Giant Trance - Enduro Set-up

If you’ve been living under a rock for a year or so, you mightn’t have heard about ‘gravity enduro’. It’s a real buzzword around the MTB world at the moment with enduro-specific this and enduro that popping up in everything from helmets to handlebar grips.

The great thing about enduro is that it favours the type of bike that is practical and fun to ride for the average punter. XC race bikes may weigh nothing and get you to the top of the hill faster but they demand serious skill to pilot down a bumpy singletrack at any real speed. Pure downhill bikes come into their own on insanely steep descents but are both heavy and unwieldy anywhere else. In gravity enduro you need to ride uphill with reasonable efficiency before undertaking the timed descent. As a result the bikes have to be fast and capable on the downs (the fun bit), while still being decent to climb with.

With the MTB spotlight cast on this burgeoning aspect of the sport, every major brand is focusing their effort towards building bikes that are better for this all-round riding. It seems like a far more effective use of R&D funds than making a carbon hardtail frame that’s 87g lighter than last year’s model. With gravity enduro the technical benefits translate to the average non-competitive trail rider.

So what do the pro-level gravity enduro riders use? We took a close look at the bike that Giant Factory team rider Josh Carlson will be using for his assault on the 2014 Enduro World Series. 

The ever smiling Josh ‘The Frother’ Carlson about to head out for some laps on one of his local trails. This bike closely mirrors what he’ll be riding throughout the 2014 season, although the stealth black will be exchanged for a custom team colour scheme before the first EWS round. The only significant change planed is to have one bike setup with a 160mm travel RockShox Pike for rougher courses and another with a 140mm Pike for smoother trails. As pictured, his Trance Advanced weighed in at 13.2kg; that’s with a large frame and it includes the pedals.

The 785mm wide alloy Truvativ BooBar has been cut down to 765mm. Josh tried the 750mm Clementz carbon bar but found it too narrow for his liking and preferred the extra rigidity of the 340g alloy BooBar.

A 50mm stem keeps the steering direct and allows good control on the steep downs. Josh runs an FSA adaptor headset that allows a regular tapered 1 1/2 to 1 1/8 fork steerer to fit inside the larger than usual Giant Overdrive 2 head tube. This lets him fit any stem he desires—in this case it’s a Truvativ Holzfeller.

Regardless of the trail conditions, Josh always runs a Marsh Guard fender. He finds it keeps the dust and flying debris off his fork and that way it’s never forgotten if the weather turns sour. The Schwalbe Magic Mary is his favourite front tyre.

Lightweight four-piston Avid X.0 Trail stoppers handle everything the EWS throws at them. A big 200mm rotor up front ensures he’s well equipped for the super long descents in the French Alps while a 180mm rotor does the job on the rear.

While going guide-free is certainly viable with modern single ring drivechains, it’s still possible to drop your chain when riding hard and fast over chunky trails. It’s not a huge issue when you’re out trail riding but far from desirable when the clock is ticking. An ISCG mounted MRP top guide, combined with the SRAM X-Sync tooth profile and XX1 rear derailleur ensures that the chain never comes off. Big legs; big cog—Josh usually runs a 36T chainring.

The prerequisite dropper post; in this case it’s a RockShox Reverb Stealth offering a 125mm drop. The remote is placed under the bar on the left side, just like the trigger for a front derailleur. While the remote could share the same clamp as the brake lever, Josh runs the dropper button with its own clamp to position it closer to the grip.

Rather than running lock-ons, Josh uses high-strength glue to mount regular grips to the bars. He likes the ODI Ruffians with the harder grey outer parts cut off and uses trimmed down ODI bar plugs. With no hard metal ring or raised rib on the outer edge, he can place his hands right at the extremity, effectively gaining more usable handlebar length without added tree snagging width.

These Crank Brothers Mallet 3 pedals have been through a war or two, as have the carbon fibre XX1 cranks. If you think that pro riders always get new gear and don’t give their equipment a good flogging, well you’d be very wrong!

Both the compression and rebound on the Monarch Plus shock run the firm damping option, although Josh is thinking of getting it custom tuned with extra-firm valving. Up front the Pike is fitted with three volume reducing ‘tokens’ inside the air chamber. In stock form the Pike is very linear and fitting the tokens makes it more progressive and ‘rampy’ as Josh puts it. The added bottom out resistance means the fork can be run softer for better traction and small bump compliance.

While the front tyre is invariably a Magic Mary, the rear is swapped to suit the trails. The fast rolling Rock Razor sees action on dry and pedally tracks while the Hans Dampf is used everywhere else. Regardless of the tread, Josh always uses Schwalbe’s ‘Super Gravity’ casing. It may be heavier but the added puncture protection is well worth it.

Don’t you wish you could be fully pro too? Josh will be competing in all the 2014 EWS rounds and based on his early 2013 form, he could well be a top-ten contender. Hopefully he can have a safe and injury free season.

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