Rhino and I had spoken about a prototype Kevin of Steel that was laying around Curve HQ, waiting for a pilot to take it into the wild. I thought it would be an ideal bike for my planned adventure around the world, more on that later... The steel frame would offer some comfort while being sturdy and strong enough to take the hits I expected it would receive. One thing I loved about this bike was the ability to put some wider rubber on for the remote sections and when I was expecting some long tarmac sections I could trade them for slick tyres. A go-anywhere vehicle!
I flew down to Melbourne and headed straight to Curve HQ, where Jimmy and Adam helped me set up a few final details. I screwed in my pedals and rode off. Over the next week I rode through the Snowy Mountains from Canberra to Melbourne to break in Kevin, I’d highly recommend that for a test ride.
I’ve been lucky enough to ride many bikes over the years, and with Kevin, once I’d set my seat height I was rolling along very comfortably. The bike didn’t struggle with road bikes when on the tarmac, however when the road turned to gravel I was in my element. I could descend and corner with bold confidence on loose gravel, yet I was never over-biked on the climbs. This was why I’d chosen this bike.
|Bike||Curve Kevin of Steel (GXR)|
|Easton EA70XC Wheelset 700c|
|Sram RIVAL 1x11 Groupset (42x10-38t)|
|Soma Cazadero 700 x 42mm Tyres (setup tubeless)|
|Shimano XT pedals|
|Easton cockpit, WTB Saddle|
|Bags/Racks:||Rapha x Apidura Handlebar Bag|
|Threadworks Feed Bags|
|Apidura Frame Bag|
|Apidura Saddle Bag|
|Rapha Top Tube Bag|
|Silca Tool Canister|
|King Cage USB x 4 (mounted on each seat stay for bidon mounts)|
|King Cage ManyThing Cage x 2 (mounted to fork legs)|
|Gorilla Cage mount - Free Parable|
By the time I arrived home I had about a week before my flight to Japan, where I’d be starting the first leg of my bike packing adventure. I had planned about 12 months on the bike. I would be starting off in Japan, catching up with some friends, then spending a couple of months in Central Asia exploring Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan. I’d then be heading to Europe to visit some friends and do some work whilst trying to explore as much ground as I could on the bike. After Europe it was to the UK for yet more socializing and exploring around the country. My trip was planned to finish with a few months in South America. I had Argentina in mind; Jesse and Sarah from Curve had done a trip in the North of Argentina a few years ago and I penned that region as my starting point. I’d then head south following the Andes to the southern tip of Patagonia.
The inspiration for the trip was based upon horses. As a bloke who grew up on a farm in country NSW, I’d always been around people who lived and worked on the land. The nomadic people of Mongolia and the Gauchos of Argentina had long fascinated me as some of the purest living examples of this. This trip would begin and end with experiencing both of those unique and fascinating cultures. I had spent plenty of time researching what I would build into my final setup and had various parts and bags waiting to install onto Kevin. My setup would need to have a degree of flexibility. I’d be carrying gear for all weather conditions, sleeping system, cooking equipment and tools. I’d also need to be able to carry enough food for at least five days and water for a day or two.
|Victorinox Swiss Army Knife (also used for just about anything)|
|Katadyn BeFree 3.0L Water Filter|
|On Bike:||Rapha Explore Cargo Bib Shorts|
|Rapha Short Sleeve Merino Base layer|
|Patagonia Short Sleeve Cotton Shirt|
|Rapha Lightweight Merino Socks|
|Rapha Explore Shoes|
|Cold & Wet Weather:||Rapha Explore Down Jacket|
|Rapha Explore Rain Jacket|
|Rapha Long Sleeve Baselayer|
|Endura Rain Pants|
|Seal Skinz Waterproof Thermal Gloves|
|Off Bike:||Zip-off Trousers|
|Colombia Deck Shoes|
The King Cage USB is a simple hose clamp which opens up a range of possibilities to mount gear onto the frame.
King Cage’s Manything Cages would carry dry bags. Despite these being lightweight I found these could be loaded up without much cause for concern.
Being an early prototype version of the Kevin of Steel the fork and stays were devoid of eyelets for rack mounts, this meant I’d have to get creative to mount the equipment that I needed. I had ordered a pair of King Cage ManyThing Cages. They would sit either side of the fork and my method of attachment was a few good rolls of gaffa tape and zip ties to fix the cages on. The tape would protect the carbon fork and the zip ties could be easily cut and replaced when boxing the bike up for a flight. These would later be upgraded to a Gorilla Cage mount which made things a lot cleaner and meant I could easily remove the cages without cutting zip ties. The seat stays would house a bidon each, King Cage’s USB served to provide a platform to mount a bottle cage on each stay. I could easily remove the bottle cages when needed with a socket too.
|Electronics:||4 x USB Charger With Adaptors|
|Exposure Diablo Front Light|
|2 x Battery Packs (approx. 1 week of battery power)|
|Sony A6000 Camera|
|Various cables for charging all of the above|
|Spare Chain links/quick links|
|Spare Tubeless Valves|
|Dynaplug with spare plugs|
|12.oz bottle of sealant|
|Small flick knife|
|Spare SRAM inner gear cable|
|Various dry bag and silicone repair patches|
|Spare Zip ties|
Over the years I’d accumulated a few different bags for different bike packing purposes. I’d be using a combination of these along with a full frame bag and two feed bags that I’d picked up from the ever-friendly Commuter Cycles while visiting Melbourne. As I was planning to be on the road for almost a year I was on a budget. Visualising myself in a few months on scrounging the bottom of a bag for some grains of rice helped to reinforce the idea of saving my pennies. The setup didn’t need to have all the bells and whistles, it needed to be reliable and simple. You definitely don’t need to have the top of the line gear or shiny new parts, especially when you’re getting started. They don’t stay shiny for very long!
|Sleeping:||Sea to Summit Duomid Shelter|
|Klymit Insulated Air Mattress|
|Sea to Summit Sleeping Bag|
|Sea to Summit Liner|
|Rapha Merino Socks|
|Misc:||Water Purifying tablets|
|Hip flask of whisky|
|Journal and Pen|
|Hydrapak 4L Bladder|
|First Aid Kit|
|Sea to Summit Pocket Towel|
With all my gear packed and loaded it was time to board a flight. I didn’t know when I would be returning home. All I had was the gear on my bike to see me through the next 12 months or so. The process of putting all of the gear together, testing it, and working out how it would all pack into the bike was a part of the process I ended up enjoying. Knowing how critical every piece of equipment would be to my survival I spent plenty of time getting it right. With all the preparation done it was now time to ride in some of the most remote yet beautiful places in the world!
Stay tuned for some more tales from The Gus Wagon's worldwide adventures.