French enduro racer Morgane Charre is tipped as one of the top contenders to win the opening round of the 2022 Enduro World Series (EWS) in Scotland’s Tweed Valley.
Charre’s racing career took off in 2012, when she won the UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Championships in Leogang, Austria. After competing for seven years on the downhill world cup circuit, Charre made the switch to full-time enduro racing in 2019 after competing in both DH and enduro disciplines in 2018.
Joining UK racer Bernard Kerr’s Pivot Factory Racing team alongside Kiwi riders Ed Masters and Matt Walker in 2019, Charre built on previous success, finishing second in the 2021 EWS rankings after winning the Italian round, and not finishing outside the top five at the other races.
Thanks to a BMX background, Charre has always ridden flat pedals rather than clips on her bikes. This makes her one of the few riders – along with fellow World Champion Sam Hill – at the sharp end of the EWS field who choose not to clip in.
Charre’s bike of choice for racing is Pivot’s Firebird, the US-based brand’s 29in-wheeled enduro bike that boasts 165mm of rear-wheel travel and size-specific, adjustable geometry.
Small size, big performance
At 163cm tall, Charre rides a size small carbon fibre Firebird in the Glacial Green Metallic colour.
The bike uses Pivot’s hollow-core carbon fibre manufacturing processes, where each piece and layer of carbon is laid against a core mould. This is said to help prevent wrinkles and voids to improve strength and decrease weight.
The brand has also tuned the feel of each of the Firebird’s frames depending on its size. The idea behind this is that a 100kg-plus rider on a size extra-large bike will get the same ‘ride feel’ as a 50kg rider on a size small bike.
Charre has set her bike to the low geometry position, which has a 445mm reach figure, 431mm chainstays and a 1,207mm wheelbase.
Those figures are combined with a 76-degree seat tube angle and a 64-degree head tube angle; both plenty steep and slack enough for the ascending and descending demands of the EWS.
Inside the front triangle is space for a 630ml water bottle (even on the small frame), while cables are routed internally.
Dialling in the damping
Like all of Pivot’s full-suspension bikes, the Firebird uses twin co-rotating links to drive the shock and join the front and rear triangles together.
This system was created by Dave Weagle – a legendary suspension guru who was thrust into the limelight thanks to his DW-Link design, as featured on the Iron Horse Sunday downhill bike, ridden by the aforementioned Sam Hill.
The Firebird has 165mm of rear-wheel travel, which on Charre’s bike is damped by a Fox Float X2 Factory rear shock that she’s chosen to run for the EWS Tweed Valley.
“The air shock makes the bike feel really dynamic, so I’ve chosen it for this race. I might race the coil [Fox’s DHX2] at some point in the season but I’m really happy with the air at the moment,” Charre tells BikeRadar.
In terms of setup, Charre runs 148psi with her compression adjustment fully open and her rebound set to taste, which, she tells us, is fast. She’s currently using one volume-reducer spacer in the rear shock to provide additional bottom-out resistance.
On her setup, Charre says: “I feel like less compression damping and faster rebound helps keep my feet on the pedals well.”
The rear suspension is matched with Fox’s 38 Factory fork.
“I chose the 38 as it makes me feel like the bike can handle anything on the descents, giving me confidence. And coming from a downhill racing background, I really like how it feels.” We’d agree with Charre, and have found the Fox 38 to be one of the best mountain bike suspension forks out there in our own testing.
Charre is currently running 76psi with her low- and high-speed compression damping adjustments fully open. For the rebound, she has seven clicks from open of high-speed and four clicks from open of low-speed rebound.
She runs one or two volume-reducer spacers, depending on how gnarly or fast the race tracks are, increasing the number the gnarlier they get.
Flat pedals win medals
Although that phrase is a bit of a misnomer – seeing as most of the top EWS racers race with clipless pedals – for Charre it’s true, having topped the podium on flats.
The French racer’s MC2 Nukeproof Horizon Pro pedals are custom-coloured just for her.
Charre explains, “Coming from a BMX background I’ve pretty much always been riding flats and feel most comfortable on them. I’ve tried clips but it changes my riding style too much and I enjoy it less.”
“I used to have issues keeping my feet on the pedals on really rough tracks when I first started downhill, but bike suspension and the pedals and shoes are so good now, there really is no reason not to ride flats.”
The only pressure is in the tyres
Charre is running Continental’s newest Kryptotal tyres both front and rear.
She’s using the front- and rear-specific versions both in a downhill casing and both in their SuperSoft compound.
In terms of tyre pressure, Charre has 18psi in the front and 20psi out back.
For the EWS Tweed Valley, she has decided not to run tyre inserts, but sometimes runs a Panzer insert in the rear.
Speccing it up
Charre’s cockpit is supplied by Renthal, another of her team’s sponsors.
She’s chosen the aluminium Renthal Fatbar 35 with a 30mm rise. Usually, her bars are 750mm wide, but thanks to the famously tight trees on the trails in the Tweed Valley, she’s cut them down to 740mm for extra clearance.
These are paired with a 40mm-long Renthal Apex stem and Renthal’s Traction Lock-On UltraTacky grips.
Charre’s 175mm-travel Fox Transfer Factory seatpost has a WTB SL8 Ti saddle fitted to it.
Braking is taken care of by Shimano’s XTR M8120 four-piston brakes with Ice Technologies finned pads and 200mm rotors.
Charre’s running 170mm-long XTR M9100 cranks – with a Sahmurai tubeless repair kit stashed inside the axle – and a 32t chainring.
Following the XTR theme, she’s got an XTR shifter and derailleur.
Finally, she’s running Reynolds Black Label wheels laced to Industry Nine Hydra hubs.
BikeRadar wishes Charre and all the other Enduro World Series racers the best of luck this season.
Morgane Charre’s Pivot Firebird enduro race bike full specs
- Frame: Pivot Firebird, small
- Shock: Fox Float X2 Factory
- Fork: Fox Float 38 Factory
- Cockpit: Renthal Fatbar 35, 740mm wide, 30mm rise; Renthal Apex stem 40mm long; Renthal Traction Lock-On UltraTacky grips
- Brakes: Shimano XTR M9120 with 200m rotors
- Drivetrain: Shimano XTR M9100 12-speed, 10-51t cassette
- Crankset: Shimano XTR M9100 170mm long, 32t chainring
- Wheels/tyres: Reynolds Black Label rims on Industry Nine Hydra hubs / Continental Kryptotal DH casing, SuperSoft compound 29×2.4in
- Seatpost/saddle: Fox Transfer Factory 175mm travel dropper / WTB SL8 Ti
- Pedals: Custom MC2 Nukeproof Horizon Pro