Pro bike: Brian Lopes’s Oakley-Ibis Tranny

Carbon folding bike takes the American to the top step of podium

It’s a stretch calling Ibis’s carbon fiber Tranny a folding bike – it’s more of a travel bike, actually – but despite sporting a two-piece frame that evades airline bike fees, it made its way to the top step of the podium at the opening round of the new World Cup XC Eliminator series last weekend powered by American four-cross icon Brian Lopes.

Should we mention that Lopes’s racing age is 41, and that many of his competitors are 10 years his junior? Yes, the former gravity racer is defying the odds and proving he’s of a special breed. However, when we caught up with him at sponsors X-Fusion’s 2013 product line launch, it was easy to tell that his success is, in part, due to the fact he’s having a really good time riding his bike.

“I like to ride all different disciplines, different types of bikes,” said Lopes. “After racing four-cross and dual for so long, when I decided to stop, one of the main reasons was to experience all of these different things that mountain biking and cycling in general have to offer and test my abilities on all those different types of events.”

Spend five minutes with Lopes and it’s easy to tell he’s a bike guy – he likes riding them, he geeks out when it comes to tuning them, he likes talking about them and of course, he’s pretty good at racing them. Much of the reason he’s now having so much fun is because he’s branching out into a variety of two-wheeled disciplines: cross-country stage racing (last year he did the BC Bike Race and was second in the pro solo race on stage 7); the new World Cup XC Eliminator series where he just won; and even cyclo-cross, where he’s again the SCNCA District champ. 

Lopes brought home the hardware from Houffalize, Belgium last weekend

While he may have retired from top-level four-cross racing, Lopes certainly isn't taking things easy. “I’ve had three months to prepare this year,” he said. “I’ve got myself back on a real training program, like what I used to be on – more specific intervals and once-a-week simulated races.” This level of preparation is needed because the XC Eliminator is a brutal event.

It's made up of a qualifier, a first round of 32 riders, a second round of 16, a third round of eight and then the four-up final. The races last just a few minutes and because it’s not a gravity event and the courses are relatively non-technical, a racer succeeds with a combination of quick reflexes and massive power. “It’s like a four-cross effort, but three or four times as long,” said Lopes. “It’s hard to translate how hard that really is unless you go out and try it. You’ve got to go as hard as you possibly can, but physically it’s impossible to go as hard as you possibly can five times [in a row].”

Lopes’s Tranny build is relatively straightforward, and actually skews far closer to a World Cup cross-country rig than might be expected. It’s a size large frame, with a longish (by gravity racing standards) 70mm stem. Lopes called out three key components for closer attention: the Shimano SLX shifter, the KS Lev height-adjust seatpost and the trail-oriented Time X-Roc pedals.

Lopes called out the Shimano SLX shifter for its one-gear-at-a-time downshifts

Lopes prefers the SLX shifter for its single shift – he says the Multi-Release function found on the XT, XTR and new Saint shifters makes things too confusing during violent efforts. “On all my bikes, I either have an old Saint shifter or a new 10-speed SLX shifter for the single shift,” he said. The large pedals give Lopes a bit more security, “in case there’s a slight chance I had to unclip for something”, while the dropper post is another item he brings from his gravity background, and something most cross-country racers poo-poo.

“The original reason I put it on there was because last year we had to start with a foot down like a normal cross-country race, and I run my seat pretty high for full extension and I could barely touch the ground. So I decided to just lower it and go old-school BMX," said Lopes. "Cross-country guys, they never drop their seat and they feel like they can go just as fast with it up. I feel like I can go faster with it down, so I’m going to run it [the dropper post]. What’s a half a pound [of extra weight] for a minute-and-a-half/two-minute race?” We'll find out this weekend, at the second World Cup Eliminator.

Lopes chose the KS Lev in the 100mm travel configuration

Complete bike specification:

  • Frame: Ibis Tranny, large
  • Fork: X-Fusion Velvet, 100mm travel
  • Headset: Cane Creek 40
  • Stem: Syntace Megaforce, 70mm, -6 degree
  • Handlebar: Syntace Vector Lowrider Carbon, 720mm, 12 degree
  • Grips: ODI ‘O’ Grips
  • Front brake: Magura MT8 w/ 160mm rotor
  • Rear brake: Magura MT8 w/ 160mm rotor
  • Chain guide: MRP 1.X, bottom bracket mount
  • Rear derailleur: Shimano XTR Shadow Plus
  • Shifter: Shimano SLX
  • Brake levers: Magura MT8
  • Cassette: Shimano XTR, 11-34-tooth
  • Chain: Shimano XTR M980
  • Crankset: Shimano XTR M980, 38-tooth Saint chainring, 175mm arms
  • Bottom bracket: Chris King
  • Pedals: Time X-Roc S
  • Wheelset: NovaTec Diablo 
  • Front tire: Kenda Karma L3R, 28psi
  • Rear tire: Kenda Karma L3R, 28psi
  • Saddle: WTB Volt
  • Seat post: KS Lev, 100mm height adjust
  • Bottle cages: King Cage titanium
  • Additonal: THE Torch crown mounted mud flap

Critical measurements:

  • Rider's height: 175.2cm/5ft 9in
  • Rider's weight: 71.21kg/157lb
  • Saddle height from BB, c-t: 75.5cm
  • Saddle Setback: 6.5cm
  • Seat tube length, c-t: 49cm
  • Tip of saddle to center bar: 54cm
  • Head tube length: 140cm
  • Top tube length (virtual): 58.5cm
  • Total bicycle weight: 10.28kg/22.66lb

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