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Forum Hot Seat - Todd Seplavy, Director of Product at GT Bicycles

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12/11/2015 2:03 PM
Edited Date/Time: 12/11/2015 2:05 PM

Question two: every brand on the planet is offering big XL trail bikes, with most offering something in the 470-490mm range, but downhill bike reach lengths are still pretty tame. Hard to find a DH bike longer than 450mm. Even in the GT lineup (which trends much bigger than most) the reach on the large Fury is 464mm while the reach on the XL Sanction is 485. Why is that?

A ) Worried wheelbase will be too long on the DH bike with similar reach #, given the slacker HA and longer chainstay,
B ) Actually think reach length and bike fit should be smaller on DH bikes because body position is different for DH, or
C ) Just lazy and don't care about tall guys' downhill bikes because we're 0.000001% of their marketshare.

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12/11/2015 2:06 PM

What happened to BeOne?

How come I never you see at Mountain Creek Bike Park anymore?

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12/11/2015 2:09 PM

TEAMROBOT wrote:

Best Rennie/Aussie/Madcatz story- go.

I don't have any really good ones. I had to buy a guy they lived with a bunch of booze to make up for him drinking all his Jack. My personal fav moment was when Rennie won Alpe d'Huez. I was up at Platty and Heimdal called my cell to tell me. I had like 1-bar of cell service and it was super rad. Terry snapped pics of me on the call and they were in Litter.

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12/11/2015 2:11 PM

Todd, as someone who has been inside of the DH scene for so long (and who was at USAC), what disparities do you see between the Euro DH racing scene and the US courses? Do good riders rise to the top of the WC based on their training ground courses? Do racers progress because of a country's course standard or is that overrated? What could be improved inside of the US' racing circuit, from your perspective and history with it all? What do you love about the current system? wink

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12/11/2015 2:11 PM

SkaTodd:

1) What U.S. venue would you like to see as the next host for a stop on the UCI World Cup circuit?

2) What does it take to be a Product Director for a brand like GT?

3) I'm starting to get the feeling that UCI World Cup DH race structure may be molding itself around televised needs than the other way around (course design based on camera-friendliness instead of simply building the best track possible). What do you think? Valid concern?

4) How many Duvels does it take to put down a Mongo?

5) Is it true you're friends with Coolie Ranx? As in actual friends - not "FB" friends.

#Bumblebee

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12/11/2015 2:13 PM

GeorgeRyan83 wrote:

What happened to BeOne?

How come I never you see at Mountain Creek Bike Park anymore?

That bike was so sick! That was the bike that got me really thinking about what a WC DH bike needs to be. That brand was owned by Accell and they bought Lapierre and I guess wanted to focus their MTB resources over there.

I never get to Creek because now I have kids and it's like totally too far away! Seriously though, I just am lame and rode lots of road and XC this summer when I wasn't on a plane somewhere.

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12/11/2015 2:14 PM

TEAMROBOT wrote:

Question two: every brand on the planet is offering big XL trail bikes, with most offering something in the 470-490mm range, ...more

D) we just hate you Charlie.

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12/11/2015 2:15 PM

Question 2:

When it comes to a DH 'race bike', what are your opinions on head angle/chainstay lengths/head tube length? Is there a 'perfect' geometry that optimizes speed and performance without sacrificing handling?

Also: favorite get up kids live-performance song?

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12/11/2015 2:17 PM

Okay, last one: what's your favorite Mortal Kombat character (this one is REALLY important).

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12/11/2015 2:21 PM

ambatty wrote:

Todd, as someone who has been inside of the DH scene for so long (and who was at USAC), what disparities do you see between ...more

Ok, the prob I see in the US is a few-fold...and unfortunately I don't see it changing much too soon.

1. Distance - The US is freakin huge. You can drive across a couple countries in the time it takes to get from SoCal to NorCal, much less from the East Coast to Utah. That makes it really hard for domestic racers to stay competitive both from a budget perspective and from a just plain desire.
2. Track mentality - Seems that a lot of places in Europe have a "track mentality" vs a "course mentality". They learn a track, learn the skillsets, benchmark, and progress. The US always seems to want a new course for every event. Just get better on the one you built and make that track better each time. Don't keep trying to make it new. Less entertainment, more performance.

I can go on and on about this...hit me on fb wink

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12/11/2015 2:24 PM

I read your twitter allot, you sure love baseball, did you ever play? And if you could have any band play for your 40th, who would it be?

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12/11/2015 2:25 PM

ambatty wrote:

Question 2:

When it comes to a DH 'race bike', what are your opinions on head angle/chainstay lengths/head tube length? Is ...more

Slack, low, long. I personally don't mind long CS because I like stability, but also cause I'm 6'2". I like having a bike that's soft in the initial part of the travel. Soak up small bumps like a sponge. But, this all only works if you can ride that geo and if your local tracks are steep enough. Most folks can't want to ride pro geo because they're not pros and use their brakes too much.

My fav TGUK song is always "No Love". "I'll Catch You" was super good last night though smile

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12/11/2015 2:27 PM

A-line or Original Sin?

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12/11/2015 2:30 PM

northwestdhdad wrote:

I read your twitter allot, you sure love baseball, did you ever play? And if you could have any band play for your 40th, who ...more

I played Little League. I sucked. I couldn't hit but I could throw like Kenny Powers. I was once thrown out of a game for drilling a kid in the earflap after the guy before him broke up my no hitter with a HR. I'm NY born and raised. Baseball here is a religion really. It's bigger than football, basketball, and hockey. I am obviously a Mets fan.

I'm going to see The Slackers on the 19th. The Pietasters and Sammy Kay are opening. It's at Irving Plaza. That's pretty close to my perfect lineup for a birthday party!

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12/11/2015 2:30 PM

cyclewrks wrote:

A-line or Original Sin?

Original Sin. Duh.

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12/11/2015 2:37 PM

I want to hand it to you, the GT bikes look great lately.

1) Do you sponsor washed up riders that still huck?

2) How was the GetUpKids show?

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12/11/2015 2:37 PM

Ok, since you guys aren't asking me enough questions I'll ask...

What cool new trends are you seeing on your local trails?
What do you really need your bike to do that it can't right now?
What are the things that make a bike a "must have" for you?
What are the things that make a bike, as TeamRobot would say, "unrideable"?

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12/11/2015 2:39 PM

seth505 wrote:

I want to hand it to you, the GT bikes look great lately.

1) Do you sponsor washed up riders that still huck?

2) How was the ...more

1) Hucking is still a thing?
2) Day two was better than day one. But they sounded worlds better than when they came thru NY last year.

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12/11/2015 2:41 PM

You may have set the record for shortest career with Speshy. I think it was less than a week?

How involved were you with bringing Sam on board with Specialized? Did they just boot you after he signed?
Were you bummed, or did you try and steal him over to Evil as Mr. Weagle has said the Evil DH frame was originally designed for Mr. Hill to shred on?

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12/11/2015 2:46 PM

dirty booger wrote:

You may have set the record for shortest career with Speshy. I think it was less than a week?

How involved were you with ...more

I think I got paychecks for 6-mos total. I left on good terms. They needed me to move to Morgan Hill and I was not in a place in life to leave the East Coast. I was brought on to help land Sam. To their credit, they threw down the gauntlet to get it done and Sinyard was pretty personally involved in making it happen. It was a good learning experience.

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12/11/2015 2:47 PM

seplavy wrote:

Ok, since you guys aren't asking me enough questions I'll ask...

What cool new trends are you seeing on your local trails?
...more

Want List:
-Ride like a mini dh bike (within reason) without being 30+ lbs
-Still be able to climb (though not xc race type climbing).
-Adjustable travel is nice so you can have 160mm or so and then put it down to 130-140 when you are doing a tame ride and down't want the bike to be wallowy for no good reason.
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12/11/2015 2:50 PM

How many Fury's do you guys sell in the US per year? globally?
I remember the recall numbers and it seemed like a really small amount of bikes...

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12/11/2015 2:51 PM

Many brands produce many products for grey haired guys now still calling it MTB - but they are fat, or plus, or Hybrid, or Kind of SUV or just expensive or so stealth and carbon, that Its hard to see them under heavy use. Is the Industry becoming Kind of a Silver Society...

Budget sensitive Youth. They Need to Jump on Bikes to make the World better. Simple Bikes catched the Kids during bmx Times and the Peaks of MTB. Guys that are still addicted about Bikes. Will simple but trail aggressive Hardtails with modern geometry return? The Zaskar was the all Kind of use and abuse bike. From DH World Cup with nico v. in anspringt, Hans R., Brian L. And Peaty in Dual and 4X, J. Furtado and so on. Why is it only a XC now?

Spending Time in Asia, ever asked yourself Why These Nations Build Bikes and have Karate and Crazy KungFu Fighters, but no DH and XC racers?

Last one, UCI worlds with only one Gravity day. But many Lycra days. Worth the Investment? Or should UCI bring back another event. Like DH Team or Nations race or Enduro or 4x/Dual Slalom?

PS: Great answers so far. Pleasure to read and to know, the guy is real.

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12/11/2015 2:53 PM

Horsenducky wrote:

How many Fury's do you guys sell in the US per year? globally?
I remember the recall numbers and it seemed like a really small ...more

The entire global DH market can fit on the head of a pin. In the US it's even smaller.

The wheel recall was on certain models, not across the whole range.

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12/11/2015 2:53 PM

seplavy wrote:

This topic always comes up on the internetz! Gear boxes are fascinating until you start to deal with them. Currently they're ...more

weak. make 'em happen, what with electronics and all now.

ok, there's a question. electronic shifting/suspension enhancements. the future?

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12/11/2015 2:56 PM

juweb, good questions!

last one from me.
is it possible to have a premier DH series that does not involve the UCI? what would it take to get riders/brands to embrace it?

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12/11/2015 3:01 PM

Athertons-was the juice worth the squeeze?

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12/11/2015 3:05 PM

juweb wrote:

Many brands produce many products for grey haired guys now still calling it MTB - but they are fat, or plus, or Hybrid, or ...more

The MTB market is aging. The entire cycling market is aging. Selling mountain bikes to young folks is increasingly tough, but not for the reasons lots of people think. It's because too many people in western countries, of prime riding age are unemployed or underemployed. They might want a nice bike but they can't afford one. They might want to race but they have to work weekends. They might want to go big but they are an American and have shitty healthcare (or none at all).

By and large, the bike industry sells mountain biking to middle age white guys. That is super lame when women make up 51% of the population and there are many more people in developing nations than in N America, Europe, or ANZ. The love for mountain biking is global, but more has to be done to build better trails and ways of getting people to the trails. When I go to Taiwan for example I see crazy steep mountains that would be killer for some DH tracks. They make all of the parts to build the WC bike, so why not build the track to use it on. It's a mindset thing and more people have to get in the mindset to broaden the appeal of mountain biking, both to women and to other countries. In all honesty, enduro might be a huge vehicle to help achieve this goal.

And yes, dual slalom should make it's return to UCI status (sorry Graves if you're reading this but you know I

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12/11/2015 3:07 PM

Stiksandstones wrote:

Athertons-was the juice worth the squeeze?

Undoubtedly yes. GT as a brand needed the Athertons 4-years back and they needed us. We developed some really great bikes together, won some World Cup and rainbow jerseys, and had a good time. We're both amicably moving in separate directions. No animosity from my end at all.

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12/11/2015 3:11 PM

sspomer wrote:

weak. make 'em happen, what with electronics and all now.

ok, there's a question. electronic shifting/suspension ...more

The electronics can help, but not in cutting out the weight or the cost.

We're just now scratching the surface on this one. Some more stuff is on the horizon. The game might go totally crazy in 2-3 seasons with a couple of the ideas I've heard discussed. Could be interesting or could be a money pit with not much return. We'll all have to see...

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