Bike Check: Rab Wardell's Marathon World Championships Santa Cruz Blur

Jan 10, 2022 at 1:50
by Ed Spratt  



After setting a FKT (fastest known time) on the West Highland Way in 2020 Rab Wardell realised he still had plenty of potential to ride faster than ever before. in 2021 he returned to Elite level competition since retiring from World Cup racing in 2014 to take on the Marathon World Championships for the first time, in Elba, Italy. For this task and his recent 'Old Enough to Know Better' series Rab equipped himself with a rapid Santa Cruz Blur setup with lightweight RockShox suspension and carbon Reserve wheels with Cushcore inserts. Check out the details on Rab's World Championships ride.

Rab Wardell
Age: 36
Hometown: Glasgow
Height: 178cm / 5'10"
Weight: 64.8kg / 142 lb
Instagram: @rabwardell

bigquotes"The bike really is a lot of fun. I've finished on the podium in a gravel race on it and set some quick times on downhill trails used in the Tweed Valley EWS. I've even flipped it! It's full of surprises and I can't wait to keep pushing the limits on it".

Santa Cruz Blur Details

Frame: Santa Cruz Blur CC mk4 - Sockeye Sal and Blue colourway, size large
Head Unit: Wahoo Elemnt Roam
Wheels: Reserve 28 XC rims / DTSwiss 350 hubs
Fork: Rockshox Sid SL Ultimate, 100mm, 29"
Shock: RockShox SidLuxe Ultimate with Sram/Rockshox Twistlock
Tyres: Continental Race King 29" x 2.2 ProTection with 60ml Revo Sealant front and rear run @ 17psi front and 17psi rear with Cushcore XC tyre insert
Pedals: Crankbrothers Eggbeater 11
Drivetrain: SRAM XO1 Eagle AXS 12 speed, SRAM XX1 cranks, Quarq power meter, 34t chainring, 10-52 XO1 Eagle Cassette, GX AXS shifter
Brakes: SRAM Level TLM - 160mm rotors front and rear
Seatpost: Fox Transfer SL Performance Elite, 100mm, 31.6mm
Cockpit: Santa Cruz Bicycles Flat Bar cut to 700mm, Syntace Lightforce 70mm stem, Cane Creek 40 IS Integrated headset and Fizik Tempo Argo R1 saddle


Rab is running a RockShox SidLuxe Ultimate rear shock with SRAM/RockShox's Twistlok lockout.

bigquotes"I'm a big fan of the twist lock. When I first saw it, it gave me flashbacks of gripshift in the late '90s, but I actually really like it. It works well and it keeps the handlebar clean and uncluttered. I use it all the time and love that it locks front and rear suspension at the same time"

Kitted out with Continental's Race King 29" x 2.2 ProTection tires, Rab is also running a Cuscore XC insert. Pressures are set at 17psi front and rear with 60ml of Revo Sealant in each tire.

bigquotes"As a cross country rider, and one who started racing in the early 2000's it's hard to get my head around adding weight to my bike, especially to the wheels. Running a Cushcore is mint though, the bike feels better with it and I feel more confident on downhills and when cornering. It's slightly heavier but I'm faster with it".


For his cockpit Rab has paired a 700mm Santa Cruz flat bar with a 70mm Syntace stem. A critical component for his training is his Wahoo Elemnt Roam.


For drivetrain duties Rab has a 34 tooth chainring with a Quark Powermeter and a 10-52 X01 Eagle Cassette.



105 Comments

  • 83 1
 Wow, that b&w pic makes Rab look like he's 70, not 36.
  • 21 1
 Allways wear sunscreen
  • 3 1
 twisted numbers?
  • 9 0
 Haha, that's what happens when the photog gets a little aggressive with the Clarity slider in Lightroom!
  • 1 0
 A life well lived.
  • 3 0
 150km FKTs will do that to you. Smile
  • 3 0
 I thought it was just Sean Penn from Walter Mitty
  • 4 0
 @jspier: i thought it was Daniel Day Lewis from "There Will Be Blood".
  • 1 0
 @Germanmike:
whats that mean.?
  • 2 1
 @bbnc24: that from the picture it seems like the numbers of his age are twisted: 63 instead of 36
  • 31 0
 I thought I'd add a comment to answer a few questions that have come up.

I have weighed this bike in the past, but it wasn't weighed at the marathon world champs. The initial weight when I got the bike was around 22.8lb / 10.3kg, although I'm not 100% sure of the accuracy of the scale. By the time I raced marathon worlds I had added the rear Cushcore, topped up sealant, added another bottle-cage, added a dynaplug racer ultralite and taped a chainlink to my bar. So add 150g for the Cushcore, 38g for the bottle-cage, 14g for the dynaplug, I guess 20g sealant, and I also guess less than 5g for the chainlink? As I say I've not weighed the bike in that setup, but an estimate would be 10.5kg, 23.1lbs?

The reason I didn't share weight in this bike check is that I don't think there is any value to sharing a weight when it's not 100% accurate. Maybe there is something to take that I don't care what the weight is? Or maybe I'm missing something here. I'd rather put effort into optimising my body composition (ie lean muscle mass and low but healthy body fat) and increase my power output than waste time weighing my bike and looking for problems that aren't apparent. At the time of going to the marathon worlds, I was 64.8kg, 8% body fat and my threshold was around 381watts/5.8 w/kg and 5 min power 472watts/7.2 w/kg. Again you can question the accuracy of scale and power meter, but these were personal bests values for me.

I really do love this bike, it feels light and fast. If it didn't then maybe I'd be weighing it and looking for weight savings? Weight is of course a consideration for me, but I tend to choose components and build on how it feels. If I don't have a problem with the bike then I don't look for a solution. I also don't have the resources or time to be testing and changing every component. 15 years ago I was a lot more bothered about the weight of my bike, and I would obsess over what top riders bikes weighed, which in hindsight was a waste of time. I would usually ride a hardtail with lightweight tyres and innertubes etc, and I'd also puncture a lot, which was also a waste of time. I'd even take off the small ring from my chainset to save weight, which is quite frankly ridiculous, especially when you consider the gearing we ride now. I'd also under fuel and overtrain to try and lose weight, again maybe another lesson to be learned here?

These days the riders I know, including me, weigh up performance v weight. Some things are a given for weight saving, like foam grips, high-end components, carbon fibre bars, frame and rims. However, I'm not going to ride some obscure lightweight hubs that wear out after 5 rides in Scotland, or whacky brake rotors that don't stop you for shit. I've been given parts like this in the past and they aren't worth it. There's a reason that brands like Sram and DT have been around forever and are specced on most race-winning bikes. They're tried and tested and they work.

As has been mentioned in these comments, the availability of parts has decided some of the components on the bike, including hubs, shifter and stem. I get my bike from Santa Cruz UK/Jungle, and I have done for the last 7 years. I trust them when it comes to selecting the build of my bike versus cost. If I was in the position to pick and choose parts then I might tweak a couple of things, Chris King or Hope hubs and headset would be pretty fancy, but there's nothing on this bike that I feel I have to change. The DT350s are really good, I don't think I've ever really cared about my headset, and the GX shifter works really well. I actually have an XX1 shifter on another bike. If it was a problem I would change it, but it's not a problem.

As I said in the check the bike rips and I love riding it. I think that's what really matters when choosing your bike. I hope this helps.

Rab

*I'll buy a bike weight scale, and next time I do a check I'll make sure to have an accurate weight for you all. Sorry for not doing this time around.

**WRT to the front brake hose, these photos were taken two days after I pulled the bike out of the box and on the day of racing Glentress7 and it was a real rush to build it around work. I won the race btw, even though some riders may have had more appropriately lengthed brake hoses. I still haven't cut the brake hose.

***I'm not scared to wear lycra, but I didn't choose these photos either Wink
  • 1 0
 Thanks Rab!

I have the new Blur and absolutely love it. Thoughts on Continental Race Kings vs the Aspens that come stock? Do you lose much going down to 2.2 from the 2.4" Aspens? Seems like a grippier tread pattern than the Aspens and saves a bit on weight.

Thanks again!
  • 1 0
 Rab,

Thanks very much for taking the time to reply here.

I've recently gotten a Blur like yours (C carbon, not CC), also a large, and it's the TR version so 120/115mm travel. I'm going to try your Race King/rear insert combo this Spring, as I love that tire for racing but I tend to destroy them on the rear (I'm around 155-160 lbs). Has this setup helped preserve the tire in rocky terrain? Last race I ran them, I killed the rear tire on literally the only rocky part of the lap...

Thinking of picking up the SID SL Ultimate and SIDLuxe combo from a friend's Blur XC to use for race season (I like the longer travel setup for marathon and general training).

It comes with the Twistloc, like your setup... which ESI foam grip diameter did you choose? It looks like a great match for the Twistloc diameter.

Also, what crankarm length do you run? I'm about 0.5-1" shorter than you, and LOVE my 170mm cranks now that I've acclimated. Just curious.
  • 2 0
 @tommyrod74: ESI Racer's Edge 32mm are exact diameter as Twistloc (I know, because my bike have them). In next season I will try Chunky 34mm and I pray the diameter gap will not drive me crazy ...
  • 3 0
 @zwilkins: Hey, I've never ridden 2.4 Aspens so don't have any feedback for you. Sorry. I believe that the Race Kings are faster rolling, and I feel like they grip well. Certainly when at the races a lot of guys I race against are envious of the Race Kings rolling speed, and some of those guys are on Aspens. Of course, Aspens are a successful tyre too.
  • 4 0
 @tommyrod74: The set-up was really good at Worlds, and the race was well over 6 hours of riding on rocky and technical trails. I would recommend it.

I actually had to go and check my bike for crank length. The cranks are 175mm. I ride different length cranks on different bikes and can't say I ever really notice a difference.
  • 2 0
 @Strenki: I don't know which grips I have, they came with the initial build from Santa Cruz UK. Sounds like they are the Racer's Edge, but I do have chunky's as my spares.
  • 1 0
 5.8w/KG? Jesus... Didn't Ferrari state you needed to be 6 to win the tour?
  • 2 0
 @Strenki: Racer's Edge are 30mm, Chunky's are 32 mm and extra chunky's are 34mm
  • 4 0
 @Jacobperkins: I'd say that the power meter I have on my bike is generous, and I need to manually calibrate it to be totally sure. 5.8w/kg is commonly regarded as a minimum to compete in the World Tour, with the best grand tour contenders closer to 6.8 or more. Contador has said in peak performance to be pushing 7+ w/kg. But we know he served a doping ban. It's all pretty mental. More here - road.cc/content/tech-news/244996-alberto-contador-reveals-power-data-his-tour-de-france-winning-days

For reference, I lost around 60 seconds over 6 minutes to the front runners at the marathon world champs on the opening climb, which was crazy steep. I had a mechanical in the race, but think I'd have been about 40-45 minutes behind Andreas Seewald who won. In my defence, I was conservative on the opening climb because I didn't know how I'd hold up over 6+ hours. I'm also an amateur rider with a day job. Keegan Swensen deserves a shout out I think as the fastest up the climb that day, going from behind me on the start line to the top 10. Very, very impressive!
  • 16 1
 Still the prettiest xc rig even if it didn't win the field test (in DC setup)
  • 4 1
 Bloody rip off of Merida Ninety Six!
  • 11 0
 I'm personally offended by the front brake hose not being trimmed...
  • 1 0
 RIght??? My OCD is on fire.
  • 6 0
 @endlesstrailz XC bar spins for days!
  • 3 0
 Clearly, it is to accommodate the 140 travel fork for those bike park days (he does mention that he's flipped it!)
  • 10 0
 But how much does it weigh?
  • 31 2
 I've no idea, I haven't weighed it. It's fast AF though.
  • 4 4
 @RabWardell: why dont U weigh it.? post a weight.
  • 2 0
 @bbnc24: I've added a more in-depth comment in this thread. Hope that helps.
  • 2 0
 I have the identical setup without cushcore but with a Sworks power saddle, and XTR pedals, sized medium. Mine weighs 23.48 lbs.
  • 2 0
 @chase2wheels: My Blur TR (C frame, but full XO1 AXS, Cane Creek crankset, carbon wheels with 2.4 tires, Garmin power pedals) is only 24.1 all in, with 2 cages and a Wahoo stem mount. These can be built pretty light.
  • 8 0
 Didn’t recognise rab in that picture. Looks like an old man lol
  • 4 0
 Black and white picture is some 60 year old dude for sure!
  • 2 0
 In a podium in some gravel race :-)))) ,I have some friends of mine saying I should buy a gravel bike cause it is much better for this and for that ,but in the end I just ride my Santa Cruz nomad 2010 carbon with a maxxis ikon 2,35 in the rear and a 2,30 dhf in the front and do 165 km of (they say it’s gravel terrain,but I just say it’s earth ground )and be fine with it ,no I do not need a gravel bike ,I just want to ride comfortably :-)))))
  • 2 0
 I enjoyed watching Old enough to know better and West Highland Way ride. Rab seems like a fun guy and love that accent. he should film more videos. and this bike is really nice. but as a 191cm tall guy, 700mm handlebars seems so narrow, and all this talk about gram shaving is fun, considering I'm at 105kg (231lbs).

I used RaceKings on my old 26" hardtail, they were decent. Might give it a go once again on my 20er.

Good luck Rab in your future races
  • 1 0
 Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated. And yup I'm working on making more films about having fun on bikes. Stay tuned.
  • 4 0
 The B&W photo looks like Sean Penn in Secret Life of Walter Mitty, weathered.
  • 5 0
 700mm bars? Completely unrideable!
  • 1 0
 Scott should figure out how to use that grip shift on the Genius and Ransom for there traction modes. And then figure a way to let you still reach down and hit the lock out mode manually on the shock since people don't use that mode as often. Be much cleaner...
  • 1 0
 You can just put the Twistloc on any bike. It works just fine to change between two modes, which you use most, either open/platform or platform/lockout. Works just fine with Fox shocks, too.
  • 1 0
 @futureearth: Just that I don't think you could use the third mode. So if Scott could finagle a manual lock out combined with this twist lock for the other two modes it might be a cleaner solution than what they are doing now?? IDK Smile
  • 2 0
 @stiingya: Completely agree, I would like it, although I do not dislike their solution as much as others here. Probably activating the lockout with the Twistloc is not that bullet proof for Nino in a sprint
  • 1 0
 @stiingya: I also like the tiny DT 3-pos over-bar remote combined with an under-bar remote for the dropper post
  • 6 2
 I see the cockpit from here, no!!!!
  • 2 0
 @RabWardell: Curious what length crankarms you used and whether this has changed over the years. Glad you've returned to racing. Great looking racing bike. Thanks.
  • 3 0
 I ride 175mm. No idea if that's changed over the years or not, I haven't noticed anything different. I have 172.5 on my road bike (I think also the same in cyclocross) and have ridden 165 on the track and not noticed any difference, although I do notice a difference between all of those bikes.You can probably tell I've got a bit of a 'run what ya brung' mindset. Saying that if I don't like something or if it causes me pain I change it/look for a solution. The saddles I use are an example of this.
  • 6 3
 I would flat every ride at 17psi.
  • 12 0
 are you 142 lbs?
  • 3 0
 I'm 135lbs and ride 15psi front 18psi rear 2.4" tire with no insert.
I believe 2.2 with insert at 17psi is appropriate for 142lbs rider.
  • 2 0
 I'm 160 lbs, ride my XC hardtail bike with 18 front and 20 back in a 2.4" tire, no issues. Feels great and fast. Yes, I need to pick the line and can't just plow through stuff. But any harder and the bike feels like a ping-pong over roots.
  • 2 2
 @mrkkbb: I’m 173lb. Run 24psi front and 29psi rear with 2.5” wide tires. And cushcore in there too. Might even bump up the psi more if it’s rocky.
  • 5 0
 @TimnberG: 29psi in a 2.5? wow, definitely not on an XC hardtail right?
  • 4 0
 17psi is a flat tire in my world. Though I'm a fat non-xc rider.
  • 5 0
 Reading everyone's weight and feeling self conscious about the 192 lbs I lug around. I don't feel big, but clearly I'm a monster!
  • 3 1
 @MDW83: Hahaha. Cycling is a weird sport like that. I never felt big at 6' 210.... but I'm damn near 50 pounds heavier than almost everyone I ride with. I read once that the average Enduro racer is 160lbs.
  • 1 1
 @mrkkbb: enduro. But even on my trail bike I run 32psi in the rear with 2.3” width. I think I used to run 25psi rear in 2.2” width back in my xc days when I was lighter.
  • 1 0
 @MDW83: I'm 195lbs so don't feel too bad. Also run 28F 30R on a 2.4 tire. 27.5 though so the pressure is higher since the volume is lower.
  • 1 0
 @Hexsense: 135 riding weight here too, exo+ front and rear at 23 and 28 psi respectively. Northern california rocks are sharp. If I run less than 27 psi in the rear I pinch flat. Interesting to see the different spreads of psi's and riding weights. Must be so much variation in the riding style (i have terrible line choice)
  • 1 0
 @MDW83: Join the club. I'm normal in everyday life, but here I'm a "clydesdale" at 195lb!
  • 1 0
 @TimnberG: where are you riding that you need this on what tires?

I am 176lbs and run 22 at the front and 24 on the back for 29"x2,6 Super Gravity tires, no inserts. Heavy as fuq Enduro ofc...
  • 1 0
 @Serpentras: I mostly run it that high to keep the tires from rolling in the corners. Might go up a couple more psi if it's rocky to keep from hitting rims. I guess this thread got a little out of hand but my main point was that 17psi seemed a bit low for xc even at 140lbs. In the end everyone's got their preferences on bike set up and it probably works well for him.
  • 1 0
 @TimnberG: tires and inserts also make a huge difference. Like I wrote the SG are so sturdy they did break a new big Topeak shuttle lever. This can only be lifted with a metal core. At least on my rim.
  • 1 0
 @Serpentras: Cush core w/ Exo+ is my go to these days. Seems to roll slightly better than 2 ply casing w/ no inserts.
  • 4 1
 I would have def wore baggies for the photo shoot! LOL!
  • 5 0
 He's advertising Smile
  • 3 0
 Rab “I’m gonna flip this baby, hold my Bru”
  • 3 1
 I love how Rab doesnt post a weight of the bike. If it feels good and fast then who cares!?
  • 1 0
 All the people that have asked how much it weights obviously...??? Smile
  • 1 0
 Oh awesome!! Another post about the Santa Cruz Blur!! A bike I have been waiting to be delivered for almost a year now! F*%K off, Santa Cruz!!
  • 2 0
 It looked light enough when you flew past me (and everyone else) at G7 @RabWardell ;-)
  • 1 0
 Guessing it's the GX AXS shiftier as it's a few g lighter than the XX1. Is the low end headset for the same reason?
  • 1 0
 Same exact weight, pretty much same shifter. But GX Axs has been easily available where XX1 hasn’t been for months.
  • 1 0
 Is going from 32 to a 34 on the front chainring have the same effect as going from a 50 to a 52 on the rear?
  • 2 0
 No, 32 to 34 is ~3% change higher gear range. 50 to 52 is a ~2% lower gear range for the lowest gear, and the other low gears may gain a tooth too.
  • 1 0
 Not really. The 34 on the front gives a higher (harder) ratio for going fast. 32:10 to 34:10. Not much, but front rings rarely go outside of 30-34, with some occasional 28 and 36 rings.

Basically, he'll get a bit worse bottom end (32->34:52), for climbs, but a bit more top end speed.
  • 2 0
 @L0rdTom: thanks for the explanation. It makes sense now that I’m looking at it. I guess I just needed to dust off my calculator.
  • 1 0
 Sorry, I didn't quite catch what brand of tyre inserts Rab is running? Huck-Norris was it?
  • 3 0
 Looks like "Cuscore"...
  • 1 0
 @delta5: yup, don't forget the Quark power meter. Analysis is getting serious for those watts.
  • 2 0
 I didn't think anyone made 700mm bars any longer.
  • 1 0
 And pretty much everyone here would want them made longer too.
  • 7 0
 I cut 'em down to 700. The bike still handles well IMO, and a lot of XC and marathon courses have really tight sections between trees and rocks, so it works well.
  • 2 0
 @RabWardell: Gotcha. I figured you cut them. It was actually a (bad) joke of a comment. My bars are too wide but I haven't cut them because I'm stubborn.
  • 1 0
 @RabWardell: your bike looks great.
My 130mm trail hardtail has 750mm bars. Perfect for me amongst the trees.
  • 2 0
 Nae dusties - he's obv dedicated to baws oot speed !
  • 1 0
 Oh aye.
  • 6 4
 Bushing play
  • 1 0
 how long are the cranks tho
  • 1 0
 That guy is the most grizzled 36 yo that I have ever seen.
  • 10 0
 I used the old man filter from Instagram cos I was getting so much shit for not being old enough... Wink
  • 3 0
 @RabWardell:

Give it time. You’ll be old enough before you know it.
  • 1 0
 Curious as to why he went with DT 350s
  • 4 0
 Probably availability...
  • 3 0
 Because DT 350
  • 2 0
 WEIGHT?!
please.
  • 1 0
 how do you post cross country bike details without bike weight...?
  • 2 0
 I haven't weighed it. Sorry.
  • 1 0
 I mean that just makes me think it's kinda husky and they don't want to tell us...??? Smile
  • 1 0
 @RabWardell: have you considered syncros integrated cockpit (one piece bar and stem combo)? Knocked a chunk of weight off the front of my bike and looks trick
  • 1 0
 @stiingya: haha! Very good :p It's light and fast but I really haven't weighed it. I could have just made a number up like everyone else does... Wink
  • 3 0
 @andybloomer: I've seen them but haven't considered them. I'm happy with the set up I've got Smile
  • 2 0
 Nice bike, happy riding!
  • 1 0
 Cheers!
  • 1 4
 That bike looks like it needs a 190x51 and a Pike





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