The lives of World Cup racers are well documented, with photographers and videographers clammering to get the killer snaps and journalists swarming around trying to get the inside line. But the work that goes on behind the scenes to get riders' bikes ready so they're in tip-top condition and ready to race down the world’s gnarliest tracks, with performance levels pushed to their maximum, is less so. This hard work is carried out by the team mechanic, unless, of course the rider is a privateer.
The mechanics hold a wealth of knowledge and are some of the most interesting people to talk to at a World Cup weekend. Not only do they have to be handy on the spanners, but they have to know the riders and their style inside out, as well as what the course is going to be like, how to tune suspension for each track and be able to decode what the racers are telling them before adjusting the bike’s set up to get it just right.
At the core of the mechanic's armory is their tool box. While they contain tools common to every biker’s garage, there are usually a few little bits and pieces that differentiate them from the rest of us.
The tools have to be comprehensive enough to deal with whatever the race throws at the bike, but also compact enough to be lugged around the world, from test track to race course. While nobody rests on their laurels at a race, it’s often the mechanics who are first in and last out.
We chatted to Chappie, one of Intense Factory Racing’s mechanics, about what he has in his tool box while we scouted round the first round of the World Cup at Lourdes.