It’s not about the bike… or is it?
Who am I kidding I love bikes, I love shiny stuff, and I love putting something together from the ground up and building a bike that works exactly the way I want it to.
I’m lucky as I work in the cycle trade and have had a lot of help sorting bits and pieces out for this bike, making sure the spec is suitable,everything works together and it will stand up to the challenges it will encounter this summer. So I must say thanks to JP at Quest Adventure and Martin at South Downs Bikes for help with components and Daz at Strada wheels for helping me to navigate the 29+ boost width minefield!
So I started off hunting for the perfect frame. My previous Genesis Longitude proved to be an awesome bikepacking machine, super capable, carried the bags well and was really comfy. The main problem though was it’s weight, not too bad at 31lb, but I didn’t want to pedal that every day for over a month so I started to look for an alternative.
Titanium was the obvious choice for me, I already have a kinesis Sync, which is an awesome trail / race bike, but it can’t take the extra volume 29+ tyre width I was looking for. I stumbled across Travers Bikes, chatting to one of their team riders at Mountain Mayhem, it seemed perfect for the job. I exchanged a few messages with Michael Travers and they were coming to race the Brighton Big Dog so it was a perfect chance to get a go on a bike and see how it felt. On paper it’s very similar to the Kinesis, but will take the 29+ wheels I was looking for. Michael gave me a spin on his bike and it felt great, so the following monday I ordered a frame.
I had custom options to turn it into a bikepacking machine. Direct mount front mech, extra ‘anything cage’ mounts that I jigged around till I had them in the perfect spot, full length gear and brake outers externally routed (standard frames have internal routing) along with the Travers Ti bar and seatpost I wanted as comfy a ride as possible.
So starting with the wheels, I needed a wider, plus width, rim. There aren’t too many options at the moment. I wanted metal, rather than carbon, for durability. Whether metal is actually any more durable I don’t really know, but in the back of my mind I wanted silver rims so that decided it for me.
The big choice was whether to go for a rim like the Surly Rabbit Hole or a solid one like the Velocity Dually. The big factor was the front hub, I need a dynamo and because the hub flanges are nearer together a rim like the Rabbit Hole will not build as strong a wheel as the spoke holes are offset, so Dually it was. Nice and easy to set up tubeless too as well as really shiny 😉
So the front hub is a Shutter Precision PD8-X, I have them on my other bikes and they see to be reliable. The rear is a Hope boost width pro 2, I built the wheels just before the new pro 4 came out, if I’d have known I’d have waited! Both wheels are built with tandem spokes to help them deal with being ridden so far loaded with extra weight on the bike.
Next up was measuring the frame for a custom Alpkit frame bag. They make it to fit your frame exactly, so you have to make sure all the information is correct or it’s your fault!
Next up came the groupset, Shimano XT 2 x 11, I know that 1 x 11 is the thing everyone raves about these days, but I need the gear range to get me over these mountain passes, the Tour Divide has 200,000 feet of climbing along the route!
The handlebar bag and the seatpack are Apidura, all the others are Alpkit. The forks hold a Free Parable Gorilla cage each side for extra water capacity, and there is also one under the downtube which will hold my tool kit in a Lezyne Flow Caddy to keep it all dry.
Up front is an Alpik Fuel Pod and two Stem Cells.
Due to the nature of the extremely long gravel and forest roads on the Tour Divide most people run tri bars of some description, whilst googling I found the BarYak, naturally being really shiny it was perfect for this bike!
Lighting / gear charging is taken care of by the Exposure Lights Revo, more on that on a later post……
Gorilla cages for water carrying.
Currently I have Bontrager Chupacabra tyres on, but after exchanging a few messages with the guys at Bikepacking.com these will be changed for Maxxis Chronicles nearer the time, with the reinforced sidewalls and fast rolling tread pattern I think they will do a better job and certainly be a bit more durable.
Shimano XT 2 x 11
Brakes are TRP Spyke, mechanical, not hydraulic. Reduces the risk of handlebar bags rubbing the hoses over a long period of time, and you can get a new cable from pretty much any bike shop if you need to.
Last but not least here is my top tube sticker for a bit of motivation when times get tough, please donate to a great cause if you can: