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
  • 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 (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 (great attention to detail and highly recommended). 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. (The loop that enables the strap to double back and secure the bag wore down very quickly, maybe I tighten it too much. I’m wondering when it will break; other than that pretty reasonably design).
  • ‘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.
  • Large Leatherman-style pliers with knife, various tools including spare hex (given to me, not sure of the brand; a little heavy, would consider going back to a much smaller version) 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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