Enduro racer Andrea Gamenara with his Ancillotti Scarab.
One of the most exciting and down to earth bike companies around is Ancillotti, a small Italian bike brand with a strong heritage in both motor bikes and mountain bikes. More importantly, they've got a great ethos: If something isn’t right, they design something that is. To that end, they also build their own coil shocks and modified forks. I caught up with founder Tomaso Ancillotti at the second round of the Superenduro to talk through their latest offering and bike setup - and I and had the opportunity to do a quick bike check with Andrea Gamenara and his Scarab race bike.
Seven Questions With Founder Tamaso Ancillotti
Ben Winder: Is there any special geometry for Andrea's Scarab?
Tomaso Ancillotti: Yes. We’ve been working with Andrea for five years now, he’s helped us to develop the bike, we’ve been experimenting with lots of different angles and sizes. So the bike is kind of special to him.
Winder: What's Andrea's bike setup like?
Ancillotti: Yeah, he prefers to ride the fork stiff on the front. He rides over the front end, so he needs a slightly stiffer fork. The head angle is adjustable via the linkage, so he can adjust it how he wants. It’s between 64.3 and 65.3 degrees, so we have one degree of adjustment, which we change depending on the type of race.
Winder: How does his bike compare to a bike a customer could buy?
Ancillotti: The geometry isn’t that different, because we make the same frame for our customers. We think, if the geometry is good for our team riders, it’s also good for the customers. We have a lot of adjustment on the bike, so each rider can make little changes on the bike to suit their riding style. We make custom sizes for the customer, but every rider rides slightly different - some over the front, some over the back - so we have to find the right balance for each one. We have an adjustment linkage on the bottom that can be set to the perfect position for the rider. Our system allows you to make very fine adjustments. This allows riders to find their perfect geometry.
Winder: Do you give a suggestion as to where riders should run the linkage?
Ancillotti: I give them the bike with the linkage position in which I think will work for them, I then encourage the customer to play with the linkage because I think every rider has a personal feeling for the bike, and not just what’s supposed to work on paper. We made a system that is very easy to adjust, so we say try it to find your right balance.
Winder: Is there a special shock tune?
Ancillotti: Yes, every shock is different. We build them to suit each rider. Andrea prefers it to be very smooth at the start of the stroke, for the small bumps then he needs it to ramp up really well because he rides quite hard, this is created by the shims inside the shock. We build the shock, we design everything, a factory builds the parts for us with cnc machines, but then I build the shocks.
Winder: Why do you build your own shocks? It must take a lot of time.
Ancillotti: Well, I think it’s the key for a good bike. We also work a lot on the front suspension. It’s such an important part of the bike, and we think it’s better. We only use coil suspension.
Winder: So, you wouldn’t run air?
Ancillotti: We’ve tried a lot, but each time we end up back on the coil shock. I think the air shock is good for big companies, who just sell a bike and don’t know who will be buying it. All you need is a shock pump and you can set it up for yourself. But, as we’re a smaller company, we know all our riders. We can give a good tune and set up a coil shock for each person. A coil shock is more plush at the beginning, to give good grip. You can play with the progression that you want. Adjust the linkage. I think it’s always better. Also, on longer tracks, the air changes quite a lot. You can fine tune it by one PSI or two PSI, but the shock is cold at the top and the hot at the bottom - it changes so much.
Andrea Gamenara takes advantage of his Ancillotti Scarab's adjustable geometry to switch head angles between 64.3 and 65.3 degrees depending upon the race venue.
Ancillotti's trademark suspension is a single-pivot swingarm that drives the shock with a bottom-mounted pull-shaft.
A look at the underside of the Scarab chassis shows its adjustable pull shaft and the tunnel-mounted rocker link that drives the shock.
Ancillotti builds his frames with significantly smaller-diameter tubes than current fashion, preferring to heavily gusset high-stress areas.
• Head angle: 64.3 - 65.3 degrees
• Wheelbase: 1240 mm
• BB drop: 43.5-44 mm
• Chainstay: 43.5 mm
• Bar Height: 105 mm
• Bar width: 770mm
• Seat tube angle: Real 67, virtual 77 degrees
• Reach: 460mm
• Seat Tube Length: 450mm
• Top Tube Length: 615mm
• Spring: Hard and medium linkage
• Weight with DH tires 14.3kg (31.5 pounds)
• Fork: Formula Selva - Custom tune
• Shock: Ancillotti RL Racing Shox
• Drivetrain: SRAM XO
• Chainguide: Custom
• Stem: Renthal Apex, 50mm
• Handlebar: Renthal Fatbar Carbon 30mm Rise
• Brakes: Formula Cura
• Grips: Nukeproof Element
• Wheels: Formula Linea 3
• Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHF 27,5 x 2.5 3C DD, Minion DHR II 27,5 x 2.3 3c DD
• Saddle: WTB Silverado
• Pedals: Shimano M530 SPD
• Seatpost : Yep Uptimizer dropper, 125mm