Take a look at the Open hardtail that British racer Rachel Fenton will be piloting at the 2015 XCM World Championships.
In contrast to professional racers who have access to a whole stable of bikes suited to particular courses, we privateers have to pick one bike to rule them all (unless we are lucky enough to win the lottery). Having had the opportunity for the first time to build my own perfect race bike from scratch I made what might at first sight look like some strange choices. Ultimately I needed a reliable machine that could be maintained (and repaired) easily on my European adventures. Wherever possible I went for light parts, but only where this decision was in my opinion low risk (even if they weren’t €200 a pop I wouldn’t fancy carbon disk rotors).
You would think, given my preference for durability that choosing a 900g frame was not wise. However the guys behind Open have been designing bikes for many years with much success. It was an easy decision to choose this frame. To top it off fully internally routed cables make for clean lines and mean the cables don’t need to be changed very often, even in the mud of sunny England.
On my XT chainset I have switched the standard 38-24 gearing for a Praxxis 36-22 combination having heard about the crazy steep climb up Dantecepies that starts the 2015 World Championships course (not to mention the three super-steep climbs after that, but best not think too deeply about them…!). I have also fitted my now slightly battered Stages XT power meter crank. Whilst I have found power next to useless in XC races, for marathons it can be a very handy tool. Mostly the Stages stops me going too hard too soon but also stops me from slacking off too much towards the end.
In my local bike cafe I was told that I should have put lighter forks on this bike than the Fox Float CTDs I have chosen. But I knew that the Fox could be serviced at home (in fact I just watched my better half change the oil and seals in his at our mountain base in Livigno) and I have always liked the way that they ride. They just work, and that’s what matters.
Single Ti bottle cage
I only have one Mt Zoom Ti bottle cage on the bike at the moment. This year after much back and forth I have decided to go back to a hydration pack for marathon racing. I often don’t drink enough whilst racing, and as a privateer never have a pit crew so don’t like to rely on the variably good feed zones at races. An adventure racing/ultra-running friend recommended the Nathan hydration pack because it is lightweight (400g without fluid) and I can carry all my gels in the easily accessible front pockets. I plan to carry an empty bottle on my frame for races so that if I do need to take on extra water I don’t have to fill the pack bladder which is a bit fiddly when you are on the move.
Little people suffer disproportionately from heavy wheels, if you lack raw watts, rotating weight is a demon to be fought at all costs. The 1400g Kappius wheel set is not an obvious choice given my initial preferences, but the carbon rims are light, stiff and strong. The rear hub features the Kappius 240pt engagement with magnetically sprung pawls in the free hub. Sounds fancy. What it means is that when you press the pedals the wheel moves. This is particularly useful on steep, techy climbs where every pedal stroke matters and losing momentum would put you off the bike.
I’ll be running Maxxis EXO tyres for the marathon world champs next weekend, and probably every race after that if my usual routine holds true. The Maxxis fit perfectly on the wide Kappius rims and are very easy to set up tubelessly. I always run a reinforced sidewall tyre for riding and racing if I can, simply because on rocky terrain it is very easy to slice a sidewall and I would rather have a slightly heavier tyre and avoid having to fix a puncture (it’s laziness really).
Frame: Open 1.1 in white size small
Forks: Fox Float CTD
Wheelset: Kappius KW1.5
Bars/stem/seatpost: Lyti carbon (www.duLight.fr)
Saddle: fi’zi:k Tundra M3 braided
Brakes: Shimano XT
Chainset: Shimano XT with Praxis 36-22 chainrings and Stages power meter
Shifters: Shimano XT I-spec
Front and rear mech: Shimano XT
Grips: ESI racers edge in black (when clean!)
Tyres: Maxxis Crossmark rear and Ardent race front, both EXO TR
Bottom bracket and headset: Rotor
Bottle cage and rear quick release: Mt Zoom Ti