Tuning tips with Markus Kaufmann

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Markus Kaufmann, poster child of Team Texpa Simplon, doesn’t leave anything up to chance – much less when it comes to his bike. And he shared his tuning tips with us!

Bike tuning with Markus Kaufmann

„Lightweight is easy, but lightweight and reliable – that’s the challenge”

Markus Kaufmann is the poster child of Team Texpa Simplon. He’s a two-time German champion in mountain bike marathon and four-time winner of the Bike Transalp. In 2015, he also took home sixth place at the mountain bike world championship in Gröden. So he’s among the top elite of mountain bike marathon athletes – especially, when it comes to long mountain stages … 

Every extra kilogramme on the bike costs you a few minutes on the trail. Hence Markus reflects on every detail of his race bike. In the MTB scene, he’s long had the reputation of leaving nothing up to chance when it comes to training, equipment and nutrition. 

In this magazine article, you’ll find out how he managed to get his Simplon Razorblade 29 III SL down to a race weight of 8.2 kilogrammes and which components fell victim to his tuning process. 

Why the mountain bike pro tunes his race bike …

With about 73 kilogrammes, Markus rides at 440 watts for more than 20 minutes and, even after an hour on the bike, he’s still at 410 watts. Despite a race duration of three to six hours and an elevation gain of 3,000 to 5,000 metres, contenders for the win are usually only a few seconds apart on long marathons. 

Interesting fact: On a distance of 4,000 metres in elevation gain, you’ll lose about five watts due to a worn wheel bearing or chain. If your bike weighs one extra kilo, you’ll lose about 3 to 3.5 minutes across this distance. 

That’s why Markus scrutinises every single piece on his Simplon Razorblade 29 III SL. He managed to get its race weight down to 8.2 kilogrammes with his “tuning measures” – and according to his own statements, without trading that for safety. “Lightweight is easy, but lightweight and reliable – that’s the challenge”, says the mountain bike pro about his race bike. 

Lightweight is easy, but lightweight and reliable – that’s the challenge
-Markus Kaufmann-

Always at the forefront of his tuning efforts: the bike’s rotating mass

Markus focuses his efforts especially on the bike’s rotating mass. The parts involved have to be accelerated again and again. This primarily applies to the wheels and lightweight but puncture-proof tyres. They’ll give you a lot of control but also little rolling resistance. For most races, Markus opts for Schwalbe Kombi Racing Ray in the front and Racing Ralph in the rear – for dry, fast races, he sometimes also uses the Thunder Burt ones with less profile.Using a bit more sealant adds some weight, but it can prevent punctures. Tyre noodle inserts add a bit of weight at the wheels as well, yet they provide puncture protection, comfort and grip because they let you ride on less tyre pressure. They even allow for a tyre pressure of under 1.5 bars.

Markus also considers the crank, shoes and pedals part of the rotating mass. He has just subtracted a few grams of the weight of his SRM crankset by replacing the crank arms with newer, lighter ones.

I hardly ever use any self-made parts anymore because I’d rather trust in the experience of the different manufacturers. I don’t want to risk any breakdowns during a race
-Markus Kaufmann-

Reducing overall weight – but how?

To get the total weight of the bike as low as possible, the basics need to be light as well – meaning, the frame and fork. The Razorblade 29 III SL and the Cirex 120 have been among the lightest serial frames on the market for years and the same goes for the SR Suntour Axon carbon fork. So the setup is just after Markus’ taste. 

Last but not least, let’s take a closer look at the parts on the bike. Based on the motto “ten times ten grams equals one hundred” – every little piece is optimised. He uses handlebars and a seatpost by Schmolke. The bottle cage, headset expander and quick-release axles are by Tune. Special carbon parts – some of them made to specification – are by Hopp Carbon. 

“I hardly ever use any self-made parts anymore because I’d rather trust in the experience of the different manufacturers. I don’t want to risk any breakdowns during a race”, Markus adds about how he approaches his tuning process. 

Kaufmann’s tips for working with lightweight components

“When it comes to lightweight components, you need to apply quite a bit more caution”, Markus warns. They’re made for heavy-duty race use but they don’t forgive any mistakes – unlike aluminium handlebars weighing about 200 grams more.

In addition, you really need to read the manual carefully. Not every set of handlebars can be shortened or equipped with bar ends. Some components even have weight limits for add-ons. The torque specified by the manufacturer should be adhered to.

Optimal bike maintenance

When it comes to servicing his bike, Markus tends towards perfectionism: “My bike always has to be in tip-top shape, and everything needs to work smoothly. I don’t even want to get on a dirty bike. If I start my ride and the headset feels loose or something doesn’t work properly, I turn around and fix it right away.” 

Proper care and maintenance of the bike also minimise the threat of a breakdown during a race or during training. And in light of the fact that a badly greased chain or worn bearing leads to a loss in performance, servicing it properly becomes even more important. An extreme example of this: A rusty chain without oil eats up about 30 watts. 

To prevent any possible losses in performance, Markus not only ensures all components are properly lubed. He also exchanged all his bearings for ceramic ones. They’re not exactly cheap – something that’s true for many other parts on his bike as well – but they’ll give you a couple “free watts” as they say in the bike scene. 

You would like to test the Razorblade 29 III SL before starting to tweak it based on the tuning tips by Markus Kaufmann? Then go ahead and configurate your dream MTB or book an appointment with one of our experts! 

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© Simplon Fahrrad GmbH

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