FINN ILES: HOW HE BECAME A STAR WHEN HE WAS 14
We interviewed Finn and checked out the bike he was riding when he won hs second Whip-Off World Championship in Whistler in 2016.
MEET THE RIDERS AND THEIR RIDES
King of the whip: Finn first won the Whip-Off World Championship at the Whistler Crankworx event in 2104—the day before his 15th birthday. He won the Whip-Off title for the second time, in 2016 (shown here) three days after his 17th birthday.
Let Finn In” was the phrase that went viral in Canada in the summer of 2014. As one of the most talented mountain bikers in Whistler, Finn Iles, at 14 years old, had just won the British Columbian Downhill Championship. However, he was probably even more famous for his jumping skills, especially his whips. For anyone who doesn’t know, a whip, aka a moto whip, is when a rider pitches his bike sideways into the air off a jump. The object is to get the bike completely sideways, maybe even backwards, before straightening it back out and landing safely. The best riders make big whips look easy, but they’re among the most challenging moves in mountain biking.
In any event, the Whip-Off World Championship was coming up that summer, in 2014, and Finn wanted to compete in the event. Unfortunately, riders had to be 18 years old to enter, and Finn was only 14.
To make a long story short, some fans started a social media campaign with the hashtag #LetFinnIn. The ensuing publicity earned Finn so much attention that the promoters gave in and let Finn enter the event. (As a rule, anything that generates interest in an upcoming event is good; nothing is worse for an event than being ignored.)
Fans crowded the Crankworx course at Whistler, while Finn (top left) sent this huge whip over their heads on his way to winning his second Whip-Off World Championship title, in 2016.
Finn was not only allowed into the Whip-Off World Championships in Whistler in 2014, he won the event. The next year, 2015, Finn couldn’t compete in the Whip-Off World Championships due to an injury, so the organizers asked Finn to be one of the judges (another smart move on their part).
In the summer of 2016, Finn came back to the Whip-Off World Championships to compete again and won it a second time. Of course, being able to do big whips on a mountain bike is great, but it may not be enough to secure a career in the sport. Fortunately, Finn can do more than throw some of the best whips on the planet. He’s also proving to be one of the fastest downhill racers in the world. After winning his second Whip-Off World Championships title in August 2016, Finn flew to Europe and won the Junior Men’s Downhill titles in both the World Cup series and the UCI World Championships. To win either of those titles is a major accomplishment. Winning both of them in the same year is incredible. For all we know, in another couple of years, Finn could be challenging Danny Hart, Greg Minnaar, Loic Bruni and Aaron Gwin for the top spot on the podium in the men’s downhill ranks. It seems like a safe bet that we’ll be seeing Finn Iles for a long time to come.
Laying it over: Finn leans into a turn in his downhill race at Whistler Crankworx in 2016. Finn took Junior Men’s Downhill titles in both the World Championships and the World Cup series in 2016.
The MBA Q&A
Finn spills the beans on his background
MBA: Where did you grow up?
Finn: “Banff, Alberta, Canada.”
MBA: When did you first start riding a bicycle?:
Finn: “Three years old.”
MBA: When did you first start competing in events on a bike, and what kind of bike was it?
Finn: “When I was 13. Kona Operator Freeride.”
MBA: Did you win any titles or major events on anything besides mountain bikes?
Finn: “Yes, in ski racing. I don’t ski race anymore. It would be impossible to train and race for two sports at an elite level and be successful. The cost of ski racing at an elite level is also way too expensive. Downhill bike racing offers way more support and sponsorship, so the switch to DH made a lot more sense to me and my parents.”
MBA: When and where did you start competing on a mountain bike?
Finn: “Whistler in 2012.”
MBA: What have been your best national and international results?
Finn: “World junior champion and World Cup overall winner in 2016.”
INSIDE THE PROS’ BIKES
Finn’s Specialized S-Works Demo 8
Versatile guy: In addition to his mountain bike titles, Finn racked up multiple wins at international ski competitions. His dad works with the ski patrol, teaches avalanche courses and builds trails for Whistler Bike Park. Finn’s mom works for Backroads, the adventure touring company.
Bike weight: 16 kilograms (35.25 pounds).
Estimated value: $10,000
“I ride a Specialized S-Works Demo 8—a 2016 model. I ride a medium frame but will be moving up to large next season. For every race I use 200 millimeters front and back. My bike has a carbon fiber front and rear triangle with an aluminum CNC link. I have had a custom paint job all year, as well as a custom link to make the bike more progressive.”
“I have been riding on a 2016 RockShox World Cup Boxxer that is 200 millimeters. The fork is stock, except for the custom #LongLiveChainsaw decals. My settings differ at every race, so I never have a consistent setup.”
“I normally use a Specialized Butcher 2.5-inch with 1.8 bar [26 psi] in the back and 1.65 bar [24 psi] in the front. Depending on weather, I would also use 2.5-inch Specialized Hillbillies with the same pressures.
4. Tubeless system.
“I use a tubeless system with something special inside; I can’t say what it is.”
“My bike has DT Swiss EX471, front and back, and they are aluminum.”
“DT Swiss, and they are made of aluminum.”
7. Front hub.
“The hub is a DT Swiss 240s.”
8. Rear hub.
“The hub is a DT Swiss 240s.”
“My bars are the Joystick Analog carbon, 780 millimeters wide, with a 20-milli- meter rise and a 5-degree back sweep.”
11. Bottom bracket:
SRAM, BB30, 83mm.
“Lizard Skins Bearclaw with custom bar ends that say ‘Finn Iles.’”
“The cranks are Carbon SRAM X0 165 millimeters, with rubber booties on the end.”
“I use an aluminum, direct-mount, 36-tooth, SRAM narrow-wide chainring.”
“Crankbrothers Mallet DH, aluminum throughout.”
“SRAM seven-speed chain. I change it at almost every race.”
17. Rear derailleur.
19. Brake levers:
20. Rear cassette.
“SRAM X01 DH seven-speed. Not sure what the gear range is.”
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