Gee Atherton’s Trek Session 29er | GMBN Pro Bikes

Gee Atherton’s Trek Session 29er | GMBN Pro Bikes


– We’re here today at
Whistler checking out Gee Atherton’s Trek
Session 9.9 29er race bike. (lively synth music) (rocks rumbling) At the heart of the
bike is the carbon-fiber front triangle, which is very similar to the 27.5-inch model
Gee previously raced. Out back is the alloy rear-end, and they’ve had to just
change the configurations just to get all the geometry just right. But surprisingly, it’s
only the third generation of the bike it’s taken to get this, and this is the same model that you can actually get now in the shops. So out back, you’ve got the ABP, Active Braking Pivot design, which means it’s very active under braking, so Gee can get the maximum
amount of suspension while still having to
hold it on the brakes. And it’s running a 200-mil Travel via Fox X2 shock, at the moment. You might be surprised at
that ’cause Gee has been running a coil shock,
but recently he’s been quite experimental with the
air shock and really likes it. He’s got good base settings and he kind of varies between two or three clicks of compression rebound either way. And the only real adjustment he’ll make is in the volume spaces just
to suit different courses. So at the front on Gee’s bike, he’s running about a 63-degree head angle. It’s the stock up in this. They can be adjusted to
make it slack or steeper but that’s pretty much the
base set that he runs from. And say approximately 63
degrees, it does depend on how he’s running the
forks in the crowns. Sometimes he’s gonna drop ’em down. Sometimes he’s gonna run it the other way. His bar height pretty
much remains the same. It’s a 50-mil stem and it’s a 785-mil bar. Doesn’t tend to roll it
too far back or forwards. It’s fairly neutral on
the bike at the moment. Up front on Gee’s 29-inch race bike, of course, there’s a Fox 49 fork. They’re starting to become a little bit more commonplace these days and something else that’s
really cool on here we spotted is the new RAD Damper design on this. This takes care of high and low speed compression with a single dial. It may or may not be something you see in the future from Fox. So transmission-wise on Gee’s bike, he’s got a Shimano Saint system on here. Up front is 165-mil
crank, and he’s running Crankbrothers Mallet DH pedals. For those of you that
want to know, he’s running his cleats at a 15-degree setting. He runs it really far back on his shoes. That’s a 36-tooth chain
ring with a Shimano Saint top and bottom chain guide, and it’s got a bolt-on bash plate here. It’s a seven speed
cassette and it’s 11-24, and he runs his clutch on. So a roll in stock on Gee’s bike, he’s got Bontrager Line wheels, DH 30 rims, so that’s a 30-mil internal size. He’s running these tubeless
with Bontrager G5 tyres, and obviously, that’s the 29-inch version. He’s running them at 29 psi in the rear and 27 on the front, and he’s
got Bontrager sealant inside. So front-end rear on
Gee’s bike, he’s running Shimano Saint brakes with 203-mil rotors. Interestingly you’ll see he’s got a vibration damper on the rear brake here. And we can ask Gee a little bit about that to find out how it affects
the braking on the bike. And another cool little custom thing on Gee’s bike is the Shimano Saint levers. He’s had his mechanic actually
bend the end of the lever out because he likes to just come off the end of the lever sometimes. Doesn’t always want to
be hooked in on that really small lever they normally have. Finally, you’ll notice
on the bike, it’s got a PRO Tharsis 9.8 saddle
and seatpost combination. Gee likes to run this as low as he possibly get it without having to suffer excessive tyre
buzz under full travel. Okay, so we got Gee Atherton
with his pro bike here. Just gonna find out a few more finer details about his setup. Obviously, this being
a 29-inch wheel bike, and it’s only really come
into fruition this year, I wanna know a little
bit how about you came to transition from the 27.5 to this bike. – Well, it happened quite quickly, really. I mean, we were testing early season, focus on the 27.5 bike. The guys at Trek had the idea of the 29 and it was kind of on a back burner, and then as soon as we
had that initial test and realised how good
it was, and how quickly we were getting on with it, suddenly, the whole project kind of snowballed, got pushed forward, and suddenly it was on for the start of the race season. – And it was pretty much straight into a carbon frame from
what I can make out? – Yeah, I mean, the guys at
Trek were really passionate about the whole race side of it. They didn’t just want to bring us a bike. They wanted to bring us a bike that we could race and do well on. So, going straight to carbon was key to that and it seemed to work well. – And how did this setup
transition vary for you? Obviously, the 29-inch wheel thing, you’ve got a fairly low BB
height, and the whole dynamic of the bike is quite different to 27.5. – Yeah, the jump when
we went from 26 to 27.5 was almost like we just altered the wheel size and that was it. And jumping from 27.5 to a 29,
literally everything changed and that was quite difficult because the geometry was different, the suspension was different, the way the bike worked was different. You had to adjust nearly
every single thing on the bike to get used to it,
and that was quite a big jump to make and still try and ride fast. – And how did the bike actually
feel when you first got it, compared to that smaller wheel size? Could you feel the instant speed benefits, or was it a case of it was
literally faster on the clock? – It wasn’t so much that it
was a lot faster on the clock, it wasn’t I was suddenly
knocking big chunks off, but it was the ease with
which the speed came. I was comfortable on the
bike within a couple of runs. We were going the same speed
we were on the previous bike on an aluminium mule that
wasn’t really set up, you know? We saw straightaway that the
bike was quick and we saw straightaway that it was gonna work well. – And it was just a case of fine-tuning it then and getting things in place? – Exactly, yeah, it’s all
a case of making yourself comfortable on the bike and learning what the bike does and what works and what doesn’t work from
your previous setup rig. – [Doddy] So do you make many adjustments to your damping and your
air pressure and stuff? – Yeah, we play with it quite
a lot, specific to the tracks. Sometimes you’ve got quite a flat track. There’s a lot of peddling. Everything gets firmer. The bike kind of levels, if
you like, suspension-wise. And then, you know, you get
to a steeper, rougher track and you need the bike to sit down more and the front to hold you up more. You play with the rebound
to do with the heat and the temperature of
the place you’re riding. If the tracks got a lot of
big hits, sometimes you’ve just gotta really ramp the
pressure of the fork up and lose that small bump sensitivity, so it all kind of depends
on what you’re riding. – And do you think that
a lot of that comes from ride feel and your
expertise as a rider? Or how much of that has come from the data acquisition equipment that you guys use? – It’s a combination of everything. We work a lot with Fox early season to get a good base setting so you’re going into the World Cup
season with a setting that you can go back to
and always revert back to. But, at the same time,
we have, like you say, data acquisition at the World Cups. I work with Polish Pete, my mechanic, and we really kind of fine-tune
those small adjustments. It’s all about getting the bike balanced, whether it’s firm or on the softer side, you need it balanced, you need to know exactly that the front is gonna match the rear. – Amazing, and I just
wanna know a few things about your actual setup on a bike. I noticed that you bend your brake levers. What’s the story of that? – Yeah, I just tweaked the ends of them. It’s quite a curve on
the end of the lever, and I like to be able to just slide the finger on and off the lever easily. Sometimes, you need to just
let go of the brakes and– – So you don’t always cover your brakes? – Not always, no. (laughs) – Now, that’s commitment for you there. And, out back as well, so that’s a braking damper, is that right? – Yeah, that’s right. It’s basically to take the
vibration out of the rear brake. You know, sometimes without
it, it’s not a positive feel so, you know, with that
vibration damper on, it really gives the brake a sharp feel, really positive and you really know when you lock the brake on. – That’s Gee Atherton’s pro bike setup. Hope you enjoyed the video. If you want to see an epic ride here at Whistler, click right down here. – And if you want to
watch the Atherton’s HQ behind-the-scenes video, click down here. – Don’t forget to subscribe
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