Howard Grotts has been America’s top male cross-country pro for four straight years, winning the national title every year from 2015 through 2018. That kind of success is no surprise, though.Grotts, now 26, has been winning national titles in mountain biking for 10 years, winning his first one as junior at 16 in 2009.
Grotts has done more than that too. Last year, racing in the Absa Cape Epic, mountain biking’s equivalent to the Tour de France, Grotts won the eight-day South African stage race with his teammate Jaroslav Kulhavy, mountain biking’s 2012 Olympic gold medalist.
Even though Grotts is one of the smaller riders on the circuit, standing only 5-foot-7 and weighing only 130 pounds, he is definitely a powerhouse when it comes to riding and a force to be reckoned with. He grew up in a log cabin in the woods in Durango, Colorado, sawing the firewood to keep the house warm in the winter.
In addition to his remarkable physical abilities, Grotts may also be one of the smartest riders on the circuit. He graduated summa cum laude from Fort Lewis College with a straight-A, 4.0 grade-point average.
Estimated price: $10,020
1. Frame: S-Works FACT 12m carbon fiber frame, RockShox Brain shock, 100mm of travel.
“The updated frame design moved the Brain damper above the rear axle so the suspension performs even better on rough terrain and is stiff when it needs to be.”
2. Fork: RockShox SID WC Brain 29, top-adjust Brain Fade, tapered carbon crown and steerer, 15×110mm thru-axle, 42mm offset, 100mm travel.
3. Tires: F/R: Fast Trak, Gripton compound, 60 tpi, 29×2.1″.
“These are my go-to tires for most of my training, but if I really need to step up the sidewall protection, I’ll go with the Grid casing.”
4. Tubeless tire sealant: Specialized 2Bliss Ready sealant.
5. Rims: Roval Control SL, hookless carbon, 25mm internal width.
6. Spokes: DT Swiss Industry.
7. Front hub: Roval Control SL, sealed-cartridge bearings, 15mm thru-axle, 110mm spacing.
8. Rear hub: Roval Control SL, DT Swiss Star Ratchet, 54t engagement, SRAM XD driver body, 12mm thru-axle, 148mm spacing.
9. Brakes: Magura MT8 Raceline.
“Magura’s XC line has been super reliable, plus they’re lightweight!”
10. Handlebar: S-Works Prowess carbon flat handlebars, 700mm, 8-degree backsweep.
11. Bottom bracket: Rotor BB30 kit.
12. Grips: Supacaz Siliconez.
13. Cranks: Rotor 2InPower MTB.
“I’m not always a data-driven guy, but it’s been nice to have the power meter on the mountain bike and to have left/right feedback as well.”
14. Chainring: Rotor DM Ring MTB, round, 36t.
15. Pedals: Xpedo, M-Force 8 Ti.
“SPD style and only 215 grams per pair.”
16. Chain: SRAM XX1 Eagle, 12-speed.
17. Rear derailleur: SRAM XX1 Eagle, 12-speed.
18. Front derailleur: None.
19. Shifters: SRAM, XX1 Eagle.
20. Brake levers: Magura MT8 Carbon.
21. Cassette: SRAM Eagle, 12-speed, 10-50t.
22. Saddle: Body Geometry Phenom Pro, carbon rails, 143mm.
23. Seatpost: S-Works FACT carbon, 10mm offset, 30.9mm diameter.
24. Water bottle cage: Specialized Zee Cage II, carbon, 28g.
“It’s simple, but I’m always grateful for the ability to carry two bottles, plus the SWAT box on a size-small frame. It makes those long training days a lot less cumbersome.
25. Shock: Custom RockShox Micro Brain shock w/ Spike Valve, AUTOSAG, 51×257mm.
26. Cycling computer: Garmin.
“I upload all my training on Strava. Not only is it helpful for me to be able to go back and see what I’ve done in the past and compare times, but it’s also cool to be able to share the day-to-day grind with a like-minded community.”