World Cup mechanics: what’s in the tool box?

We delve deep into the tool box of a WC DH mechanic

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.

Chappie, Jack Moir's mechanic, is charged with keeping the Aussie rider's bike in top condition
Chappie, Jack Moir's mechanic, is charged with keeping the Aussie rider's bike in top condition

Jack's bike takes center stage in the open pits
Jack's bike takes center stage in the open pits

Chappie's tool box is well ordered and stuffed to the gunnells with Pedros tools
Chappie's tool box is well ordered and stuffed to the gunnells with Pedros tools

Key to any maintenance is a decent set of hex keys, kept in order to make finding them easy when the pressure is on
Key to any maintenance is a decent set of hex keys, kept in order to make finding them easy when the pressure is on

While larger hex keys are quick and easy to use, a more precise torque tool is used for the final touches
While larger hex keys are quick and easy to use, a more precise torque tool is used for the final touches

Enve's spoke nipples are hidden inside the rim, so this tool is required for wheel builds
Enve's spoke nipples are hidden inside the rim, so this tool is required for wheel builds

This neat little bit is used when removing valve cores for easier tubeless installation
This neat little bit is used when removing valve cores for easier tubeless installation

Pre-worn in pads and discs make the journey to the race, so no bedding in is required at the event
Pre-worn in pads and discs make the journey to the race, so no bedding in is required at the event

A spoke tension meter is used to make sure the wheels suit the rider and are consistent between wheel builds
A spoke tension meter is used to make sure the wheels suit the rider and are consistent between wheel builds

Most mechanics can't perform without their performance enhancing brew
Most mechanics can't perform without their performance enhancing brew

Chappie talks through Jack's set up with BikeRadar's Seb Stott, just before the prototype 29er was announced
Chappie talks through Jack's set up with BikeRadar's Seb Stott, just before the prototype 29er was announced

Small details add up to a clean, easy to work on bike — every little helps
Small details add up to a clean, easy to work on bike — every little helps

Most mechanics have a little book of closely guarded rider info and preferences. We weren't allowed to see much, other than their Maxxis tyre order
Most mechanics have a little book of closely guarded rider info and preferences. We weren't allowed to see much, other than their Maxxis tyre order

A quick wipe down of the bike before it goes out with polishes and glass cleaner keeps the bike shiny and easier to clean between runs — pads and discs removed beforehand, of course!
A quick wipe down of the bike before it goes out with polishes and glass cleaner keeps the bike shiny and easier to clean between runs — pads and discs removed beforehand, of course!

On a busy race weekend, in variable weather, mechanics can end up working late — this little light makes life that bit easier when the sun drops
On a busy race weekend, in variable weather, mechanics can end up working late — this little light makes life that bit easier when the sun drops

Carpet tape makes for an easy yet secure way to attach a riders number to their jersey
Carpet tape makes for an easy yet secure way to attach a riders number to their jersey

Thick Enve rim tape, along with a thinner one, are used to perfect the rim bed profile for easy tubeless installation
Thick Enve rim tape, along with a thinner one, are used to perfect the rim bed profile for easy tubeless installation

Intense leaves its tyres like this over night. It makes the beads sit further apart once the right way round, meaning they pop into the rim's bead that little bit easier
Intense leaves its tyres like this over night. It makes the beads sit further apart once the right way round, meaning they pop into the rim's bead that little bit easier

A massive bottle of sealant was picked up en-route through Spain
A massive bottle of sealant was picked up en-route through Spain

The back of the truck has well-ordered spares and a huge pile of tyres waiting to go
The back of the truck has well-ordered spares and a huge pile of tyres waiting to go

After a chance encounter with Charles from Airshot a few years ago, it's great to see the product's journey from concept to widepsread use in World Cup pits
After a chance encounter with Charles from Airshot a few years ago, it's great to see the product's journey from concept to widepsread use in World Cup pits

We presume nobody was praying for divine intervention at Lourdes
We presume nobody was praying for divine intervention at Lourdes

As the weekend draws to a close, this is perhaps the most important tool in the box
As the weekend draws to a close, this is perhaps the most important tool in the box

The finished product, Jack Moir's WC DH bike for Lourdes. Look out for his 29er at Fort William!
The finished product, Jack Moir's WC DH bike for Lourdes. Look out for his 29er at Fort William!

Tom Marvin

Technical Editor, Tech Hub, UK
Tom's been riding for 15 years, and has always chopped and changed bikes as soon as his budget allowed. He's most at home in the big mountains, having spent nigh on 30 weeks riding the Alps, as well as having lived a stone's throw from the Scottish Highlands for four years. Tom also enjoys racing events like the Strathpuffer and the Trans Nepal.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Steep and super tech or fast and flowy
  • Current Bikes: Canyon Spectral, Pivot Mach 429SL, Mondraker Vantage R +
  • Dream Bike: Transition Scout
  • Beer of Choice: Gin & tonic
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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