Today, Emily Batty posted a photo on her Instagram account that went crazy. And while the Canadian XCO racer from the Trek Factory Team has a very popular Instagram following due to her riding, her ability and her North American good looks – the real curiosity and intrigue came from the photo of her bike.
Yes, that is Emily Batty’s Olympics bike. Yes, it is a Trek Top Fuel. Yes it is awesome, and yes it is probably one of the best choices out there for marathon and stage racing too. But here, Emily is pointing out that she’s having new cranks installed. So obviously they are well out of focus towards the back of the image.
And if you’re a tech minded mountain biker – your interest should be piqued. Emily Batty, like the whole Trek Factory Team, runs Shimano. Shimano don’t let their athletes play with things they are just trying out – they tend to do extensive research and development, before letting elite athletes out on the product.
So, here are some thoughts on what could be new. From boring, to realistic, to the most exciting.
Emily Batty is trying shorter cranks, or a new chain ring
Yes, this would be a boring option. But it is January, racers in the Northern Hemisphere are cross-country skiing, training in Gran Canaria, at the gym, racing ‘cross – or playing with their setup to get everything they can out of their performance.
There has been a considerable move to shorter cranks for road cyclists recently, as it does help a rider maintain a higher cadence, and in the case of a criterium assists with pedalling through corners. Without knowing what Emily Batty is on now (the latest bike check we found was from late August at Vallnord, thanks to Pinkbike) it is likely she uses 165mm or 170mm XTR cranks. Although you can see on Pinkbike that at Vallnord she was using a Wolftooth chain ring.
Shimano have redesigned their 1x chain rings – so maybe Emily Batty is finally having one fitted, and that’s helped her stay committed to a regular social media feed for the week?
A crank length or chain ring change is highly possible. But it’s not likely to be tease worthy.
Emily Batty is testing out Shimano’s new XTR power meter
Shimano have launched a new Dura-Ace group set, 9100. Part of that includes a crank-based power meter. The system is barely noticeable, save for a small pod within the bolt circle diametre, with the wiring and wirelessly rechargeable battery sitting in the spindle.
Given the popularity of power meters, for elite racing, training, and general one-upmanship, we can be certain that Shimano will in time take the power meter to Ultegra, and then to XTR. At the moment your options for a mountain bike power meter are a Stages unit, Quarq, SRM, Power2Max or Rotor. So Shimano would be foolish to not move the same technology to the next generation of XTR. M9000 came out in mid 2014, so who is to say we won’t see a new XTR group, M9100, in late 2017, or earlier?
There is a very good chance Emily Batty is testing out a new Shimano XTR power meter – as the mechanic is holding the cranks in a ‘3 o’clock’ position, you can almost see the small unit between the two arms. Check out the first look of the Dura-Ace unit on DC Rainmaker’s blog to see if your eyes see the same thing.
Emily Batty is testing out a new BB/crank standard for Shimano
This is a little more far-fetched. But that spindle looks thicker than a standard 24mm. But if they are 165mm cranks and a 30 or 32 tooth chain ring… maybe it’s normal. But the light catches it little more than the dull finish of the typical steel axles. So there is a small chance it could be an oversized aluminium axle, but the empty bottom bracket cup doesn’t give much away either.
But given Shimano haven’t made the move to alloy axles for Dura-Ace 9100, it seems too unlikely that Emily Batty is trying out a new crank and BB standard for Shimano.
So my guess is Emily Batty is testing a new Shimano XTR power meter. Only time will tell.