of us have been left wanting some sort of chainring protection in the form of a bolt-on guard, something that even the aftermarket manufacturers haven't yet pounced on. Truvativ will finally offer two different options, one aluminum and one composite, that will be available both as stock equipment and for aftermarket purchase. Given the cost of replacing the big ring on a two-by crankset, I'm betting that we'll see a lot of riders sporting these guards in the future.

Rocky Slayer. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
  We made the switch to 165mm travel Rocky Mountain Slayers when it came time to hit the trails of Pemberton, a location known for its serious terrain. Just like on the cross-country day, we'd be earning our turns. The Slayer makes use of a relatively slack 66.5 degree head angle, great for charging the rock faces and steep chutes that made up the day's ride, but it could easily be a handful when the singletrack reversed direction. The technical climbing was made immensely easier though by flipping the fork's Dual Position Air (DPA) lever atop the left fork leg, lowering the ride height by about 30mm to steepen the head angle by roughly a full degree. The DPA system, lifted from the Revelation fork lineup, works by transferring air between the positive and negative chambers. The system requires only a single added seal, basically eliminating the extra friction that is usually associated with air sprung travel adjusts.

Rocky Slayer test rig. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
  The burly Slayer was equipped with Truvativ's Dual Ring X-Guide (top left) that did a great job of keeping the chain in check on PHD, a trail that would likely be a handful on a smaller travel bike. The new X-Guide is a hybrid unit that combines chain ring protection by way of a replaceable polycarbonate slider, along with a twin pulley system for chain retention. The pulley wheels are aligned with the rings and there felt to be next to no added drag in the system, drag being the main reason that riders who like to put in long days in the saddle on their all-mountain bikes usually avoid dual ring roller guides. No amount of backpedaling or riding like a punter on the rough terrain managed to derail a single chain in our group. The Slayer's Monarch Plus RC3 shock (bottom right) features a 3-way compression adjustment lever that was easy to reach while on the go, quickly transforming the bike from a supple ride for great traction on lose or rough trail, to a firmer riding package that was easily pumped through rollers and carried speed much better on smooth sections. I'll admit that I'm not a fan of levers and switches on most of my rides, but between the Lyrik's DPA travel adjust and the Monarch's compression lever you could transform the bike within seconds.

Mike Levy and friends. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
  Bike setup before the short and punchy climb up to the midway drop-in point on PHD, a tasty singletrack treat in Pemberton that is littered with rock rolls and loose chunder. The few minutes that I spent adjusting my brake levers was well worth it... I used them a lot on this difficult trail.

Mike Levy and friends. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
  Pemberton is a short twenty minute drive from Whistler, but it's a world away when it comes to terrain. You won't find anything resembling Whistler's chiseled trails here, but rather raw and menacing lines that are filled with rock chutes, rock steps and lose rock that likely isn't in the same place as it was when you last rode the trail. The crew at PVTA (Pemberton Valley Off-Road Cycling Association), along with other local builders, have done an amazing job of carving trails into the area's treacherous mountains. The result is trails that will not only keep you on your best behavior, but also have you laughing at loud at the flow that can be found. Is it possible to be grinning while scared shitless? Apparently so.

Mike Levy and friends. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.

Mike Levy and friends. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.

Mike Levy and friends. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
  If I look a touch hesitant in the photo above, it's because I've spotted Adrian perched in the bush with his camera... which usually means that the trail ahead of me is about to get gnarly.

Mike Levy and friends. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
  Doing my best to chase down RockShox's Jeremiah Boobar, which turned out to be a fruitless endeavor - the guy is quick! Nearly half of our group consisted of RockShox, Avid and SRAM guys who, not surprisingly, have no trouble dropping the hammer at any point, up or down. There is certainly something to be said for having shredders who know what works and what doesn't designing the products that we all ride.

Mike Levy and friends. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
  Great food always tastes even better after good times on the bike, but be warned that scarfing down copious amounts of delicious eats, only to jump back in the saddle for a long and arduous climb, can be a recipe for trouble. Our group pulled up for a lunch stop at Pemberton's Pony restaurant (formally known as the Pony Express), famed for its great food and killer coffee. The rustic looking Pony has a menu that will keep everyone happy, from veggie-heads to meat lovers, and a lot of the food is made from local ingredients. A salmon burger, beer and an espresso later, I was slow to get out of my seat, but not nearly as slow as I was on the long climb that followed! If you plan to visit Whistler, be sure to bring your A-game and set a day aside for the rowdy trails in Pemberton, followed up by some bona fide kick ass food at the Pony.

Devinci Wilson test rig. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
  As much as getting away from the buzz of Whistler is a nice change, you can't stay here and not spend some time getting bent in the bike park aboard a downhill sled. This custom painted Devinci Wilson, one of just ten in the world, saved my ass too many times to count while chasing Decline's Mark Jordan during the day. Stevie Smith, I am not. Nor will I apparently ever be, but it was a blast to bomb around the park on the 8.5'' travel Canadian made race bike. Sure, we had some great runs up in the Garbanzo zone where the roots look like wet anacondas laying across the trail and the rocks are ready to puncture both tires and skin, but we had the most fun coasting down Crank It Up, likely one of the mellowest trails on the mountain. The yellow rig carried speed very well when traversing this tame trail, allowing us to have fun while seat bouncing jumps and trying to stuff each other into the corners as many times as possible.

Devinci Wilson test rig. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
  Of course the Wilson was decked out with SRAM's new XO DH components, including their carbon DH crankset (left). The arms are the very same as used on the standard XO crankset (with the added option of a 165mm length), which speaks volumes about how well they should hold up on a XC or AM bike, but make use of a longer and burlier spindle to fit the 83mm shells that most downhill bikes use, as well as a DH dedicated spider and chain ring. Total weight is 750 grams, and that includes the 83mm GXP bottom bracket and a 36 tooth ring - impressive. Bolted to the back of the bike is the XO DH rear derailleur (right) that, to the untrained eye anyway, may look exactly the same as the standard XO unit. How is it different? It uses a shorter P knuckle to allow the upper pulley wheel to track tighter range road and DH style cassettes closer, which should make for more reliable shifting under load and in nasty conditions.

Mike Levy and friends. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
  Giant rider Andrew Neethling and Pivot pilot Kyle Strait bring up the tail end of a train of riders that had the ground shaking as the passed by on the new Crab Apple hits. The reworked jumps are shaped straight from your dreams, but only better, and make you feel like James Stewart... minus the Ferrari and energy drink sponsorship.

Mike Levy and friends. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
  Kyle Strait wasn't the only bear sessioning the Crab Apple hits.

Mike Levy and friends. Photo by Adrian Marcoux.
  Post-ride beers are a mandatory event with this crew, as they should be with most crews. It's where you talk about how big you went, or how big you could have gone, and use your best excuses as to why you were lagging behind on the climb or shit talk those who were doing the lagging. Plans are hatched here for next weekend's epic, or maybe simply trying to work out how you can slip out for a quick ride during a busy workday, and the beer is always colder and tastes better than it would be if you were drinking it at home.

You can see more of Adrian's photography here.

Posted In:
Stories SRAM



46 Comments

  • 9 0
 I really want to get out on one of those Superfly 100's such a sick bike. SRAM's XO line up looks so clean this year, i love their clean bar mounting options so you dont have six different shifters, brake levers, and uppy downy seat post buttons. Stoked! nice artice too, beautiful photos adrian! and nice biking faces Mike, always a treat
  • 5 0
 sick colour combo on the devinci, look awesome
  • 1 0
 I agree the superfly looks sweet, but could somebody please explain the difference between it and an Spesh Epic 29er? Normally its stupid to ask these questions, but I honestly spent a good 2 minutes trying to figure out why that epic had such a weird paint job.
  • 3 4
 The superfly 100 isn't really that good of a bike. It doesn't keep traction well, and it feels to steep when you descend on it, plus it is way to heavy for a 6k+ bike. The real 29er you want is the santa cruz tallboy. So fun to ride on anything, rock gardens, 5 foot drops, pedaling up massive climbs. I havent rode the epic, but it is meant for the same type of riding as the superfly.
  • 2 0
 And you would know because?
  • 1 0
 @trailjunkie12897,

I've had the opposite experience on the Superfly so far. It has been a great machine, absolutely blowing me away on some of the tech climbs that I've gone up on it. Yeah, it isn't exactly slack, but it is a 4" travel XC bike... I am going a bit slower on it than my 150mm travel Remedy when the trails get burly, but I honestly think that it is blast and I've been riding more than the Remedy lately.
  • 1 0
 I hope to the get the Alu for 2012. The review in Dirt Rag and I believe twentynineinches were both very positive.
  • 3 0
 I agree with Mike. I work at a Trek store so I've demo'd all of the mountain bikes. The Superfly100 is an amazing bike, but it is a 29er and you can really feel that with the full susp., you feel like you're sitting "in" or "between" the wheels instead of on top of them, like a 26 inch wheel. I love this bike for XC and so far it's my favorite full susp. 29er, but it's still an XC bike. If you get this bike for more AM style riding or more technical trail, you'll probably be a little disappointed, but you'll still love it in it's own deserving way!
  • 1 0
 I also work for a Trek shop, but unfortunately I haven't been able to demo anything.
  • 1 0
 Edit- Going to Trek Demo on Oct 1 in Santa Rosa!
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy

I only demoed the bike for 3 hours, so I don't have as much feel for it as someone who owns it. I love the feel of 29ers, and most of the other treks. I own a remedy. but the superfly just didn't click.
  • 6 0
 fyi, trails in Pemby are under the fine care of the PVTA (Pemberton Valley Trails Assc), stop in at the Bike Co and buy a $10 membership to support them!
  • 1 0
 Buy a map too, I have two (typically forget them on repeat trips) and support this sick network!
  • 1 0
 @Flip,

Thanks for the heads up, they do an awesome job out there!
  • 1 0
 yeah boys, they're good sh!t up there!
  • 2 0
 yeah that wilson is incredibly beautiful. Great article, Mike. You really do have the life most of us can only dream of. Keep the good stuff coming. I am a little suprised, though, that there wasn't much write-up on how the XO stuff performed (considering it was the whole reason you went on the trip).
  • 1 0
 I won't lie, it is always a great time! Regarding the XO DH components, I only spent a single day on the Wilson so I can't really comment in depth on how the parts performed, but you can read more about them here if you want more tech: www.pinkbike.com/news/SRAM-X0-DH-First-Look.html How did they work during my day on the bike? The XO DH drivetrain shifted every bit as good as I've come to expect from XO parts, the brakes were super powerful and the guide kept the chain in place with zero rubbing. More impressions down the road...
  • 3 0
 Nice 29er'ing Mike. Beautiful old-school (almost sepia) shots by Adrian. I'd say that's money well spent by SRAM getting such quality pictures
  • 1 0
 Anyone know where can I get more info on the bolt-on guard for 2x10 cranks with 120bcd???? When will they be available? I have a Sram XX crankset that I stopped using because I got sick of dropping the chain; now use a Shimano M665 crankset with bash and roller. Would be nice to put the XX crankset back into action.
  • 2 0
 I use an MRP XCG40 on my XX cranks and don't lose my chain - maybe look into one as it is so simple.
  • 1 0
 Nice. After reading the article more closely and learning about the Truvativ X-Guide I think I'll hold out for that; assuming it works with the XX cranks. www.sram.com/truvativ/products/truvativ-x-guide
  • 1 0
 2x10 22/36? What took them so long? When I bought my Specialized Stumpjumper FSR 29er in the fall of 2008, I promptly ditched the 22/32/44 3x9 for a 22/36 2x9 with custom carbon fibre bash ring. You don't need a 10 speed cassette with 2 chain rings. If it was obvious to me then, why has it taken the industry almost 3 years?

My next ride is on order. 2012 Specialized SW Epic 29er frame set. 1x10 with a 34 chain ring and carbon bash ring. Drop 350gr in the process.
  • 1 0
 nice junket writeup. i saw this crew of jokers on comfortably numb. mike was 1 of only 2 or 3 riders to make the crazy face climb before the fire road - and the only media whore to do so! but if you were scared shitless by lower phd i wouldn't bother with the upper parts, that's a whole different world of steep and fierce
  • 1 0
 Sick write up. I also know what it is like a ride 3 different bikes at Whistler Bike Park in 3 days. The first was a Lapierre Team DH, then a Cove Shocker, then a Kona Operator. and all of them were bloody amazing!
  • 2 0
 The Lapierre was too small for you, the Cove Shocker wasn't part of the rental deal and the Kona wasn't even that good. Hahahahahahaha. Jokes.
  • 1 0
 hahahahahahah, you so funnyyyyyy! The Lapierre would have been the sickest bike if it wasn't two sizes too small, and i feel kinda bad for bull shitting my way into the Cove. but oh well.
  • 2 0
 Nice write up, great pics and scenery too. What a job and life he has.One can dream....
  • 3 0
 Those white air shocks are giving me serious boners!
  • 1 0
 Shimano still owns because the shadow rear derrailleurs don't stick out a mile. It is nice being able to ride your bike like nothing happened after a drive side crash...
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy, I'm a highschool kid who loves to ride, coming into college, what sort of academics did you focus on to make this a job option???
  • 1 0
 Wow, didn't know that rock-rings / bash-guards were so rare. Every mountain biker in this area of the country uses one.
  • 2 0
 Ya here too, but the new 2x10 set ups for the most part didn't initially come with them - now they are.
  • 2 0
 licorice in the camelpack... WIN!
  • 2 0
 "saddle down, fork up, thats the way I like to ****!"---Love it!!!
  • 1 0
 Nice catchy rhyme that helps me remember to unlock or raise my suspension before dropping in!
  • 1 0
 So nice to hear people not immediately putting XC riding and bike down for a change, don't knock it till you've tried it!
  • 1 0
 What a life. And I want that Superfly.
  • 1 0
 great shots and retouching.
  • 1 0
 the Superfly looks like a 29er that you really want to try.
  • 1 0
 For sure, the bike is a BLAST.
  • 1 0
 i want his job so frikin bad!!!
  • 1 0
 Great shots, all of them! Love it!
  • 1 0
 wow, devinci!
  • 1 0
 2x10 22/36? What took them so long? When I bought my Specialized Stumpjumper FSR 29er in the fall of 2008, I promptly ditched the 22/32/44 3x9 for a 22/36 2x9 with custom carbon fibre bash ring. You don't need a 10 speed cassette with 2 chain rings. If it was obvious to me then, why has it taken the industry almost 3 years?

My next ride is on order. 2012 Specialized SW Epic 29er frame set. 1x10 with a 34 chain ring and carbon bash ring. Drop 350gr in the process.
  • 1 0
 Twizzlers!

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