Bike Check: Pauline Ferrand-Prevot's Winter Training BMC Four Stroke

Apr 5, 2022 at 23:52
by Matt Wragg  



Pauline Ferrand-Prevot's BMC Four Stroke did not have the life it expected. The grand plan was to charge to Olympic victory and then take pride of place on a wall or podium somewhere. When her Olympic dreams unravelled on that rainy hillside in Tokyo, that future as a museum piece evaporated. The bike was called in to service for the remainder of the season and then winter training.

As part of dealing with her Olympic disappointment, Pauline made some significant changes to her programme - plus her public split with partner and team-manager, Julien Absalon (she will remain on his team, but with some of her own staff inside the team). The biggest outward symbol of that is her new partnership with the Ravanels. After reflecting on her season and where she could improve, she recognised both explosivity and technical skills - both things that Cecile and Cedric are perfectly suited to helping her with. In fact, both of them are with her in Brazil for the opening round of the World Cup to both help her with her lines, but also help create a fun, relaxed environment so she can hopefully enjoy her racing more. This bike shows some hints of just how that partnership is changing her riding.

We caught up with her at the elite CREPS training facility in Southern France as Cecile put her through the paces on the stepdowns and road gaps.


Pauline Ferrand-Prevot training. St Raphael France 2021. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Details
Height 5'6" / 170cm
Weight 119 lb / 54kg
Hometown Saint Raphael, France
Frame Size Small



Pauline Ferrand-Prevot training. St Raphael France 2021. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot training. St Raphael France 2021. Photo by Matt Wragg.
SID Ultimate
LSC 2 clicks from closed
Rebound 6 clicks from closed

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot training. St Raphael France 2021. Photo by Matt Wragg.
SID 35
Travel 110mm
Pressure 53psi
Rebound 14 clicks from closed
Tokens 3

In the past, many road and XC racers would have help a similar setup throughout their career, so the changes may not appear dramatic to those who follow the downhill each week, but they are significant and it will be worth watching over the coming months and years to see how far her style evolves. Rather than running the lighter 32mm-stanchioned version of the SID, she has stepped up to the 35 for a burlier chassis and added an extra 10mm of travel to the mix. Her mechanic, Fabien Boissonet, describes her setting as "very supple" and she prefers to keep a consistent setup all season long.

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot training. St Raphael France 2021. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Pauline Ferrand-Prevot training. St Raphael France 2021. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Pauline's partnership with the Ravanels goes both ways - Duke wheels have supported Pauline for several years now, but as of this year the Ravanel's riders are now running Duke too. There's not too much to say about these wheels - they're lightweight XC carbon wheels shod with fast-rolling Vittoria Mezcal and Terreno tyres.

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot training. St Raphael France 2021. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Pauline Ferrand-Prevot training. St Raphael France 2021. Photo by Matt Wragg.
The bar is a 700mm Truvativ carbon bar, paired to a 50mm -5 degree stem - short by XCO standards. This will be a really interesting area to watch as Pauline talked about how the sport is changing and being able to descend better is becoming more and more important, and the Ravanels were the only riders in the XCO paddock to run riser bars - they don't buy into the received wisdom of an ultra-low cockpit for racing. The design on the frame is actually an intricate design in coloured tape made by a French artist.


Pauline Ferrand-Prevot training. St Raphael France 2021. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot training. St Raphael France 2021. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Pauline Ferrand-Prevot training. St Raphael France 2021. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot training. St Raphael France 2021. Photo by Matt Wragg.
SRAM provide a full XX1 groupset, with AXS gears, Level Ultimate brakes and a twist-shifter actuated lockout - although because the seatpost is proprietary to BMC it is not connected to AXS and she controls it with a regular cable.


Pauline Ferrand-Prevot training. St Raphael France 2021. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot training. St Raphael France 2021. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Pauline Ferrand-Prevot training. St Raphael France 2021. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot training. St Raphael France 2021. Photo by Matt Wragg.
They may not be a name on everyone's lips in mountain biking these days, although Mavic did license their technology a few years ago, but Pauline stays French with a pair of Time pedals. BMC are one of the only brands who offer a fully integrated dropper post with the XC racing frames. Prologo provide a custom perch for her - a minimal, carbon-railed affair. A set of minimalist foam grips finish the build



58 Comments

  • 83 1
 I may never purchase a world cup style xc race bike. but it is super cool seeing what the other side of the biking spectrum is doing. these bikes look incredible and dripping with the latest and greatest technologies in their own way. good stuff.
  • 11 1
 Same here, the technology is so different compared to more "regular" bikes. Like a mix between road and mtb. I just want to try one sometime and see what it feels like lol.
  • 10 27
flag mybaben (Apr 6, 2022 at 12:05) (Below Threshold)
 @DylanH93: It's wonky. I have a pure XC race bike, that I use to race CX. Of course, it's not a super bike like this one. Anyway, for riding and racing it's fine, but when trying normal MTB trail riding shit, like manuals, bunny hops, jumps, it's NOT fun. You're stretched out roadie style, so it's difficult to get the front wheel up, and that also makes me land front heavy on jumps, so I bottom the fork out a lot. It's impressive the way the XC racers ride those bikes, since they basically suck for trail riding.
  • 18 2
 @mybaben: modern XC race bikes, in my experience are very fun on most trails. where they start to get sketchy is when you go for the brakes and realize you are on small discs and tires with relatively little grip. the geos are basically trail bikes from 4 years ago.
  • 2 5
 @Hobbanero: LOL. I know some people consider sketchy as "fun"... My XC is a 2016 with a 69.5' HTA, and short wheelbase. And I live in the PNW. lol. Not my idea of fun. Wink
  • 19 1
 @mybaben: You need to work on your setup.

My primary riding is on a 170mm bike. But I race XC pretty seriously. My current XC bike is insane to ride. You pedal, it goes, like right now. No hesitation. It is a super cool feeling. And it will manual, hop, and jump just as well as my 170mm bike.

But it hits the limits REAL fast when descending. 100mm fork and shock can only absorb so much. While it descends incredibly well, it is still like riding a hardtail in that you really have to think about your lines and how you are weighting the bike on hits.
  • 3 5
 @JSTootell: What's the geo? See my post above for mine...also, mine is a hard tail! It's also got a 90mm flat
stem for racing. Yes, it's super fast and efficient, which is why I race 'cross on it (with a rigid fork). I prefer my aggressive trail hard tail by Ragley.
  • 1 0
 Same here. I won't ever own an XC bike personally, but I love looking at them, especially the pros bikes as they look like pure race machines. This BMC looks fast just standing there.
  • 1 7
flag mhoshal (Apr 6, 2022 at 14:57) (Below Threshold)
 Ya gripshift soo revolutionary and new...
  • 2 5
 @JSTootell: get a 120mm bike alreadySmile
  • 26 3
 @Hobbanero: yep. And honestly, it’s funny as shit to see people on here and talk about how XC bikes are not normal mountain bikes… For years, all mountain bikes were XC bikes. It took a long time for them to evolve into what most people (who do not race) ride on trails now. And in all honesty, most people, if they had a modicum of skill and fitness, would be faster on an XC bike – at least a modern one - on many (if not most) trails.

The take-home lesson is that no, XC bikes aren’t going to try to kill you unless you ride them on a trail that’s completely inappropriate and you need an Enduro bike or bigger. Yes, you have to ride with a bit of talent, finesse, and skill, but you can ride them very quickly on to rain that would surprise you. The idea that they’re not good for mountain biking in general says a lot more about the skill level of the people making the statement than it does about the bikes themselves.
  • 2 0
 @tommyrod74: and a short travel bike isn't tolerant of poor suspension tunes.
  • 3 0
 @Themissinglink83: true. I will say it’s easier to tune a 100mm bike to be both firm enough for hard accelerations but also have decent small bump compliance. 120mm+ and it seems like it’s one or the other, pick your poison. But either way, with so little travel, you have to set it up well or you’ll know it in a hurry.
  • 1 0
 @Themissinglink83: I only need to swap the fork and shock to make mine 120. But as my HT was a top of the line build (for pro bike), I just swapped all the parts over to the new frame and left it 100mm. It handles what I do with it just fine, which is competitive racing. That's virtually the only time I ride it. All the rest of my rides are on my E29.
  • 34 2
 Where is the XC fantasy?!
  • 2 0
 The XC Fantasy Site still sais „Fantasy 2022 coming soon“, I still have hope
  • 1 0
 omg talk about last minute.....Mike Levy where you at? Its gotta be Henrys fault....living in a van down by the river waiting for a downhill event.
  • 32 1
 Based on that photo does Pauline have a Flatland BMX background?
  • 7 1
 @Sycip69er just add thru axle pegs.
  • 7 0
 That's a beautiful bike! I'd love to throw a leg over it and take it out for a ride. BMC sure know how to made bikes look fast standing still. I hope Mlle. Ferrand-Provost has a fruitful season. She's an absolute talent who, hopefully, has fully recovered from her injuries of a few years ago.
  • 7 1
 She weighs 54 and puts 53 psi in the fork. I'll hazard a guess that her shock has about 120 psi since she weighs 119 lbs. I've always recommended starting pressures of your kilos in the fork and your pounds in the shock since the leverage ratio on most XC bikes is about 1:2.2 which is kilos:pounds.
  • 6 0
 I would love an XC bike again, the truth is that for 95% of riding its the best tool for the job.
It will climb way better/faster than an enduro bike with Dh tyres on, on all but the really technical stuff.
It descends not too badly either, on most flow trails (especially in the UK, so thats all but the gnarliest blacks) it will out descend an enduro bike, due to most of the trail centre trails being very blue over here with little to no real features that need a 160mm travel Enduro bike.
I remember having an Ironhorse Azure (old mrathon bike), it was a weapon on XC rides, would lap 15 to 30% faster than the enduro bike, it was so efficient, I should never have sold it!

The die hard enduro riders wont agree with this, but in reality for most people, an aggressive XC bike and lycra is the best tool for the job.

Personally I still push or ride my Dh bike up mostly, just because its the best tool going down for my local trails and its the bike I race.
  • 9 0
 50mm stem and (low) riser bar! What has this world come to
  • 8 0
 Did i miss it, they didnt list the weight of the bike??
  • 5 0
 You didn't,they didn't.
  • 3 0
 Beautiful clean lines on that bike. It would be good to see PF-P recover her 2020 form and make this year's XC championship a multi-rider tussle. I can see at least 6 potential champions. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
  • 6 0
 Since when is it possible to set LSC on a SIDluxe shock (with clicks)? Smile does she have a magic one? :O
  • 4 3
 "There´s not much to say " about these wheels and tyres?... Meanwhile some notorious top WC riders are riding 2.4 width tires with 30mm inner rims going wider than Bruni.. now I see here what it seems a combo wheels pulled out from a Gravel Bike??!
  • 4 0
 What about a bike check for the SCOR she's actually been seen riding in Cecile's IG?
  • 5 1
 I wouldn't recommend a stroke to anyone
  • 4 1
 Gripshift lockout, interesting
  • 8 0
 SRAM has offered this for a couple of years now. Works super well in my experience since, at least for the locking part, you don't have to aim for a lever. Quite nice when you're at 110% effort!
  • 2 0
 @JonGales: agree, though SRAM need to sort out a few other grip options that are compatible with Twistloc as the standard ones aren't comfortable.

Mine are set up like PFPs with a cut-down silicone grip on the left.
  • 2 0
 @HankHank: ditto with mind
  • 1 0
 I loved GS shifting on my last XC bike, I would totally run that again if I didn't have XTR. I am sure the lockout works well too. I do know that a former ODI employee nagged for a while to get some twist shift specific grips made, but they weren't interested in making any since there would be too few sold.
  • 1 0
 @JonGales: I would expect it to be like a gripshift so when you pull up it locks out
  • 1 1
 @JSTootell: got to wonder why, ODI already makes moto grips right? Unsure what's the gripshift/twistlock sheath diameter though but it can't be too far from 24mm (moto throttle sheath)?

I remember as a kid we used to always "rev" our gripshifts and pretend riding motocross. I'd totally still do it today if I had lockout on my suspension! Slap on one of those twistlocks, glue&wire some proper mx grips on and go pump out of berms, lock the suspension and sprint away, full gas, maybe even do some uphill courses Smile
  • 3 1
 I wonder how many takes it took for her to get the wheel stand wheelie thing just right?
  • 3 1
 bike is shit hot...love the integrated dropper....very clever...flying machine. It looks like a 4x bike.
  • 1 0
 Is the entry level, but more reliable version of that bike called the 2 stroke?
  • 7 0
 it is indeed, the BMC hardtail is called twostroke Smile
  • 2 2
 Aren't 2 strokes notoriously less reliable than 4 strokes? I always remembered my buddies needing to rebuild their 2 stroke dirt bikes constantly.
  • 1 0
 @Ryan2949: no idea about dirt bikes but 2 stroke weedwhackers run forever, whereas their 4 stroke counterparts break frequently, plus they are significantly heavier. come to think of it, it might be just an issue of poor build quality 2 strokes are more reliable than poor build quality 4 strokes (more moving parts, more to go wrong)... hmmmmmmmmmm
  • 2 0
 Cool, but how much does it weigh?
  • 2 0
 Hey Matt, I do believe No Curves is an Italian tape artist.
  • 2 0
 I'd sware she's smaller than 1,70 m ?!
  • 1 0
 why do i need that crank on a enduro bike. is that viable?
  • 1 0
 Good luck finding an enduro bike that can run a chainring that big!
  • 1 0
 More info on the integrated dropper needed...looks clean.
  • 1 0
 What stem is on this bike? I need to know Smile
  • 1 0
 wow, not a single curves on this whole bike lolz
  • 1 0
 also, out here hoping that's a legit foot trackstand
  • 1 0
 nice linework
  • 1 1
 with the seat down...
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