Meribel World Cup XC Pro Bike Checks – Liv/Giant & BMC w/ Prototype XTR

Fabian Giger Giant XC Pro world cup mountain bike check

While Saris wraps up her downhill and enduro pro bike checks from Crankworx Whistler, I headed over to the Meribel, France, UCI World Cup race prior to Eurobike and nabbed a healthy collection of bikes that rely more on leg power than gravity to go fast.

First up are Fabian Giger’s new Giant XTC Advanced SL, Jolanda Neff’s Liv (slash Giant?) Obsess, both of the Giant Pro XC Team, and Julien Absalon’s BMC Team Elite. Yeah, sure, they’re just hardtails, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any prototype XTR goodness on them…

Fabian Giger Giant XC Pro world cup mountain bike check

A lot of Euro teams and riders are running DT Swiss suspension, something you don’t see as much of in North America. The graphics on these forks aren’t current model year, so they could be 2015, or they could just be to get more sponsor recognition. The red thing on the fork leg is the timing chip for the XCO race.

Fabian Giger Giant XC Pro world cup mountain bike check


Fabian Giger Giant XC Pro world cup mountain bike check

Giger was one of like four pros that had the XTR Di2 group on his bike. A remote lockout for the fork was on the other side of the bars.

Fabian Giger Giant XC Pro world cup mountain bike check

The XTR cranks had a mysterious silver chainring on it…

Fabian Giger Giant XC Pro world cup mountain bike check

It’s a prototype 36T FCM9000 chainring. Note the lack of narrow/wide tooth profiles or even the hooked shape shown on the official XTR 9000 series parts. These look pretty straight and tall, taller than the final iteration. Either he really likes it, or that stripped bolt on the bottom prevents them from getting it off. The rest of the drivetrain

Fabian Giger Giant XC Pro world cup mountain bike check

Fabian Giger Giant XC Pro world cup mountain bike check

Just to be safe…an eThirteen XCX chain guide keeps everything in place. The yellow stuff is grease, which their team mechanic said he used instead of lube or oil because it was a dry course and wouldn’t wear off.

Jolanda Neff Liv-Giant XC Pro world cup mountain bike check

Giger’s bike was heading out of the tent and to the start line, so we couldn’t weigh his. Jolanda Neff, however, had just finished winning the women’s XCO, so we nabbed it just before getting a post-race shower. Weight with a little dirt and dust was 9.02kg (19.89lb).

Jolanda Neff Liv-Giant XC Pro world cup mountain bike check

Jolanda Neff Liv-Giant XC Pro world cup mountain bike check

Foam grips were a popular item. Neff’s fork had additional adjustment knobs on the top of the fork, but still used a remote lockout. The flowers taped to her (and many others’) number plates were in memory of Annefleur Kalvenhaar, a Dutch rider that died after crashing during XC Eliminator qualifiers earlier in the week. Officials changed the course afterward to slow riders over a wooden bridge to prevent a similar accident.

Jolanda Neff Liv-Giant XC Pro world cup mountain bike check

Jolanda’s wheels are marked with a hub sticker and a couple of marks on the rim. Other than that, these wheels are completely unmarked, indicating they’re prototypes, likely from Giant, but DT Swiss skewers were used front and rear.

Jolanda Neff Liv-Giant XC Pro world cup mountain bike check

That’s not a Shimano rotor!

Jolanda Neff Liv-Giant XC Pro world cup mountain bike check

A Shimano Pro cockpit and Fizik saddle with carbon rails rounds out the package.



I grouped the Giant riders in with BMC Mountain Bike Racing Team because there’s a progression of prototype XTR parts going on here. This is Julien Absalon’s race bike from Windham, NY, which is headed to Eurobike. He raced a different but very, very similar BMC Team Elite TE01 at Meribel to second place finish to secure the World Cup championship for the year.


We weren’t allowed to weigh this one because some of the XTR parts are still prototype, namely the wheels and chainring.


This one’s far more polished looking than the one on Giger’s bike, with the Hollowtech construction, but the tooth profiles are still very square compared to the “production” versions I rode recently.


The rear derailleur and cassette looked final, and Shimano rep handling the bike didn’t mention anything special about them. Many pros are still running chain guides on 1x drivetrains, particularly on non-SRAM ones. Note the little World Cup decal covering the front derailleur mounts.


ESI foam grips are commonplace in the pro pits. A single Di2 shifter is on the right…


And the Fox iCD remote is on the left, locking out the fork with a click flick.



I was told the wheels are still prototype, but they look very close to (or exactly like) what production models will be when they start shipping at the end of the year. And that date, December, is when he said all of the new XTR parts should finally be available.


These are clinchers, which means many Shimano sponsored pros that are currently running something else with no labels will finally have a non-tubular option at the top spec level. They’re carbon wrapped over alloy, just like Dura-Ace wheels, and they’re disc brake only.


The hubs look good, with easily replaced straight pull spokes.


The gummy patch on the top tube is to protect the frame from inadvertent bar spins.


badbikemechanicx - 08/24/14 - 7:20pm

Mountain bike tech is so much sexier than road bikes (and always has been!). I think sub 20lbs is the perfect weight for XCO.

Drew Southern - 08/24/14 - 10:37pm

A good mechanic doesn’t let a stripped bolt boss him or her around. That’s why God made the dremel.

anonymous - 08/25/14 - 12:00am

And they say roadies in spandex look like dorks

Bog - 08/25/14 - 12:05am

@Tyler, the 1X rings are very different from the 2X rings that you rode. The teeth are taller and blockier to retain the chain better.

David - 08/25/14 - 12:13am

Pro athletes from all sports wear clothing specific to that sport. The spandex comment often come from downhillers, they think Lycra isn’t ‘cool’ so they wear multi colored pyjamas instead. Yeah, that’s right, clothing specific to their sport (of course, they look like dorks, right?)

Brattercakes - 08/25/14 - 12:14am

This is some formula one stuff here…

Bazz - 08/25/14 - 1:33am

Shimano 1 x11 can’t be that good if they are all running chain guides…

Not good advertising for Shimano. I wonder if it’s Shimano being worried about using thick-thin tooth profiles and worrying that SRAM will want royalties?

deboat - 08/25/14 - 2:49am

9kg is not that light. I thought it would be lighter.

Mark - 08/25/14 - 3:02am

@Bazz, you’re probably not familiar with WC XCO courses. With the technical DH pieces it makes sense to play safe and mount a chain guide, instead of saving only a few grams and taking the chance the chain will come off.

Andy - 08/25/14 - 5:16am

What’s the spoke count on the XTR wheels? 28?

Robbo - 08/25/14 - 5:16am

Love this stuff. Small point; ESI grips aren’t made of foam; they’re made of silicon, which is a much more durable material to make stupidly light grips from…

Jake - 08/25/14 - 7:55am

@Mark: I’m pretty sure Schurter doesn’t run a chain guide on his XX1 setup, so Bazz’s point stands.

Tomi - 08/25/14 - 7:55am

What’s wrong with chain guides ?

notapro - 08/25/14 - 8:08am

@badbikemechanicx- FYP…DH tech is much sexier than XCO tech.

Bazz - 08/25/14 - 8:23am

@Mark I’m familiar with WC XCO courses, and I’m sure the SRAM sponsored riders are too yet they don’t fit chain guides…

Dat Dude - 08/25/14 - 9:01am

Nino Schurter does run a small version of a guide/keeper. Just a little something for security.

Slackboy - 08/25/14 - 9:16am

@bazz – perhaps you could slyly ask Jenny Rissveds (sp) about her chain drop in the eliminator – or perhaps Anton Cooper about his in the under 23. both running Sram, both dropping chains.

jooo - 08/25/14 - 9:59am

I guess you don’t follow the sport much right?

Ck - 08/25/14 - 10:09am

FWIW, Schurter and a few other pros ran a chain guide for a few races when they started using XX1. If enough offseason training/testing shows it’s safe enough to run the new XTR crank without a guide, you won’t see them next race season.

Mirwin - 08/25/14 - 12:10pm

So with the offset crank bolt pattern, we’ll only be able to run Shimano rings? As a consumer, why would I want to do that?

greg - 08/25/14 - 11:22pm

because theyre so much better. question is, why would you want to run anything else? you could instead get an xx1 crank and run their offset-bolt-pattern rings if you prefer.

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