Taken from Dirt issue 65, July 2007
The Megavalanche is one of THE classic downhill races in the world. It really is a total test for body, soul, and of course bike. It is held in the alpine town of Alpe d’Huez during the last week of July, and really we are pretty new to the event, having only attended for the last two years, each time taking out a variety of bikes.
This year we thought we would give you the low down on a couple of the bikes that we will be taking to the event. From the downright crazy hardtail bike from Dialled that Bill Thackray (resident hardtail freak) will be riding, to the altogether more sensible Intense 6.6 that team rider Rob Breakwell will be on.
I mean you can ride the event on anything, on a downhill bike it will be comfy on the downs, but a bit of a handful on the ups, and not really competitive. The ‘new wave’ of long travel, go anywhere bikes is really what you need. A solid wheelset, DH tyres, very good brakes and a strong but light build is really what you are after.
So here are just two of the bikes that the Dirt crew will be using out in Alpe d’Huez.
Well f–k me, I thought it would never get built, but stone the French crows, the Megavalanche hardtail project is a reality. And do you know what? It’s quite a sweet machine too.
So you’re thinking ‘why the hell do the avalanche on a hardtail?’ I say, ‘because it’s there’. No, wait, someone else said that. No, really what happened was, was, well what it is, is. Well, I did the race last year on some mid travel thing, and I thought to myself ‘you know, this is all very good fun, but I’m just a number here, number two hundred and fifty seven, just one of maybe fifteen hundred mid travel bikes’. I want to be different, I want to be free, I want to be loaded, I want to remember those lyrics. Throw into the pot the fact that certain people say it can’t be done on a hardtail, season with a drizzle of ‘you’ve gotta be nuts’ and garnish with a sprig of ‘keeping it real baby’ and if it’s done right you end up with a blumin’ good adventure. If not, it might be more of an eggy mess, either way it’s a challenge.
So this was January, the plan was kicked about a bit, and finally HQ said ‘enough kicking, something’s gonna get broken, go, build your machine’. So after four weeks of emails and phone calls I managed to track down two dust caps and a sprocket. Back on the phone to HQ, I said ‘listen, you’d better do it, but just promise me one thing, promise me that it’s pink and gold, has white tyres, purple spokes and is pimped to the max, got it?’
I don’t think they heard me, anyway here she is. A quick razz round and it certainly feels lively, pretty light too. And the stealth look is growing on me. See you in France.
Click through to view the Megavalanche: Bike Build gallery before reading on…
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Pink, gold, purple, white…maybe not, but trick yes. After taking far too long to decide on exactly what we were going to use for this build we finally came to a decision. This is what we chose, and more importantly why we chose it…
Frame: Dialled Bikes Prototype
The key to this build was obviously the frame and it wasn’t an easy decision to make. We’d decided steel, or possibly titanium, purely for comfort and peace of mind, it was just a case of getting the geometry right. We’d been umming and aahhing for ages and then we remembered hearing that the guys at Trail Adiction (who run uplift holidays in Les Arcs area) had been testing out a prototype ‘Alpine’ hardtail for Dialled Bikes.
We’ve always liked the handling of their frames and when we found out more about this prototype it sounded perfect; Reynolds 853, designed for a 6” travel fork, big tyre clearance, etc, etc. Luckily it seems spot-on, not too small, but there’s massive amounts of stand over height thanks to the dropped toptube. I think it looks great, and I’m sure it’ll survive many more Megavalanches than Billy will.
Fork: RockShox Lyric Coil U-Turn
We chose these for a number of reasons; firstly they’re coil not air. If you’re ever going to have problems with air forks overheating, it’s going to be at the Mega, so I think they’re best avoided. The added bonus of choosing the spring over the air is that the U-Turn travel adjust allows us to precisely tweak the length of the fork, just in case it turns out to handle badly at full bore (seems like it doesn’t though). Can’t remember what reason I’m at now…anyway, they also work a treat, have an efficiency mode (if he can ever be arsed to use it), and feature all the damping adjustments you could ever want. Tool–less wheel removal is also another large plus point.
Headset: Cane Creek Solos
We could have gone for something huge, but instead we’ve just gone for quality bearings. The headtube is fairly substantial so we didn’t feel the need for anything stronger, so it seemed sensible to save some weight here.
Stem: Easton Havoc DH
We have sometimes come across issues when using certain stems with carbon bars, they just seem to distribute the stress badly, so just to make sure we don’t run into any problems we’ve simply matched the bar and stem. Billy said he normally ran a 50 mm, so that’s what we got him, and he seems pretty happy.
Bars: Easton CNT MonkeyLite DH
Some of you might not trust carbon bars, but I do. These are ridiculously light, and seriously strong, plus they’ll give a very much needed extra form of comfort. They’re about to receive some chopping though.
Grips: Industry Nine
Last year Billy deliberately ripped his grips off before the race, you could say he likes them thin. We were thinking ODI Ruffians, but then we spotted these in a box, almost an exact copy, just a tiny bit slimmer. Lock–On style fitting…perfect.