Pro Bike Check: Camille Balanche’s Commencal Supreme DH at the Fort William World Cup


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.

camille balanche bike check fort william 2022 race plate number 1

Commencal Supreme DH V5 Prototype by Camille Balanche

camille balanche commencal supreme dh bike check 2022 fort william world cup dh

The final production Commencal Supreme DH V5 will have a mule wheel setup, as seen here on Camille Balanche’s race bike

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.

non dirve side view of commencal supreme dh v5 bike with high virtual pivot suspension 6 bar linkage design

The upper and lower links of the 6-bar suspension design are connected by a strut-shaped third link that sits inside and slightly aft of the seat tube struts

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.

commencal supreme dh v5 idler pulley virtual high pivot point 6 bar linkage

A massive bumper mounted on the idler pulley protects it against rock strikes and also serves as a chain guide. The production bike will feature similar protection on the non-drive side in an effort to prevent mud buildup around the link pivots

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.

commencal supreme dh v5 idler pulley mounting location laser machined bracket adjusts height

Each bolt on Camille’s Supreme DH has a sharp little marker that helps the Yanik mechanic quickly identify any bolts that have strayed from the desired torque setting.

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.

loose head angle adjustment for camille balanche supreme dh

Camille Balanche runs a Renthal Fatbar Lite edition for the improved vibration damping it offers

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.

camille balanche supreme dh v5 road bike chainstay length adjustment flip chip dropouts

When the rear center length is adjusted, the rear brake mount simply slides along a rail into position; no adapters, nor oversizing or oversizing of the rotor, are necessary here

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.

camille balanche dh commencal supreme 4 position flip chip bb height and kinematic adjustment

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.

Camille Balanche first outing schwalbe prototype magic mary tires

Yanik says the reduced amount of rubber in the sidewalls of this prototype tire means it is lighter and more flexible than Schwalbe’s current Super DH casing.

“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.

prototype schwalbe magic mary tires first ride camille balanche bike check fort william

Camille has chosen to ride a Magic Mary front and rear, while teammate Benoit Coulanges prefers to ride a Dirty Dan at the rear

2022 world cup dh bike pro camille balanche commencal supreme dh v5 cog

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.

world cup 2022 dh fort william camille balanche supreme dh v5 stfu chain dampers

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.

yanik braun tech bash guard

Mechanic Yanik Braun saw fit to design his own bash guard, propped up in a position where the guard is unlikely to bend when hit by a rock

We wish good luck to Camille and the entire Commencal Dorval team this weekend.


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