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Bike Check: Craig Evans' Airdrop Slacker

Jun 5, 2024 at 6:34
by Nick Bentley  


Craig Evans is a former winner of Hardline, and has been one of the more consistent competitors over the event's decade-long history. Now riding for Airdrop bikes, he was on a fresh ride for this year, aboard their new Slacker DH bike.

Craig's Slacker was the only full-27.5" bike at this year's Hardline, with the rest of the field opting for larger wheels in the front or all around to better handle the rough course. The logic behind the little-wheel build was that whatever is lost in rollover is made up for in nimbleness and handling through the gnarlier tech sections on course. Craig's setup features a production frame built to his personal preferences, with some new components from one of the UK's biggest brands.

Both Craig and his mechanic attest to him not being very picky about his setup, feeling comfortable and happy on a range of builds. Some of the tweaks he's made to his Slacker would indicate that this isn't always true - once he gets into his bike setup, he really tries to get the most from it that he can.

Craig Evans won here in 2017 on a very different looking day to this but know what s required to do well regardless.
Craig Evans // AirDrop
Age:31
Hometown: Sheffield
Height: 188cm / 6'2"
Weight: 90kg / 198lb
Instagram: @cregskin

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Airdrop Slacker
Frame:Airdrop Slacker
Shock: Rockshox Super Deluxe Ultimate coil
Fork: Rockshox Boxxer Ultimate
Hub: Hope Pro 5
Rim: Santa Cruz Reserve 31 DH
Tires: Maxxis Assegai front, Continental Argotal rear
Drivetrain:SRAM XO DH
Brakes: Maven Ultimate
Stem: Burgtec Direct Mount MK3 Stem
Handlebar: Burgtec Ride High 50mm rise
Size: S3 (Large)

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Chances are, not many people have seen Airdrop's Slacker before. This bike, born in Sheffield, is built as tough as anything coming from that city. The frame is aluminum, with a threaded bottom bracket and simple internal cable routing. It doesn't cost a fortune either, making it a likely favorite in the comment section.

The Slacker can be equipped with either a dual crown DH fork or a long travel single crown, depending on your preference and whether you're using it for bike park laps or racing at Hardline. Since Craig is doing the latter, he's running a Boxxer on the front, turning it into a 200mm front and rear DH bike with a stock 63-degree head angle. Craig's reach adjust headset, however, will have altered that geometry.

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The front triangle has internal cable rooting and its external on the rear triangle

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Craig's Slacker is an S3, the brand's largest frame, offering a reach of 475mm. However, Craig is using a reach adjust headset, and for Hardline, he has it set to the +5 position, giving him a 480mm reach. When he rides events like Fest, he moves the cup to its center setting, providing a bit less front center for the big jumps. But here at Hardline, he opted for a slightly longer front end to gain any extra speed he could.

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Craig's Slacker is equipped with a Rockshox Super Deluxe Ultimate coil shock at the heart of his Slacker's frame. This shock features an LNL tune, meticulously developed by the Airdrop team in collaboration with Rockshox to perfectly complement the Slacker's suspension geometry. this tune runs slightly more damped than typical, it is tailored for the Slacker's focus on more extreme riding. This weekend, Craig has a 525lb spring installed with maximum preload. For Hardline, he adjusts with a click of low-speed and three clicks of high-speed compression, and the hydraulic bottom out turned fully closed. In normal conditions, he keeps the hydraulic bottom out set to one click closed, with the rebound tuned slow to handle jumps smoothly and avoid any surprises during takeoff.

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Craig's Boxxer, mounted to the front of his Slacker, is a brand new Charger 3 Ultimate version. He's set the top crown as high as it can go to achieve his desired riding position. Inside the fork, there are three tokens in the air chamber along with 170 psi of air, an increase from his usual 165 psi.

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This adjustment is common among riders at Hardline, seeking extra support for the brutal track. He has also increased his low-speed and high-speed settings by two clicks. His rebound is set to the middle setting it's not too fast or too slow just pretty standard, to be honest

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Craig runs his handlebars rolled slightly back, with his brake levers tilted slightly upwards towards a flat position.

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Craig relies on SRAM parts for his brakes, opting for their new Maven Ultimate brakes, which have gained popularity among many World Cup DH riders and are now expanding into the freeride world. Craig's setup is a bit unconventional. As mentioned earlier, his levers are slightly flatter than most riders', but the personal tweaks don't stop there. He has his front and rear brake levers set up differently, with varying angles and reach positions. The front brake sits higher on the bar, with the reach set closer out of the two levers, and the bite point is about 25mm from the bar. In contrast, the rear brake is set at a lower angle, with the reach extended farther than the front. However, the bite point of the rear brake is closer to the bar than the front. There's a method to this apparent madness: Craig doesn't want to be constantly on his brakes, especially dragging his rear brake through turns, so he has more travel in the lever to allow for that.

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Rotor wise there is a set of SRAMs new rotors fitted that are 220mm in the front and 200mm in the rear. Craig has opted for organic pads to this weekend.

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No, we haven't swapped to Dakotah Norton's bike. Here, Craig runs his handlebars as high as Dakotah, just in a slightly different way. His aluminum Burgtec handlebars have 50mm of rise and are cut to a width of 780mm.

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Craig's Burgtec handlebars are mounted to his Boxxer fork via Burgtec's 50mm direct mount stem. Below the stem, there are two 5mm spacers, with an additional two hidden beneath the top crown. Given Craig's stature, this configuration suits him well, enabling him to position himself slightly farther back on the bike.

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Craig runs some really fat grips, these are from ODI. The logic behind this for him is it's easier to grip something tighter that's bigger.

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Burgtecs jumpbike saddle and seat post look so good on this bike.

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Groupset wise, Craig runs SRAM's popular 7-speed XO mech and shifter along with a set of Dissent cranks.

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Which are 165mm long, nothing crazy there. However, there is something special mounted to them.

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Craig's wheelset is a combination of a new set of Hope Pro 5 hubs laced to a pair of Santa Cruz's Reserve Carbon 31 DH rims. These are the only carbon parts on Craig's bike.

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[Split]
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Now, another area where Craig stands out is his choice of tires. He is running a full 27.5" wheel setup, which was the only one at Hardline this weekend. Additionally, they come from two different brands. On the front, there is a Maxxis Assegai with a DH casing and 27 psi. In the rear, he has a Continental Argotal running at 29 psi.

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Craig does not have a tire sponsor, so he just runs what he likes. He particularly enjoys the feel and grip he gets from the Assegai in the front, while the Argotal in the rear can withstand the abuse he puts his rear tires through better than anything else. He is not running any tire inserts either.

Author Info:
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Member since Nov 28, 2019
300 articles

55 Comments
  • 91 0
 I will never get tired of a good old simple, clean, 4 bar bike.
  • 28 0
 Agree, all the Airdrop rigs are so clean!
  • 4 0
 Yep, it's a popular choice for good reason too!
  • 27 0
 Airdrop are real folks doing great bikes and offering stellar customer support. It's been a year on their trail bike - still in awe how it rides and still get all the attention from the team, when I have any questions. Rode big brands' bikes before but never felt anything as cool as they were marketing to me. With Airdrop, on contrary, I got a bike that rides like a dream when in fact I just wanted a clean-looking aluminium rig that ticks all the boxes: external routing, threaded bb, 4 bar layout, fair price, raw colour, made by small company owned by riders. I can't see myself on any other brand's frame anytime soon.
  • 4 1
 I was on the brink of buying their Edit frame. After two friends cracked their Edits 3 times (same spot twice) and didnt have a particularly good time with customer support, I was quickly disillusioned.
  • 2 0
 @endoplasmicreticulum: which model, the new one? I'm considering that myself...
  • 2 0
 @blackpudding: edit is an excellent bike , i got one last year when my transition scout was stolen. They were super helpful and got me back up and riding in record time . brilliant company to deal with
  • 2 0
 @blackpudding: the new one shares tubing with the slacker so I would say there's little chance of it cracking
  • 1 0
 @blackpudding: The old one. The chainstay yoke cracked twice, but they seem to have changed the design on the new frame. The 3rd crack was a bad weld.
  • 1 0
 @endoplasmicreticulum: yes the yoke on the v5 is a redesigned item
  • 22 0
 Can pinkbike have a test of this bike? Really nice bike with a nice price point
  • 5 0
 So that's where the Rogue V1 grips all went, they've been out of stock for years everywhere as far as I can tell. The single-lock on is not good enough, especially with the smaller Allan screws that ODI uses reducing the torque.
  • 3 0
 best grips ever, facts!
  • 1 0
 Due to limited availability of ODI Rogue, I've switched to Lizard Skins Northshore grips.
  • 1 0
 lol at people still running running cheap plastic lock on grips that have little to no damping, tear after any little crash and rock and knock on the lock on collars after a few rides. Get yourself a can of spray paint and some push on grips.
  • 1 0
 Renthal glue on grips, just saying.
  • 1 0
 WAY too skinny
  • 1 1
 @thenotoriousmic: Idk what you're talking about every push-on grip I have seen is thinner and has less damping than my grips, maybe you just know people with terrible taste in lock-on grips
  • 11 6
 Airdrop, please make an MX version of this! Such a sick bike at a very decent price.
  • 11 6
 29 is dead
  • 6 0
 Looks like a
  • 2 0
 more like a
  • 6 0
 such an inSpiring design. A real smooth Operator great for bike park Sessions.
  • 1 1
 Ellsworth Dare ? Yes. Except for being much slacker, that's the now no longer patented ICT 4-bar.
  • 5 0
 Flying the 27.5 flag, good stuff
  • 1 0
 "Craig does not have a tire sponsor, so he just runs what he likes. He particularly enjoys the feel and grip he gets from the Assegai in the front, while the Argotal in the rear can withstand the abuse he puts his rear tires through better than anything else. He is not running any tire inserts either."

Conti out back, Assagai up front is about the best combo for robustness and grip. Argotal or Xynotal out back with the Assagai up front. The dream combos
  • 2 0
 My old Kona Operator also had an hydraulic hose routed under the BB. I never minded it, until the day where I cut it clean on the edge of the first rock at the top of a steep rockgarden... I let your imagination do the rest
  • 3 0
 The black one with the Ohlins is super hot. If I lived anywhere near a chairlift I'd have one
  • 8 6
 Under the BB cable routing on a DH bike is an awful design choice, long travel so needs big loops dangling down like a cheap girls earrings.
  • 1 1
 "Now, another area where Craig stands out is his choice of tires. ... Maxxis Assegai with a DH casing and 27 psi. In the rear, he has a Continental Argotal running at 29 psi."

Compounds? Casing on the Conti that is withstanding all that abuse?
  • 1 0
 The symbols indicate they are Conti’s dh casing tire in soft compound.

Hahaha for all the time you spend typing up negative critical compounds I’d assume you have enough to spare for a quick search/look at Conti’s gravity tire chart.
  • 1 1
 @birdsandtrees: Negative? Just asked a question that oddly had been only partially answered in the article: only the casing of the Assegai was mentioned, yet the durability of the Conti was explicitly called out while also not giving any details.
  • 1 0
 "Craig runs his handlebars rolled slightly back"
...I'd say he runs them flat and that you might really like running your bars that way.
@dariodigiulio may agree.
  • 6 3
 Cable routing under the BB??? DUMB
  • 2 0
 The logic behind this for him is it's easier to grip something tighter that's bigger. ( •̀ᴗ•́ )و ̑̑
  • 2 0
 LNL is the standard aftermarket tune the SD Coil ships with, what's so special ?
  • 3 0
 I'm gonna dissent that trail
  • 1 0
 The brake setup is interesting. I might try something like that as I’m a bit of a back brake dragger.
  • 1 0
 It may work for you, it may be counterproductive. If you don't find the bit point where you were expecting it, you might panic and squeeze excessively looking for that bite point and end up braking harder than you otherwise would. It might work for you though.

An other approach would be to go and ride less steep trails to develop the confidence to release that rear brake a bit more without too much consequence. Then go back to the steeper stuff. I'd say that might be more effective than only practicing the super steep stuff where you feel your bike accelerate (seemingly) uncontrollably as soon as you let go of the brakes.
  • 3 0
 Sick ride
  • 1 0
 One of the best bike checks to date. Great pics, good captions and a solid rig. This is why I PinkBike.
  • 2 0
 Cool pedals, center pins make sense .
  • 1 0
 Yeah. I am liking the look of those pedals. No bearing or axle bump either.
  • 1 0
 RAD one of the very few bikes out there that would get my £££
  • 1 0
 Not digging the cable loops under the BB
  • 2 1
 "Dissent cranks"

It says "Descendant" on them right there in the picture.
  • 1 0
 Session Looks a Like.
  • 1 0
 Ellsworth actually. That's the now no longer patented ICT 4-bar.
  • 2 1
 How so? session has a high pivot and pivot concentric with the axle
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