Santa Cruz Syndicate to ride Edge carbon wheels

Composite hoops come to the World Cup downhill circuit

The Santa Cruz Syndicate have announced new equipment sponsors for 2010, including Edge Composites, Chris King, Maxxis and Muc-Off.

Yes, you read that right – the reigning world downhill champ, Steve Peat, and his team-mates will ride Edge’s carbon rims laced to Chris King hubs on the World Cup downhill circuit in 2010, making the Syndicate the first and only professional gravity outfit, we know of, racing on carbon wheels.

While you may be skeptical, Peat, Greg Minnar and the rest of the team are not. Last October Peat and Minnar, along with Jason Schiers, president of Edge Composites, and Rob Roskopp, owner and CEO of Santa Cruz Bicycles, among others, took a few sets of Edge’s AM all-mountain rims – with a custom layup – to the NorthStar resort in Lake Tahoe, California.

The plan was to put Schiers’ wheels to the test on the resort’s rocky trails. They passed. “We basically told the guys to try and beat the crap out of them, which they did, but couldn’t [break them],” Roskopp told BikeRadar, “After that they took the wheels home to evaluate further and there haven’t been any issues whatsoever.”

“They were obviously very nervous about riding carbon,” said Schiers. “So it was fun to watch them warm up to them and start to really push them.”

“I was probably the least skeptical, because I had some time on some other carbon rims,” said Roskopp, who rode the Downieville all-mountain race on a pair of DT Swiss carbon cross-country wheels.

Roskopp cites multiple benefits of the carbon hoops for the team, including carbon fibre’s memory – its ability to bounce back from a bend rather than deform – the material's help in resisting flats, wheel stiffness and lower rotating weight.

“The cornering speed is noticeably higher,” he said. “They can go in [to corners] harder and there’s less wheel flex; it’s a bonus for sure.”

The team are currently riding Edge’s 30mm [OD] wide, 32mm tall AM all-mountain rims with a revised layup. The customised rims are tweaked for more compliance (flex) than the stock model, but also have increased wall thickness for impact resistance. Producing these inverse performance features is achieved through a reduction in fibre angle and modifications to the laminate construction.

“The two things that they are most concerned about is collapsing the wheel or pinch flatting,” said Schiers. “The beauty of [carbon] it that it yields and returns to its original position; aluminium yields but doesn’t return. This all depends on the laminate… as much the material is an absolute, the way that it’s processed or formed is a bigger contributing factor to the performance of the part.”

Schiers said a downhill hoop is in the works and projected that it will be ready come April’s Sea Otter Classic. “We have zero mountain issues,” he said. “I have more issues with road wheels than I do mountain wheels.”

2010 Santa Cruz Syndicate

The Syndicate had an excellent year in 2009, with Peat winning the world championship title and two World Cup rounds, Minnaar winning three World Cups and Josh Bryceland finishing 13th overall in the World Cup standings. They were the top UCI downhill team for the second year in a row. As we exclusively revealed earlier this month, all three downhillers stay with the Syndicate in 2010.

Freerider Jamie Goldman and Australian cross-country and endurance racer John Waddell round out the team roster. “I’m excited to see the Syndicate continue on for the coming years,” said Roskopp. “It’s been a huge source for R&D, allowing us to come out with so many advanced products in such a short time. Having such a dynamic group of people has contributed to the overall success of Santa Cruz Bicycles.”

Returning sponsors include SRAM, RockShox, Truvativ, Avid, WTB, CrankBrothers, Lizard Skins and Clif Bar. When Roskopp was asked if there will be any other new carbon products in testing under the team this year, specifically from his company, he spoke carefully. “We’re working on stuff,” he said. “I’ll leave it at that, because we’re always working on stuff.”

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