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Dialled Rides: Tuning tips from the pros: Greg Callaghan

Welcome to Part 5 of our weekly feature, Dialled Rides, where we expose the mysteries of bike setup and reveal secrets from those at the pinnacle of the sport!! Check out part 1, 2, 3 and 4 where we talked with Jerome Clementz, Jared Graves the Dudes of Hazzard and Jamie Nicoll.

There is a revolution coming, while the top steps of the EWS podiums have been filled with experienced enduro specialists, the next generation of young guns are putting on the pressure, fast, loose and riding with nothing to lose.  Look at Martin Maes this season, no pedigree, just raw speed and motivation! With natural speed and the confidence of youth, these riders will be the future of enduro each with the potential to be our next world champion! 
 

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Greg and his Norco Range 650B Alloy.

One of the next generation of contenders is Irish lad, Greg Callaghan, who has already gained a distinguished history, lighting up the Irish DH and Enduro podiums for the last 5 years.   Born into a motorcycle family Greg represented Ireland at a young age in trials, before switching to DH at 15 years old.  Competing in the Red Bull foxhunt in 2012, Greg not only managed to hold off Gee Atherton, but crash, battle and then overtake the UCI World DH Champion to take the win!

When the Irish Enduro Series took hold that was it for Greg, enduro was the future!   After taking many national podiums in Ireland and the UK, the Dirt Norco Team rider set his sights on becoming an established top World Series contender!  We caught up with Greg to chat about his Norco Range!

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Roosting at Val d’Isere EWS.

First off can you describe your riding style in 3 words?

I’m not sure if I can actually… ehh… aggressive, smooth and… ehh… trialsie?  That’s a tricky one!

So let’s talk setup first of all, what’s your thinking on wheel size?

I have to say, I’m fully sold on 650b for enduro! I’ve had both a 650 and 26 bike this year and the 26  bike hasn’t seen much use at all. The 650 just makes life far easier when racing and irons out a lot of mistakes I might make when I’m tired in a stage or even just out riding, while still feeling just as playful as an oldskool 26er.

Do you like a poppy bike or a plush setup?

I like my bike to be pretty poppy, coming from a trials background I hop around quite a lot on the bike so I run the front fairly fast for optimum wheelie ability and then the back a bit slower to avoid any huck-a-buck situations.

What shock and fork are you running at the moment on your race bike?

I’ve been running the Mantiou Swinger air shock all year and I love it, it has so much adjustment compared to most air shocks which has been really helpful to get it fully dialled in for exactly what I want. As for forks, I’ve been running a temporary fork all year as Manitou are still working on their Mattock 160mm fork which is due out soon, I can’t wait to get a set on the bike and get playing with them.

How do you dial your suspension setup?

I run my bike pretty damn hard compared to most people and a lot of people think I run it way too hard, but I like it. I like the bike to sit up in it’s travel in order for it to hold it’s natural geometry and carry as much speed as possible over rough stuff. I try to run it as hard as I can ride it without sliding all over the place. I like the feeling of the bike skipping over small bumps and feeling solid whenever I hit a big compression rather than just sinking through it’s travel and smashing off the ground. At about 77kg I’m not the lightest enduro rider out there so I run about 95psi in the forks and 120-130 in the rear shock.

Do you tend to tweak your suspension to different events or run the same standard setting?

I might tweak it slightly for different courses but nothing huge. In Ireland I run it softer than Europe as the European tracks are generally faster and rougher whereas in Ireland it’s usually muddy so it’s good to have the wheels on the ground a bit more to get traction by having the bike a bit plusher.

Do you go in for changing High and Low speed compression to suit stages, or just set initially then ride?

Nah I never change during a race, there’s so much to think about already and not a lot of time to do it so I’d only end up changing it for one stage and then forgetting to change it back, so I just leave it be.

How often do you service your suspension?

I would give my forks an oil service pretty regularly as I like them to feel fresh, maybe every few weeks or whenever I’m giving the bike the mighty platinum service.

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The 650B wheels are perfect for Irish mud!

What about gearing, are you on 1×10 or 1×11, if you are 1×10 what size chain rings do you run normally?

I’ve kept it 1×10 this year and it’s been sweet, the closer ratio gearing was good at the big alpine races but I’d say 1×11 will only get stronger in enduro, it’s definitely the thing to have at a race like Finale where you have to pedal up. I’ve been switching between a 36 and 38 tooth chainring all year, pretty big when added onto the 650B wheels but I’m fairly happy pushing a big ring on climbs and like to be able to pedal for as long as I can before running out of gears.

What tyres do you run at the moment for racing?

I’ve been lucky enough to have the support of Schwalbe this year and with them being the guys leading the charge with 650b enduro tyres at the moment I’ve had a good choice of tyres all year. I’ve mainly stuck with the Magic Mary up front and the Hans Dampf on the back with maybe a Rock Razor on the back for the more hardpack races where rolling speed is important. All of them on the Super Gravity compound.

What tyre pressures do you run front and back?

27 up front and 30 in the back is my standard setting.

Do you adjust your tyre pressures to suit stages or run a standard setup all the time?

It’s pretty much a standard set up for me, again, I might go a bit softer in Ireland where there is less risk of puncturing but generally it stays the same and I just ride it.

Could you describe your brakes, what pads do you run and why?

I’ve been running the Formula RO brakes all year and they’ve been sweet, haven’t even had to bleed them once all season which is pretty amazing! I usually run resin pads as I find they last longer on the big, fast stuff in Europe and don’t glaze over as much as the sintered ones. No one likes a glazed over, squeaky brake!

Do you go in for angle sets to mod the geo?

Nope, the Norco has pretty much the ideal race angles out of the box so I’ve left it as standard. If it isn’t broke…

Where do you see enduro bikes of the future going?

I’d say 650b and 1×11 will take over along with companies trying new things with remote lockouts/travel adjust etc. Hopefully the electronic suspension won’t take over as computers and mountain bikes shouldn’t mix, keep it simple!

What’s the enduro scene like in Ireland?

It’s booming! Niall and his biking.ie crew do an incredible job running the events. It’s definitely the most enjoyable series I’ve ever done, the guys know how to keep it fun while having it extremely professional at the same time. It’s been cool having so many international riders coming over and riding the stuff I ride everyday, that would never have happened if it wasn’t for the Gravity Enduro races.

Is it tougher for you to get out to international events?

It is a bit yeah! Ferries from Ireland are crazy money which makes it pretty financially tough. It’s also hard to find travel partners from Ireland to split costs with so I’ve been linking up with guys from the UK a bit, keeping things cheaper and not travelling alone.

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Expect big results from this guy in 2014!

What was your favourite race of 2013?

That’s a tough one, I did so many great races this year. I guess the last World Series in Finale was probably the most enjoyable for me. The stages were amazing, weather was perfect and the location couldn’t have been any better. Riding your bike in the sun, by the sea in the middle of October with good people, not a lot of things can be better than that.

Any tips on bike setup that you have learnt over the years?

Spend a bit of time thinking about what you want your bike to do and why it’s not doing it. A lot of people blame themselves for so many crashes when a lot of the time it’s actually because the bike is set up so all over the place. Also, don’t be afraid to ask faster/more experienced/ geekier/ riders for help, or even your local bike shop. Most people know someone who has a good idea of how a bike should feel, don’t be afraid to ask them for help or advice as they’ll usually be more than happy to help and even be flattered that you’d ask!

Greg concluded his season with a solid 25th at the final Enduro World Series event in Finale, arguably the toughest of the season, certainly goes to show he has the potential to do great things in 2014..

Greg rides for the Dirt Norco Race Team, Sponsored by Norco, Dirt Magazine, O’Neal, Manitou, Sun Ringle, Kore, Gamut, Schwalbe and SDG USA, Drift Innovation and 100 percent goggles.

Words: Trev Worsey Photos: Trev Worsey/Ben Winder

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