Trip Gear List

Hopefully this is the most useful thing I generate. I was travelling alone in India, from June 16th until August 5th. This included being responsible for my health, dragging bicycle across passes in hip deep snow, camping on snow at altitude and in sleeting wind, staying in many home stays, and also having dinner in some of India’s most expensive restaurants.

Bicycle – XL Ibis Tranny 29

While I was to be travelling by bicycle for most of my time in India, getting too and from its remote regions requires travel by Bus and Taxi. For this reason I was loath to bring a bike in a full sized bike box. Previous overseas travel with a bicycle made it clear how difficult a full size bicycle can be to travel with. A bike box that can hold a large 29er hardtail requires a dedicated vehicle and special arrangements. Since I wanted to travel using local transportation I focused on bicycles that could be more fully disassembled. At the same time I believe that the difficult offroad travel is made much more enjoyable with a lightweight fully capable mountain bike, ideally with 29″ wheels for improved roll over.

In hind site there were very few features that I didn’t ride because of the bicycles limitations. The few cases were very steep descents where the large seat bag prevented me from moving my weight back far enough. I initially found myself endo-ing and I soon resigned myself to walking those short steeps.

The reality of solo travel in remote regions is that you simply cannot risk an accident. While frequently an off trail would have killed me, lessor excursions could damage me or my bike which would leave me in a difficult situation where I would need to cancel or significantly change the trip. For this reason I had a very low threshold for when i would walk the bike.

On the entire trip I had a single accident: while descending steep snow coming down shingo la I started to slip which caused me to start what I call a glissade-shuffle. All was going well for almost a minute until the front tire dug into the snow and the bike endo-ed onto me knocking me flat. When the bike came down onto me a pedal struck my knee causing a painful bruise and a limp but fortunately no other issue.

Since Ibis Tranny 29 was discontinued for several years before I started my trip, I had to obtain mine from the used market. I found a good used one on Pinkbike, for sale in San Luis Obispo in the state of California. Fortunately I was planning to be in town to visit CalPoly with my son, so after a week of college visits I found myself with a new bike.

I was inspired by reviews of the now discontinued Ibis Tranny 29 – while advertised as an endurance race bike, its ability to break down into smaller pieces for travel made it seem perfect for my needs. I had demoed fellow racers tranny 29s several times at endurance races and knew it handled well and had a great sting-free ride. Since I am 6′ 1″ tall I decided I needed an XL frame for proper reach, and this proved to be the right decision. Not only did it offer me the correct reach for comfortable riding, the larger frame allowed for a larger frame bag.

While the Tranny’s frame is very light, reputed to be 3.5 pounds, the additional components, heavy tires and endless bags meant my bike was nearly 28 pounds loaded with bags and heavy tires.

Bicycle Geometry:

The Ibis Tranny 29 was designed in 2014, before the geometry what I’d call the “modern hardtail” was finalized. Their sizing recommendation would have put me on a size large, but with the slack seat angle I computed the reach was inadequate and had to choose the XL frame. I would have preferred a smaller frame as it would permit a smaller box, but I could not compromise on bicycle fit.

My gear at start of trip as I left my first hotel in Delhi.

The Ibis Tranny 29 was designed with a steep 71 degree head angle with a 100mm fork. The previous owner had slackened the head angle to 70 degrees using a Cane Creek Angleset headset and 100mm fork. I slackened the head angle another 0.5 degrees by installing a 110mm fork.

The seat angle on the Tranny 29 is quite slack. This prevents the bike from having a crazy short chainstay length, which I miss. Short chainstays make manualling much easier. The slack seatstay also put my ass further back that I found comfortable which shifted weight too far back. For this moved seat quite far forward on the seat post.

With these adjustments my cycling position was almost exactly the same as my Good Bike, my Kona Raijin singlespeed. I still prefer its shorter chainstays and longer fork.

Note: I obtained a 110mm fox float 32 fork from pinkbike for $100. I would have preferred a 120mm fork with 34mm stanchions but none was available at a reasonable price.

Components

Bike came with excellent components for my trip.

  • Fox Float32 110 Fork
    • I bought this fork used a few weeks before the trip. I replaced the bushings and fluids. When it came time to unpack the bike in manali (after the long plane flight from seattle, taxi rides in delhi, bus ride to manali) I found a largish puddle of fork oil in the bottom of my travel box. I don’t know what happened, perhaps the pressure of high altitude while flying. Since it is impossible to source an acceptable fluid in a small town in the indian himalaya I resorted to simply using more air pressure. This extra pressure worked flawlessly for the duration of my trip, and actually the combination of low fork oil and high pressure offered a more plush feel. I suspected that the long time without maintainance, the low oil, the harsh terrain… the fork would eat itself… I was really surprised on return that the fork is still as good as new.
  • Thomson Elite Stem
    • probably the best most trouble free lightweight stem that there is.
    • Follow the torque settings, this is a stem that ages very well
  • Enve Carbon Handlebar – lightweight and no issues
    • I imagine it isn’t recommended to hang heavy bags from a carbon bar, in mud I imagine the staps could wear the finish… I had no issues at all.
  • Chris King PF 24 Bottom Bracket – best there is
    • singlespeeding in the pacific northwest I was ruining bottom brackets in less than a year. Initially shimano and sram, and then a new bottom bracket from wheels engineering. After 3 years I bucked up and bought a chris king bottom bracket. I am now on my 3rd year singlespeeding with a chris king bottom bracket, with yearly regreasing. Since I could not tolerate component problems on this trip I opted for the best. Despite many water crossings I had no issues whatsoever. I serviced on return to seattle and the grease had no contamination.
  • Enve Carbon Seatpost
    • lightweight and no issues. The seat bag hangs from this seatpost. I imagine that the straps and mud could wear the finish on this seatpost, I had no issues
  • Shimano XT brakes
    • Ive used various shimano xt brakes for more than 6 years now and never had an issue. They performed flawlessly. I brought extra metal pads but didn’t need them. A word about brakes: On my many days of pushing the bike I found myself locking the brakes between each step for stability and these were perfect. Normally I use the shimano brakes because they use mineral oil and I don’t mind bleeding them nearly as much as the brake fluid in sram brakes. But… Since I had no mineral oil with my, no ability to bleed these brakes, the only thing that mattered to me was reliability. Sram brakes might have been fine but I’m not going there…
  • Shimano 6 bolt rotors
  • Shimano XT 2×11 drivetrain:
    • XTR 2X crankset with 26/34 rings
      • lowest gear was 16 gear-inches!
      • The 26×47 low gear seems crazy. But the reality is that I spent several entire DAYS riding in that low gear. I don’t think a lower gear was needed, I was happily able to vary my cadence to keep my power output where I wanted it.
    • XT 11 speed cassette: 11/47
    • XT derailleurs.
  • Wheels
    • Chris King Hubs
      • The most reliable hub there is.
    • 14g spokes
    • Stans Flow Rims
      • Wide and heavy, aluminum. Extremely strong.
    • Maxxis Minion DHF 2.35 DD casing tire in front
      • DHF was fantastic. I might have had inadequate grip once while descending Hanuma La in the rain, the tire loaded up with an inch of clay. But at that point the rear was locked solid and I wasn’t riding. Rest of the time I was very very very happy to have this tire. Deep sand, gravel, baseball sized rocks, slippery river crossings, this tire provided great grip for all the unexpected trail conditions of ladakh.
      • My only regret is the weight of that DD casing. The double casings added a pound to each wheel and I felt that weight the entire trip. While I had no tire problems, I suspect I wouldn’t have had tire problems with the standard casing either.
      • DHF was also a superstar because it effortlessly found grip when I was frequently pushing the bike next to the trail. The rear Minion SS didn’t provide nearly the same lateral grip and often the rear of bike was sliding down onto me.
    • Maxxis Minion SS 2.35 DD casing tire in rear
      • I chose this tire because I was concerned about rolling resistance. In hindsite a bicyce is already too speedy for the roads and trails of ladakh. My common problem was proceeding too quickly! The minion SS does not offer nearly the same grip as the DHF I had in the front. While I was frequently sliding the unloaded rear tire while descending, that was not an issue because the front DHF’s grip was so great. What was a problem was the lateral grip of the Minion SS while I was pushing the bike next to me on the trail. Frequently the Zanskar trails are only a shoe’s width wide, there is no room on the trail for me and the bike, so bike was pushed next to me above the trail.
  • Ergon grips
    • Wore pearl izumi elite gloves every day for entire trip. They were perfect. The ergon grips held up great with no issues at all.
  • Specialized Phenom Comp Saddle
    • This is a saddle I use on my bicycle trainer. No issues. I was concerned it might not accept the force of a hung seat bag and the stress of frequent lifting, but it had no issues at all.

Bikepacking Bags:

  • Custom Rockgeist Dyneema Frame Bag
    • I was going to settle for a Revelate frame bag. I had brought my bike into REI, had the revelate bag in my hands, was about to head for the register and an REI salesperson asked me if I had any questions. I was like: “Whatcha think? Is this medium a good fit?” The salesperson asked “When is your trip”, when I answered 2 months the guy suggested I contact rockgeist for a custom bag. The rockgeist bag was nearly twice the price as the revelate but was much larger and fit my frame perfectly. I was really happy to have the map pocket. Stuffed all sorts of narrow stuff in there. Pills, papers.
  • Revelate Pronghorn
    • I needed a bar bag that could hold my large feathered friends winter bag, a Snow Bunting. I tried many other solutions right up until the last minute but the pronghorn was the only bag that really worked.Main issue with the pronghorn is that it must be packed extremely tightly so that it won’t hang down and contact the tire during rough descents. Initially the dyneema bag was contacting the tire and this wore a pinhole through the bag. Eventually I developed a technique to pack the bag properly, requiring 5 minutes and iterating with my full body weight.My final packing technique the pronghorn held my ZPacks Pocket tarp, my Nemo half-length inflatible pad, and my feathered friends down vest.While this bar bag isn’t perfect it was the only solution I found that would work for me. When packed tightly it had no issues on any descent.
  • Revelate Mag 2000
    • This was so expensive that I held off buying until the day before I left. This bag is a joy to own and use. Usually held cookies and my cell phone.
  • Revelate Terrapin
    • The first bag I bought, this was a joy to use during the entire trip. On the end of my very last day I had to move the bike 50 meters through the town of Leh. I tightened a rear buckle and the aluminum hook exploded. Revelate had warned me of this happening a few days before I left. The hook tolerated more than a month of off road riding before being destroyed when it no longer mattered. Hopefully Revelate has really fixed this. I’m sending mine in for repair, as well as to deal with some other safety recall they issued.
  • Revelate Gas Tank
    • I bought this at the last minute when I realized I still didn’t have enough room. For the entire trip this bag held a spare tube, my leatherman cinch, and my small bag of tools and parts. It zipped tightly and held these items out of the way.A complaint: the included rear strap is a tiny thin piece of velcro that is a joke. It doesn’t stay stuck so bag falls to one side and I was hitting my legs. Fortunately I had an extra strap that I used to properly secure this bag. Revelate should fix this, it is a design mistake!
  • Revelate Bottle Bag
    • A bag sized to hold a one liter nalgene bottle on the bars. The bag is securely attached to the bars and around the fork crown. However… the full volume is too large to permit a decent turn of the handlebars. I used mine to hold biscuits (staple food of ladakh) so they could be crushed out of the way if I needed to turn hard. If I’d put a nalgene inside I wouldn’t have been able to turn. I don’t know what sort of bike configuration this bag is good for, I was happy to have it to hold biscuits and sweets.
  • Wolftooth B-Rad Pump Bag
    • Another bag I found at the last minute, it lives below the downtube. It held my pump, chain lube, blue towels and a bottle of sealant. This is a terrific bag with a much more reasonable price than the revelate stuff.
    • I was super happy with this bag.

Backpack: Cilogear 30:30 W/NWD

  • I was looking forward to using my Cilo Gear 20L Worksack. I’ve had it for 3 years and it has been an absolute joy for mountain biking.
  • The night before I left my bad friend came over and offered me another few options, including a CiloGear 30:30 worksack… in woven/non-woven dyneema. This is a $650 backpack. Well… I was pretty set, already packed, etc, but after giving it 20 minutes of thought and trying this larger pack on I was sold. It would enable me to go for longer hikes, carry more stuff easily without a bicycle.
  • I wore that 30:30 worksack every day for almost 2 months, carried with me everywhere. It was absolutely perfect, no complaints whatsoever.
  • I consider it the perfect small backpack for my torso size.
  • Usage:
    • I generally always carried my ziplock of american toilet paper, a raincoat, and a 3L osprey hydration bladder with some water.
    • Pack also held my essentials:
      • documents,
      • passport
      • money.
    • Also in that pack I carried 2x1L nalgene bottles and a 1.5L nalgene bottle.
    • When the trails became difficult with lots of climbing and bike carrying I put the foam pad onto the pack as well to keep it out of my way.
    • For the wedding it was able to easily hold what I needed for the overnight, my sleeping bag, extra warm clothes and raingear (ended up pouring for several hours during the night.)
    • The extra capacity of the 30L was really (really) useful.
  • With the hip belt stowed the backpack carried effortlessly while on the bicycle. I’ll say it carries on my back even better than the smaller 20L and with only a very minor weight penalty. Had less shoulder restriction.
  • I was going to reward my generous friend by buying him a new copy of the same backpack. Unfortunately Cilogear no longer has access to the $100/yard W/NWD material. I cleaned his bag well before returning it!

Clothes

  • OR terrorist hood
    This is a black balaclava made from gore wind-stopper. I wore it full face when sleeping in the snow. Otherwise I wore it over the top of my head like a turban when I needed a hat for warmth.
  • OR echo sun shirt
    Fantastic sun shirt with hood. Silvery almost white ‘alloy’ color reflects the sun and kept me cool. Fabric is thin, slightly stretchy, wicks moisture to keep you cool. This is my favorite clothing item and it saved me from needing sunscreen on my arms, neck, ears…
  • OR pants
    These are beige, slightly stretchy expedition pants. Lightweight and cut with gusset in crotch. These were my dress pants, hiking pants, sun pants. I wore them in public when I wasn’t biking.
  • castelli bike bibs
    One of two pairs of bibs I brought. Needed two because I was always washing the pair I’d just worn.
  • garneau bike bibs
    A different pair of bibs, different padding. Both bibs were fine, but different.
  • patagonia merino hoody
    My Mommy bought this for me. I didn’t want to bring it but it was light and was so soft. I wore it when my Echo Hoody was drying. Mostly I used it for a pillow.
  • ibex wool top
    This is a divine piece of warmth. Ibex is no longer in business but their wool items are top notch. Wore this against my skin. Also wore when my Echo Hoody and Merino Hoody were being washed.
  • pearl izumi wool bike bottoms
    These are long wool stretch pants with a chamois. Great bike pants, great long underwear. I wore in the cold on shingo la. Rest of the time I used them as a pillow.
  • smartwool socks
    I brought two pair of thick smartwool socks. These are great.
  • thick blue socks
    A different pair of thick durable socks I threw in at the last minute. Good thing too because the smart wools took a while to dry.
  • showers pass waterproof socks
    I brought these to use as shoes for water crossings. Wore these for two full days crossing shingo la. Saved my feet for sure. These do the impossible. Warm and waterproof.
  • la sportiva spire shoes
    Very very good shoes. Extremely comfortable, good torsional stiffness, waterproof, great grip. I have no complaints about them. Great for biking and hiking.
  • bike glasses/spare lenses/case
    Brought my old pair of tifosi biking glasses, as a backup for my glacier glasses, also to wear in places where glacier glasses weren’t needed. Like in cities.
  • glacier glasses
    julbo wavesport glasses. I bought them because they were on sale and they fit my face. They apparently float. Plastic polarized lenses. Worked great entire trip, and when whitewater kayaking. Earpieces are perforated so easy to attach string.
  • feathered friends down vest
    trusty down vest. patched many times with tape. Warm and light, makes a great pillow. Makes me look like a hobo.
  • patagonia stretch raincoat
    got this on warranty exchange. I’m 6′ and 180 and needed the XXL to ‘fit properly’, meaning having coat large enough to fit my warm clothes underneath. This is a great light raincoat. No complaints except I would prefer a brighter color like yellow, orange or white.
  • bike helmet
    poc trabec
  • OR helios rain pants
    superlight, waterproof, seem to breathe well. Wore them 3 full days on shingo la in the snow.
  • brooks running shorts
    best shorts ever made. Can wear for weeks without rotting.
  • marmot lycra underwear
    extra underwear
  • pearl izumi elite bike gloves
    wore these every day I was on the bike. Great durable comfortable gloves
  • halo head band
    sweat band

Here’s a list of everything with gram weights.

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