Unlike some riders who feel the need for radically upgraded gear year after year, Ryan Trebon (Kona) is on an identical frame to the one he used last year and he's quite happy about it.
In fact, the 2008 US national cyclo-cross champion – he was pipped to the post by Tim Johnson in this year's championships at the weekend – has been on Kona frames since 2005 and after years of tweaking and refinement, he feels his Major Jake is a perfect fit both in terms of sizing and riding style.
Trebon's frame is custom built but, aside from an extra centimetre of length in the top and seat tubes, is a virtual clone of the 62cm production model, with the same butted and modestly shaped Kona Race Light Scandium tubing, an asymmetrically machined head tube and a machined driveside chainstay stub for extra chainring and tyre clearance.
However, Trebon's frame omits bottle mounts on the seat tube and, of course, is covered in team-trademark bright orange paint. "They're just a little taller in both the seat tube and top tube length but they're pretty close to the stock 62cm," he says. "It's the same tubing and everything; it's just a little bit bigger."
The riding position has been similarly refined over the years and has been very consistent over the past few seasons. Trebon says he starts every season with the same baseline settings and then makes only very minor adjustments from there based on feel – but only a couple of millimetres at a time in any direction to avoid injury.
The list of carryover componentry includes a well-worn-in Selle San Marco Concor Lite saddle, wide-profile KORE Race+ cantilevers with SwissStop Yellow King pads, and a heap of parts from FSA, including an OS-99 forged aluminium stem, Energy T traditional-bend aluminium bar, SL-K Light carbon crankset with ceramic bottom bracket and RD-488 deep-section carbon tubular wheels.
Trebon has switched from an Alpha Q CX20 carbon fork to one from Edge Composites, though, and also updates to Shimano's latest Dura-Ace 7900 group. Up front, there's a new FSA ceramic-bearing headset and the seatpost has been beefed up to FSA's even-burlier FR-230. Total weight is barely changed from last year at 8.39kg (18.5lb) – a reasonable figure considering the bike's size.
In spite of the expansive lengths of tubing in between the TIG-welded joints, Trebon says the frame stiffness suits his explosive riding style well and he doesn't feel disadvantaged relative to the featherweight rigs of some of his competitors. "Weight isn't everything," he says. "I tend to ride a lot more out of the saddle and do really hard accelerations. Stiffness and handling are the most important to me."
That Selle San Marco Concor Lite saddle is clearly quite important to him, too, as the discontinued model is becoming increasingly difficult to find. However, Trebon is well stocked. "That's the same one I used last year," he says. "I think I've got six upstairs and about 10 in the garage. I don't really like them when they're brand new. I like them when they're about a year old. When they get more broken in they feel better."
We photographed Trebon's bike ahead of the US national champs when it was fitted with aggressive Dugast Rhino tubulars, ideal for sloppy conditions. Yet even the grippiest tires are useless if they don’t stay on the rim.
Trebon says his gluing process "isn't magic" but he's deliberate, mindful of adequate curing time and swears by double-sided 'Belgian tubular tape' to create a rock-solid bond. Both the rim and tyre get two base coats – with overnight curing time allowed between coats – plus another tack coat per side with the tape applied in between.
"In 'cross it's not so much the lateral cornering force but it's when the tyre gets unweighted and then suddenly weighted that it cracks the bond," Trebon says. "I like the tape; it makes it really easy and is so secure that it's hard to get the tyre off."
Complete bike specifications
- Frame: Kona Major Jake custom
- Fork: Edge Composites Cross
- Headset: FSA Orbit Extreme Pro Ceramic
- Stem: FSA OS-99, 13cm x -6°
- Handlebars: FSA Energy T, 44cm (c-c)
- Tape: FSA cork
- Front brake: KORE Race+ w/ SwissStop Yellow King pads
- Rear brake: KORE Race+ w/ SwissStop Yellow King pads
- Brake levers: Shimano Dura-Ace STI Dual Control ST-7900
- Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace FD-7900-B
- Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace RD-7900-SS
- Shift levers: Shimano Dura-Ace STI Dual Control ST-7900
- Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace CS-7900, 12-25T
- Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7900
- Crankset: FSA SL-K Light, 177.5mm, 39/46T w/ Thorne Koksijde outer chainring
- Bottom bracket: FSA MegaExo Ceramic
- Pedals: Shimano XTR PD-M970
- Wheelset: FSA RD-488 tubular
- Front tyre: Dugast Rhino tubular, 34mm
- Rear tyre: Dugast Rhino tubular, 34mm
- Saddle: Selle San Marco Concor Lite
- Seatpost: FSA FR-230
- Rider's height: 1.96m (6ft 5in)
- Rider's weight: 80.7kg (178lb)
- Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 935mm
- Saddle setback: 133mm
- Seat tube length, c-t: 632mm
- Seat tube length, c-c: 580mm
- Tip of saddle nose to C of bars: 679mm
- Saddle-to-bar drop (vertical): 178mm
- Head tube length: 195mm
- Top tube length: 620mm
- Total bicycle weight: 8.39kg (18.5lb)
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