For the 2012 season I have been lucky enough to be sponsored by Santa Cruz Bicycles. They have provided me with the Highball 29er hard tail frame for marathons and stage racing. The frame is super stiff and responsive on the climbs whilst still handling the descents with ease. I run a fox F29 terra logic fork on the front which adds to the responsiveness on the climbs.
I use the classy USE finishing kit. The new super wide 710mm bars are nice and light and make the steering super precise. I have cut them down to 680mm though which is my preferred width. They have alloy inserts in the end to stop potential crash damage. The SUMO seat post has proved to be extremely reliable with no slippage at all, even on the very roughest descents during the recent Cape Epic. Finally I use a 100mm USE race stem to keep things light but stiff.
Contact points are really important, especially in endurance races. The new GX1 Ergon grip has proved to be extremely comfortable in my early season stage races. I especially like the bar end version, the addition hand positions are so much more comfortable on long climbs. I use the Syncros FL saddle. It’s nicely padded and super comfortable over any duration.
Shifting is taken care of by a SRAM XO group set. I chose XO over XX for reliability during the long races that I favour. Stopping is courtesy of TRP brakes. The Highball uses their Dash Carbon brake. This brake has proven faultless so far. It coped well with the high braking forces places on it during the recent Cape Epic and the lever adjustability allows me to keep the lever feel sharp at all times.
I use RWD brake pads. These are a new pad to the market and proved incredibly hard wearing during the cape epic. They coped with the dry hot dusty conditions as well as the wet horrific rainy day and were not even half worn after 36hours of hard racing.
I use Schwalbe tyres, my main choice being the Racing Ralf 29er snakeskin. This has proved to be fast rolling and tough. In actually fact I didn’t puncture once during the Cape Epic a race famed for its tyre slicing rocks.
The bike is finished with the light and grippy Mt Zoom bottle cage. No lost bottles with these bad boys! Lezyne tools, pump and saddle bag finish the build and ensure I get home after any mechanical issues.