Race tech: Fat Tire Bike Week Chainless World Championships

Carnage and creativity in Crested Butte, Colorado

One of the highlights of the long-running Fat Tire Bike Week in Crested Butte, Colorado is the Chainless Downhill – a chaotic ride down unpaved Kebler Pass into town that drops 1,200ft over seven miles.

One might think such an event would warrant a speedy race machine with grippy tyres to handle the gravelly conditions, disc brakes to check speed into some of the dicey corners, and at least some suspension to handle the bumps but here, how you cross the finish line is just as important – if not more so – than when.

Modern machines were indeed the exception at this year's event, with most 'racers' opting for rickety cruisers or full-blown homebuilts, which included some less-than-safe-looking contraptions, triplets, and even an ice cream cart.

BMX bikes? Sure thing. Tandems with a mannequin for a stoker? Of course. How about towing a full cool box on a trailer? Yes, we checked – it was full of ice and beer. And have we mentioned yet that costumes were required?

Naturally, such a scenario included more than its fair share of carnage. Further up the mountain, there were several pile-ups among the 200+ participants and one racer even had to be treated on site for road rash on his face. Organisers had lined the final dirt-to-tarmac 90-degree corner with hay bales, which were dramatically put to use by more than one group of riders in search of fame and glory. 

BikeRadar would like to extend our congratulations to 2010 'Chainless World Champion' Roman Kolodziej. Regardless of whether you consider the event to be fun or foolish, enjoy our photo gallery. But try to avert your eyes from the naked guy. Well, almost naked.

This monstrous creation rolled into the finish chute well after the frontrunners but still managed to garner the lion's share of the attention: this monstrous creation rolled into the finish chute well after the frontrunners but still managed to garner the lion's share of the attention

James Huang

Technical Editor, US
James started as a roadie in 1990 with his high school team but switched to dirt in 1994 and has enjoyed both ever since. Anything that comes through his hands is bound to be taken apart, and those hands still sometimes smell like fork oil even though he retired from shop life in 2007. He prefers manual over automatic, fizzy over still, and the right way over the easy way.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Up in the Colorado high-country where the singletrack is still single, the dirt is still brown, and the aspens are in full bloom. Also, those perfect stretches of pavement where the road snakes across the mountainside like an artist's paintbrush.
  • Beer of Choice: Mexican Coke
  • Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA

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