This is my personal bike. I spend a lot of time testing new things and trying out different setups, so I don't always have my 'own' bike and the spec tends to change, but right now this is what I'm riding. And I love it.
Considering we've only really had one frame until the recent launch of the Bitmap, we've built a lot of very different bikes over the past couple of years. I guess it's testament to the versatility of the Edit v2 as a platform, and it's been fascinating to get a real insight into how different people like to ride and what spec works for them. But I also get asked what I would recommend, so I thought people might be interested to take a look at my own bike. Or at least, how it looks right now. As I say, it's part of my job to stay in touch with new developments and try out different things. If we're going to offer something for sale, then either me or James (or both of us) need to have ridden it so we know what we're talking about. So this is my bike in it's current specification and I'll try to give a bit of detail as to why I'm running it this way.
I'm the owner and founder of Airdrop Bikes, and 50% of the workforce. Well, 33% if you count Obi, but he mostly lies on the sunny patch of the floor and eats anything he can get his paws on, so he doesn't count. I grew up in the midlands but moved to Sheffield 17 years ago, so this is home. I have two kids who are five and one, and I live just up the road from our workshop in the middle of Sheffield.
I set up Airdrop Bikes a couple of years ago after leaving a career as a designer in the outdoor industry and a short stint as a marketing manager in the bike industry. If you're interested in the back-story of how I set up the company, you can read a bit more about that here.
Years Riding: 22
Riding Background: Started riding properly in '96 on a rigid steel Orange with canti brakes. Ridden all sorts since then, raced a bit but my preference is riding in the mountains. Don't mind a hike-a-bike.
Riding Style: Shoddy, lacking both speed and style
Ed's Bike Spec
As I say, this spec can change over time, but as a snapshot, this is how I'm running my own bike right now.
Airdrop Edit v2 in Medium
Raw with black decals
Cane Creek Helm Air 160mm
Cane Creek DBcoil IL with 450lb Valt Lightweight Spring
Hopetech Stainless ZS44/56 in black
Raceface Turbine R 40mm reach, 35mm clamp
Raceface SIXC DH Carbon, stealth, 35mm diameter, 800mm originally cut down to 760mm
Ergon GE-1, black
Rockshox Reverb 1x, 150mm, 30.9mm
Thomson SC-E104B in black
WTB Volt Team with ti rails, black-on-black
SRAM Guide Ultimate with ti hardware
Hope Floating Rotor 180mm front & rear, black
Hopetech Pro 4 35w with stealth decals from Invisiframe
WTB Vigilante 27.5x2.3" tough high grip front & Trail Boss 27.5x2.25" Tough fast rolling rear
SRAM X1 1x11
SRAM X1 XG-1180 10-42
SRAM X1 1x11 Trigger
Truvativ Descendant Carbon 170mm
SRAM Direct Mount 32t
Chromag Contact, black or Shimano XT Trail
Hopetech Stainless, black, with Hopetech adapter
MRP 1x v3 ISCG05
Replaced original Cane Creek shock bushings and hardware with Enduro Max needle roller bearings. All hoses and cables wrapped with electrician's heat-shrink sleeves. Stealth rim decals supplied by Invisiframe.
It's the Edit v2. Obvious really, but I've also been riding the Bitmap prototypes a lot in the last year, and something else which I'm not going to tell you about! The Edit v2 is my main bike for sure, because it's so versatile. I'm riding regularly in the Peak because I can ride out from home, but I've ridden this bike in Scotland, Wales and on a Backcountry Pyrenees trip all in more or less the same spec you see here. I'm 5'9" and the Medium fits like a glove. For me, the raw finish is the one. I love that every frame is a little bit different and it shows off some of the fantastic work that's gone into making these frames.
I've been a big advocate of the Cane Creek DBcoil IL since the day it came out. In fact this one I have on my current bike was one of the first in the UK; I originally bought one just to test the idea of running a coil but the performance has been so good it's never left my bike since. It was on my previous Edit v1 and moved over to the v2 when I built it last year. So far I've had zero reliability problems. I'm 73kg and I run a 450lb spring with virtually no preload dialled in. I could probably also ride a 400lb spring with 5 or 6 turns of preload, but I prefer it this way. Previously I was running a Cane Creek DBinline and I calculated that the coil shock with spring added 265g to the weight, but that has made no difference whatsoever, and the performance gains have been so worth it.
I spent a lot of time working on a base tune for this, not least because we need to specify a tune for the shocks to come with out of the factory. What I settled on is:
High Speed Compression: 2 Turns
Low Speed Compression: 12 Clicks
High Speed Rebound: 2 Turns
Low Speed Rebound: 12 Clicks
It's a middle-of-the-road kinda tune and that's not surprising given that the Edit's kinematics were designed spefically to make it work well with a range of shocks. As a frame it's sufficiently progressive to run a coil shock without bottoming out too much. I find that the Climb Switch works really well when I use it, but that's not often - only when I'm winching up a steep road climb or on wide-open fire roads. What you lose in pedalling efficiency, you more than gain in traction so on technical climbs, I leave it off.
Working with Cane Creek is always good; they're so supportive of small brands like Airdrop and they make everything easy. Nothing is too much trouble and unlike some of the bigger brands, you feel like you're able to work with them. I'd had such a good experience with the DBcoil, when they announced the Helm fork I just ordered a sample immediately. Previously I had been running Pikes and Lyriks, so the Helm fork had some big shoes to fill.
Out of the box, my first impression was that the Helm is a beatifully made bit of kit. Whereas some forks these days have a distinctly mass-produced feel to them - you can see perhaps where a few cents have been saved on top-caps and so on - the Helm felt like a quality product. And aesthetically it matches up really nicely with the rear shock, which is something that's important to me. Part of me will always be a graphic designer I guess.
Once installed the Helms felt incredibly plush right from the start; it takes very little force to get them moving. The fact that you can independently manage pressure in the positive and negative air chambers is a real bonus; I ended up with 65psi positive and 70psi negative which just helps the fork to start moving that bit more. In terms of stiffness, there's nothing to choose between these and Lyriks; they're direct and unflustered even smashing through rocky sections. Initially I felt that they were rebounding way too fast and I ended up dialling off all of the rebound damping. I suspect that's more a reflection of my lack of talent on the bike than a fault in the fork though a faster rider would probably feel more comfortable with them int he middle of the range.
When I built this bike up we had GX Eagle 1x12 drivetrains in stock, and of course I could have chosen X01 Eagle if I had the money. But we had one X1 1x11 drivetrain left over and I felt that it would be hard to sell now that GX Eagle was out. So I put it on my own bike. It's flawless in function and to me at least, the spread of gears is fine. No doubt I'll say the same when I eventually upgrade to Eagle. My only gripe is that when set up with MMX clamps, I can't get both the shift levers where I want them. The X01 trigger shifter allows you to move the thumb paddle closer to the finger paddle which is more comfortable for me.
I run Truvativ Descendant Cabon cranks on this bike. There are one or two areas of the bike where I decided to treat myself a bit, and this is one of them. At the time the cranks were on offer so I was able to afford carbon where I'd normally run alloy. Does it make any difference? Probably not. But for what it's worth, these cranks are lovely. I run them with a Hopetech Stainless BB with a GXP adapter. I've used Hopetech BBs and Headsets for years and years, never with any problems.
To finish things off I fitted an MRP 1x v3 chain guide, the same one we fit to the Edit Coil build. I'm not convinced I necessarily need a chain guide, so good are these drivetrains at retaining chains these days. But it's light and unobtrusive, so why not?
A couple of years ago I managed to get a set of Guide Ultimates for a good price. Even so, I had to push the boat right out - I wasn't paying myself anything at that time. But boy are they worth it. The best brakes I've ever had, by miles. They've been on a couple of bikes since then and they're just as good as ever... powerful, subtle and consistent. You can adjust them even way you want. I used to run my levers away from the bars and brake with two fingers, but with these I brake with one finger, run them about 30mm off the bars with the contact point about 5-10mm in. I also really like the feel of the carbon lever blade - it's just really comfortable. I have Hopetech 80mm floating rotors fitted, mainly for aesthetic reasons. If I built the bike again, I'd go for SRAM centreline rotors with a 20mm up front.
My original plan was to use the Joystick Binary 35mm stem and Analog carbon bar which comes in my preferred 760mm width. But at the time, Joystick were messing us around and weren't able to supply anything for months. So what I ended up with is the Raceface Turbine R stem with a SICX carbon bar cut down from the standard 800mm. They're both well made and subtle, which is what I like. I've got 3x 5mm spacers under the stem which has no rise, and the bars 20mm rise.
A word on Burgtec: at this point it's worth mentioning that since I built this bike up, we've started working with Burgtec (more on that later) and if I was to build a bike today I'd undoubtedly go for the Burgtec Enduro Mk4 stem and RideWide carbon bar.
The grips I use are Ergon GE1. I'm not entirely sure I like the way they look; the ergonomic shape make the bars look like they have an odd upsweep right at the end. But what I do like is the way they feel. They're not too wide, and that ergonomic shape makes a big difference to me. I used to get an ache on the outside of each hand on long rides, and these grips have eliminated that.
I run SRAM Matchmaker clamps on both sides which cleans everything up nicely. That's something we do on all the bikes we sell; it's just one of those small touches that can make a big difference.
Wheels and Tyres
I've used Hopetech hubs for years and they've never let me down, so that was a no brainer. I went for the new 35w rim as soon as they came out, but my first reaction when I took them out of the box was that they really are wide. Maybe even too wide. Or perhaps that's just the old-school XC rider in me having a moan. What I worked out pretty quickly though is that when they're on the bike, that extra width gives the tyres a much squarer profile and it all makes sense.
We do a lot of work with WTB. It's just one of those few companies that is willing to really support a small brand - much like Cane Creek and Burgtec in that respect - and they make bloody good tyres. I'm not sure that WTB is first in everyone's mind when it comes to tyres, but to me they're excellent. I tend to change them around a bit depending on the time of year and the trails, and that's probably easier for me to do since we have the workshop here. But for Summer conditions, the Vigilante up front gives tonnes of grip and Trail Boss is fast out back.
We set up all our bikes tubeless and of course that's what I'm running. Typically 24-25psi front and 22-23psi rear. We spec the tough casing on all the tyres which does come at a bit of a weight penalty, but you just don't get punctures. I'm running the high grip compound on the front which is that little bit more sticky, and fast rolling on the back. Perfect for dry, dusty trails but in the Winter I'd have another Vigilante on the back for better traction.
I've changed that original 2.25" Trail Boss out for a 2.4" now. The wider tyre gets on better with the wide rim. Note the stealth rim decals - I bought them in from Invisiframe just to make the look a little bit more subtle.
Flats or Clips?
How about both. I used to ride flats, then I went to clips and I've been riding with Shimano XT Trails for ages. In the last couple of years I've been making an effort to ride flats more, particularly on gnarlier trails. So I have a set of Chromag Contacts for that, which are mint.
Any Secrets or Setup Tips?
There's not a lot going on here that's not immediately obvious, but I have made one or two little tweaks. When the original Cane Creek shock bushings wore out, I replaced them with Enduro Max needle roller bearings, so there's virtually no force required to get the rear suspension moving at all. The plushness is unbelievable. It probably wouldn't make sense to fit them from new, but when stuff wears it they're worth looking into. I've also used electrician's heat-shrink sleeves to wrap all the cables and hoses together. It was a royal pain in the ass to do but the result is super clean, runs silent and there's no cable rub anywhere. I normally run a Fabric careless water bottle which I love, because it allows me to ride without a hydration pack. But I did just lose that bottle somewhere in Wales so not any more.
Anything You Would Change?
We always ask that but I'm going to have to keep my cards close to my chest on that one. We're always developing new stuff and it's a big part of my job to make sure it's all good. I'm pretty certain that everything about this bike will change over time.
I run a 150mm dropper but with about 25mm of seat post showing so I should really have had a 170mm. I've got some red RC2 Lyriks on order because I want to know how good they are, and if I could get hold of those red Code callipers I would... Mainly because it would make James insane with jealousy. And also because 20-odd years ago, I used to lust after Red DX v-brakes but never managed to get any :-( Whenever I've ridden X01 Eagle I've been blown away by how nice it is, so I'd like to Eagle-up at some point.
Most of the bikes we sell these days are custom builds. They're not all like this one, but that's kinda the point. Whatever it is that you want or need, I'm sure we can build something to suit you. The result will be a bike that's uniquely yours. Now that we've got both the Edit full suspension frame and the Bitmap hardtail, there are two platforms to build on. So if you're interested in looking at a custom build, why not give us a shout and we'll be happy to help.
A word on stock: As I write this today we have every size and colour of Bitmap frame, and a new shipment of Edits leaving the factory. Within a month or so we'll be fully loaded, so if you want a new bike, now's a great time to start the process.
Ed is the owner of Airdrop Bikes. A former web and graphic designer, he sacked off his job one day and decided to start up a bike brand.
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