Ruaridh Cunningham isn’t a name that’s largely associated with enduro racing but in the two EWS he has competed in, the 2007 junior downhill world champ sauntered away with a 7th and 5th place. Whilst he competes at the world cups for Unior Tools Team aboard his stealthy Trek Session, there is an equally rapid looking Trek Slash he uses to train and race the odd enduro on, which has an intriguing setup not too dissimilar to that of his downhill rig:

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The Scottish border town of Innerleithen is no stranger to mountain biking and is called home by Ruaridh in between world cups.
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Trek’s Slash 9.8 in 18.5″ is Ruaridh’s weapon of choice for training, and when looked at closer the influence from his downhill racing can clearly be seen.

Cockpit Setup

The Cockpit looks pretty similar to that of your Session?

“The whole bike is aimed to be as easy to cross over from my downhill bike as possible. Downhill is still predominately what I do and if I’m perfectly honest I’d run a 29er if enduro was my main focus. I measured it all up and with the 18.5” frame the bottom bracket to bars is 5mm shorter than my downhill bike which makes transitioning between the two really easy, I do a lot of my training on the Slash so I have as much as possible set up as close to the Session. Handlebars, grips, brakes, pedals… All the contact points are exactly what I run on the downhill bike, bars with the same sweep, same width, brake levers are the same, grips are the same and the sizing is pretty close as well and to be honest my go to pressure on the Rock Shox Boxxer is 80 psi too so it’s like a mini downhill bike for me! The front end is slightly lower on the trail bike, it’s a 160 mm Lyrik and 30mm of spacers underneath my stem, it is slightly lower but it’s as high as I’d like it without putting a bigger fork on it but obviously with a bigger fork it raises the BB and slackens it out and too many stem spacers and its becomes pretty flexy.”

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The cockpit is aimed at making Ruaridh get close to the feeling on his downhill bike. the Truvativ BooBars are the same width and rise.
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A 30 mm stack height is tucked away under the 35 mm Hope Tech AM Stem.
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Avid Code brakes are another component transferred over from the downhill bike, preferring power over weight saving, this is a place Ruaridh is not willing to compromise on.
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A RockShox Reverb is paired to a Selle Italia cyclocross saddle with carbon rails which is not only light, but nice and grippy for the sloppy Scottish conditions.

Suspension Setup

What direction to you go in terms of Suspension?

-Fork: 80 psi with 2 tokens
-Shock: 120 psi with no bands / Bottomless rings

“I run more sag on the rear, I think a lot of people set their sag up when they are in a car park and then when you are on the trail going down there is a lot more weight going through your hands, so I’m a firm believer of setting your bike up on the trail and not just the car park. Tend to run the rear sag around 20-25% percent on the rear and the forks I don’t really worry about the sag, I just change the pressure accordingly on the trail. Over the years I’ve got a round number where I start but as far as setting up its all on the trail. Rebound in the winter here will slow down a lot just by how cold it will be, then in the summer it will speed up a lot so I’m constantly changing rebound on both, but the go to compression setting is 2 tokens and 80 psi is in the ball park.”

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A RockShox Lyrik packs 160 mm of travel, 80 psi and 2 tokens is Ruaridh’s go to settings.
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The Monarch Plus RC3 DebonAir has no Bottomless rings and runs at 20-25% sag which is more than that on the fork.

We’ve seen more coil shocks popping up in enduro, is that something you’d fancy trying?

“Yeah I’d definitely like to try one, it’d add an element of tuning the rear shock to it. The trail air shocks like the Monarch tend to be set and forget, if you added a coil shock on there it would certainly give you some adjustability and set it up more for specific tracks. At the moment I don’t have one on but it’s something I want to look into.”

Drivetrain Setup

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A SRAM’s XO 11 speed drive train is tasked with putting down the power.
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Crank Brothers Mallet DH pedals keep more similarity to his downhill bike. 170 mm SRAM XO cranks are equipped with a 32T X-Sync chainring with a Gamut Trail SXC chain guide for added security.

Wheel + Tyre Setup

What about your choice in rubber?

“Both are set up tubeless but tyre pressure wise, it varies. Most of the time I’m between 25 and 27 psi in the front, and 27 and 30 psi in the back. Quite often in the winter I’ll go lower, but there comes a point, certainly for faster riders that you have to sacrifice grip to stop it rolling in corners as we are pushing it so hard into corners. I’ll notice if its wet or whatever if I reduce my tyre pressure to anything below 25 psi I can feel the front end and rear as well squirming when I push into stuff.”

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Up front is a Schwalbe Magic Mary in their prototype ‘First Ride’ compound / carcass.
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The Magic Mary / Hans Dampf combo is a popular one and Ruaridh is another opting for it.

“I do a few enduro races here and there, but I can’t say I’ve focused enough on the sport or racing. I haven’t done any testing out with a downhill bike, with my enduro bike I set it up how I like it when I get it and don’t deviate too much or try too many different things. If I’m riding a trail centre like Glentress a lot I tend to run a higher pressure in the tyre or I’d go to a less aggressive tyre on the front, likewise if I was racing enduro and it was wet and got really sloppy I’d swap to two Magic Marys but the Magic Mary / Hans Dampf combo works really well for me. I have probably been on that same combo for the last two years, certainly at the EWS last year and Tweedlove Internation this year that was the combo I ran both times. There’s more grip up front with the Magic Mary and the Hans Dampf is just solid, its pretty fast rolling and there’s some good braking edges.”

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Hope Tech’s Pro 4 hubs are laced to their Enduro rim and of course pimped out in the Unior Tools blue!

Do you have any more plans for racing enduro / EWS this year?

“There might be something in the pipeline… I mean the main focus is on downhill, I have quite a lot of races coming up but I’ll be taking my downhill bike to whistler (Crankworx), you never know!”

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In action on the stages of the Tweedlove International, narrowly missing out on the win behind full time EWS racer Greg Callaghan.

Keep up to date with Ruaridh Cunnigham’s racing by following his Instagram.

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