by Ed Brazier September 18, 2018

Brett came to us with an idea for a custom built Bitmap hardtail a few weeks back. First time out he won a Northern Downhill Series race on it, so we thought we'd take a look at this unusual but clearly very fast bike. 

OK so we realise that bike don't win races; riders win races. But bikes help... Brett is a supremely talented rider and it's testament to his skill that he was able to beat dentists on very expensive carbon Enduro bikes. But Brett's Bitmap is built exactly the way he wants it. He's a professional trails rider by trade so he knows exactly what he wants in a bike and his bikes aren't always conventional - take a look at his Edit build here or the one-off Edit Dual we built for him to race (and win) the Howard Street Dual. 

Brett Penfold racing the NDH Eastgate TT Image courtesy of Lewis Gregory @lewisgregoryphoto

The Northern Downhill Series TT at Eastgate is a DH style race designed for Trail and Enduro bikes. So you can race it on pretty much whatever you want. It's open to 110 riders total and as with all the NDH series races, it was a packed field and a really well run race. Brett took the win in the 19-29 category as well as posting the fastest time overall at 2:00.82 (full results on Roots & Rain).

Brett wins the NDH Eastgate TT

Like a Pro: Brett remembered to rock the Airdrop Organic Logo tee for the cameras.

Brett's custom Airdrop Bitmap hardtail

When we do a bike check we normally ask the same set of questions - it's a good way to get a bit of insight into the rider, their bike and the reasoning behind their build decisions. So let's hear what Brett's got to say about his Bitmap:

Rider

I’ve been a Professional Trials rider for the past 11 years. I use the term "pro" loosely as I’m pretty past it compared to the young guns, but I’m lucky enough to get paid to ride my bike so let's roll with it. I’m from up North in Durham, about 45 minutes from Hamsterley Forest which is my local. I ride for 3SIXTY Bicycle Stunt Team, which is a bunch of mates travelling up and down the country doing stunt shows at summer events and touring schools getting kids into bikes.

Age: 28
Height: 6ft
Weight: 81kg
Years Riding: 14ish
Riding Background: I've ridden trials for as long as I can remember,. Started MTB in 2014.
Riding Style: Pretty harsh I'd say

When I build a bike, I often think "I'm spending all this money, so let's make it as bright and as stand-out as possible." But this time round I've gone for a really stealthy build with the odd pop of colour and I couldn't be happier.

Frame

I've been riding an Edit since 2016 and loved every second of it, but every now-and-then you feel the need for a change and a fresh steed to cock a leg over. Enter the Bitmap...

Airdrop Bitmap Frame

Winter is coming so a hardtail is perfect for some winter thrashing and really gets your skills back after growing lazy on a full bouncer. I'd normally go for a Medium frame to keep the standover height to a minimum but the Bitmap has a fairly low standover height so I've got for a Large to give me a bit more room for comfort on the longer distance rides. 

Fork

Why did I choose the Cane Creek Helm? For no other reason than to try something new. I'm the type of rider to just jump on a bike and get used to it. I look up what sort of pressure I should be running for my weight, reduce the volume as much as possible and ride it. I've never been one to think "maybe if I add a few clicks of compression, that will feel better." As long as they ramp up, I'm happy. That being said, they do feel super plush straight out of the box and the quality & detail is second to none. The stealthy black & gold decals are a nice touch too.

Drivetrain

A bit of a mash-up here. I've has the Saint cranks since pert much day one of my MTB riding. That's 4 years of abuse so what more could you ask for in a crankset? (touch wood). Shimano XTR rear mech and shifter - again they're 2 years in - so far so good so no need to change.

XTR Drivetrain on Brett's Airdrop Bitmap

The Sunrace cassette and Burgtec chainring are new to me so it will be good to see how they wear but they both look the part and the KMC X11SL gold is a chain I've always run, purely for the pimp factor. The Fund Zippa Lite guide and bash is just a nice, neat little setup. They're both separate so it also allows you to run one or the other. Hope bottom bracket - can't really go wrong with that.

Brakes

Magura MT7. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with these. Take your time with the bleed, and they're awesome. Rush it and they'll have your tools thrown across the garage! The four-finger lever blades changed to one-finger blades give a much better modulation and feel to the lever.

Magura MT7 Brakes on Brett's Airdrop Bitmap

Cockpit

I'd normally run carbon bars but let's be honest: hardtails are rough. So I've gone back to alloy for this build, purely to give that little bit extra flex that carbon doesn't give. Burgtec are a brand that I haven't used in the past but they offer some lovely kit.

Burgtec RideWide bars on Brett's Airdrop Bitmap

I'm running a RideWide Alloy bar (uncut) with a Chromag BZA 35mm stem which I already had. I'm running quite a low front end at the moment. Just 2x5mm spacers and a 15mm rise bar. This may change slightly as I get to know the bike but it's feeling good for now. I love the feel of the Santa Cruz Palmdale grips so I run them on all of my bikes and find that they work well with or without gloves.

Wheels and Tyres

My first set of Ridge Components Carbon rims stood up to over a year of abuse and exceeded my expectations massively, so I had no doubt about ordering another set. 35mm width gives a nice profile on the tyre and setting them up tubeless is a doddle. I love a good buzz from a hub so I went with 120 points of engagement, and it had to be Industry 9. They come in a wide range of colours and I've been running these for a while now with no problems at all.

Industry 9 Torch hubs on Brett's Airdrop Bitmap

I hadn't used Schwalbe tyres until now but I have no plans to change. I have to have a tough tyre that doesn't fold and Schwalbe DH and SG casings seem perfect. It's a super depressing time admitting that winter is here so I like to run a semi-slick out back for a long as possible. I'll probably change to a Magic Mary when that time comes. I run Schwalbe ProCore in the rear for added protection.

Flats or Clips?

Flat's always! Maybe this has come from my trials background but I can't think of anything worse than being clipped in. If I get down a trail with less than 5 feet-off moments, it's a very rare occasion. So I'll stick with my flats. DMR Vault Brendogs are the pedal of choice on all my bikes. Nice wide platform and I run the 'moto' pins on the inside and outside, which gives tonnes of grip.

Any Secrets or Setup Tips?

Hmm not really. Setup is personal preference so build it how you like it and give it some abuse! Oh and chain guides are a must on a hardtail.

Anything You Would Change?

Now that I've built the bike and ridden it, I wish I'd gone for a 170mm dropper. Saying that, I don't think Fox offer a 170mm and I love Kashima so 150mm it is. The Magura MT1893 special edition brakes look delicious. Maybe Santa will be kind.


Brett's Bitmap Spec


We supplied Brett with a custom bundle including Bitmap frame, forks, headset, BB, seat post and bars so that he could finish off the bike with parts he already had.

Frame: Airdrop Bitmap in Large/Grey
Colour: Grey with black decals
Forks: Cane Creek Helm Air 140mm with black & gold decals
Rear Shock: n/a
Headset: Hopetech Stainless ZS44/56 in black
Stem: Chromag BZA 35/35mm
Handlebars: Burgtec Ridewide Alloy 35mm clamp, 800mm width, 15mm rise
Grips: Santa Cruz
Seatpost: Fox Factory Transfer Kashima 150mm 30.9mm
Seatclamp: Airdrop CNC Bolt-Up
Saddle: WTB Hightail with Ti rails
Brakes: Magura MT7
Rotors: Magura Storm HC 203mm front / 180mm rear
Wheels: Industry 9 Torch hubs, Ridge Components Pro 35mm Carbon rims laced with Pillar Aero spokes
Tyres: Schwalbe Magic Mary DH 2.35" front, Rock Razor SG 2.35" rear with ProCore inserts
Rear Derailleur: Shimano XTR M9000 11 speed
Cassette: SunRace MX8 11 speed 11-40t
Shifter: Shimano XTR
Cranks: Shimano Saint
Chainring: Burgtec Thick-Thin 32t black
Pedals: DMR Vault Brendog
Chain: KMC X11-SL Gold
Bottom Bracket: Hopetech Stainless in black
Chain Guide: Funn Zippa Lite Guide & Bash
Modifications: n/a
Weight: 'Solid'



Ed Brazier
Ed Brazier

Ed is the owner of Airdrop Bikes. A professional designer for 12 years, he sacked off his job one day and decided to start up a bike brand.


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