By Adam Newman
Riders are always looking for new challenges and new places to ride their bikes. Adventure touring and bike-packing are two of the fastest-growing segments of the industry, and like every year, the North American Handmade Bike Show is setting trends that the rest of the industry is likely to soon follow.
Though adventures can be had on any bike, more and more riders are designing, building, and riding bikes specifically designed around touring or racing on unpaved roads or rough terrain.
Not quite mountain bikes, they often incorporate aspects of cyclocross and traditional touring bikes to make them more versatile. Rigid forks, disc brakes, 29-inch wheels, and soft-sided luggage are common sights.
Here are some of the adventure touring bikes we saw at NAHBS 2013 here in Denver, Colorado.
Moots designed and built this bike for a customer who plans on racing the Colorado Trail Race and then continuing on for even more adventures. Based on a standard Moots mountain bike with with modifications made for geometry and the Rohloff hub. It features full titanium construction, from the frame to the stem, seatpost, and aerobars.
The frame bags were custom made by Revelate Designs and the matching fork was made from steel by Engin Cycles. Those bottle cages on the fork blades will eventually carry stuff sacks, but for now they carry olive oil. The owner met up with a custom leatherworker to create the saddle, based off a Brooks B17. Farrhoots is also the name he dubbed the bike.
English Cycles is named for owner and builder Rob English, who is of course, English. Now based in Eugene, Oregon. English built this touring bike for a customer back in the UK who sews these custom touring bags by the name of Black Rainbow Project.
Built to conquer the Tour Divide Route in 2014, the bike features a Shimano Alfine drivetrain powered by a Gates Carbon belt. Since there is air travel involved to get to the starting line from the UK, the bike uses a detachable rear triangle and can fit in a much smaller box. Up front, the fork was built to hold a rear wheel to use as a singlespeed backup, just in case, and uses English’s inverted steerer, which is attached to the stem and clamps to the fork, rather than the other way around in a normal bike. This frees up room on the stem to mount armrests for aero bars. Also integrated into the fork is a small rack to support the handlebar bag.
Cielo is a co-brand of Chris King components, and it continues to expand its line of road, mountain, and cyclocross bikes. New this year is the Overlander, which may look like a mountain bike but is completely designed around bike-packing. It starts out front with a proprietary, non-suspension corrected fork that comes pre-installed with a Chris King inset headset, natch.
Out back you’ll find a full compliment of fender and rack mounts, as well as Paragon Machine Works rocker dropouts for any type of drivetrain setup. Here it’s been outfitted with a Jones Loop Bar and a full set of frame bags from Revelate Designs.
Stinner Frameworks built this 29er for a customer that is also attempting the Tour Divide. Though builder Aaron Stinner said he would likely run a full frame bag, here it is outfitted with some extra bottle cages for maximum capacity.
Like many Tour Divide riders, the Rohloff hub powered by a Gates Carbon belt drive appears as a simple and robust gearing option.
The frame is fillet brazed from mostly True Temper tubes in Santa Barbara, California.
Builder Dave Wages’ Ellis Cycles has won awards at NAHBS shows for the past four years in a row with his road bikes, but this year he shows he’s not afraid to get dirty, either.
The Strada Fango is a dirt road adventure bike that is fillet brazed with a lugged bottom bracket shell. The Shimano Dura Ace Di2 drivetrain has been modified with a K-Edge adapter on the rear derailleur that will allow it to work with up a 36 tooth cog.
It can fit up to a 29×2.0 tire.
Unlike the rest of these bikes, Sean Walling has been building this bike for Soulcraft for years, but it fits perfectly with our theme. The Dirtbomb is a true Monstercross bike with room for 700×45 tires that begs to be ridden everywhere. It can be built with flat or drop bars, disc or cantilever brakes, in singlespeed or geared versions.
This model features Paul Comp Mini Moto brakes, Bruce Gordon Rock N Road tires and S&S couplers for traveling.
This bike wasn’t in the Eriksen booth, but we saw it wandering around. It has been outfitted with a full set of bike-packing bags from Porcelain Rocket and a Gates Carbon belt drive. If I see it again I’ll try to get more info on it.
Coming up next
We’ll have more coming from NAHBS all weekend, with collections of fat bikes, city bikes, and some of the really wild and crazy show bikes. Stay tuned.