PRO BIKE & INTERVIEW: Curtis Keene – Specialized Enduro 2013
During the final round of the SuperEnduro Series in Finale Ligure we met Curtis “The American Dream” Keene from team Specialized.
Those of you who follow the racing scene will know the 32-year-old American from Santa Monica, California. If you don’t, it’s time to put you in detention: here comes Curtis’ bike in detail and an interview with and about the “American Dream.” In Finale Ligure, where nearly all top-level enduro riders have raced, the friendly guy from California finished 3rd behind Dan Atherton and Davide Sottocornola.
Curtis rides a Specialized Enduro S-Works Carbon 2013 in size L with these specs:
Bike weight is 26lbs, or 11.8 KG
Water bottle cage and a tube in the upper triangle seem to work well for saving space. Nevertheless, Curtis was racing with a hydration pack and a second (open-face) helmet. This is something that he will change the next timebecause the level of racing is so high, he wants to carry as little as possible during the race. Curtis, who puts on the flats from time to time to have some fun, always races enduro in Crankbrothers Mallets.
Rock Shox Lyrik 2 position with 160mm of travel. We didn’t get any details about his compression-damping unit, as it is still a prototype.
Carbon wheels with tubeless tires from Specialized. Butcher SX 2.3 front and Purgatory Grid 2.3 rear is pretty much his go-to set-up for the most part.
Probably the most desired component for 2013 – SRAM XX1 gearing with 34t chainring and no chainguide!
Q&A with Curtis:
ENDURO: You are currently a full-time pro rider. What does your job look like?
C.K.: Yeah I’ve been racing DH for 10 years now including this year where I had to juggle DH and enduro racing. But for 2013 I’ll focus primarily on enduro racing. I obviously race for Specialized/SRAM, but I also help out with R&D during the season and off-season testing new products/bikes, etc. It’s always exciting to test ride new product and to help with the development side of things.
ENDURO: You raced many international events, like the Canadian Open Enduro in Whistler, where you got second behind Jerome Clementz. What was the hardest race for you so far, and which was the best?
C.K.: Whistler Crankworx and the Colorado Freeride Festival were some of the best events of the year for me. I really thought the terrain and courses were proper for enduro racing. Big tires, 160mm suspension, and full face helmets. But on the same note, they were really hard physically. The Colorado Freeride Festival was at 3000 meters (almost 10,000 feet) elevation, so breathing was quite the challenge for me. And at Crankworx, we had some transfer timing issues, which led to 90 minutes of full-on sprinting in stages 1-3. Very little time to rest on the transfer stages made it extremely physical.
ENDURO: Is your bike a normal production bike, or a kind of prototype?
C.K.: My 2013 Specialized S-Works Enduro is a production model. Anyone can buy it and have the same equipment. It’s ready to race!
ENDURO: Do you switch bikes or do you use the Enduro for most of your riding?
C.K.: I mainly race my Enduro or Stumpjumper Evo depending on the course. If it has a lot of pedalling, I’ll go with the Stumpy. If the track is rougher, the Enduro it is.
ENDURO: What’s your opinion on 29ers for enduro racing?
C.K.: I believe the 29ers have their places in racing. For instance in Bend, Oregon this year, I would have loved to have a 29er for that enduro. It’s not your typical enduro..lots of pedaling, flatter tracks and little rocks. It was still fun by all means, but next year I’m showing up on 29er for sure.
ENDURO: Dou you concentrate more and more on enduro races? Let’s say specific training and stuff like that? How would you describe a good training schedule for races like this?
C.K.: I think most importantly it’s about spending time on your bike. Ride,ride, ride!! Five hour rides with interval training within that ride would be a good example of a proper training ride in the off-season. I personally try to keep it fun most of the time.
ENDURO: What makes a good enduro rider in your opinion and how would you describe your riding style?
C.K.: To be a good enduro rider you gotta have the whole package. Descending skills, fitness, preparation, and the right equipment for every venue. That’s the beauty of enduro racing. It’s mounain biking at the elite level. You can’t just be a good downhiller or XC’er. To succeed at it, you have to be on it on all levels.
ENDURO: Will we see you more racing here in Europe next year?
C.K.: Yes, definitely! My experiences at Finale were first class. I walked away from that race so impressed, content and eager to get back next year. Enrico works really hard at what he does and it clearly shows. Finale was one of the best MTB events I’ve been to my entire racing career.
ENDURO: Do you see big differences between the rider/the races here in Europe and the US?
C.K.: Yes and no. I mean I’ve only been to Finale for European enduros and that race was very different to anything I’ve ever done in the US. Finale was six hours in the saddle, lots of climbing, and different riding equipment.
ENDURO: Where do you see enduro as a sport in the future and what does the term “enduro” mean to you?
C.K.: I’m hoping it grows to a “World Level”…perhaps a UCI series. But at the same time, the appeal needs to stay the same so we keep the grassroots people happy and have a home series for them to race as well. That’s where I think enduro appeals to a lot of people. It’s usually pretty chill, you get to hang out with buddies on transfer stages, there’s lots of riding/racing, and you can do it on many different types of bikes. Not like DH or XC where you have to have a certain bike 95% of the time.
ENDURO: Anything you want to add?
C.K.: Just a big thank you to all my sponsors, friends , and family who have stuck by all these years. None of this is possible without the support of them. And you guys for the article!
Curtis rides for Specialized Bicycles, SRAM Components, Rock Shox Suspension, Avid Brakes, Truvativ, Troy Lee Designs and Scotts Valley Cyclesport.
Those who want to go out for dinner with Curtis should order some Mexican food and put on a disc from Rise Against or Metallica.
Text: Daniel Häberle; Photo: Robin Schmitt