Bike Check: Mathias Flueckiger's Thomus Lightrider WC - Nove Mesto World Cup XC 2020

Sep 30, 2020 at 2:51
by James Smurthwaite  

2019 was a breakthrough year for Mathias Flueckiger. After picking up his first win in Mont Sainte Anne in 2018, he took that momentum forward and won the first round in Albstadt then only finished outside the top 3 once all season. He'll have been champing at the bit to get back between the tapes and, 13 months later, he's finally getting the chance in Nove Mesto for the doubleheader this week.

He's on the Thomus RN team again this year and has already announced he has signed for another 2 years with the team to take him through to the Olympics and beyond. His season kicked off with Short Track yesterday evening where he finished 8th. For racers this year, that's job done. It guarantees him a front-row slot in the race tomorrow and, with no overall title this year, there's no loss of points to worry about either. We caught up with Mathias' mechanic Gavin Black just before the race to see how he sets up his bike for the high speed, sprint format.
A well earned victory for Mathias Flueckiger.
Rider Name // Mathias Flueckiger
Age: 32
Hometown: Ochlenberg, Switzerland
Height: 1m 72cm (5' 8")
Weight: 62kg (137lbs)
Instagram: @mathflueck

Model Name Details
Frame: Thomus Lightrider WC, 100mm travel
Shock: DT Swiss R232 One, 78 psi
Fork: DT Swiss F 232 One, 92 psi
Wheels: DT Swiss XRC 1200, 29"
Tires: Schwalbe Prototype, 1.1 bar (16psi) front, 1.2 bar (17psi) rear
Drivetrain: Shimano XTR 12 speed, 36T chainring
Brakes: Shimano XTR
Cockpit: Bike Ahead/Newmen, 710mm bar, 90mm stem.
Size: Small
More info:
Some full shots at alternative angles.

Mathias is apparently very sensitive to changes in his set up and his shock settings get fiddled with the most. For the short track in Nove Mesto he was running 78 psi, 12 rebound clicks from closed and no tokens.

For his fork set up this weekend, he's running 92psi, 9 clicks of rebound from fully closed, fully open compression and no volume spacers.

In most XC races we'd expect Schwalbe riders to be running a Racing Ray front and a Racing Ralph rear but the Nove Mesto short track course had plenty of tarmac sections so Mathias opted for a lower profile prototype Thunder Burt instead.

A super-slimline chain guide provides a little extra security for Mathias' chain.

This lockout lever normally sits on top of the bars but Mathias' mechanic, Gavin Black, has modified it to be underslung.

A Garmin mount is integrated into Mathias' spacers.

Mathias' 90mm Newmen stem has a -17° rise. It's fully slammed for this race but he sometimes will raise it by 5mm depending on the track.

His Bike Ahead flat bar is 710mm wide and has an 11° backsweep.

Flueckiger was one of the early adopters of dropper posts in XC (remember his homemade carbon dropper from 2015?). Droppers will now be on most bikes this weekend in Nove Mesto and this KS seatpost with 100mm travel is Flueckiger's choice.

A hefty 36T chainring fitted for the Short Track race, although Mathias will likely use a smaller ring on Thursday's race.
A standard 10-51 cassette on the rear.


  • 26 0
 1.1 bars on 600 gramm tires , holy F
  • 7 0
 Well he’s only 60kgs so for xc I suppose that’s plenty of pressure for him.
  • 5 2
 If he's running the 30mm internal rims, at his weight the tires have plenty of air in them.
  • 2 12
flag GDPipsqueak (Sep 30, 2020 at 4:39) (Below Threshold)
 Even at his weight, and the rocks on this course, it doesn't make any sense. Unless that tire has some amazingly light sidewall/cushcore thingy in it.
  • 32 6
 @GDPipsqueak: it does make sense if he’s running it. He’s a World Cup racer and you are?
  • 11 1
 @isuckatridingbutmybikeiscool: i ve been trying vittoria mezcals with cushcore on my hardtail latetly and its pretty cool -but you guessed it i am not a World Cup Racer.....but as we are at, it i raced a few DH Worldcups in the mid 90s... -grandpa your soup is ready- Sorry i gotta go, see ya on the trails whippersnappers.
  • 1 4
 @optimumnotmaximum: I wasn’t referring to you broWink
  • 10 0
 @isuckatridingbutmybikeiscool: none of the choices at this level make sense to normal mountain bikers, but they probably don't give a shit about our opinions either and spend why more time fine tuning their setup (and riding their bikes) than us mortals.
  • 4 0
 @isuckatridingbutmybikeiscool: but days are long in the retirement castle
  • 3 1
 1.2 bars on the rear. Even at 62kg, he must be extremely smooth with this skinny tires. As far as I can remember, there are a few rock-gardens in Nove Mesto, and some bad line choice..... good luck!
  • 2 2
 @isuckatridingbutmybikeiscool: Considering he pushes infinitely harder than a noob like me, it just makes it more of a puzzle. Do a calculation on your weight, take a racing tyre and run the equivalent pressure on the rear... and then ride as fast as you can around that Nove Mesto course. There's a Pinkbike video I would watch.
  • 2 2
 my girl weighs 48kg and she runs 10psi front and 13psi back on 30mm ID rims and 2.6 tires
  • 3 0
 @GDPipsqueak: This isn't exactly his first rodeo. I don't recall him flatting at all during the entire 2019 world cup season. It may be a puzzle to you, but as one of the top XC racers in the world it works for him. Several times out on rides I've discovered part way through that one of my tires was quite a bit under my target pressure. What always amazed me was how long it actually took me to notice it.
  • 3 0
 perfectly normal, I way 160lbs and run 18 psi fr, 21 psi rear on 2.25 25mm rims. Conditions are also very, very soft and slick, so lower pressure is good for those roots, and Nove Mesto has lot's of rooty climbing. XC racers balance tire pressures between traction, speed and line choice.
  • 1 0
 Totally. Low, low, low.
  • 7 0
 Word on the street is that almost all of the WCXC heavy hitters have been racing on inserts for a few seasons now, with Pepi's typically being the preferred option. That particular detail gets omitted on most bike checks as teams consider it a "secret weapon."

Not sure if that's the case here, but those pressures with ultralight casings at Nove Mesto would certainly suggest the use of something other than just tire sealant.
  • 1 0
  • 2 0
 @DirtCrab: Tubolight actually
  • 11 0
 Does anyone else really want those FIRST RIDE tires?
  • 3 0
 I do! Those tires look sweet.
  • 1 0
 @PapaStone: need some bigger nobbies but each to their own
  • 4 0
 @jimoxbox: said that, she did
  • 14 0
 No, I didn't look, as instructed.
  • 2 0
 They'd be absolutely unforgiving for anything other than perfect bike control. If you hit a wet root or rock off-camber you're going to lose the front.

Might work for trails here in Nova Scotia where so many of the technical features are granite, you could get away with Maxxis Hookworms for a lot of the trails (but the rest of them are covered in roots....).
  • 1 0
 You were not supposed to look, top secret Smile
  • 2 1
 @PapaStone: Schwalbe Thurder Burt, same shit
  • 1 0
 Those tires look like road tires because they have so little tread. I'd be afraid to use them on my dry loose gravely trails.
  • 2 0
 Yep. Probably 29x2.4. I've had good luck w/ Burts, believe it or not. They just don't last that long. Would be awesome in a larger volume than what's currently available.
  • 1 0
 @UtahBrent: I got burts with my xc bike and I wrecked them in a week. Might've been a bit heavy on the skids tho...
  • 11 0
 36T. Separating the men from the boys!
  • 1 0
 Not really. Put yourself on a brand new 20lb bike with no extra gear and maybe half a bottle of water and you can probably ride up just about anything in a 36/51 gear.
  • 5 0
 @Snowytrail: I think id still cry. ;-)
  • 5 0
 Confused about shock pressure. On my pump it is very clear that 0-120 are for the fork and 120-300 are for the shock. Also fork pressure seems high for a 137lb dude.
  • 3 0
 Thought the same. The tire must be bottoming out while the fork is in half of its travel.
  • 3 0
 Some XC racers run their suspension super firm, just like DH racers. They're always hitting stuff at full speed and don't want their 100 mm travel bike clanging off the bottom out bumpers all the time. It looks like Mathias has his set up so the rear end tracks the ground well and the front end is a little firmer to keep it high.
  • 1 0
 To be fair he isn't running any volume spacers so he needs a high air pressure to not bottom out. Seems like that would be a harsh ride but I guess if you're a pro you don't care about ride quality just about going fast

(edit) could be running that ridiculously low tire pressure to help smooth out the small bumps
  • 4 0
 @shreditgreg: This seems right.

On the suspension, I'd bet he uses the lockout/pedal mode on the shock/fork a lot. Locked out on pavement, pedal going uphill, and fully open going down to get traction. With no tokens in either one, both set up with a pretty fast rebound, the fork with fully open compression, and DT Swiss stating the progression curve on both fork and shock are linear, the traction is probably pretty good set up that way.

With respect to the tire pressures, dude only weighs 137lbs, so 16/17psi doesn't seem totally crazy. I'm 210lbs and run ~22psi front and ~24psi rear on 2.35" XC tires set up tubeless.
  • 2 0
 @lonelydwarfproductions: I just thought about the lockout too. That would allow for a very active suspension when unlocked. Makes sense in a weird way.
  • 1 0
 That bike is gorgeous. Also, I watched the mens race, and Mathias was going on the inside double jump line and he actually did a whip and had some steaze, while the other rides just jumped it normally.
  • 1 0
 Surprised he is not using an XTR Di2 rear mech - any reason for this apart from cost??
  • 4 0
 I'm also surprised he isn't running te 10-45 with medium cage mech.
  • 7 0
 @tonit91: Me too. I can't believe a light, powerful rider would ever use the 51 cog on the back on an XCO course. The 10-45 would save a few grams of weight also.
  • 1 0
 @PapaStone: Not to mention the better rations you get at the top!
  • 5 0
 @PapaStone: Because the bigger cassette enables him to run a larger chain ring in the front.
  • 8 0
 It's not 12spd yet.
  • 1 0
 @Primoz: in that case it probably doesn't even rotate
  • 1 0
 @magnusc: you're right, in roadie circles, it's common to use a bigger chain ring and only the big cogs on the cassette for less Watts lost in the chain
  • 1 1
 @mountainsofsussex: I think he wants a bigger chain ring to go faster on the flats, downhill and in the sprint, not to save watts. 50/51/52 is a bail out cog where you spend very little time, and by my experience the least efficient cog due to the clutch pulling the chain really hard.
  • 1 0
 @pistol2ne: of course it does. And it works. But why for the love of god would a sponsored rider be given an older groupset just because it's electric? Companies want to advertise the newest, greatest, shiniest thing. When (or if) a 12spd Di2 XTR groupset is available, ALL the pros will be riding it. Now, not so much.

So yeah, it's not 12spd. As in it's old and there's a newer mechanical group out there.
  • 1 0
 @magnusc: personally don't know why he's doing it, but it seems roadies would prefer a 56-14 to a 50-11 (or however the equivalent gears work) as the chain angles and hence friction are less. With a filthy MTB chain, the effects could be greater.
  • 2 0
 @mountainsofsussex: But they do use 11T sprockets and have for years.

What roadies want is smaller jumps between gears. A week ago I was pulling (by drafting) a train of MTBs along a road and honestly the jumps between gears was noticeable and an inbetweener would be useful. For actual TMB riding I do want the 10-50T cassette and know what the benefits are, but on the other hand I can see the benefits of smaller jumps when on the road.

On the other hand, people claiming what huge jumps we have with 12spd cassettes, that's just bullshit. MTB cassettes have had the same ratios and jumps ever since 9spd cassettes became the norm, larger cogs were just added from there. And the jumps between gears have stayed relatively constant and are between 20 and 15 %. Except for the horribleness that is the Sram 52T cassette. That thing should be just banned (or the lower 11 cogs changed as well).
  • 2 0
 Never heard of it, but it looks cool.
  • 1 0
 does that chain guide not hit the chain/chainring once the suspension is active?
  • 1 0
 Not necessarily, if the bearing is in the chainstay, the bolt is fixed tot he frame and not rotating.
  • 2 0
 I used some precious brain energy for you.

Not sure if it moves but I've assumed it does. The main pivot is pretty much vertically over the BB so you can assume the chainstay length, and the chain guide is mounted to the main pivot with a short lever. I took the chainstay length to be 438mm (Scott Spark RC), 100mm travel and the chain guide is fixed approx 15mm forwards of the main pivot centre. With those numbers, the chain guide will be 3.4mm lower at bottom-out, so no.

Tl;dr. The mechanic probably adjusted it with the suspension bottomed out to avoid that.
  • 1 0
 Or as @Primoz said. Much easier.
  • 1 0
 BikeAhead bar, not Newmen.
  • 1 0
 those DT Swiss XRC 1200, 209" wheels must roll like no other !
  • 2 0
 Looks like a Spur.
  • 4 0
 I'm thinking more along the likes of Scott's Spark.
  • 1 0
 So is di2 dead in the water?
  • 1 0
 He looks like Andy Dufresne coming out of the sewer pipe in that photo.
  • 1 0
 Only the Swiss cross is missing Wink
  • 1 0
 Looks like a Scott Spark.
  • 1 0
 Thunderburt on the wet grass, phew...
  • 3 2
 Ew, those grips.
  • 1 0
 Yeah, not a fan of the foam grips either.
  • 1 0
 rebound is very quick
  • 1 0
 Alloy rims?
  • 1 0
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