Bikes of the 2014 Absa Cape Epic
The Absa Cape Epic is always a good opportunity to get a good idea of what’s going on in the world of cross-country mountain bike technology. It’s such a testing event on both riders and kit that you get a mix of super-light and more real-world equipment, all fettled to within an inch of its life in the hope of surviving eight brutal days unscathed.
This year was worse than most – whereas the dust and the rocks are usually the biggest challenges, this year had the wet days to add to the equation. Let’s take a look at what people were riding – at the front of the pack, a bit further back, and just at what looked interesting in the bike park.
No surprises – 29ers rule the roost, with honourable exceptions such as Nino Schurter’s Scott Scale 27.5 and a few 26ers under the thriftiest amateurs. And full-sus is de rigueur for the majority of riders – not surprising given the roughness of the terrain. But there are exceptions – your writer’s Open hardtail, for example – see below.
And we even saw one Lauf carbon-leaf-spring fork. With only 60mm of undamped travel I wouldn’t have been too keen; but his bike will certainly have been light.
Karl Platt’s Bulls
This was the first year of 11 that Platt failed to finish the Cape Epic – a knee problem took him out after only a handful of stages. But his bike is a tried and tested Bulls 29 full-sus, kitted out with full XTR, with some nice blue anodised highlights. I was a little surprised that he prefers the non-clutch version of the rear derailleur – perhaps he favours the lighter lever action, being prepared to live with a little more chain-slap.
Sauser’s / Rabon’s Specializeds
Sauser has for the last few years ridden a very distinctive gold Specialized, and here it is being looked after by the team mechanics.
Will Hayter’s Open 1.0
There were six Opens in the race – two on Team Open-Rotor-Asterion, and four on the two Assos teams. This one was ridden by your writer – team-mate Jeff Bossler built the team’s bikes at Starbike in Macon, France; not quite identical – white vs. black, and different finishing kit and wheels. But both light, and as it turns out, extremely tough as well.
For a full spec and review, see http://marathonm.wpengine.com/2014/05/13/2014-absa-cape-epic-bike-review-open-1-0/.
Mike Hogan’s Team Kappius Cannondale Scalpel
This bike is notable mainly for its wheels – Kappius’ proprietary wide-bearing 240-points of engagement rear hub, with Kappius’ own carbon rims.
However, it was also notable for the way Cannondale responded to a crack developing around the seat-tube near the front derailleur mount with two days of the race still to go. The local Cannondale guy at the trade stand in the race village committed to warranty it there and then, and even better, had a replacement frame in the right size in the truck; and proceeded to transfer over all the parts from the old frame to the new, ready for Mike to ride the next day. Impressive. Impressive also for the amount of mud that was residing in the bottom bracket shell courtesy of the muddy stage two days before…
From around the bike park
It’s always interesting to see different riders’ approaches to on-the-trail mechanical fixes. There are all sorts of set-ups that you wouldn’t see on an all-out XC bike.
Fairly common are the tubeless repair plugs – the little applicator often pre-loaded with the brown plug and attached somewhere easy to reach, like the top tube, as here.
Spare tube placement is pretty varied, with an assortment of electrical or duct tape holding them to various parts of the frame. Not as slick as a Mt Zoom handy strap, but functional nonetheless.
While there are plenty of Specializeds, lots of Giants, oodles of Cannondales, etc., it’s nice to see the more unusual brands, like this titanium Lynskey with some very shiny and very pink Chris King parts.
And yes, not even the Absa Cape Epic can escape the dreaded fatbike. There was at least one in the race, under “Mr Africa”, Mannie Heymans. Here he is with his steed.
And here is the bike in a bit more detail.