Updated: Jan 24, 2022
We didn't really bank on doing any work in January, the weather in Wales is just too unpredictable. However, a mild January has seen us out with new ambassador Fergus Ryan as well as young guns Sam Croft and Bran Turner. We've also hooked up with three-fifths of the GT Viris team and done some Freelap runs with Alex Storr and Mikayla Parton. Read on to see how things have gone and maybe pick up some tips.
First up, Fergus Ryan.
After racing for Santa Cruz UK for the last few years the time was right for Fergus to move on to UK brand Privateer and hop onboard the 161 for the season. We met up at Revolution Bike Park to do some testing before the big unveil.
If you're running a FLoat X2 or riding a Privateer, you definitely need to read on.
Fergus has carefully sized up his 161 to be as closely matched to his Megatower as possible in terms of reach, stack height etc. However, the Privateers geometry is quite unique with its steep seat angle and slack head angle. So, it was always going to be interesting to see how the British built bike measured up. The biggest change to Fergus at this point though was the Fox Float X2. His preference is to ride coil shocks but he's specced the bike on air because it wasn't totally clear that the frame would be progressive enough for a coil. So the aim of our first session was to get the Float X2 set up and see if the data tells us anything else that might be useful.
Turns out Fergus is pretty good a setting a bike up on feel and we had a pretty good starting point! We hardly changed the fork all day, just a few clicks here and there. Mostly we slowed the rebound a little. There is a big trend towards running fast rebound, but, there is a sweet spot and that damping is there for a reason.
Fergus' shock on the other hand, as I find with most X2's was a little soft. The graphs show what adding a little air does:
The graph on the right shows the axle position distribution of the back wheel come much closer to that of the front wheel. When the distribution is 'splattered out' its showing that the rear end is blowing through travel easily and spending more time than most would like, deep in the travel. We added a good amount of air to shift this curve left and get the rear end more supportive. The bonus is that with that extra air, Fergus was able to run one less volume spacer. In fact, we could probably have removed two. A mechanical cut the day short before we could give it a try.
This is great news because it means that we are able to set the bike up using the Float X2 with just two out of a possible five, volume spacers. That means we are running the shock fairly linear and it, therefore, bodes well for the prospect of running a coil shock on the Privateer.
What can you learn from this?
The Float X2 seems to sit at 30% sag at fairly low air pressure. You can keep adding to it with seemingly little effect. Then, all of a sudden it seems like adding 5 PSI more is a huge difference. You need to find the beginning of this slope. If you like 30% sag, don't add air a bit at a time until you reach 30% sag. You will end up running it too soft. Set your bike up at 25% then let 5PSI out at a time until you reach what you want. You'll have the same sag but a ton more support.
Next stop, coil shock and then hopefully some back-to-back tests to see once and for all which is quicker, coil or air? Keep your eye on the Insta and sign up to the blog to find out how things go.
Sam has been a customer for a year or so and we've had a few days together. Sam is relatively new to racing to but on the cusp of some great results. You can catch him down the Wrekin hitting the steeps on a regular basis!
We're working with Sam to get his Dreadnaught race ready for 2022. But, he's on a size Large and he's about the same weight and height as Forbidden Synthesis rider, Alex Storr.
This makes him a pretty useful 'test dummy'. The only problem is that Sam runs a Fox/EXT combo while the team are on a SRAM deal. Still, it's a useful insight.
Spring rate on the rear is a challenge on the Dreadnaught. It's nowhere near as progressive as the Druid but it does ramp up hard at the end of it's stroke. So, too soft and it blows through travel, too firm and you'll never access full travel.
Again, look at the rear axle position histograms for these three set-ups. That's the orange. Really, we're kind of comparing it to the fork though (blue). On the 300lb spring, the bike is really deep in the travel and hitting the bottom a lot! Usually, bottom-outs do not even show on these charts but are shown on a separate one because they are too few to register as percentages. The 300lb will sit the bike deep and stick it to the floor but it'll feel dead!
Up to the the 325lb shows an improvement but it's subtle. The 350lb brings the curve right up though! It's slightly offset because that's the nature of this bike but now there's a lot more support and those nasty bottom-outs are gone. Not shown here, but deep axle data shows that the bike uses everything when needed but it's reassuring to know it's not happing all the time and not hitting the bottom hard.
If you're on a Dreadnaught, book in. It's the only way you'll be sure of what yours is doing.
Coming from the Midlands and heading into his second season of racing, Bran has just jumped onboard a new Trek Session representing Blazin Bikes. First stop, Revolution Bike Park to get it set-up prime.
Having Bran on board is interesting because he's running the Rock Shox set-up on the same bike as Mikayla Parton, but she's on Fox. It gives us an interesting insight into the difference between the two.
Keep an eye on Bran this season. Hopefully, he'll be pushing on for national top tens or even podiums this year.
The Freelap set arrived and is now available to hire. Before offering it out though it needed testing and me running up and down the local park just wasn't the test it needed.
Mikayla Parton and Alex Storr in Llangollen on the other hand was just the test it needed!
The set is not without its quirks but luckily Mikayla has her own and has ironed out most of the problems. The set worked perfectly all day and it's actually mind-blowing to see how consistent these riders are. Conditions were filthy after a few days of rain but Alex was putting down times within a second of each other over and over. Mikayla was on her first time in Llangollen so saw much bigger gains. By the end of the day, they were both wanting 'just one more run' to try and find that second. The timing kit certainly brought out the competitive instinct in both of them in a way I've never seen. "With a chip on it feels like a race. I just want to get down as quickly as possible and see what time I've got' - Alex Storr.
I'm still working out the details of how to hire it out but, I will have it with me on days that I'm in Revo so if you're interested in spicing things up, hit us up and it's yours for the day for just £25 per rider.
So that's a bit of what's been going on the last few weeks.
Feel free to let us know what you'd like more of.