Outside of the paint work, the major changes on our bikes this year are:
Full SRAM XX drive train, we have a double (39x26) on the front and 11-36 on the rear. Shifting has been amazing – I love the twist shifts that I used for the last 3 years and when SRAM eventually (hopefully!) release a 10 speed twist shift, I'll move to it. I have to admit though, I do like the triggers – shifting has been crisp and perfect – shifting on the front ring (although, with a 39 tooth big ring, it will be a seldom used operation) is especially slick.
NoTubes Podium wheelset – from NoTubes, we are running the NoTubes Podium tubeless wheels – total wheelset weight is 1.26kg. Slightly heavier than my old ZTR 7000 wheels but the additional weight is in the ZTR hubs which, due to the flange spacing, will give a slightly stiffer (and more affordable!) wheel
The frame has been upgraded with a stiffer carbon front triangle and the liberal use of ceramic bearings for the bottom bracket etc...
The rear brain shock has also been updated – a slightly heavier weight in the inertia valve gives better terrain sensitivity. It is also now produced with Fox which should alleviate some of the quality control issues some earlier versions had.
KCNC components are used throughout to also drop the weight down to a hardtail beating 9.4kg (20.7 lbs). This is not showroom weight, but ready to race weight with tires, sealant, bottle cage and pedals. It feels light, very light.
Tires, we stick with our general purpose setup of a 2.1 Schwalbe Rocket Ron on the front and a 2.1 Racing Ralph on the rear. We use this exact setup for 95% of our racing and training.
I have a few rides completed on it now – like last year, the bike wants to go, and go fast. When the terrain is smooth or on most climbs, it's stiff like a road bike – every ounce of energy goes into the wheels with no suspension bob front or rear and with the light wheels and tires you really feel the acceleration. Descending or riding technical terrain, it feels that the bike is running away from you – it wants to go faster than you can handle. It's an amazing feeling – it is like, extra little motors in the hubs giving you a speed boost. Both Mel and I are throughly impressed with our new race bikes and can't wait to get more races in on them.
Many thanks to our sponsors for helping us put all this together - Cycleways, Specialized, Schwalbe, KCNC and NoTubes.
"His and hers"