Nino Schurter Says Dropper Posts are More Fun! [Interview]

World Champion mountain biker Nino Schurter weighs in on dropper posts, full suspension bikes, and helicopters in this wide-ranging interview.
Schurter with the post up World Cup Short Track, Les Gets, France, 2019.

We would like to introduce a nice Swiss XC racer who has been on the World cup circuit for a minute. His name is Nino Schurter, and he’s a bit faster on a bike than you or anyone you may know. In fact, he’s proven faster than anyone at the UCI Cross-Country-Olympic World Championships eight times now, won XCO Olympic gold in 2016, earned the UCI World Cup overall title a total of seven times, and he’s currently the reigning European XCO champion. There are a slew of other titles and wins mixed in there, but you get the idea. He’s pretty quick.

This season is an important one for Schurter, as the 35-year-old athlete is set to compete in the coming Tokyo XCO event, and there are a lot of important steps along the way. Like all Olympic mountain bike athletes, he still has a full World Cup season and several other events to train for ahead of that flight to Japan. He carved out time to answer a few questions about his bike, training, and home trails.

What has changed about your race bike or components for the 2021 season?

The biggest change is in the wheels. I now ride the Syncros Silverton SL wheels which are the lightest racing wheels on the market.

Are you trying any new fits or positions on the bike? 

No, not really. As the bike and its geometry are still the same from the past years there is no need to change. I do ride the RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post more often now. That’s kind of new.

Which World Cups will you ride a hardtail in this season vs. the full-suspension bike?

Most likely I’ll do all the World Cups on the SCOTT Spark full suspension bike. Even in Albstadt where in the past I raced my hardtail I did ride my fully this year.

Will you be using a dropper post in races this season?

I switch to the dropper post more often these days. Just because I started liking it a lot more. Sure I can ride all WC courses without. It’s just not as much fun with the high post.

How much does your tire pressure and suspension setup change from one track to the next? Which tracks require a lighter tune vs. a poppy race setup? 

Usually, the weather conditions are the factor to change tire pressure and suspension setup. In dry conditions, I race pretty much all the races with a similar setup.

Brad Copeland shared some stories of special modifications to Kate’s bike, like replacing BB grease with oil. What are some special modifications to your race bike? 

My bike is equipped with the AXXIOS technology vibration dampening system. That’s a quite special feature that helps to keep the bike smooth on the trail. And just like Kate has with Brad, my mechanic Yanick puts in a lot of love and care into my bikes.

Can you share the suspension settings and air pressure on your main full suspension bike? 

Response from Schurter’s mechanic, Yanick Gyger:

Nino’s setup on his Spark is a little different on every race course, but in Nove Mesto it looked like this: Rockshox Sid Ultimate 110mm travel/ 3-position remote/1 Token/ 79PSI. Rockshox Deluxe Nude RLC3 120mm travel/3-position remote/3-position Compression adjustable/142 PSI.

Are you looking at these early season races in Italy as training, or are you showing up fully prepared to win? 

I either train or I race to win. No shortcuts and nothing in between

With the full World Cup calendar, World Champs, Euro Champs, and the Olympics in the same season, do you prioritize one event or series over the other?

The Olympics are sure the main goal of the season. But I also hunt for glory at Worlds and the World Cup races. About Euro champs, I don’t care so much this year.

What changes about your training for an Olympic year? 

Covid-19. Due to travel restrictions, the winter training was quite different. But different doesn’t mean not as good.

Which of your teammates are best to train with and push the pace? 

When at team training camps we usually train all together. I like the fact that I have Lars Forster and Andri Frischknecht to teammates that can push me. A hard training period is easier to share with others.

What does your winter/spring training schedule look like? How many gym days vs. rides? How much are you able to ride trails for training?

This all depends on the period. Usually, I’m in the gym three times a week. Trail versus road is more or less 50/50

How much do you have to monitor your diet during racing season? Are there specific foods that you’re excited to eat once the season is over?

I don’t really follow a strict diet but I sure eat healthy during the whole year. And this is by far not a must. I enjoy cooking. The most important [part] in my diet is that I care where the food and ingredients come from. I prefer locally-farmed vegetables for example.

What is one of your favorite places to ride or race your mountain bike?

I live in my favorite place to ride. Graubünden offers a wide range of trails from flow cross-country to gnarly enduro trails. 

When did you learn to tabletop and do other sweet acrobatics on the bike?

I can’t remember. At some point, this came naturally  

What advice do you have for young MTB athletes who hope to race elite XC?

Have fun riding. Don’t get too serious about racing right away. Just enjoy what you are doing and the rest will unfold by itself.

If you weren’t racing mountain bikes, what other passion/s would you pursue? 

Maybe flying helicopters. I’m just about to get my pilots license.

What is something that most of the racing world doesn’t know about you? 

That I like music a lot but I can’t sing!