I’m following with interest the development of the new Santa Cruz/FSA team featuring the ever-consistent Maxime Marotte. Having been booted from Cannondale, he’s leading the charge for this seemingly new team. The brand Santa Cruz certainly hasn’t made a splash on the top levels of XCO racing in years past. While they’ve had a XC race bike in their stable, there were none to be seen at World Cups…at least I don’t recall seeing any. So when looking at the many photos and videos of Maxime from the recent pre-World Cup races in Europe, I noticed a photo of his handlebars that caught my eye. The bike had no grips on, and the brake lever clamps seemed so thin and small. It immediately raised my spidey-senses. Is this a rare look at truly customized parts on a top pro’s bike? YES! Upon a video overview of his FSA components, it clearly shows some homemade looking carbon clamps for his levers.

Then it struck me – you don’t see any of these really cool tweaks anymore. Everyone has either full SRAM everything, or Fox and Shimano everything. Bone stock. So it occured to me the only reason he’s allowed to mess with his levers/shifters might be because he’s sponsored by FSA, but running SRAM or Shimano parts on his own. So he’s free to mess with the clamps if he sees fit. While going through his FSA parts, it was slightly unusual – rotors, cranks, chain? FSA…but no mention of calipers, levers, cassette, shifters, etc.

Aside from an occasional Rotor crankset, it’s gotten very mundane in the pro bike world. I remember back in the day, many pro’s ran the same high-end CNC components that us weekend-warriors ran. Avid brakes, Ringle hubs, Grafton cranks, etc. It was not unusual to see pro’s running really strange stuff that the average Joe would never use. It made walking around the pits at races that much more interesting to gear-nerds like me.

Oh well, we should be grateful that pro-quality components are available to all, and the weights of the top bikes aren’t unrealistic with a little work from a savvy shopper.

Watch the FSA video here, it’s pretty cool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYMpO4VoQZs