WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5, 2023
Luke Meier-Smith’s first major international race with the Giant Factory Off-Road Team was one to remember. Here’s a detailed look at the bike that he used to win the first-ever UCI Mountain Bike Enduro World Cup race.
The first round of the new Enduro World Cup series took place in Tasmania, taking riders through the eucalyptus forests of the Maydena Bike Park. It was a demanding day with six stages covering a total distance of 54km. With 1200 meters of climbing and 3000 meters of rugged descents, bike and gear setup played a major role in rider results.
Luke was aboard the new full-composite Reign Advanced Pro, running a mixed wheel setup with a 27.5-inch rear and 29-inch front. He chose a Fox Factory DHX2 coil spring shock for the Maestro rear suspension system, giving him 160mm of smooth rear travel. Up front, Luke ran a Fox Factory 38 fork with 170mm of travel.
For race day, Luke went with a Maxxis Minion DHR2 Test Pilot rear tire with the DH casing and MaxxGrip compound. He ran the 27.5-inch rear at 28 psi tire pressure. For the 29-inch front wheel, Luke chose the Maxxis Assegai 2.5-inch tire, also with DH casing and MaxxGrip compound. He set the front tire pressure at 24 psi.
From the lightweight and super-stiff chassis to the fully adjustable geometry and Shimano XTR drivetrain and brakes, everything on Luke’s new setup worked flawlessly throughout the day, giving him the performance and control he needed to score the biggest win of his young career.
We talked to Luke about some of the details on his race setup, here’s what he had to say.
It looks like you were running the mid position flip chip this week. Was this because of the track in Maydena? Why not the low or high setting?
Yes, I use the mid position the most and it was the right move in Maydena. Our Reign Advanced Pro can use either rear wheel size, so with a 27.5 wheel the mid position is lower and more aggressive than it sounds. I’m sure we’ll see a super steep track for the low setting at some point this year, though.
It seems like you switch between the Fox X2 air and DHX2 coil shock a fair bit. What things about the DHX2 helped you decide to go that direction in Maydena?
Yes. I spend time on both but have always been a coil guy. Mainly because I prefer the small-bump sensitively it offers over air. I bring both to the races, then I make my decision early in the week and focus on final settings for the tracks.
Any tire inserts this week? Any close calls in Maydena?
Definitely a few times throughout the day, that’s for sure! I pinged my wheel super hard in a creek crossing right at the finish line of one of the stages here. Having to change a flat before the climb would’ve thrown things off for sure. For me it’s a must to have an insert at least in the rear, and I typically use the heavier CushCore Pro insert on my Glory [DH bike] and lighter CushCore XC insert on my Reign.
What do you carry inside your storage box for race day?
I carry a tube, CO2, quick link, tire levers and a spoke key, plus a multi-tool that's integrated with the Clutch bottle cage. All the essentials if something goes wrong. It just stays on the bike, but I like to inspect everything before race day.
Did you find yourself changing anything about your setup during the week in Maydena, or do you like to stick to what you know and adapt? What were those changes if any and why?
No, I stuck with pretty much the same setup between Maydena and Round 2 in Derby. I’m definitely one who likes to stick with the same thing as much as I can so it doesn’t play with my head. Then I can just concentrate on riding. That’s why it’s important to play around with everything in the off-season and figure out what works for you!
Any cockpit differences between your Reign and Glory?
For the Reign, I’m running the Shimano XTR Cranks in 165mm this year, which is the same length as the Saint cranks on my DH bike. I also use the same PRO Tharsis 3Five High Riser carbon bar with 30mm rise on both. However, I cut the bars on my Reign to 760mm (770mm actual with ODI Elite Pro grips) for a bit more tree clearance since the tracks aren’t as wide. I run them 10mm wider on my Glory.