One of the most talked-about riders this year is Tom Pidcock. The 21-year-old emerged from the junior and U23 ranks to join the Ineos Grenadiers, and his debut season has been stunning. Early racing successes on the road have been complemented by a mountain bike World Cup win as well.
This week, Pidcock is in Tokyo for the Olympic Games XCO mountain bike race, one of his biggest goals this season. His Ineos Grenadiers team is sponsored by Pinarello, but the brand doesn't currently make a mountain bike. That leads to the unusual situation where Pidcock will be riding a bike from a company that competes with his team's sponsor.
We've known for a while that the mountain bikes piloted by Pidcock are unbranded BMC bikes, but how did this arrangement come about?
- Cross-country mountain biking: Everything you need to know
- Cross-country mountain bikes: Understanding their anatomy and design blueprints
Pidcock has been predicted to be the next star British rider for a number of years now. He holds multiple World Championship titles, and his specialty seemed to be in the off-road disciplines of mountain biking and cyclo-cross.
All of that success led to him signing a professional contract with the Ineos Grenadiers, the team known for sending Chris Froome, Gerraint Thomas, and Bradley Wiggins to Tour de France victories. The team is a road cycling team, so there was speculation as to whether or not fans would see Pidcock in the dirt again.
Seeing the unique talent that Pidcock is, the traditionally road-only team has allowed Pidcock to target the Olympic mountain bike race as well as a few mountain bike World Cups as preparation.
The Olympics are a big deal. Even though riders represent their countries rather than their trade teams in the race, it's still a good reflection on a team like Ineos to have a potentially Olympic-winning rider on their team. Plus, Ineos likely recognized the marketing and hype potential of having Picock compete on both the road and the mountain bike.
The only problem is that Ineos' bike sponsor, Pinarello, doesn't make a mountain bike.
Since that's the case, and considering the fact that both Ineos and Pinarello want to see Pidcock do well, they both likely agreed that it's fine for the rider to race on a BMC without logos on it.
We're not sure exactly why Pidcock chose a BMC to race on. In previous years, he raced for the Trinity Racing team, which is sponsored by Specialized. That means that he has a few years' worth of experience riding bikes like the Specialized Epic.
It's not like BMC bikes are slouches though, with bikes are being piloted by the likes of Pauline Ferrand-Prevot this season, for instance. It likely came down to both availability of bikes as well as someone in Pidcock's circle having a relationship with somebody at BMC.
- Best lightweight mountain bikes under 10kg
- Best full-suspension mountain bikes
- Best hardtail mountain bikes
So what bike setup will Pidcock be running for Tokyo? Earlier this season, Pidcock was seen riding the BMC Twostroke hardtail. This is also the bike he raced at the opening round of the World Cup in Albstadt, Germany. On more technical courses like Nove Mesto and Les Gets, he rode the Fourstroke full-suspension bike. The course in Tokyo is very technical, so it's almost a certainty that he'll be riding the Fourstroke.
Pictures of Pidcock's bike have shown him running a Shimano XTR drivetrain, which makes sense since Shimano is an Ineos sponsor. He has also been seen running sponsor-correct Continental tires, a brand that has been producing fast cross-country tires.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Pidcock was testing different wheel options from Syncros, DT Swiss, and Duke. In Nove Mesto, Pidcock raced on the Syncros Silverton SL carbon wheels and also ran the Syncros Fraser iC SL handlebar.
The Briton has also been seen using SR Suntour suspension. The topic of suspension brings up an interesting observation. At Nove Mesto, the website Brujula Bike noticed that Pidcock had cables running into his fork and shock but no remote lockout lever.
It's been theorized that this could be some type of automatic suspension systems like the Specialized Brain or Fox Live Valve and could be something similar to Pinarello's Electronic Dogma Suspension System. However, details are scarce and we don't know if the potential tech testing is coming from Pinarello, SR Suntour, or BMC.
Pinarello has a road bike focused catalog but has previously produced cross-country mountain bikes, notably the 29er full-suspension Dogma XM 9.9 which was available as recently as 2017. Considering that both Pidcock and Pinarello are locked into multi-year contracts with Ineos, there is at least the possibility that they are using Pidcock to help develop a new Pinarello mountain bike. Only time will tell though, but we'll see if anyone snags more photos of Pidcock's bike in Tokyo.