Author Topic: Bike setup for the GDMBR  (Read 8354 times)

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Offline MrBent

Bike setup for the GDMBR
« on: May 30, 2021, 03:57:11 pm »
Okay, newbie here to mt. bikes generally and dirt bike touring for sure.  I'm experience at long-distance riding (solo coast-to-coast and mostly paved Rocky Mtn. ride from Jasper to Mexico), but we're looking at the GDMBR with deep interest.  That will require new bikes!  Yay!  I've got some ideas worked out but wanted to run them by other riders.  So here goes:

Bike frame: Surly Karate Monkey, front suspension

Bars: Jones H bars

Pedals: Platforms w/straps for climbing.  Don't want clip ins. (Recommended brands?)

Wheelz: 27.5 inch (Recommended brands?)

Tires: 3" tubeless--Maxxis Chronicle?  (The riding where I live has a lot of loose/sandy sections.  Fat rubber a must.)

Given my wheel/tire choice, do I go with 40mm or 50mm rims?  I'm thinking the 40's would be fine AND lighter.  I ignorant here!

Gearing:  Big questions.  I'll be riding heavy--dog trailer in tow--so low, low gearing is a must.  Do I go 1 X 12, 2 X 10/11?

Brakes: Questions here, too.  I'm having my first love affair with hydro's on a e-phat bike, but not sure if I want them on this build.  Had Avid BB7's on my other bikes for years.  I've heard the TPR Spykes are really good.  In either case I'd likely run 203 mm rotors to control a big load on long descents.  I DO love the feel of the hydro's....  (Recommendations? Costs?)

Rear rack:  Gotta be bomber!

Frame bag:  Brands?

Handlebar bag: Dunno.  Seems like it might be cool for hydration, etc.  I don't want anything on my back.

Overall, I'd like to keep the build to about $2.5k, but could go higher.  If this goes, my wife will be completing her 70th year and I my 60th.  I'm not gonna cheap out on the bike.  I want good, reliable stuff, but it does not have to be elite, top shelf.

So fire away.  Tangents relevant are welcome.  I'm obsessing, as usual.  Be well and ride on.

Offline ray b

Re: Bike setup for the GDMBR
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2021, 10:30:38 pm »
Congratulations on another phase in your touring life.

Sounds like you are already pretty well dialed in .

If it makes you feel better I just set up my 2008 karate monkey with a new set of BB7s. Although I have used hydraulic brakes on my motorcycles for years I have not yet figured out why I would want to use hydraulics on a bicycle in the back country.  I know others have, so they can explain better than I why you're making the right choice with big disks and hydraulics.

I have been running Rohloff hubs for years, so I am constantly reminded that too low a gearing with too much mechanical advantage can result in damage to your bike if the load is too heavy and the road too steep. 

It would be nice if your dog were trained and  harnessed to help pull uphill 🙂, but you might want to be prepared to walk the bicycle and trailer up a couple of the walls along the route. 

There will also be at least one steep long downhill that you will want to walk at least part of the way, no matter which brake system you choose.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2021, 11:21:21 pm by ray b »
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline wildtoad

Re: Bike setup for the GDMBR
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2021, 10:42:16 pm »
A reason to build up a new bike is always a good thing! A few thoughts and tangents for you......

I haven't yet had the opportunity to ride the full GDMBR, but did ride most of the Montana section several years ago. For fun, I did that section on a Reynolds 853 steel 1990s hardtail, 80mm fork, v brakes , 26er x 2.1" tires, 3x8 gearing, etc. The bike performed beautifully, including the brakes. I did have an early version of the Jones cut bar on that bike at the time. Decent bar for that trip, but suboptimal for the few singletrack sections IMO/IME.

Front suspension is a fine choice. When I return to the GDMBR, I will probably use a rigid bike.

You appear set on the Jones bar, that's cool. I've moved on from my Jones was a good experiment and helped me fine tune what I like, at least when it comes to mtb control style bars. It may handle singletrack better on a Jones bike, or a bike w/ geometry more similar to a Jones than the 2 bikes that I tried it on.

Pedals, no feedback as I ride spd's exclusively for distance and dirt riding.

Wheels/Tires:  I have one 650b/27.5 set, Velocity Blunt 35s w/ 52mm actual Rene Herse tires.  Fantastic combo. No experience riding plus/ultra wide rubber and corresponding rims.   

Gearing: I would go 2x. I loved the 3x8 setup that I used on the Montana section...old school, perhaps, but it just worked and worked better than the trendier gearing setups used by my companions. Now, I really like the 1x setup on my primary hardtail, perfect for undulating single track in the Sierras, which is where I do 90% of my riding on that bike. But I wouldn't want to ride that gearing w/ a load on the GDMBR. 

Brakes:  I run mechanical discs exclusively on my disc-equipped bikes. Various reasons for that, including that I view hydro setups as "black box" style componentry w/ corresponding upsides and downsides.  I also like to build up my own bikes and enjoy fine tuning/perfecting the mechanical side of things.  Mechanical discs do reward good setup.   

TRP Spyres/Spyke:  My "adventure touring" bike came equipped w/ Spyres (which are the drop bar variant of the mtb Spykes).  Good overall brakes, but not out of the box IME.  I did not care for the stock pads, and noticed immediate and significant improvement w/ basic Shimano pads. Spyres are also sensitive to good cable setup (but housing is less important IME).  Use top quality cables like Jagwire pro series or better.  Running 160mm Shimano XT rotors. Prefer them to prior experience w/ BB7s.

My favorite disc brake setup is actually the front disc, rear v brake setup on my hardtail. The front disc is a Paul Klamper, rear V is the venerable Avid single digit 7. Ridiculously good braking and modulation w/ Avid SD7 levers.  Not advocating a rear v brake setup, of course, but the Klamper is superb.  Yes, very pricey, but I view it as a long term investment in a non-disposable bike component. Comes stock w/ great pads, and the easiest install and setup of any disc brake that I've experienced. Also super easy to keep pads in adjustment.  But a pair of Klampers might blow your budget...especially now when they are still relatively scarce due to COVID and commanding a premium in used market.  But they are the real deal IMO.

You could combine cable/hydro and use something like the recently released mtb variant of the Yokozuna Motoko. A fair amount of positive feedback on the drop bar variants of the motoko and the fancier 4 piston Ultimo.  But I still think that brake suffers from black box syndrome.  Most folks don't care about that :)

Rear rack:  Nothing but great experience w/ Tubus.  If you want something trendy w/ the bikepacking in-crowd, there is the Tumbleweed Mini Pannier rack, which can hold small panniers or cargo cages...which is pretty cool.  Sells out frequently.

Frame bags/bags:  So many good options now, we are in a golden age of bike bags.  I combine bikepacking gear w/ traditional touring gear for optimal setups IMO.  I like products from Revelate, Ortlieb, Roadrunner bags and Carradice. For frame bag, I use the top tube Ortlieb frame bag...brilliant because i can easily switch it among various bikes.  Don't care for full frame bags. Most important thing w/ these bags is to get optimal fit on your bike frame.  One of my favorite bikepacking style bags is my Revelate mountain feedbag and the similar co-pilot stem bag made by Roadrunner (I have the version sold through Velo Orange because I like the coyote color).  They look great and are just in the right spot for important things that you want to access while riding or not.

Have fun!

Offline ray b

Re: Bike setup for the GDMBR
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2021, 11:33:19 pm »
For fun here's a link to 70 bikes currently on the tour divide (the race that essentially follows the GDMBR.
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline MrBent

Re: Bike setup for the GDMBR
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2021, 06:37:46 pm »
Thanks so much for your input.  Because of supply issues, I ended up finding a stock Krampus in the Midwest.  I've got some Jones bars waiting.  I'll fine-tune as I ride and test over the next months.  The setup is with hydro brakes, a 1x12, and 3" skins--tubless ready.   I'll ride with a rigid fork for a while and see how I like it.  I'm hoping fine, but I can go with a sus fork if necessary.  The Redshift stem looks interesting, too, and with a money-back guarantee, so maybe worth a try.  I'm going a little insane trying figure out what's what cuz of too much available info., but it's fun, too.  Hopefully the bike ships this coming week.  Meanwhile, it's 100+ every day. Gah.

Offline wildtoad

Re: Bike setup for the GDMBR
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2021, 10:18:42 pm »
That's great, glad to hear that you found a bike (no small feat in the current environment). The Krampus will make a very good platform, no doubt. Fit and comfort are obviously just as important for long distance dirt as they are for long distance get those dialed in over a series of initial rides, and I'm sure you will be good to go w/ the rest of the specs on that bike for the GDMBR.

Re the Redshift stem...funny how things often go full circle in the bike world (and elsewhere, of course).  The stem seems well reviewed for gravel/all road bikes (at least in the online/YouTube influencer/reviewer world).  You will be rolling wider 29+ tires set up tubeless, and I expect you will probably get a good deal of "cush" from that. 

I did rock a Girvin Flexstem back in the early 1990s, and rode some bikes back in the day w/ the Softride stem as well.  They worked a little bit, but weren't a replacement for a good suspension fork (which really didn't exist until the Marz Bombers IMO). Anyway, maybe the Redshift is a little better than those old school versions...definitely lighter would be my guess, but overall, on a bike like the Krampus. I would go for a nice suspension fork as a complement/option to the rigid fork.  Modern suspension forks just work, and work well,  and your bike doesn't have the constraints re adding a suspension fork that some "gravel" bikes have.

Enjoy your new bike!

Offline MrBent

Re: Bike setup for the GDMBR
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2021, 10:44:30 pm »
Thanks, Wildtoad.  I'm REALLY glad we have such a long lead time.  Our plan is to start Aug. 2022.  Hopefully by then the border to Canada will be open, but for sure we'll have lots of miles and experience on our rigs.  My home turf has probably thousands of miles of dirt roads of every possible surface to explore, so I feel confident that the tech issues can be worked out.  We have a lot to learn about this style of riding and getting used to conventional bikes.  While I used one for commuting for years, virtually all of my tours have been on recumbents--two or three wheels.  Working out the padded shorts, greasing up the junk in the trunk, dialing in bike fit....  I went through a learning curve with bents, which for sure have their own requirements, and now it's like starting over.  Long distance, loaded touring is not just "riding a bike."  Thank Zeus I'm retired! It's exciting, though, and I love having a big, long-term project to focus on.  Happy times.

Kind of a breakthrough evening today.  We got our rather ADHD cattle dog to ride in the BOB trailer for a few laps in front of the house.  Astonishing.  My wife walked along side, feeding him snacks as we rolled, just walking the bike at first.  Then I pedaled--and he handled.  So happy right now.  Once we get that cush Burley Coho, we be stylin'.

Offline dmeans2anend

Re: Bike setup for the GDMBR
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2021, 06:38:40 pm »

I'm in a similar situation trying to get my hardtail (front suspension) bike setup for the GDMBR.  Not sure if I'll be doing it in 2022 or 2023 depending on the Covid situation.

Thanks for you post as I have used your setup as comparison.

Here are some of my feedback:

1)  Have you considered going with a suspension seatpost?  Some of the terrain can get pretty rough per my understanding on the GDMBR.  The suspension seatpost was recommended to me by an experienced tourer.   Here is a full article on it with a video explain the unique details and benefits of suspension seatposts.   The video is well worth watching.

Long story short.  I ended up getting the Cane Creek LT Suspension Seatpost (4th generation).  It has the longest travel at 90mm.  It really dampens a lot of the bounce and shock.  Pro:  It makes for a very comfortable ride.  Con:  It is a bit heavy.  I figure the additional weight of it was worth it and very important to keep the body fit and comfortable for such a sustained challenge as the GDMBR. 

2)  I also got the Jones H Loop bar but I was lucky in finding a used Carbon version of the Jone H Bar for a good deal with the little Jones pouch.  It save 250 g of weight. 

3)  You'll want to check the gear ratio to make sure the 1x12 will have adequate low gearing for heavy loads during steep mountain climbs.  Here is a great gear calculator to use to check.

My bike have a 3x9 drivetrain so my low end gear is around 17.7 and the high end is around 103.