North Carolina’s Luca Shaw has risen to become one of the fastest riders on the World Cup downhill circuit. Only 21 years old, Luca is already ranked among the 10 fastest downhill racers on the planet.
At the first 2018 World Cup downhill event (held in Losinj, Croatia), Shaw ended up taking second place in the finals, his best finish so far in the Elite Men’s class. He ended up losing the race to Aaron Gwin by 0.792 seconds. It wasn’t the first time Shaw and Gwin finished that way. Luca also took second to Gwin in last year’s Downhill National championship.
Luca’s father is responsible for getting Luca into racing. Luca’s dad works for Ohlins Suspension, and he got both Luca and his older brother Walker riding motocross bikes when they were 3 and 4 years old, respectively, and even got them racing those bikes a year later.
Luca took up racing BMX for a couple of years starting at age 8, and he was good at that too. After that, Luca took up mountain biking, and it was soon apparent that he had found his specialty. After picking up a sponsorship from Santa Cruz, Luca went on to become one of the top juniors on the World Cup circuit, doing so while still in high school. He even won two of the Junior Men’s downhill World Cup events.
Once Luca moved up to the Elite ranks, he began to shine again. At the first World Cup event of 2017, Luca and his teammates, Loris Vergier and Greg Minnaar, were all debuting the new 29-inch Santa Cruz V10 design, and the three of them earned the top three spots in the qualifiers at the race. Heavy rain hit the finals, intensifying before the top riders’ runs. Torrential rain, horrendous visibility and slick mud destroyed their chances at a podium sweep, but their qualifying round remained an impressive debut for the three teammates and their new bikes.
This year, on his newest version of the 29-inch Santa Cruz V10, Luca has emerged once again as one of the fastest riders on the World Cup circuit. While Gwin still garners most of the attention paid to American downhillers, Luca Shaw may someday prove to be a serious threat to Gwin’s long-term dominance.
Will Luca be able to beat Gwin in the near future? That remains to be seen, but Luca is already the highest-placing World Cup downhill racer to come out of America since Gwin arrived on the scene ten years ago.
Luca Shaw’s Santa Cruz V10 29er
1. Frame: Santa Cruz CC Carbon V10, size large. Shock: Fox DH2, 250×75, metric shock, 550-pound spring
2. Fork: Fox 49, 29″ fork.
3. Tires: Maxxis DHRII 29×2.40″ front (25 psi) & Maxxis DHRII 29×2.40″ rear (28 psi).
4. Tubeless or tubes: Stan’s NoTubes tubeless sealant.
5. Bottom bracket: Shimano Saint.
6. Spokes: DT Swiss Competition Race.
7. Front hub: Chris King, 32-hole 110 Boost with 20mm axle.
8. Rear hub: Chris King, 32-hole, 157mm with 12mm axle.
9. Brakes: Shimano Saint, 203mm rotors.
10. Handlebars: Burgtec, alloy, Ride Wide, 800mm wide, 30mm rise, 35mm clamp.
11. Rims: Santa Cruz Reserve 32h, DH rims.
12. Chainguide: MRP G4 Carbon Mini 32-36t.
13. Cranks: Shimano Saint, 165mm alloy.
14. Chainring: Shimano 34t Saint.
15. Pedals: Crankbrothers Mallet.
16. Chain: Shimano XTR 10-speed chain.
17. Rear derailleur: Shimano Saint.
18. Grips: ODI Elite Pro lock-on.
19. Shifter: Shimano Saint 10-speed shifter.
20. Brakes: Shimano Saint.
21. Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace, 11-25, 10-speed cassette.
22. Saddle: Fizik Gobi (custom cut for 29″ rear-wheel clearance).
23. Seatpost: Burgtec, 31.6mm diameter.
24. Cables and housings: Shimano.
25. Headset: Chris King InSet 4 headset.
26. Fox DHX2 250×75 metric shock 550-lb. spring.
27. Stem: Burgtec 50mm Direct Mount stem with 35mm clamp.
28. Custom parts: Custom suspension linkage.
29. Carbon or titanium bolts: Steel bolts throughout.
30. Extras: Chris King ceramic bearing hubs, front and rear.
31. 64-degree head angle.
32. Bottom bracket height: 356.5mm (14 inches).
Bike weight: 35 pounds
Estimated value of bike: “Price not available.”
THE MBA Q&A: LUCA SHAW
MBA: Where did you grow up?
Luca: I was born in San Francisco, but I’ve grown up in Hendersonville, North Carolina, since the time I was 8 years old.
MBA: What kind of work do your parents do?
Luca: My dad works for Ohlins Suspension and has always been involved in the motorcycle industry. My mom works for a Belgian fashion designer.
MBA: When did you first learn to ride a bike?
Luca: I think I was 3 when I first rode without training wheels.
MBA: Who taught you?
Luca: My dad and brother.
MBA: Did you race on any other kinds of bikes before you started racing mountain bikes?
Luca: I started out racing BMX when I was 8. I was pretty good. I moved up to the Expert class in my first year, and the best I did was second place at the Grand Nationals.
MBA: When did you get your first mountain bike?
Luca: I think I was 10 or 11 when I got my first mountain bike.
MBA: When did you start racing mountain bikes?
Luca: Thirteen years old.
MBA: How did you finish in your first competition?
Luca: I think I got second in my first downhill race.
MBA: Did you win any titles as an amateur?
Luca: I won the Junior Dual-Slalom championship three times and took second in the Junior World Cup overall before turning pro.
MBA: What awards did you win in school, if any?
Luca: Not many I don’t think.
MBA: What other sports have you done?
Luca: I played basketball and soccer for a long time through middle school and high school.
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