Pinkbike Poll - Should Racing Be Restricted to Production Bikes and Components?

Nov 22, 2013 at 0:52
by Richard Cunningham  

Taken to the level of professional sport, it costs a lot of money to go racing - especially so if your chosen sport happens to require wheels, gears, brakes and suspension. Cubic dollars alone, however, are no guarantee of success. Unless you can score a factory ride, chances are almost certain that you will be racing against riders who have access to one-off prototypes and technology that will not be available to you.

Another flashy new Blackbox item is this new drivetrain. This new DH specific Blackbox derrailleur is on it s second generation on Aaron Gwin s bike this weekl.

SRAM's second-gen Black Box Program DH rear derailleur was spotted by Fraser Britton in the Specialized pits.



"Factory" support is the Holy Grail for motorsport racing and increasingly so for mountain bike competition, because those lucky enough to score a ride can exploit technical advantages that are still in the development stages, and that are not yet scheduled for, or may never reach production. The oft-quoted statement that technology developed by factory race teams trickles down to the common man is only partially true. Race development is all about secrecy. Many innovations used to win races will never see the bike shop because they are either are deemed impractical or too costly to produce - but they did win races.

n a Photo by Paris Gore

The one-off DH racing bike, manufactured by hand in Devinci's Chicoutimi, Quebec, factory for Steve Smith. It was designed to use 650B wheels and a prototype 650B-compatible RockShox BoXXer fork. The geometry and suspension was tuned specifically for one event: the pedally 2013 World Cup track at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.



The period when all mountain bike racers competed on a level playing field upon bikes that were more or less the same items that could be purchased at their local bike shops is a stretch now. Scott's Team Swisspower has dominated the XC World Cup for a half a decade using hand-made tubular tires and it is no secret that two carbon frames that came from the same mold could have been built to virtually any weight and strength combination and look like twins. The suspension game has been heavily manipulated by factory teams with RockShox and Fox both fielding no-can-have forks and shocks. Bike makers' chassis improvements can be obvious, like a new linkage configuration - or invisible, like special-offset fork crowns and geometry changes. Less dramatic perhaps, but arguably important, are the not-quite-ready-for-sale drivetrains that the anointed ones get to use on race day. While podiums and championships are still being won by racers using stock equipment that is available to privateers, the fact remains that the exclusive availability of one-off bikes and hardware to factory-sponsored teams is an unfair advantage.

An ecstatic Justin Frey working over Gwin s new RAD 40 forks.

Fox technician Justin Frey working over Aaron Gwin's new RAD 40 fork prototype during his dominant 2012 season. The revolutionary air-sprung system would remain a guarded secret that year.



bigquotesWho cares if privateer and corporate teams get stuck with last year's technology if it the practice ultimately results in better bikes and parts for the rest of us?

Deep inside, the unfairness of factory support is something that most of us actually relish. Feature articles and secret sightings of one-off prototypes seen at the races, or in race testing, score huge numbers on Pinkbike. The fact that many innovations that evolve from race shops actually do trickle down to production gives us hope that some day we will have a chance to lay down our credit cards and experience their performance first hand. The argument in favor of cutting bike makers and component companies loose to develop anything they want for racing purposes is compelling, not just for the promise of better bikes for the common rider, but also for the raw excitement that it injects into the sport. Who cares if privateer and corporate teams get stuck with last year's technology if it the practice ultimately results in better bikes and parts for the rest of us?

Colorado State MX Championships-- You can find more shots at www.suspendedphotography.com

- Suspended Productions photo



bigquotesThe cliche' that racing improves the breed may be true, but it could be strongly argued that the production rule has done a much better job of bringing race technology to motorsports.

I would, if I were a handful of seconds off the podium on the World Cup circuit and being routinely crushed by racers who had access to better equipment - which begs the question: Could a few changes in the sporting regulations provide a more fair arena for all competitors? Many forms of motor racing enforce a "production rule" that requires competitors to use vehicles and engines that are in serial production. To qualify, the engine and the vehicle can be a prototype or a pre-production item, but it must be produced and sold in specific numbers of units before those items are legally allowed in competition. Some forms of racing require the vehicle to be based upon a showroom stock model. Motocross has been using that model since the early 1980s. World Rally competitors must run production based engines and cars. The reasoning is to keep the playing field as even as practical and more importantly, to enable racing teams to compete directly with those who are sponsored by manufactures. The direct results of production regulations is that non-factory teams can and do win races and championships. The benefits to rank and file racers, however, may be far more reaching.

Nico Lau piloting his 34 RAD to 3rd in the Lake Garda enduro.

Nico Lau piloting his prototype Fox Factory 34 RAD fork to third place in the Lake Garda enduro. Major bike brands and suspension makers are preparing teams for an assault on enduro for the 2014 season. With an emphasis on light weight, pedaling efficiency and downhill descending skills, we expect to see a lot of one-off designs and factory-only innovations.



Compare a motocross bike with a DH bike and it should be obvious that the motorcycle racer gets a lot more for the same money. It's embarrassing to me that the motorcycle manufactures can somehow manage to stuff a five valve, fuel-injected engine into the deal. Production rules force manufacturers to fast-track technology into their production race bikes. The evidence is beyond compelling. If suspension makers had to make 200 prototype forks or shocks and make them available to privateers before they could use them in competition, it could be a game changer. Same goes for tire makers and bike companies who plan to release a different chassis. The model could definitely benefit DH racing, but enduro is where the production rule could be most beneficial, as those events are becoming more widely attended by privateer racers who will soon be facing a hotly contested battle between factory teams. The cliche' that racing improves the breed may be true, but it could be strongly argued that the production rule has done a much better job of bringing race technology to motorsports. Perhaps the bike industry could learn a lesson here.




Should racing be restricted to production bikes and components?

Should there be a 'production rule' for mountain bike racing that ensures that bikes and components fielded by factory teams are sold in sufficient numbers to make the technology available to non factory racers?







292 Comments

  • 248 3
 This argument was blown up years ago when all the factory guys were testing telemetry on their factory-only 7" dh bikes when KovariK showed up out of nowhere and stomped all but Nico down the nastiest track of the year on a box stock 6" GT Lobo, then continued to do so at the next several rounds before they finally put him on the factory frame and 7" boxxer program. Talent rises to the top regardless. Don't think anyone's winning races because of a special derailleur, fancy carbon brake levers, or a few ounces off their frame.
  • 152 16
 This is the stupidest poll I've ever read, bunch of rich weekend warriors crying over not getting the top level stuff so they can think it makes them faster and brag to their mates that they have the new 10k+ downhill bike. Ride your bike and have fun, jesus! The only time this should concern anyone is when they are looking to try and break the top 10 on the worldcup scene.
  • 19 11
 The restrictions make it More about the riders talent than a company with loads of money, pretty cool to see some new ideas like gearboxes being used more though .....
  • 27 0
 I tend to agree with you, however it's quite a long time since that happened and it does seem that the game is changing some since then. It's a tough one to answer.
In our sport, where the human is the engine, the equipment plays less of a role on the final outcome of the day than in motorsports but it definitely is still a factor. But I think the reality is that being picked up by a big "factory" team is more of an advantage because of the other "bonuses" over just having one-off equipment- you've got a good team mechanic (or several) that are able to test and setup that equipment just for you, they've done more research on different equipment advantages for different conditions (suspension,tires,etc.), better trainers & coaches, better travel arrangements and accommodations that you don't have to organize yourself and all the other "little" things that are taken off your plate when you're no longer a privateer. They may seem small but all of of those things eventually add up, especially over the course of a season, and take focus away from the actual racing element of the world cup.

Having said that, I do agree with RC that we currently have to pay a ridiculous amount for bikes, especially compared to motorcycles, however I'm not sure just imposing a "production rule" on racing is going to solve that issue.
  • 24 24
 What RC clearly doesn't understand about manufacturing is, big motor cycle companies already have the machinery and production lines, so their initial outlay is nowhere near as much as it is for a small (in comparison to say Kawasaki) bike company. Having to produce 200 shocks for the public before they can use them in competition is a ridiculous idea, the fact it’s a prototype means it's not going to meet proper production quality as it's been purely designed for performance not durability. Take a car engine for example, a company can get 110bhp out of it and it will run for 200k miles without a problem if properly maintained, up the boost on the turbo and remap the ECU you can get 200bhp easy but it will need a rebuild every 60k. You should really look into manufacturing and engineering before making such ludicrous FRONT page pinkbike articles.
  • 12 2
 Also this is why downhill bikes cost what they cost, smaller target market, smaller production lines means they need to have a larger profit margin to make the same overall profit percentage as a big motorcycle company.
  • 34 5
 If you're a WC privateer who wants a factory ride....suck it up, muffin. If you want it, go out there and train harder then everyone else, and get some top 10s from your skill, not your equipment. Then maybe some factory teams will notice you
  • 5 2
 @mnorris122 Couldn't agree more
  • 17 4
 Uhhh, @Joey, Pinkbike only has a front page
  • 5 12
flag JoeyBratten (Nov 22, 2013 at 6:14) (Below Threshold)
 @General-lee, I know this, but it would have been better as a forum discussion instead of on the front page
  • 19 9
 @JoeyBratten: Bear with me, this is all in a slightly sarcastic tone.
So Marzocchi, should being selling way cheaper than everyone else since they make suspension for bikes and motobikes, since they have the resources already.
Also, Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, KTM and Suzuki should all really get in the bike market because their financial resources, engineers, and development systems would allow them to undercut existing companies. Of course Honda, Suzuki, and Yamaha already are bigger companies with fingers in the motocross game, so their bikes should also be cheaper. (And they are cheaper by a little compared to boutique brands.)
Also, How are Gas Gas and the other trials bikes still in the game when the more mainstream manufacturers could take over their field?
The truth is, the manufacturing and production capabilities are not what make motorcycles cheaper. It is the lack of variety. Their products are all so close to the same that they have to compete in price to get buyers, driving prices down.
Bikes are not so similar (though they are not as different as we like to think either). When you are the motor you notice little things and there is different preference for different riders on a larger scale. There is less financial competition between trek and specialized than there is between honda and ktm because some people just like certain bikes better when they ride them, but you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between a blacked out honda and a blacked out ktm on the trails except at the pro level.
I also think there is a little gouging in the bike market. How different is a xt derailleur from an acera really? Aside from the clutch nothing on there is new. Just better materials, maybe an extra check on the line to make sure they aren't crap. Pennies a piece of difference, but hundreds of dollars off the shelf.
  • 7 3
 I think professional racing should almost implement the same kinda rule in AMA moto/super cross racing where they cannot ride anything without a minimum of that bike being distributed and sold to the world. Like the Ryan Dungey KTM red bull edition 450, that bike has way more innovation then the standard 450 but in order to race it, KTM had to have a minimum production amount of them made for people to buy and it had to be listed as a current model they sold. I'd love to see more racing that's about the riders skill then the bike, and companies would still find ways to innovate.
  • 2 2
 I'm trying to compare this topic with Moto GP, F-1 or WRC... so I think its ok to let the pro's try something diff - something advance so that we all can be jealous.
  • 11 3
 I works well in motocross racing, and it should work well in bicycle racing too. I think its a good thing, and I believe there are many areas such as the production rule that the bicycle industry should be following.
  • 4 10
flag b1k35c13nt15t (Nov 22, 2013 at 7:13) (Below Threshold)
 No. UCI. No. Governing body. No. Just race and ride.
  • 3 0
 Motorcycle dealers also make very little money selling a unit compared to bike shops who work off a larger percentage. There are a lot of differences in the two industries I tire of the comparisons.
  • 3 0
 how are they supposed to progress components and test new ideas...?
  • 4 3
 The last word "benefit the Enduro market" makes me cringe. AM is easely the most conservative market there is and "anodizing" is the prefered tuning method. Most dh-"mods" are done to correct engineering deficiencies of the large corporations, your second buy is usually a specialists product after GT, Spec etc let you down. Most stuff lives for a decade, every small overhaul is celebrated. There is just not much going. The formfactor of what works is clear - nevertheless there is constant sidetracking, faulty wheelsizes, wrong axlediameter, esoteric crap dampers, faulty rearends, 1-3kg weightgain in 2013. As long as there is asymmetrical warfare of marketing on consumers - I buy from corps that dont.

Will restrictions deliver? No, vultures like associations will attempt to regulate and with regulation comes sanctions. Let them ride whatever they want because it will look like this in the end anyway: Long top tube, low bb, single pivot, low spring rate and slightly more than 200/200mm travel and 60-63 HA.
  • 10 1
 I think the biggest advantage of a factory team would be having the personnel support at the races - a personal mechanic to clean, maintain, and tune your bike after every ride, professional suspension tuning, a pile of brand new wheels sitting there so you can smash into anything in your runs without worrying about your wheels, brand new tires every time, travel arrangements, food, etc. I think that would be waaaaaaaaay more impactful than having parts that are a year or so newer than production.

Think about it this way, some frames are definitely better than others, but racers willingly ride all sorts of different bikes these days unlike back in the day when teams were re-badging Intense M1's (I think?) because it was clearly an advantageously better bike. So, it's OK to be on an inferior product, as long as it's the latest from that manufacturer? Do you really think being on the newest tech is all about performance? Their sponsors are promoting their products - that's why they have a team.
  • 3 0
 All you guys who got mad about RockShox only selling their shock to the top tier riders should really think about how you voted here. After all, RS couldn't do that under the proposed rule.
  • 8 0
 I think there's a middle ground here. I like the idea of the racers getting to try out new products because that R&D trickles down to production models. However, I don't like the idea of an unlevel playing field within the companies. Rockshox v. Fox, GT v. Trek v. Specialized v. Devinci is fine. But, at the UCI world cup level, there should be a rule that racers cannot race on products that are unavailable to other racers under the same sponsor. So, if Fox wants to give Gwin a new prototype fork, they need to make it available to everyone else with a fox sponsorship in the world cup. I don't really care whether they decide to charge the lower level guys for it, but they should make it available.
  • 1 0
 Real talk
  • 4 7
 YES => KEEP IT A FAIR PLAYING FIELD
  • 2 0
 Just look what happened to F1
  • 3 0
 Can someone tell me what happened in F1? I haven't watched a race in a few years?
  • 6 1
 they put loads of restrictions on it so that now all the cars are basically the same just tuned slightly different. and they have introduced stupid things like DRS zones restricting the racers even more. you are also only allowed 2 engines per season or you face a points penalty. they tell you what tyres you are allowed to use and how many pitstops you have to have. You also are no longer allowed to refuel during the race. and thats just scratching the surface there are so many constraints it means the sport is getting duller and duller.
  • 2 2
 I don't even know why this is a f*cking poll. The point of racing is to win. To win, you need to have every advantage you can possibly have- the point of developing new products is to give racers, or just riders, the technology that it takes to win- to give the rider as much of an advantage to go faster before they even step on the bike.

This is the stupidest PinkBike Poll (the ones commissioned by the site) I have ever read.
  • 2 2
 Wow that sucks. A big part of racing is being able to customize stuff to your liking so it's not fair to take that away. Why did the do it?
  • 1 0
 Itdbe interesting to give a load of pros the same bikes and see what difference the better or more customized bikes make.... And whos physically bossing it
  • 1 1
 The bike and the technology only count for around 30% of the result. The rider is the one that wins or loses the race. They spend time and focus on training in the gym and out on the bike. You can spend £10k + on getting the ultimate bike but if you can handle it, it won't get you no where. You put any top flight rider on a fully rigid single speed and put any average rider on their "factory set up" and he/she will still get down/around the track faster than most if not all of us.

If you go on about making it a restriction system like the WRC ad MX world. Why bother?! It's already in place. Who do people think does the future product testing that falls on the pages of the mags and web pages that you replace your bust and broken parts with????????
  • 2 0
 onbviously with motorsport there is alot more money involved so the bigger teams were spending ridiculous amounts to get ahead leaving a larger gap to the smaller teams i also think that sennas crash had something to do with it so they have restricted it alot, but you can see how much affect on the sport its made by schumacher making a return after winning so much and hasnt come close to a podium finish since he came back and he was only 'retired' for 3-4 years...
  • 2 0
 True that gazmataz. Pretty sure Stevie could have won on a walmart bike!(if the bike would have made it down) I personally dont think you can compare motorsports, and self propelled sports.
  • 3 1
 I think where a restriction could be made is on national races.If a pro is to race a national,they should have to use a production bike.It seems slightly unfair for a pro to use world cup technology etc against local riders.You wouldnt see a world super bike racing a british super bike.
  • 1 1
 A World Cup elite rider never races against a local rider at a BDS round for example. A local rider would be in the senior catagory (for example) & the elite rider is against other elite riders who have every chance of riding the WC as well. The standard between the two riders with be leagues apart anyway.
Completely unrelated.
The elite WC rider is there to gain his own national points to continue racing at the highest level, as well as to premote the standard you COULD get to if you TRAIN, FOCUS and put the EFFORT in.
The tech has bugger all to do with it in my opinion.
  • 1 0
 @henraldo
Have you watched a f1 race?
Your partially right that the cars have been restricted with small variation and funds been a big factor.
But. Few things. DRS has improved racing it improves overtaking/challenging and adds to the closeness of racing where cars are no longer stuck consistently behind others, some zones are too long though I agree and makes over taking too easy. But ultimately it has made racing closer. DRS goal is to make it a challenge or a possibles move to be made, not to allow a car to easily pass.

Pit stops there is only one rule in that you need to use both coumpound of tires with exception of wet races. So the only limit is 1pit stop and that's it. There is no other rules to min and max pit stops. It hasnt created any issue as most teams will run both compounds anyway due to wear and overall better race pace.
As for dictating tires that's ecsise Pirelli make tires specifically for each track to maximize racing entertainment. However yes this years tires are too soft they wear to fast and racers are having to cruise on them for too long to prevent wear.

Refuelling makes no difference it has minorly affected strategy but it still takes the same amount of time for refuelling so its increased the speed of pit stop and in thereby increased te importance of them while increases the speed of the race. It has dramatically reduced the safety hazard of refuelling too, it also have increased the engernneeing side in they need to make the are economical and te margins for fueling is tighter.

They get no more than 8engines per year without issue, any more and they drop 10grid spots for the race they put the engine in.
  • 1 0
 Sorry for all the spelling in there. On the phone and didn't check it after Smile

And Pirelli pick not make the tires for each race.
  • 1 0
 what it really comes down to is stock,a non factory rider brakes his last wheel,he can't just go get one,thats where a pro factory has no worry and can just thrash his bike knowing he will have a fresh bike on race day,non factory guy got to make his sh,,,t last all week for one run,but i will add that tires are a big tech plus other than that if you can win on a huffy on any sunday it may happen.if you high skilled with in your mind and body,the factory ride just lets you focus more on the ride at hand.
  • 3 1
 This argument is straight out of "Atlas Shrugged". "Fairness"??? Really? If you want ALL innovation to make better stuff to stop in the spirit of "fairness", make it so these manufacturers can't test their stuff on the best riders in the world because Joe Schmoe can't go down to the store and buy it. What a load of bullshit.
  • 2 0
 I have two minds here.

One I feel the wc is fair game other races like nationals, states etc should be restricted.
These lower platform are major development races for riders who want to make it, if wc riders are coming down to race they should be on the same playing field as everyone else (ie no unobtainable parts) this makes it fair for comparison and fairness for the racing.

On the flip many small businesses use theses platforms for developing thier own products. So my mind in this comes to one conclusion.

New development parts that will be come avaliable to the public are fair game , generally these parts are not drastically better but just the next gen so no issue.

Prototype parts that will never make it to product and are built only for pros should be kept to the wc cuircut.
  • 2 1
 AGAIN, WHY IS AN ELITE ATHLETE RACING AGAINST JOE PUBLIC AT ANY RACE????!!!! THEY ARE IN THEIR OWN RESPECTIVE CATEGORIES AND HAVE NO EFFECT ON EACH OTHER AND THE END RESULT.

If Joe public is of the standard to race in the Elite standings then they should have some sort of team deal underneath them anyway.

PEOPLE ARE COMPLETELY MISSING THE POINT OF THEIR OWN ARGUMENT HERE AND IT'S JUST SILLY.
  • 2 0
 You know that not every rider in WC has a large (or any) sponsor backing them, right?
This has nothing to do with "Joe Public" being at these races. He's there but he's on the sidelines yelling (like you are in your comment for some reason). But there are privateers at the world cup level.

Not everyone is bothering to read the possible options presented for this idea. You could make the restrictions just on race day so that innovations could still be tested. And "products being made available for purchase" doesn't have to mean there's 100k of them out there for the public- it's more like 200 available for all racers on the world cup to be able to purchase them.

It's not quite the black & white issue everyone wants to turn it into.
  • 2 0
 Anybody remember gwins apparent brake failure on prototypes? Not always an advantage.
  • 1 1
 i gotta idea get rid of uci rulers,let the riders rule be the the driver of there sport,and factory's that put in the backing,uci just wants money,and with that is to much power with no vote from rider.
  • 1 1
 CEDRIC AND PEATY FOR KING,let them be are ruler's,just think out loud,,,,
  • 2 0
 @ Gazmataz.Theres a point you are missing.Its just a suggestion ok.
Say...when a Pro rider wins a National race in his elite category,and say sets a winning time of 2 minutes on his world cup bike.Then you have the winning rider of the senior race setting a time of 2 minutes and 5 seconds on his production bike.

Wouldnt the rider on the production bike be thinking hmm maybe if i had a world cup bike i would of got alot closer to the elite riders time maybe even beating his time.But the limelight is mainly taken by the Pro riders setting the fastest times on there world cup bikes.Is this right for National races?The Pros could choose to ride the teams production bikes making things slightly fairer for all of the riders to compare in a more true field.
Atleast this might show that a standard production bike is capable of setting the fastest time of the day.Just a thought.
  • 1 1
 And that's not really an argument either. If a senior rider is at that level, he/she will more than likely promote to the expert & elite categories in the next season or two.
Priveteers on the WC curciut may not receive big product deals but I can assure you that the individuals who do, have more than enough ability to do everything they currently do on standard stock parts. The products alone won't give a 5 second difference against someone else in the race unless the privateer is on equipment that is a few years old.
The main difference between a privateer and a pro team rider is the fine details of a support network. Mechanics that will fine tune your bike while they focus on the riding.
To say the products give them the upper hand is not really an argument in my eyes. All of the top
Riders in every country have shown their ability on production bikes to get to where they are today. Apart form the odd new designed brake lever, disc caliper/rotor or mech, there isn't really any difference in products that's made from the production side. Tuning is performed by the teams own mechanics that are fully qualified and employed by the company/team. It's no different than you taking your bike to a suspension company like J-Tech suspension, Tftuned or mojo to get service and custom tuned to your specifics. All the WC privateers will have already done this.
Products need to be tested under race conditions as this is where they need to be tested. If it's not tested at its intended limits, why bother making something. Practice runs aren't the same as race day runs.
Who on the WC curciut is using a none production bike? GT, yes but this will no doubt become a production bike like everything else. The only difference at the moment is the factor of 650b and 29er wheels thrown into the mix.
  • 3 0
 So parts make no difference, but the bike companies drop $5000 on them cuz it's fun. Yeah. That's reasonable.
People who think the bike doesn't make a difference need to stick with walmart rigs. It is a better investment since the bike doesn't matter.
  • 2 0
 Privateers at worldcups for me is not a concern.
The wc platform is massive if a privateer places 20th they will catch the eye, at that level they are seen easily even with lower results and if they are at that level they will need to prove it at that point, the wc is the pinincle wc races I had no issue with prototype parts.

On national and state or Oceania level I think it needs to be restricted. These platforms are much smaller and you rarely see anyone who finishes off the podium, likewise these platform are not for pros these are for the other unheard of up and comers and while pros will attend these platforms are mostly for the unknown and future riders, the platform needs to be for these riders not wc riders, havin prototype parts is hurting.

Parts are important and yes the rider will ultimately be the deciding factor if you have two riders who have great runs the parts could be the deciding factor whether they finish 1st or 5th.

Lets take a downhill run that takes 4min to finish.
So 240seconds. If we assume parts make up just 1% of the speed that is still a 2.4second gain from parts.

If we are comparing two dh bikes (ie comparable rides) I beleive the gain in parts is probably only 1-3% but you can see over a 4min run that can equate from a 2.4-7.2second gain.

As I said earlier though.
New development parts that will be come avaliable to the public are fair game in any arena, generally these parts are not drastically better but just the next gen so no issue for me at any race domestic or otherwise.

Prototype parts that will never make it to product and are built only for pros should be kept to the wc cuircut.
  • 2 0
 let me just say its not the parts that you may ever see,its makeing the bike feel new,after all the runs you do come sunday i was a privateer i would sink at least on ave. of 300-1000 for 1QLF RUN and hope it last for final run,its gotta feel fresh or your mind is not focus,so just run what you got.
  • 27 0
 This isn't F1, anyone close enough to the top to be in with a chance of winning is already on proto/custom stuff, it's nothing unusual and it's not like the big teams have so much more money than anyone else that they can just "buy" a better-developed bike through sheer financial power. Even when Honda were in it they weren't blowing everyone else out of the water, and they're a company that makes Trek/Giant/Specialized combined look like 3 guys in a shed with a MIG welder. World Champs this year was won by the same guy who won last year, on much the same bike, which is (barring the prototype rear shock which utilises very similar technology to what Cane Creek have been using for the past 7 or so years, and Ohlins for years before that) more or less available to the public in its racing form.

Let the innovation continue, there's realistically very little on a bicycle that can't already be bought by the end consumer if they're willing to pay, and unlike motorsports where more money = faster vehicle, the rider's ability outweighs the bike's by such a massive amount that having "production" based racing is a total waste of time. Especially when you consider that the majority of modifications out there are made by the everyday joe, and are things like custom fenders, chainguide mods, pedal mods etc.
  • 7 1
 I will also point out that the proof of what I'm saying is when you see in motorsports that a TEAM dominates the racing for a while, because the vehicle is clearly providing a substantial advantage. For example, in F1 you'll often see two cars from the same team coming 1st/2nd (or at least qualifying in those positions, where outright speed is shown and race tactics are less relevant), whereas in the bike world we're generally not seeing the same things. Steve Smith was killing it for Devinci this year, yet none of his teammates got on the podium. Maybe they had crappier bikes...
  • 2 4
 If you're not a moron you should realize that the bike has very little influence on the outcome of a race. I rider must feel confident on a bike and if he has access to prototype-design he can get whatever he wants. And a production-frame can be tweaked via angle-sets, offset bushings, wheelbase-changes, ergonomics etc. There are no better or worse bikes on the circuit. They're pretty even and the differences can be tweaked via damping setup and the aforementioned. Therefore a pointless poll.
  • 7 13
flag WAKIdesigns (Nov 22, 2013 at 2:57) (Below Threshold)
 tabletop84 - why do I have an impression that you two talk of the same thing... Socket, I feel super stupid for this but thanks for letting me realize for the very first time, that if someone writes too much with too elaborated arguments supporting the main thesis, it is hard to understand what he means... We should write in the beginning of every rant what we mean.

Did you mean: biker is a dominating factor so some new stuff can't help much, yet don't stop inventing that new stuff? As crazy as it may sound, makes perfect sense to me!
  • 1 0
 Not really impressed by this article, mostly because as said, if Joe Average can buy a BOS or CCDB and has access to tuning I doubt he'll be that disadvantaged gear wise. Let's also not forget the fact that some race day stuff would be absolutely useless for anyone that isn't sponsored - who would buy super slick seals that only last one race?

Other then that I think RC missed a point - race only gear makes racing/biking in general more interesting to follow - think Honda or Millyard with that tank damper and the 7 page discussions that followed. People clearly love stuff like that.
  • 25 2
 The top riders should always have access to the best equipment possible. It promotes innovation and provides a great testing ground for products that eventually makes their way to us as consumers. And ultimately, having access to one-off gear isn't a guarantee of success- this year's World Champs proves that rider skill/lack of error will trump special equipment.
  • 7 16
flag MintsauceSouth (Nov 22, 2013 at 2:13) (Below Threshold)
 I think that equipment plays more of a role in gravity disciplines. The more fitness comes into play the less the bike matters eg.World Champs.
  • 7 5
 if Stevie Smith has miniature rockets coming out of the rear triangle on his bike, thats not fair. HOW INNOVATIVE. Although it really isn't nearly as big of a deal as it is in the Motocross world.
  • 9 3
 Gee, Smith, Hill, Gwin, Greg and so on get the best shocks and the best forks they also get some trick gearing and brakes, there already the best riders and so this kind of goes hand in hand I guess but why can't they just test that stuff on the off season and during training sessions on the world cup tracks and go back to stock stuff that all the other riders and privateers only have access too?

Everyone would love to get there hands on the best gear but it wont happen so to make it a little fairer on them let the top lads right production stuff in there race runs, or bring back the skin suit I bet you'd see some lower field guys hey maybe even some of the top guys sport them just to gain some extra time which racing is all about.

On another note they could do a charity race every year every rider on the same bike and the same components or maybe they can race each other’s bikes by drawing it out of a hat.
  • 4 5
 Heavyp, yep, you got it right there. They can do their testing 330 days of the year they are not at WC races. And they would end up testing stuff that then HAS to be sold to us all if it gets used on the race bikes. Win Win all round it seems.
  • 2 2
 I'm split on the idea... I like seeing innovation and watching the champs kill it on the coolest gear, but I know that the average joe pays for all the R&D that they might never see when they buy a stock part. The article from yesterday about FOX's RAD program for example... Who do you think is paying for the shocks that cost $5,000 to produce? That cost is added on to every one of the forks and shocks that FOX sells. Sometimes we do get a taste of it down the line and sometimes not. I wonder what our bikes would cost without footing the bill for the super costly R7D projects for blackbox/RAD racers...
  • 1 1
 I think that using prototype parts underneath top world cup racers is key to making a great product. A world cup DH race will put the part through the most torture and will prove it or disprove it. but if it is a good idea please make it available! And if i knew that a part i was thinking about buying wasn't tested at that level and not in a machine or by some weekend warrior rider (no offence to weekend warriors considering i am one myself) i probably wouldn't buy it.
  • 17 0
 Keep the technology moving forward. Don't stifle innovation. DH racing is the F1, or Moto GP of our sport. We don't don't want to turn it into Nascar or AMA do we?
  • 8 2
 AMA blows the UCI away lets be real.
  • 2 1
 somismtb-
As a governing body, yes they probably do. (It's not hard to beat the UCI)
But, really, how much innovation has there been in dirt bikes over the past 5-10 years compared to the same time period in bicycles? You could argue that's a result of limiting what's getting out onto the track.
  • 4 1
 Equally as much. EFI is being introduced to 2 strokes now. Air forks on a moto bike! Rear linkage.. Hydraulic clutch, brakes. They are hard to compare.
  • 1 0
 I was meaning AMA road racing. Thy have destroyed the sport bike racing to the point that every top racer has left to go to world super bike or the British series. All because yet wanted restricted bikes
  • 1 0
 I havent followed any road racing but I grew up racing AMA and they have put on only the best and are always on point. Never creating any level of unfairness and always making sure you get the bang for your buck
  • 8 2
 I saw the title of the article and knew exactly who wrote it: classic RC troll poll.

Barely wasted my time reading it or the obvious comments that will point out the obvious stupidity of the topic at hand.

Desperate articles like these make Pinkbike look out of touch, and...desperate. Yes it is the winter, not alot to talk about. But sometimes it's better to write nothing at all than to write something stupid.

This article is worse than RC's mostly irrellevant and misinformed article on the future of enduro. Even the safety wire article wasn't as silly as this. When he tries to apply motorcycle thinking to mtb it comes across as stupid desperation. I still like him overall but I think Pinkbike should be a little more selective in these increasingly predictable troll polls RC engages in.
  • 14 2
 I love this guy^^^
  • 11 0
 you have to pay the troll toll to get to the boy's soul...

(Always Sunny... anybody?)
  • 1 0
 eh.. disagree... its interesting to think of homologation rules, especially in enduro... dont see it as trolling to open the window on the topic...

and what was wrong with his article on the future of enduro?... i thought it was spot-on in identifying the basics... what about it is misinformed?
  • 1 0
 RC, have you met Protour?
  • 5 0
 Plot twist, RC is Protour!
  • 1 0
 Oh!!! Touche! Ha
  • 7 3
 I presume we all noticed this line:
"Production rules force manufacturers to fast-track technology into their production race bikes. The evidence is beyond compelling".

A production rule, such as one requiring around 200 to 250 production versions to be sold to the public, has done nothing but introduce more innovative versions of parts, frames and components to be, safely, used by a wider variety of athletes in the sports in which it has been implemented.

So remind me again why it is a bad idea?
  • 4 0
 Quite simply it takes longer and you can't try out such exotic new things in a race environment.
  • 11 0
 Of course, however, the point being made by RC is whether 1) the WC should be the place for the R&D to be done... and 2) A production rule is likely to mean a greater number of end users are given greater consideration than at present.

As the 34 RAD article the other day pointed out (www.pinkbike.com/news/Riding-FOXs-RAD-34-Fork.html), and I quote:

"A lot of what we learn through the RAD program is considered for production but many times what an elite World Cup racers wants is not necessarily what a consumer wants, or even what an elite racer would want to ride on a regular basis. - Mark Fitzsimmons, Race Program Manager"

This begs the question that if their elite level riders are determining the direction that their R&D is going, and that same direction is at odds with the wants and needs of us the consumers, why should there be any benefit to us, the end users? Sure, the elite racers get products that suit them down to the ground, however, again as has been mentioned on many an occasion, you would be forgiven for thinking that an entire line of first generation CTD dampers look to have been brought to market having had scarcely sufficient quantities of testing.

Further to that, take a look again at the RAD 34 article. It seems to suggest that whilst the RAD lines will continue to be made available to their elite athletes, Fitzsimmons adds "certain RAD-level products might be available as aftermarket upgrades in the near future". With emphasis on the might.

Even then, do they need to use WC level events to do their research. Of course not, Fox and any of the big names have more than enough opportunities to do what testing they need to do to determine what will work and what will not without the need to use WC races.

Yet a production rule will level the playing field, and make for better racing.....
  • 1 0
 Downhill any tech Enduro prod tech
  • 2 0
 You have made a excellent point @orientdave. DON'T MISS that comment.
  • 4 0
 You mean RockShox would have to make their high end rear shock available to everyone? I don't care about that, but an awful lot of you guys did just a little while back. Now it seems you have changed your minds. You want RS and fox to keep that stuff out of your hands.
  • 4 0
 Sorry if someone has mentioned this but in most racing worlds, wrc,world super bike,le Mans,ect,they all have differnt classes, one being a "open class" and a "factory class". Why cant we have both? Then with both there will be more mtb on tv and the sport channels.
  • 3 0
 No no no, look at what all of the regulations have done to F1 it is now just a dull precession of cars. If you wanted fairness then give everyone the same model of bike straight from the production line, but that would stifle any creativity or innovation and make for dull racing.

I want manufactures going totally mad being able to try one off prototypes with crazy innovation, no limits, yes one bike might have a small advantage or on the other hand it might fail spectacularly but you will only find out if you let them try. Then maybe in a year or two we will all have access to it. I don't think that 95% of riders are able to push their current equipment to the limit so having the latest prototype is hardly necessary for us.

And as for world rally having to have to use production cars and engines, they have to use a production shell and thats about it. The engine, suspension, turbo, gearbox, diff, aero... to name a few are all custom items, or did you think your $15, 000 VW polo was the exact same model as the one Sebastien Ogier is throwing about the Spanish mountains?
  • 3 0
 I would be interested to see RRP price bracket on a total bike build.
For example an unlimited race so all the elite stuff we already have - then sub series for 4k and 2k bikes - then for fun the up to £500 argos/halford junk bike series haha :-D
  • 3 0
 That is a great idea! Lets see the pros racing on stock cheap bikes! That would bring down the price of some great stuff! That would really test the bike vs rider myth!
  • 1 0
 This is a terrible idea. Top local contenders around here seem to rarely have the highest end builds or even current year models. Based on msrp of the new bike, I bet times between the +4K and the sub 4K classes would be indistinguishable.
  • 2 0
 If there was no speed difference between +4k and -4k bikes it would bring down the price a bit.
You do have a point about the model year snafu. You could only do it at the pro level where the riders are on new rigs annually already.
  • 3 0
 Racing is just as much about competition between equipment manufactures as it is the riders themselves. If you look at any type of wheeled racing: formula one, moto gpx, the one off contraptions on the Bonneville Salt Flats; it really is just as much about building the fastest machine possible as it is piloting said machines. The moment you regulate the equipment is the moment you become a bunch of whiny roadies with all number of rules on what you can and can't do and innovation comes to a crawl.
  • 3 0
 "Some forms of racing require the vehicle to be based upon a showroom stock model. Motocross has been using that model since the early 1980s. World Rally competitors must run production based engines and cars. The reasoning is to keep the playing field as even as practical and more importantly, to enable racing teams to compete directly with those who are sponsored by manufactures."

-In Rally and almost all forms of spec motorsport, "based on production" is a very loose term. The mountain bike industry hasn't even come close to exploiting this rule to the extent that more established and more technically involved sports have. Even the most advanced products from SRAM and Fox still resemble their showroom counterparts, that derailleur being a great example. It still has a cage, two pulleys and a big spring right? It's not that revolutionary. Compare that with a production based Subaru 2.0 liter boxer engine that would make roughly 260hp and about as much torque. Now add an enormous turbo, anti-lag, water injection, hugely complex mapping and electronics, and out the other side comes a 300hp but almost 900 ft/lb of torque ( at least in the "old" group A era) that can run for days at max and not break. Having 4 cylinders and being an engine is about where the similarities stop.
I say bring it on. Give the best riders all the craziest and most advanced stuff you can think of. You throw enough mud at the wall eventually some of it will stick...and we will benefit.
  • 1 0
 "The mountain bike industry hasn't even come close to exploiting this rule to the extent that more established and more technically involved sports have." Absolutely agree. I think mtb racing has yet to see a "I'll know it, when I see it" unfair bike try to compete.
  • 3 0
 Dear Pinkbike,

Please always add an extra option for the rest of us who are non-conformists. I would've voted "I don't care. It doesn't bother me whatever anyone wants to do." I'm not a racer but, isn't the ability to do what ever anyone (that includes Corporations) wants, whether it be to the detriment of some other people, the essence of being free?

Love and hate.
  • 3 0
 Its a tough call, I came from moto, and even though I am a little younger I miss the works bikes of the 80s and 90s. I think mtn biking is following the path of moto 10 to 15 years ago; lots of money and development, the sports gaining popularity, production bikes and parts are becoming so consistent strong and light, not to mention lots of local places are having some major races. There are a few ways to make money in the sport you love: get famous by photos, videos etc, or competition (whether it be racing or slopestyle). The difference between moto and mountain biking is this: we have seen time after time where the prototype has failed the rider or the rider just slips up (Gwin's brakes last year, and Smith fell over first turn on the very bike pictured in this article). Practice makes perfect, and the best privateer riders will have a day to prove to the big wigs that they are the next Smith, Gwin, or Atherton. No Blackbox, RAD, or any other special prototype will show off the skill you possess better than you. ..At the end of the day its not the bike, it's the rider.
  • 1 0
 Couldn't agree more. Smile
  • 2 0
 If you restrict the use of new components, we will see muc fewer new components. The main reason new production items come onto the market is because they've been race proven at worldcups etc. If you remove this then the sport will progress much more slowly! Besides i'm sure running prototypes isn't always good, they might be and probably are less reliable than factory components...
  • 1 0
 No one is saying that they should restrict the use of new components, they are just saying the pros can't use them in races until they are production ready. I really don't see why people think this will hurt product development or diminish the companies incentive to produce new products. The goal for a company is still to produce the best products and advance technology regardless of whether factory teams can 'test' the stuff in races or not. They can still use their races to test things, they just have to race on production stuff. Like a few years ago for instance we saw Gee testing an inverted Fox DH fork (that never made it to production) in practice, but he didn't race it.
  • 2 0
 How will you define production ready? If this sort of rule were instituted you'd have teams being all lawyery about the distinction between prototype and production ready.
  • 1 0
 I should have worded that differently. What I meant by production ready was that it is available to the public.
  • 2 0
 I think it should not be restricted in any way, but I hope this does not lead the sport to a situation like MotoGP where (for instance) the guys at HRC ride bikes LIGHTYEARS away from what the average joe can buy in a Honda dealer, and I will not even mention things like F1 to make my point. I think a close relation between racing and average bike park joe is essential for racing to make sense, and for the health of the sport and part manufacturers. I think the fact that a fan and rider can go and buy the same things (almost) his hero rides at the WCs is great for all of us.
  • 1 0
 Superbike is the version of MotoGP with production bikes. Still awesome racing.
  • 3 0
 Many things from F1 are now used in other cars (aerodynamic wings, carbon fibre, KERS,...) and I can imagine that it's the same in MTB.
However, every company needs to test their components first to see whether there's any real benefit which wold make the product worth producing/buying.
The only thing I would agree with is selling the racing prototypes to other non-factory teams.
  • 2 1
 lets not forget that mountain biking - especially downhill - is a human powered activity. Comparing it to motorsports isnt really relatable, given the complexity of say, an F1 car vs a downhill bike. Downhill bikes these days are getting closer to what the top guys are on, and i still think that it doesnt matter what you are on, its the rider that matters
  • 2 0
 if people want new technologies they will buy them nobody forces them to - having none production parts in racing helps to develop new things for the masses the clutch mech being a great example. Any bike company that puts money back in to the sport in the form of racing should be able to prototype what they want it lets great things happen look at Honda they were never likely to put that bike in to production but it was still great to see and pushed some of the doors open around gearboxes and searching for a better gearing setup. These 'giant' leaps in technology that are some times seen on pro bikes are what are eventually watered down and then distributed to us mere mortals to enjoy. If people didn't push the boundaries we'd never get any new technologies
  • 2 0
 Great article RC, but it misses one very important point- If you read the UCI rules then everything used in competition must be available to the public.

The catch is that the company can put an outrageous price tag on it thus not making it actually available in practice. This is pretty stringently enforced in the road cycling world but no-one in the MTB world seems to care (e.g. Honda bikes existing for many years but never being available) Wink

This UCI rule is why you can buy the frames and helmets used to win so many Golds on the track at the Olympics through UK Sport... I believe a frame is something like £20k and a helmet £10k on their website.

The other way companies on the road get around this rule is I believe there is a "prototyping period" after which it must be made publicly available or scrapped. Truth is though hardly any UCI rules actually get enforced in MTB unless there is an uproar from lots of teams e.g. skin suits.
  • 1 0
 He has missed nothing. RC is talking about the kind of production rule that exists in other sports but not in the UCI MTB guidelines, namely the kind of rule that allowed me and a mate to go to Italy in the early 90s and pick up a Ducatti 888 SP3, number 159 or 152 I seem to remember of around 400 to 500 (I think, because I have seen number 359!) made for racing the Superbike series. That series required a set number to be made and sold to the public to be eligible to race... and every year that the frame or appearance changed. Production rules ensure the kind of activities you describe become more difficult to get away with.
  • 2 0
 My point was that this "production" rule already exists in UCI sanctioned events which was not mentioned in the article. I'll try and dig out the exact rule for clarity...
  • 2 0
 We searched UCI before we posted the poll, and it appears that the rule relates to road, not mountain bike racing. Post anything you find.
  • 1 0
 yeah, you are right... there is that rule, its not as complex as in motorsports, but it is true that equipment must be commercially available but doesnt specify much beyond that other than to state that certain road products must be approved by UCI Technical Commission... it is enforced periodically in road racing to kill some time trail bikes... but not enforced consistently... it would certainly kill the sram black box stuff... by and large, its been a good rule for road racing, but of course the hassle has been in the UCI management of the rule and the process...
  • 1 0
 @ eriksaun--Why would you kill the Sram Black Box stuff? That seems a little selective. Shimano has had that type of prototyping going on years before SRAM existed. They didn't have a cool name like "Black Box". RC can attest to all the photos and spy shots over the years in MTB Action. I remember the newest model disc being "black" prototypes, the XTR pieces over the years, etc.
  • 1 0
 @bman33- i am just giving that as an example of a program that would possibly be disallowed if they applied the road rules to mtb because it is not commercially available... of course the same would apply to anyone...
  • 1 0
 bman33 shimanos cool name is "skunk works" or at least was with the airlines proto stuff.
  • 1 0
 @bikesrlame---that's right! Forgot about the "skunk works" . A nod to the Lockhead Skunkworks that brought us the Blackbird and several other cool jets.
  • 3 0
 so you're saying no prototypes at all to make racing fair? I don't understand... if there's no prototypes we'll be on the exact same bikes in ten years, literally the exact same bikes
  • 3 0
 No, there can be prototypes, the same as there are now, ridden outside of official UCI WC races, just as they are now.
  • 4 0
 didn't think of that... one hell of a brain fart
  • 2 0
 I don´t see this as a big problem right now - the equipement you can buy now is much closer to the stuff Smith, Atherton and co are running these days... back in the days it was a much bigger factor: 15 black box riders were running open bath 15 cm Boxxers while the rest of the field was on closed cartridge DHOs with 10 cm of travel...forks and tires made a huge difference back in the day! How would they handle a rule like this on the world cups? I think there are other things to concentrate on to improve the world cup series...
  • 1 2
 How do you know?
  • 2 0
 People suggesting that restrictions would impede innovation are simply wrong. Bike companies would still be producing the same new products, but they would actually be available to the public far sooner, if ever. It would actually open up the flood gates of innovation, because as the article stated, there are so many factory only parts/tech that never see the open market; stifling the flow of innovation down to the every day rider.

Placing a "stock" regulation would be a fantastic thing for the sport, in my opinion. It would essentially open the book of "blackbox" level components (and every companies equivalent) to the public, which would be a great thing.
  • 1 1
 Yea I just don't see how this would in any way dissuade companies from still trying to develop new products. The goal will still be to have their riders win, so they still have the incentive to outfit those riders with the best parts. They just have to wait until the products are fully developed before use in races.
  • 1 0
 Guys, it comes down to money. If these companies are spending their pennies on forced-production lines rather than paying engineers and designers and athletes, innovations would be cut by a very large margin. It would be a very unwise business move.
  • 1 0
 If you're really of the belief that race tech trickles down to mass pro eventually, then this argument doesn't apply. They spend the money on tool and die equipment anyway, although right now it's on the back end. They'd simply be moving that cost to the front of the line, ahead of letting athletes use it.

They can still R & D test with other avenues, it just wouldn't be on the WC circuit... so it's not like they suddenly can't develop technology because they can't race with it. There would be no cost increase for dev.
  • 3 1
 yeah, one step closer to F1. You know, that sport that used to be exciting and fun to watch..... then got so weighed down in its own rules and regulations that its now just a glorified pageant show instead of a race. no thanks.
  • 1 0
 The no testing rule has killed the competition. Can you imagine the guy that says,"My computer program says this". They hire him, build the car, take it to the first tire test and be 10 seconds off. That's the car presented to the FIA and that's what you HAVE to drive for a minimum of like 7 races before you can make a change. Sorry, this isn't bike related.. haha
  • 3 0
 Seriously? The skinsuit issue is still contested. Address the inconsistency of your governing body first instead of giving them yet another item to misinterpret & regulate.
  • 2 0
 "Who cares if privateer and corporate teams get stuck with last year's technology if it the practice ultimately results in better bikes and parts for the rest of us?" -this article... If you think your -almost the best, but not The best- bike is why you aren't winning you're never going to win. figure out how to go fast with what you have, and in the end your skills will shine through and you can prevail. and once you show promise you will have those parts anyways! and its not like each part is a crazzzy huge upgrade anyways!!! every prototype only shaves a few grams or make things feel a bit better. I say, put up and extra 20 lbs on squats and do more road biking and your bike being a few lbs heavier will make no difference.
  • 3 0
 HAHA... I worked at a shop once and this guy came in that was a roadie and wanted to be faster. I kid you not, he spent $3k on a carbon road bike and spent about $4k on light weight parts. Ti brakes, Ti cranks, Ti stem, Ti seat post and nude carbon seat, super light weight wheels and a full Ti bolt kit for his Dura Ace. Just to be faster. I said, "So how often do you ride?" He said,"Mostly just Sundays, but I still can't beat them". He was getting madder and madder because he wasn't going faster, he was going slower. I took his bike for a spin and there was NO power transfer cuz his bike was so flexy from all the light weight parts. I said,"There is too much flex. You should put some of the stiffer stock stuff on here and ride more instead of buying all these parts"... I never saw him again...
  • 2 0
 I'm pretty sure every little bit helps, even if it's placebo and makes the rider more confident so they push harder. I have a hard time believing that these changes from production model make that big of a difference.....especially with the talent that rides at a world cup level. If anything, one advantage a factory rider might have is the access to better trainers and better training regimes. The money it takes to keep these guys fit is probably pretty shocking. If I were at that level and I got signed, the training would be the advantage that I looked forward to more than anything. The sick ass prototype gear would just be frosting.
  • 2 0
 here is my 2 cents. in competition man has always looked for the competitive edge sometimes it benefits some times it hinders. just because it is prototype doesnt mean it is going to work. true riders can turn their machine into them and shred. i have seen guys riding pieces of shit kill guys with 10k bikes. So the fact i will never be pro and thats cool when new components come out the ones i use drop in price and stoke my shred even more!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 2 0
 They're pro racers, they are sponsored and race factory teams for their talent. These guys are the best in the world, so why not; as a company that has factory teams, strive to provide new technology for you're racers even if it doesn't make it to production, it's these racer and team exclusive products that have helped us come so far in mountain biking. Let's just let them keep using their fancy stuff, I mean we have just as good
equipment.
  • 2 0
 I don't see guys with "Special" bikes actually winning anything. How much advantage will a magical d-railer give you? Or a shock? Or a 1/2 lighter spring? It is and always will be rider. In the future I think we will be seeing larger wheeled bikes on shorter travel frames in DH as we are already seeing this in Enduro.
  • 2 0
 If none of that stuff actually gives anyone an advantage why do companies waste so much money developing it?
  • 1 0
 Because if we see someone win a race on it, we will associate that component with winning and want to buy it. I mean, if I had a clutch derailleur would that make me faster than a guy who has a regular d-railer?
  • 1 0
 all the clutch does on a mech is make it stiffer so you dont get chain slap and its quieter also all the top ten world cup riders who ride sram use blackbox products which are 'better' than normal. at the end of the day it is the rider but products make a difference.i dont think they will start using shorter tavel bikes but bigger wheels are coming into DH.
  • 1 0
 A clutch derailleur might not make you faster but it will make your bike quieter and shift smoother as well as help with chain retention. Its not alway just about speed, but also durability. So while a clutch might not make you faster it might help your chain stay on while the other guy drops his. Or allow you to less a less elaborate chain retention system than the other guy which simplifies setup and which reduces the chances of mechanical problems.
  • 2 0
 This is a stupid article, you talking about Professional level racing here an you want to restrict the innovation of prototype parts? Cuz we all know there is no way in hell the manufactures are going to produce those products for everyone else to race on, what's the point then? They have no advantage to doing that. My 2 cents
  • 2 1
 No one said to limit innovation. They said to put stuff up for sale. You can pour $5000 into a fork, but you gotta have that fork on the market before you can race on it.
  • 2 0
 How are you going to properly test a product without putting a season of real race scenarios on them?
  • 2 1
 Racing is not anything like real world. It is more extreme in some ways and way less in the most important ways. Put the bike away muddy. Don't lube it. Case a bunch of jumps. These are things the racers seldom or never do, but typical consumers do constantly. Testing should revolve around real use. Put a 250lbs gorilla on it and have him case it for a season without doing work on it or cleaning it and review how well it held up.
  • 2 0
 These comments are funny. Some of you really have no idea that there is more parity between a factory and a stock bike today than at possibly any time in the short history of DH racing. If you want to see what real 'factory advantage' looked like go back 12-15 years to when teams rode frames and suspension you could never, ever buy and we're heads and tails better. And still young guys came up on clap-traps and won. No engine, no argument (well that and the fact that you can buy a better stock bike than some factory ones depending on the spec... There is just so, so much more to racing a bicycle than the bike.
  • 1 1
 Except for advancements that make a huge difference: tubeless tires reduce flats, making or breaking the race. We all have that, but what if it was a factory only advancement? How about wide bars? Clutch derailleurs? Chain guides? This stuff cut weight, prevented lost chains, etc. Those things really do make a difference in every race. We al have them, but as the rules stand if a company has that it makes more sense for them to keep it for only their racers until other companies begin to figure it out. It slows down innovation.
This rule doesn't prevent innovation. It makes it available to the super rich.
  • 2 0
 Let's talk current though, sugar; EVERYONE has access to everything you just listed above. In fact, I'm going into a WC season next year with the rig I'm rocking and ZERO (yep, zero) factory support. Do I expect to lose because I'm not rocking the newest Fox 40? No. No way in hell. In fact, it doesn't scare me that they've got brand new fancy schmancy proto rigs with super-hybrid this and perfectly-new that. What worries me most as a pro racer with no support? Not having a mechanic on site, not being sure if I'll have the cash to afford a bed or whether I'll make do in the same set of dirty clothes all weekend to save weight for the second set of spare wheels I'll have to buy this winter. I work my ass off to follow this dream. And if it were any easier, everyone would do it. Don't do us any favors by 'evening the playing field' or 'making it fair'. Those women I'm racing against didn't start out with proto gear or freshly manufactured parts... They started off exactly where I am, doing exactly what I'm doing. Any rider or racer that needs to depend on a technical rule to win his race isn't a competitor... He's just a pussy.
  • 1 0
 Winners rise to the top, despite disadvantages. Always. Every. Single. Time.

Your argument is like saying, "let's pull those rocks/roots/obstacles out of the trail because that one racer can't maneuver them." Guess what? If you don't have the skills to handle the course, go home and get them. If you don't have the parts to race a race effectively, go back to work and make some money to buy them. Not everyone who's winning is winning on prototype stuff... Train harder, work better, ride faster, be amazing and a win it'll be.
  • 1 0
 Did you really miss my point that completely? At some point all of that was in prototype. If I could take a modern DH rig back to the 90's I bet I could keep up with a lot of great riders, maybe pass them up. I am saying that on some level factory racers are doing this right now.
Basically you have said the big developments are done. Like there is no new thing to change the game. It would be funny if some new tech that shaves serious seconds was coming out next season since then you'd be eating your words. Some pro on something that cuts 30 seconds even though he was not as fast a rider as the guys around him.
I know I know. Nothing is going to change it by that much any more. We are paying more and more for less and less improvement.
I hope that is not entirely true.
  • 2 0
 Bad rider + Great bike doesn't make a great race, but a great rider will make even a so-so bike look good. Don't limit prototypes and one-off bikes at professional races. That's where the issues are flushed out for your average joe rider. Think your clutch derailleur would have been invented if a few racers hadn't been p***ed off from dropping a chain at a crucial junction in a race?

That being said, if people are that bent out of shape about these things, why not make a stock and modified class? It's worked for auto races for years!
  • 2 0
 I want to see wally world (wal-mart for the uninitiated) races. Put guys on 45lb big box bikes with soft chewy rims and narrow bars and send them down a wc track. That would be hilarious.
  • 2 0
 Black box hype gets us all excited to buy what the racers are using. Its called marketing. The industry dies if we don't buy new stuff. As for the pro,s who want to get into the top ten. And don't have the black box stuf. Probably a mental barrier. Bottom line the bike industry will not survive with out the marketing hype.
  • 2 0
 Wish people would stop kicking up a fuss about this, downhill racing more than most sports is way more dependant on rider skill than equipment so it will always be the best guys winning even on last years kit, its not like motorsport where a slow car will never win no matter who drives it, I would bet any of the top riders could still win on the stock version or last years version of there bikes provided it was setup well (I think a proper setup makes more difference that anything) all restricting it would do is remove the desire or need for companies to innovate which benefits no one, especially the consumer, back to motorsport and where would cars be today without F1.

As for wheel size arguments, let people do what they want I think it just depends what size each person feels most confident with (confident rider will give u way more speed that shiny new kit or bigger wheels) I think world champs proved no wheel size is better in DH especially on the that track, was still the same guys at the top whichever wheel they had.

Moan over Smile but it was more a moan for people to stop moaning and just ride your bike more, that will make you faster than debating which wheel size will gain you .1 of a second
  • 2 0
 When you restrict racing, you get NASCAR. Some find it fun to watch maybe, but you get no true tech advancements to trickle down to production. If all we had was NASCAR we'd have no ABS, no fuel injection, no variable valve timing, no advanced turbo or direct injection technology. If you stifle DH racing you stifle the industry.
  • 2 0
 Its a no brainer.
The prototypes the pros are running aren't necessarily better.
They are in prototype stage and maybe in some cases they are gambling not using the production models.

However thats the companies R&D so the consumer can ride more advanced technology in the future.

The fast one on the mountain is 90% the skillful rider and just 10% of the equipment!
  • 2 0
 just cause you have the lastest and greatest doesn't mean your the best ,,,when I played football some guys would show up with the absolute best equipment and looked nice walking out the looker room but ,,all that didn't make a bit of difference as they sat on the bench!!!,, my point is this "hard work and commitment " wins races , not short cuts.............kudos general-lee,,well put bro
  • 3 0
 Communist racing is the next big thing, same bike same fork, wheels, tires, shock, brakes, drive train, same paint job red with yellow stars. let the best rider win! bhahahahaha.
  • 2 0
 What would be great is if there was a "stock class" at some racing venue's along with the current racing going on. And each racing catagory should have a retail cost limit. For instance, 3 grand and below for stock enduro racing bikes, etc. And all you can do is change your seat, bar, stem and bike has to weight the same as stock, tires can be new but must be OEM and no custom work on the suspension. This would level the playing field in that class and make a place for competition where it was the best rider on their best day and that's it. This would also push bike companies to put more bang for the buck in their lower end bikes. When you already have stock bikes on the sales floor that cost over 10 grand it's not really going to change the game much to force companies to only race stock bikes...? We'd just see even MORE expensive mountain bikes as companies tried to one up each other...
  • 4 3
 I think the production rule would be good for 2 reasons 1. every one would have an equal chance 2. companies would have to sell proto stuff to help pro riders, so we would get it sooner,unlike now when we get few years later or maybe never
  • 9 3
 But rushing development could lead to bikes that aren't properly tested to an extent our current bikes are. That is a scary notion seeing as we all put our lives in the hands of these bikes between our legs. I'd rather wait a bit longer and have my non-cutting edge bike that I know has been tested thoroughly.
  • 6 0
 On the contrary, if Fox/RS/whoever had to make a prototype production run of 200 forks, that means Fox/RS then has access to 200x the user feedback it currently has, which (I think) would accelerate the process of development and ultimately pass on more reliable and refined tech to consumers. And it's not as if Nico Lau's prototype suspension components are collapsing underneath him, so I'm not inclined to think safety is a real concern with prototype gear.
  • 4 0
 What the man says above!! And Spudlord... it doesn't need a production rule to lead to things "that aren't properly tested", the first generation CTD damper suggests that to be the case given the response it got from both the hacks and the users.
  • 1 0
 spudlord, are you really worried about the safety aspect? Do you think these guys riding prototype bikes in WC races are on unsafe equipment? You think companies would put their top riders at risk like that? By the time it reaches a WC racers bike the products are safe. At that point they are simply testing and dialing in the minute details.
  • 1 0
 a good rider should be able to win races on whatever they ride? the amount of times i have watched teenagers absolutely hammer down runs on bikes with bald tires and bikes fit for the bin while all the 'men' are taking it easy on their shiny £6000 bikes? talent is talent the only difference i think is that you can sometimes do a better job with better tools? (i think the guy on the supermarket bike filipe could be teaching us some lessons?)
  • 1 0
 You gotta keep the dream attainable. If pros have a huge advantage, to the point where it is extremely difficult to compete with them, these something is wrong. I don't mind them testing new products, but it shouldn't go beyond how it is now
  • 2 1
 "No. Do not restrict innovation in any way."

you dimwits do realize that by selecting this answer you're effectively blocking innovation in anything you can buy?

if they had to race production items wouldn't they have to improve production stuff in order to have better stuff to race on?


bah, doesn't matter anyways, seems marzo nailed the damper in 380, i don't think anyone could ever need any more, i mean it's effectively avy level stuff, the only problem is ppl need to learn to tune and tinker with it
  • 1 0
 @orientdave made a good point about this. If I understood correctly, he said the pro's have way different needs than even an advance rider. There going to be wanting their bike/components to do stuff for that particular race/races. They are not looking into what bike/components would be best to have if you are a non pro bike buyer. So why have them do the testing?
  • 1 0
 One thingbthe article didn't cover: Would high end parts get cheaper or more expensive?
Companies forced to produce their curting edge gear on a large scale in order to race it would release only what they could afford.
The current system eliminates a lot of lost profit, allowing prices to be lower.
Or would it? Testing would still happen, but would instead have to take into account long term use as well as high performance. Fox in particular would benefit from that. And testing would still happen. Pros might just get busier in the off season with parts tests.
I'm torn on this.
  • 3 0
 Both: MX racing bikes and top-end road racing street machines are surprisingly affordable and yet they progress at a rapid pace. This can be directly attributed to the production rules. For instance, if Honda wanted to race a five-valve cylinder head in the superbike classes, they'd have to introduce that as a street model first. That is the carrot that drives innovation for MX as well, and keeps the price of those innovations realistic.

Making race parts available for serial production, however, is a different deal. Prices are typically through the roof, but that is what one-off parts cost and that is acceptable for teams who have already antied up hugely for a WC racing series and need that extra five percent performance increase to get their racers up to the front and give the big boys a go.

As far as the liabilities go, many race shops lease major components to privateer teams, (engines, for instance) and require them to return them after their contracts run out.
  • 1 0
 I can see the argument but it's like asking the Moto GP or formula one guys to drive/ride standard stuff.. Just not gonna happen, it would be an issue if only a few racers had proto stuff but they're not.. They are all on one off stuff and anything that isn't is brand new and probably just as good anyway. Plus, the only way the rest of us get to have these things is if these guys ride it and approve it first, because at the end of the day that really what prototyping and testing is all about!!
  • 1 0
 I remember a time when things were not "box stock" in motocross. The same guys who raced for the factory teams were, surprise, still winning when the switch was made. Don't let it kid you though, these "production" factory bikes are faster than a stock bike. They spend hours blue printing motors and dyno testing. There are test bikes, practice bikes and race bikes. You can get the suspension parts custom tuned to your specs through a few companies, just gotta pony up the cash. But there has been trickle down. 20 years ago, you got rebound on the rear and maybe on the front. Today, high/low compression rear and I think even in the forks this year.

Sorry strayed away from this. I don't think there should be any caps on factory riders. These fancy one off parts are a trickle down part if it works. Might be a bit heavier for durability, but we will get it someday. I saw the FSA prototype brakes out on my trails 3 years ago. Do I wish I had them, maybe, but he's a faster rider than me, so it would not have made a difference. Most of the fastest guys will in fact be fast, no matter what they ride. Well in Gwin's case, not sure what happened there. I don't like seeing the prices of stuff skyrocket to have a better part, but that said, since returning back to mountain biking at a serious level 4 years ago, after a 4 year break, the parts today are way better than 20 years ago, even 10 years ago. So I think the prototyping and one off stuff is good as a whole and a Factory rider should be treated as such, only the best.
  • 1 0
 1) Without going in much detail, I am doubting in motorsports all mass-production part rules (depsite being highly modified machines vs. the normal road car at the dealership), max. costs for privateers for certain spec etc... are to keep privateers really competitive. IMHO it has more to do with keeping it affordable for manufacturers to develop cars and keeping it affordable to run them (either for works or privateers)...

2) In regard to mass-saving you can argue if using mass-production parts would provide the equal condition between works teams and privateers. As manufacturer you can still either select the best parts from the lot or produce "worst-case parts" within the production tolerances whereas average joe will get a random part from the shop.

3) Ok, in terms of special coating for suspension parts, special compound tyres, etc... you really need the support of "big" companies, but 'honestly for one-off for links to change suspension goemetry, offset bushes, offset headsets, some of the drivetrain modifications, .. you really don't need factory support for proto parts or them having been offered at $$$. Some basic engeineering knowledge, some friends/family with access to equipment, etc... can do a lot. I have seen several interesting DIY solutions, however almost exclusively from people with (relatives with) experience in .... yep, motorsports again...

Manufacturer support will always give a benefit in terms of access to parts (blueprinting), knowledge (!) about the product, etc... and the possibility of special parts, however since the impact of the rider is huge and partially you can make up with some ingenuity without huge budgets for me the advantage of testing parts in a racing environment is more important.
  • 2 1
 Definitely no, otherwise there will be no incentives for businesses to develop new stuff that potentially to be enjoyed by us later, and no ground to test prototypes so we make better choices. And, why bring a corolla to f1 race?
  • 2 1
 totally. advances in technology that trickle down to us come from the racing elite! we need them to be testing the prototypes so one day we can afford it on our bikes!
  • 2 1
 Road cycling has this rule and it hasnt hurt innovation over there. There are ways to get around the rule as well. For example, devince could offer that special 650b downhill bike to the public but price it at a level that would ensure nobody would want it
  • 1 0
 But do we really want to go to the SRAM website and see 16000 wheel hubs? I think that might be annoying. Sure, it works in the road world, but you have to take into account that they aren't real people.
  • 2 0
 But you're missing the point: money! It takes MONEY to design, test and produce parts... Yes, that includes innovation. If companies are forced to produce every prototype their athletes are rocking, that greatly reduces their budgets for innovation, testing, salaries for engineers, athlete support and more... Gotta see the big picture.
  • 1 0
 They do not have to produce every prototype if those rules come into play. There are plenty of prototypes and innovation in the road segment yet they have a rule thats says everything the pros ride must be available to Joe Public. You just wouldn't see the prototypes in a UCI sanctioned race. Plenty of non uci events out there(crankworx for example) where prototypes could still be race tested. And thats not to say they wouldn't be extensively tested out of competition. I am not advocating for this rule, just pointing out that it could be done and it would not hurt or set back innovation.
  • 1 0
 I think it shouldn't be restricted but, considering that at this level of competition we are talking about seconds and less of difference between one rider and other, of course riding prototypes and stuff that are not available for everybody is going to give them an advantage, is one more variable added to the equation where the result is WIN...just think about the same type of rider, same skill level but different components on their bikes...
  • 1 0
 Nothing remotely new here. When the Peugeot Racing Team (Tim Gould, David Baker, Fred Salmon) were beating everyone in the UK in 1990, where they riding Peugeot bikes? Hell no! They were riding custom built frames from Chaz Roberts using Reynolds 753 road tubing....
  • 2 0
 I think a huge point was missed. These prototype parts run a huge risk of failure since they have not been tested nearly as much as production stuff. A risk I would hesitate to take.
  • 1 0
 Very good point!
  • 1 0
 There is a good chance that these prototype parts have had C and DV builds, along with all the testing that goes with that, they just wont have had a PQ build.
It may amaze the public how much stuff gets developed but never released. Some large companies as much as 80% is never released to the public. SRAM and Shimano are only small companies, but will still have many R&D components which never make it to the market for one reason or another.
  • 2 1
 I don't have enough info. All I will say, is for things like high school racing, ya, it would be ok to restrict somethings in that playing field. But when you get to higher up races, like the Olympics and World Cup, people have the sponsorship, money, skills, and should be able to spend $5000 on a fork if they want to. I just need more info on this, but I would say for high end races, no, because someone else is going to have some other bike part that is better than that part on your bike, so it's all a trade off. Someone buys a $5000 fork, and you buy $5000 set of wheels. he has better a better fork, you have better wheels.
  • 1 0
 If I didn't like all the tech-geek stuff with bikes, I'd take up running.
I saw what the UCI did to restrict road bike innovation...completely retarded. As soon as someone had a new idea, they'd write a rule to squash it. (Mr. Obree?)
There is very little, and arguably nothing of real significance, that a privateer cannot obtain that a factory rider can.
If there is not enough ingenuity there to figure out a 7 spd tight cassette or to get your fork set-up properly, then you have bigger issues than being in the Black Box program.
If there was a game-changer - say a very effective gearbox, as an example - it would be available, because the demand would there and they'd want to sell them, right? They would not hold back so their DH WC riders had an advantage...they want to sell product.
  • 1 0
 Depending on the motorsport, there are different levels of restrictions including the type of vehicle used as the base model. The World Cup is the Formula 1 of the biking world. There is nothing "factory" about these vehicles. They are the fastest and most technologically advanced vehicles in the world. I don't care if it's got 26" wheels or not. I don't care if it has 8" or 18" of suspension, I want to see the most technologically advanced bikes racing at the fastest speeds possible down the gnarliest terrains on the planet. At the most, implement the factory restrictions to the local or lower-ranking races.
  • 1 0
 Are you serious? That would be like watching a whole different sport. I like watching biking because I do it. There is a reason I don't watch dressage: www.youtube.com/watch?v=knCj92zA0tU
  • 1 0
 You're looking for the most powerful variable to use in a model of success in racing and I think "unfair" access to technology is not a good choice, as it's obviously inseparable from being on a team that is pouring money into racing. Which means, in addition to the tech development, other people are being paid to maintain the riders health and equipment, and the riders have access to training and practice at diverse locations that privateers do not. If you really want to level the playing field, limiting team/rider budgets is the place to start. Also, I think this discussion illustrates what a unique sport we have here ^^
  • 1 0
 Or limit races to factory or not factory teams.
  • 1 0
 There are also two different issues at play here and I think two separate arguments can be made. There is a difference between prototypes and one offs.

Prototypes are products that are being tested as possible production items. And there are clearly benefits to allowing this. Products get tested, bugs are worked out, we find out what works, what doesn't and eventually (hopefully) the products trickle down to the common man.

'One offs' on the other hand are a different story. These are things like Steve Smiths World Champs bike, and those tires the Scott XC team uses etc. Things that are custom produced for special situations for specific riders, like a bike specific to a certain venue. Its one thing to tune or set up a bike for a particular race, but to create a whole new custom frame? These are the type of things that clearly not every rider has access too and perhaps should not be allowed.
  • 1 0
 "It's embarrassing to me that the motorcycle manufactures can somehow manage to stuff a five valve, fuel-injected engine into the deal."

similar technology… minus the engine yet we pay ridiculous prices for a solid dh bike
  • 1 1
 Pretty different actually. Motorcyclists are less sensitive to how their bike handles small bumps, or if it weighs 2lbs more. When you are the engine you notice the little stuff. If motorcycles were half as well engineered as DH bikes they's cost as much as ferrari's. There are a few that well engineered. They are $30,000+ dollars.
  • 2 0
 but looking at how much more goes into a motorcycle as far as tubing and overall build cost it is higher. regardless of weight. we are using similar suspension set ups as far as the compression settings and rebound settings.

granted the motorcycle set up will be different, they still have "little" bumps… they are just bigger than what we would imagine on a mountain bike. But their "big" bumps are also much bigger than ours.

I agree motorcyclist aren't going to be as picky about weight, but there is still a lot of money going into design of both.

"food for thought."

you can't honestly tell me bike companies aren't making a killing on us buying these 10k bikes
  • 1 1
 We can buy a new KX, CR, YZ etc 450 out of the box for what, $8500? If we take that bike and add all the exact same parts Bubba or Villopoto use on their race bike, that motorcycle would cost $30,000. We as downhillers can pretty much buy the same bike Gwin or Smith rode the previous year with the same parts (some parts the same year) for $10k. Yes that is a lot of $$ but it is all relative. A $3500 DH bike nowadays is WAY better that a World Cup machine of only a few years ago.
  • 1 0
 "Many innovations used to win races will never see the bike shop because they are either are deemed impractical or too costly to produce - but they did win races."

obviously the pro mtber's aren't getting $30,000 put into the bikes. We don't have motors. But that came straight out of the text and we have seen it happen if you watch the world cup series (prototype fox forks, custom bike frame from devinci, etc.)

For someone who is into biking it is easy to justify just as much for a bike as a bike…with a motor. but from someone looking in, it looks absurd.

again, you can't honestly tell me bike companies aren't making a killing on us buying the 10k bikes. i'd be willing to be they have over a 40% markup price for these.
  • 1 1
 bman33, you can't buy the bike gwin or smith rode. That is the point of the argument. In fact Smith's bike is up in one of the pictures. You just supported my argument. Thanks
  • 1 0
 OK. Not "That" Devinci. However, any of us can buy a full Saint or XO DH Carbon Session and/or Wilson now. We can by bikes way closer to what Pro bike riders ride than what a pro MX riders have. As far ad mark up, I hope it is 40%. I want them to stay in business. I used to co own a bike shop and I WISH we averaged 40% mark up. Ask your clothes retailers the mark up they get.
  • 1 0
 True thing about the markup. I bought bike parts at cost when I was in school, and while a lot of parts were cheaper direct, the bikes were practically the same price as from a shop. At the end of the day I can't win this argument. I just want the protoyping phase to be about getting us better products, not making one-off advertising gimmicks for pros to use once. I feel like that is best done in long term testing. I guess there is no reason they can't do both. I want to be a bike part beta tester. Send me a rig to beta test somebody. Include a season pass and I'll make sure it gets ridden hard. Move me and my family to the west and I will arrange a marriage between our children, ensuring peace between our clans for generations to come.
  • 1 0
 what should be put into place is a different classes of bikes so you have a stock class your off the floor bike semi mod class and a full mod class. you can find this in motocross for the reason that certain parts are a huge advantage to the rider and creates an unfair feild if the guy next to you has 20,000 dollars worth of parts and mods and you can only afford a stock bike.in this situation you may be the better riderr but at some point the bike does matter when it comes to speed. As far as the world cups they should be handling it differenly, MOST not ALL privateers have no chance in that feild of factory riders.
  • 1 0
 Only thing that they should regulate for racing is wheel size...it needs to be decided just as it is in road racing and bmx. depending on who you ride for will hinder your performance if a bigger wheel will benefit you on a certain track if they do not make a bigger wheel size(i.e. 650b & 29er)
  • 1 0
 Before the bike companies killed 26" I would have been okay with the current standards of prototype racing.

But now things have changed:

I am all for making companies run production models of prototypes, in the name of "advancing" the sport.

I have lost any sympathy that I had for bike companies.
  • 2 0
 I think the lack of 'team support' affects the the privateers more than any supposed technology advantages the factory riders have..... Good luck trying to level that playing field
  • 1 0
 I agree. Wrenching AND racing is tough... It's even tougher when we have no idea which end is what. Wink Ha ha! Having race support is what is insanely important.
  • 1 0
 There are no restrictions on f1 cars. The ones who spend the most money usually win. But there are so many more factors in biking that a poor rider on a $20,000 dollar bike would still get owned by a good rider on a $1000 dollar bike. I say classes!! : Open ( where any bike can race), and factory ( where only production bikes can race)
  • 1 0
 The answer is simple really, a production class and a protoype class. More racing for spectators, still inovation and product development, more advertising opportunites and still a level playing field for lower lever competitors. It works in Le Mans and the IOM TT.
  • 2 1
 I can't believe 1000ish people DON'T want to be able to get better components from the trickle down effect OR drool over prototype parts that the pros have. Crazy. Encourage innovation and allow skinsuits and peakless helmets!
  • 1 0
 I could imagine a lot of development and evolution happens in the customization process, this step aims to restrict, so I would tend to say no. Its the sandbox and test ground for tweaks and products we come to enjoy ourselves eventually.
  • 1 0
 This is an interesting question, I think many racing sports that privateers can compete in all ask it. For future development it has to be like this because the racer is pushing the limit of the machine so this is a good way to test the performance of a change. If you watch MotoGP in person you would know what I am talking about, there are only a few riders in the world that can push the bike past what its limits are in a controlled fashion. No weekend rider is going to be able to do this. However, I think comparing motor sports racing to MTB racing is not congruent due to an engine. In MTB the rider must train and be very skilled to win as well have the proper machine. With factory support some of these riders get to train in the best places and year round 24/7/365. Some privateers cannot do this because of other obligations. We also need to remember anyone can modify their bike if they deem necessary. For example, yes RS and FOX distribute factory suspension to only a few riders but I can take my fork and try to modify it to perform a certain way….. but is this really worth it? Do I have the time to test it and prove it? Lastly I think a question a privateer should ask…am I pushing the bike to the fullest potential or my fullest potential? If you cannot push to the fullest potential ask yourself why not? Is the bike keeping me from it or my skills?

I think the bike that we can get are so good these day many people cannot push them past the fullest potential, but I think we are in the mindset it is the bike and needs to be better if I want to win.
  • 1 0
 Well some of you stuck on that Factory riders should ride one-off stuff I tell you, your're selling yourself short. I was a racer back in the day when Kevin Schwantz was sitting on the wall next to me at Willow Springs while the Yosh team prepped his GS1100R while I was stuck on a measily off the show room GS750. Today the game is a different story and when this start off as a production base you will definately will see prototype stuff in consumers hand a whole lot faster. Motogp and Formula 1 do not compare to MTB racing other then the privateers don't get those goodie parts but just like any Factory team they also hire test riders and so can MTB factory teams while racing on producrtion parts.
  • 1 0
 Just because they can't race and develop prototype stuff doesn't mean it can't be produce. #1 faster turn around on equiptment #2 true and tested #3 lighter #4 anyone can buy it. When you have a custome bike made by the factory while you are on your 2 going 3 year old bike you have to wonder what IF? when you are the motor the factory makes that motor efficient wether by lighter parts,gearing geometry...whatever and at all cost, no matter how talented you are you still would need to be above human to even come close to compete against these Factory guys. I'm not saying that they are not strong enough or good enough but when you have equal parts then you know its the motor not the equiptment. I tested for Dunlop for years and most of the stuff was for racing and for the consumer it all goes hand in hand and everyone wins. When you buy a highend wheel or shock you know that was used in racing some way or another, same goes with your Honda,Kawi,Ktm, or GSXR. without the production base format we would be 10 yrs back on equiptment. In motogp that is the wait time for the trickle down theory to materialize to manufacturers. But with AMA and WSBK, BSB and CEV all have to race on standard base equiptment except for brakes and wheels and even those are pretty close to a stock wheel now a days. So yeah it does help and it will make things cheaper becuase why? everyone has to do it....develop, test, race and sell is the best formula for everyone.
  • 1 0
 I can understand engines being regulated on cars/trucks/motorcycles for races to keep things level sop that drivers compete by having to rely on their skill, talent, timing, endurance amongst other things... but with biking, you are the engine and you require the skill, talent, timing & endurance needed to win. If you don't win with the chump parts then chances are, you probably woudn't win with the fancy prototype stuff either... could probably argue it if it was very close but that arguement could be squashed in many ways too. There are superstars in all sports and if they swapped racing equiptment wiht someone that is very good, the superstar would probably still win. If manufacturers want to spend big money to keep their names at the top of the win category, I say great marketing strategy and keep innovating... just don't lose to the little guy.
  • 1 0
 Who better to test new products than the best riders in the world? There shouldn't be a limit to how dialed your bike can be, especially at that level. Unfortunately sometimes this means some people have to really prove themselves if they're sponsor-less and on a crap bike trying to make it to the big leagues. That's just how it is though.
  • 1 0
 In regards to cycling I say innovate all they want. Motorsports it can go both ways as there are many different forms such as GT class racing and Prototype stuff, each has its own marketing purpose. Not so much with cycling. We don’t break classes down by equipment levels. We got good riders, better riders and great riders.
  • 1 0
 As the reigning queen of the overly lengthy comment, I'll keep this one short.

Keep restrictions out of it. The best will ride whatever they have, straight to the top. They didn't start out on primo factory shit, and they don't need it to win. Those whose wins depend on (or blame for their loss) having (or not having) fancy one-off proto gear aren't really winners, now are they? Winners do what they have to do to get where they want to be. The end.
  • 1 0
 Ok, how about a one make series for non professionals to get a start in DH racing? All using the same bikes, tyres and suspension, meaning that talent 'should' show through?

Leave the top guys on prototypes (just like motogp and F1) and have some cheap beginners type racing.

(I know I'm going to get flamed for this idea!)
  • 1 0
 I have two minds here.

One I feel the wc is fair game other races like nationals, states etc should be restricted.
These lower platform are major development races for riders who want to make it, if wc riders are coming down to race they should be on the same playing field as everyone else (ie no unobtainable parts) this makes it fair for comparison and fairness for the racing.

On the flips my small businesses use theses platforms for developing thier own products. So my mind in this comes to one conclusion.

New development parts that will be come avaliable to the public are fair game , generally these parts as not drastically better but just the next gen.

Prototype parts that will never make it to product and are built only for pros should e kept to the wc cuircut.
  • 1 0
 have 2 categories in the race: team and privateer, and two different prizes. that way the privateers get to compete against one another and experience racing with the pro riders (instead of against) but dont have the disadvantage of racing 10k superbikes.
  • 1 0
 My experience comes from mtn bike product development and manufacturing (some WC racers are using our stuff), and I'm a licensed road racer in auto, weekend warrior on supersport bikes.

Personally, I like the rules being open on mtn bike racing because these are merely human (and gravity) powered vehicles. If you want to take the chance of running trail bike tires in a WC DH race, you are able to make that call. If you want to try a prototypic frame that is lighter than ever and has very little testing time, that is your gamble. I like this about the racing. You have to cross the finish line faster than everyone else. Reliable parts are very likely to cross the finish line. Super light or prototypic parts are potentially higher performance that help you cross the line faster, but not without risk.

I say, if Mitch Ropelato wants to podium on his 29" trail bike, go for it! If Minnaar wants to race champs with a condom-wall tire, go for it! If KHS only runs 27.5 DH bikes, go for it! Danny Hart would have won 2011 champs on a tandem fixed gear 29er fatbike with Avid Elixirs.

Limiting equipment to large production runs, certain tread compounds, weight restrictions, etc doesn't let each rider optimize thier own race. Motorsports are a huge expensive pain in the ass compared to bicycle racing. I say let the mountain bikers and their teams run whatever equipment they have the best chance on (as long as the only power to the wheels is from legs or gravity.)
  • 1 0
 "World Rally competitors must run production based engines and cars........is that non-factory teams can and do win races and championships."

This is actually a mis representation of the facts. "Production based" means selling a relatively small number of cars world wide to qualify, privateers (and wanna be boy racers) snap up those 'production cars' and use their own resources and finances (from other sponsors) to tune them to within 0.001% of what the rules allow.

Specialised, Santa Cruz, Giant, Devinci would easily meet any kind of production criteria witht the sales of their "WC" or "Race" builds currently so they are in effect running along similar production lines.

Racing has always been about development.

Your recent article about $5000 Fox rear shocks. Would I buy one if I could? I might. I am willing to switch to BOS suspension based on a conversation with the Canfield brothers (in person) this year. Would I benefit from what the shock provides? Probably not, I am probably not a fast enough or 'go big enough' rider to really benefit. I don't race either. Would the fact that I would be able to more closely tune my bike to the way I ride result in a greater level of safety and enjoyment for how I like riding - probably.

All we need is a good variety of tracks that over the length of a season determine the best riders by challenging every skill set. I am sure Greg Minaar would not be that much slower on equipment that you or I could buy. Harry Heath is a privateer as is Ed Masters and they have both beaten 'factory' riders this year. They need to monetise the opportunity that those results give them in order to secure the sponsorship to develop a private program or be attractive to an established team.
  • 1 0
 this is a very stupid argument! i believe that its fine for the probs to have all the top end stuff, if it makes them faster it makes it more exciting to watch! but what im getting at is, to make these top end components does NOT cost half the price they sell it at, e.g. Santa cruz 2013 carbon cost about £7000... to make it probably cost less £3000 at the most (im not quoting this!!!!) what i dont get is that they pay so little to make everything, but charge so much for the product! (SANTA CRUZ, WHY THE F*** ARE YOUR BIKE £7000?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!).
I think that the prices should be lowered considerably, not like %5 less... but at the least %30-%40 less!!!
  • 1 0
 Arguments can be made for both sides here. I like the idea of homologating stuff like suspension, frames and drivetrains I am still fairly new to this scene but it seems like a lot of riding and winning comes down to how good the rider is, not just his equipment. On the others hand your favorite sports team don't win because they have better equipment than the opposition, player skill has lots to do with it.
  • 1 0
 No, the testing during racing is a big part of the R&D of products before they make the market. They allow for vital changes to the product until it hits the consumer. If they restricted it I would see less innovation in the future due to lengthy product development and testing. Testing the flex, and endurance of a product can only tell you so much. The pros know how to feel out the pros and cons to a product.
  • 1 0
 Split the field into prototype and stock for a season or two and look at the results. If there is not a big difference in times between the two classes then reunite them. Maybe a rule about a frame has to run x amount of races per season to prevent complete one off race specific bombers.
  • 3 1
 Fierce competition is the best way, for us component makers and engineers, to test new products to the limit before reaching weekend warriors, so. Don't limit innovation.
  • 1 0
 Testing happens in more places than the race track. In fact, racing only tests performance under pros. We are better off with real world testing.
  • 2 0
 When you are Racing against time, you`ll need every second. ^^
So please give em a laser-blackbox-gear, nitrogen-shock-systems and of course 22,35645432inch wheelsets.
:-)
  • 2 2
 Everyone against production rules is an idiot. Or just missing the point. Come at me with your negs but production rules make all competition better. That's my opinion. You're never going to be riding a blacked out prototype to a podium result.
  • 1 1
 I've always thought that riders should all have to ride essentially the same bike. If it's supposedly a rider that wins a spot on the podium, then the comparison between riders should be apples to apples. Otherwise, the lead sponsor should jump on that podium too, cause the technology plays a huge part in a rider's performance. This opinion goes for all sports, really. It wouldn't seem right if a baseball player could bring any bat they wanted to the field, so why do riders lucky enough to grab top sponsors get to come to the trail with way superior equipment?
  • 1 0
 2 race leagues maybe? one to race against each other within controlled limits and another to say f@#k the limits lets just go fast.

Let lance smoke crack and ride fast but have a race for pure human performance also.
  • 5 0
 "run what ya brung"
  • 2 0
 Every race I've lost had nothing to do with my equipment not being a top-of-the-line prototype...it was because I didn't train enough.
  • 1 0
 Bingo. Victory loves preparation, not a 1x11 drivetrain made of pure diamonds.
  • 2 0
 Racing should be restricted only to components that are certified for "Enduro" racing... with the exception of "Black Diamond" certified components - they're cool too!
  • 1 0
 Hysterical.
  • 2 0
 In my opinion its not the bike that wins races its the rider. while the components may give some small advantage its the one who wields them that makes them winning team.
  • 2 0
 I agree with you: the rider that trains as hard as possible, then works even harder to afford a nice rig with solid, new components then wins the race? Who really won? The rider or the bike? The rider, of course! He saw what he needed to do, understood that no one would hand it to him and went out and took the initiative to get what he needed. Smile
  • 2 0
 Of course not development would be delayed even for us simple humans haha come on... I remember when Semenuk had no sponsors at all beat the cr#ap out of so many !
  • 4 1
 the bike doesnt make the rider
  • 6 1
 But it does help....
  • 2 0
 but does the rider make the bike? Like actually make it?
  • 1 0
 Although the wrong bike can hinder, as well.
  • 2 0
 Let the innovations continue, dont use restrictions... but please, don't let RedBull rule them all.
  • 3 1
 What ever happened to "it's the rider not the bike" or did that go out the window?
  • 2 0
 Time yourself on a 70's schwinn and get back to us. The rider is the biggest part, but a bad part can bring you down like a flat tire. In fact, tubeless tires are a good example of one thing better about a new bike. Imagine if you couldn't buy tubless setups, and you were racing guys who did across areas where you flat easily. You aren't going to win with a flat, I don't care how good you are.
  • 3 0
 What a dumb question. No.
  • 1 0
 Just make considerations for the small frame/bike builder who may not ever sell that "production" quantity, but instead hand builds a small number of bikes.
  • 1 0
 If they had enough customers then the production should rise to meet demand.
  • 1 0
 if they don not have enough customers then they should not be selling bikes?
  • 1 0
 screw meet demand! bikes for all!
  • 1 0
 Ajriding: if they don't have enough customers they go out of business. Kind of basic business and economics.
  • 1 0
 Small frame builders sometimes purposely make less than 200 of a certain frame. To simplify for the meek: if a small custom frame builder makes 120 road frames, 150 XC frames, 70 cross frames, 80 downhill frames and 145 enduro frames, then they do not sell enough downhill or enduro frames to meed the mentioned 200 minimum. You are saying that, "they should go out of business"?
  • 1 0
 Their profit margin may keep them in business, but it hardly suits a racing format that allows consumers to compare goods when it is an item reserved for just a slim few. Who cares if Honda built a great gearbox dh bike if it was only available to Warren Buffet and a single race team? I want to see gear we can all use pushing the envelope, not hatch racing
  • 1 0
 Make that yaught racing.
  • 1 0
 I don't think tale tool understands the bike market. National Handmade bike show next month you can check out. I doubt any of those people could meet this quota, but still this is what makes the bicycle industry improve.
  • 1 0
 I don't understand the market? The majority of bikes are sold by big box stores. The comparatively few high end bikes that are sold are to a small percentage of the population. Of those only a tiny fraction are hand made.
Now to frame that within the above argument (which you resurrected simply to make an unsupported supposition and insult my user name)
To make sure I got this straight, you are saying that the innovations in the handmade bike market contribute significantly to the race scene and the market as a whole?
If that is what you are saying I would like a few examples.
How many hand made small brands even race at the world cup level? If it is a lot then I understand your concern.

I look forward to hearing from you in a few months.
  • 1 0
 haha, so high strung on these silly forums. You just answered your own question I think. There are legitimate frame builders that turn out low quantities for whatever reasons. A frame builder is also a manufacturer whether Giant, or Niner or whatever, they just make frames and stick on components. To say we ban low quantity frame builders is silly.This might be a good idea for MX racing or Car racing where there are few, but with bikes there are so many builders. This reaks of being in bed with the major brands.
  • 1 1
 maybe a couple of races a year have to be factory production only... at least there's a totally level playing field that way. we can then see what happens... something tells me the top 20 won't change much if at all.
  • 2 0
 If you start restricting things it will just turn out like Formula 1 - a stupid mess of rules.
  • 2 0
 You have it backwards: F1 cars are more like what they do now: a bunch of crap no one could ever have. You will never get to drive an F1 car. You will never ride a black box shock.
Change the rule and suddenly it is more like those guys are on bikes you could have some day!
  • 2 0
 I read into the question a little more... Looking at F1 these days there are so many restrictions on tires, body work, wings, exhaust outlets, ground effects, testing prior to season and just general racing rules... Restricting riders to production bikes and components is like restricting the engineers at the F1 teams. Everything developed for F1 eventually trickles down to the consumer market; with bikes it will do the same. Ti springs were once only out for the pros, now you can get them anywhere. Kashima was originally tested and raced with by the pros for a season or two before it come out to consumers by that name. Let F1 teams just go nuts! Let them develop the craziest shit they can think of and let it be awesome. Let bike manufacturers do the same thing! And who better to test those products than the best of the best, F1 drivers and Pro Riders. Thats what I meant.
  • 2 0
 I agree F1 has too many rules but it is kind of needed there as a slow car means poor results whoever you put in it, so you have to try and level the field to make it more competitive and exciting to watch (although Vettel's parades are very boring these days) but DH is much more on the riders skill so the guys on stock bikes have just as much chance really its just the top guys get the pro teams.

Taletotell I agree u will never drive an f1 car but bikes are very different, after all a cheap car it like 10k but a cheap bike is like 100 quid so paying 6k for a dh bike is pretty much like buying an F1 car (and you can buy old ones if your super rich) just like bikes you can buy what it essentially the same as the racers prototypes just a few years later, so you can and probably do ride a black box shock it just isn't back box anymore, we need pro only prototypes so they can be tested and developed properly to create better products for us, after all to the companies the pros are basically development and advertising tools as we R there ones that give them the money.
  • 1 0
 The article expressly says this stuff never goes to market. F1 cars make a lot of stuff that improves toyota corollas down the road, but their are aspects that never trickle down because they don't apply. Now imagine a privateer F1 racer who had to use an indy car instead. That is the modern wc situation. The factory teams get stuff that isn't going to trickle down.
  • 1 0
 I think that racing should only be Done on 26 wheels to make it fair but its more interesting with 27.5 so I'd say keep it the same as it is now
  • 1 0
 It really does not matter. Any special things Fox makes for their riders are still not as good as what anybody can buy off the shelf.
  • 1 0
 There arent many things in life that improve by implementing more rules. Dont get me wrong, definitely exceptions to this statement, but.......yah....
  • 1 0
 IF enough riders you could have production, and modified as with motor sport
  • 2 0
 All the gear and no idea springs to mind
  • 2 0
 So you're telling me rally engines are almost production? Nah
  • 5 0
 No, but they begin with a production engine. There are a number of tuners who can make a Subaru engine that can match the factory race engine's power and reliability. Building an engine from scratch, however, is a magnitude more expensive and difficult proposition. The same can be said of tires, carbon components and suspension parts.
  • 2 0
 we have a long way to go here, rc. there's fewer events on the dh calendar as it is and let's face it, even if the format of enduro continues to grow, our sport is free for spectating, which leaves little revenue to be had/shared by all involved compared to some of the motorsports that are being compared to here. i don't think the argument is financially realistic atleast for awhile.
  • 2 0
 By design "most" mountain biking is a participant sport. We as riders of course line up to watch the best of the best do their thing no matter the discipline. I don't want our sport to be just spectators like football, baseball, etc.. We may lose revenue, but keeps the spirit of riding bikes alive.
  • 2 0
 Inovation! Let the inovation flow!
  • 2 0
 As long as it doesn't get ELECTRICAL its fine...
  • 1 0
 We need someone to test all our future components to see how they perform at the top level. I'm all for it!
  • 2 0
 Run a limited and unlimited class like in auto racing.
  • 1 0
 For lower levels possibly. But for all out Pro class, Shall the best one win. NO RULES JUST CARNAGE
  • 1 0
 Harrison Bergeron (Vonnegut). Sorry if it's already been referenced.

Racing is where product innovation happens. Go for it.
  • 1 0
 A lot of the products are made for racing, so they have to be tested in a race…
  • 1 0
 If the rider needs these prototypes or one offs to win, then give it to them, poor chaps aint going to win any other way
  • 1 0
 no just make the tracks knarley as fuck so they need a proper bike. Say no to smooth tracks
  • 6 5
 At the end of the day it's still a mountain bike. Just get on and ride it!
  • 1 0
 At the end of the day car racing should have no rules. because it is about driving. This argument is so silly, and yet it comes up again and again like a bad egg I ate for breakfast.
  • 3 2
 No, what a ridiculous notion.
  • 2 1
 This is when bikeporn gets better than real porn.
  • 1 0
 don't make any difference
  • 1 0
 I don't race. I don't care.
  • 1 0
 Pink bike is trolling us...
  • 1 0
 u wouldn't get the as much advancement in the sport
  • 2 1
 Richard Cunningham - Best troll writer in the industry.
  • 1 0
 This again? Why make racing any more bourgeois than it already is?
  • 1 0
 Literally the most stupidest poll yet, until proven otherwise.
  • 1 0
 Progression
  • 2 2
 New Poll! Should Pinkbike continue to employ this douche (RC)?
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