The world’s best mountain biker is riding an e-bike through KZN

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Greg Minnaar at Sani2C. (Photo: Maryann Shaw)
Greg Minnaar at Sani2C. (Photo: Maryann Shaw)
  • Greg Minnaar’s amazing record speaks for itself.
  • He is transitioning from racing to relaxing, by riding a bit of the Sani2C with friends.
  • The most interesting thing is his bike, which is a battery-assisted Santa Cruz Heckler. 

The world’s greatest mountain biker has come home for the off-season, but that doesn’t mean he stops turning the pedals.

Pietermaritzburg’s Greg Minnaar is revered the world over for his incredible 20-year downhill mountain biking career. With 22 World Cup wins, 81 World Cup podiums, three overall World Cup Series titles and the status of being a three-time world champion, his record is unrivalled.

Minnaar’s longevity in downhill mountain biking, which qualifies as an extreme sport with enormous injury risk, is testament to his immense talent and training regime.

After a successful season, Minnaar arrived back in South Africa this week to join some friends for the Sani2C.

With his punishing international travel schedule, Minnaar would ordinarily be unable to participate in the Sani2C, but the event’s rescheduling has coincided with the start of his traditional off-season retreat to KwaZulu-Natal.

Greg Minnaar arrived back in South Africa this wee
Greg Minnaar arrived back in South Africa this week to join some friends for the Sani2C. (Photos: Anthony Grote)
Greg Minnaar arrived back in South Africa this wee
Greg Minnaar arrived back in South Africa this week to join some friends for the Sani2C. (Photo: Maryann Shaw)

Taking it easy on an e-bike

The other riders at Sani2C need not worry about having the world’s most skilled downhill racing pressuring them. Minnaar’s presence at the event is social, enjoying Sani2C with friends who are not conventionally fit enough to ride the event.

With the Sani2C allowing e-bikes, Minnaar happened upon the idea of riding with friends, in a relaxed manner.

“I am riding the Santa Cruz Heckler e-bike. With some very new to mountain biking good friends of mine who only got into mountain biking during lockdown. While we were in lockdown we said we should do Sani2C.”

Although Minnaar hardly needs the pedalling-assistance that an e-bike can provide, his Santa Cruz Heckler will be of great value to those friends riding with him. “There is no way these guys are going to make it on a regular bike, so I thought I’d ride with them.”

The Heckler e-bike’s Shimano E8000 mid-drive motor adds 250W of power to Minnaar’s pedal stroke, whilst the 504Wh battery pack has adequate endurance for a five- to six-hour ride, which should cover a day’s racing at the Sani2C.

Santa Cruz’s Heckler e-bike is unlike the 29ers that Minnaar uses to race and train on. It is configured with the smaller 27.5” diameter wheel size.

Most bikes at the Sani2C will have 100-120mm of suspension, whilst the Heckler has a 160mm fork and 150mm of rear shock travel, enabling it to soak up the rockiest and rootiest terrain imaginable.

The influence Minnaar has exerted on mountain biking design is tremendous. His tall stature (1.88m), forced engineers to think very differently about shaping frames and bike geometry for larger riders.


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