Graves on his way to 2nd at the 2005 Angel Fire World Cup.
This is a press release from Yeti and Fox, written by me. I’ll be writing race reports for these guys throughout the season.
Yeti Cycles and Fox Racing Shox have joined forces to contest the world’s top races and develop the world’s best frames and suspension components.
Team members Jared Graves, Justin Leov, Rich Houseman, Ross Milan and T.J. Sharp will compete in downhill and gated races at NORBA nationals, UCI World Cups and the Sea Otter Classic. Yeti and Fox look forward to impressive race results and exciting product evolution.
In top-level racing, the world’s best riders push frames and suspension parts to inhuman extremes â€” and that’s where Yeti and Fox learn most about performance and durability.
Take the Fox 40 downhill fork for example. It started as an open bath design, but race testing pushed the team to design a closed damper cartridge that works better and is lighter. Says Mark Fitzsimmons, Fox’s Mountain Bike Race Program Manager. “Without a dedicated race-driven development team, this kind of innovation just isn’t possible.”
Many Yeti race bikes have been heavily influenced by their riders: Paul Rowney and the AS-R, Nathan Rennie and the 4X, Jared Graves and the 303DH.
The Yeti 303DH developed from a tight collaboration between Graves, Yeti and Fox. Graves described where the bike felt great and where it could feel better, then Yeti and Fox worked together to create the optimum wheel path, spring rate and damping characteristics. The team made a prototype one week, raced it the next week, and kept repeating the cycle until the bike was dialed. Graves finished the season ranked first in the downhill in the NMBS National Series.
Houseman tucks in at the Angel Fire World Cup.
“It’s a great relationship,” says Chris Conroy, Yeti president and general manager. “We’re not choosing what suspension brand to use after we design the frame. Fox is fully integrated into the product development process. This integrated thinking allows us to tweak the product that last five percent, and that’s what it takes to perform well at the World Cup level.”
“By the time we release a bike to the market,” says Conroy, “it’s been through a few race seasons, and it’s the best you can get.”
The 2006 Roster
All of this technology boils down to the riding experience, and that’s all about ripping on mountain bikes with your buddies. For that reason, every team member isn’t just a great rider â€” he’s also a cool guy, easy to approach and fun to hang out with.
“We race because we love it,” says Conroy. “We expect success, but our pit is friendly and fun.”
Milan rips the pump track at The Fix in Boulder, CO.
Here are this year’s Yeti-Fox Racing Team members, along with Conroy’s comments on each:
Jared Graves – 2005 NMBS Downhill and 4X 1st overall, UCI World Cup 4X 5th overall – “Jared is one of the few guys who can truly compete at the World Cup level in both DH and 4X. He’s incredibly skilled and dedicated, with a ton of natural talent. He’s so stylie, great to watch ride. The nice thing about him is he’s a World Cup athlete, yet he’s humble and easy to get along with.”
Justin Leov – 2005 UCI World Cup Downhill 10th overall – “Anyone who can go out and be committed to racing the World Cup as a privateer and finish in the top 15 speaks volumes about his talent as a racer. Now with a full factory ride and the support he needs, he could be in the top 5.”
Rich Houseman – 2005 NMBS Downhill 16th overall. 4X 6th overall – “Big House. His BMX background and many years in the saddle give him an edge â€“ he has great instincts. He’s a fantastic athlete who can work a full time job and still compete at this level. He’s also stepping up as the team manager in the U.S., helping younger riders learn about the sport. And at 220 pounds and riding the way he does, he gives us a big guy’s perspective on building bikes.”
Ross Milan – 2005 NMBS 4X 11th overall – “The Crusher. He’s the hometown favorite for sure. He works at Yeti, so he’s as integrated into the program as you can get. He’s an incredibly fast, strong and aggressive rider. He’s always going for it. It’s a raw brute strength thing with him. He has a full time job, but he can still race at the national level.”
Sharp styles it at The Fix.
T.J. Sharp – 2005 Mountain States Cup Semi-Pro Gravity 1st overall – “He’s a great kid. He’s a solid dirt jumper, and he has great overall skills. He’s a kid we can groom for a good future in mountain bike racing.” And he’ll be helping drive the team trailer around North America.
Graves and Leov will contest all UCI World Cups, as well as non-conflicting NORBA Nationals. Houseman, Milan and Sharp will race the NORBA Nationals and North American World Cup races. The team will be managed by Damion Smith, who also has a fast pedigree (2001 Semi-Pro DH Champion). Houseman will help run the team and take care of logistics in the U.S.
“Our goal is to continue learning about the products,” says Fitzsimmons, “and we’ve invested in some interesting new technology to learn even more.”
The team purchased timing equipment that measures riders through sections of a course and when used in conjunction with their unique data acquisition system, gives them critical data to make the racers go faster. They’re also looking into video overlay equipment that lets them compare riders, lines and setups.
“Other component companies work with race teams, but their process is less integrated,” says Fitzsimmons. “Our relationship with Yeti and our commitment to creating race specific technologies will give us an edge this year.”
Leov home in New Zealand.
Yeti / Fox Racing Factory Team will ride the best products on the market.
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