December 23, 2020 13 min read

After a long development process and a lot of testing, find out how James has built up his own personal Edit v4.

Although the Edit v4 is new to market it’s been my everyday sled for the last 18 months. The Edit is my go-to bike, and represents our interpretation of what a modern all-mountain bike should look like. For me riding isn’t about chasing the clock. Its about days in the woods with friends, slapping turns, throwing shapes and big grins.

To me the Edit is the perfect bike for this: 'tweener wheels, dialled kinematics, a moderate amount of suspension, sorted geo and a focus on fun above all else.

I probably know the Edit as well as anyone, and for my personal bike this time I've gone all in on the build... Sheffield school of dentistry, sign me up! Building up this v4 was the perfect opportunity to build my dream bike so this is what it looks like:

James' Airdrop Edit v4

Rider

Age: 29

Height: 188cm / 6'2"

Weight: 82kg / 181lb

Years Riding: 15 years

Riding Background: Grew up pushing heavy bikes up short, steep hills on Sheffield's Northern fringes. Served time as a park rat in both Whistler and Queenstown.

Riding Style: Corners. I love a corner - best part of riding bikes!

James riding in Wharncliffe

 

Reach Adjust Headset

The development process for the v4 was the perfect opportunity to play with geometry numbers, in particular the reach. I tested bikes ranging from 460-505mm reach across three frame sizes and with reach adjust headsets. Sizing is without a doubt extremely personal and each setup had its pro’s and con's but for me this process just reinforced that the extremely long setups weren’t to my taste, in fact at 6' 2" I was surprised just how much I enjoyed the 460mm bike (that's a Medium) on the descents.

The outcome of the testing was that we made the Edit v4 Medium 10mm longer at 460mm, the Large 5mm longer at 480mm and the X-Large 5mm longer at 505mm. We're pretty confident that these are more in line with what customers had been asking or on the earlier Edit v3 and should distribute riders more evenly across the size range.

Reach Adjust Headset on James' Edit v4

For my personal bike I’ve settled on a size Large with a reach adjust headset (Works Components) fitted rearwards to give a 475mm reach. A lot of customers at my height are buying XL’s but personally I don’t really buy into the super long bike thing. The livelier nature of the bike suits me better, I prefer the increased feedback and I like feeling more involved in the ride, I don’t just want stability and a long wheelbase to keep me out of trouble.

It might seem odd that my own preference doesn’t reflect the stock configuration on the v4 however it’s probably fair to say my own preference is out of sync with what’s on trend and what most of our customers are looking for. And remember - a 475mm reach isn't exactly short. After the testing process, Ed's gone for the stock 460mm reach on the Medium - that's 10mm longer than his old bike. Andy's still puzzling. 

 

Wheelset

I’ve had a bit of an itch to scratch on carbon wheels for a while now. I haven’t owned any for the last 5 years and things have moved on considerably since then. I spent a great deal of time deliberating around hub and rim options and ended up settling on Reserve 30’s with Industry Nine Hydra hubs.

Santa Cruz Reserve 30 Rims

After a few months on the wheels I’m really happy with them. The super fast pickup of the Hydra hub feels almost instantaneous compared to my old Hope Pro 4’s. Ive never owned a pair of hubs with such quick pick up but it makes a massive difference on trail, especially when riding techy climbs, those tricky situation where you need to ratchet up and over something or just need a quick crank... the drive is just there.

Industry 9 Hydra Hubs

As for the rims they certainly have a different feel to alloy, it's instantly noticeable and hard to describe. I wouldn’t describe them as harsh but you definitely get more feedback through the bike, handling feels more direct and it's almost as if you have a more heightened sense of exactly what your tyres are up to. This more direct feel with increased feedback makes the bike feel snappier and more lively; something that suits my riding. With the carbon wheels you definitely need to pay more attention to tyre pressures, I guess more energy is put through the tyre so you feel more roll at lower pressures and with less give in the rim too much pressure can feel skittish.

I love the new wheels, the bike feels more playful and quicker to change direction, the instant pickup was something I had previously overlooked but is a bit of a game changer. The carbon wheels aren’t for everyone though, if you're looking for all-out grip and a forgiving ride then stick with alloy.

 

Tyre Choice And Pressures

WTB Verdict Light (slashguard) High Grip, 2.5" Front and WTB Vigilante Tough Fast Rolling 2.5" rear. Being honest previously the Judge has been my go-to rear tyre but as I've done a few more miles and the good weather has lasted a little longer I decided to go for a Vigilante rear this time round as a bit more of an all-rounder. So far so good, the vigilante rolls a little faster than the Judge so it doesn’t quite match up on grip in real tech terrain but it’s a great compromise. As for the front tyre the Verdict is my go-to these days. I run this tyre all year round in all manner of conditions. It just works. For pressures I'm running 25psi in the front and 28psi out back.

 

Fork

Rockshox Lyrik Ultimate C3. I'm on my third pair of Lyriks in a row now which I guess speaks for itself really. Since Rockshox released the RC2 damper on the Lyrik it’s been hard to fault them.

The latest C3 version has received an update to the air spring meaning the fork now rides much higher in its travel and there is no need to compensate for an overly eager negative spring with increased pressures. The continued improvements Rockshox bring to the Lyrik year on year means in my mind it’s a no brainer to buy Lyriks. They offer class-leading performance, solid reliability, servicing and spares is a doddle. And they're Red.

 

Shock

I'm running an EXT Storia Lok v3. This is the only component I brought across from my old bike and for good reason. After spending almost 18 months on the EXT there really is no going back. In terms of damper performance and ride feel the EXT is in a league of its own, for sure it’s an expensive shock but worth every penny.

EXT Storia Lok v3

 

Suspension Setup

I've settled on running 87psi with 2.5 tokens (just cut the third token in half), 1 clicks of HSC and 6 clicks of LSC. I've got the rebound set on the faster side but nothing crazy, just enough to keep the fork riding high through trail chatter.

Out back a little firmer than my previous setups, with lockdown and working from home I moved a bit of timber this summer and as the weight dropped off I kept the setup the same and actually grew to prefer the firmer setup. I'm currently on a 400lb spring at 33% sag (1/2 turn preload) with 7 clicks HSC, 8 clicks LSC and 7 clicks of rebound. The EXT isn’t like other shocks in that it uses its stroke in more calculated manner allowing you to really dial in the chassis shape you're looking for. It allows you to just crack on with riding without haven’t to compensate for an overly active shock.

 

Cockpit Setup

It’s a Burgtec affair yet again. If it ain't broke don’t fix it. Alloy ride-high (38mm) bars, 35mm Mk3 Enduro Stem and Bartender Pro Grips.

Burgtec Cockpit Setup

I'm a fan of a fairly high front end, so the high rise 38mm Ride wides are spot on for me. The bars are cut to 780mm, this was something I decided to try out late last year after running bars at the full 800mm width for the last few years, I see no drawback to the slightly narrower width so will continue to run 780’s. I'm running the new 35mm Mk3 Enduro stem which other than being a feast for the eyes is touch lighter than the old stem and takes care of keeping my bars attached to my forks, the 35mm length is spot on for me on a large frame and combined with a short offset fork allows me to easily weight the front end.

As for grips I’m sticking with Bartender Pros yet again. These days they are my go-to grips. The Bartenders work well in all conditions be that dusty sweaty palms or saturated and muddy. I feel they offer a good blend of damping vs feel. I'm a big fan of the single collar too and the ramped end, I'm gloveless and tend to ride with my hand right at the edge of the grip so this works well for me.

 

Drivetrain

I’ve gone all in. No cables for James. I’ve been lusting over AXS since its launch but have been struggling to justify the price especially when my old X01 mechanical group set was flawless. But building the new bike was the perfect excuse.

On shifting duties XX1 AXS Mech and shifter paired with a 1299 XX1 10-50T cassette and chain. For cranks I went with the New X01 dubs in Oxy Red in 170mm length with 32T chainring. FANCY!

SRAM X01 Eagle Carbon Crankset

I've been riding the AXS now for a little over 4 months and holy cow it is good. The hype is real. For sure it’s incredibly expensive but in my opinion definitely worth it. I think its very easy to take the opinion that “I cant justify spending that much on a derailleur, what happens if it hits a rock” or “why would I want electric gears, what if I run out of charge”, I was kind of in that camp beforehand and it's probably easier to talk yourself out of it than into it. But having lived with AXS now for a few months riding mechanical groupsets feel archaic and hard work. It's one of those products that once you’ve had it there is no going back. In terms of shifting the button press actuation is effortless and makes the long throw of a mechanical up shift feel like hard work, down shifts are instantaneous - much faster than a mechanical mech in particular in shitty conditions. Setup is easier, no cables to route, no cable stretch to adjust. The battery lasts longer than expected for me around 6-7 weeks of riding 5-6 times a week. So in a nutshell, performs better, easier to live with and best of all no cables.

I decided against going for the new 10-52t cassettes and stuck with my tried and trusted 10-50t, this was partially down to only being able to get hold of cranks with 32t ring rather than 34t and also because for the riding I do 10-50t works for me. On top of that my common-sense brain couldn’t make sense of such a big step up from 42t to 52t in terms of both shift performance and being a massive jump between gears.

SRAM XG1299 Cassette

As for Cranks after a lot of deliberation I went for the X01 Carbons. Being completely honest I don’t think carbon as a crank material really makes sense, but there aren’t in my mid any good premium alloy cranks available and running XTR’s with SRAM drivetrain would be sacrilege, I would love to have got hold of a set of Cane Creek EEwings but after going pretty hard on the rest of the build they were too much money. Anyhow back to the cranks I did buy, 170mm X01’s in Oxy Red with a 32t ring. At the time of purchase I was pretty gutted not to be able to get hold of the cranks with a 34t ring and I still do think it’s a let-down that the crank is only offered after market with 32t ring... god damn 29ers. But I think it worked out for the best, with lockdown in place I've done more riding than ever this year and I'm a bit fitter than normal, the 32t ring means I spend more time in 42t cog and very rarely use the 50t. I'm hoping this means I get a little more life out of my expensive chain and cassette. The 32t ring also means I’m able to run the bash guard on my MRP SXG chain device in the higher position creating a little more ground clearance for those janky rock rolls.

 

Chain Device - Yay or Nay?

Yay. Chain retention on modern groupsets is better than ever and for 99.9% of my riding I wouldn’t drop a chain without a guide however dropped chains ruin descents and for added piece of mind with minimal penalty, why not?

I run the MRP SXG, with the shorter upper guide. Due to the way the lower slider/cradle is designed you get retention at both upper and lower without any drag from a pulley but still maximum retention. A full lower slider ensures my chain and chairing are protected for those inevitable silly mistakes. The guide is silent, adds zero drag, never requires adjustment, is hard as nails and looks tidy. It’s a proper fit-and-forget product.

 

Brakes

Code RSC’s with 200/180mm rotors. This is my third pair of code RSC’s now. I love 'em and in my mind they are the best brake currently available. Loads of power, excellent modulation, easy to bleed, reliable, great ergonomics - what’s not to like? My only gripe is no carbon lever option for those cold gloveless winter days.

I run a 200mm rotor in the front and 180mm out back. For the riding I do typically quite short but steep UK descents there's no need for bigger discs. Plus I ride a lot of really techy, janky stuff and have found with the bigger discs out back it's pretty easy to clip them and bend them out of shape.

 

Flats or Clips?

What are clips? It's always flats for me. Burgtec Penthouse MK5 flats. The platform's a little bigger than the MK4s and a little more concave so a bit grippier. Your foot sits a little further away from the crank too which I like. Best pedals out there.

James Riding in Wharncliffe

 

Dropper & Saddle

200mm Reverb C1, I would like to have gone AXS and ditched an extra hose however with AXS only available in 170mm I decided to stick with the mechanical option. I had expected that 200mm would be the magic number for me but I still find myself reaching for the QR to drop the post further on the rowdier descents (and with the lower standover on the edit v4 I can do that). It seems the only downside of a steeper seat angle is a requirement for extra drop. For me personally I think its going to take a post with around 250mm drop for me to not want to drop it further.

Currently perched on a WTB SL8 in the narrow width, which works really well for me. Firm but still comfy for big days.

 

Tyre Inserts Yay or Nay?

I had planned to try and avoid inserts for this bike. My opinion on inserts still remains the same, they are a solution to a problem that shouldn’t exist. If I could avoid them I would, for sure they make sense for racing formats and tyre-peeling DH bikes but for my everyday bike it seems overkill.

Not running inserts lasted about 2 months though before I gave in. A few punctured tyres was enough to reinstate the inserts. My local riding is pretty rocky so the inserts really aid on protecting the tyre from pinch damage. With that in mind I’m trying out what I see as the least insert possible: CushCore's XC insert just in the rear, it doesn’t offer as much sidewall support as a full CushCore Pro but my aim is just to gain a little rim protection enough to stop me damaging tyres in normal riding scenarios.

 

Anything You Would Change?

For now nothing, if someone was to release a 250mm dropper would snap that up in a heart beat. Fingers crossed for 250mm AXS Reverb in the near future.

 

Favourite Components

That’s tough, I went all out on this build, these are all exactly the components I wanted. I couldn’t name a favourite, but I would say the hubs are pretty special, I didn’t expect the quick pickup to make such a difference.

 

How does it compare to the v3?

If we are talking about the frame alone it’s pretty close to the v3. After all the v4 wasn’t a ground up redesign, just an update. In terms of ride for me the biggest change would be the one-piece rocker, which is noticeable, it stiffens the rear end up considerably and on trail that translates to a stiffer and a more direct feeling, it's easier to reap the rewards of your own inputs in particular through turns and off cambers. With the reach adjust headset fitted I’ve actually kept the same reach number as my previous v3 so fit-wise my bike feels very familiar.

In terms of the way I built this bike in comparison to what my old v3 had evolved in to the two bikes do ride very different. And it’s been a reminder to how much the selected build kit can affect the ride characteristic.

My previous v3 was built slightly heavier and I had upped the fork travel to 170mm as well as running a slightly softer spring rate out back, the wheels were also alloy, and I was running a much lower spoke tension. Over time that bike had evolved into a ground hugging, confidence inspiring, grip monster that did lose a little bit of its zip through my own choices.

James Crossland in Wharncliffe

In comparison my v4 is slightly lighter, the one piece rocker laterally much stiffer, the carbon wheels again are laterally stiffer, I’m running the forks at 160mm and have gone up a spring rate out back. Although all these changes on their own are marginal, together they make a big difference. My v4 is much livelier, direction change is quicker and the whole bike feels more responsive and fun. I think the setup I’ve arrived at now better suits my riding than the previous bike.

 

Full Bike Spec

Frame: Airdrop Edit v4 size Large
Colour: Hand polished with Red Chrome custom decals
Forks: Rockshox Lyrik Ultimate 160mm, 37mm offset
Rear Shock: EXT Storia Lok v3 with 400lb spring
Headset: Cane Creek 40
Stem: Burgtec Mk3 Enduro 35mm Reach, 35mm Clamp, Black
Handlebars: Burgtec Ridehigh Alloy 38mm rise, 780mm width
Grips: Burgtec Bartender Pro
Seatpost: Rockshox Reverb 1x C1 200mm
Seatclamp: Chromag quick-release in purple
Saddle: WTB SL8 Carbon
Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
Rotors: SRAM Centerline 200mm front, 180mm rear
Wheels: Santa Cruz Reserve 30 on Industry 9 Hydra Hubs
Tyres: WTB Verdict Light High Grip 2.5" / Vigilante Tough Fast Rolling 2.5"
Rear Derailleur: SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS 1x12
Cassette: SRAM XG-1299 10-50t
Shifter: SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS 1x12
Cranks: SRAM X01 Carbon Oxy Red
Chainring: SRAM Narrow/Wide 32t
Pedals: Burgtec Mk5 Penthouse Flat Black
Chain: SRAM X01 Eagle
Bottom Bracket: SRAM DUB
Chain Guide: MRP SXG
Modifications: Hand-polished raw alloy frame with raw prototype rocker
Weight: 32lb

 

 

James Crossland
James Crossland

James grew up in Sheffield and Wharncliffe is his local. He spent a few years guiding in NZ but now he's back, helping with all things Airdrop.


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