Early season testing started for the Santa Cruz Syndicate with mechanics, engineers and riders arriving in the town of Imperia, Italy, for three days of extensive testing aboard the latest Santa Cruz full carbon V-10’s. The bikes were decked out with the Syndicate’s newest sponsor products from Fox and Shimano. The Syndicate’s choice to join forces with Shimano and Fox proved to be a great decision as the test session was incredibly successful.
“Testing was amazing, the most productive test session I have ever been to. Besides good riding and eating killer Italian food, our Syndicate family expanded with Fox and Shimano. I feel this was a great start to the year and I’m looking forward to more positive things to come in 2012,” said Greg Minnaar.
The testing took place on the long downhill racetrack in San Romolo with shuttle assistance from Roberto Vernassa from Argentina Bike. The five-man Fox crew was ready to gather information from suspension testing using their state of the art data acquisition equipment. Spirits were high as everyone got started off on the dark chilly mornings while the mechanics built a bonfire at the bottom of the track to stave off a bit of chill. Riders were warm and tingly inside with big grins after the first run.
“We were getting everyone up to speed on the new full carbon frame, Fox suspension, and Shimano components. With the frame being much lighter than the previous version we had to dial the suspension in because of less un-sprung weight. I’ve also been riding the new XTR brakes for some time now and can’t get over how impressive they are, particularly with modulation. Feedback from all the racers was what I was expecting, a new milestone in performance,” says Rob Roskopp.
Greg Minnaar exclaims, “I was blown away on the first ride down the rugged San Romolo track. The first thought was, this is a winning combo! Fitzy and his crew worked flat out to get us up to speed. Their passion, enthusiasm and suspension knowledge is going to be very positive to the Syndicate. It’s been awhile since I was last on Shimano, 2003...and that was a good year for me. I hope this is the good luck I’ll be needing to win another World Championship.”
Santa Cruz engineer Joe Graney says, “We look forward to a close relationship with the suspension experts at Fox. They arrived in Italy with a team of engineers and technicians - blowing everyone away with how they were able to accurately translate each rider's input into measured improvements in speed and control. Shimano continues to push the envelope with technologies like Ice Tech brake rotors and the Shadow Plus derailleur, as well as the variety of options that can be configured for different conditions fitting perfectly with Santa Cruz Bicycles’ core values of customer choice, usable performance, durability and long term support.”
Our newest addition to the Syndicate, mechanic Jason Marsh says, "I'm super happy that we are using Fox Racing Shox and Shimano for the 2012 season. The new Fox 40 forks suit the carbon V-10 frame perfectly and the RC4 rear shock really compliments the VPP suspension design. The riders were all impressed on how good the bikes felt, even after the first run. I have worked with the Saint group-set for the last three seasons and I really like how they work. Saint cranks are super strong, brakes are simple to set up and the rear derailleur and shifter are super smooth and a nice set up. Finish and attention to detail can’t be matched. The support offered by the Fox team over the last few days has been superb and their race support is second to none. 2012 will be a great season."
Steve Peat was surprisingly pleased, “We have had three awesome days testing and training in Italy. It was great to catch up with all my crew after a few down months throughout the winter and I was happy to get out on the Santa Cruz V-10 and trash it in the test situation. Fox is a company that I have watched over the years. They obviously have great product because the fast guys are using it and winning races now and again on it. And Shimano needs no introduction. It’s a no brainer that they have great products and I am looking forward to working with them at the races! We came up with some great set ups and I am now looking forward to the season. Now it’s our turn to give it a thrash on our V-10’s, 2012 should be fun!”
“The test session was a big learning curve for me. Having ridden Boxxer’s since I was about 14, I’m very used to the look and feel of the fork so it was a huge change. I really enjoyed the process of getting my new bike set up and it was interesting getting to know the characteristics of all the new products. The suspension seems almost limitless with it its adjustability and I think our bikes have entered a whole new realm of adaptability. Despite getting my ass kicked in the final race I had a really fun and productive three days,” said Josh Bryceland.
Tradition is that on the last day of testing we always have a race to see who is quickest. Once again, for the second time in a row, Peaty took the win. But unlike the first time when Greg wore the dress to dinner, it was Josh’s turn to wear a skirt. Since there were no women’s clothes handy, Josh had to improvise and craft a fashionable number out of a pair of pants. “His outfit was complete with his ‘special’ tiger underwear, “ chimes in Roskopp.
Joe Lawwill, Shimano’s MTB marketing manager says, "Shimano is very proud and excited to be working with Santa Cruz Bicycles and the iconic Syndicate race team. We are looking forward to a successful and exciting 2012 season."
Fox’s Mark Fitzsimmons says, “We are very excited to work with a team at this level. The professionalism of the team has shown in their years of great results and we look forward to bringing our suspension expertise to the program. We here at FOX thrive on the pure honesty racing brings to our development process and look forward to learning from Steve, Greg and Josh to continue to improve our products and aid them in their mission for podiums. Our goal is to provide our athletes with a suspension performance advantage and look forward to continuing this into the 2012 season.”
Syndicate head mechanic Dougie “Fresh” Hatfield says, “The Fox and Shimano Saint equipped bikes ran silky smooth during our test camp in San Romolo. The riders really liked the responsiveness and quality of the product. We are ready to go racing!!”
Santa Cruz Syndicate Manager