Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Tour Divide 2016 Kit

I've been asked about the kit I took with me on the Tour Divide, so here is a wee run down.

Bike: Shand Cycles custom steel 29er with steel Salsa CroMoto fork.

This bike is more than 7 years old and has been well used and abused.


The bike was originally singlespeed only, but for the Tour Divide I decided to add gears. I swapped out the Paragon sliding dropout for one with a mech hanger. I used an XT 1x11 setup with a 34t chain ring and an 11-40 cassette. This range of gears worked pretty well for me. I didn't change the chain at all during the ride and by the end it was pretty knackered and fell off the chain ring quite a few times (maybe a narrow-wide chainring would have helped this).

I kept the singlespeed White Industries ENO chainset and used a Shimano square taper bottom bracket - the previous one had lasted so long that it became seized into the frame. I had to take the frame back to Shand to get it removed - this was achieved with some heat which left the frame missing more paint than it already was!


The wheels were Hope pro 4 rear hub and SP PD8 front dynamo hub laced to WTB i25 rims. Tyres were WTB Trail Boss 2.4" front and Wolverine 2.2" rear, both tubeless. Hope Mono Mini brakes - 7 years old like the frame and forks but still working pretty well.


The dynamo hub was connected up to a Tout Terrain Plug III USB power converter so that I could charge my Garmin Edge 1000 via a cache battery. Unfortunately the Plug stopped working on day 2, so I had to resort to charging my backup batteries from mains power when I stopped at motels and buying AA batteries to run my emergency usb battery pack (although I only used 8 AA batteries in total). I haven't figured out what went wrong with the Plug yet - it's 3 years old and has some corrosion on the USB socket, so maybe it was just a bad connection? The green LED light is still lighting up.

I used an Exposure Revo headlight powered by the dynamo hub. This worked perfectly for Tour Divide type riding, although I deliberately avoided doing any hike-a-bike sections in the dark. Dynamo lights are not good at walking speed. I mounted the light on top of the front dry bag using a cut down plastic mud guard.


On the bars an Alpkit Yak harness with a dry bag containing sleeping gear. Two Alpkit Stem Cell bags, one with my Canon G16 camera, one with food.  Frame bag is an Alpkit Possum containing tools, electronics and food. Seat bag is a Revelate Viscacha with spare clothes, maps, inner tubes, first aid kit, headtorch and anything else.


I just carried two 650 ml bottles in the cages on the frame. This was a lot less than most people seemed to carry - some had four or five large bottles attached to their bikes. Until I got to Wyoming this was enough, though I did fill up from streams in Canada and Montana when necessary. One of these times I used water purification tablets as the water didn't seem that clean, but the rest I didn't bother as the sources were high mountain streams.

I was able to tuck a couple of 1 litre bottles behind the dry bag on my bar harness for the Great Divide Basin then Colorado and New Mexico. This worked pretty well, though there were a couple of times the bottles bounced out when I hit a nasty section of washboard.

Sleeping gear

In the dry bag on the front I carried a Terra Nova GoreTex bivvy bag, a Thermarest Neo air mattress and a Rab Neutrino 200 down sleeping bag. As a bit of a luxury I carried long johns, spare thin socks and a merino long sleeved base layer. Most nights I was really comfortable for sleeping, although in Montana there were a couple of cold nights when I would have preferred a warmer sleeping bag.

Tools and Spares

When deciding what bike to bring and how to build it up I had gone for as many reliable options as I could. This and a healthy dose of luck meant that I didn't have any mechanicals apart from the chain coming off (easily fixed) and one puncture (caused by leaning the bike against a spiky cactus and fixed with a tubeless repair plug).

I carried enough tools to fix most problems I considered likely to occur: Gerber multi-tool with pliers and sharp blade, Park Tool I-Beam 2 multi-tool, Park Tool Mini Brute chain tool, spoke key, Weldtite tubeless repair kit, pump, chain lube.

Spares were limited to 3 sets of brake pads (only used one set), two inner tubes (used none), spare chain links, inner gear cable.

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