Bike Check: Nino Schurter’s Scott Spark for the 2019 Cape Epic

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Nino Schurter is lining up for his 6th Cape Epic, and after a less than ideal race in 2018, he will be out to make amends in 2019. A last minute change sees the flying Swiss racing with Lars Forster, not Andri Frischknecht. Andri was struggling with some health issues at the team camp in February. While back on track now, there can be no uncertainty ahead of the Cape Epic.

“SCOTT-SRAM needs to be at the start line with the two strongest riders at the moment. Physically and mentally, I fell good again but I’m not 100% sure if this is going to be enough racing aside Nino. Like two years ago I will do everything possible to help winning as a team.”

Andri Frischknecht

In 2019, the Scott-SRAM team will be racing their Scott Sparks. The main change is to the new SRAM AXS wireless components. It’s clear Schurter was using these a year ago – but of course now the shifter, derailleur and dropper have all been revealed.

The wireless units should have a much lighter feel that won’t degrade with the conditions. There is no cable and outer to gunk up. So like with Shimano Di2, the shift feel is consistent – all day.

Nino runs a 36t chainring on 175mm cranks on the 10-50 cassette. It’s a wide gear range that should tackle the whole variety of terrain for the Cape Epic.

The shifter is pretty small. See the neat heat shrink on the two outers? Details count!

Schurter is racing on the DT Swiss XMC wheel set. With a 30mm internal measurement, the DT Swiss Spline 240 hubs and 28 spokes front and rear, it’s not a wheel that is all about light weight, but more about strength and reliability, which is crucial for Cape Epic success.

In these photos, Maxxis Aspen tyres are fitted. The Aspens are fast, and the 2.25″ casing suits the wider rims. We now have the Aspen in our tyre comparison.

“The guys race in dusty, sandy trails every day, and after three hours of racing they are getting exhausted, that is when tyres and wheels are getting damaged”,

Kurt Gross, team mechanic of SCOTT-SRAM says

A wider rim lets a tyre have a higher volume, to a point anyway. Too wide and a tyre carcass will move the edge knobs too far in, and leave the sidewalls prone to slices. But Scott-SRAM developed much of the 2.25″ range with this rim width in mind. As Nino is World Champion, he does have special Aspens, they are 170tpi, so the casing is lighter and more supple than what you and I can buy. This means lower weight, and the potential for more grip. They still have EXO protection.

The Scott Spark frame can only carry one bottle holder. And this year the team is using the SRAM AXS wireless dropper post, which takes away the seat post mounted cage option. We’ll be interested to see how they manage hydration – although Sponsor do those kooky 1L bottles?

Downtube protection is in place.

Look – a pump! Stage races are about finishing as fast as possible, every day. If you run out of CO2, a pump will get you home. Schurter is also carrying the Sahmurai SWORD, kept in the bar plugs. Schurter also has a tyre noodle in his rear tyre, to help with wheel and tyre damage.

Suspension is from RockShox, and last year Nino’s mechanic said that they run slightly lower settings for a stage race. They weren’t specific, but most riders who use a twin-remote lock out do benefit from running lower pressures, as the lockout is so easy to activate. The fork does have a 110mm cartridge fitted, which should slacken the bike by about half a degree.

Schurter will also be using the one-piece Syncros bar and stem. The AXS dropper lever has a cool hack, with a ETAP blip cut into the Syncros grip. This means the team can use the under bar TwinLoc lever too. Will this be an option for the rest of us?

Nino also has a spare link attached to his brake line, easy to see, and easy to grab if needed. The guy drops some watts, so breaking chains isn’t out of the question, especially on the longer stages where chain lube wears out.

The Syncros bars are a bit custom, at 680mm wide with a 100mm stem at -30 degrees.

Compared to his normal bike, there don’t seem to be huge changes. The big change is the move to SRAM’s wireless group set, and adding a 100mm dropper post. The wireless items add a lot of complexity, but potentially easier servicing for the mechanics in tech zones and after each stage as well, with items that just need to be removed and calibrated.

The saddle also has a GoPro mount attached. The top teams at the Cape Epic have to have the cameras on – and a team grabs all the footage each day for highlights. This is a really neat mount that works with the AXS dropper.

Brake rotors are 160mm, as while there is a lot of climbing at the Epic the descents aren’t demanding on brakes like they can be in alpine events. All up it’s a super clean build, exactly what you would expect for a World Champion!

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