The idea for this trip had come about in around 2003. Whilst twelve years ight seem like a long time to get it done, sometimes good ideas take a while to fulfill. Luckily technology has come a long way and 29+ touring bikes have created a host of touring possibilities that were otherwise extremely hard work.
This post covers more on the gear i used, what worked and what didn’t. For a full trip report check out Cyclingwild.
The Surly ECR performed flawlessly over rough terrain of Central Australia. The parts selection was mainly picked from a ‘what’s in the shed’ approach. I already had a wheelset, most parts had been previously tried and tested so only the 29+ knard tyres were required. Here’s the parts list with some notes about each:
Frame and fork :Surly ECR 20″. Tough and reliable, you can mount almost anything you want onto this frame. Fork mounted water bottle holders, frame bags, front and rear racks. Salsa anything cages. The list goes on.
Handle bars: Jones loop bar 710mm : Jeff Jones has been working on these strange looking handlebars for over a decade now,, for off road touring he may have just nailed it! This is the first long tour I have done where I hand numbness was not an issue.
Drivetrain: Alfine 11 speed, Izumi 3/32in chain, XT crank, Surly 33T chainring : This hub had already done a 6 week tour and had held up well. I used it for its low maintenance set up and that even if it leaked ( which it did) it would still perform well. In hindsight the Alfine 11 speed is a little slow and uninspiring when the trail gets fun and technical. Whilst it is a robust unit capable of long tours, it is better suited to city commuting and light touring. the bike has since had a 1×10 speed drivetrain placed on it which has made it a lot more agile and places it closer to being a MTB. Izumi chains are made in Japan and are super tough for the purpose. The XT cranks were great, however the bottom bracket did need replacing when I returned. Fine silica sands are not good for external BB’s. Albert’s ECR build was done using Sugino cranks and a square tapered BB so as to not need regular maintenance.
Wheelset: Velocity Blunt 35’s, Surly Knard 29×3, : I chose Bunt 35’s as they were a little lighter than the Surly Rabbit holes, they also allowed for easy tubeless set up. Running tubeless in the desert was a blessing given some of the spiny plants I came across. On one occasion almost 50 spiny thorns entered my tyre, with tubes this would have been a futile exercise in repair. The Knards have now done over 3500km and are still going well despite the fact they are not tubeless ready.
Dynamo lights and charging: Shutter Precision PD8: Sinewave Revolution: B&M Luxos B: The SP PD8 dynamo hubs are a robust unit with incredible efficiency. the Luxos allowed me to travel into the night without any trouble seeing. The Sinewave was great for charging the phone and batteries for GPS and Spot tracker.
Bags and Storage: Revelate Viscacha, Revelate frame bag, Surly rear rack, MSR Dromadary 4Lt, Revelate chaff bag, Revelate top tube bag, various dry sacs. The frame bag is supposed to fit a Salsa Fargo but fits into the ECR very well, it was super handy for placing cooking items and food into, essentially creating a kitchen that was easily accessed.
Other bits: SPOT tracker, GPS, batteries, dehydrated meals, coffee, water bladder plus 3 water bottles.
August 2018 edit:
Three years on this bike has transformed the way I go bike touring! Now set up with carbon rims, 1 or 2×11 speed groupset depending where im headed. It’s a little lighter than it used to be and still capable in ALL terrains! Maxxis Chronicle tyres have become a staple rear tyre, yet Surly Dirt Wizards and WTB Rangers are a favorite up front.