With over a month between Mercedes-Benz UCI Downhill World Cup stops in Les Gets and Maribor, Specialized Gravity Republic's Finn Iles had time to go back home to Canada to retain the Canadian National Championship title that he first won in 2019.
This weekend at the World Cup in Maribor, Iles will be sporting the maple leaf National Champ sleeve on his kit and will be atop his Specialized Demo downhill bike that has been customized to his liking with prototyped additions. With no more further to do, let's take a run down of his set-up.
This 2021 race bike is a Specialized Demo decked out with Ohlins suspension, SRAM X01 DH groupset, Magura brakes, Renthal handlebars, and DT Swiss wheels.
The frame has had quite a bit of developmental feedback from Iles and his teammate Loïc Bruni. "My mechanic Kevin Joly and I have put a lot of work into tuning the Demo specifically to my riding style, same with Loïc," says Iles. "We have done a ton of testing on and studying of the bike's kinematics over the past few years. These changes are specific to me and my riding style but are passed along to Specialized and then down to the consumer."
The feedback from Iles on the performance of his bike and prototype linkage and in the front fork has been integral to the development and refinements that he’s running this year.
The linkage on the Demo places the shock low and forward on the frame to create a lower center of gravity and more stability for the rider. Both Iles and Bruni have been testing out some prototypes this year to customize the performance.
"The linkage is something Kevin and I are really happy with and has taken some time to refine," says Iles. "This one is specific to me and even a bit different than what Loïc uses. The reasoning is that I prefer a dynamic bike that allows me to move around. This linkage allows me to do that and ride the way I want to."
The prototype parts in the front suspension are hidden away as the internals of the Ohlins DH38 fork.
"The suspension is a combination of what I feel and how Kevin reads the telemetry data," says Iles. "Eventually, we have gotten to a point where the cartridges in both the fork and shock match up with a feeling that I like and data that works well with what Kevin is seeing."
When it comes to custom parts, Iles runs 3D printed custom HC3 levers with his MT7 Magura brakes. His brake and shifter levers are set to precise angles that he has become accustomed to over his racing career. The Renthal stocked cockpit has a 50mm stem and bars cut to 780mm.
The mullet is the way to go
Iles uses DT Swiss EX471 wheels and these are set up in 'mullet' configuration, meaning he's running a 29-inch wheel at the front and a smaller 27.5-inch in the back. This setup allows for a low riding position and agile manoeuvring. But it isn't for everyone, and the Demo can easily switch between a 27.5-inch and a 29-inch wheel in the rear. For his tyres Iles has a base setting of 26 and 28psi front and rear though this changes dependent on the track.
The Specialized Gravity team is famous for rolling out data collection bikes at every single race – there are few teams that work so tirelessly in the search for results. Telemetry systems allow them to record the bike’s actions as Iles practices, which helps to achieve perfect settings.
“We use a special bike [the data bike] for timed training. As we know how the bike works [at its best], data gives a lot of precious information that I translate into settings to make the bike work how I want," says mechanic Joly.
Watch Finn Iles rip up wet trails on his Specialized Demo in Vancouver Island in Canada:
Canadian downhill young gun Finn Iles shows us true speed on the damp winter trails of Vancouver Island, BC.
Finn Iles Specialized Demo specs
- Frame: Specialized Demo (with prototype linkage in the rear end)
- Fork: Ohlins DH38 (prototype internals)
- Rear suspension: Ohlins TTX22m coil shock
- Bottom bracket: SRAM Dub
- Chain: SRAM X01 DH
- Crankset: eThirteen chainring with SRAM X01 cranks
- Cassette: SRAM X01 DH
- Rear derailleur: SRAM X01 DH
- Shifters: SRAM X01 DH
- Wheels: DT Swiss EX471 with DT Swiss 240 hubs
- Brakes: Magura MT7 with 203mm rotors (3D printed custom HC3 levers)
- Saddle: Specialized Phenom
- Seatpost: Truvativ Descendant
- Pedals: Crankbrothers Mallet
- Handlebars: Renthal Fatbar, aluminium, 780mm, 30mm rise
- Mudguards: Mudhugger Evo
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