The 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships brought the world’s best cross-country riders to the legendary trails of Glentress Forest in the Scottish Borders.
The venue played host to the XC marathon, the hastily scheduled short course champs and all of the XCO events.
We were on hand to sniff out the best tech raced on the highly technical course. Here are our five top tech highlights from the 2023 XC World Championships.
RockShox Flight Attendant is coming to XC
RockShox Flight Attendant is an automatic electronic suspension system, which adapts the suspension’s damper to the terrain using sensors in the fork, shock and cranks.
First released in 2021, it’s currently only available on the brand’s range of trail and enduro suspension.
In June, we spotted a RockShox Flight Attendant-equipped SID fork on Nino Schurter’s Scott Spark race bike at the Lenzerheide World Cup, hinting that an XC-focused version was nearing production.
We managed to get an even better look at the electronic suspension system, including the new Flight Attendant-equipped RockShox SIDLuxe IsoStrut rear shock.
We spotted a number of teams testing the new tech, including Trek Factory Racing, Specialized Factory and Santa Cruz RockShox Pro Team.
Interestingly, not every racer with access to the electronic suspension chose to run it on their World Championships bike.
British favourite Evie Richards, who placed sixth in Saturday’s race, was spotted running a good ol’ cable-operated lockout on both her fork and shock.
On the other hand, Richards’ Trek Factory teammate, Jolanda Neff, rode the same new Trek Supercaliber bike on the Glentress course but opted to go fully electronic.
Canyon CLLCTV’s Luca Schwarzbauer was another rider sporting the electronic tech. His RockShox/SRAM-equipped Canyon Lux race bike was specced with a SID Flight Attendant fork and a SIDLuxe Ultimate Flight Attendant shock. The German rider bagged ninth place in the XCO.
Two gold medals for the new Pinarello Dogma XC hardtail
Despite the trend towards gnarlier courses and many riders switching to full-suspension bikes, this weekend proved there’s still a place for XC hardtails.
While the vast majority of riders chose to ride full-suspension bikes, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot went with the new Pinarello Dogma XC hardtail.
The new Dogma hardtail features Pinarello’s signature asymmetric design, which is claimed to better balance pedalling forces at the rear of the bike.
Like the full suspension of the bike, a strut bridges the gap between the down tube and seat tube, creating an unusual third triangle above the bottom-bracket shell.
Pinarello claims this improves the pedalling stiffness of the bike.
The world champs specialist went on to win gold in both the XCC and XCO on board the new hardtail, despite the course at Glentress featuring some seriously rough technical rock sections and ample rooty passages.
Electronic suspension on Tom Pidcock’s race bike?
Ferrand-Prévot’s INEOS teammate Tom Pidcock chose to race the full-suspension version of the Pinarello Dogma.
After months of teasing, the bike was released in May.
His bike was equipped with SR Suntour’s TACT electronic suspension system. Like Flight Attendant or Fox Live Valve, this provides automatic suspension control, though the system is less sophisticated, with only one sensor.
It didn’t seem to slow him down, because he went on to take the World Championships title on what was to be a very good day for Pinarello.
Look at those wheels
Hometown hero Isla Short was a firm fan-favourite this weekend.
Her Ghost Factory Racing Lector FS was one of the most futuristic race bikes on the circuit, thanks largely to the six-spoke monocoque wheels.
Made in Germany by Bike Ahead Composites, the production Biturbo RS wheelset has a combined weight of 1,349g.
Despite their low weight, the wheels are also rated for trail riding.
It wouldn’t be the World Championships without custom paintjobs.
While the cross-country crowd sometimes forgo elaborate frame art in favour of saving grams, we spotted a few lovely frames that would be rude to ignore.
The Santa Cruz RockShox Pro Team bikes were sporting a lovely blue paintjob that, while appearing understated from afar, revealed some beautiful details upon closer inspection.
Alpecin–Deceuninck’s Sam Gaze was another rider who had a great weekend.
The tall Kiwi powered to gold in the XCC and almost ended Pidcock’s dream in the XCO, where he came second.
His Fox and Shimano-equipped Canyon Lux had a sleek paintjob with subtle touches of tartan on the chainstays and top tube.
Going into the 2023 World Championships as the current Olympic gold medalist, Jolanda Neff’s Trek Factory Racing Supercaliber was adorned with a bit of gold bling.
The second-generation Supercaliber has been updated with longer and slacker geometry, reduced weight and a revised rear shock.
Defending world champion Nino Schurter also had a bling ride. His special-edition Scott Spark RC pays homage to the legendary 1995 Endorphin, Scott’s first carbon fibre bike.