Bike Check: Maxime Folco's Blue Collar Trans Vesubienne Trek Top Fuel

Sep 22, 2020 at 2:00
by Matt Wragg  

If any one rider sums up the spirit of the Trans Vesubienne, it might just be Maxime Folco. A lifelong resident of the region, he grew up riding and racing on these kind of trails and 2020 marked his 9th time racing the Trans V.

Maxime isn't just here to make up the numbers, he has been second more times than he would like to count but has never managed to make that final step on the podium. For the last couple of years he had a small deal with Lapierre to race the e-MTB class, but for this year he is back on his regular mountain bike as with no sponsor commitments he prefers it to an e-MTB.

He admits that he has no interest in chasing sponsors again and doesn't like social media - he just wants to ride his bike fast. It's very much a blue collar affair, there is no factory suspension or electronic wizardry aboard his bike - just a mix of parts he had already and OE gear. This year he was pushed down to fourth as he admits he has struggled to train properly since being locked down in New Zealand earlier this year (he was working there when the pandemic hit).

Trans V 2020. Photo by Matt Wragg
Height 5'11" / 179cm
Weight 143 lb / 71kg
Hometown Nice, France
Model Trek Top Fuel
Frame Size Large
Wheel Size 29
Suspension Fox 34 Stepcast and Float DPS
Drivetrain & Brakes SRAM X0 & Shimano SLX
Tyre pressures 1.8 + 2.0 bar / 26 + 29psi

Travel 120mm
Pressure 65psi
Sag 25%

Travel 115mm
Pressure 105psi
Sag 25%
Lockout Remote

Trans V 2020. Photo by Matt Wragg

Trans V 2020. Photo by Matt Wragg

Trans V 2020. Photo by Matt Wragg
Trans V 2020. Photo by Matt Wragg

Trans V 2020. Photo by Matt Wragg
The SRAM GX Eagle groupset that the bike arrived with was switched out for a lighter X01 version - including the 10-50t cassette, which is a fairly significant weight saving, while the SLX brakes just worked so he didn't feel the need to change them. The Fox suspension is paired to a RockShox twist shifter to actuate the lockouts - both front and rear are paired together at the shifter.

Trans V 2020. Photo by Matt Wragg

Trans V 2020. Photo by Matt Wragg
Trans V 2020. Photo by Matt Wragg

Trans V 2020. Photo by Matt Wragg
The wheels are a bit of a mix and match affair - on the front he is running his DT Swiss XRC 1200 from last year in 25 inner width, while at the back he has the Bontrager OE carbon wheel, although he also has his XRC 1200 with a slightly burlier tyre for the rear in the prologue as there is not too much climbing in it and he doesn't want to have to mess about changing tyres in the evening. He says he prefers the profile of the 30mm rim, it gives better comfort and puncture protection, but the OE wheels are heavier, hence keeping the front wheel. Inside the tyres there is nothing special, just standard sealant and no inserts, on race day he relies on sensible pressures to keep him rolling. They are shod with a Maxxis Forekaster on the front and a fast-rolling Ikon on the rear for race day.

Trans V 2020. Photo by Matt Wragg

Trans V 2020. Photo by Matt Wragg
Trans V 2020. Photo by Matt Wragg

Trans V 2020. Photo by Matt Wragg
What is there to say about Shimano's XT pedals? Solid, reliable. The cockpit is the OE Bontrager carbon bar and 60mm stem that came stock with the bike, just with the stem flipped upside down to get weight on the front for climbing. ESI's foam grips are light, comfortable and cheap - ideal for a blue collar build. Maxime likes to have his Garmin in front of him when racing - he likes to have the climbing metres showing so can gauge how far into the race he is and how much harder he can push if he needs to.


  • 145 0
 "He admits that he has no interest in chasing sponsors again and doesn't like social media - he just wants to ride his bike fast."

That's the spirit! I like that attitude.
  • 65 0
 Did he say he only raced an e-bike because his sponsorship required it, and he would rather go with no sponsor than be required to ride e-bikes?

That's a stand-up guy right there.
  • 7 12
flag Jbq (Sep 22, 2020 at 14:51) (Below Threshold)
 Not really,
it was said that he prefers to ride a mountainbike as a privateer. I´m sure riding e-bikes as a privateer is a lot more cost intense and complex on the tech side.
  • 1 0
 That's definitely one interpretation..
  • 54 3
 Shimano XTR product managers in shock as the world learns that SLX brakes and XT pedals are just fine for racing after all.
  • 35 8
 I can cook with average knives and do just fine. However, when I use professional chef quality knives, I can feel the difference and appreciate it. Does the job get done either way? Sure does.... However, having the nice kit is noticeable.
  • 8 1
 @bman33: or you can just learn to sharpen your everage quality knives properly and enjoy a sharp know while creating a fantastic meal
  • 11 0
 @bman33: You should try cooking with pans and use your knives (cheap or expensive) for cutting and chopping.
  • 30 0
 Mixing SRAM and shimano components. I’m surprised the bike even rolls.
  • 21 4
 "blue collar" build with XO1, carbon cockpit, Stepcast fork, XMC 1200s. blue collar don't mean what it used to, I suppose. was totally expecting NX Eagle, Levels, Reba, alloy everything
  • 32 2
 It has a cable drivetrain and analog dropper. Everyone knows that’s peasant shxt. Dude probably has an Ozark Trail cooler too.
  • 3 0
 Yeah, exactly what I was thinking. The Top Fuel in and of itself isn't exactly a "blue collar" bike. The frameset alone costs 3.5k...
  • 4 0
 That blue collar has apparently become a little more "popped."
  • 6 0
 Hi guys!

My bike was built just 1 month before this race, so not a lot of time for building a dreambike but just a suitable bike for the "transvesubienne" .
Of course the pressure on the back is about 185 Psi and not 105. I like low pressure in the fork 65-70 Psi not more.
Finally, with the bad weather during the night, I put a maxxis ardent on the back wheel.
At first I want use the Ikon because for the first year the end part of the race was very flat with gravel road and road on almost 20 km and I managed to ride as fast as possible. but I undesrtand that isn't the most suitable tire.

the wheight of my bike is 11.9 kg . In the future I want to change the brakes for shimano xtr and may be the fork for the new sid 120 mm, lighter and stronger and I hope get a gain of 0.3 or 0.4 kg for a result near of 11.5 or 11.6 kg
  • 5 0
 Are we sure all the pressure numbers are correct? Just wanting a little clarity for those of us running the same bike/setup.

71kg is 156.5 pounds, not 143.

FWIW, I'm a 70kg rider on the same bike with the same suspension components, and my shock pressure is 205psi for 25% sag, nearly twice his listed psi for 105. I'm also running 78 psi in the fork, like 20% more than his 65 psi.

Also running 2.35 tires, but at 19.5/20.5 psi.

Maybe he like his suspension super soft and his tires super hard?
  • 15 0
 Not sure how pinkbike gets the conversions wrong every single time. It's pretty impressive actually
  • 2 0
 Yep, came here to make the same pedantic kg/lbs comment!!
  • 5 0
 The Transvesubienne is a brutal race, it's the only marathon i ever started that i couldn't finish. Most downhills are suitable for an enduro race, while the climbs and hike-a-bike sections are steep and unforgiving, and the weather always starts bearing down in you at that height in May...
  • 4 0
 slx brakes, regular exo casing rear, no inserts! I feel like there has got to be a bell curve graph somewhere with skill and parts durability requirements.
  • 5 0
 What's the final weight of this bike? Maybe I missed it ...
  • 12 0
 I wished all these articles had final weight
  • 3 1
 I'm confused how he gets 25% sag with 105psi in his shock. Trek recommends 190psi for a 156lb or 71kg rider...
  • 3 0
 It's probably a typo and 205psi. That's what I run at a similar weight with the same bike/shock.
  • 1 0
 That makes a lot more sense. Thanks
  • 1 0
 Really like articles like this. I got to learn about a new race and it's really interesting to see what real people without sponsorships use. Good one!
  • 2 0
 Slx brakes paired to with a Sram rotor?! Blasphemy!
  • 1 0
 After looking at the race pics (terrain) and these bike checks... are we #overtired Wink
  • 1 0
 If you look at whats fastest up and down, probably yes, if you look at "fun" maybe but probably not. Yesterday i rode a bike with fast rolling tires (Vittoria Mezcal) for the first time in years. Man was i fast on my standardlap and man was i terrified as it started to rain.
  • 2 1
 That's very high tire pressure, especially for a 145 pound rider.
  • 5 0
 That's cos 71kg is 153 pounds, not 145....
  • 2 0
 @twopoint6khz: true....but still seems like high tire pressure
  • 4 0
 @smokingtires: Yep.... I have this exact bike, weigh 143 and run 19/21psi
  • 3 0
 Seems to be working for him.
  • 2 0
 Indeed high pressure, but an Ikon is also a fairly light tyre for this race.
  • 1 0

How do your know if the pounds, kilos, or both are wrong?

Also, does 5 pounds really make more than 1/2 psi difference?
  • 11 0
 @hllclmbr: I can tell what he weighs by looking at him. My previous career was as a carnival weight-guesser
  • 2 0
 Mentioned he uses "sensible pressures". For a long race like this, sensible basically means enough to not destroy the tires in the next X days. Have to sacrifice some traction and comfort and little rolling resistance, but worth it to not have to boot a tire in the middle of nowhere. Sure, maybe could go lower with an insert to reduce the volume a bunch, but 26 isn't insane. It's not like he's running mid 30s as was the norm like 15 years ago.
  • 1 0
 I run more or less the or setup on one of these and can just get away with 23F/24R (72kg rider). Any less than that and xc tires squirm to much and pinch to easily. If I was doing a properly rocky race I would need to bump that up a a couple of psi.
  • 2 1
 Please take the stickers off your stem. Please.
  • 1 0
 you can't unsee that. or the untrimmed zip ties.
  • 1 0
 and whats up with the rear brake line being zip tied to the frame that can't be how trek intended
  • 2 3
 I would never race that ikon on such a race. Such an underdamped scetchy tire - and the best, it does not even roll that fast.
  • 2 1
 forkaster is even worse. poor pairing.
  • 1 2
 why someone not sponsored would have TREK on it's frame?
  • 3 1
  • 2 2
 @FloImSchnee: Why marketing for free?
  • 7 0
 What is he supposed to do? Spray paint over it? Dumb
  • 1 0
 @matthewralph: just put stickers. I really don't understand this marketing for free... and even worse if he pays for it
  • 1 0
 @TDMAN: weird.

So did you put stickers on your bike and removed the branding on your car, as it would be "marketing"?
  • 1 0
 @FloImSchnee: Yes, although I don't achieve top 10 in XC races
  • 1 0

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