Wendi Sebastian-Takakura and her husband Yohsuke Takakura are east coast XC racers with a penchant for 29ers, kittens, and tacos. What’s not to like? Check out their sweet his and her Hei Hei CR DLs!
I work full time in the design/editorial field while racing XC at the Pro level on the east coast. My hometown of Vernon, NJ is near amazing trails covered in happy rocks. Although I recently moved to upstate NY (Guilderland) with my husband and cat, I’m still riding and racing my favorite trails in NJ, NY and Vermont. My love of rocks is one of the reasons I prefer full suspension, although for years I did race a 26er hardtail and then a 27.5 full suspension. And being a small rider, I try to reduce weight on the bike, which also helps with climbing. This is my second season on a Hei Hei and I just love this 29er platform since it fits my riding style really well. The joy it brings me on the trails reminds me of how I feel when I’m snowboarding through the woods.
RaceFace Next Riser Carbon Handlebar:
I prefer wide bars and the stock 720mm 720 mm just works great for me and love the blue details which compliment the orange of the frame and my plush Fox SC32 fork.
WTB Koda Team Saddle:
I’m super picky with saddles and it’s rare I find one that’s comfortable. The WTB Koda is not only super comfy, but also light and reasonably priced.
Maxxis Ikons 2.2 Tires:
Thanks to the 3C MAXX SPEED compound, the Maxxis Ikons are fast rolling, while gripping well on the rocks and corner nice when it’s wet.
Stans Notubes Crest MK3 rims with DT240 hubs:
28 straight pull spokes front and rear laced to the gold standard DT240 hubs. These are nice and light, yet stable and strong.
Fox SC32 Fork:
I’m happy to be racing this fork which has been great in all terrain. As a bonus, the orange matches the frame and compliments the handlebars.
Shimano XTR M9100 Drivetrain:
The shifting is perfect and lightweight.
Shimano XTR M9100 Brakes:
I prefer Shimano brakes as they provide the right amount of braking when I need it, without any noise or issues. Paired to Carver Rotors, I get smooth modulation and they are lightweight.
Shimano XTR M9000 pedals:
The previous brand I was using kept braking, but I haven’t had any issues with these pedals.
Thompson Elite X4 Stem:
With my long arms, I felt I needed a longer cockpit, so this stem delivered by not just having the right length, but also the right angle, or actually, no angle (0°).
This is a super reliable seat post that is also lightweight.
I found my love for cycling and tacos in Mexico, my home country and narrowed my interest on mountain bikes in the technical trails of the northeast of the US. It was on the same trails that I met Wendi, my wife, so we are all about bikes and a very special kitty cat. As an engineer, working on bikes is natural to me. From lacing wheels to fully servicing forks, everything gets done in-house. The Hei Hei is an awesome platform that I’ve been using for my last three bikes. Not only is it perfect for XC racing, but also a lot of fun for an everyday ride.
Fox SC 32 with remote lockout:
Nothing means XC racing more than this fork, which is very lightweight and tracks really well. 100mm of travel sounds minimalistic, but the key is in the tuning. Bottomless tokens are key.
Shimano XTR M9100 Drivetrain:
Yeah! Shimano shifting quality in a 1×12 drivetrain! Shimano may not be always the first to deliver but they deliver right. I am most excited about this upgrade. I just love being able to downshift with my pointer finger while pedaling off the saddle.
Shimano XTR M9100 Brakes:
Best brakes ever since they redesigned the levers for stiffness, not that it bothered me before, but it’s nice that they refined their design. I run my brakes backward (right lever-front brake, left lever-rear brake), so my shifting cable & brake hoses routing isn’t standard as it can easily be spotted in the photos.
Fox Transfer Dropper post:
This is the ‘mullet’ to the XC front of my bike. It takes a little to get used to it, but it is a game changer. The roadie in all XC racers makes you always concerned about the weight. But, what if a little bit of weight makes you gain lots of speed and control? It really helps so much that it should be banned from XC races. Oh, wait, MTB isn’t road nor cyclocross.
SRAM XX1 drive side crank arm paired with a STAGES POWER CARBON POWER METER:
I have been using Stages Power Meters on all my bikes for five years now and they just keep getting better. There isn’t a better way to train than with a power meter. Since I have a day job, I don’t have the luxury to ride all day long. A power meter (and HR monitor) ensure that I get the most out of my time on the bike.
Shimano XTR M9000 pedals
Reliability. Sure, it isn’t the lightest pedal, but when riding through rock gardens and don’t want to DNF a race because all that’s left of your pedal is a spindle, then Shimano XTR is the way to go. They also have great mud/snow clearance.
Selle Italia SLR Flow X-Cross
I’ve been using the SLR line for close to 20 years now and this is what I run on all my bikes. Light and comfortable. No need to look anywhere else.
Syntace Megaforce 2 stem
This stem is light and stiff. By the looks you would think it’s an anchor, but then you realize how properly machined this stem is to reduce weight without compromising stiffness.
RaceFace Next Riser Carbon handlebars
Very nice bars with just ¼” rise make my hands comfortable on the bike. They are stiff enough to hit the right lines at speed but not too stiff that break my wrists.
Carver Carbon UL XC wheels
Paired with Novatec hubs and bladed spokes the custom wheelset from Carver has no rival in terms of weight, stiffness and affordability. Add some Carver Rotors and Carver Alloy bolts and you get a perfect XC wheelset.
Schwalbe Rocket Ron 29 x 2.25
With SnakeSkin sidewalls and Addix Speed compound, these tires are fast and still have a good bite on turns. They are not too wide causing the tire to feel sluggish and not too skinny that handling and traction are compromised.
Inspired to build your own Dream bike? Start here!