It was a bit of a rough start to the season for Rocky Mountain's Jesse Melamed, with a broken collarbone
on the second stage of the French Enduro World Series event that saw the Whistler, BC, local sitting on the sidelines with teammate Andréane Lanthier-Nadeau whose been working her way back from a wrist injury.
Melamed has surely been eyeing up a repeat performance at the upcoming EWS in Whistler, and his Instinct has been set up for France with maximum traction and forgiveness in mind to ease the Canadian's return to race speed.
While he used to race aboard a small-sized bike, Melamed is now on a medium Instinct with a 35mm stem.
Jesse used to compete on a small-sized Instinct when he was on the previous iteration of the bike, but he's moved up to a medium for new Instinct, along with a short, 35mm stem. So, a longer reach and wheelbase, of course, but the short stem helps to keep his center of gravity far enough behind the front axle for it to make sense. Standard stuff these days, really.
Melamed describes his Instinct's set up as ''safety first,'' which includes a 170mm-travel fork, DH casing rubber, and a coil-sprung shock.
''My bike this weekend is set up to return from injury, so safety first,'' he told PB photographer Matt DeLorme. ''So I've got a 170mm fork on this week, a coil shock, which I don't normally have, and a Shorty up front. Everything for traction and comfort, basically.'' He has the new Grip2 damper in the fork, along with 76 PSI in the air chamber, and his Fox X2 shock has been fitted with a 400 in/lb spring.
Things are still a bit up in the air when it comes to tires, though: ''I swapped to a Shorty halfway down the last stage and was pretty happy with it... Depending on what the weather does.'' Both the front and rear tires are proper DH casing models, and he can run 19 PSI up front and 21 PSI in the rear tire.
The new XTR is rarer than Drake's secret child, but Jesse has one. An XTR group that is.
We've had some pretty bare bones bike checks as of late due to some racers not being all that informed when it comes to their own setup, but Melamed takes the opposite approach to his job, an attitude that likely aids his development work on Shimano's new XTR drivetrain. ''I was at a test session in December in California for Shimano, and it kinda blew my mind back then,'' he said of the group's performance. ''And getting back on it was super nice. It's crazy; I guess four years of development, and you really feel it.'' He's the only Rocky Mountain racer on the XTR 9100, too.
XTR 9100 for the brakes (with 203mm rotors) and cranks, along with some mud-proofing foam in spots to keep wet dirt from sticking around.
Jesse has used Shimano's Di2 group for much of his racing and riding, though, citing the electronic group's consistency over a race weekend, and especially when conditions are mucky and wet, but he hasn't had any issues moving back to a cable-operated drivetrain: ''I love Di2. The shifting on that is super smooth, super accurate, and the same over a whole day, especially in the wet. I really liked the shifter feel and thought it was really good, but this stuff [the new XTR] shifts very well, and I have no problem adjusting to it.''
But what about when things go south? ''I mean, if something happens, something happens. I don't think it matters if it's Di2 or mechanical,'' he replied when asked if one group has been more reliable than the other. ''The last couple of years on the team that I've been on Di2, and I've been the only one, we'd give each other shit when something happened to mechanical or to Di2, but the instances when something happened, which were rare, were kinda... Basically, none of us had a race-ending mechanical,'' he went on to explain.