Suspension setup is a hot topic and quite often riders can get a bit too bogged down with all the minutia of it. From a coaches point of view, what we would say is, it’s important to have the right base tune in the first place. It’s important not only for performance but to have a well balanced bike that will allow you to use (and hopefully develop) your skills properly.

With modern suspensions, loaded with controls, the tuning process can be a bit daunting and is certainly time consuming (we recommend this cool video by Fox Suspension). Not everyone has the time or patience to do bracketing properly so we found a way to speed things up a little…

There are a couple of devices on the market that allow you to measure your suspension’s movements and recommend some adjustments accordingly, directly on your smartphone. We chose the SMB Flow for its ability to work with air and coil suspensions.

Once installed (the only “issue” we found is the device doesn’t always fit with every frame design, for example it doesn’t work with a coil shock on my Nomad), it’s really easy to setup your SAG very precisely, it will then only take about 1 or 2 runs to get enough data to suggest some adjustments. They won’t necessarily be perfect but will give you a solid base to start fine tuning from if you wish and if you can’t be bothered you can ride knowing that there isn’t anything badly wrong with your suspensions!

We now offer our clients the option to rent the device during their session with us, you’ll go away with better skills and a bike setup on actual data not just feelings. What’s not to like?!

Here’s Jo’s new bike for the 2019’s season, probably the ultimate bike to shred the Portes du Soleil area!

The bike is a Large Santa Cruz Nomad CC with the X01 build but with a few tweeks!

The handlebars have been changed for a higher rise Race Face 6SIXC, cut down to 780mm.

The brakes are Jo’s favourite and trusty Hope V4 with standard hose and 200mm discs… there might be a few Ti bolts there too!

A pair of RevGrips Medium grips for comfort and precision (you can read Jo’s review here) round up the cockpit.

Colour matched Revgrips and Hope V4

Jo’s also swapped the original 175mm carbon crankset for a shorter and burlier Hope Evo with a 32T oval ring (it does help with technical climbs).

The Hope F20 are starting their 4th season, so far they’ve only needed 1 service!

A new shock might be in here soon… watch this space!

The Reverb seatpost has also been replaced by a 185mm (!) of cable actuated travel Yep Uptimizer, Jo has been riding with a 170mm prototype for 2 seasons with no issue whatsoever so this one should be just as good!

185mm of travel!

The bike’s also got a pair of Alexrims Recon carbon wheels that are going to be tested all summer.

The tyres are fitted with Morzine made Tyre Yogourt sealant and valves, some more products that Jo has tested with success last summer.

Finally the frame decals are available from any Santa Cruz dealer, the fork ones are coming from Slick Graphics.

Ready to ride this 170mm travel “mini-DH” only weighs 13,7kg!!

Now, let’s ride!!

After many seasons of riding/guiding in the Portes du Soleil, my hands are really starting to feel it. Of course, I’ve fiddled with bar/brake/suspension settings, but one thing I’ve really been experimenting with is grips. You might view them as a pretty basic piece of kit but as your contact point with the bike, there’s actually quite a lot to consider; comfort and feel spring to mind.
You name it, I’ve tried it; silicon, thin, thick, rubber with comfort pads… even moulded ones!  But I couldn’t find anything that was comfortable enough for long days on the saddle but still gave me enough feel from the bike. Enter Revgrips and their “shock absorbing grip system”.
So what’s different here? The grip itself looks very similar to a classic Lock-on grip… but with a twist! Instead of being locked directly to the handlebar, there are small rubber inserts between the actual grip and the locking collars. The idea being the grip is isolated from the handlebar vibrations and shocks, which means less fatigue to the hands and wrists. You can also adjust the amount of movement by using different rubber inserts or adding washers between the grip and the clamps. Different patterns and diameter grips are available too.

So what’s the verdict? The packaging is neat and you get everything you need in it, including spare inserts, washers and even Allen keys to make sure you don’t use old ones that might round up the small screws. Installation is a little bit fiddly but won’t take more than10 minutes. Make sure you follow the instructions carefully, no one wants a grip coming off in the middle of a run!  It also took me a couple of rides to find the right setup for me, so there is definitely a bit more faffing than with traditional grips…

Once installed, the grip feels really nice with a tacky rubber and good width (130mm) and… no, you can’t feel the grips moving when riding! The only time it happened was when riding proper steep tracks and under heavy front braking, even if I could feel my hands twisting forward a bit (not nice) it never ended badly.  It does take away vibrations and harder impacts though, clearly improving comfort without compromising on the “feel” department.
I‘ve been riding with the half waffle and medium sized (31mm) grips with both the race and pro series inserts but my favourite setup is the medium grip + pro series inserts + 1 thin washer, the half waffle are great on my pumptrack bike for gloveless riding.

What could be improved? Well, they ain’t cheap! But considering the build quality (fully USA made), what’s included, and of course, the benefits of the system, I think it’s definitely worth it. There are loads of colours and shape options and also a cheaper version is now available (a bit heavier but the system is identical).  So you’re sure to find a good fit for your hands/steed.  Finally, all parts are available separately, so once you’ve made the initial investment you can keep the system going for ages, at a reasonable cost.
The other thing worth noting is that due to the system, you can’t put your hands on the outside edge of the bar, it didn’t really bother me but I might go back to some slightly wider bars on my next bike.  Revgrip has also developed their new SLI system to address the problem, check out their website for more info.

My hand don’t feel as bad as before, I’ve also had less calluses on them at the end of the season than normal, I reckon this is thanks to the Revgrips. So overall, it’s very positive feedback from me! All my mtbs are now equipped and I’m certainly not going back to traditional grips!

We’re often asked what to pack for a day’s riding around the Portes du Soleil.

Here is what Jo carries every day, of course some of it would be overkill but it might give you some ideas…

sac vtt web
What’s in my Dakine Seeker 15l:

  • water bladder, minimum 2l
  • first aid kit
  • jacket (even when the weather’s good)
  • repair kit for tubeless tyres
  • tube patches
  • 27.5″  tube (fits in 26″ and 29″ tyres), presta
  • spare dérailleur hanger for my Santa Cruz
  • “universal” dérailleur hanger
  • Hope brake pads
  • a small bottle of lubricant
  • dérailleur cable
  • power link for, 9/10/11 speeds
  • a bag of various bolts (for… spds clits, rotors, chainring, brake caliper,…)
  • Lézine mini floor pump (with a few lengths of duct tape wrapped around it)
  • HP Rock Shox HP pump
  • Fix it Stick multi tool, with tyre levers
  • light chain tool from MSC
  • Leatherman
  • zip ties
  • electrical tape
  • a small strap
  • mini lock
  • PDS  pass (the best way not to leave it in dirty shorts)
  • sunglasses wipe
  • drops for my contact lenses
  • RideAbility stickers !!

Didn’t make the shot:

  • cones for the skill sessions
  • smartphone with Iphigénie app (if you don’t know it, look it up!)
  • home made cereal bars
  • a bottle of isotonic drink (usually carried on the bike)
  • a spare pair of gloves (they doesn’t take much room, or weigh much but useful more often than you’d think)
  • an old piece of tyre to fix ripped sidewalls
  • suncream


Here it is, my new DH steed!

The bike’s race pedigree speaks for itself, its most impressive trait? The way it accelerates out of corners!

V10a webV10b web  V10c web V10d web V10e web

Frame 2017 V10 C, XL

Shock Fast Suspension Holy Grail

Fork Fox 40 Performance Elite (coil)

Wheels E13, 27.5″

Brakes Hope V4, 203mm/200mm

Crankset Truvativ

Seatpost Thomson

Bar Raceface 6XC, carbon, 780mm/30mm

Stem Santa Cruz

Grips Santa Cruz

Saddle WTB

Chainguide E13

Pedals Hope F20

Shifter Sram GX DH

Chain+K7 Sram GX DH 7spd

Derailleur Sram GX DH

Tyres Maxxis High Roller DH
Total weight: 16.3kg

A massive “thank you” to, Santa Cruz Bicycles, Hope Technology and Fast Suspension.

In 2017 I (Jo) will be riding on Santa Cruz bikes, after 9 years on a different brand, it’s a big change!

Here is my enduro bike… this thing rip!

Bronson CC

Frame 2017 Bronson CC, Large

Fork Lyrik RCT3, 160mm

Wheels Hope Enduro with Pro4 hubs

Brakes Hope E4 Tech3, 203mm/180mm, floating rotors

Crankset Hope 170mm with 30t spider ring and Hope press fit BB

Seatpost Yep Uptimizer HC 150mm

Bar Alpha 780x30mm

Stem Hope AM 35mm

Grips ODI

Saddle old Fizik (Fabric Spoon coming soon)

Chainguide OneUp

Pedals Hope F20

Shifter Sram X1

Chain+K7 Sram X1 10/42

Derailleur Sram GX

Tyres Michelin Wild Rock’R2 Advanced Reinforced
Total weight: 14.2kg

A big “thank you” to Santa Cruz, Hope, Fast and Yep for their support.

This year, for a few reasons,  I’ve decided to build one do-it-all bike instead of one enduro and one downhill bike.

It has to be stable and suspended for the lift assisted riding we do over the summer in the Portes du Soleil but still be a reasonable climber for… the rest of the year!

With its adjustable head angle, 160mm of DW link managed travel and carbon frame, the new RFX ticked all the boxes.

Jo 8

Here’s how I built mine:

Frame 2016 XL RFX, with FSA Option headset (65°)

Fork Pike RCT3, 160mm , Fast Suspension compression cartridge and custom stickers.

Wheels Hope Enduro with Pro4 hubs

Brakes Hope E4 Tech3, 200mm/180mm, floating rotors

Crankset Hope 170mm with 30t spider ring and Hope press fit BB

Seatpost Yep Uptimizer HC 150mm

Bar Alpha 780x30mm

Stem Hope AM 35mm

Grips ESI Fit CR

Saddle Tioga Outland (test version)

Chainguide OneUp

Pedals Hope F20

Shifter Sram X1

Chain+K7 Sram X1 10/42

Derailleur Sram GX

Tyres Michelin Wild Rock’R2 Advanced Reinforced
Total weight: 14kg

A massive “thank you” to Turner, Hope, Fast and Yep for their long running support.