5 Cross-Country Bike Checks - Sea Otter 2018

Apr 25, 2018 at 8:28
by Richard Cunningham  
Annika Langvad
Annika Langvad

Annika Langvad's Specialized Epic

The World Champion's Specialized Epic is built conservatively, which means it doesn't stray too far from what bike shop customers would get for the Epic Eagle's $10,000 asking price. Annika is also running a dropper post, a sight that would have been unheard of a few seasons ago, but is becoming increasingly common as tracks get more technical (Sea Otter excluded).

Annika Langvad
Fast rolling Renegade Control tires.
Annika Langvad
SRAM Eagle XX1

Annika Langvad
Magura MT8 Racelite brakes are the current gold standard.
Annika Langvad
The top cap says it all....



Nicola Rohrbach

Nicola Rohrbach's Felt Edict

Nicola Rohrbach's Felt Edict would be recognizable by its frame's checkerboard-pattern Textreme carbon material if there were no logos pasted on it. Rohrbach's racebike sports a SRAM Eagle drivetrain, DT Swiss remote, cable-actuated suspension and XRC 1200 carbon wheels. His choice of tires underscores how fast and relatively smooth the XC course is in Monterey - nearly treadless 2.0-inch Choyang Zipperings. (Yeah, everyone I know rides them.)

Annika Langvad
2.0-inch Choyang Zippering tires.

Nicola Rohrbach
Magura MT8 caliper.

Nicola Rohrbach
Crankbrothers stem.

Nicola Rohrbach
Magura MT8 levers, carbon, of course



Sea Otter Classic XC bikes 2018

Geoff Kabush's Yeti SB100

The Tall Man of cross country rides the latest machine to emerge from Yeti's race shop. The SB100 employs their Switch Infinity rear suspension, but it's tucked in a cupboard behind the seat tube. Kabush rides a Shimano Di2 transmission and XTR brakes. His Yeti must have copious amounts of anti-squat, because its Fox suspension has no remote lockouts and he spends a lot of time mashing out of the saddle.

Sea Otter Classic XC bikes 2018
No remote lockouts to be seen.

Sea Otter Classic XC bikes 2018
Will XTR 2018 make the chainguides disappear?
Sea Otter Classic XC bikes 2018
Shimano Di2 shifting.

Sea Otter Classic XC bikes 2018
Maxxis Aspen tires.

Sea Otter Classic XC bikes 2018
It's still a Yeti - shorty stem and stretched geometry.
Sea Otter Classic XC bikes 2018
Shimano XTR brakes.



Sea Otter Classic XC bikes 2018

Emily Batty's Trek Pro Caliber

Emily Batty chose her hardtail for Sea Otter, and it's dialed in with Bontrager components, as is the tradition. She rides a SRAM Eagle XX1 transmission and sports a remote-lockout RockShox SID fork. I wonder how many grams Batty would save if those massive Bontrager stickers were removed from her carbon wheels? No mistaking those hoops! Batty's secret weapon is the isolator hidden in the chainstay/seat tube junction that takes the edge off of the race course without messing with her power output.

Sea Otter Classic XC bikes 2018
Remote lockout RockShox SID fork.

Sea Otter Classic XC bikes 2018
Slammed stem is necessary for shorter riders.
Sea Otter Classic XC bikes 2018
Upper guide on the most stable chainring made.

Sea Otter Classic XC bikes 2018
A gold SRAM XX1 cassette provides 12 speeds to choose from, although those easier gears probably don't see much use on the race track.



Sea Otter Classic XC bikes 2018

Anton Cooper's Trek Pro Caliber

Anton Cooper is one to watch this year. His Trek Pro Caliber duplicates much of the same cockpit and drivetrain items as Emily Batty's, with the exception being his massively dropped stem. Cooper also chose a hardtail, taking advantage of Trek's "IsoSpeed Decoupler" micro suspension device depicted in the photos.

Sea Otter Classic XC bikes 2018
No dropper posts required at Sea Otter.

Sea Otter Classic XC bikes 2018
RockShox SID fork with remote lockout.
Sea Otter Classic XC bikes 2018
May as well integrate the stem with the fork crown.

Sea Otter Classic XC bikes 2018
A look at Trek's IsoSpeed shock absorber.



Sea Otter Classic XC bikes 2018
"So, there ya have it!" Gary Fisher signs off Sea Otter until until next April.



92 Comments

  • + 94
 Garry Fisher..who Duncan Riffle wants to be when he grows up
  • + 3
 You mean he wants to invent something, or just the outfit?
  • + 17
 Duncan will never be as cool as Garry..... Ever.
  • + 3
 What's with the extrra "r" in therre. It's Gary, not Garry. @zorba73 @Squamishboz

Carrry on...
  • + 2
 @karoliusz: the bikes evolved not so much got "invented" about the only thing Gary invented was the fastest time down Repack. mos def a pioneer to the sport. klunk on Gary.
  • + 34
 Anton's neg. stem is ridiculous! Just put a set of drop bars on there at that point.
  • + 36
 If you look at the amount of drop from his seat height to his bar height, it's not that crazy at all. His hand position is almost level with his saddle. Big wheels on a small bike.
  • + 9
 @ka-brap: Even more true given that the rear is raised up... level it out and the bars look higher than the seat.
  • - 23
flag WAKIdesigns (Apr 25, 2018 at 12:35) (Below Threshold)
 sorry but the dumbest thing presented in this article is thread pattern on Nicola Rorbachs Felt Edict. A Wallmart bike has better tyres. This is not a knob patrern, this is a douche collage. For knob pattern that works check Emily Battys XR1s. Geoffs Kabush bike is just amazing though, that Yeti with Emilys tyres, maybe XR2 for the front, nnnnoooomm!
  • + 24
 @WAKIdesigns: How bad can the tire be for this course if Nicola finished 3rd in the race? The dumbest thing would be using a heavier or slower than you know you need because the tread pattern looks better
  • + 2
 The only thing is that they are still in line, or higher than the nose of his saddle. That's pretty much my method of setting up bar height; if my hands are in line with my saddle, then that's OK, otherwise it ends up being too upright. They're not that different than Batty's.
  • - 15
flag WAKIdesigns (Apr 25, 2018 at 12:52) (Below Threshold)
 @showmethemountains: how exactly is his thread pattern faster? It’s the opposite. XR1 will roll better. Maybe if he had a real tyre he’d finish 2nd?
  • + 6
 @WAKIdesigns: I agree with you Waki. That tyre tread looks scary as hell to try ride fast
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: Tread pattern on tires? Or the checkerboard look of the frame threads? What are you referring to?
  • + 3
 If I remember correctly Anton rides a 17.5" frame which is why the negative stem. He is a short guy and would in my opinion fit better on the 15.5" frame. He may choose the larger frame for more stability, but the negative rise stem still only puts the bars just about even with this saddle.
  • + 3
 Also, EB is running 27.5" wheels, which according to her mechanic, is so that she can get a super low position. At Sea Otter last year, she had a couple 29ers in her stable with crazy stems like Anton, but she doesn't have to run them on the 27.5 since the front end is already lower.

Also, note that Trek doesn't make a 29er ProCaliber in Small/XS, so the bikes she had last year must have been customs/prototypes.
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: FWIW, it's been relatively widely documented that Emily has used a Sharpie'd out Maxxis Ikon on (at least) the front of her bike for the past several seasons.
  • + 10
 @WAKIdesigns: Good job he is the competent xc racer who knows what he needs and what clearly works for him and you aren't then really isn't it.

As always, the pros clearly know nothing and people slapping a keyboard totally know better.
  • + 3
 @jason745: Actually, she has a blacked out Ikon on the bike in the pictures above. No need to look elsewhere for documentation of it.
  • + 2
 @TucsonDon: It's actually not an Ikon... what is it??
  • + 2
 @TucsonDon: Ok so the sticker in the second picture of Emily's bike says "Richards"... So I'm now confused, maybe her bike is an Ikon and the second picture is a different bike with an XR1...
  • + 1
 Taking into account the angle of the bike on the stand, does his seat tube angle seem super slack?
  • - 8
flag WAKIdesigns (Apr 25, 2018 at 21:52) (Below Threshold)
 @jason745: yes Ikon is also a real tyre and actually very similar to XR1 on the pic.

@mgolder try harder, I said his tyre is stupid, I feel sorry for the guy, why are you saying that I said that XC racers know nothing? Want a piece of me? Try harder baby. If you say his tyre is fine you know sht about tyres, grip and rolling resistance. I hooe you can at leadt pedalhard

@Tucson Don, Ikon in the front, XR1 in the rear, didn’t notice it on the front. Again, very similar tyres. Good ones.
  • + 3
 @mgolder: You assume the pros know their stuff but you'd be surprised how many of them leave that stuff to their mechanics or don't really care. Many of them just focus on their athletic ability and not the technical detail of the bike.
  • - 1
 @SonofBovril: most racers don't care, they are good at adaptation and application. But XC world is very conservative if not preservative in extreme cases. Even Jared Graves said it. And he won a few national XC races in his life...
  • + 1
 @bjh0003: its a Bontrager XR1, not an Ikon. I've run both.
  • + 1
 @showmethemountains: none the less, those tires look roasted
  • + 1
 @pargolf8: Actually the tire on the front with Emily standing there is blacked out Ikon, and the close up shots are of an XR1. They did a swap of the front wheel between photos.
  • + 1
 @davidccoleman: on the picture where she stands behind the bike she has A sharpied out Ikon EXC in the front and Bonty XR1 in the rear.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: yup just noticed that. I ran both of those tires and thought they were both no bueno, but the Ikon had more rolling resistance and less grip than the XR1 for me. The old XR1 was a nice combo between a Renegade and Racing Ralph, liked those. But Batty would smash me into bits in a race so it must work for her.
  • + 4
 @davidccoleman: It’s two different bikes. Emily’s is in the wide shot and Evie Richards’ in the first closeup where the front tire is visible. Emily is only one on the squad that’s not sponsor correct with tires.
  • + 1
 @jason745: and journalists wonder why we don't trust the media...figured Pinkbike would be above #fakenews #sad
  • + 1
 @davidccoleman: Emily would smash me into bits on Slash with G5s with me running Top Fuel with XR1s Big Grin
  • - 5
flag mollow (Apr 26, 2018 at 13:43) (Below Threshold)
 I'd gladly smash Emily.
  • + 21
 You have to love Gary’s flare!
  • + 12
 In that picture, he reminds me of Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik.
  • + 3
 Isn't it hot at Sea Otter? I don't know how he can stand it.
  • + 6
 @rivercitycycles: Funny. In that picture he reminds me of Gary Fisher.
  • + 0
 A bit much for me
  • + 21
 That Yeti looks DOPE!
  • + 7
 Put some M60's on it with beefier rubber and it's shred time.
  • + 7
 According to this article...

(1) Person is running XTR with a chain guide because the chain ring doesn't hold the chain.
(2) People are running Eagle with a chain guide just for "extra-not-really-needed" security.

The other two bikes run Rotor and Wolf Tooth without chain guide.
The guy running Wolftooth has an Eagle drivetrain, but he preferes the security of the Wolftooth ring.

According to the logic of this write up, both Rotor and Wolftooth are better than Sram?
But Sram is "the most stable chainring made"?

I have seen a test done by Sram where Wolf Tooth was actually better than all others they tested, including theirs.
  • + 17
 Some bikes (especially XC bikes) have no way to mount any sort of chainguide (press-fit BB, no FD mount, no ISCG tabs). Any racer worth their salt with a way to mount one, does. I was busy all weekend with riders who were dealing with dropped chains and team mechanics looking for solutions.
  • + 9
 I have a wolftooth chainring on my hardtail and it will toss the chain now and again when out charging hard in the rough stuff. I keep a chain guide on so that it remains out of sight and out of mind.... if I were racing at this level I wouldn't be caught without one.... While narrow-wide rings are good... they can still drop chains.
  • + 6
 @NoahColorado: My point is to stop milking Sram whenever there is an occasion.
I understand they are a huge source of income for sites, but the Eagle chainring is no better than others.

Anybody that rides hard enough is better off with a chain guide. I can do without.
That said, both Epic and Felt in the picture can mount chain guides but do not have one.
  • + 3
 Garbaruk's better.
  • + 5
 Anyone know what @RichardCunningham means when he said "Will XTR 2018 make the chainguides disappear?" A reference to the XTR 2x? Or a reference possibly better chain retention with new 2018 XTR chainrings?
  • + 3
 XTR chainring doesn't rob torque though like wolftooth's overly chunky mud catcher of a ring. I rate the steel XTR ring highly. no drop risk at all on an FS bike with 25mm of chain growth.
  • + 0
 @freestyIAM: I believe that new XTR should be announced any day now. I also suspect an updated 1X chainring from Shimano.
  • + 0
 I don't understand stand why anyone would put a guide on a hard tail, with either brand of rear derailleur. If you look at some of the rampage bikes there are quite a few with no guides. I'm 2 seasons in on no guide on my Dh bike. Not the first dropped chain. And I'm a hack, I would hope a pro can ride smoother than my 220lb bulldozer ass
  • + 6
 @sunringlerider: Not trying to be a dick, but if you lose a chain in a cross country race- you lose the race. You lose a chain at Rampage and you can still bomb the chute, throw a massive 3, whip off the hip jump, backflip the flatdrop and finish up with a stretched out superman seat grab over the canyon; then get robbed by the judges.

In both cases you lose.

I trust that I've not made myself clear at all. I had a good time, though.
  • + 3
 @mm732 I am glad I am not be the only one noticing how the the n-w rings “rob torque”. In a cycling industry obsessed with marginal gains.... selling $200 ceramic bb and testing how many watts you save if you shave legs... nobody talks about how much energy is waisted by the n-w teeth holding on the chain.

@freestylAM shimano already has n-w rings, however their 1x tooth profile works just as good as any other. the clutch derailer is what really keeps the chain in place. The shimano ones have adjustable tension. Crank it up and your chain will never drop. Shifting will slightly slow down.
Sram derailers do not have adjustable clutch, most chaindrops I have seen at races are from people running sram.
  • + 6
 I would love to either personally feel a comparison, or get someone else's thoughts on IsoSpeed Decoupler vs "normal" Titanium or Carbon frame (perhaps fitted with 2.2s and then compared with 2.6 tires) vs Modern Softtail vs Modern short travel 80mm full suspension vs Redshift Shockstop or other shock seat post. Same wheels, tires, etc. My guess in order of comfort would be normal frame, shockstop, isospeed, softtail, full suspension. I can't imagine the IsoSpeed makes a noticeable difference when the going gets rough, and that bigger tires and real suspension can't be replaced by an elastomer. Anyone have time on the above?
  • + 12
 I rode a Procaliber 9.9 RSL for a little bit before ending up with a Top Fuel 9.9 RSL. Coming from a Focus Raven 29 Hardtail, I felt like the Procaliber was maybe 10% softer on hard rocks/roots. Maybe. At each spec level the Top Fuel is $500 more than the Procaliber, and for XCM I felt it was a better value so that's what I got. Plus the Procaliber sucks for shorter riders (see Antons' setup at 5'4") and it's a heavy frame when compared to the competitiion (1200g+ vs sub 900g for Spec/Scott/etc).

My take: ISO speed is neat, but didn't do much for me in my time training on the bike and the weight penalty isn't worth it. Get a real hardtail or a full suspension XC bike , not the worst of both worlds.
  • + 1
 @davidccoleman: What's the weight penalty? It can't add much. The value issue is certainly understandable, though.
  • + 6
 @PHeller: Procaliber Frames are 1200-1300g. Specialized Epic HT and Scott HT are sub 900g. Jump from Procaliber to Top Fuel is about 2.5 pounds or so; the 19.5" Procaliber 9.9 I rode was mid 19# range and my 21.5" Top Fuel is ~22#
  • + 3
 @davidccoleman: I cannot speak for ISO speed, but the BMC softtail was the fastest bike I have ever ridden. If I had to choose between it and a hardtail, I would always go for the softtail. And for pure XC racing, I would probably also prefer it over a full suspension.
  • + 8
 Would someone please name a cross-country bike "Mooseknuckle"
  • + 5
 Please let it be Felt.
  • + 6
 "I wonder how many grams Batty would save if those massive Bontrager stickers were removed from her carbon wheels?" absolute madman!
  • + 23
 I'd say about 15 grams. NoTubes 26" Podium stickers weight 3gr per rim.
Yeah I used to be that guy.
  • + 5
 Emiy's bike with Maxxis front tire blacked out. ;-)
  • + 6
 More!
  • + 0
 I rode with my stem upside down, while it might be suitable for road or bridleways, but anything technical it makes it really difficult to get your weight towards the back, and actually takes balls to ride the technical trails like that as it feels like you're going to go over the bars.
  • + 1
 Isn't it obvious that Shimano chainrings have difficulties holding the chain. And the same goes for the hardtails (regardless of chainring brand). The two fullys with Eagle are good... Any XC racer would know
  • + 3
 Yeti SB100 looks incredibly fast, even in L or XL size Wink
  • + 2
 Would be interesting to also see each of their side-by-side pedaling positions on these bikes.
  • + 2
 Dat Choyohuaya tires tho... I dump my Minions straight away, when they look like this...
  • + 1
 All Procalibers run Trek's IsoSpeed, even though the article claims that Emily's bike runs an elastomer and Anton's has IsoSpeed. No elastomers on there anywhere.
  • + 4
 Say no to moose knuckles
  • + 2
 what about short shorts?
  • + 5
 my response generally depends on the moose
  • + 2
 I blew a hammy just looking at Antons gigantic chainring... hope my insurance covers it
  • - 3
 That’s what you have to do when they pay you for using a dinner plate instead of a cassette...
  • + 2
 Shimano Is sooooo smooth. SRAM is clickee.
  • + 2
 Nope. Can't read the top cap.
  • + 1
 it says carbon and titanium
  • + 2
 that zippering though
  • + 1
 That is Richards' fork on emily batty' bike. She cannot get her own?
  • + 1
 That Yeti doe...so sick!
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