Greg Minnaar has been one of the top downhill racers in the world for 20 years, ever since he scored his first World Cup Series wins and the overall World Cup downhill title for 2001.
Greg has now won 22 World Cup downhill races, more than any other Elite Men’s downhill racer in history. He also has three overall World Cup titles. When you combine that with his World Championship record of three gold medals, four silver medals, and three bronze medals, you can see why many people are calling Minnaar the “GOAT” these days. (See the March 2021 issue of Mountain Bike Action to see the one downhill racer, Nicolas Vouilloz, who can challenge that claim.)
One thing is certain: Greg Minnaar has the longest, top-level downhill career in history, and from the way things look, he’s not done yet. He’s planning on racing in 2021, too.
Name: Greg Minnaar
Birthdate: November 13, 1981
Birthplace: Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Weight: 86 kg (190 lb.)
Shoe size: 45 EU
Helmet size: Medium/large
Marital status: Single
Current home: La Massana, Andorra; Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Car(s): Andorra: VW Multivan. South Africa, VW Amarok
Started racing or competing: 1997
Turned pro: 2001
Racing/riding specialty: Downhill. I have competed in 4x, cross-country at World Cup, and the Cape Epic
Favorite course or riding area (North America): Big Bear, Northstar
Favorite course or riding area (Europe): Vallnord, Andorra
Favorite food: Steak and sushi
Goals: To win
Heroes: Nelson Mandela
Favorite movie: Wolf of Wall Street
Favorite hobbies: Surfing, golf, motocross and recently trials
Jobs held (other than racer): Worked in a bike shop. Label price tags onto clothing
Most embarrassing moment: Far too many to name one. At least once a week I called the wrong person by the wrong name or at least spoke to them calling them a different name.
Always takes on a trip: Toothbrush
What you would be if you were not a racer: Who knows?
INSIDE THE PROS’ BIKES
Greg Minnaar’s Santa Cruz V10
As the world’s most experienced downhill racer, Minnaar is very particular about his bike’s setup.
“I have the complete package,” says Minnaar. “There is nothing about my bike that I would want to change. Syndicate has chosen the best tires, wheels, components, groupset, brakes and suspension on the market. I’ve played with the length of the V10, extended the rear end, yet when I went back to stock, I won again!
“We worked hard this year trying to get a better posture on the bike. I’ve had some serious injuries in the past, and they all meet up in my upper thoracic. Making sure my thoracic is released and supple has let me open up my chest to allow me to feel more comfortable to attack and not be so hunched over the front end of the bike. You would think after all these years we would’ve figured this out. This is what I love about our sport.”
Shock: Fox DHX2.
Fork: Fox 40, 29”, 203mm travel (7.99”).
“Greg uses four volume spacers in his Fox 40 fork; 95 psi is the pressure in the Fox 40 fork,” says Doug Hatfield of the Santa Cruz Syndicate.
Tires: Maxxis Assegai, 29×2.5”.
“They are fast and grippy,” says Doug Hatfield. “Greg does not use CushCore or tire inserts in the tires. The Maxxis DH tires have a ‘Team Only’ reinforcement built into the casing. This is labeled ‘ZK’ on the tires and sometimes also called ‘breaker,’ which was what the reinforced tires were called when we first received them two seasons ago. The DH tires are much sturdier than stock DH tires.”
Tubeless tire sealant: Stan’s NoTube sealant or Peaty’s tubeless tire sealant.
“Greg likes as little sealant as possible, as it affects wheel rotation,” according to Santa Cruz mechanic Doug Hatfield. “If there is a flat tire, then he will go to the pit to fix it. Greg uses Stan’s and Peaty’s sealant (not together). Peaty’s Sealant is a Syndicate sponsor. Both sealants work well. Greg doesn’t like a lot of sealant in the tires because it throws off the centrifugal force when the tire rotates. The amount of sealant that Greg uses on average, per tire, is 1/3 of a cup.”
Rims: Santa Cruz Reserve DH, 32-hole carbon rims.
Spokes: DT Swiss, double-butted (2.0>1.8<2.0ga), Competition.
Front hub: 32h Chris King, 110x20mm, front ISO DH disc hub.
Rear hub – 32h Chris King, 157x12mm, rear ISO DH disc hub.
Brakes: Shimano XTR brakes, 203mm Shimano rotors.
Stem: Burgtec DM 30mm long with 35mm clamp.
Handlebars: Burgtec RW 800mm wide, 30mm-rise carbon bars.
Grips: Burgtec Bartender, “signature Minnaar” grips.
Shifters: Shimano Saint.
Derailleur: Shimano Saint.
Cranks: Shimano Saint, 165mm.
Chainring: Shimano Saint 34t.
Chain: Shimano CN-HG95 10-speed.
Rear cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace, 11-25t, 10-speed.
Saddle: Burgtec Cloud saddle.
Seatpost: Burgtec Xpress carbon seatpost .
Cables and housing: Shimano cables and housing.
Headset: Chris King “Buzzworks” 8mm-reach headset
Bottom bracket: Shimano Saint.
Carbon or titanium bolts: Pro Bolt titanium bolts in various places.
Extras: Motion Instruments Data Acquisition.
Head angle: 63.3 degrees.
Bottom bracket height: 34cm (13.4”).
Weight of complete bike: 34.5 pounds.
Estimated value of bike: $10,000+ .
“Greg often runs prototype versions of the next year’s frame and various components,” says mechanic Doug Hatfield, so it’s not possible to give an exact figure for the bike’s value.
MBA: Where did you grow up?
Greg: I grew up in South Africa in a small city called Pietermaritzburg.
MBA: What kind of work do (or did) your father and mother do?
Greg: My mother was a housewife till I was about 5 or 6, then she worked at the deeds office, and I’m not actually sure what she did there. My father worked for Coca-Cola; he worked in sales.
MBA: When did you first start riding a bicycle?
Greg: My father got me a BMX bike for my 3rd birthday. As the pictures showed, I was not very happy, as I wanted a motocross bike. But, I loved the little blue Scorpion Western Flyer that I had. Even though I had to pedal around the garden, I still wore my dad’s motocross helmet, gloves and goggles, and pretended I was on a motorbike.
MBA: Did you race BMX?
Greg: I wouldn’t really say I raced BMX. My dad took me to a race event and pushed me up every single jump on the track, as I couldn’t make it up on my own. I progressed a little and managed to make it around without any assistance, but racing BMX just wasn’t for me. I preferred riding and jumping on a BMX bike, doing senders, playing on my BMX bike and doing the odd race, but my heart was really in motocross.
MBA: What were your best competition results on non-mountain bikes?
Greg: I won a few local motocross championships, and that’s all I can think of right now.
MBA: When did you first start competing on mountain bikes?
Greg: I was racing cross-country and a bit of downhill when I was 14. I preferred downhill, but my father thought if we were going to be traveling anything over an hour to an event, I needed to be racing both cross-country and downhill.
MBA: How did you do in your first mountain bike event?
Greg: I don’t think I did too badly. I can’t remember the exact result of my first race, but I remember being maybe second in the cross-country.
MBA: What have been your best national and international results?
Greg: I’ve won three World Cup titles and three World Championship titles and one NORBA [American series] title.
Editor’s note: Greg actually won two NORBA titles, taking the U.S. downhill titles in both 2003 and 2004.
MBA: Where did you go to school?
Greg: I went to school in South Africa.
MBA: Did you attend college?
MBA: Do you have any other career training?
MBA: Did you earn any awards in sports or academics while in school?
MBA: What other sports do you do besides mountain biking?
Greg: Swimming, soccer, cricket, rugby, field hockey. I love playing sports.
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