Theo rides a carbon fibre YT Industries TUES. A successful racing bike, seeing its second consecutive SA Champs win (last year under Pottie) and a number of World Cup wins by Aaron Gwinn. The Trails Crew. A passionate group of riders who spend their time building and shredding trails around the Cape. If you haven't heard of them, it's definitely worth checking out their work. And some motivation to "SEND IT!!" on the top cap from the guys at cSixx.
Converted from coil to air.
The winning number.
Evidence of a trip to Morzine.
Theo has converted his RockShox BoXXer fork from a coil to an air spring to get his preferred feel. He enjoys his shock, a RockShox Vivid, to be coil spring for better small bump sensitivity and to avoid overheating on rowdier trails.
The drivetrain is a bit of a mix and match. A SRAM X0 derailleur conducts gear changes across a 10-speed cassette via a SRAM X9 shifter. An E-Thirteen LG1 Plus crankset with a 36 tooth chainring is powered by Shimano DX pedals. A cSixx 9 Gravity Guide keeps the chain in check.
Theo is particular about his braking, prefering the tried and tested Avid Code brake set to SRAM's newer Guide brakes.
For South African Champs, Theo fitted Maxxis's DHR II tyres front and back. He elected to go with the downhill casing variants for better puncture resistance on the rocky Hartbeespoort track with cSixx FOAMO inserts to further prevent snakebites and rim damage. While Theo does prefer carbon wheels, he rode these trusty aluminium DT Swiss YT 2020's at SA Champs with great success. Specifications
FrameYT TUES CFForkRockShox BoXXerShockRockShox VividWheelsetDT Swiss YT 2020TyresMaxxis DHR IIShifterSRAM X9Rear DerailleurSRAM X0 DHChainguidecSixx 9 Gravity GuideCranksete-Thirteen LG1 Plus with 36T chainringCassette SRAM PG-1070ChainSRAM 10-SpeedSaddleSDG I-SpyHandlebarRaceface AtlasGripsODI RuffianStemRaceface AtlasBrakesAvid Code with 200mm rotors
The Rider's Perspective:
Frame: YT industries TUES Carbon Fibre XL I could go on for ages about the frame, angles, lengths, kinematics, etc. But give it a thought, Aaron Gwin dominates the World Cup scene on his YT, both last year & this year’s SA champions won on YT Tues. Maybe, just maybe, you could go out on a limb, and say it’s a good bike. Having a championship proven, world-class bike that is cheaper than anything else comparable on the market is a very, very rare combination in any industry. YT is without a doubt the best value when it comes to buying a downhill bike.Fork: RockShox BoXXer One of the best forks I’ve ever had. Technically the fork shouldn’t work as it originally came with a spring, not an air cartridge. I rode it for a while with a spring but hated the feel, so I wanted to put in an air cartridge. However, once you ride it with the spring, it scratches the inside of the stanchion, and they say you can’t run the air cartridge. But I managed to get an old model air cartridge lying in the back of the Cape Cycle Systems's warehouse and put that in. Somehow, I really don’t know how, but it has worked like a dream. I’ve serviced it maybe four times in the two years, and it’s been absolutely bomb-proof, never failing on me. However given the choice, I’d run a Fox 40 air purely for racing in Europe. I’d like to have the increased adjustability in settings and stiffness, as the tracks are so much more demanding. That being said, for riding in South Africa, I think a Boxxer is sufficient for most people. Rear shock: RockShox Vivid Another component of my bike that has surpassed my expectations. In 2 years of abuse, I’ve only serviced it once and it has never given me any issues. I favour coil shocks as I prefer the small bump sensitivity and, when racing in Europe, air shocks can heat up too much on long runs and jeopardise performance. Additionally, with the introduction of the new generation of lightweight springs, there is less incentive to run air shocks. I don’t currently have a titanium or that lightweight orange Fox spring but I would love to run one given the opportunity. Brakes: The OG SRAM Code brakes My favourite component on my bike and the one I am most picky about. Bought second hand in poor condition. Cape Cycle Systems completely redid the internals for me and gave them a second life. My bike originally came with Guide brakes, but I didn’t feel they had enough stopping power, given my weight and riding level. To put it euphemistically, I didn’t like them. The Code brake has a more powerful calliper, which is needed for competitive downhill racing. I am extremely fussy about how my brakes feel. Lever reach as far out as possible, they must bite as early and tightly as possible and each side must feel identical. I run the SRAM brand organic compound pads and wouldn’t run anything else. I’ve tried knock off brand pads and hate them. 200mm SRAM rotors, but I can’t wait for SRAM to start making 220mm rotors. Tyres: Maxxis DHR 2, DH casing (Front and Rear) Another component on my bike which is hugely important to me. I love the feel of the Maxxis tyres, I love the compound and predictability of the side knobs. My ideal combination is a DHF on the front and a DHR on the back. However, I ran DHR’s front and back at SA Champs because they were the only fresh tires I had left. Depending on the nature of the track that I’m racing, I switch between the Double Down and DH casing. Due to the harsh rocks in the SA Champs track, I chose to run the DH casing to reduce the probability of a flat. But if certain tracks allow for it, I run the double down, as it is lighter, and the rotational weight of the wheels makes a significant difference to the feel and speed of the bike. The importance of tyres is hugely underrated. Formula 1, Moto GP, etc., spend millions on tyres for a reason, it’s critical. Don’t think mountain biking is any different. Your tyres are your only point of contact with the ground, therefore the way they feel, makes a huge difference to your riding. Fresh tyres make the world of difference. Chain Guide: CSixx 9 Gravity Guide Really stoked with it, I’ve smashed it on rocks and things so many times, and it’s still holding up. Thanks to the new clutch derailleurs, they can now ditch the jockey wheel and just have a shark fin guide on the bottom, enabling the guide to have full protection with no drag. I’m running the metal one because the custom carbon one they made for me went missing at a Dawn of the Dirt after party. Whoever stole it, Jonty Human is looking for you, and not happy with you. Haha. But there’s a new proto carbon one, with custom colours, waiting at the cSixx office to be put on. The weight reduction on a carbon guide is so obvious, with almost no downside. Carbon is always the first choice. Having a local company, keen to test and develop their products with you, is hugely helpful to both parties. Wheels Set: DT Swiss YT 2020. Also known as DT Swiss FR570 rims. My favourite aluminium rims that I’ve ever run. In terms of DH aluminium rims, I wouldn’t use anything else and highly recommend them. A tip, I run brass nipples, they are a bit heavier, but they are more durable. Aluminium nipples are lighter, but I break spokes too easily. With brass nipples, I almost never break spokes. However, if I could run carbon rims, I would. The weight reduction in rotational weight and increase stiffness is one of the most noticeable and advantageous upgrades you can do to your bike. I would put ‘upgrading to carbon rims’ at the top of your list of things to upgrade on your bike, especially your trail bike. And don’t be silly and buy cheap *** carbon rims, because they will break, and you’ll be angry. Buy some decent quality cSixx ones, with good post-sale warranty support. You get what you pay for. And on that note, if you have carbon rims, always be aware of your tyre pressure. Check it before every ride as tyres always slowly leak air. If you run silly low pressures, don’t be angry when you break them. You won’t believe how much better your bike will feel with light and stiff rims. Rotational weight reduction is the most important and valuable weight reduction you can do to your bike. Additionally, because of the stiffness of carbon rims, they don’t flex, and your spokes don’t get loose over time, meaning you don’t have to constantly tighten spokes to keep your rims true. After testing their proto carbon rims the whole of last year, they are updating and developing the new ones for more testing. They should be on my bike soon. Tyre Inserts: cSixx FOMO’s, Double-ply (Front & Rear) Jo'burg tracks have some of the most unforgiving rocks I’ve ever ridden. It helped hugely to run double ply FOMO's front and back. It reduces the chances of dinging your rim or cutting your tyre, which was a huge risk racing there. Tyre inserts are one of my favourite innovations in recent years, simple, but a game changer. I’ve been running FOMOs in my DH bike and trail bike since cSixx first started prototyping them. Handlebars: Raceface Atlas, 812ish mm wide, not sure exactly My dad CNC’d some homemade bar extensions because I wanted wider bars. I’d still like to go wider, maybe 820mm, but the Jo'burg track was too tight to have wider bars. I’ll put 820mm bars on for racing in Europe. I actually don’t really like the sweep and feel of these bars. I usually run cSixx carbon bars, but had to take them off when I rode Darkfest (for obvious reasons). I much prefer the feel of the cSixx bars and swear by them. Carbon bars are so good at dampening the vibration of rough tracks and were hugely beneficial when racing in Europe on the rough tracks. Don’t be hesitant about carbon bars, yes they can snap, but that’s usually because the person using them was being a plonker. If you treat them right, they won’t just snap out of the blue. I’ve had the same pair of cSixx carbon bars for over a year and a half now, no issues. Drivetrain I’ll pretext this with, I believe the derailleur is the worst most outdated component on bikes today, and I cannot wait for a discontinuous innovation to replace it. Having a fragile little arm hanging at your back wheel is just silly. It’s just so vulnerable. The weight of the whole cassette and derailleur on the rear end of the bike hinders the suspension performance drastically. I have no idea how they are going to innovate the drivetrain, but I can’t wait for the day. (No gearboxes are not the solution yet). Derailleur SRAM X0 That being said. This new XO derailleur is another favourite component on my bike. Most people wouldn’t know this, but the new generation derailleurs have a horizontal parallelogram, as opposed to the diagonal parallelogram of old derailleurs. If you always have issues breaking derailleurs, I highly, highly recommend upgrading to a horizontal parallelogram derailleur. I used to break about 4 or 5 derailleurs a year with the old models, but with the new ones, I’ve broken 1 in the last 2 years. Also a sneaky trick, I run a pedal spacer in between my derailleur and the hanger, I found this to be hugely helpful in not breaking derailleurs, and it helps it not to rattle loose over time. Cassette I have a 10-speed cassette but would run a much smaller one if possible. I don’t ever use the first four gears. Having a cassette as light as possible just means less weight on your rear end and an increase in suspension performance. Chainring: E-Thirteen Unfortunately, cSixx haven’t made one that fits my bike, but are in the process of doing it. Shout out mountain biking industry for having a million different types of chainrings. Cranks: E-Thirteen By a country mile the worst component on my bike. I highly recommend not buying them. Saddle: SDG I-Fly Another component I cannot recommend buying. I’ve snapped two seats already, and find them horribly uncomfortable. Grips: ODI Ruffians Not my favourite, but they’re alright. Prefer the old Ruffians but they stopped making them. Pedals: Shimano DX Favourite pedals to run. I like a ton of float in my pedals and with the adjustability of the DX pedals, I can have them nice and loose. Secondly, they are hard as hell. I’ve smashed them on rocks insanely hard so many times and they always survive. The only issue is, after a year or so the start deteriorating and develop a lot of play. I wish Shimano would sell a service kit for them. Lastly, Upkeep If I’m in Cape Town, I get my bike worked on by Clint Elliot at The Bike Park at Constantia Uitsig. If I’m Stellenbosch side, I go to BMT bike shop. This is for a reason. Don’t buy the best bike in the business and then let monkeys work on your bike. The best components in the business can’t be good if they aren’t maintained properly. Proper service of your bike is as important as the components on your bike. Please drop any questions in the comments and I’ll do my best answer them.