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Different bikes for different races? Definitely in MTB.

El Presidente's picture

By El Presidente - Posted on 01 April 2011

Bikes for the Absa Cape Epic

Will Hayter of London Dynamo and Mike Blewitt of North Sydney Cycling Club are currently riding the Absa Cape Epic - an eight-day mountain bike stage race in South Africa - for

They are both riding Scott Spark full-sussers - Mike a Spark 10 and Will a Spark 20. Mike's is the higher model and is lighter, but Will reckons the paint job on his (white with black decals) is better...

The spec on both is slightly different from stock, as follows:

Will - Scott Spark 20

Frameset: Scott IMP frameset, carbon mainframe and alloy swingarm, Scott Nude shock with three travel positions, all controlled from the bars - full travel (110mm), Traction Control (80mm), fully locked out. Traction Control firms up the shock and steepens the angles slightly compared to full travel, making it the setting of choice for climbing

Fork: Fox 32 F 120 RL
Wheels: the bike came stock with a pair of DT Swiss XR20s, but Will is riding the Epic on a pair of DT Swiss 1540s - at 1540g, they are light but not stupid light
Tyres: front Schwalbe Rocket Ron 2.25, rear Schwalbe Racing Ralph UST 2.25. Both being run tubeless on the non-tubeless-specific rims, using Stans Notubes rim strips and plenty of latex sealant
Brakes: Avid Elixir R, with carbon levers; XTR 160mm centrelock rotors; a couple of mm filed off the corners of the calipers to allow the alloy spider on the rotors to clear the caliper
Groupset: Shimano XT throughout
Bars: Scott risers
Saddle: trusty 10-year-old Specialized BG Pro
Pedals: Shimano XTR
Weight just under 24lb

Will and his Scott Spark 20

Special prep for the Epic included plenty of spare Stans sealant, protecting the lower part of the downtube from rock strikes with a sheet of Pace carbon armour, and adding a saddle bag to free up pocket space for food and an extra bottle.

Mike - Scott Spark 10

Frameset: Scott IMP frameset, carbon mainframe and carbon swingarm, Scott Nude shock as above
Fork: Fox Terralogic QR15
Wheels: Stans ZTR Race rims on TWE hubs (Australian wheelbuilder)
Tyres: front Schwalbe Rocket Ron 2.25, rear Schwalbe Racing Ralph Double Defence 2.1 (Double Defence are slightly lighter than UST, but with a Kevlar puncture protection strip; and are currently impossible to find in the UK)
Brakes: Avid X0, with carbon levers
Groupset: SRAM X0 with an XX chainset, front mech and shifter - 42/28 chainrings, 11-36 cassette. There are plenty of bikes with this set-up at the race - nice narrow pedalling stance, but it sacrifices a bit of top-end speed on the rare bits of tarmac, and makes some of the climbs pretty tough!
Bars: Pro Koryak 600mm wide flat bars, bar-ends and silicone grips
Saddle: Selle SMP Forma with big cut-out
Pedals: Shimano XTR
Weight under 23lb

Mike and his Scott Spark 10

You can see the bikes in action on this video courtesy of TDA Advertising and Design and the boys from the / Justin's Nut Butter team, who started the Prologue 20 seconds behind the team:

The bike selection at the Cape Epic is quite different from the Transalp. In the Alps many of the top riders are on hardtails, either 26ers or 29ers. In South Africa the weapon of choice seems to be 26er full-sus, with 29er hardtails following behind, and then a mixture of 29er full-sus and 26er hardtails. The terrain is much more brutal than the Alps, both uphill and down. For the most part the race is run on trails and dirt-roads on private land, so they aren't normally ridden by bike, and are littered with loose rocks.

One of the more interesting bikes we've seen is a new prototype Look full-sus, being ridden here by its designer and his team-mate. It incorporates an integrated stem, with a built-in rubber bumper to stop the bars from swinging round in a crash and damaging the top tube. For spy shots see

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