I love the history of long distance cycling in Australia. It's a shame that this history is largely forgotten. Starting in the 1890s hardy, and maybe slightly crazy, adventurers would see if they could ride huge the distances between major cities and across Australia. The massive scale of Australia meant that before the advent of the motor vehicle the bike was king. It was the fastest way to cover long distances over land even through brutal terrain. Unlike a horse, a bike didn't need feeding and it was a lot more reliable.
The GMX came about when I thought about what the overlanders of the 1890s would build as their dream bike if they were around today. It had to be a bike that you could rely on when you didn't know what sort of terrain you'd face. A bike that wasn't necessarily perfect for any particular terrain, but would be a perfect all-rounder.
Overlander Dr Jesse Carlsson testing the GMX+
The first GMX was built around a standard 29er fork. You can run it with a suspension fork or you can choose a rigid suspension-corrected fork from Curve or other brands. It has been used to set the fastest known times on some long distance routes in Australia, including the Munda Biddi Trail, Mawson Trail and the Vic Divide 550.
With the GMX+ we started with a clean slate and worked on a bottom-up redesign of my dream bikepacking bike. What we've come up with is pretty cool. It builds on the original GMX in some important ways.
Here's the deal... I haven't ridden with suspension for seven years. For the type of riding and racing I love, it's just not needed. So why are all of my bikes designed around a suspension fork? The answer is easy - there has never been a widely available non-suspension corrected fork that will do the job. Bike manufacturers have been slow to the party, shoe-horning us into using a mountain bike for bikepacking races. Sure it will do the job, but it's not ideal.
Fork manufacturers build forks that will work with the frames - they are built higher than needed to correct for suspension. When you don't actually need suspension this all seems a bit silly. We've scrubbed all of this out with the new GMX+. I don't ride with suspension, so the new GMX+ isn't designed for it. Our new expedition fork isn't suspension corrected. Hopefully this gives other frame builders the freedom to build new rigid bikes for bikepacking.
Another important feature of the new GMX is storage space. If you ride a size small frame and you ride long distance in remote areas you will have struggled with the limited storage available on existing frames. Many modern MTBs have tiny triangles with the top tube running into the chainstays in almost a straight line. It's good to see a few adventurous brands reversing this trend with their latest releases.
Our new GMX+ takes this to the next level. We have new offset mounting points that allows 3 x 1L bottles to be mounted on a size small frame at the same time as running a full size frame bag and 3" wide tyres. This is huge for us! We've added new mounting points on the stays allowing you to mount bags or bottles at the rear in addition to the usual mounting points on the forks (for Rocket Pooches or water bottles.)
Sarah Hammond and her loaded GMX+ (Size SM)
The final piece of the puzzle is our new Walmer Bars. These super wide bars are wider than just about anything commercially available. Sure there are some wide bars out there now, but when we started testing these things there was nothing out there in the right width or shape. We reached out to collaborate with a few other brands on these bars but heard nothing back so we had to invest in them ourselves.
I've been touring with prototype Walmer Bars now for about 7,000 km through all sorts of terrain from the rainforests of Far North Queensland to the brutal corrugations and relentless sand of the Australian outback. For me, it's a game changer. These bars are 600mm wide at the hoods and 750m in the drops.
There are so many hand positions that hand/finger numbness and soreness is reduced. Your chest is wide open which is more natural and helps with breathing over long distances. On the hoods it's like an old school MTB bar with bar ends. In the drops it's like a modern wide MTB bar - perfect for bombing fire road descents. On the tops you can ride it like Tour de France rider on the big climbs. I've also mounted not two, but FOUR feed bags at the front - there's that much room!
The new GMX is built long at the front. This means that with a super short stem you can ride with drop bars. Want to ride with a flat bar? No problems, just use a slightly longer stem. During our testing process I have ridden with the ultra wide Walmer Bar while Sarah has ridden the same model with a flat bar.
Sure it looks like another bike, but if you look closely the GMX+ has some very cool features for the long distance off-road rider. Anyway, thanks for reading, I can't wait to hear what you think about this unique new bike and where you're going to take it.
Dr Jesse Carlsson aka Jerry Castle DragonFace Bikepacking Dojo