James is the 'other' member of staff at Airdrop. With a background in DH and a lot of bike park laps under his tyres, his custom built Edit v2 is unique. So we thought we would kick off our new series of bike checks with a look at James' bike.
Whenever we do a particularly sweet custom build - and if we have the time - we like to put something up on the blog about it. Other customers are always keen to see what we can do with bikes and with an almost infinite array of components to choose from, we've put some sick bikes together. But what's sometimes missing is the insight into why people choose to build their bike in a certain way. So James gives us the lowdown on his bike and how it came together.
Hailing from the 'happy valley' a.k.a. Stocksbridge (that's North Sheffield and definitely not Barnsley) he spends most of his ride time in Wharncliffe but has been lucky enough to live in both Whistler and Queenstown.
Height: 6' 2"
Years Riding: 12 Years
Riding Background: Downhill
Riding Style: Techy steep and chundery rough stuff
My bike's a bit like Trigger's broom. I ride a lot so things wear out. And now that I'm working with Ed at Airdrop, things need to be tried out & tested. But this is the spec I'm riding right now.
Stan's Flow on Hope Pro 2 Evo rear, Hope Tech Enduro Pro 4 front
WTB Vigilante 27.5 tough high grip rear, WTB Convict 27.5x2.5 tough high grip front
SRAM X01 1x11
SRAM X01 1x11
SRAM X01 1x11
Truvativ Descendant Carbon
SRAM direct-mount 32t
Burgtec Penthouse mk4
SRAM GXP Team
34lb / 15.4kg
Tyre Choice And Pressures
I'm a big fan of the WTB rubber! Currently running a 2.5" WTB Convict up front and a 2.3" Vigilante out back. Both tyres are the softer compounds (high grip) and I always run the tough casing. I’m not too worried about rolling speed and spend most of my time riding greasy steeper stuff so thick sidewalls and soft rubber always help. As for pressures honestly I have no idea, I give my tyres a squeeze before I head out and try not to worry about it too much, think its real easy to get sucked in to being too critical of minor details.
I've always been a coil fork guy, previous to this Cane Creek Helm I was running a Marzocchi 350 NCR Ti. Loved it, it was bulletproof however with the demise of Marzocchi and lack of spare parts was time to retire the old girls.
So out with old & in with the blue. Everyone loves a bit of blue.
I was initially attracted to the Helms due to the independent air spring setup, this meant I could set them up with a fraction more negative pressure than positive for that 'can't believe it's not butter' coil feel.
After a few months on the Helms I'm pretty blown away. The Helms offer a lot more support than the rest of the current crop of top tier forks, they really reward being ridden hard. For me the more progressive spring curve and firmer damper setup really suit how I setup forks. I'm sure this isn't for everyone but I love it.
I'm currently riding a Fox DHX2 coil spring with climb switch, good shock goes well! In all honesty I went for this shock because I wanted to try something different, it had been a while since I had owned a Fox shock so there wasn't real any better time.
I'm 5 months in with this shock now and couldn't be more stoked on it. The shock completely transformed the bike; it just hugs the ground now and offers a lot more traction somehow without losing that playful feeling.
I run a pretty imbalanced setup - firm in the front and softer out back, good for trucking!
I always run my fork real progressive, to the point that I hardly ever use full travel, hate the feeling of the front end diving. Last thing you want riding steeps. So up front super progressive but supple in the beginning stroke.
Out back a lot softer, I’ve always been a big fan of coil shocks and their more linear feel and superior small bump sensitivity (they look cool too). I’m running a 450lb spring right now but realistically would like to jump up to a 500lb. Run very little low speed compression and but a boat load of high speed to avoid harsher bottom outs. Tend to run the rebound on the quicker side too, I ride slightly off the back so faster rebound seems to keep the shock from packing down through repeated hits.
I have a massive soft spot for Chromag gear - its got bears on! I always run Chromag bars & love the sweep. I remember being pretty conscious of running carbon bars first time but really like the feel and had my previous set of BZA’s for 3 years with no issues. So it's plastic bars all round on my bike these days.
I run the front end pretty high, x3 5mm spacers, short 35mm stem and 35mm rise bars. I find having a higher front end makes it easier to pull up and as I said earlier prefer riding steeper stuff so high front end makes sense.
As for contact points, im loving the DMR Deathgrips, I have a passionate hatred for gloves so this grip works well for me. Sounds daft but really like the ribbed section somewhere nice to put your thumb. I tend to run my brake levers on flatter side but nothing too extreme and like the levers biting pretty close to the bar.
Nothing too special here. Sram X01 1x11 and Descendant cranks. I've had this groupset for 3 years and it's never skipped a beat, still as good as the day it came out the box (I think). To be honest I want an excuse to buy Eagle but just cant kill the X0 so it's here to stay.
Guide Ultimates. In my opinion the best brakes ever; had them 3 years like the groupset only bled them once still feel awesome. Cant say enough good stuff about these brakes. Carbon levers too stop my fingers getting cold in winter.
Flats or Clips?
Always flats for me, I like to dangle a leg off from time to time. I get clips if you're racing but for me flats are more fun. Burgtecs are always a no brainer simply because they don't go wrong.
Dropper and Saddle
150mm drop Fox Transfer performance (couldn’t afford kashima L), with 1x style remote. Super light action - goes up and down when I ask it to - not sure what else I can say. Been perched on WTB Volts for the last 5 or 6 years; this one's been on my last 3 bikes. She’s a little rough around the edges now but a great saddle.
Anything you would change?
Probably a longer drop post, I've got pretty long legs and with a 150mm drop post I still have to use the QR clamp and drop the post in the frame to avoid being pecked in the ass. I've been eyeing up the 200mm drop 9point8 Fall Line for a while now.
And maybe some new rims. Having non-matching rims upsets me, probably something around 30mm Internal and alloy from WTB. I previously had a love affair with carbon rims but since getting back on alloy I have to say I prefer the feel. Carbon rims can fell harsh on the rough stuff. Maybe it's all in my head, but still.
All of it! I'm pretty stoked on all the components to be honest.
Oh no! In fact my Chromag seat clamp. I've had it for six years and it's dreamy to open and close. At the time I remember thinking this is too much to spend on a seat clamp. But probably the best 30 quid I ever spent.
Any Secrets Or Setup Tips?
Hmmmm... always organic brake pads. Don’t be cheap! Sure they don’t last as long but who cares. I like stopping.
Also I always run 3 or 4 layers of tubeless tape, have found building up the rim with tape cuts down on burping tyres.
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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