I have friends who believe that whatever bike has been raced to the top of the podium most often is surely the fastest, bestest bike. There's a bit of truth to that, I guess, but is the winning bike actually "the best" bike? I'm convinced that racing is far too nuanced (and sprinkled with chance) for it to be that simple. Skill, style, and countless other human factors are at play, all of which has me wondering how much the bike and equipment actually matter to a top-ten, world-class professional?
Could Gwin really ''win on a shopping cart,'' as it was often suggested after that mind-melting chainless run at Leogang? Not an actual shopping cart, obviously, but the implication that the American could have coasted to victory on any modern, respectable downhill bike would mean that maybe it doesn't matter what he's riding. If that's the case, could Nino have bagged that perfect 2017 season had he be on a mid-grade aluminum cross-country bike? I wonder if Ravanel could put minutes into the rest of the EWS field aboard a $4,000 enduro rig, or if Semenuk would still be Semenuk on... Nevermind, he would be.
You get the point: Assuming they're still using the right tool for the job, how much do you think the bike and equipment impact top racers' results in each of the disciplines below?