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Adaptrac system: the future of traction control?

Imagine you are racing down the final stage and just around the last corner is that technical rock garden that has caused so many problems in practice.  A quick glance at the dials on your bars show that your tyre pressures are running at 40psi front and back, too firm!  Smashing into the corner you cut a sweet high line then hit the pressure adjustment lever dropping both tyres to 22psi, staying pinned through the rock garden tyre grip is tenacious!  Firing out of the gnar you hit the final sprint, rapidly inflating the tyres to 50psi you mash the pedals to the finish.  This may all sound far-fetched but the technology is already here; it works, and if you have a sufficient bank balance it can be fitted to your bike right now!  This sort of control could be very advantageous to the Enduro racer, allowing optimised tyre pressures for any terrain.

Look closely and you will see something strange in this picture.

Ultimate control at your fingertips!

Ever since the first Klunkerz were thrown downhill in Marin County some 40 years ago, we have seen rapid progression in mountain bike technology.   Each generation of bikes being lighter, stronger and more capable than the last.  Conventionally the industry’s focus has concentrated on incremental improvements in frame design, suspension and shock technology.  However in the last few years there have been huge experimental leaps of ingenuity, radical ideas like dropping seat posts, hydraulic transmissions and electronic suspension damping.  The latest innovative bound in mountain bike engineering is the Adaptrac system, providing the rider on-the-fly rapid tyre pressure control, allowing adjustments to suit ever changing traction requirements.

A bit clunky in this generation but think of the possibilities!

Being the only point of contact with the ground, tyre pressure is one of the most critical variables to performance, but still necessitates a compromise suiting all terrains likely to be encountered on a race or ride.  Historically, with 9mm solid skewers there has been no way to create an air passage from the bike frame into to the centre of the rotating wheel, but the advent of the hollow thru axle has permitted an innovative new solution.  Adaptrac provides a complete system comprising wheels with special hubs, a dual control valve and a C02 power pack allowing tyre pressure to be raised or lowered with a quick press of the handlebar controls.   This control does not come cheap at just under $1500 for the set, and adds a significant 690g.  Adding weight to a bike has always been counter intuitive to the bike racer, but looking at the dominance of heavier dropping seat posts, it is clear that sacrifices will be made if performance is improved.

Is this the future for Enduro racing, continuously optimised tyre pressures?

This product is still in it early stages of development, and there is an argument as to how much control and complex technology we need on our bikes.  However just a few years ago the same disputes were raised against early dropper seat posts, and look what happened there!  If the price and weight do not come down this concept may indeed fall into obscurity, joining the likes of Shimanos Air Line transmission, belt drives and other inspirations that never quite made it.  But imagine future evolutions with lightweight frame integrated Co2 power packs and pre set tyre pressures linked into electronic damping settings, this simple solution may well find itself on every Enduro bike in the race paddock!  Will this design be part of the future of Enduro Bikes? Only time will tell!