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The bikes that unite us – Part 3: A DH perspective!

With the podiums of most enduros populated with riders from all disciplines, there is now a large contingent of ex-WC Downhillers moving into the sport to test their skills and fitness.  Legends such as Cedric Gracia, Fabien Barel, Greg Minnar, and even Steve Peat have been battling it out, but in testament to the new sport the fastest men and women from DH have not always taken the top spot! Enduro has proven that it is more than just ‘easy DH’ you need to be skilled in every area of biking to dominate, but why would a rider move from DH, seen as the ‘ultimate’ form of racing into the relatively new sport of enduro?

In this series we look at enduro bikes and their riders, united in their passion for enduro, but separated by their roots.  In part 3 we chat to Scott Laughland, an Edinburgh based elite rider about representing Ireland on the WC DH circuit, his Cube Stereo 650b, training and why the move from WC Downhill.  

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Scott Laughland tearing it up in the SRAM Specialized Kronplatz Enduro

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Scott Laughland and his Cube Stereo!

Scott’s riding history started at an early age when he followed his father’s footsteps into Motorcycle trials, however at 13 he saw riders like Stu Thomson and Crawford Carrick Anderson switch to DH!  After watching the World Cup DH in Fort William in 2002 as an impressionable boy, he caught the bug and dreamt of one day racing at WC level!  Testament to his dedication Scott went on to race a few seasons of World Cups at a senior level, qualifying 62nd at Fort William and the World Championships in Champery. Last season Scott made the progression in to enduro, racing a number of SuperEnduro’s on the Italian Circuit and helping bring home a 3rd place for Ireland in the Enduro Des Nations in Sauze.  This year he has been a regular fixture on the podiums of local races and the top 20’s of the international circuit, and has also been racing the maxiavalanche series, taking home a respectable 13th at Cervinia!  Riding a Cube Stereo, with its carbon light weight and 650b wheels, the bike is bang up to date as an enduro weapon!

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One of the lightest 160mm bikes on the market, smooth lines!

Why the move to enduro?

I guess that the change to enduro grew from a passion for riding trail bikes at home, and then with the rapid professionalising of enduro with the new EWS a change in focus was possible.  I really enjoy getting out in the hills and with 4-5 stages you can really get to see a place over the day!

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650b Hans Dampfs on ARCH EX rims and Hope Hubs, it looks like 650b will be the future for enduro!

Do you still plan to race DH this season?

The DH bike has been sold!  Now I just have the Cube Stereo!

So what bike are you racing this season?

It’s the new carbon Cube Stereo, really lightweight, 650b, 160mm travel and 66.5 degree head angle, pretty much perfect numbers for racing in the Alps.

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SRAM 1×11 with a top guide!

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42 on the back, make for an easier time on the climbs!

How do you rate the 650b?

The big wheels are just awesome and the suspension action is amazing, at 6’2 I like the bigger wheels, I rode a 29er and really liked that, but 650b seems to be the perfect compromise for tight turns and more technical trails.   It is also a really great bike for riding at home, but with 160mm travel it has plenty of capability for European racing too!

What about componentry, I see you are running 1×11?

The SRAM x11 is really good, it’s great to have a big ratio, especially on the sharp climbs of many enduros! You can also save your legs on the transfer stages, it makes the whole day a lot easier.  Smooth shifting with no derailments!

You are still running a top guide though?

I know people run without one, but with all the money involved in getting out to races and having just one shot, the last thing you want is to lose the chain.  It has worked perfectly so far and does not add much weight.

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2013 Fox Float 36′s handle the front end!

It’s a really lightweight bike, it would be good for a general AM bike for the UK too!

It would make an awesome AM bike for the UK, slack and easy to pedal, you could happily ride it all day in the mountains!

Do you find it beneficial to have a DH background when moving into enduro?

It really depends, some of the races you could win on the climbs, a lot of stages tend to be quite conservatively taped so a DH rider has limited opportunity to take more gnarly lines to save time.  I think an all around skill set is much more beneficial, being able to climb and being used to big mountain riding.

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FOX DOSS post has been really reliable so far!

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Avid brakes on 180mm rotors for the stopping!

Scotland seems to have a wealth of DH talent from back in the day, such as Crawfy etc, did you get to develop your riding with those guys?

A lot of my early riding development came from riding with my dad, who was national DH champion in the over 50’s for a couple of years in a row, just fun father and son racing.  As I got older and stronger I got more into the racing, and really enjoyed it, and then learnt from experience on the circuit.

Do you find it different preparing for enduro races, compared to DH?

Definitely, since moving to enduro the way I train has changed completely, I have a road bike now and even though I have not had much time to use it so far, I am planning on getting plenty of miles in through the winter.  You need to develop endurance and power as well as speed!

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Its not all DH speed, enduro races are often won on the pedals, Scott on stage 1 of the 2013 Kronplatz enduro!

What’s your long term plans now?

Well I have just finished my masters in Mechanical Engineering at Herriot Watt, so last year was a really busy one with Uni work.  I am hoping that next season after a winter of training I will be a lot fitter and stronger; I am working with a strength and conditioning coach at the local gym.  I hope to race as many different events as I can, the EWS but also add some variety with the Megavalanche series and local events, the best thing about enduro is its diversity!

How do you go about preparing for an enduro when it comes to practice?

It depends as all enduro races are different, but I always like to build up to speed rather than go flat out on practice, it’s tough sometimes as if you can only practice a stage once, you have to find that balance between learning the terrain features and going fast enough to work out how much grip you will have at speed, it’s a thin line.  I like to session corners, sometimes pushing up to repeat.  But it’s still a learning process, enduro is so new and each event is different!

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Scott on his way to 47th at the weekends Enduro World Series event in Val d’Isere!

How is your current bike setup, any changes planned?

There is not much I would like to change at the moment; I am going to change the grease in the hubs to get them to roll faster, but that’s about it.  I run my suspension really firm as I like the bike to sit high in its travel, as it carries speed over rough ground better when over the front.

Any advice for people looking to improve their speed?

Take time to build up your speed and keep enjoying it, as long as you have a smile on your face you are doing well!

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Arguably the best way to see Europe!

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Fueling for race day, Scott is not one for gels!

How is van life?

The van has been great, you can move from one venue to the next without having to worry about hotels, the European season this year has been really busy so it has been easy to join up events.  You also have all your tools with you and can carry spares.  It’s also a cool place to hang out as you can get right into the pits and feel like part of the event.

Anyone you would like to thank!

I have had great support from CUBE, Mojo Suspension, Gamut USA, Renthal, Robin Ruth UK, Fishers Outdoor Lesuire (SRAM), 2pure and Crank Brothers.  Special thanks to Mum, Dad, girlfriend Niamh and Heriot Watt University for their support over the last 5 years of studying.

We caught up with Scott again at the recent Val d’Isere Enduro World Series where he took a solid top 50 placing coming in 47th!

If you want to check out the first 2 parts of the series, you can find them here

http://enduro-mtb.com/en/the-bikes-that-unite-us-part-1-a-guides-perspective/

http://enduro-mtb.com/en/the-bikes-that-unite-us-katy-winton-a-female-elite-enduro-racer/

Words and Photos: Trev Worsey

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