Camille Balanche of the Commencal Dorval team will be looking to make it two out of two at Fort William this weekend, in a women’s field that could see the return of fan favorite Rachel Atherton who has been out of competition since 2019. 1 at Lourdes, less than a second separated Camille from the rider ranked second, Myriam Nicole of Commencal Muc-Off. Between the cold and wet practices (thanks Scotland) on Friday afternoon, we caught up with Camille’s mechanic, Yanik Braun, to check out his Commencal Supreme DH V5.
Update: Camille Balanche qualified fastest, going 1.794 seconds faster than RockShox-Trek’s Valentina Höll who qualified second. In the Elite Men peloton, Laurie Greenland of the Santa Cruz Syndicate was the fastest. See the full results of today’s qualifying races here.
Commencal Supreme DH V5 Prototype by Camille Balanche
In the final stages of prototyping, the V5 Commencal Supreme DH you’ll see here will see very few changes before final production continues in late 2022. The Virtual High Pivot Suspension platform that uses a 6-bar linkage design is confirmed very well, with the chain routed up and over an idler pulley in an effort to decouple the forces of the drivetrain from those of the suspension.
The position of this idler pulley is something that is still being studied, as is the number of teeth. Camille’s teammate Benoit Coulanges is happy to run an idler pulley that allows some pedal kickback, actually preferring the ride feel of the bike when present. Yanik tells us that Benoit feels like the bike is missing something when it is completely absent.
Camille, on the other hand, prefers to minimize pedal bounce and accompanying fatigue, opting for a 15-tooth idler pulley (as opposed to the 14T or 16T options available). The laser-machined pulley mount is also easily swapped out for ones of varying heights, allowing the team to continually play with this aspect of the bike’s kinematics.
Yanik tells us that in previous downhill World Cup seasons, Commencal race engineers found they were going for a setup that was right on the edge of what the V4 Supreme DH was capable of. Tracks like Maribor, Slovenia, highlighted the lack of progression and the need for more compression damping than riders were necessarily happy with.
We can’t provide specific kinematic data, although Yanik says the old race setting that was at the limit of the V4’s adjustability can now be found towards the middle of the new V5’s adjustability range, allowing a more usable adjustment range to allow riders to adapt their bike setup to different race tracks.
Indeed, there are a host of geometric and kinematic tweaks to play with on the V5; this is true of both Camille’s racing rig and the production bike which is slated for late 2022. From the cockpit, the head angle can be adjusted by +/- 0.5°; for the rough rock gardens of Fort William, Camille opted for the more lazy of the two settings.
The length of the base can also be adjusted, with an adjustment range of +/- 4mm available. Camille chose to cycle mid-course here. Yanik tells us the range of adjustment at the dropouts may increase for the production bike, possibly offering a toggle chip that changes the length of the rear center by 5mm or 6mm.
The final point at which frame geometry and kinematics can be changed is at the lower shock mount, where a 4-position toggle chip can vary both the height and fore-aft mounting position to to influence the bike’s crankset. height and the overall progression of the linkage.
Camille’s Supreme DH rolls on a Crankbrothers Synthesis DH 11 Carbon wheelset, with Schwalbe Magic Mary Super DH Casing tires front and rear. This rugged casing, along with the use of a Cushcore XC (front) and Cushcore Pro (rear) tire insert, allows Camille to run super low tire pressures of 18 PSI and 21 PSI, respectively.
“First Ride” indicates that these Magic Mary tires are prototypes. We spoke to Schwalbe’s Grant Wildman to find out more, but he remained tight-lipped, only sharing that this is an all-new rubber compound that will be available on production tires by the end of the year. ‘year. Yanik only said that this compound is supposed to roll faster and provide more grip than the current line of Addix compounds offered by Schwalbe.
Yanik sets up Camille’s 7-speed cassette so that the jump between gears 4 and 5 is much larger than the jump seen between the other cogs. This means she only needs to shift gears once when pedaling out of the starting gate; if the jump was smaller, she would have to shift twice to find the perfect gear to establish the power.
It’s clear that Camille likes her bike to ride very quietly; Yanik uses Chris Kovarik’s STFU chain dampers and VHS slapper tape to keep chain slap noise to a minimum. STFU chain damper positioned closest to the seat tube doubles as a secondary chain guide, limiting the distance the chain travels side-to-side when the bike loads through rough sections such as the infamous Pinball. Yanik uses wire to provide extra security to the chain dampers, in case a flying stone damages the cable ties.
We wish good luck to Camille and the entire Commencal Dorval team this weekend.