Before we delve into the bike check, I want to mention that due to a massive rainstorm that occurred on Friday night when we were scheduled to shoot Phil's bike check, we had to shoot it in the Propain Positive pits. Sometimes unforeseen circumstances arise, but with the collaboration between myself, Phil, and the Propain Positive team, we managed to make it happen and I'm really grateful for their help.
Phil's bike is truly unique, as there aren't many Propain bikes racing at the World Series. This fact alone makes it quite special. Moreover, Phil's setup is filled with personal touches, and it's evident that each component has been thoughtfully chosen by him. It's not often you come across riders with such deep knowledge and understanding of their own setups. It's also interesting to see Phil trying some new stuff throughout the race weekend, constantly looking for that optimum setup.
Possibly the most notable feature of the Rage 3 CF is its shock position, which is located in front of the seat tube. Propain say this placement allows for better weight distribution, resulting in a low and central center of gravity for the bike. This is done to enhance the bike's stability and handling, particularly in challenging trail conditions. The Rage 3 CF is compatible with both coil shocks and air shocks. Phil goes with a coil. In terms of suspension performance, the Rage 3 CF utilizes PRO10 kinematics. PRO10 is a specific suspension system designed to optimize progression and traction. It aims to provide a balanced suspension feel throughout the bike's travel, allowing riders to maintain control and traction on rough terrain while also providing a supportive platform for jumps and drops. The PRO10 kinematics contribute to the bike's overall capability and performance on the track.
Phil's personal touches on his frame include unique cable management and additional weight distribution. For cable management, he utilizes electrical tape around the outer part of the cables and secures them with a split gear cable outer end cap tied to the frame. This method helps prevent any movement or noise caused by the cables passing through the frame, ensuring a quieter bike during his race run. This cable management technique is applied to both the rear swing arm and the front triangle of the bike.
In addition to cable management, Phil adds approximately 500 grams of weight to his bike. He wraps this weight in gaffer tape (also known as duct tape) and securely cable ties it to the bottom bracket of the frame. The purpose of this additional weight is to help the bike maintain speed through sections of track where minimal rider input is required. By adding extra weight in this strategic location, Phil believes it improves the bike's ability to carry momentum and maintain speed in those relatively effortless sections.
The Propain Rage 3 CF offers ample opportunities for adjustment to cater to individual rider preferences. One of these adjustments is the ability to change the chainstay length. In the long position, the chainstay length is set at 460mm, which is the configuration that Phil is currently running in Val Di Sole. However, there is also a shorter option available, with a chainstay length of 445mm. Regardless of the wheel size, riders can choose their preferred chainstay length to optimize the bike's handling characteristics.
Another adjustable feature on the Rage 3 CF is the flip chip on the rear swingarm. This flip chip allows riders to switch between dual 29" wheels or with a smaller 27.5" rear wheel. Phil has chosen to run the bike in the "mullet" configuration, as he has not used the full 29er setup for the past two years. This indicates that Phil feels more comfortable and confident with the bike's performance in the mullet configuration.
Like many riders, Phil is a fan of a quiet bike and takes additional steps to reduce noise and vibrations. One of his methods involves using VHS tape on the drive side chainstay's top and bottom faces as a form of sound deadening.
Alongside his Öhlins TTX22 m.2 rear shock, Phil has also been focussing on fine-tuning his suspension, particularly the fork, in collaboration with the Öhlins team throughout the weekend at Val Di Sole. To address specific needs on the track, Phil's fork setup has undergone adjustments. The Öhlins team rebuilt his shim stack, transitioning him from a C40 setup to a firmer C50 build. This modification was aimed at preventing the fork from bottoming out excessively, providing better support and control during his race run. In addition to the shim stack changes, Phil has been adjusting the air pressure in both chambers of his Öhlins fork. He increased the pressure in the ramp-up chamber from 220 to 250 PSI, resulting in a more progressive feel to the fork's initial stroke. This adjustment allows for improved sensitivity over small bumps while maintaining ample support towards the end of the fork's travel.
Phil also reduced the air pressure in the main air chamber from 128 to 119 PSI. This change aims to enhance the fork's sensitivity and improve its ability to respond to smaller impacts. By fine-tuning the air pressures in both chambers, Phil can achieve the desired balance of sensitivity, support, and control, optimizing the fork's performance on the Val Di Sole track. When it comes to compression settings, Phil has his low speed compression set to 4 clicks from fully open and then the high speed compression set to 1 click from fully open.
Phil, like many DH riders now, runs the O-Chain Active Spider. This is their 12-degree model which Phil says is great when he cases jumps.
For the rest of the groupset, we have the brand-new TRP EVO 7 DH groupset, which includes the new TRP 7-speed cassette.
Phil has a unique cockpit setup. One of the first things you notice is how flat he has his brake levers rotated. It seems to be a personal preference of his, as the position is scratched into his alloy Sixpack Millenium 805 handlebars.
In terms of brakes, Phil uses a set of TRP's DH-R EVO Gold brakes. Interestingly, he has set them up so that the rear brake's bite point is much closer to the handlebar than the front brake. This is a trend that I've noticed more and more on DH bikes.
Val Di Sole is a tough track on brakes and to combat this Phil uses their brand new laser cut 220mm diameter brake discs front and back.
Phil, being a tall guy, has added 18mm of risers below his 50mm direct mount Sixpack Millenium DRM stem mounted to the flat Öhlins crown on his fork. Additionally, his Sixpack Millenium 805 aluminium handlebars have a 40mm rise. Phil also cuts his bars down to a width of 785mm for his personal preference.
Phil's cockpit is completed with a set of ODI Longneck V2.1 Lock-on Grips.
Phil's bike is equipped with a set of Silt AM Alloy wheels in a mullet configuration. In the rear, there is a Technomousse Red Poison insert installed with a Vee Tires 27.5" x 2.4" DH-cased Snap WCE tyre running at 27 PSI. The front tyre does not have an insert and features another DH-cased Snap WCE tyre, this time in a 2.6" width, running at 23 PSI. Phil recently switched to the 2.6" tyre on the front and is loving how it feels.
Phil uses clipless pedals for racing, provided by his sponsor Sixpack Racing. Specifically, he uses their Millennium X pedals with the clip mechanism tightened up to its maximum setting. To ensure his feet stay securely in place, he fits a full set of pins on the pedals, ensuring there is no movement in his feet while riding.
Phil's bike is finished off with a Sixpack saddle.