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Pro bikes, April 30, 2007

Irina Kalentieva's Topeak Ergon Rotwild Team R.R2

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Photo ©: Luke Webber

Custom carbon lightweight for the world champion

By Luke Webber in Offenburg, Germany

Down tube cable routing
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Hybrid ceramic bearings in the hubs
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Team sponsor Continental provides Kalentieva
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Kalentieva doesn't prioritize weight savings over everything
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Shimano's XTR Shadow derailleur
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Current UCI mountain bike world champion Irina Kalentieva has done ample justice to the rainbow stripes she earned last year in Fort William, Scotland. Kalentieva finished second at this year's first World Cup round in Houffalize, Belgium and then followed that up with a convincing win in the hot and dry conditions of Offenburg, Germany.

At just 1.5m and 46kg (5'1", 101lb), Kalentieva is a natural climber and thus places a particularly high priority on cutting grams off of her equipment which can easily comprise roughly 20 percent of her body weight. As a result, her team-issued Rotwild R.R2 carbon hardtail boasts a wealth of unique modifications and custom equipment well beyond its fancy paintjob and stickers. These differences are most noticeable on the scale: Rotwild's top-end R.R2 production model weighs 8.8kg (19.4lb) but Kalentieva's bike is an even slimmer 8.3kg (18.3lb).

According to Topeak Ergon head mechanic 'Wolfie', "Irina's frame is a prototype not available anywhere else. They left out a few layers of carbon to save weight and since Irina's not the heaviest rider that's no problem. This frame is a custom size too - it's tailor made."

The carbon theme continues with the new 1230g DT Swiss XRC 1250 wheelset. In addition to the ultralight 330g carbon hoops, the wheels feature DT Swiss' newest 190 Ceramic hubs which not only include a weight-saving relieved freehub body and star ratchet rings but also hybrid ceramic bearings that decrease weight even further while also reducing rolling resistance and increasing reliability. According to Wolfie, the tyres also sit deeper in this hoop for a more rounded profile.

Likewise, the tyres themselves are special modifications care of team sponsor Continental. "Our riders prefer to use the latex tubes [instead of tubeless] because it is easier to switch tyres at the last minute," says Wolfie. "Fortunately puncture resistance is not so much of an issue for us as Continental make us some special tyres. They have different rubber compounds and sidewall weaves for a better ride and better pinch flat protection. While they are not for sale in the shops all the feedback we give goes into making the next generation."

Kalentieva and the rest of the team were willing to make a weight compromise in one area, however, namely comfort. The specially designed grips from co-title sponsor Ergon are decidedly different looking but their unique shape yields noticeable dividends.

"Ergon grips put less pressure on the ulnar nerve which is very important in mountain bike racing where there are repetitive bumps," continued Wolfie. "Standard grips result in a 120 degree angle between your hand and wrist; these Ergon grips decrease that to 40 degrees. It has better handling and is less tiring despite a slight weight penalty."

Even though nearly every area of Kalentieva's bike has been customised, or 'fully pimped' as Wolfie would put it, there are constant developments that ensure the world champion has every advantage on the course.

"Mountain biking isn't Formula One yet, but every year it gets closer with production times coming down. Later in the year there will be a special Olympic edition of the R2 frame which may have an integrated carbon seatpost."

An addition which will come slightly sooner is a prototype Magura fork whose claimed sub-1360g (3.0lb) weight will shave yet another 100g from Kalentieva's machine. The team readily admits that there are even lighter options with more adjustments out there but the fork's precise-handling dual arch chassis design and solid performance more than make up for any shortcoming at the scale.

"While the Magura forks have less adjustments than others we find they react really well. When it comes to racing you have to make some sacrifices compared to a trail bike but they have exceeded our expectations."


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Luke Webber

Full specification

Frame: Rotwild R.R2 custom carbon fiber
Fork: Magura Durin 80R

Critical measurements
Rider's height: 1.54m (5'1") ; Weight: 46kg (101lb)

Front brake: Formula Oro Puro, 160mm rotor
Rear brake: Formula Oro Puro, 140mm rotor
Brake levers: Formula Oro Puro
Front derailleur: Shimano XTR FD-M971
Rear derailleur: Shimano XTR RD-M972-GS
Shift levers: Shimano XTR Rapidfire SL-M970
Cassette: Shimano XTR CS-M970
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7701
Crankset: FRM Integral 2x9, 42/27T
Bottom bracket: FRM Integral


Wheelset: DT Swiss XRC 1250 w/ DT Swiss RWS skewers
Tyres: Continental Race King World Cup LTD prototype, 26x2.2"

Bars: Unmarked aluminum flat, 31.8mm ø
Stem: Thomson X2
Headset: Rotwild integrated
Tape/grip: Ergon GX2 Carbon Team Edition

Pedals: Crankbrothers Eggbeater 4ti
Seat post: Thomson Masterpiece
Saddle: Terry
Bottle cages: Topeak Shuttle Cage CB
Other accessories: Nokon cables and housings

Total bike weight: 8.3kg (18.3lb)