Developing the DH bike was one project. Going racing is another. We’ve been chin scratching about the finer details of our DH bike for a long time behind the scenes. So rather than wish the racers good luck and watch from the comfort of our sofa as they risk their bacon, we saw an opportunity to be more involved.
Knowing the bike so well inside and out, seeing as we’d developed it, there was a wealth of knowledge about it and all the adjustments in the toolbox that we could offer to the racers. At a DH race event, the number of runs can often be less than one good day in a bike park. Being comfortable and confident as soon as possible on the bike is paramount to having one less thing to worry about in the whirlwind of lines, roots and holes. We decided to create a link between the engineering and smart fingers at RAAW directly to the racers and team. That link is the race engineer role. It's a role that is commonplace in the likes of MotoGP, but not so prominent in downhill racing. The idea of the role is two-fold and works both ways to benefit both RAAW and the race team.
Our expertise and knowledge behind the development of the bike comes in to tie the engineering and further development of the bike directly to the guys who are riding at the highest level. In the same way that the frame is the meeting point for the suspension, wheels and controls, the race engineer is the link between RAAW, the racers and all the technical minds behind the various components that go into making it a complete race bike. We’re all there with the same goal of speed, and in pursuit of that we’ll be at the races and test sessions to make sure each racer is as fast and comfy as possible on the bike, using all the tools we have at our disposal.
We can also do the work in between the races to explore and analyze the different setups and adjustments to make sure that when we rock up to a race, we already have a direction for the bike’s shape and the ride feel we want to achieve for what lays in front of us.
The culture surrounding DH racing is that of a family, and being part of the racing family is important to us, to make sure that when a racer swings a leg over our DH bike that they have the utmost confidence in their equipment and the brand that they’re riding for. It also opens up the door to even more learnings that we as a brand can capitalize on.
Nowhere else is a bike taken closer, or over, its limit more than when it’s being raced. Up at that ragged edge is where the equipment is properly tested. Getting involved with the racers and team allows us to understand these demands better, both in between the tape and in the work stand, and further develop not only the DH bike but also weave what we find into all our bikes. Having a bike that racers can quickly feel comfortable enough to push the speeds and take more risks can also be channeled into your average weekend rider wanting to have the same level of comfort, control and confidence for them to extract the most amount of fun out of their ride. Having bikes that are durable and easy to work on is one of our morals and making sure that our bikes hold up to the abuse of World Cup DH racers and the demands of their mechanics is another facet that can go towards everyone who owns a RAAW. DH racing might be a very focussed sport, but its learnings can benefit much more than might first meet the eye.
And beyond that, we’re simply proud to enter the racing family and contribute to what we feel, and have done since knee high to a grasshopper, is the coolest part of mountain biking.
555 RAAW Gravity Racing
The Scottish based 555 team takes its name from the vertical drop on the formidable Fort William World Cup track. KJ, Luke, Douglas and Ryan will be tackling the UCI Downhill World Cup series and World Champs, as well as numerous other national and international races.