After last weekend’s mixed testing results (where we found the limits of one of the KW01 prototypes), we had mixed emotions going into the first race test at Saint Etienne.
We gave Portugal’s Miguel Gaboleiro the testing duties with the simple brief ‘try and break it’. Those who’ve seen Miguel race this season will know he has two speeds, flat out and crashed! And with a default setting of ‘send it’ we couldn’t think of anyone better to put the KW01 though it’s paces.
For the race test we settled on the prototype frame with the lighter tube set and shorter back end. If this stood up well, this would likely be the team’s race set-up for the 2020 season. The drop-out in use would be the stronger first iteration but with the integrated brake adapter and smaller plate configuration from the third. Complementing the set-up were the now race proven Gate8 3Sixty Carbon rims and the full carbon OEM forks based on the open mould of the Box fork.
Before France though, there was a week of training to get in on the KW01. First up was sprint night where the feedback from Miguel was that the frame was ‘super stiff and responsive’ a paring that usually translates into lightening fast acceleration.
Next up was training at Peckham where Miguel was joined by fellow Gate8 rider Jey Rojas. They both put the frame through a testing gate session before tackling the rest of the track. The strong wind meant no pro section, but they both hammered the jumps on the second straight and pushed it hard through the rhythm section.
The opinion differed between the two riders on the bikes manual handling characteristics, with Miguel preferring the shorter backend, and Jey the longer. The difference in length is only 5mm but with a drop out adjustability of +/- 10mm both were able to find a set-up they were happy with. When it came to acceleration and jumping, there was no contention with both riders loving the latest KW01.
On to Saint Etienne
Miguel probably clocked up more practice laps on Friday than anyone else. Whilst he wasn’t impressed with the slow gate or soft track, he was highly complimentary of the KW01.
Race day #1 and Miguel lined up with Pros from around the world in the Nations Trophy Open. A big step up in class even for the current European #5 and reigning British Champ, he didn’t progress past the motos but was happy with three competitive mid pack runs.
Race day #2 on Sunday and Miguel was back in his regular 25-29 class where he qualified through to the semi-finals. Not the results he was looking for but for this point in the pre-season training he was happy with his progress. What was more important was his feedback on the KW01 which in true Miguel style he summed up in just 8 words…
“Bike feels great! Light, stiff, good to manual.”
What can we say? He’s a man of few words! But those are the words you want to hear before you go into production on your first race frame! And that’s where we’re going next. A few tweaks to the drop out design for a little extra strength, improved function and aesthetics. A revised seat stay bridge and the KW01 will be ready to make its debut in Manchester next season.
We can't wait!