Photo Courtesy of Kathy Sessler
Several weeks ago, Greg Minnaar shredded his way into mountain bike history winning his third World Championship on his home turf in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
Since his victory, Minnaar has undergone surgery and is in the process of rehabilitating his knee in preparation for the 2014 season.
The Link recently caught up with him to talk about his life since the World Championship and what to expect for 2014.
Here is what he had to say.
TL – You just got home, how are you doing? Are you up and about?
GM - So far, so good. I’m not really out and about yet.
TL – It must feel good to finally have that behind you. You didn’t race in the finals at Leogang because of your injury, how do you feel about how your season ended? Would you have won had you raced?
GM - I could never say I could have won if I had raced the finals; anything can happen in Downhill. I would have loved to compete, but unfortunately I couldn’t. I’m pretty happy with my season, World Champion and 3rd in the World Cup, I would have liked to do better in the World Cup, but this year was all about World Championships at home.
TL – What track are you looking forward to the most next season?
GM – I chose them because I gravitate toward brands that lead through innovation and quality. The 510 Minnaar has to be a favorite; I put a lot of effort into my shoe. I really like the Saint brake from Shimano, brakes are extremely important in DH.
TL – We know you are an accomplished world-renowned rider now, but what was your childhood dream?
GM - To race motocross professionally was what I dreamt the most, but to be honest it was any sport I was playing I wanted to be the best at or at least play with the best.
TL – What do you do when you aren’t riding?
GM - In my spare time I head out to the beach to surf. I don’t get to ride that much motocross these days, but I still love it when I have the time.
TL – Do you have a pre-ride ritual?
GM - Rest, visualize, eat, warm up, race. Honestly I don’t really have a ritual before riding; I’m normally rushing because I’m late.
TL – If you weren’t a DH racer what would you be doing?
GM - The only thing that interested me growing up was to become an architect, but that was short lived.
TL – The pool of top riders is constantly changing, who would have thought Steve Smith would pull out an overall win over Gee at the DH World Cup? How are you going to respond next season?
GM - Its tough protecting a lead, Gee was in a hard position against a guy with nothing to loose. I’m looking forward to recovering from this knee injury and then its back to business as normal.
Originally known for its lightweight, cross-country, racy bits, Shimano‘s top-shelf XTR line recently split most of its components into “Race” and “Trail” versions, the latter prizing durability and performance over anorexic bragging rights. In addition to sturdier trail versions of components, technologies premiering at the XTR level such as ICE-Tech brakes and ShadowPlus clutch-type rear-derailleurs appealed to aggressive all-mountain and trail riders and—not surprisingly—the burgeoning enduro crowd. But just as enduro racing approaches its Zenith, Shimano reminded Sea Otter crowds that it is indeed still a heavy hitter in the lightweight arena. Lighter brakes, a lighter bottom-bracket, more durable chain and an ultra-light carbon-fiber tubular 29-inch wheelset come in at fighting weight on the Race side of the fence for 2014.
Carbon Tubular 29 Wheelset
Cross-country types may want to brush up on their glue skills; one of the most shocking announcements in regard to Shimano‘s XTR Race group is the introduction of a carbon-fiber tubular 29er wheelset. While tubulars are the preferred race-day setup of most road cyclists, they are far from common in the dirt, even for cross-country. So, why tubular? No flanges mean light weight, low rolling resistance and fewer flats. Developed for the Olympics through Shimano‘s sports marketing program, the XTR WH-M980 will be available in limited runs for competitive cyclists looking for every-race-day advantage. Coming in at 280 grams per full-carbon offset rim, the complete wheelsets boast absurb numbers: 1,298 grams per set for 15-millimeter front, quick-release rear or or 1,349 grams for the 15-millimeter front, 12-millimeter rear combo. Geax and Schwalbe currently make tubular-compatible 29-inch tires. Shimano says 26 and 27.5 (650b) versions will be available later this year.
Magnesium Brakes and ICE Tech Rotors
The M987 disc brake shaves 40 grams per wheel off its predecessor, the M985, thanks to a magnesium caliper and master cylinder, carbon-fiber lever blades and titanium bits but gives up nothing in stopping power, according to Shimano. New ICE Technologies discs join the party with a few tricks they picked up on the World Cup Downhill circuit a-la Saint. Utilizing what Shimano calls FREEZA, the ICE Tech rotors feature aluminum cooling fins and according to Shimano reduce peak temperatures by up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Makes sense for the downhill tracks where it was born and bred, by why should weight weenies care? Better heat dissipation means you can run a smaller rotor without increased fading—and that means fewer grams of rotational weight. The new SM-RT99 rotors will be available in 140, 160 and 180-millimeter sizes to fit your flavor of fast.
Sil-Tec Chain and Premium Bottom Bracket
For 2014, the new CN-M981 HG-X mountain bike chain borrows Sil-Tec—an advanced surface plating technology to increase both performance and durability—from the Dura-Ace 9000 chain on the road side. Shimano says the technology adds a low-friction surface treatment that runs smoother and lasts longer. Along with the Sil-Tec coating, a narrow design better holds lubrication and helps to shed mud.
Premium level SM-BB93/SM-BB94 mountain-bike bottom brackets loose 19 grams, and according to Shimano is sealed better to keep gunk at bay.
by Don Stefanovich
The Link goes on location at the Sea Otter Classic in the pits of Laguna Seca for a sneak peek at all the new bikeswag being unveiled.
Answer Gentlemen’s Collection Bars
Classy as always, Answer proudly displayed its Gentlemen’s Collection of bars with dignified designs such as paisley, plaid and houndstooth. The bars are a manly 780 millimeters wide with 4-degree upsweep and 8-degree backsweep. The graphics for each bar are hand-laid ensuring no two are alike. The Gentlemen’s Collection features a military-grade anodized finish to ensure the bars don’t fade or scratch.
Further adding to the allure, Answer says these are limited edition, so once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Sun Ringlé 27.5-inch Wheels
Sun Ringlé expands its wheel line with 27.5-inch (650b) offerings in both the Charger Pro SL all-mountain and—adding to the signs of changing times—A.D.D. downhill wheels. Both feature Stan’s NoTubes BST Technology.
The anodized hubs of the A.D.D. downhill wheels look as good as they sound.
Manitou 27.5-inch Forks
Manitou‘s trail forks gets all-new lowers, graphics and are now available in 27.5-inch (650b) sizes to fit the emerging crop of middle-wheeled bikes.
The Minute Pro and Marvel Pro are available with up to 140 millimeters of travel. Expect a 160-millimeter all-mountain fork with 34 millimeter stanchions in the near future.
Fox Head Rampage Pro Carbon
The Rampage Pro Carbon tops Fox Head‘s helmet lineup with carbon-fiber construction, 17 vents and tips the scales at only 1,145 grams.
Colors range from subtle to not so much. We spotted a few of these on the race courses already on pros and amateurs alike.
Race Face Narrow-Wide
Race Face designed its Narrow-Wide chainrings to be run as single-ring setups and eliminate dropped chains and the need for chainguides. The name refers to alternating-width teeth similar to SRAM’s XX1 X-Sync. Narrow Wide will play nicely with while adding a touch of color to XX1 setups.
Rather than the ramps of traditional two and three-ring setups designed to drop chains for smoother shifting, the Narrow-Wide design holds onto chains with a Kung-Fu grip.
Crankbrothers Mallet DH
When Crankbrothers redesigned its popular mallet to be lighter, it resulted in slightly less platform real estate. Gravity riders lamented, so Crankbrothers introduced the Mattlet DH, featuring the refined internals of the new Mallets with a larger platform resembling the original design. They still come in at a respectable 470 grams per pair.
Zipp Wheels 202 Firecrest Carbon Clincher
The 202 Carbon Clincher is the lightest wheel in the Zipp lineup at a scant 1,375 grams per pair. Designed to combine aerodynamics with low weight, the 202 combines the 32-millimeter rim depth of its predecessor with a more aerodynamic Firecrest profile and now has a wider 25.4-millimeter max rim width, resulting in an impressive all-around road wheel.
Kenda Turnbull Canyon and Honey Badger Tires
Developed with cross-country legend Tinker Juarez, the Kenda Turnbull Canyon tire is named for the Southern California trail network where Tinker is notorious for the self-inflicted torture of his training sessions. The XC/marathon tire will be available in 2.0 width in 26, 27.5 and 29-inch incarnations.
The Honey Badger is Kenda‘s new do-it-all trail tire designed to grip as well on slimy Northwest roots as in the dry and loose of the Southwest while retaining fast-rolling characteristics. Climb all day? Descend some serious chunder? Like its namesake, the Honey Badger don’t care—as the letters stamped in the tread will remind you. Currently available in 2.2 widths for 26, 27.5 and 29-inch wheels, look for a 2.4 downhill Honey Badger soon.
Fox 34 TALAS CTD, Float X Rear Shock and Float 40
FOX displayed its new 34 TALAS CTD and Float X rear shock on the wildly popular Santa Cruz Bronson C, further iterating their intended all-mountain/enduro purpose.
The Float 40 RC2 announces FOX’s commitment to air springs taking center stage in its gravity forks going forward. Completely revised lowers feature air-bleed valves and shave 1.15 pounds from the previous 40, resulting in a sub-6 pound dual-crown gravity fork—impressive.
FOX stopped by Price Point headquarters to give us an in-depth look, so be sure to stay tuned for a full review.
Shimano XTR Revisions
Shimano overhauled its XTR brakes with magnesium calipers and carbon levers, dropping 40 grams per wheel and resulting in the company’s lightest hydraulic brakeset to date. The rotors see finned Freeza technology trickle-down from the 203-millimeter gravity realm where it debuted, to a full range of cross-country sizes, improving cooling and shaving weight.
Get your glue, kids. A new carbon tubular XTR 29er wheel also saw daylight for the first time in Laguna Seca.
Five Ten Freerider VXI
The redesigned Contact Outsole of the Freerider VXI allows full pin contact for maximum grip, but lacks tread on strategic areas of the sole to allow repositioning without lifting the foot.
To be continued…
Stay tuned for continuing Sea Otter Classic coverage.
by Don Stefanovich