Overland

Feature

Bike For A Buck Charity Auction

November 16, 2015

We've teamed up with TASCO MTB to help with a World Bicycle Relief charity raffle. TASCO MTB founder Nate Miller said “We are extremely excited to be able to raise money to help the World Bicycle Relief mobilize people in need, through the power of bicycles!”

World Bicycle Relief is empowering people across Africa. So far, they've provided over a quarter of a million bikes in Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

How the raffle works: During the next several weeks, anyone who buys a $1.00 raffle ticket has the chance to add this shiny new Rocky Mountain Sherpa 27.5+ overland bike to their quiver! Miller went on to say “Just putting some of your coffee money into this raffle will give you a good shot at winning—Plus that money will be put to good use, as 100% of the raffle proceeds will go to World Bicycle Relief! The winner will be announced December 21, stay tuned!”

How to enter: Head over to tasco-mtb.com/bikeforabuck and purchase tickets directly on the website. Also, for every $10 in product purchased, TASCO will credit you an extra entry.  Enter today and enter often.

 

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Feature

An Idiot's Guide to Bikepacking on Snow

July 15, 2015

 

Words and Photos by Skyler Des Roches

I have a confession. Before this trip, I'd never actually ridden a fat bike on snow. I'd played around on some sand, and generally felt the worth of fat rubber, but coastal British Columbia is not exactly a prime location for riding bikes on snow. This area is known for steep, glaciated peaks, and bottomless powder, neither of which mix well with fat bikes. Backcountry skis are the tool of choice for moving around the mountains for much of the year.

Sadly, this season let me and many other backcountry skiers down. Record-breaking warm temps and low precipitation meant for a low-powder, low-excitement ski season for all but the most motivated. When that awkward time of the season arrived in late May, when there's still snow in the alpine, but too much bush between there and the trailhead to encourage much skiing, I hadn't had my fill. Rather than turning my attention downward to the prime riding season underway near sea level, I had the novel idea to just go ride on snow.

Knut is a man who enjoys novelty. He seems to derive a sort of sheepish pleasure from putting strange, impractical handlebars on his mountain bike, sewing quirky patches to his gear, smoking a wizard-length tobacco pipe, or eating monstrously large apples – “novelty hand fruit”. He was evidently prepared to overlook the probable outcome – that we'd bushwhack several kilometres with bikes before pushing them a short ways through knee-deep slush – when we came up with a half-baked plan to attempt a ski tour without skis.

After a long drive to the South Chilcotins, our first day of riding met all of our expectations – bushwhacking, bike pushing, bike carrying, and post-holing in slush. We weren't riding the trails that have made this corner of the Coast Mountains famous. No, those were already, almost entirely snow-free and ready for conventional tire sizes. Instead, we followed a forgotten horse trail up Slim Creek, aiming for a snow-covered alpine plateau west of there, and the mellow glaciers beyond. By mid-afternoon we'd climbed above the trees and any sign of a trail. It was immediately clear that we could not ride on the rapidly melting snow.

We relaxed at an early camp, and set alarms for 1:30AM with low expectations. At 2AM, we rode away under a bright moon on a firm, frozen crust. We'd been hoping for this, but were surprised enough by the easy riding that we made the mistake of stopping for a protracted breakfast before the sun was even up. We wouldn't take full advantage of the crust, which didn't form reliably until after 1AM, and lasted only until 7AM, until the following night.

We'd chosen the expansive alpine area at the headwaters of Slim Creek and the Taseko and Lord Rivers for its relative flatness. While I suspected that we could ride down steep slopes, and that our climbing would depend more on our lungs than on tire traction, I was not expecting much success on side-hills. Yet, as we rattled over kilometers of sun-cupped snow, tires aired-down to a few PSI, we held our elevation tightly around the side of valleys, traversing up to twenty degree slopes. A world of possibility unfolded.

If you're motivated by speed, fat bikes are not the best tool. But progression is not all stop watches and slow-mo whirligiging. I ride because of wanderlust. George W. had it wrong; “freedom and democracy” are not delivered from the end of an M16. The bicycle is the best agent of liberation.

I measure my riding with breadth of my mental map. Our faint tracks on the pre-dawn crust become lines on crinkled pages of my cerebral atlas. I've found there to be an inverse correlation with the number of things I have to think about, and the richness of an experience. Too often, gadgets rob us of real living. Nevertheless, it seems that something as wholly material as tire width has a direct effect on the potential to expand my known universe. That's what fat bikes are all about – potential. Not only are there new trails to be ridden, but places with no trails at all. Even slowly pedaling nowhere can be exciting. And has there ever been a bike at Griswold Pass?

I measure my riding with breadth of my mental map. Our faint tracks on the pre-dawn crust become lines on crinkled pages of my cerebral atlas. I've found there to be an inverse correlation with the number of things I have to think about, and the richness of an experience. Too often, gadgets rob us of real living. Nevertheless, it seems that something as wholly material as tire width has a direct effect on the potential to expand my known universe. That's what fat bikes are all about – potential. Not only are there new trails to be ridden, but places with no trails at all. Even slowly pedaling nowhere can be exciting. And has there ever been a bike at Griswold Pass?

Somehow, despite much post-holing, bike pushing, bushwhacking – an overall terrible ratio of riding to hiking – our frustrated exclamations of “No one does this! There's a reason no one brings a bike here!” were quickly shadowed by an immense excitement for where we were. Our mere 90 kilometers covered over four days were not a failure at all, but rather an eye-opening proof of concept. From our turn-around point at Griswold Pass, a gentle glacier climbed further west – a doorway to one of the world's most expansive sub-polar ice fields. And the key to that door might be so simple: just ride at night.

Skyler Des Roches is far from your average medium-adventurer, which you can observe from his blog and Instagram if this article didn't already point that out.

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Feature

The Black Canyon Trail

April 15, 2015

Film by Brian Vernor
Words by Wade Simmons
Photography by Margus Riga

For some, adventure is defined by harrowing near-death experiences. For me, having the intent to adventure is what defines it—even just getting away from civilization for a short while. And with that in mind we organized a trip to Arizona’s Sonoran Desert for an overland bikepacking trip early this spring: three self-supported days on the Black Canyon Trail’s 80 miles of secluded singletrack.

The roll-call included Olympian Andreas Hestler, shiny new tattooed freerider Geoff Gulevich, renowned filmmaker Brian Vernor, Rocky Mountain product guy Alex Cogger, and washed up old freerider Yours Truly. Our first goal was to escape the Pacific Northwest’s winter weather, and our second goal was to test Alex’s fancy new bike design.

We fumbled with our gear for hours in the parking lot of a Prescott motel the night before departure, packing and re-packing, adding and discarding. Ultimately we probably did pack too heavy, but there are the necessities of course: coffee, chocolate, down, wool, and whisky. Fully loaded, our steeds probably tipped the scales at 45+ lbs, and I was less and less sure that this was going to be fun.

There was something liberating in the first few pedal strokes that next morning leaving our drop-off zone, an innocent abandon of responsibility and order that comes with an uncertain weather forecast and only a vague itinerary. Fortunately, the overland bikes performed just as Alex had promised. It was evident in those first few miles that having our houses and kitchens packed along with us wasn’t going to keep us from having fun. It might have been the combination of increased overall mass and over-sized tires, but whatever it was we were having a blast absolutely ripping up the desert terrain on these fully loaded pack-horses—skids, drifts, airs, and all.

The Black Canyon Trail runs roughly 80 miles North to South. Beginning on a high plateau, it winds through rolling grasslands before descending into a landscape of Saguaros, Chollas, and other Sonoran Desert flora. We were treated to chilly nights and frosty desert mornings, but once that sun rose, layers were peeled and we had to contend with the steady, relentless heat of the day. The landscape we encountered was fully alien to us, full of incredibly beautiful things just waiting to stab you the moment you stray from the trail. Between the bullet-holes in everything and the buck-naked rider we ran into on day three, it was clear this trip was about getting weird in the desert.

 

We had been modest in planning our daily mileage expectations, allowing for explorations up various drainages, relaxed lunches by the Agua Fria river, and the necessary sessioning of worthy trail features. Each night however, our camp spot was reached a little later than expected, assembling tents and cooking dinner by the light of our headlamps.

Grizzled old-timers and keyboard adventurers alike might be disappointed by the lack of hardship we encountered—water wasn’t hard to come by, we ate enough, the bikes worked flawlessly, and the dire weather forecast never materialized. But for us, the trip was a complete success. We had a blast, it was an insight into new possibilities, and the best adventures are the ones that inspire future adventures.

--

Words by Wade Simmons
Photography by Margus Riga
Film by Brian Vernor
Produced by Brian Park
Music by Brandon O'Connell
Featuring the Rocky Mountain Sherpa
Ridden by Wade Simmons, Geoff Gulevich, Brian Vernor, Alex Cogger, & Andreas Hestler

Presented by Rocky Mountain BicyclesManitou, & Pinkbike.
Supported by Overland JournalArc’teryxPorcelain RocketExped, & Defy Products.
Thanks to Scott Struve, Luke Musselman, Julian Coffey, Christophe Noel, Jo Salamon, Scott Felter, Benoit Deshayes, & Paul Breedlove.

Previous Feature 2015 BC Bike Race This year's BCBR was one of the toughest years ever. We set-up beer gardens and a kids pool to ease the pain.
Next News Introducing the Rocky Mountain Sherpa Designed to carry you and your gear to the ends of the earth, far from the nearest Strava segment.
News

Introducing the Rocky Mountain Sherpa

April 15, 2015

We are excited to announce our new Sherpa overland bike. 

Bikepacking has been around for a long time, but we wanted a bike that could tackle more challenging terrain and would let us get a little rowdy—even loaded down for multi day self-supported adventures. The Sherpa is designed to carry you and your gear to the ends of the earth, far from the nearest Strava segment.

Development

The inspiration for the Sherpa came from our lead product guy Alex Cogger, whose own rides were getting longer and weirder and more rugged. Through strategic cooperation with WTB we were the first to experiment with 27.5+ tires and rims, and over the last few years we prototyped several bikes to test the capabilities of the wheel size. It was immediately clear that the increased float and traction was a great match for overland bikepacking.

The Sherpa debuted as a concept bike at Sea Otter 2014—complete with a custom Tibetan Snow Lion paint job. The awesome response it got from riders wanting to expand their exploration capabilities convinced us to bring it to production.

Characteristics

Fully loaded overlanding requires an extended gear range. We began with our proven Element carbon front triangle and designed a wider rear end to ensure that a front derailleur would clear even the widest tires. 

The wide footprint of WTB’s 27.5+ x 2.8 Trailblazer tires gives the Sherpa confidence and stability in choppy sections—important when you’re loaded down with gear and going mach chicken over high desert chunder. They also have surprisingly low rolling resistance and excellent roll-over characteristics.

We matched its 95mm of rear travel to an increased 120mm of front travel for more capability and loaded stability. Rider position was adjusted to be more upright, making long days in the saddle more comfortable. It is critical for suspension to react in tandem with high volume tires. We worked with Manitou to spec supple suspension for excellent response off the top. The Magnum fork has a wide stance for better tire clearance, and the Mcleod requires lower air pressure, allowing a fully loaded rider and bike to remain in the shock’s “sweet spot.”

Why another new wheel size?

27.5+ is a super high volume tire mounted on a wide 27.5 rim, providing an outer diameter that is roughly equivalent to a 29er tire.

For the kind of varied terrain we wanted to explore with the Sherpa we needed a low pressure, high volume tire that didn’t exceed traditional 29er outer diameters. The extra volume improves traction and allows for low pressures even while carrying the weight of bikepacking gear—because needing to overinflate your tires is the worst. And, the outer diameter allowed us to design the Sherpa with proper full suspension in a full range of sizes.

If massive volume is so great, why aren't all your bikes 27.5+?

Because there's no "one size fits all" when it comes to wheel size. The Sherpa is the world’s first full suspension 27.5+ bike, but we’re not using the new “skinny fat” wheel size to jump on a bandwagon. 27.5+ wheels are not 27.5 and they’re not 29—they’re not a replacement for any other wheel size and our “regular” bikes aren’t going anywhere. Everyone put their pitchforks down.

For all their advantages, 27.5+ wheels are slower and heavier than traditional 29er systems on smoother terrain. So if you’re looking to win an XC World Cup then 27.5+ probably isn’t for you. Also, more volume means 27.5+ sidewalls are taller than traditional tires, limiting cornering stability. A Landcruiser isn’t great at the racetrack, but hits its stride when things get rough.

Overland

We designed the Sherpa for riders who want to get out and explore the world. From bushwhacking in Idaho, to traversing military trails in the Dolomites, to racing the Colorado Trail, to travelling long forgotten game trails in the Himalayas—the Sherpa is made for anyone whose adventures regularly require a GPS beacon.

Technologies

  • Smoothwall carbon eliminates excess resin and fibres by using rigid internal molds for industry-leading durability, ride quality, and stiffness-to-weight.
  • Smoothlink suspension stays active for full time traction, yet supportive for pedalling efficiency.
  • Form alloy optimizes strength, weight, and ride quality by engineering each 7005 series tube for its specific purpose within the frame.
  • ABC pivots are lighter, stiffer, and require less maintenance than conventional bearing pivots.

Geometry

Specifications

Frame: Smoothwall™ Carbon front triangle. Form™ alloy rear triangle. ABC™ Pivots. PF BB
Accessories: Frame, bar, and saddle bags not included. We recommend Porcelain Rocket bags
Shock: Manitou McLeod Custom Valved. Smoothlink™ Design 95mm. Rebound / 4 Position IPA Platform Settings
Fork: Manitou Magnum 27.5+. 120mm. TPC Absolute+ Damper / Compression / Lockout / Rebound / 110x15mm HexLock Axle / Tapered Steerer
Headset: Cane Creek Fifteen Series: IS42mm Top / 52mm Bottom Tapered
Brake Levers: Shimano M506 I-Spec Shifter Mount
Brakes: Shimano M506 Hydraulic Disc 180mm
Cassette: Shimano HG50 11-36T 10spd
Chain: KMC X10 10spd EcoProtect Anti Rust
Cranks: Race Face Turbine Cinch Custom 83mm 170-175mm 38/24T 2x10spd
Bottom Bracket: Race Face Cinch 30mm BB92 Press Fit w. 83mm Adapters
Pedals: N/A
Shifters: Shimano SLX Rapid Fire I-Spec 2x10spd
Front Derailleur: Shimano Deore E Mount 2x10spd
Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT Shadow Plus Direct Mount 10spd
Front Hub: SUNringlé SRC Plus / Fat Fork Specific / 6 Bolt / 32H / 15x110mm Axle
Rear Hub: DT Swiss 350 / 6 Bolt / 32H / 12 x 142mm Axle / Star Ratchet Freehub
Spokes: DT Swiss Competition
Rims: WTB Scraper i45 27.5+ TCS Tubeless Ready
Tires: WTB Trailblazer 27.5+ TCS 27.5" x 2.8" Tubeless Ready
Handlebar: Race Face Evolve 3/4 Riser Ø31.8mm x 725mm x 9° Sweep
Stem: Race Face 6° x 70-100mm
Grips: Rocky Mountain Lock On Mushroom
Saddle: WTB Volt Race
Seatpost: Rocky Mountain XC 30.9mm x 400mm

AVAILABLE NOW.

Previous Feature The Black Canyon Trail Wade Simmons, Andreas Hestler, Geoff Gulevich, Alex Cogger, and Brian Vernor head down to Arizona's Black Canyon Trail for some overland bikepacking in the desert.
Next News Hestler Talks Thunderbolt MSL It's clear that the lightweight, playful 120mm bike is right in his wheelhouse.