It's free, and it's mountain bike racing's most precious substance. Air plays a critical role in every aspect of a mountain bike's performance. Traction, control, suspension action and comfort are completely dependent upon two gallons of atmosphere trapped inside the tires. There is an old adage: "You never realize the value of a gift until you lose it." Any professional racer who's flatted during a race can attest to that - especially downhill and enduro competitors. In an all-out race against the clock, a flat tire is almost always an insurmountable loss.
The air outside may be free, but once you use it to pressurize the tires on your race bike, it can become very precious. How precious? We asked a number of World Cup DH and EWS racers this question to find out:
How much of your own money would you spend to guarantee that you wouldn't flat on race day?
Emilie Siegenthaler: $0.00 Bex Baraona: Negotiable... Ed Masters: All or nothing Bernard Kerr: All my bikes Robin Wallner: All my money