Fresh Bikes and Tech at the 2023 Downhill World Champs, Fort William
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Fresh Bikes and Tech at the 2023 Downhill World Champs, Fort William

May 31, 2023

After a super soaker Saturday at the 2023 UCI Downhill World Championship in Fort William, we have finally dried off, ready to bring you some of the highlight bikes and prototype tech we spotted on our saunter around the team pits. Starting with….

Austria’s Valentina Höll was piloting a custom Trek Session last weekend with a shorter-than-stock rear end. The 425mm chainstay length is 10mm shorter than that seen on the stock Trek Session, making this particular frame a dedicated mullet.

In concert with the switch to a shorter rear end, Vali’s bike positions the idler pulley 5mm higher to reduce the cross talk between drivetrain and suspension forces further. Her mechanic, Mat Gallean, tells us the bike is less playful than the stock Session, but more plush and planted.

Vali does not run tire inserts. The DT Swiss FR 1500 Classic Wheelset with the Continental Kryptotal Fr DH tires was sufficiently robust for her weekend of racing down the infamous Aonach Mòr.

Beside Vali’s bike was the Trek Session of Canada’s Bodhi Kuhn. His Session is of a stock configuration, set up with a complete 29″ wheelset with a 439mm rear-center length. While Vali prefers a coil shock, Bodhi prefers air. And, it looks like he is testing an all-new air shock from RockShox with an air can that is much larger than the air can seen on their Super Deluxe Ultimate air shocks. He too is running the linkage in the more progressive 25% setting.

While Vali was relying upon the SRAM Code Stealth Ultimate brakes for speed management, Bodhi was benefiting from a “development component” in the form of an all-new caliper paired with a HS2 rotor. The as-of-yet unnamed caliper is much larger – taller and broader – than the Code caliper, and it looks as though the pads are inserted from underneath.

Over at Cube Factory Racing, the new TWO15 DH bikes were running a new version of the floating brake arm, with a slightly different layout to that we saw on Danny Hart’s bike back at the season opener in Lenzerheide.

At the Cotic booth, we saw Neko Mulally‘s spare Frameworks bike. Its steel front triangle was actually made in Scotland by Edinburgh-based fabricators, Five Land Bikes. The rear end of this Horst-Link bike is carbon.

Anthony Poulson, known by his Forbidden team mates as “Ant-Man” was representing Canada last weekend. He was racing Forbidden Bike Co’s very first dedicated downhill downhill bike in a mullet configuration. It looks to be very close to production; more details on this bike in our earlier post.

Mondraker finally unveiled the latest configuration of their ZERO suspension design, taking the sock off the prototype downhill frame they’ve been racing all season. It’s still a VPP layout, but the shock is now driven by the swingarm and the rocker, as opposed to the lower link and the rocker. This bike is one of the most adjustable bikes we’ve seen on the world cup circuit, and it was home to a rather interesting prototype hub from e*Thirteen, as well as some unreleased Michelin DH16 tires.

Actually, the new linkage is not dissimilar to the linkage employed by Mondraker’s new lightweight eMTB; the 150mm travel TQ-powered NEAT, which was also on display.

Representing France was Loic Goubin, a man who chose to take on the World Champs track aboard a handmade bike of his own design and making. Goobz is the name of his nascent company, and this titanium downhill bike is his first creation. The frame runs a four-bar Horst-Link suspension design, with a titanium front triangle, and steel stays, with cnc-machined aluminum for the rocker and hardware.

Gaubin also had his enduro bike in tow, also of his own design. This one is fabricated entirely from titanium. More details on these two bikes to come.

Neko Mulally’s spare Frameworks bike wasn’t the only point of interest at the Cotic booth; they also had their prototype eMTB on display.

Seen here is a slightly shorter travel version of the eMTB that has been committed to production. That as-of-yet unnamed eBike will run 150mm of rear wheel travel delivered via Cotic’s droplink suspension platform, which is essentially a faux-bar design. That will be paired with a 160mm travel fork.

The British manufacturer’s frames are made almost exclusively from steel, but this one will see an aluminum front triangle paired with a steel rear end. We are told the geometry will be “broadly RocketMAX” – Cotic’s 29″ enduro bike, but it will be a dedicated mullet.

It will be powered by a Shimano EP801 motor and a 720 Wh battery, and the top-end build will boast a Shimano XT Di2 drivetrain featuring the new free-shift and auto-shift functions.

Prospective customers will need to hang on until June 2024.

Last but not least, Pinnd had their new made-in-Scotland eBike cranks on display. The brand is better known for its Ti-axle CS2 flat pedals that we tested last year, but is now expanding its offering of machined parts to cranksets, axles, SRAM UDH hangers, top caps and, most exciting of the lot, a four-piston brake caliper and lever, both of which are still under development. More info to come on the new range from Pinnd.

That’s all for now, folks. With the 2023 UCI XCO World Championships coming up in the Tweed Valley this weekend, more fresh tech will be coming your way shortly. Stay tuned.