Dylan Johnson Makes it Look Simple
18 April, 2024

Dylan Johnson Makes it Look Simple

By: Allied Cycle Works with Dylan Johnson

Photos: Taylor Farman

The coach and athlete on life, cycling, and riding a BC40 at the LTGP

For several mountain bike races in the 2024 Life Time Grand Prix, Dylan Johnson is riding an impossibly light BC40. (We don’t use “impossibly light” lightly. It’s 22.5lb.) On the eve of the first event, the Sea Otter Fuego XL, we stole some time from Dylan to discuss his background in cycling, his approach to training, and how he managed to spec such a lightweight BC40.

Since grade school, Dylan Johnson’s life has been defined by the bike. He started riding at 12 in the same way so many of us did, by chasing his parents (in Dylan’s case, his dad) around on singletrack.

He started racing shortly thereafter, at 14, and almost immediately turned the figurative dial to an actual 100, beginning his ultra-endurance career with a 100-mile race at just 15 years old.

“I realized from an early age that I had a talent for going long, which is unusual for kids. That durability typically takes a while to develop. Most kids can put out good power for short bursts and then are completely wiped out after an hour or two. With me, though – I enjoyed riding for long periods of time,” he explained.

“To this day, some of my most insane training rides were done as a teenager. We’re talking about 10 hours on the mountain bike on a saturday, just to say I did it. That was probably a bit overkill, and some more normal teenage activities probably would have been healthy for me, but it shows where my head was at at that age.”

Dylan’s early tolerance for sustained suffering came to define his life. It would eventually lead to a degree in exercise science in 2017, just a year after his first NUE race series win at 21. He’s since won the series twice more (once as a tie on points), and his other palmarès include around a dozen wins and countless high placings in endurance races on flat bars and drop bars alike. If it’s off-road and it’s long, then he’s probably ridden it, and he’s probably won it.

He also genuinely loves it.

He loves the competition, sure, but also – and maybe mostly – he loves the solitude, the experiences the bike affords him, and just being out there. “I prefer to ride alone,” he said, “with no team support. I don’t mind the occasional group ride or riding buddy, but for the most part, I prefer to do my own thing on the bike.” There’s no sense of obligation and no need for validation through winning. In fact, the restriction of a racing season is almost a negative, because seasons end. “The offseason break always sucks after just a few days. If I don’t ride, I miss it.”

After he told us all that, we asked him, simply: Why ride? He replied just as simply: “Because I want to.”

Of course, riding at this level is never really simple. The motivation may be, but the work is anything but, with every race representing months of targeted training on top of years of steady base development – the multi-hour durability he mentioned that most kids and newer cyclists lack. He approaches his coaching work with a similarly deceptive simplicity.

“I think that many coaches are trying to justify their job by making training more complicated than it needs to be,” he told us, referring dismissively to “bells and whistles” in unnecessarily complex programs. “Absolutely. At the end of the day, it all comes down to what the evidence says proper training should look like, and I don’t know of any research suggesting that complexity equals success.”

That’s not to say he doesn’t rely on complex planning. His training and coaching are based on an ever-evolving body of research, and he’s always adapting his approach to incorporate proven strategies and stay abreast of trends and evolutions. That includes hot topics like carb intake, but also evergreen discussions like how best to establish zone models – and then how to use them to get tangible results in training.

“It seems like everyone is adopting polarized/pyramidal training now, which is a very good thing, as that’s what the research suggests optimal training should look like,” he told us, explaining the difference between polarized and “sweet spot” training. “I remember sweet spot-heavy approach being popular five-or-so years ago, and that has really seemed to fall out of favor as we’ve learned more about training.”

It turns out Dylan has learned a lot about training. We won’t repeat the full polarized vs sweet spot discussion here – mostly because we’re not experts, and we’d just end up tripping over our own thresholds. But Dylan is, and he’s got a suitably expert breakdown of the concept on his YouTube channel that we recommend checking out.

Despite his credentialed expertise, Dylan is the first to admit when he doesn’t know, and he was able to immediately rattle off the times when he learned he was wrong, giving us “a non-exhaustive list of examples of questions I’ve changed my mind on because of the research: Should cyclists lift? How many carbs should cyclists eat? Should cyclists do intensity in the offseason? Does stretching improve performance? Do cadence drills improve performance? How much protein should cyclists consume? Etc.”

And that’s the non-exhaustive list.

He even included the sweet spot/pyramidal debate, and his video on the subject is an ideal example of how new research and emergent clinical human studies shape his approach to training in real time. So to recap: Dylan thinks a lot of training is overly complicated for no good reason. His advice is to keep it simple. Our take is that what he’s described about his approach to optimizing training isn’t quite as simple as he makes it sound. That’s why he’s a pro, and riders like us just follow his instructions. Simple.


For his 2024 Life Time Grand Prix season, we’re stoked to be part of Dylan’s journey as a pro, providing him a BC40 for his flat bar events, including Sea Otter, Leadville, and Chequamegon. It’s custom painted, and it’s extremely (extremely!) light. The complete build is sub-23lb – here’s the spec sheet for any weight weenies wanting to reproduce it:

  • Frame: Allied Cycle Works BC40

  • Wheels: Reynolds Blacklabel 309/289 XC Pro

  • Fork: FOX Racing Shox 32 Step-Cast 100

  • Drivetrain: SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS + a CeramicSpeed OSPW

  • Barstem: Gemini PRÖPUS

  • Tires: Schwalbe Racing Ralph Super Ground 2.35

  • Chain: KMC X12 (“waxed to save weight”)

  • Final weight: 22.5lb/10.2kg

There are lighter bikes, of course, but few with 120mm suspension and none that can come close to the BC40’s blend of speed and responsive punch with capability on chunkier terrain. In fact, the BC40’s dual personality (XC meets trail, tuned for racing) is a key reason Dylan chose ALLIED. Many of the LTGP courses toe the line between full suspension and hardtail, and with its low weight, pedalability, and performance on terrain, the BC40 neatly straddles that line.

“Funny enough, before the Grand Prix, I was a full-suspension-all-the-time kind of rider,” he told us. “But these courses are unique in that they’re actually keeping the hardtail vs full suspension debate alive. That being said, after racing a hardtail for two of the three races last year, I find myself leaning back towards needing more suspension. I finished Chequamegon last year thinking, ‘this is a full suspension course, it’s just too bumpy.’

“The BC40 comes in an extremely lightweight package and is tailored around racing,” he observed. “The bike is incredibly snappy and quick to accelerate, and my build this year also shockingly comes in at a lower overall weight than my hardtail from last year, making it an obvious choice.”

Even savants of suffering can do with a little compliance out back – especially if the suspension stays as responsive as the BC40. And especially if it’s 22.5lb. We’re biased, but we’re confident no other bike hits those criteria as well as the BC40. We think Dylan agrees.

Is it really possible that a full-suspension mountain bike can be this responsive, stable, and light? You don’t have to take our word for it. You don’t even have to take Dylan Johnson’s word for it. You can build up your own too-light (as if that’s possible) dream bike by tooling around in the BC40’s virtual shop or hitting us up in chat to discuss a true full custom – paint and all.

A quality human being doing unconventional things on the bike, and acting as a great ambassador for this thing we all love so much. #ALLIEDfamily


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