It's been a strong 2017 so far for Emily Batty. Batty kicked off the season with a fifth-place result at Sea Otter and has managed top ten finishes in eight of her past nine races, including a win at the Canadian National Championships a couple weeks ago.
The Trek Factory XC rider, however, faces a new dilemma coming into this weekend's competition at Mont Sainte Anne: Which bike should she ride? Hardtail or full-suspension? Batty landed on the podium here last year after battling it out aboard her Procaliber hardtail, but this year the course is more than a little rough. Photographer, Matt Delorme, sat down with Batty and got her take on which bike might be the better choice this time around.
So, Mont Sainte Anne is a little rougher—a lot rougher, actually—than it has been in year’s past. I understand you’re on the fence about which bike to ride:
Full suspension or hardtail?
on the fence. Normally, in the past, at Mont Sainte Anne, I’ve raced the Top Fuel. But last year I really liked the ProCal, which was unusual because nobody was racing hardtails."
Why did you wind up riding the hardtail then?
I realized that the climbs were where that race was going to be won or lost—it wasn’t going to be decided by the technical sections. But, this year, the technical, absolutely is going to have a huge role.
No matter which bike Batty rides, comfort is not going to be her top priority, as evidenced by the foam grips.
Just in case she needs a reminder that this is a World Cup event...
The technical factor has gone up a notch?
Absolutely. This year, in my opinion, is one of the roughest versions of the cross-country course. There’s a lot more roots exposed it seems, there’s so much chatter on each lap.
Batty's been riding both bikes this week, but the Top Fuel seems likely to get the nod. The Procaliber SL isn't your typical hardtail--it features Trek's hinged IsoSpeed Decoupler, which decouples the seat tube from the top tube and allows the seat tube to flex more than normal. IsoSpeed is a feature that showed up first on their Domane road bikes back in 2012 and it makes the Procaliber SL more of a soft-tail, really. The effect, however, is subtle. The Top Fuel's Fox rear shock, however, would come in handy on a course as burly as this one has turned out to be. Like the rest of Batty's bike, the Fox damper gets the electric treatment.
You've been experimenting with both bikes?
Yeah, I did some laps on the hardtail this week and it wasn’t nearly as fun to ride [laughs], so I’m still up in the air as to what I’m going to race—the hardtail or the full suspension. I will probably decide once the weather settles out.
...and wires there.
You mean if it rains you'll probably run the full-suspension bike?
Not necessarily. Sometimes when it rains I want
of a bike. Because the speeds are lower. I mean the full suspension is hands-down the most fun to ride and it’s good for preserving your energy, but I race really well on the Procal.
Give 'er! No front derailleurs required. XTR 1x gets the job done.
What do you like about the hardtail?
It’s really light. And for me, I’m a 106 pounds, so the bike’s weight makes a very big difference. And the climbs are steep here. We’re doing about 145 meters of climbing, so I really feel the weight difference on a course like this.
No matter which bike Batty chooses, she'll be running on 27.5 wheels this year. Her bikes are both equipped Bontrager Kovee XXX carbon wheels and Bontrager XR1 Team Issue tires. It's a fairly strapping wheelset, actually, for an XC racing application, with its 29mm internal width. Bontrager, however, gave the rim a failry shallow profile (just 27mm) to lend a bit more compliance and keep weight to a minimum. To that end, Bontrager claims the Kovee XXX is their lightest carbon rim to date...not that Emily Batty has ever had a problem getting wheels to roll quickly.