Jean Biermans’ Ridley Ignite SL 29er
Jean Biermans, a former 24-hour World Champion, the 43-year-old Dutchman is as hardcore as they come, with a resilient streak that’s helped him to thrive at the sharp end of the racing spectrum.
South Africa is a second home to Biermans – he loves the culture, the people, the incredible scenery and terrain. It’s no wonder he’s celebrated some of his most exceptional wins here, the most notable of which were back-to-back 36One MTB Challenge victories in 2014 and 2015.
However, it was another ultra-endurance race – The Munga – that brought him back to SA recently. Though he was targeting the win, unfortunately the race didn’t go to plan; a wrong turn and a costly time penalty forced him to retire. While it wasn’t the result Biermans was looking for, he spent the next seven days racking up nearly 1 500km around the Peninsula on his Ridley Ignite SL 29er – the same bike he used for The Munga.
What’s next on his calendar? “I want to come back next year for the 36One, and smash the course record.”
Wheels & Tyres: HARDY AND FAST
A race as demanding as The Munga means wheel and tyre choice is of paramount importance, especially since conditions and surfaces throughout the 1 075km race are extremely variable. Biermans employed the services of 35mm Venn TCD carbon wheels – nothing over the top in terms of aerodynamics, but still effective enough to benefit him on the long open expanses of the Karoo.
As a seasoned campaigner, and au fait with South African conditions, he knew not to skimp when it came to rubber; Continental Race King 29er 2.2 tyres are his go-to compound. This tyre has a proven recipe, with a combination of rolling speed, grip and sidewall protection.
Frame & Fork: FRANKENSTEIN
As a sponsored athlete, Biermans’ weapon of choice is a Ridley SL 29er carbon hardtail. For The Munga, however, he went the extra mile and tricked it out with a custom paintjob – the most notable garnishing of which is the 24hr World Champion Rainbow detailing, a title he won back in 2010. There are also a host of other subtle details plastered here and there, including his personal motto: ‘No pain, no gain’.
See those squiggles that look like signatures? Well, that’s exactly what they are – Munga good wishes from colleagues at Mercedes-Benz. Given the Frankenstein nature of this build, it’s only fitting that Biermans went with the outlandish yet super-lightweight Lauf fork, pictured here in custom paint to fit in with the white and metallic maroon colour theme.
Shimano’s all-new Ultegra groupset is used throughout the build. The drivetrain comprises Di2 electronic shifting with a hybridised 44-36T front/11-34T rear transmission, harnessed through Rotor INpower cranks. These ratios, Biermans says, were carefully selected to supply a broad range of gearing for his Munga exploits.
A brace of hydraulic Ultegra stoppers and Jagwire CR1 discs thwart momentum.
Parts: HYBRID THEORY
Carbon features heavily in the balance of the build, with such components as the stem, handlebars and seatpost all covered by Forza Cirrus. Naturally, Biermans elected to use a set of drop bars for added comfort, speed and aero efficiency on the long (gravel) road.
The rest is a bit of a mixed bag… Biermans uses SpeedPlay SysR pedals and BBB bottle cages, while his Wahoo computer nests within a Hidemybell Wahoo barfly – a nifty and functional little gadget that conceals a bell under the computer.
All bearings are handled by C-bear ceramics, the same company that looks after the Lotto-Soudal World Tour team.