Salsa Colossal Titanium 2014 Model
This was not built specifically for the Transcontinental race, but it has evolved with that, and other multi day rides specifically targeted. You probably guessed I have a mountainbike background.
Frame: I love the ride feel of Titanium, it’s not a super light frame (56cm = 1640g), light Titanium frames fail too easily. This model of the Colossal has standard QR wheels, the later version with through axles does not interest me, I want to be able to go in any small bike shop in Europe and easily buy a spare wheel if needed. There is clearance for 28mm tyres (It’s close on the Enve front fork) but no mudguard room which I’ll live with. It has three sets of bottle mounts. Standard external cable guides away from luggage mounting, another preference for quick fixes.
Wheels: Are SP dynamo with Stans Grail tubeless rim up front with a American Classic hub with Stans Alpha 340 Rim. (used last minute due to bearing wear, should be DT Swiss 240 hub with Grail rim)
Rims: The Grail rims are heavy at 460 gram but at 24.1mm wide get a true comfortable footprint out of wider tyres. They are rated to 110PSI (unlike the Alpha series) The tubeless sealing is second to none.
32 spokes, nothing less will do, break one spoke no problem.
Tyres: Schwalbe One tubeless 28mm – bulletproof
Crankset: For Alpine, Scottish or welsh big trips (and this year due to hip damage muscle wastage) I use an old XTR960 triple crank 22-32-44 one of the finest cranks made in my opinion. A 9 speed Sram 11-32 cassette with PC991 chain is selected by an old XTR rear mech. I prefer 9 speed its is less particular on shifting set up and spares are much cheaper.
Shifters: I use bar end shifters for long distances for three reasons. They are super reliable, will drive any form of rear mech bought in an emergency, and aid in lots of hand movement to stop nerve damage. Actually another bonus is your hands do get mega fatigued you can always move a bar end shifter with your palm or even little finger. 10 speed Durace shifters for £60 a pair operate 9 speed mechs perfectly.
Bottom Bracket: A push fit bottom bracket on this frame was not my preferred option but using a superbly made Token Bottom bracket, the inboard bearing location has proven more waterproof than external ones. A spare is very light if I feel the need to carry one in future.
Pedals: Eggbeater Candy 3 – Plenty of knee float, quick exit and a wide platform to stop “hot foot” pain. They also allow MTB shoes to be used with recessed cleats. I have never understood why people who are not road racers use road shoes, especially when they are the only shoes you process on long journeys.
Brakes: Avid BB90SL cable operated, sintered pads on 160mm discs, operated by Shimano R400 levers.(super cheap with cables included) Overkill maybe but comfortable one finger breaking again eases hand fatigue. The Avids have their faults but remain reliable.
I have run a twin ring compact with TA 33-50 rings with a 10 speed 11-36 cassette on the rear but the range is not low enough when fully loaded on longer 7% plus climbs for my preferred spinning no stress style. If I had know these were available that’s what I probably would have used Middleburn 46-30
Lights and Power: The SP Dynamo hub runs to a bar mounted Kemo M172 unit. It’s bulky but not heavy and I’ve found its ability to switch quickly between USB to lights invaluable when hitting Alpine tunnels at speed in daylight. Its proved reliable and charges a battery pack very quickly at 800mA or runs a Garmin GPS endlessly.
Lights: An Exposure Revo provides massive power and reliable light even on long slow alpine climbs. The beam pattern is not kind to drivers when riding fast, but the switch on the Kemo acts as a brilliant dip switch. A rear Exposure red eye is piggybacked onto the Revo for blinding rear output. The only drawback of these lights is that they remain very bright for quite a long time when stopped. This means you need some kind of cover for them when stopping to wild camp. All this has proved 100% reliable for 3 winters use.
Bars: A personal choice I use On-One Midge Aluminum bars which are very wide due to their low flared drop. Mounted high on the fork I can ride on the drops for long periods, plenty of hand positions, and they give great control for gravel excursions. A pair of flat Token Tri-bars ( or front racking system as I call them) allow for more hand positions without preventing the use of the bar tops.
Seat: Fizik Gobi FM works for me. Tried a Brooks Cambium but it really makes your backside sweat to much on long rides for my liking, bad nappy rash.
Bottle Mounts: One of the best purchases is a King Stem Cap bottle mount. This allows an easy reach bottle to be mounted between the Tri bars far enough back to not steal cockpit space. The ease with which you can drink cannot be overstated. The lower frame mounted bottle has been dropped with a home made bracket to allow full frame space and easy bottle removal. A third light bottle cage is mounted under the down-tube. It’s rarely used but any emergency bottle of drink, coke etc can be strapped or taped on during a trip. It also acts as a spare in case any of the other two get damaged.
The seat tube bottle mount does not get used and I keep all my tools and tubes in that area. I intend to make a custom side entry tool holder enclosure to bolt on solidly using the bottle bosses in that area.
Luggage: Rear seat bag is a 5 year old Revelate viscacha which is unmarked despite many off road filthy trips, top kit. This holds my Bivy and other night time/off bike stuff. The frame bag, and small top tube bag used for tools are Revelate too. The top tube Trail mix/phone bag is from Alpkit as is the Stem cell which is great and holds bars, more drink, pints of milk, rocks for throwing at wild dogs, sometimes cooking kit, you name it.
Under the Tri-bars I use a Dry Bag. the closed end loop is cable tied to the stem and the open roll mouth is the used to store daily ring clothes/waterproofs which tend to go on and off the body depending on conditions. This means the bag has easy access and is in line with the bike for a little more aero placement than being across the bars. It also rolls up to nothing if empty.
I intend to adapt or have custom made a bag that will serve this function but mount better along the Tri-bars. Think of a seat bag but mounted in reverse for a front foldable opening. Come on manufacturers you would sell plenty of them to TCR competitors.
I have adapted a Apidura pocket bag to use as a quickly removable cafe stop grab bag mounted on the Tri-bars. It works well for me, but I’m disapointed in its complete lack of waterproofness (something they don’t hide actually)