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Race tech: UCI Mountain Bike World Championship, June 26, 2008
More mountain bike bits from Val di Sole
By Luke Webber in Val di Sole, Italy
More on Sauser's new Specialized Epic: how it almost didn't happen
Christophe Sauser (Switzerland) won his second UCI world championship aboard a brand-new Specialized S-Works Epic full-suspension bike but had Specialized's marketing and engineering staff had their way, he would have competed aboard his usual '08 machine like teammate Liam Killeen (Great Britain).
Sauser is well-known as one of the most technologically minded racer on the circuit; he is not only a great help in every stage of product development and a huge asset to his sponsor in that sense but he also always wants whatever will give him a technological advantage over his competitors. After testing a pre-production Epic for a few days back in February, he knew he would want it for the big event in Italy but Specialized informed him on the Tuesday prior that it wasn't to be.
"I went ballistic," said Sauser. "I love the pressure this situation brings and I knew on this bike I would be able to do anything. I emailed everyone, the engineers; I told them there was no other option, that I must ride the new bike. They were scared that maybe the shock would blow up - I would only ride the bike once before the race and never in anger. But it is always possible for something to fail; you can't worry about that [since it could fail just as easily] maybe after one ride, two weeks, two months? Nobody knows as it is not possible to test for it. I couldn't back down though, that was for sure."
Sauser's desires would clearly interfere with the company's marketing plans but he eventually got his way: he rode the new bike on course on Wednesday for the first time since February and felt right at home.
"Back home I ride a lot of different bikes," he said. "I switch all the time from my road bikes, my training bikes, Epics, Enduros. All are a little different, with handlebar widths the biggest change, but essentially the saddle height is the same so I can pedal and go without problem."
After a little over two hours of racing on Sunday the turnaround was complete and Specialized's fears were allayed - there were no breakages, no surprises, just the best possible result as Sauser triumphantly crossed the line as the new world champion. Even during the race, though, it is said that team managers were on the phone with Specialized headquarters to formulate a plan depending on how things went. In the end, it was decided that if Sauser won, the bike could be presented for photos. Anything less and the bike was to be taken immediately back to the truck.
Lightweight stoppers from Avid and Formula
Disc brake weights continue to drop and the latest models to follow the trend are Avid's new Juicy Ultimate SL Mag and Formula's new B1. The Juicy Ultimate SL Mag looks to use the same magnesium master cylinder assembly as on current versions but a new two-piece calliper (certainly made of magnesium as well) is said to drop 70g per pair. A new pad retention system uses a simpler pin-and-clip arrangement that makes for easier top-loading pad replacement as well as a bigger window in the calliper body for more efficient cooling. Avid has also ditched the rotating banjo in favour of a lighter direct-mount hydraulic hose.
Formula has also trumped the weight of its own Oro Puro brakes with a new R1 model found on Irina Kalentieva's bike. Claimed weight is just 280g per wheel, thanks to an incredibly minimal master cylinder complete with carbon levers, a one-piece calliper body, floating aluminium-and-steel rotors and alloy and titanium hardware all around. Sets are expected to hit the stores this fall.
RockShox makes the natural step forward with new carbon SID
New carbon-spoked cross-country wheels from Mavic
Mavic-sponsored riders were also spotted testing a new carbon fiber-spoked Crossmax wheelset. The as-yet-unnamed wheels appear to differ rather significantly from the carbon-spoked R-SYS road wheels, though, as the spokes affix to the hub shell without the aid of an internal reinforcement ring and are crossed on both sides, front and rear. It's also unclear whether these spokes are tubular like on the R-SYS or solid (we're guessing the latter in the interest of impact resistance).
The rim also bore some new features that are slated for introduction on the '09 line, namely ISM 3D (Inter-Spoke Milling) which now removes excess material from the side of the rim, not just from the inner wall. There's no word on technical specifications on this new wheelset but it's a fair bet that it's considerably lighter than what is currently available (and possibly stiffer and more responsive).
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Luke Webber