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By Zack Vestal
After several years of trying to make a breakthrough on the domestic cross-country racing circuit, mountain biker Ross Schnell needed just one event last season to launch his career in a new direction. Schnell’s 2008 win in California’s legendary all-mountain race, the Downieville Classic, catapulted him to almost instant widespread fame in both cross-country and downhill circles.
Since last season, Schnell’s former Trek-VW team was folded for lack of sponsorship, but he’s leveraged his versatility and personality into a package of sponsorships that will keep him pedaling into 2009. As it turns out, his bike of choice will again be a Trek Remedy, rounded out with parts from SRAM, Bontrager, and Crankbrothers. I made the trip to Grand Junction, Colorado, to do a ride with him and check out his new setup.
Schnell is fitting perfectly into the new category of “all-mountain” competitor. “I plan to race in XC, DH, and more specifically all-mountain events domestically and abroad,” he said. “That includes some US Cups, US Nationals, Megavalanche and Enduro DH races in Europe, possibly some stage races and Mountain States Cups to complete the schedule.”
He’s happy with the flexibility and the freedom to select the best events that suit his talents. He’ll have a cross-country Trek Top Fuel and a downhill-specific Trek Session 88, but it’s the all-mountain Remedy that mirrors Schnell’s athletic versatility.
Schnell’s 2009 Trek Remedy 9 is a stock production aluminum frame in size extra large. His bike features a custom paint scheme to match the orange anodized Crankbrothers Iodine wheels and the one-off orange anodized SRAM XO parts. The Remedy is a 6-inch travel all-mountain bike, with a tapered 1-1/8-inchh to 1.5-inch headset, Trek’s ABP rear pivot (concentric with the rear hub axle), and Full-Floater rear shock mount. Schnell said his bike weighs about 29 pounds right now, but could be up to a pound lighter by midsummer with a few refinements to the parts pick.
Schnell is fully sponsored by SRAM as both an athlete and test rider for suspension and drivetrain components. Suspension is handled by RockShox, with a 160mm Lyric IS air fork and Monarch 4.2 rear shock with high-volume air can. The high-volume shock offers a flatter spring curve and ideally more usable travel for Schnell’s lighter rider weight than a standard Monarch. The drivetrain includes a Noir carbon crankset with a single 38t chainring and a prototype MRP G2 chainguide. The rear shifter and derailleur are both SRAM XO with custom orange anodizing. Brakes are Avid Elixir CR, with a 180mm front rotor and 160mm rear.
Schnell is also a marquee athlete and tester for Crankbrothers. His Remedy is outfitted with a new Iodine all-mountain wheelset, Acid pedals, and a Joplin adjustable-height seatpost. The Iodine wheels have 20mm thru axle front, and standard quick release rear hubs. The Joplin is a remote-operated version such that he can drop the saddle for steep descents without taking a hand off the bar.
Schnell’s sponsorship packages are rounded out by Oakley and Pearl Izumi. He’s a full Factory Pilot athlete for Oakley eyewear and apparel, with Pearl Izumi providing both casual and cycling shoes.
Look for an extended interview with Ross Schnell, outlining where he’s been and where he’s heading, in the coming weeks.