Perhaps the biggest news from off-season rider team changes came with the announcement that Aaron Gwin was leaving Specialized and would be riding for German brand YT Industries. Aaron has again joined forces with long time manager, Martin Whiteley, and together they’ve formed a brand new team called the YT Mob. Aaron will be racing the entire season aboard a 100% stock YT Tues carbon frame, which is matched with a pretty interesting mix of components. To get the full low-down we caught up with Gwin’s mechanic, John Hall. Here’s how the conversation rolled:
[R]evolution: Being Aaron’s mechanic you are the perfect person to ask, is he particularly hard on frames and parts?
John: Luckily for me, Aaron is actually really smooth and easy on frames and parts. It’s a rare case if he comes down the hill with something broken, so if he does, it means something freaky probably happened ha ha. But those things still happen every once in a while during a season.
Is he overly ‘picky’ about his set-up and settings?
I wouldn’t call it picky. He just knows exactly how he wants his setup to feel. So as long I know what that is, then I just make it happen and we’re off to the races!
Do you guys change much up on the settings from race weekend to race weekend, or do you just find a base setting at the start of the year and run with it everywhere?
We definitely do an extensive amount of testing in the off season to achieve a good solid base that we can be confident in showing up to the first round with. Every track is different though, so we do make small changes and deviate from the base setting according to what track we’re on and the conditions. Aaron will do that with myself and our main man at FOX suspension, Jordi, usually during practice at each race.
Aaron has an air rear shock in his bike at the moment, will he likely race that at the World Cups this year or will we see a coil over in there at some point?
He’ll more than likely start with the air shock and continue to use it. He’s done a fair amount of testing with both the air and the coil shock and right now he is liking the characteristics of the air shock. BUT, there are still things that he likes about the coil as well. We always have both shocks with us at all times just in case the track or conditions end up calling for one or the other. So yes, there could be a possibility that he’ll run the coil on certain tracks depending on conditions.
When the new team was recently announced, a few of the components that Aaron will be riding have raised eyebrows. TRP brakes for instance? I actually had to Google the brand so see what they were to be honest. What are they like as a unit and from Gwin’s feedback how do they ride/stop?
TRP isn’t well known in the mountain bike world, but they’re big in cross racing, so we’re here to change that! The most important thing with TRP is that they are open to innovation and feedback, so it’s pretty motivating. They flew a technician down for a day to test with us and really show us what the product is all about. It’s nice when you can provide feedback either as a rider or a mechanic and get a response the same day with how they’re going to accomplish what you need and when you can expect it to be done. Truth be told, that’s the story with all the brands on board. The Quadiem SL’s that we’re currently on, work really well straight out of the box. From a mechanic’s point of view, they’re easy to install and work on. They use standard mineral oil which is easy to find and the bleed process is one of the simplest ones to do, which makes it easy for the consumer to work on their own brakes if they’re up to it. You can find brake pads in any compound for them at any local bike shop so you’ll never have to worry about a proprietary pad. From AG’s feedback they’re awesome. If there’s one thing he’s super picky on, it would be his brake setup. It’s not an uncommon one in that he likes the lever to be fairly close to the bar with a quick initial bite and a solid feel. Anyone with those preferences can tell you that it’s hard to accomplish and not have the rotor rub. With the TRP’s, that’s not an issue. I can get that feeling for him and still see daylight on each side of the pad. As far as power goes, they’re spot on. We’ll be running them at the World Cups as you see them on the bike now. If you’re at the races, feel free to find me at the pit and I’ll be happy to show you how well they feel!
“Luckily for me, Aaron is actually really smooth and easy on frames and parts. It’s a rare case if he comes down the hill with something broken, so if he does, it means something freaky probably happened”
Onza tyres might also seem like a strange rubber choice for the current World Cup champion, but when you consider that Onza and Maxxis are the same brand, the performance of the Onza’s must be pretty damn good, right?
Performance wise you are spot on. Onza has incredible rubber compounds that are well suited for our race needs. They’re on the same page as TRP in that they’re incredibly willing and open to feedback from the riders in order to give them what they need to win. So far they’ve killed it for us and they are already in the process of developing new tyres. When you find a company that has the same drive and passion to win that our whole team has and aren’t stuck in their ways, it’s incredibly refreshing and motivates you to improve even further.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today and good luck!
Thank you guys! And like I said, if you’re at the races, feel free to stop by the pit to say hello or just check out the bikes.