Harry Heath: Unior Tools Trek Session Bike Check
May 17th, 2011
With the 2011 race season already under way, Factory Jackson will be bringing you the inside scoop on Pro bikes throughout the year with all the custom tweaks, mods and factory goodness we all want to know about. In this feature, we tracked down Unior Tools pro and 23 Degrees Athlete, Harry Heath, at some secret trails in the heart of the UK to find out about his new Trek Session 88 Unior Tools team bike and his thoughts on the future of DH bikes, state of UK uplifts and going to Slovenia.
Interview: Olly Forster
Photos: Alex Tyler
-So, the 2011 Trek Session 88 – sweet bike! It’s difficult to tell on the Trek website, but its got a brushed aluminium finish with red transfers and looks mint in the flesh. What size do you run?
Yeah it’s a really cool looking bike. I run a stock large.
-Do you prefer frames a little larger as you could run the medium, or does the Trek come up a little small?
I was thinking of an XL at one point because I like a bigger bike for its top tube reach. When I got on this large, it fitted like a glove and showed me I was probably trying to run too big of a bike before.
-Rock Shox World Cups up front. How are you finding the 2011 internals? I hear good things!
Amazing piece of kit! They are as plush as a Boxxer Team (R2C2) but lighter and with the air pressure, you can get them set to your weight perfectly.
-I can see some battle damage on the fork legs; uplift?
Moelfre, any one who’s been knows. They were brand new fork lowers the morning of the race as well. Stinger!
-How do you feel about bikes getting damaged on uplifts?
It’s not big and it’s not clever. The more people who are happy the more people are going to come back next time, so it’s worth splashing the cash on a proper trailer.
-It’s not cool at all! Even if your bike is given to you, it’s still something you’ve worked hard to get and something you want to look good as it represents you and your sponsors – there are some top uplift companies in the UK, but I guess it will take a while to get everyone on the same page.
Like you say, you want your bike to be looking good no matter what. There are more places that have got the mix right on the uplift system; it’s just a small minority that need to tow the line.
-Moving on from that one I reckon. You’ve got the stock Fox RC4 in the rear with a Ti spring, what weight spring do you run and are you going to run this shock all season or try something else?
I use a 400lb spring and I’m just under 12 stone (approx 168 lbs) in weight. There’s a Rock Shox Vivid on the way to me as we speak, so that will be on there for the rest of the season.
-Do you go for any custom mods on the suspension and do you alter shock settings regularly depending on course conditions?
In terms of tech internal stuff there’s nothing fancy. I wouldn’t know where to start with the drill myself. I’ll do a few clicks of compression here and there if there’s a big hit in a track, but that’s about it.
-Do you think some people get a bit too involved with playing with their suspension set-ups and getting themselves lost in all the tech?
Each to their own. Some people might not have a clue how to set their bike up so it would be helpful for them to get it tweaked. There are a few who don’t stop messing and think they have come up with a magic formula. I’m sure most of us are guilty for playing with the twisty dials. It’s only natural, they look cool and they could make you go faster.
-Lets talk about the drivetrain, 170mm and not 165mm cranks? A whole 5mm, what’s all that about? After some more horse power?
Just waiting for some new ones, nothing to read into there.
-Will you be getting the new Descendant cranks?
There on the way with the Vivid shock. It’s like having Christmas every other week when stuff gets sent to you.
-What size chainring do you run and do you change the ring size depending on the course and conditions?
Gamut 36T Race ring, which never gets changed, at least until those cool ‘micro drives’ come out anyway.
-What else have you got going on here: chainguide, shifter, mech, etc…?
Chain device is a Gamut P30, which is proving indestructible and silent. Shifter and mech are Sram XO and top kit that works.
-I’ve heard you lock out the top two rings on the cassette. What’s this about and what ratio do you run?
I always start in third gear, so I block the top two out so I know where I’m at and if my mech gets hit by anything, it’s only got two cog’s to go before it’s in my spokes. I’m on a 26t-11t cassette.
-Okay, wheels. What rims and hubs are you running?
Bontrager Big earl rims and Bontrager hubs with Sapim spokes. Not found a better working combo.
-You’ve got the new 40mm rise bars from Burgtec. How you getting on with them and what width do you run?
Full width at 750mm but they are bringing out a 780mm option around mid season time.
-Can you tell us a bit about the new Burgtec pedals and the new direct mount stem? They look sick!
Your right they are sick. The pedals have always been as grippy as having your feet in quick sand, but now they’ve got even longer pins as well! The pedal body is also thinner for weight saving/clearance with a new designed axle – these things can take some serious stick. The new stem is the trickest looking thing and loads lighter with its two-piece body. It will also have the Burgtec logo on the cap, as this one was just an early pre-production one I got before they went to etching.
-I’ve noticed your not running any fancy brakes from your sponsors Sram, and instead run the basic Elixirs – not very factory on a pro bike? How come you run these?
Just for the simplicity, they work the same, just with less twisty things to mess with.
-Have you got any custom mods or tweaks across the bike that you can tell us about?
Bit boring to say, but it’s all out of the box parts.
-Do you think you’ll change much going through the year?
Probably do a few tyre changes.
-Where do you reckon downhill bike technology will go in the next few years and what do you think will be the next ‘in’ trend?
Not sure on technology because some wild creations come out every year, but I reckon the new trend is high bars. They have got a good purpose but like slack head angles, I think a lot of people will miss the point.
-What would you like to see happen with the bikes over the next few years?
Good question, but because there are so many clever people making parts now, most things are probably in the pipeline already. A fully sealed bearing that can take a good jet washing would be good.
-Back to present day. What are your plans for 2011 and what races will you be hitting?
I’m racing the rest of the World Cup and BDS series with some regional’s and internationals thrown in for good measure.
-With the Unior Tools team being based out of Slovenia, do you have any plans to head over there at some point and soak up the local culture?
Yeah that will be a cool trip. I’m going there for the week in between La Bresse and Val di Sole World Cups to do a skills camp at Kranjska Gora.
-Sounds pretty awesome! Thanks for letting us interrupt your trails session and good luck with the year ahead. Time for those shout outs!
Cheers guys and nice one with the site. Cheers to Mum, Dad and Sister for all the graft they have put in. Unior Tools team and 23 Degrees Sports Management, Broxap, Sneyd Builders, Fox Europe, Burgtec, 5.10, Leatt, Gamut, Sapim, MTB Strength Training Systems and the top guys at the Cycle Store who have been prepping my bikes forever.
You can keep up with Harry’s activities right here on his Factory Jackson Blog.