Pro bike: Nathan Riddle's Santa Cruz Blur LTc

United Bicycle Institute instructor's Super D machine

Nathan Riddle annihilates the saying “those who can’t, teach”. As a full-time instructor at Oregon's United Bicycle Institute who specializes in passing along his detailed knowledge of suspension, Riddle is also making a name for himself on the Super D and enduro race circuit as a consistent top-five player. And it looks like SRAM have taken note of this rare combination of speed and understanding, as he’s now a part of their BlackBox R&D program.

This year Riddle (SRAM/Santa Cruz/Easton) will have two Santa Cruz race weapons: a carbon Nomad and a carbon Blur LT. We caught up with him at this year’s Ashland Super D where the latter was his ride of choice, as it was built specifically for the pedally 12-mile course essentially hosted in his backyard. “My LT is more of a ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’ bike as it’s set up," he said. "Whereas my Nomad is more like a bear running through the woods.”

In addition to being a solid enduro racer, Riddle also has the knowledge needed to be an excellent R&D rider for companies like SRAM

Dropping frame weight over his Butcher from last year, and whittling further grams out of this year’s race-worthy build kit, Riddle’s size medium Blur LT is down to a very respectable 24.8lb (11.25kg), complete with pedals. “This race is pretty much decided in the climb and pedaling sections, so I went light with the build," he told BikeRadar. "And while the LT and Nomad frames weigh about the same, the slightly different leverage ratios in combination with the shock I have on the LT makes it just a tad more sprightly at the pedals.”

Some of the weight loss has come from switching from a double front chainring setup to a single 38-tooth ring with a light-looking prototype Gamut guide. Riddle is also running an Easton Bear Trap headset tensioner instead of last year’s standard star-nut, and has switched from Easton Haven aluminum rims to Haven Carbon. Tire choice has also made a difference, with Riddle opting for 2.1in WTB Nanoraptors, run tubeless, at Ashland, instead of last year's 2.4in WTB Mutanos with tubes.

Riddle told us his RockShox Revelation WC fork had stock internals, but hinted that the Monarch 3.1 shock wasn’t exactly off-the-shelf. “We’re [SRAM and Riddle] definitely working on a few things, but it was decided to keep them under wraps this weekend with so many industry-types in town. The more obvious projects were removed and shelved until all you guys go home!”

Riddle is running a prototype Gamut chain guide, which he says is still being tinkered with

As for suspension setup, Riddle likes faster compression and rebound than most riders. “It’s not for everyone, but it works for both my riding style and my weight," he said. "One of the topics of debate that usually comes up in class is if there’s a ‘correct’ suspension setup. The short answer is that there are plenty of wrong setups but there really isn’t one simple way to set up suspension that’ll work for each and every rider. There will always be trial and error in finding the best settings, and those will inevitably change with trail conditions, as well as with progressions and variations in rider ability.”

A closer look at Riddle’s ride reveals the bypassing of stock dropper-seatpost housing routing with the use of an extra RockShox housing guide on the top tube. “It doesn’t look pretty, but the Reverb housing was getting a little too close to some of the suspension linkage at certain seat heights, and just seemed to have too many harsh bends in it when it was run the standard way,” he said.

Riddle will be putting in a full season of Super D and Enduro races this year, including a stop in Europe for the Megavalanche. If you happen to run into him, it may be worth having a look at his bike for potential prototype goodies. Or if he has time, have him check out yours as you may learn something.

A true blue-collar pro, Riddle poses with his bike during a quick lunch break from teaching at UBI

Complete bike specifications

  • Frame: 2011 Santa Cruz  Blur LT Carbon, medium
  • Rear shock: RockShox Monarch 3.1
  • Fork: RockShox Revelation World Cup XX with remote lockout
  • Headset: Chris King InSet
  • Stem: Truvativ Stylo World Cup, 7.5cm, 5-degree rise
  • Handlebar: Truvativ Boobar, 20mm rise, 750mm width, 5-degree upsweep, 9-degree backsweep
  • Grips: ODI Ruffian lock-on
  • Front brake: Avid X0 w/ 185mm Clean Sweep X disc
  • Rear brake: Avid X0 w/ 160mm Clean Sweep X disc
  • Brake levers: Avid BlackBox
  • Front derailleur: Gamut prototype chain guide
  • Rear derailleur: SRAM XX long-cage
  • Shift levers: SRAM XX
  • Cassette: SRAM XX 11-36
  • Chain: SRAM PC1091R
  • Crankset: SRAM X0, 175mm w/ Truvativ single 38t ring
  • Bottom bracket: Truvativ GXB
  • Pedals: Shimano XTR M980
  • Wheelset: Easton Haven Carbon
  • Front tire: WTB Nano 2.1in, set up tubeless
  • Rear tire: WTB Nano 2.1in, set up tubeless
  • Saddle: WTB Rocket V titanium
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb, 125mm drop
  • Computer: Garmin 205

Critical measurements

  • Rider's height: 1.75m (5ft 9in)
  • Rider's weight: 68kg (150lb)
  • Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 762mm
  • Saddle setback: 508mm
  • Seat tube length, c-t: 432mm
  • Seat tube length, c-c: 381mm
  • Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem): 508mm
  • Saddle-to-bar drop (vertical): 12mm
  • Head tube length: 108mm
  • Top tube length: 572mm
  • Total bicycle weight: 11.25kg (24.8lb)

Related Articles

Comments

Back to top