Germany's forever stylish Manuel Fumic brings charisma and a touch of rebellion to the sport of Olympic-discipline cross-country mountain biking. First it was casual sunglasses; more recently Fumic (and teammate Marco Aurelio Fontana) raced at the pointy end of World Cups in baggy shorts.
Style is one thing, but Fumic's consistent results prove this friendly and funny racer isn’t there just to participate. As a multiple-time German national champion and three-time Olympian in the discipline, Fumic is commonly found in the top five placings.
Cross country is changing, and the Scalpel Si is designed to help tame the technical courses
It was officially released just days ago, but Fumic has been racing Cannondale's latest dual suspension race platform – the Scalpel Si – for a number of months.
We sit down with Fumic in Cairns, Australia to discuss his new bike, something he's already well acquainted with having recently taken a stage win at the 2016 Absa Cape Epic (with help from teammate Henrique Avancini),
Pass the Scalpel
Manuel 'Manny' Fumic and his new Cannondale Scalpel Si
With the iconic Lefty fork, the bikes of the Cannondale Factory Team are certainly the most unique-looking in the field. Factor in the new asymmetric frame – intended to allow for short chainstays, space for two bottles and extremely progressive geometry – and the new Scalpel is right at the forefront of cross-country race bike design, and well-suited to the ever more technical courses.
Fumic tells BikeRadar that the new Scalpel Si is now far closer to that of the F-Si hardtail. "The F-SI and Scalpel SI are more or less similar in terms of geometry and you can jump between them," he says. "It feels comfortable [making the] switch."
Look over Fumic’s bike and the most notable aspect is how 'stock' it is next to an off-the-shelf Scalpel Si Team.
"There’s nothing prototype on my bike. It’s just like what will be sold to customers," says Fumic of his still-new ride. "It’s proven, nothing crazy light and just normal stuff anyone can buy.
"You can go into the bike shop and say, 'I want that Fumic bike' and you can buy it," adds Fumic proudly.
This sticker spells special tuning within
As for his personal setup, Fumic has his suspension fettled by Eighty-Aid tuning. This process starts with optimizing the 88 needle bearings within the Lefty, before focusing on the damping aspects such as lower friction seals, oil viscosity, and for Fumic, a different blow-off threshold setting.
"There’s a few adjustments on the suspension which I use different, but anyone can get the same setup as I have. I have my lockouts set up slightly different, in that when I lock it out, I still have a little movement in my fork, so the bike feels more like a hardtail, rather than fully locked." Fumic says of his RockShox 'Full Sprint' hydraulic lockout setup, which sits by his left hand.
What will and won’t change
"My setup depends on the ground, the soil, whether it’s raining, slippery muddy, and so on," Fumic goes on.
"For each race course, I have a different setting – for Cairns I changed tyre and suspension pressure. Each tyre has a different way of acting, and so you must adjust to each course. Rebound and compression doesn’t change too much on the suspension though," he says.
This fast tread follows Fumic onto most courses
For tyres, Fumic typically goes with Schwalbe Racing Ralphs in a 2.25in width, unless it’s muddy, at which point the Rocket Ron may be put into use. Set up tubeless with sealant, his pressures typically range between 21 and 22psi – proving that riders at this level really can feel the difference in a half a psi.
While there are aspects of Fumic’s setup that change, he’s quite particular about his chainring. "I like a 36t, I run it at each race, even when it’s steeper. I struggle to find the right gear when we swap. I stick to it, and it’s an area of my bike I typically keep the same."
This is potentially set to change though, as Fumic will soon make the move from SRAM’s XX1 11-speed drivetrain with a 10-42t cassette, to Eagle with a 12-speed 10-50t range. As we’ve seen with Nino Schurter’s 38t chainring, we suspect Fumic will go bigger too – though the German tells us he's still to ride Eagle.
Counting on it
Weighing in at 10.31kg (22.73lb), Fumic’s new Scalpel is light for a 29er dual suspension bike, but perhaps not as light as you’d expect, especially given its 2.16kg frame (including rear shock, seat clamp, bolts and thru-axle). For example, we weighed Julien Absalon’s BMC Fourstroke at 10.18kg, and that included a full electronic suspension and gearing setup, and a dropper post too.
"I don’t care so much about weight," explains Fumic of his setup. "For example, I travelled 40 hours to get here and it costs a hell of a lot. You don’t want to be training for half a year, seeking a result and then have issues. I care whether the bike works correctly and has a good feel."
Fumic’s Enve M50 wheels perhaps represent a good example of that approach. At approximately 1,400g for the pair, they’re competitive but not class leading in weight. More importantly though, they’re probably the stiffest and strongest race wheel money can buy. And it's this lack of taking chances that can pay off, as for example, Absalon spent much of the Cairns world cup race playing catch up after an early flat tyre.
Missing bolts is a cheeky weight weenie trick, but it also saves mechanics some time when removing rotors
All that said, weight is important for eveyone and there’s no point carrying extra grams where it’s not needed. There are a few little tricks on Fumic’s ride to drop the weight, such as using only four titanium bolts to hold the rotors in place and replacing unused bidon bolts with tape.
Another is pedal choice and without a team pedal sponsor, Fumic is free to choose his own. Stating he likes the feel and that they’re lighter, he’s gone with a forged alloy and titanium SPD model from Exustar.
So what does the rest of the season hold for Fumic?
"Rio is so far away, I’m not even thinking about it yet," he concludes.
"I’m lucky in that OI have my spot in the team, but in the end I just want a good solid World Cup season and make sure I’m close to Nino (Schurter) and (Julien) Absalon. If I can beat them at a World Cup, then I can beat them at the World Championships and then Olympics."
Complete bike specifications
- Frame: Cannondale Scalpel F-Si, size Medium
- Rear shock: RockShox Monarch XX, with XLoc Full Sprint
- Fork: Cannondale Lefty 2.0 Carbon, XLR Isolated Damper, 88+ tuning, 55mm offset
- Headset: Cannondale 1.5in Lefty
- Stem: Cannondale Lefty OPI, 90mm, -5 degree
- Handlebar: FSA K-Force Carbon, 700 width, flat
- Grips: Prologo Mastery silicon
- Front brake: SRAM Level Ultimate, 160mm 2-piece CLX rotor
- Rear brake: SRAM Level Ultimate, 160mm 2-piece CLX rotor
- Rear derailleur: SRAM XX1
- Shift levers: SRAM XX1
- Cassette: SRAM XX1, 10-42T, 11-speed
- Chain: SRAM XX1, 11-speed
- Crankset: Cannondale SiSl2, SRAM X-Sync 36T ring, 175mm, Stages power meter
- Bottom bracket: SRAM PF30
- Pedals: Exustar Forged ‘E-PM215Ti-1’
- Front wheel: Enve M50, 29in, DT Swiss 240s Lefty hub
- Rear wheel: Enve M50, 29in, DT Swiss 240s 142x12mm hub
- Front tyre: Schwalbe Racing Ralph Evo, 29 x 2.25in
- Rear tyre: Schwalbe Racing Ralph Evo, 29 x 2.25in
- Saddle: Prologo Nago Evo X8 CPC, Nack carbon rails
- Seatpost: FSA K-Force Carbon, 31.6mm, Straight
- Bottle cages: Cannondale Nylon SSR, side access
- Other accessories: Lightweight chainguide (unknown), Garmin mount
- Rider's height: 1.73m (5ft 8in)
- Rider's weight: 68kg (150lb)
- Saddle height from BB, c-t: 690mm
- Effective top tube length: 599mm
- Head tube length: 110mm
- Seat tube length (c-t): 440mm
- Chainstay length: 435mm
- Weight: 10.31kg (22.73lb)