Bike build

(Non bike gear can be found here):
Since a lot of my trip is off road, solo and potentially remote, durability and reliability were higher priorities than weight when building and selecting my bike.

FRAME: Surly Troll – steel versatile mountain bike with LOTS of options for different builds


  • Front Derailleur: Deore High Clamp FD-M591
  • Rear Derailleur: SLX Long Cage¬† RD-M662
  • Chain: XT Chain CN-Hg93 (SRAM masterlink)
  • Cassette: LX/SLX/Saint CS-HG80 9 Speed 11-32
  • Crankset: inc¬† B/B IFCT661E866C¬† -FC-T661 175mm 44-32-22
  • Brake Lever: AVID BB7 –¬†Mechanical Disc Brakes
  • Headset: PRO Headset -r-11 1-1/8 cartridge
  • Grips: Ergon Control II bar ends.¬† (These are small but I liked them).
  • Handlebar PRO Mtn bike Bar-FRS 20 Black 31.8/68cm Riser20
  • Seat Post: Thomson Elite
  • Saddle: MTB – VultureMax Pro ($40 – was my best available option when¬†in Cuenca, Ecuador. ¬†Now in Huaraz, Peru – so far so good)¬†¬†WTB Speed Comp V¬† – I had to replace the WTB since the metal rails broke in a small accident just before Cuenca, Ecuador but they lasted 25000+ kms of hard use. ¬†With a good MTB saddle I have never had any issues with comfort or any need to try out an expensive Brooks saddle for example (which Cass managed to break a couple of times).


  • Front: TWE 32 Hole (local dealer brand)
  • Back: SunRingle RhynoLite Rim – 26 Inch x 36 Hole; Hope Pro 2 Evo 135mm Disc Rear Hub -Black 36 Hole.¬† Awkwardly tight fit getting the tyre on. (started with a different wheel from a local dealer in Sydney and the rim very inconveniently cracked after a few thousand miles. So I ordered this through Universal Cycles. They were efficient and friendly, and I was desperate on the Continental Divide trail. Arrived within a week)
  • Tyre Front: Surly ETs 26 x 2.5 ¬†(good but not that grippy for full on mountain biking, would like to try the Maxxis Ardent 2.4inch for decent off road grip and reasonable speed on the paved – I’m told)¬†Schwalbe Marathon Extreme 26 x 2.25
  • Tyre Rear: Surly ETs 26 x 2.5¬†Schwalbe Marathon Mondial 26 x 2.0
  • Spare tyre / road tyre option: Now no spare road tyre, too much messing around to be worth changing unless you’re on a road section for multiple days and even then…Front Schwalbe Marathon Supreme 26 x 1.6: Was useful when I had it in Canada for a two week paved section on the Yellowhead Highway but that was the only time in this trip. Ejected.


  • FRONT: No front rack now¬†Old Man mountain: can be used with front suspension (which I didn’t have but gave me the option down the line.
  • BACK: Tubus Cargo (run over by a taxi in Panama, bent out of shape! ¬†Luckily it is steel; excellent repair job in Tumbaco, Quito by a welder next to Santiago’s Casa de Ciclista)

Almost a complete bikepacking setup. From the excellent Alpamayo Designs (looks like they may no longer be operating). I have their:

  • Front Harness combined with¬†SeaToSummit (Stopper?) sturdy waterproof bag 20l. Good tough bag. Used to carry sleeping bag, sleeping mat, inner bag, down jacket, Mountain Equipment waterproof jacket
  • Frame bag: snacks for the day, small pot (Clikstand¬†stove inside), laptop,¬†less used tools & 1st aid (bottom of bag)
  • 2 stem bags: miscellaneous stuff I need quickly – e.g.Sony action camera, sunglasses. Or even a drinks / yogurt bottle that seems to be kept cool on hot days
  • Front pocket Revelate (stuff I need during the day) – OK but the fully waterproof Alpamayo front accessory bag is on my wish list
  • Seat Pack Terrapin Revelate – waterproof clothes bag.
  • ‘Gas tank’ top tube pack, Revelate (bike tools that I may need often or quickly: 1 spare inner tube, puncture repair kit, allen keys, chain tool, chain oil)
  • 1 Ortlieb Front Pannier on Tubus Cargo rack used at rear (12.5l?) – I use this for food only so it’s weight fluctuates. Having one pannier does not destabilise the bike as some people think. ¬†Would be lovely to get rid of it altogether though. However, I prefer to use this than a backpack for a long tour. ¬†I also strap my tent to the top of the rack (without the poles and pegs since these seemed to rub holes and damage the tent).

I started the trip with¬†4 Ortlieb bags (the non-pvc more environmental kind) and they were fine on paved roads. ¬†They flap about a bit off road though which is what most of my trip is so they were less than ideal. Consider Arkel if you want more secure panniers. ¬†I prefer the bikepack setup since I’m mountain biking and it is more stable, you’re less likely to hit rocks with your bags etc..


  • Mini track pump (1ft long) with pressure gauge (stored under the velcro on top of my frame bag)
  • 2 strong plastic tyre levers plus spare¬†worth the investment for a good pair, cheap ones can break if the tyre is difficult to get off. ¬†Metal ones may damage the rim.
  • Inner tube + patches (with glue tube; couldn’t rely on the glueless ones), black marker pen to circle punctures once found. ¬†I used to have two inner tubes but decided this was overkill, I expect it to be unlikely that both front and back inner tubes will have an irreparable problem simultaneously.
  • Emergency tyre boot (repairing holes in the tyres temporarily)
  • Topeak Alien multi tool – eventually fell apart and haven’t replaced.
  • Hex key: 6mm 5mm, 4mm, 3mm,1mm (brake); 3mm? tork key (avid bb7 adjustment only)
  • Chain tool
  • Stein tool (v. lightweight cassette removal) – proved useful a couple of times for spoke replacement.
  • Leatherman Squirt (lost) (nice tiny tool with pliers / scissors)


  • tyres: no longer
  • Spokes (~4?)
  • Spare chain pin / master links – essential
  • Quick release axle skewer
  • nuts & bolts for racks
  • Gear cable – no brake cable: could get by more easily without one brake for a while?
  • Disc brake spares: [pads& cage] x2


  • a couple of zip ties, mini sewing kit, dental floss, duct tape, electrical tape


  • helmet

2 thoughts on “Bike build

    • Ha ha, sorry Steve! It had lots of use in North America but I ended up sending it home to save weight (the one cycling top I kept is exceptionally bright for high viz on the crazy latino roads!).

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