We've a cracking Race Bike Focus to accompany your brew this week (as always). I'm extremely pleased to be able to bring you an opportunity to have a guided tour around the 2015 race bike of Gorrick series regular, current MTBO World Cup points leader and new European MTBO Long Champion, Emily Benham!
This bike looks rapid and is oozing with top-notch kit, so I'll leave you in Emily's capable hands as she gives you the exclusive tour of her Nakamura Grade 27 LTD... enjoy!
I'm not as lucky as XCO superstar Jolanda Neff, as to have a customised World Cup leader frame. But I am both fortunate and grateful my new Nakamura Grade 27 LTD bike arrived just one week before the European MTBO Championships begins [It's actually just finished... and Emily did pretty well! - Ed]. As the current World Cup leader in MTBO, I had been waiting for this bike all winter and spring, almost like a child at christmas. Here in Norway, bikes don't arrive until April/May as they won't sell until the snow has melted. This year, I was still fatbiking on snow in early May...
Nakamura is my first bike sponsor (although the bike is sponsored, the parts I have changed are not, they are chosen for their weight and my previous riding experience), and after riding this bike once I am immediately head over heels in love - in the language of emoji, I'm the face with hearts for eyes - and at ?.?kg [What... and spoil the grand unveil?? - Ed] with pedals and bottle cage, it's easy to see why!
The carbon frame tips the scales at 935g, but I am yet to strip the bike down and check this weight for myself as the 17" frame should be lighter. The frame is completed with matt black and orange paintwork, itself a thing of beauty. The frame is remarkably stiff and responsive, with direct power transfer to the pedals and thus the forward direction. This bike only does forwards. And it does it fast!
Up front the 100mm 'on the bike' stem has been swapped for a Nakamura own branded C4 60mm stem. With a slight negative angle, it's certainly not slammed like most pure XCO racers. In MTBO, having a low front end is not optimal due to the necessity to read the map clearly, and the unknown terrain and trails. A slightly higher than normal position gives better control and comfort when the terrain gets a bit tougher. Completing the steering, is a 710mm Mt Zoom flat handlebar weighing in at a slight 118g (a rather nice 26th birthday present from the 'rents). This was considerably better than the -8° negative sweep 660m Answer SL handlebars that came on the bike.
The bike is created to race Birkebeinerrittet in Norway. Fast. As a result the front end is fitted with C4 rigid forks weighing 530g. These will be changed to DT Swiss OPM 120 forks with 15mm thru axle, adding 1.06kg to the overall bike weight.
The 'go' power is provided by a set of fast legs, and an XX1/RaceFace combo. On the XX1 front, it's the derailleur, cassette, chain, and trigger shift. With the RaceFace takes charge with a spiderless crank. The bike came with a 36 tooth ring which was surprisingly easy to pedal uphill and on singletrack in the Einarittet XCM.
The cranks are 175mm, a small but noticeable difference to XX1 170mm length on my other bikes. A new bottom bracket is needed to make this change, but it will add weight to the bike. Tough call for a weight weenie.
The 'stop' power is provided by the new light weight Formula R1 racing brakes with 160mm rotors front and back. Attached to these are Stans 3.30 Ti hubs and Stans Valour 27.5 rims. Currently the tyres are set up tubeless with Schwalbe Thunder Burts, chosen for their seemingly frictionless roll and speed (and weight, weighing in just 1g less than the advertised 415g (yes, I checked!)). Racing Ralphs will be my tyre of choice for Portugal for the European MTBO Champs, thanks to some rocks with the potential to slit the TB's sidewalls easily.
The bike is finished with a Woodman seatpost, and the incredibly comfy C4 carbon saddle. The pedals: Xpedo M-force 8 ti, are, you guessed it, chosen for their weight. At 215g for the pair, it was an easy but costly choice.
A huge thanks to Emily for the tour of her new Nakamura Grade 27 LTD, and I think you'll all agree that it's got some pretty trick pieces of kit on there. So lets talk weight... well, the total weight in its rigid guise comes in at a very svelte 6.5kgs, throw on the amazing DT Swiss fork and you have a race ready 7.6kg rocket ship!!
This elegant looking rig has just carried Emily to second spot in the European MTBO (short) Championship, and then one better in the Long as Emily claimed the 2015 European MTBO (Long) title!
You can still check out the Q&A we did we Emily a few weeks back - A place beyond the Pines - and why not follow her progress via Twitter @Emily_Benham_