There’s no doubting that Sharjah Jonsson is one fast dude when it comes to Enduro MTB, posting respectable finishes in some recent Enduro World Series rounds. Hot off building up a new Santa Cruz Hightower LT and he talks to us about the build, its features, racing and more…
Give us some insight into your new Santa Cruz build?
With this build I have opted for a long travel 29er for international racing, as the trails are just that much wilder than our local South African trails. I really didn’t worry about weight at all on the build. rather being safe and having a bike that’ll last the race. I was fortunate enough to team up with some really cool brands that offered premium product that really tied the bike together.
What are some of your highlight components?
There are a few, the Santa Cruz Reserve 30 rims paired with DH casing Maxxis tyres offers an unbeatable security from flats or wheel issues. Riding the Joystick cockpit is really good, not being to ridged like other alloy bar options that I feel fatigue my hands. The BikeYoke 185mm dropper is a massive one for me offering a bigger than standard drop for my long legs.
Which one component is your favorite?
Safety is my number one concern while racing so the piece of mind of running the cSixx 9 Series Chainguide and knowing that my chain is always on and safe from hits is why it’s my favorite. The guide features a full carbon frame and a CND’d bashguard with a fin providing bottom chain security without any drag.
How would you best explain the ride?
The bike is setup to ride off the back with the high front end and 30% sag I run. I run my suspension with my high speed compression really low creating good tracking, three volume spacers for a solid progressive feel.
What style of riding do you enjoy the most?
I really like high speed trails, I feel slow and awkward in tight stuff and often make way to many mistakes.
Which are your top five trails to ride in SA?
033 trail in Pietermaritzburg.
The glen stair trail in Cape Town.
Cascades SP2 in Pietermaritzburg.
Pietermaritzburg World Cup Downhill track.
Peppercorns at Hakahana Johannesburg.
Who have been some of the most influential riders in your career?
Greg Minnaar for sure. The guidance he has offered me is unreal. Greg has been a real life role model for me after he took me under his wing when I was a skinny 14 year old XC kid. His modesty and wisdom is really something I admire and hope to learn from him.
You have raced a few rounds of the 2018 EWS with some great results. How many rounds are your planning on competing in this year?
I started off the year with no entries for EWS and I managed to get three through the wildcard system being Rounds 1, 2 and 7. I got offered a entry for Round 3 and managed to get there and then got offered another two for Rounds 4 and 6. I’m currently in Austria at round 4. At this stage I don’t think Round 6 in Whistler, Canada is financially viable and it’s hard to turn down an opportunity like this but I need to keep my head above the water and hopefully get to Round 7 in Spain. So honestly I haven’t planed anything longterm, it’s been a lot of touch and go and figuring it out as it happens.
How would you compare the EWS to our local Enduro series?
I don’t think it’s comparable at all besides them both being called Enduro. The stages at EWS are the most grueling physical tracks I have ever ridden. The South African Enduro’s are short and require 110% effort. In the EWS races you can’t race the whole track like that because on a 20min trail you would last a quarter of the stage and would be making way too many mistakes. The EWS races are about knowing where to risk it, minimizing errors in your run and conserving your energy to last the stage and the race.
What are your main goals for the season?
I would really like to get into the top 10 in the EWS U21 Series. SA Champs is also on the cards for sure, I think the two day race is going to be a big eye opener for local riders.
Where would you ultimately like to see mountain biking take you?
I would definitely like to make a profession out of it, ideally as a racer but I do think post racing I’d like to manage a team.
Downhill or Enduro?
When will we see you competing full time internationally?
I unfortunately can’t race full time purely due to a lack of funding, so as soon as I can find a financial sponsor that can afford for me to race full time but for now a day job and training before and after in the dark is the only way racing is financially viable. I can’t use this as a crutch either because plenty of guys have made it out of the same situation. If I want it badly enough I will make a way to get around to race but until then this is the best opportunity at present.
Frame: Santa Cruz Hightower LT CC
Fork: Fox 36 RC2 170mm Factory
Shock: Fox X2 Factory Coil with climb switch
Derailer: Shimano XTR 11spd
Shifter: Shimano XTR 11spd
Crankset: Sram XO1 Eagle 170mm, cSixx 34t chain ring
Chain Guide: cSixx 9 Series Full Guide
Breaks: Sram Code RSC
Rotors: Shimano Ice Tech 203mm
Headset: Canecreek 110 Series
Handlebars: Joystick 8-bit Alloy
Stem: Joystick Builder 50mm
Grips: DMR DeathGrips
Hubs: Industry 9 Torch
Rims: Santa Cruz Reserve 30
Tyres: Maxxis Assegai 2.5 with DH casing
Seatpost: BikeYoke Revive 185mm
Saddle: Joystick Binary