Santa Cruz's Luca Shaw has been oh so close to taking his first World Cup win at both of the last two rounds, with a flat tire and a crash knocking him out of contention. His teammate Loris Vergier has been right there as well, with a 5th in Leogang that was just 2.1-seconds off of first, and a 2nd at Fort Bill that was just 0.27-seconds off of Amaury Pierron's winning time. World Cup racing is so damn good right now, isn't it?
Both Vergier and Shaw have been on Santa Cruz's brand new and still very much not production V10 29er, and we caught up with their respective mechanics to see how their setups differ.
Loris Vergier's V10 29er
Vergier stands 5' 8'' tall and while he did start this season aboard a medium-sized prototype, he's since moved up to a large as he prefers its 460mm reach number, his mechanic, Pierre-Alexandre Roche, explained to PB photographer Ross Bell.
The decision to race a medium early in the season was based on last year's bike, which was also a prototype, as well as comparing numbers to the Specialized he was on before signing with Santa Cruz, but it looks like a large V10 with a standard headset (as opposed to a reach-lengthening headset) is just the ticket for the French racer.
At 154lb, Vergier runs 80 PSI his Fox fork, and it sounds like he's all about that ramp-up, too: there are four tokens inside to keep him from bottoming too often. He prefers a relatively quick rebound speed, Roche said, but his compression settings are in the middle of the range.
Vergier is running his V10 in the 'Hi' geometry setting in Val di Sole.
A quiet bike is a fast bike.
Out back, he's chosen a coil-sprung shock as of right now, but Roche did mention that his racer likes to experiment with both options and that Loris himself said he should have been on a coil at the Leogang World Cup. Hindsight is always 20/20, though.
It's also worth pointing out that his bike is being run in the 'Hi' geometry setting on the third-generation prototype lower link that the whole team is using, so these guys aren't always defaulting to the lowest, slackest numbers.
Loris' cassette used to be a 10-speed unit, but then the saw came out to delete the top two cogs. Only what's required.
Loris' cockpit is pretty straightforward, but Roche did say that they're often playing with stack height via 2.5mm spacers, depending on the track. His stem is a 45mm unit, and his 20mm rise handlebar has been cut down to 790mm. His brakes are setup moto-style, and check out the XTR / Saint combo; the straight Saint setup is too on/off for Loris' liking, Roche explained. He's quite the gram counter, too, so that could also be a factor.
The two standout component specs on Loris' machine include the prototype Santa Cruz Reserve carbon DH rims that are now the third version and apparently close to being locked down, according to Roche. The other notable spec is the cut-down 10-speed cassette that's now an 8-speed block.
The Syndicate team has been testing Santa Cruz's Reserve carbon DH rim, and these are the third-generation prototypes that are said to be close to production.
Luca Shaw's V10 29er
At 6' 1'' and weighing an extra 10lbs, Luca Shaw has a 5'' height advantage over his French teammate. He's also on a large-sized V10 29er, looked after by team mechanic Dougy Hatfield, and without a reach-increasing offset headset, too. He does get an extra 5mm at his stem, with Loris going for the 45mm and Luca running a 50mm unit, as well as an 800mm handlebar that's a touch wider than Loris, and a higher stack height to boot.
So both are on the same large-sized frame, but 5mm there and 10mm here add up to what are probably very different feeling cockpits.
Dougy Hatfield wrenching on Luca's V10 29er.
Luca is a bit more settled and consistent with his setup than Loris, Hatfield said: '''Once he finds his setting, he's pretty solid with it and doesn't have to keep changing back and forth.'' So it's no surprise that Shaw's bike is running the exact same suspension as he used for Crankworx Les Gets where his finished 2.04-seconds back of Troy Brosnan. No point in messing up a good thing, right?
Luca's 'good thing' consists of a 525in/lb spring on his Fox X2 when it's in the 'Hi' setting that the team seems to prefer here in the Valley of the Sun. When he does switch to the 'Lo' setting, he also jumps up to a 550in/lb spring, Hatfield said, to compensate for the change in leverage ratio.
Like Loris, Luca prefers the 'Hi' geometry setting for the Val di Sole track.
Hatfield keeps all his riders' suspension settings in his own setup bible, but he didn't have it on hand to share Luca's fork numbers with the world. That said, I bet it's too firm for us and just right for him. Funny how that works when you're a top World Cup racer.
When it comes to slowing down, Luca prefers to go full Saint whereas Loris runs an XTR / Saint hybrid setup for a lick more modulation. His guide is from MRP whereas Loris' is a Shimano unit, and Greg uses a Gamut guide. Shaw also has an unmodified 10-speed cassette, so an extra two gears over Loris' drivetrain, and a custom seat from Fi'zi:k that has a cutout rear section to clear the V10's rear tire at full compression. Despite the differences, Hatfield says that all of the team bikes come in at around 35lbs.
Saint all around for Shaw, with the exception being an MRP guide.