At Airdrop we like to practice what we preach, so let's have a look at how James has his new Edit v3 built up.
If you've been following Airdrop for a while you'll probably remember that we did a blog on James' Edit v2 back when he joined the company. It was the first in what's become a regular series of bike checks; some are interesting bikes we've built for customers, some for friends or other people in the industry. But the ones that really seem to garner interest are our own bikes. And since James played a big part in the development of the Edit v3, we thought it was about time we took a look at what he's riding now.
For anyone who doesn't already know, James is one half of the two-man-brand that is Airdrop Bikes. A Sheffield local, James grew up in & around Wharncliffe. After a few seasons in Whistler & Queenstown he found his way back here and has been doing most of the hard work at Airdrop for the past couple of years. If you've bought one of our bikes recently, chances are James built it.
Height: 6'2" or 188cm
Weight: 13st 6lb or 85kg
Years Riding: 13
Riding Background: I grew up pushing heavy bikes up short, steep hills (and riding them back down)
Riding Style: Techy, steep and chundery rough stuff
SRAM Code RSC with Guide Ultimate carbon lever blade
SRAM Centerline 200mm front, 180mm rear
WTB KOM i29 front, DT EX511 rear on Hope Pro 4 hubs
WTB Verdict 27.5x2.5 Tough High Grip front & Judge 27.5x2.4 Tough High Grip rear
SRAM X01 Eagle 1x12
SRAM XG-1195 10-50t
SRAM X01 Eagle 1x12
Truvativ Descendant Carbon 170mm
Burgtec Thick-Thin 34t
Burgtec Mk4 Penthouse Flat in Rhodium Silver
SRAM X01 Eagle
SRAM GXP Team
MRP SXG Alloy ISCG 05
Tyre Choice & Pressures
WTB rubber front and rear. both tyres have the tough casing and the high grip compound. I'm running the WTB Judge 2.4" out back which has been a bit of a game changer for me. If your'e not familiar with the Judge it’s a super aggressive rear specific tyre meant for mixing it up in big, gnarly & natural terrain. Its stiff casing, short side walls and aggressive shoulder mean it resists folding more than any other tyre I've ridden so it really holds a line well. It's definitely a slow roller and does require some extra effort on the climbs but it's worth it for the downs. Its not that often a product comes along that’s a massive step up but in my opinion this is one of those. As for the front tyre it’s a WTB Verdict 2.5" which is WTB’s stab at the cut-spike market. I love this tyre and I've been lucky enough to be running a pre-production one up front for the last 6 months, it loves soft loose dirt but still inspires confidence on firmer ground.
In the past I’ve been real blasé about tyre pressures and do still believe riders can get too caught up in minute details of setup rather than just getting on with riding. But working on the Edit v3 project demanded consistent tyre pressures and spoke tensions when working on the frame stiffness/flex so I now know what pressures I run haha. 28-30psi in the rear dependant on conditions and 25-26psi up front.
Rockshox Lyrik Ultimate with the new RC2 damper... the red ones! What's not to like - they're Boxxer Red! If only I could get hold of a set of red Code RSC calipers to match...
Over the past few years I've steered away from previous generations of Lyrik and Pike due to them having no external high speed compression adjustability, but now they do, so opting for this fork was a no brainer. I've been riding the new Lyriks for 8 months now and can confirm they work well. Plenty of support in the damper, the increased negative air from the new DebonAir air spring means super supple small bump and setting them up is real easy. I've had no reliability issues at all so a thumbs up from me. I did find had to run a much higher pressure than the recommended but that’s probably just a preference thing.
I've just got my mitts on an EXT Storia LOK v3. Just look at it! I'm a big motorsport fan so have been keen to get hold of EXT shock ever since they started producing MTB suspension. Let me tell you it doesn’t disappoint.
The shock setup is quite different to most of the more common MTB suspension manufacturers; the shock has a lot more damping which means you're depending on the spring to do a lot less of the work. What this meant for me is I actually dropped down two spring weights from a 500lbs to 400lbs. In terms of the range of adjustment I'm running very little damping which is in stark contrast to other shocks where I would typically run a lot more damping.
On trail the shock has quite a different feel to other brand's offerings; it's much more controlled and deals with impacts in a more calculated fashion, never unnecessarily using more stroke than is required. That translates into a more neutral ride and means you need to compensate less for any unwanted suspension characteristics. It just leaves you to crack on with riding. In my opinion it offers more cornering traction as it seems to remain more active through turns and off cambers.
I've only been riding the shock for a few weeks but so far so good. We're going to make the trip down to Monmouth to see Chris Porter and the Mojo crew to see if we can dial things in further before offering the EXT as an option on Edit v3 frames. Watch this space.
Typically I have always run a much firmer fork than rear end but on the new Edit I've been attempting to run a more balanced setup, still firmer up front but a little less progressive than previous setups. I think the support in the dampers has got much better of late so less need to compensate by filling the air spring with tokens.
I've settled on running 100psi with 2.5 tokens (just cut the third token in half), 4 clicks of high speed compression and only one click of low speed compression. 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 it's a little softer with around 35-40% sag on a 400lb spring. With the revised kinematics on the Edit v3 and the added damping of the EXT shocks I've dropped down from a 500lb spring on my old Edit v2 to a 400lb. As mentioned previously I'm at the lower end of adjustment running 2 clicks LSC, 4 clicks HSC and a relatively fast rebound - just 2 clicks.
Burgtec. I've gone all in! After a previous love affair with Chromag gear I've made the switch to Burgtec. I'm a big fan of the brand and honestly I just like repping their stuff, all the guys who work there are real sound, they’re a small rider-run business just the other side of the Peaks that share a lot of the same values we have at Airdrop. Biggup.
I like to run the front end pretty high, so the 38mm Burgtec RideHighs are spot on for me, I run the bars at the full 800mm width which is probably unnecessary but it's where I’m comfortable, a 35mm MK2 Enduro Stem and x3 5mm spacers underneath. For me the high front end makes sense as I prefer riding steeper terrain and I feel it makes pulling up for gaps and getting the bike on the back wheel easier.
As for contact points, I'm running the new Bartender Pro grips; I really don’t like gloves so I'm a bit picky with grips. I'm really into the ribbed/knurled/waffled combo. Sounds daft but really the ribbed section is somewhere nice to put your thumbs. I tend to run my brake levers on the flatter side but nothing too crazy and quite close to the grip as I ride with my hands overhanging the end of the grip. I like the levers biting pretty close to the bar.
Nothing too special here - SRAM X01 Eagle 1x12, Descendant carbon cranks and a 34t Burgtec chainring. I've been running this groupset for just over a year now and it hasn’t missed a beat. It shifts perfectly every time, just works well and is a pleasure to use so can't complain.
At first I was apprehensive about having such a long, expensive mech hanging below my rear axle but it hasn’t been an issue at all. The mech has taken a few knocks but it's solid.
Making the jump up to a 50t outer sprocket with Eagle allowed me to jump up a chainring size from 32t-34t which means I have a bigger gear at the bottom end of the cassette which helps on that end-of-ride dash to the pub.
Chain Device - Yay or Nay?
Yay. I'm well aware chain retention now is better than ever and I would say the X01 Eagle groupset I'm running is category leading in terms of its ability to keep that chain where it's supposed to be. However I'm all about running a guide. Dropping chains sucks and so does damaged chains and chainrings so to me it’s a no brainer.
The particular guide I'm running is the MRP SXG Alloy. For maximum chain retention and protection it’s the one to go for. A lot of my local riding is pretty rocky and features quite a few techy rock slabs and janky edges where a chainring clip is inevitable. With this particular guide I don’t need to worry about it. I've been running this guide now for 6-8 months with zero issues - it's silent, adds zero drag and it's bombproof. What more could you ask for?
SRAM Code RSC’s with carbon lever blades. Previously I had been running Guide Ultimates for the last few years which were flawless but fancied trying something with a little more grunt. The Code RSC’s don’t disappoint - loads of power and plenty of modulation. I feel like we are all riding our trail bikes a little faster now and on bigger terrain so running bigger, more powerful brakes just makes sense.
I switched out the alloy lever blades for the carbon ones off my Guide Ultimates which make all the difference in the cold weather especially when you hate wearing gloves.
Flats or Clips?
It has to be flats. If I ran clips, I would probably be disowned by friends & family. The Burgtec Penthouse Flat is my go-to. Built to last, easy to service and loads of grip. Simple.
Dropper & Saddle
170mm Reverb with newish style 1x remote running on Matchmaker clamps. I think Reverbs get a bit of online hate but I've never had any real issues with mine; it goes up and down when I ask it to, the lever ergonomics are spot on... Good seatpost! I'm a long legged fellow so 170mm drop was a step in the right direction but ideally I would like a 200mm dropper.
Currently perched on a WTB SL8, honestly I'm not that fussy when it comes to saddles, it works for me, it has carbon rails which is a bit bling. It’s a nice place to sit.
Tyre Inserts - Yay or Nay?
OK so it’s a bit of a sore subject for me, I don't really agree with the principle of tyre inserts. To me it’s a solution to a problem we shouldn’t really be having. And at best it's sort of a bodged fix instead of dealing with the true root cause of the issue being flimsy tyre carcasses and a dated tyre/bead interface that is no longer up to the job.
But yes I have succumbed to running tyre inserts and in full honesty they are mint. I went through a period of blowing up rims every 3 weeks so made the switch to a tougher rim, which then meant I just started breaking tyres instead of rims. It all got pretty tiresome and expensive so I decided to take the plunge. I'm running a set of Rimpact Sendnoodz; they're a small Bristol based company and are a fraction of the cost of some of the other brands. Although I'm not a rim insert connoisseur and don’t have a wealth of experience with other brands, I couldn’t really ask for more. They do exactly what it says on the tin, they offer rim protection, increase tyre stability and offer a little damping. For me the big improvement was that I was able to start running the tyre pressures I wanted, previously out back I had resorted to running tyre pressures up and above 32psi just to prevent burping and rim damage which wasn’t ideal. So yeah, thumbs up.
Anything You Would Change ?
Not really. If Burgtec ever did do some 38mm rise carbon bars I would buy those in a heartbeat or maybe some different cranks, I like the idea of running a set of profile cranks but that’s for no reason other than they are cool AF. Oh yeah and the new Sram AXS stuff, bikes that only have two hoses are the future, but would probably need to sell a kidney to get it.
That's a tough one. I'm pretty stoked on all of it to be honest. I think the new rubber from WTB is a winner for me. Hooks up a treat and keeps me out of trouble.
Any Secrets or Setup Tips?
Run what you brung! Or set and forget! What I mean is don’t get bogged down in the nitty-gritty and don’t obsess over meaningless details! It won't make you a better rider, just ride your bike. I have a real beef with this mentality that product will make you faster or allow you to ride tougher terrain spending more money on the latest and greatest won't make up for our own in adequacies. Get on with it and quit making excuses!
How Does It Compare To the Edit v2?
First things first, I loved my Edit v2. It was a mint bike and still is. So if you’ve got an Edit v1 or v2 then you're bike's still sick and I'm not going to tell you that you should be parting with large sums of money, but if you're in the market for a new bike and loved your old bike you're going to like this one even more.
For me the new Edit v3 is an incremental improvement in all departments. It does everything a little bit better than the v2 did. It's more stable and confidence inspiring to ride but more playful at the same time which mainly boils down to the revised geometry and suspension kinematics.
I'm not going to sit here and go hard on how this is the greatest bike ever made, as I'm not really comfortable blowing our own trumpet. But what I would say is I am super happy with the bike and I find it much easier to be super critical of my own work than others. I guess you need to make your own mind up but the v3 is something we're both pretty proud of hopefully others like it too.