In photos: My custom Merida 96 Team XCO Race Bike
For the final campaign of this season, this is the race bike I'll be riding at the Benelux Cup in Sittard, NED.
The course has a couple of distinct technical features, but is fairly smooth and dry throughout, so the fully should work well to preserve momentum and iron out the rough stuff.
Click on the image to enlarge them for a better look!
The Merida 96 Team in the 27.5" (650B) small size frame.
The cockpit is a mix of ESI Grips silicon grips and bar plugs, Fi'zi:k R1 90mm stem and a Mount Zoom Ultralight Flat Bar.
A Garmin mount also sits stop the Fi'zi:k stem.
XTR M9000 shifter for the rear mech. I modify it with a patch of velcro for grip in the wet.
The 96 Team frame has fantastic internal cable routing, keeping all cables and hosing in place.
Fox 32 forks handle the suspension up front. I'm not sure what'll be there for next season yet...
Rear suspension duties are taken care of with the Rock Shox Monarch air shock.
The seatpost is secured with a trick carbon clamp, and a small piece of electrical tape marks the height. They'll be a dropper post being added soon!
A Fi'zi:k Antares saddle sits atop the carbon seatpost. It's by far the most comfortable saddle I've ever used.
Like the shifter, I also modify the carbon bottle cage with velcro to improve bottle retention.
XTR M9000 pedals and cranks, using a Wolftooth Drop-Stop 34t chainring. All well used, but well loved.
Trusty Shimano M9000 rear mech, mechanical version. Di2 for next year, but still love the simplicity of this setup.
Shimano Centrelock Ice Tech rotors with the wheels secured by Mount Zoom's Thru Axles.
Finally, the Merida 96 Team rolls on a set of XTR M9000 wheels with Continental RaceKing 2.2 tyres in the ProTection casing. My favourite tyres by a mile. I run them at 1.2-1.4 PSI depending on track conditions.
How did you like the bike? As I said, I have a few new sponsors and components that will be adorning the bike for the 2017 season. I'll update you all on spec changes as and when!
Looking for a training-related article? Check out this one on polarised training for cycling.