Two-time DH World Championship silver medallist Fionn Griffiths, from Shropshire, UK, has a precocious talent on a bike but, sadly, hasn't been able to prove it much recently. A recurring ankle fracture put her off the pace in the 2005 season, but before that she'd proved her ability by taking her first World Cup win in Mont Sainte Anne, Canada, in 2003. Since then she's been plagued with injury but emerged from the 2006 off-season ready to re-establish herself as a force to be reckoned with on the DH and 4X tracks.
Solid and balanced, Fionn's adjustable-travel (7.8-8.6in), four-bar Team DH is built for pinning it, with its 64.5-degree head and 70-degree seat angles, long 45in wheelbase and a low 14.3in bottom bracket height. Fionn runs it with the low bottom bracket long-travel (8.6in) setting - it's surefooted at speed yet has a solid, low-slung centre of gravity for confident abandon in the turns, which suits Fionn's aggressive yet smooth riding style. "It's really stable at speed," she says, "and you can charge through sections without having to worry. Between that and the Foes suspension, the faster you hit stuff the smoother it becomes."
In true racer fashion, the medium-sized rig is pared down to its all-in 17.5kg (39lb) minimalist form to rip off the start ramp and rail the length of the track without so much as a gram of puppy fat. "I've been with Norco for three years and we've been working closely with the designers and things have come a long way," says Fionn. "The Team DH has evolved from the freeride bike to what it is now: a DH race bike. It's a lot lighter than it used to be, it's got good angles and is stable at speed."
The frame is over 450g (1lb) lighter than the previous year's incarnation and Fionn's build sees the Marzocchi Roco World Cup rear shock graced with a ti spring.
The whole bike has also been meticulously looked at to remove any excess length of seat post, cable or any bolts that might lose her valuable time. But the true showstopper is the ti-sprung Foes F1 XTD 8.5in-travel super fork. All £2,249 of it.
It's a unit that harnesses the unique Curnutt XTD stable platform technology that allows for seamless transition between an open and closed state for efficient pedalling without diving under rider weight influences, and fully supple, rock-devouring suspension. With massively oversized 38mm stanchions and 46mm uppers, an upside-down design with a custom 30mm bolt-through front hub and four-bolt rotor to keep things light but stiff, it's not only a technological work of art but a distinctive one.
"I love the amount of adjustment that's available to the rider," Fionn says of the tuning options the F1 XTD allows. "You can pretty much control anything you want externally, and there are some internal things that you can play with as well if you're feeling adventurous."
How low can you go?
The front end of the bike is stacked as low as possible, and the ride height stays relatively nose to the ground.
"I like the front end of my bike to be as low as possible without feeling as though I'm going over the bars - just get over the front to control where I'm going a little better," Fionn explains.
The bike is built around Fionn and her riding style for taking on the World Cup. With arguably the most technological fork on the market gracing the front end, and weight weenyism employed throughout, it's a beast that comes alive under her powerfully smooth style.
With second place at the Crankworx Garbanzo DH, top 10 DH results in the World Cup, and a slew of top threes in 4X, Fionn is returning to the pinnacle of the sport. She's on the up once more, helped by a bike built for a champion.