Four Things No One Saw At Crankworx 2023
If you just popped in to let me know that the cover shot of Tegan Cruz shredding isn't from Crankworx, well, I have news for you. It's not from Whistler either. That's Mt Prevost in May and the photo is from a SRAM media package that accompanied the launch of the new BoXXer 38.
In fact, the only photo below that's actually from Crankworx is the one that Deniz took of Knolly's MY24 one-piece shock linkage and all-bearing assembly. It's not the only photo from Whistler mind you - Morgan's shots of the latest Shimano Saint brakes are also from the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.
*Cover Photo: SRAM
Crankworx historically had something for everyone. Riding, racing, spectating, people watching, swag, and for the bike nerds amongst us there was generally some interesting fresh tech that would show up as well. I can't speak to how most of that stuff went this year because I wasn't there, but following the coverage, there really did seem to be a dearth of interesting new bikes and gear to be seen.
So, I went full Scott Templeton and made up a bunch of totally plausible stuff that someone could have expected to see at Crankworx 2023 based on years past.
"The Chromag Doctahawk is a bike for dickheads. And I mean that in the most affectionate way possible." - Tom Plum
With every other photo from Crankworx '23 featuring the newly launched 38mm stanchioned RockShox BoXXer, the one image that was clearly missing was a throwback dual-crown DH hardtail painted BoXXer Electric Red to match the fresh Ultimate fork. And clearly, the company to make said bike is Whistler hardtail brand and longtime SRAM partner Chromag.
Picture the stock Doctahawk with longer stays and then the 15mm of wheelbase adjustment via the Surface Voyager dropouts, but updated for UDH so it's compatible with the future T-Type DH drivetrain. Additional swap-outs for mullet compatibility, of course. And surely Brad Howlett would add some braze-ons for replaceable bolt-on bumpers for those gnarly gnashes when the fork meets the downtube.
When I heard there was a new BoXXer dropping I would have bet an Elizabeth* that there'd be a Chromag in the booth sporting one. Okay, so that would leave it open for a new Lowdown suspension bike sporting a 180mm dual crown, but we'd know that I meant a hardtail.
*I guess Twenty Dollars in Canuck bucks is actually a Charles now?
New Saint Brakes
I'm not sure when Shimano's Saint brakes transitioned from the status of 'don't fix what ain't broke' to 'didn't these used to be awesome' but it happened at some point. I'd still take them in a heartbeat over any other brake in Shimano's lineup, but there are easily a half dozen superior options on the market now. From mainstream options, I'd go Hayes, Magura, Formula, TRP, Hope, Hayes, or Formula over the Saints.
Hayes and Formula both get two mentions because in addition to their four-piston Dominion and Cura DH brake options, they have two-piston brakes I'd choose over Saint.
SRAM has fallen behind as well, selling the Code brake for DH use, but the pending release of their new big bike brake isn't exactly a secret. Guide brakes have already been rebadged as Level four pistons, so when the Code slots into the trail category everything will make sense again.
The rest of the Saint drivetrain is perfect for purpose. Change nothing! Well, actually, how about LinkGliding it for that super robust shifting up and down the stack? Since all LinkGlide products talk to each other that would mean the addition of a top-level derailleur option with a super-short cage and mid-cage option, as well as an above XT quality shifter for LinkGlide bike builds.
Yum. In my books, this is the most delicious new bike tech that no one saw at Crankworx this year.
AXS, Transmission, T-Type, at whatever level let's say you're so f*cking in on SRAM's wireless shifting options that you can't imagine riding a stationary trainer or beater bar bike that doesn't use batteries to carry the chain up and down the cassette.
In the name of establishing a dialogue, we could agree there is the odd application where cables may still be better. The example that comes to mind is reading about SRAM-equipped multi-day offroad athletes packing multiple chargers and a half dozen batteries to be sure that they're not single-speeding for days in the middle of somewhere.
You give me that one, and I'll admit that the one application where a bomber T-Type setup with ultra precise and super speedy shifting really makes sense, but doesn't exist, is on DH bikes. Tool-free cage swap a super short setup on there and write a program for seven speeds instead of twelve. Let's go!
The new GX T-Type derailleur architecture tucks the battery inside where it's hard to imagine it getting punched. Cage aside, the Transmission derailleurs do have a larger presence than the current DH options but the trade-off with Full Mount instead of a hanger and of course, showcasing the top end tech on the bikes of their fastest sponsored riders seems worth it.
Fox 40 Single Crown
When I heard that RockShox was going to be pumping a new 38mm stanchion BoXXer DH fork at Crankworx '23 I had this innate certainty that Fox would be showing up with an updated Enduro fork bumping their biggest single crown option right to forty.
No surprise here that I was wrong. At one time a couple of years back I bet a friend an Americano misto that Fox would go with a 36-DC (dual crown) rather than a 38-SC (single crown) and we know how that turned out - coffee was on me.
Am I the only direct mount stem loving and non-X-up-twerking mountain biker who still wishes we had Fox 36 and Lyrik 35 dual crown forks rather than the single crown Fox 38 and Zeb? I mean, as with other meaty questions in mountain biking I clearly am on the losing side of the DC Vs. SC culture war and need to move on. But I can't be alone here.
And there we have it, the Crankworx 2023 coverage that never was but could have been. A number of brands have told me they intend to have a much larger presence and some new releases for Crankworx 2024 so maybe I'll see you up there.
Or maybe SRAM will launch their vivid looking new DH air shock in July next year and I can use Crankworx content to lament how sweet it would have looked bolted to an updated Girvin Vector fork with one-piece legs, massive bearings in the links, a direct mount stem, and a 20x110mm DH thru-axle. Damn, that sounds rad, too.
Height - Steve Buscemi-ish
Wait - Patiently
Ape Index - T-Rex
Age - The same as DOS
Favourite Song(s) this week - I'm Your Man. Nick Cave (covering Leonard Cohen)
Favourite Colour - Cosmic Lilac
Bar Width - It depends
Reach & Stack & ETT - It depends
Crank Length - 175mm except when it's 170mm
Wheel Size - Hot For Mullets