Barelli's Crankworx Bruiser
While originally calling France home, Giant's Yoann Barelli packed up and moved to what is many mountain biker's dream destination: Whistler, British Columbia. That means that this weekend's Enduro World Series event is on home turf for the transplanted Frenchman, so, given that Barelli probably understands the unique demands of the local terrain better than most, it only made sense to take a close look at his bike.
As expected, Yoann is aboard a 160mm travel Reign that's assembled around a production frame that anyone could go out and purchase, although it is a lot more bike than we've seen on in the past
. He's also made some notable setup choices to tailor the carbon bike to Whistler's demanding trails. One of those is to ride a large-sized frame that's on the outer limits of the sizing spectrum for Yoann's 5' 8" height. That decision comes down to the extra length up front that the large frame affords over the medium - a 25.2'' top tube compared to 24.4'' - which Yoann says helps to increase stability due to the bike's longer wheelbase when he's at race pace.
The downside is the higher stand over that moves the top tube a bit less than an inch closer to Barelli's wedding tackle, and sees his Reverb seat post nearly slammed down to its collar, although neither really matter once he's moving. It's worth mentioning that Giant has upped the front-end length on bikes like the Reign for 2015, and that Yoann using a large-sized frame highlights the often unique demands of a racer who's much closer to the limit than most of us will ever get to. Suspension
We're likely to see a lot of pros "up-forking" their bikes by going with a longer travel slider up front compared to what they might use when racing on less demanding terrain, and Yoann is doing exactly that by choosing a 170mm Lyric that supplies an added 10mm over what he has on tap behind him. The extra travel helps, no doubt, but the even longer wheelbase and slacker head angle that it provides is probably more notable for Barelli, with the front end sitting at 64.5 degrees, half a degree slacker than stock.
There's about a 144 gram weight penalty over a Pike, courtesy of a burlier fork chassis, but that will be of little concern when Yoann is smashing down the Top of the World or Hey Bed trails on race day. It is interesting to see him not use the Torque Caps that RockShox says provides even more rigidity, although it could just be a matter of availability right now.
Yoann didn't divulge much when it came time to talk about his suspension setup, but we have seen other top racers run a slightly more forgiving spring rate up front that they say makes the bike more merciful over the countless small and mid-sized rocks and roots that can wear a racer out during the long day in Whistler. He's gone with a coil-sprung Vivid R2C shock for the same reason, with a 450 in/lb steel composite spring from EXT that's said to be lighter than a titanium version of the same rate.
Rather than go with a set of ultra-wide, carbon fiber rims as we see on some bikes, Yoann has mounted up a set of rather conventional 1,750 gram Rail 50 wheels from SRAM, one of the team sponsors. The aluminum rims have a 23mm internal width, and he says that he's happy to take the 220 gram weight penalty over the lighter weight Roam 50s (that have a 21mm internal width
) in exchange for the increased rim width, rigidity, and reliability.
The Giant team runs Schwalbe rubber, so it's no surprise to see a set of fresh Magic Mary tires mounted up that should work well on the rowdy trails. His front tire is rather special, though, as it's one of the rare 'First Ride' models that, while sporting a VertStar compound designation, is actually built with an even softer rubber compound than what's available to the average consumer. Traction is priority number one, and being a factory rider gives the team access to some trick, non-production options that allow Schwalbe to put out-and-out performance ahead of longevity. The Magic Mary on the back of his bike employs a production compound, and both tires are built with Schwalbe's SuperGravity casing. Photos by Matt Wragg