Payson McElveen's Leadville Trail 100 MTB and SBT GRVL Bike Check
18 August, 2022

Payson McElveen's Leadville Trail 100 MTB and SBT GRVL Bike Check

By: Jose Maldonado
On August 13th and 14th, Colorado played host to one of the biggest race weekends on the mountain bike and gravel calendar. Two epic back to back events tested the mental and physical strength of athletes who began Saturday’s legendary mountain bike parcour at 10,152 feet and climbed to 12,424 feet.
Sunday, riders ripped through 142 miles, 9,200 feet of climbing and 100+ miles of gravel in Steamboat Springs.   

For Payson, the Leadville Trail MTB race saw him battle back from a series of untimely mechanicals and quite simply, very bad luck. The kind of bad luck that can drain the life right out of the most hardened bike racers. “ I am exhausted mentally and emotionally from battling setbacks,'' said Payson at the finish but the following day, things went differently for the Durango Colorado native.

Let’s take a look at Payson’s Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike rig.

Payson's BC40 is a contemporary XC bike designed to go fast. A slacker front  headtube angle makes the bike more predictable handling at speed across buff and technical terrain. The other significant geometry callout on the BC40 is the longer front to center measurement. The longer distance shifts the weight of the rider further behind the front wheel for more control to maneuver at blistering speeds. 
Designed to stretch the compatibility of what a cross-country bike can do, the BC40 is optimally designed for 120mm front and rear travel. Payson opted for the RockShox SID SL 100 up front and a RockShox SIDLuxe Ultimate with a shorter stroke (37.5 vs.45mm) to shorten the travel to 100mm. His bike was equipped with a SRAM XX1 Eagle drivetrain including Quarq's most advanced powermeter.   

Created with a bias towards rolling speed, Payson mounted the Maxxis Aspen TR XC 29x2.25 race tires on a pair of Roval Control SL wheels. At an obscene weight of 1240 grams Specialized claims they are the fastest XC Wheels In the "real world." The lighter casing TR version on the front and the more puncture resistant EXO on the rear. Payson found good balance in building a durable, lightweight rig for the Leadville terrain. His transparent matte carbon frame saved about 60g over the standard paint job and the total race ready bike weight came in at 22lbs, including pedals, cages, and Hammerhead computer. 

Eager to put Saturday’s race behind him, Sunday's SBT GRVL in Steamboat Springs proved to be a clash of the titans. It was a great day for Payson.  “We back son! Freaking finally.” said Payson. After a frustrating day at Leadville on Saturday, Payson got a clean run at @sbtgrvl on Sunday for a well earned spot on the podium among the best of the best.. Heck Ya!

Let’s take a look at Payson’s SBT GRVL bike rig.

For Sunday's explosive 142 miles, 9,200 feet of climbing over a 100+ miles of gravel, Payson chose to go with the ECHO. With tire clearance up to 40mm and an optimized road geometry thanks to it’s flip-chip system, the eccentric chips and corresponding dropout design allow the rider to easily change the bike geometry, effectively changing the chainstay length and fork length by 1 cm. 


The 1 cm difference transforms the bike from a road machine with 415mm chainstay length, 368mm fork length, 73-degree headtube angle to a gravel superbike with no compromise. Pyson's Echo was set up with a SRAM Red AXS  drivetrain that included  the Red AXS Powermeter. Payson ran a 48/35T chainring combo up front, with a 10x33 cassette. To complement his gravel superbike chassis Payson went with 40c Maxxis Receptor tires. The Receptor is a semi-slick gravel tire and according to Maxxis these tires are designed for riding on pavement, hard-packed dirt roads, and light gravel. There is no doubt Payson pushed these tires to the limit in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.


We at Allied are so proud and over the moon with how Payson came back to rise from the ashes of Leadville, to a podium finish on Sunday. It was a hell of a ride! Bravo, Payson! 


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