Interview with Kate Courtney, new 2018 MTB World Champion

Interview with Kate Courtney, new 2018 MTB World Champion

Since her racing career began in 2012, Courtney has been a podium-regular. She’s now gearing up to dominate in the women’s elite category.  Last weekend, at 22, she won her first MTB Elite UCI World Champs title in Switzerland.  She is the first American world champion since Alison Dunlap in 2001 and the fourth American woman to ever win the title.  

What do you feel about winning the most important race of the season and the one that every cyclist dreams?

Its an unbelievable feeling to have everything come together when it counts the most. I am still definitely letting the feeling sink in but couldn’t be more proud to bring the stripes home for the United States and Specialized. 

First year in elite category… first year riding with Q RINGS®… and you won the World Championship. What can you tell us about your experiences with Q RINGS® in this first season? Have you heard about it before?  

I started testing the Q rings in the fall and raced on them for the entire season. They have been a great addition to my race and training setup!            

People ask us what is the most common OCP position in our professional cyclists. In your case , which OCP position did you use in the World Championship? Do you use different OCP position depending on the track?

They have been in the same OCP #3 since my testing with the 2INpower App in the fall! 

How tall are you and what cranks size do you use? Do you use the same size for all your bikes no matter what discipline is?

I am 1,63m (5 feet and 4 inches) and ride 170mm cranks. I definitely use the same size for all bikes as they are an important component of my fit!

In the World Championship you had the opportunity to use the new KAPIC crankset, the ROTOR lightest model for XC. However, you decided to use ROTOR 2INpower MTB. Why did you choose that option?

Personally, I find the data from my power meter very valuable. It is incredibly helpful in terms of warmup and preparation – but also in this race I looked at numbers selectively to help moderate my effort on a really physically demanding course.

So far the use of power meter has been very popular for road bikes, but it is not so usual in MTB. Do you consider power meters as a trend which could make the difference for MTB trainings?

I think power meters have actually become very popular in mountain biking. They allow racers to train differently and I think most serious mountain bike athletes rely on them heavily! 

Although you still enjoying your recent victory in the World Championship and maybe is too soon to think about it, what are your goals for next season?

I am definitely still enjoying the victory and will take a break this season before resetting and focusing on next year. My biggest goals will definitely be the complete World Cup season, world championships and helping the US qualify as many spots as possible for the Olympics!

 

 

Now, check out this video of ROTOR oval chainrings and 2INpower DM MTB power meter in Kate Courtney´s bike.

 

Cross Country vs Marathon: Key Bike Differences

Cross Country vs Marathon: Key Bike Differences

Racing your mountain bike in cross country (XC) and marathon (XCM) events may seem quite similar at first, but taking a closer look at both disciplines reveals key differences in terms of ideal training and equipment. In this article, we focus on the best bike setups for both and how it all comes down to balancing speeds vs. comfort.

Cross country or Marathon

Let’s begin with explaining what we mean by cross country and marathon. A typical cross country mountain bike race involves multiple laps around a fixed course, mostly or entirely off-road and with a significant amount of singletrack. Laps at the pro World Cup level are between four and six kilometers although they may be longer for standard amateur events. Most cross country events last between 1.5 and 1.75 hours.

Marathon mountain bike racing, on the other hand, tends to cover a course that is either one big lap starting and finishing in the same place or traversing a point-to-point route. Marathon race distances can vary widely from anywhere between 60 and 160 km, and it’s not uncommon for marathon stages to last between 2.5 and 6 hours, depending on category and terrain.

Suspension

Marathon racers are more likely to compete on bikes with full suspension and more travel. Because marathoners cover greater distances over trails that are often more remote and get less traffic, riders have to deal with more varied conditions and more total physical abuse for any given race. Hence, comfort is a greater factor in deciding bike setup. Kilometer after kilometer, the physical toll of racing on natural surface or backcountry trails adds up, and having both front and rear suspension can take the edge off, significantly decreasing overall fatigue from all the jostling.

Cross country racers are only out there for one or two hours, so it’s easier to prioritize and performance and handle the extra abuse of racing on a hardtail for the shorter duration. Plus hardtails are on average lighter than full suspension bikes; thus pedaling a super lightweight hardtail up steep, punchy cross country course climbs can be a big advantage over pushing a heavier full suspension bike, especially at fast cross country race paces. And that climbing advantage often holds even factoring the extra jostling on descents and technical sections.

That said, depending on the course, cross country racers may still sometimes opt for full suspension for greater comfort. It can be the best choice for more technical courses where the weight penalty is worth the tradeoff because while riders may suffer a bit more on the climbs, they can flow faster over sections with roots, rocks and drops. A typical cross country racer will use full suspension with 100 to 120mm of front and rear travel whereas a typical marathoner will often go for 120mm.

Gear Selection

When it comes to gears, cross country racers can get away with narrower gear ranges and larger gears in general. In part, this is because cross country races are shorter, so racers can power through the tough spots in a higher gear and not have to worry about the fatigue that will be felt a few hours later. Cross country races also have a higher average speed, so bigger gears are needed to be competitive.

In marathons, which are more likely to have longer climbs and descents, a wider range of gears is needed to sustain ideal leg speed and bike speed over the long haul. Marathons tend to be held in mountainous terrain, which means longer and steeper climbs and descents. It can be less fatiguing overall to spin a low gear up a long climb before switching to a high gear to fly down lengthy descents.

Drivetrains

Fortunately, riders who use ROTOR’s Q rings have an advantage no matter what the discipline. Q rings help marathoners and cross country racers alike get the most out of each pedal stroke by optimizing when and how power is applied from their legs through the cranks and into the drivetrain. Whether you have just one bike or two separate bikes to set up to race cross country and/or marathon, you can’t go wrong using Q rings, and their design makes it easy to switch out chainring sizes to that which will best suit whatever your next event is.

Essential Tools For Your MTB Rides

Essential Tools For Your MTB Rides

No matter how well looked after your bike is, going on a ride without taking the basic tools and spares is a risk that shouldn’t be taken. There are currently many different multi-tools available on the market that are compact and lightweight, and in most cases will provide you with the correct tool to get you home. Here we will advise you on the basic tools needed for the everyday mountain bike.

1.Innertubes, tyre levers and puncture repair kits.

The number one spare. It does not matter whether you have tubeless tyres installed. A damaged tyre is, unfortunately, all too common, and no tubeless system will save you from a sidewall tear. Remember to make sure that it is the correct size for your wheel, and that the valve is compatible with your rims. To change an innertube, in most cases, tyre levers are needed especially with the more rigid tubeless tyres. Buy a good quality set, preferably not metal, as these can damage and mark your rims. Cheap tyre levers will break easily and will leave you stranded. A good set of self-adhesive patches will allow you to seal any tear or hole in the tyre before installing the tube. If you are planning on a short distance ride, then one extra tube will be sufficient. If you are planning a long ride, then take an extra one just in case.

2.Multitools

Together with innertubes, this is probably used the most during your rides. It can allow you to make small adjustments to your transmission, brakes or ride position and can also help you to tighten any number of bolts that can work loose during an outing, or replace a whole gear cable if need be. Choose a model that has the at least the following bits; Torx T25, 2, 3, 4, 5,6 and 8mm allen keys (this will allow you to tighten some pedals and crank bolts). Flat headed and Phillips screwdrivers. If possible with a chain breaker as well, as long as it is good quality. Remember that the more tools it has, the heavier and less compact it will be. This will depend on your needs. Always buy well known brands and the highest quality you can afford. Cheaper, lower quality units can break easily, or can damage the bolt heads you are working on.

3.Tubeless repair kit

Even if you carry a spare innertube, always take a tubeless repair kit with you. Most punctures can be repaired by the sealant in the tyres, but some are too large to seal and will need repairing. There are many options to choose from, and all are compact enough to take with you on a ride. Remember that the rubber strips used to repair the tyres can deteriorate in hot weather, and will be harder to use if they are. Periodically check the kit before rides to make sure everything is in order and nothing needs to be replaced. It is a good idea to practice repairing an old tyre, if you have one, as this will make the process much easier and quicker when on a ride.

4.Co2 Cartridges

Whether you have tubeless or not, Co2 cartridges will allow you to repair a flat tyre quickly and easily, with less effort needed than conventional pumps. Always carry at least two with you at all times, and the larger sized versions. It is also important to carry a release valve, to allow you to inflate tyres safely, and close it if any air is left in the cartridge. Like the tubeless repair kits mentioned above, practice using them at home before heading out, as they can be wasted if not used correctly.

5.Chain Quicklink

Another common repair is a broken chain. To be able to correctly repair one, you will also need a chain splitter to remove the damaged/broken links. Before purchasing, make sure it is 100% compatible with your transmission, both in speeds as well as brand. It is also important to install it in the correct direction (especially with 12sp transmissions). If you have never installed one before, look at the tutorials on the internet that show you how to install one correctly. The good thing about quicklinks is that they are easy and quick to fit, and allow you to get home, even with a shorter chain that recommended.

6.Chain splitter

To be able to fit a quicklink and repair your broken/damaged chain you will need a chain splitter. This could be already part of your multi tool, if not, then it is recommended that you carry one with you at all times. Invest a bit more in a decent model, or it will not last you long. Always check that it is compatible with your chain and/or transmission before purchasing.

7.Hand Pump

Even if you carry Co2 cartridges, a good hand pump is recommended to finish inflating your tyre to the correct pressure, or if you run out of air cartridges. Here the same principle applies, buy a good quality hand pump, even if it costs more, it will be easier to inflate to higher pressures. The size of the pump will depend on whether you will be carrying it in a bag or mounted to your bike. Obviously, the bigger the pump, the easier it will be to inflate your tyres.

8.Foldable knife

If you have enough space, it is good practice to take a compact foldable knife, which could be useful in certain scenarios. There are many sizes available, some which almost take no space up at all. If you are planning a multi day trip, and will be carrying more luggage, other models can include pliers, like the Leatherman brand. These can be very helpful in more complicated repairs.

9.Extras

There are small extras that are not exactly the tools that are sometimes needed. Plastic cable ties are always recommended, a spare gear cable, these all weigh little and do not take up much room, a small first aid kit with at least a disinfectant and latex gloves, a few plasters, and self adhesive patches as mentioned before, and always take some cash with you. We recommend to leave a small amount of money in your bag, this way you will always have it at hand in an emergency. Another idea is to carry with you a medical note of any allergies to medicines, or medical history that may be important to know in case of an accident, as well as blood type and emergency contact details.

Reasons to Train with a Power Meter on MTB

Reasons to Train with a Power Meter on MTB

At times it is road bikes that inherit technology from mountain biking and at other the opposite. Power meters have revolutionised the way professional road racers train, they have been offering their full potential for years in mountain biking too. At the end of the day, it does not matter what bike you own, you have to pedal, right? We explain why power meters are useful in mountain biking below.

Power meters are what heart rate monitor used to be a few years ago, and have revolutionized training methods, prioritizing the constant measurement of watts over heart rates. Power meters measure amongst other things, the amount of force applied to the cranks quantified in watts per pedal stroke. This measurement allows you to identify your maximum power output in watts, of which you can then calculate your percentage increases for your training and for competitions. The positives of using a power meter is being able to establish with precision what your maximum power output is. This number will give you your maximum power output and allow you to divide the training by the number of watts maintained during one pedal stroke. The output will also allow you to know in every moment whether you are working within the desired power parameters or if they are below expected. In this aspect, there is no reason why power meters should not be used in training for mountain biking.

The main difference between using a power meter on a mountain bike and a road bike is the cadence and the continual change of pedaling rhythm, gear ratio and incline. The pedal stroke of a road bike is usually continual and has a much more stable cadence and power output. It is quite common to have long periods of continuous cadence/power output. Due to this, it is much easier to obtain the optimal power output percentage during training and competition. In mountain biking however, cadences are usually much higher (bigger cassette sprockets are generally used) and the climbing gradients are also much steeper and unpredictable, making the force applied to the pedals much more varied and of shorter periods.

Nonetheless, the theory of using a power meter for training purposes, be it in mountain biking or road riding, is the same: Based on our 100% power output applied to the pedals, we can then calculate the percentages we want to train and compete with. In competition, we will have all the data values from the whole race so we can check whether we have reached our optimum outputs or not.

THE POWER METER INTEGRATED INTO THE AXLE

Taking into account that the chainrings or chainring on a MTB are much smaller in diameter than those of a road bike, the integration of the power meter is fundamental if we want to use it with guarantees. In this respect, the 2INpower / INpower models made by ROTOR, that are integrated into the axle, allow us to use them in conjunction with any chainring size and crank length. By being situated inside the axle, it is completely isolated from possible damage and dirt, something quite common in mountain biking. This type of system will not only measure the maximum power output at the maximum cadence, but also measure it at any point of the pedal stroke (360 degrees). On top of this, this system is compatible with older versions of ROTOR cranks using the UBB 30mm system. 

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

Using with a mountain bike with a power meter can allow us to train with more precision, much more so than using traditional methods such as heart rate monitors, and it will also provide us with detailed data captured during competition. Power meters are also compatible with most cycle computers using Bluetooth or ANT+, as well as other sensors you have incorporated into your training. The power output will also allow you to know in every moment whether you are working within the desired power parameters or if they are below expected.

It is very important to verify the compatibility of the system you purchase with the crankset / BB you have fitted to your bike before purchasing, and look for the system that is will offer the most protection from water, dirt, sand and other external elements that could potentially damage the unit.

How To Correctly Adjust Your Mountain Bike Suspension

How To Correctly Adjust Your Mountain Bike Suspension

Taking time to adjust your mountain bike suspension will help you get the most out of it on rides. Read on to learn how to set up your suspension. Our advice applies to both front and rear shocks.

SAG

The first step is to dial in the preload for your body weight so that you get the proper amount of sag when your suspension is loaded under normal riding conditions. There are two ways to make this adjustment, depending on whether your fork is air sprung or coil sprung.

For air sprung shocks, which are a majority of current shocks, first consult your shock’s manual for guidelines about how much air pressure to put into your shock. Then use a shock pump to add or remove air as needed until it has the recommended amount of pressure. Consider this a good starting point; however, further adjustments may be required.

For coil sprung shocks, also check the manufacturer’s recommendations for your rider weight, and then swap out coil springs as needed per this recommendation.

For both types of shocks, test your setting by measuring your sag. Push the rubber wiper or O-ring down against the shock’s seal. Then softy climb onto your bike, being careful not to make it bounce. It’s easiest to have someone hold your bike for you, but if no helper is available, you can lean against an adjacent wall or table for support and balance during this process. Next, stand up on level pedals and weight your bars and pedals like you would if you were riding in this position. Now gently climb back off and check how much displacement there was of the rubber wiper(s). Recommendations of 15-30% of sag are typical but vary depending on how much travel your shock has and what type of riding you’ll be doing. It’s best to check the recommendations for your specific shock(s).

If you set initial sag to be more than recommended, you’ll run out of travel relatively sooner and perhaps “bottom out” your shock prematurely. If you set initial sag to be less, you may not be taking full advantage of the travel your shock does have. It’s common for cross country riders to set up their bikes with less sag (percentage-wise of total travel) than downhillers since cross country riders tend to want to maximize pedalling efficiency and downhillers tend to want to maximize their bike’s ability to soak up bigger hits.

Compression and Rebound Damping

Compression damping is about how fast your shock compresses when loaded. This is often controlled by adjusting the size of the hole through which your shock’s fluid can pass during the shock’s compression. Many shocks have a knob for adjusting compression.

Rebound damping affects how fast your shock extends back toward full length as it’s unloaded. Just like with compression, many shocks have a knob for adjusting rebound.

Compression and rebound knobs often have + and – symbols on them. The + symbol indicates that there will be more damping (slower action of the shock to compress or rebound) while the – symbol means there will be less damping for (faster action of the shock).

The best way to test compression and rebound settings is to ride you mountain bike repeatedly over a fixed section of trail while trying out different settings with each pass to see which feel the best to you in conditions most like what you typically ride. Exact compression and rebound settings are a matter of personal preference.

In general, if you set damping too high, your shock(s) will feel sluggish and not responsive enough. Likewise, the opposite is true; if you set damping too low, your shock will feel too springy.

Effects of Temperature, Rider Weight and Time

When you initially set up your sag, do so while wearing a pack of equivalent weight to what you normally do so that your setup reflects real riding conditions. If you gain or lose significant weight, recheck your shock’s settings.

Because temperature and pressure are directly related, your experience of riding your shock will vary with temperature. You may need to re-adjust your settings if you take your bike out to ride in significantly colder or hotter conditions.

Over time, forks tend to lose air pressure, and damping knobs get bumped. Once you’ve found your ideal settings, write them down, then periodically check them for consistency. You may periodically need to add more air or tweak a knob slightly.

 

A Basic Guide to Road Bike Bottom Brackets

A Basic Guide to Road Bike Bottom Brackets

Your bottom bracket isn’t the most exciting part of your road bike, which makes it easy to ignore until something is wrong with it. However, it’s a very important part of your bike, so in this article, we tell you a little more about this essential yet relatively uncelebrated component.

What is a bottom bracket? 

Your bottom bracket connects your cranks to your bike in such a way that they can rotate freely as you pedal and put power into the drivetrain. It is located in the bottom bracket shell which is where your frame’s down tube, seat tube and chain stays all come together. A bottom bracket typically contains bearings that enable the crank’s spindle to rotate. Shell and spindle widths vary depending on the type of bottom bracket. 

What’s the big deal?

If your bottom bracket is working well, you can pedal smoothly with minimal resistance. That means the energy you apply to the pedals gets transferred efficiently to the bike.

Looking back over time, there have probably been as many different bottom bracket designs as there are bike brands; and some bike brands have even been known to come up with their own proprietary bottom bracket designs. 

Modern bottom brackets tend to come in two general types: threaded and press fit. 

Threaded bottom brackets

Threaded bottom brackets can only be used with frames that have a threaded bottom bracket shell. This is because threaded bottom brackets must be screwed into the frame. These bottom bracket’s bearings are typically held in place within cups.

What’s tricky about threaded bottom brackets is that not all threaded bottom brackets are  created equal, which means that different types of threaded bottom brackets can’t just be swapped for other types. 

For example, two common threaded types are Italian or English. Both sides of an Italian standard bottom bracket are right threaded; whereas English standard bottom brackets have opposite threading, like your pedals do. The advantage to the English design is that the drive side does not come loose through the forces of normal pedaling action like it tends to on the Italian version.

The good news about threaded bottom brackets is that they are relatively easy to install and maintain.

Press fit bottom brackets

Also known as threadless bottom brackets, press fit bottom brackets get, well, pressed into your frame’s bottom bracket shell instead of threaded in. They are effectively cartridge bearings pushed into the shell, and their design often allows thicker crank spindles, which some riders experience as stiffer and more efficient.

Some examples include BB90/95, PF86/92 and BB30. BBright and BB386. Special tools may be required to press the bottom bracket cups into your frame during installation and likewise to remove them again should you ever need to do so. 

Square taper bottom brackets

This once very popular type of bottom bracket combines the bearings of the bottom bracket and the crank’s axle together into one removeable part. The cranks affix onto two square tapers on either side of the bottom bracket.
Square taper bottom brackets are effectively a specific kind of threaded bottom bracket. They are frequently found on older, vintage bikes, but are still on some more contemporary bikes. 

What can go wrong 

When your bottom bracket is poorly adjusted, it may develop play or a wobble, causing less efficient transfer of energy from you to your bike. 

Another common problem is that when bearings get contaminated with dirt and water or wear out, there is more friction in turning the cranks, so it feels harder to pedal. Sometimes the bearings actually feel rough when you spin them; other times, you may hear and/or feel a click or two with each pedal stroke, especially under higher loads.

Maintenance 

It is important to maintain your bottom bracket. If you have a threaded bottom bracket, remove it periodically and refresh the anti-seize compound that keeps it from getting permanently stuck in your frame. 

And no matter what type of bottom bracket, check your bearings regularly to keep them running smooth. Loose bearings in some types of bottom brackets can been taken apart and cleaned and re-greased; whereas in cartridge-type bottom brackets, you’ll simply replace the cartridge bearings when they go bad.

You can make your bottom bracket last longer by carefully cleaning your bike. Never spray high pressure water directly at and around your bottom bracket as it will eventually penetrate seals compromise the integrity of the bearings.

Lots of different bottom bracket standards mean there are lots of different tools for installing and removing them. If you don’t have the proper tools and skills, you may need to take your bike to your local shop to help you fix any bottom bracket issues.