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…
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.
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.
The XTR cranks had a mysterious silver chainring on it…
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
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.
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).
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’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.
That’s not a Shimano rotor!
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.