It's been a busy last few weeks with my brother getting married in France and traveling with family but life is slowly returning back to normal – that being riding wherever my legs are heart takes me. And with that said, a new machine and (reasonably new) gear setup to help carry me there.
The idea for a new bike and what adventures it would open up really begun to materialise when I was in Iceland. The thought of riding across frozen seemingly extra-terrestrial landscapes had a huge appeal. It didn’t surprise me in the least after I’d explored Iceland that I heard a number of ‘other world’ films such as Interstellar were filmed there. I couldn’t help but feel that I may look up to the night sky one night and see two or three moons, one silhouetted behind another.
My, at the time, brilliant idea was to ride the West Fjords of Iceland from Hólmavík across the frozen plateau to Ísafjörður. No roads or civilisation, just snow covered vastness with the idea of zigzagging across the plateau following the line of least resistance, that being least snow, till I reached Ísafjörður. Skipping the endless fjords as a result was part of the prize.
Reality put a quick stop to that plan; I was defeated before it even begun. Despite finding what I thought would be the most achievable route with little snow, it turned out to either be a mud bog where my shoes would disappear below the surface or snow too deep to gain any traction. With that my aspirations for the plateau evaporated and what took its place was a mirage like imagine of what I present today – The Beast 2.0
As you avid fat bikers may be able to tell, hidden under all those bags and electrical/gorilla tape in the picture above is a Surly Wednesday. Yes, the name of the bike is seemingly named after a day of the week. Actually, it’s named after Wednesday Friday Addams from The Addams Family.
A link to the Surly Wednesday website with the bikes specs can be found here. In summary, it’s rocking PHAT 3.8 inch tyres with a setup that feeds on the idea it’s limitless in where it can take you. I often tell myself when I’m out riding far flung trails that it could take you anywhere in this world and a few other worlds as well.
While I kept the bike largely unchanged, more than anything due to budget constraints, I allowed myself the luxury of a few upgrades that give it that next level feel:
- Profile Design T3 Aero Bars – After being lurched over my last bikes handlebars countless times trying to gain any aero advantage I could, I knew they would be a must on the new bike.
- Duel rear bottle cages – A larger water capacity was one of the goals from riding through Central America and I figured why not pair it with James Bond look-alike rocket launchers (yes, you can press a button and the two rear bottles turn into mini rockets to disable any would be cyclists about to overtake :D)
- Son Dynamo Hub – The hub powers electronics via a Sinewave Revolution USB port and a light. The idea of my electronics (phone, GoPro etc.) being charged from simply rolling around which I do all day anyway seemed bloody brilliant!
- Brooks Saddle – From having one on my fixie back in Brisbane, this was a must.
- SRAM Guide RS brakes (front) – The Hayes MX Comp brakes that came with the bike left a lot to be desired. I figured extra braking power with so much weight on the bike just might save my life one day. Let’s hope it never comes that close to make the difference.
- Ergon Grips – Brooks saddle, T3 aero bars and Ergon grips to complete the circle – this is comfort riding at its finest!
BIKEPACKING SETUP & GEAR
The setup remains largely unchanged from what I had previously on the Santa Cruz Heckler. The few notable changes I made were reducing the number of fork bags from four to two, placing two bottle cages on my rear triangle and removing the need to carry a backpack.
While having four fork bags (Salsa Anything Cages zip tied to the forks with J.Paks Manything Pak bags) worked like a charm, I was keen to offset the additional weight of the bike. One way to do this was to loose two cages and subsequent weigh in the J.Paks bags.
The addition of the two bottle cages on my rear triangle added an extra 1.5 litres to my water holding capacity giving me a total of 9.0 litres when fully loaded (with 3.0 litres easily accessed while riding through water bladders).
The gear had a few tweaks from the last setup but it too remains largely unchanged. It performed beyond expectation in Iceland so there was no need for an overhaul. As it stands, it can carry me safely from a hot summers day (although I try and avoid these) to approx. -25C (-13F). I’ll leave a more detailed discussion of the gear for the Gear section of the website.
Well that’s it folks. The new setup turned out better than I ever imagined. Sitting in the aero position really pushes it up a few notches in terms of speed, all the gear sits rock solid and I feel like if Batman had a bike this is what it would look like, what more could I possibly ask for?
Last but not least, a huge thank you to Fred and my brother Phil for putting up with turning their apartment into what seemed like a bike shop with gear and bike parts everywhere. Without them this would not have been possible.