Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team member Adam Craig won the 2009 Downieville Classic on an aluminium Trance X. This year he finished second in the all-mountain event on the same platform, but in Giant’s Advanced composite and with a few equipment tweaks.
The two key component changes to Craig’s medium sized bike are his 745mm wide PRO Atherton Signature handlebar and custom Fox DHX RC4 coil over rear shock.
“I didn’t even think about using the shock last year, because it interferes with the water bottle cage,” said Craig, whose mechanic engineered a solution to fit a bottle in Downieville this year. “But I wish I had.”
Craig also stayed away from extra-wide downhill bars in the past, because he was trying to keep the positions of his Anthem X race bike and Trance X trail bike the same. This year, in Downieville, the need for the extra control the wide bars provide proved too great, especially considering Craig’s Trance X has considerably less travel than his main all-mountain competitors’ bikes.
Wide handlebars and a spare tube are necessities for this downhill race
“This race is all about taking the lightest bike and making it super-capable at speed,” said Craig. “The bar is a safety item; it’s more control.” The custom shock also helps make up for the Trance X’s lack of travel, by providing extra control and suppleness over the standard spec Float RP23. Fox had to cut down the damper body of the RC4 to fit the Trance X’s 7.25in eye-to-eye shock length.
The larger body and piggyback reservoir of the RC4 invades the space of the water bottle cage, so this needs to be removed or modified. Downieville required the latter considering the length of its courses; the cross-country was upwards of two hours and the downhill lasts over 40 minutes. Giant mechanics Joe Staub and Justin Morse ingeniously used a piece of a Park Tool aluminium spoke ruler to offset the cage.
Craig's mechanics used a Park Tool spoke ruler to offset the water bottle cage
Like Mark Weir (WTB-Fox-Santa Cruz), Craig used Shimano’s latest M980 XTR components in Downieville. His drivetrain consisted of a 40-tooth MRP front chainring and MRP 1.X chain guide paired to Shimano’s new XTR Dyna-Sys 11-36T cassette and rear derailleur. Shimano’s new XTR Trail brakes with finned pads and Ice Tech hybrid aluminium rotors served to slow him down.
A 40-tooth single ring was the order of the event
Craig has Shimano’s new XTR Race components (the lighter weight equivalent to XTR Trail) on his Anthem X cross-country bike, and he prefers the non-Servo-Wave levers due to their firmer feel. He says that while the Trail brakes have more power, they also have a mushier feel, due to the adjustable and potentially higher mechanical advantage at the levers.
The XTR Trail brake features pads with Radiator cooling fins
Craig rode the new Shimano XTR M988 Trail wheels in Downieville, which differ from the XTR Race wheelset via a 21mm wide (I.D.) rim, 15mm through-axle front hub and option of a 142x12mm rear hub, though his Trance X relies on the standard quick-release rear hub. The scandium Trail rim is said to weigh just 400g and sports a true UST profile. Gold spoke nipples and hub fittings easily identify the wheels.
One of Craig’s Downieville secrets is the use of Michelin’s reinforced dual ply Dry 2 tube-type tyres set up tubeless. This model is roughly on par, weight wise, with the tubeless version, yet its trade off of less rubber and more casing material pays dividends in rocky terrain.
Michelin's reinforced Dry2 2.30in tyre has a dual ply casing but low weight
Complete bike specifications:
- Frame: Giant Trance X Advanced SL, 127mm travel,
- Rear Shock: Custom Fox DHX RC4 with 550lb steel coil spring
- Fork: Fox 32 Float RLC Kashima, 140mm travel, 70psi positive air pressure
- Headset: Chris King InSet tapered
- Stem: PRO Vibe Carbon road, 100mm, -10-degree
- Handlebars: PRO Atherton Signature, 740mm
- Grips: ODI Ruffian
- Front brake: Shimano XTR M980 Trail w/Ice Tech 180mm rotor
- Rear brake: Shimano XTR M980 Trail w/Ice Tech 160mm rotor
- Chain Guide: MRP 1.X
- Rear derailleur: Shimano XTR M980
- Shifter: Shimano XTR M980
- Brake levers: Shimano XTR M980 Trail
- Cassette: Shimano XTR M980, 11-36T
- Chain: Shimano XTR M980
- Crankset: Shimano XTR M980 w/MRP 40T single ring
- Bottom bracket: Shimano XTR M980
- Pedals: Shimano XTR M980 Race prototype
- Wheelset: Shimano M988 XTR Trail
- Front tyre: Michelin Dry2 2.30 reinforced, 28psi
- Rear tyre: Michelin Dry2 2.30 reinforced, 28psi
- Saddle: Fizik Tundra
- Seatpost: CrankBrothers Joplin
- Bottle cages: King Cage, titanium
- Rider's height: 180.3cm/5ft 11in
- Rider's weight: 74.84kg/165lb
- Saddle height from BB, c-t: 77.5cm
- Seat tube length, c-t: 45.72cm
- Tip of saddle to center bar: 56cm
- Saddle-to-bar drop: 10cm (seatpost extended)
- Head tube length: 14.5cm
- Top tube length: 58.42cm
- Total bicycle weight: 12.7kg/28lb (with C02 inflator and tube)