Four years and just past 40,000 miles traveled and like me ready to be released back into the wide world. The Salsa is great at long distance rides, but four years ago I wanted the option to add bigger tyres releasing the potential for rougher surfaces combined with touring. The then new Mason Boketh was originally on the list, but thru axles would make my then current wheels redundant, then after seeing a little promotional video and with guidance from Mike Hall I went for the new Ti Tripster V2 and opted for the QR V2 fork.
With three bottle mounts, threaded bottom bracket, changeable dropouts and good geometry promoting shorter stem use it seemed to fit the bill. The “modern” internal gear cabling I would have to learn to live with, not very conducive to changing a cable mid trip.
January 2017 I started riding this bike exclusively, which for me is quite something, the ATR tag; Adventure Tour Race tag was going to be put to the test. “There can be only one” say hello to Highlander. I did a lot of off road and challenged MTB friends on local loops.
The initial though on building up the bike was of a great quality frame, but a shock at the frame weight of over 1900 grams for my 57cm size, a tad bulky. Any CX racing would be a compromise on this. Over the years it has had a variation of components fitted and started life using 9mm QR wheels to save additional expense whilst allowing quick swopping between on and off road use. The rear QR dropout appeared to be a compromise as getting the wheel out required almost totally spinning off the nut end to clear the frame, not an ideal design.
Once I’d convinced myself that the 90mm stem and more upright position than normal was the way to go, it felt right. Early road riding in filthy winter, mudguards and racks on to test I loved the ride quality. The plushness of 28mm tyres and the hourglass rear seat stays combining to handle any rough roads in almost silence, with well set up gears and new brakes, something that several riders commented on: a stealth silent ride. Off road I was running the largest CX tyres; the Gravel tyre explosion had just begun. The first hiccup occurred when this silence was shattered with the clunk and ticking of gears playing up.
Early problems with the cable entry points, they just didn’t provide firm cable outer anchors, was dealt with and all was good again. Then one of the QR dropouts snapped just riding along, luckily by taking it steady I could ride home with the other holding it in place. Closer inspection showed an alarming lack of material due to the design, and with the TransAmerica race coming up this was a worry. A replacement was provided and I bought another two spare sets to be sure.
In all fairness we then went Racing at the Kielder Dirty Riever, Beach racing, and hit the Paris-Roubaix cobbles with Juan Antionio Fletcha (now that’s a story I need to tell on here). Rode to the South of Spain and then did some fast group rides with my Gorilla ride mates and crossed America in 23 days. And all on the QR dropout.
When the SP dynamo wheel entering the worrying high mileage zone and the hassle with the QR dropouts thoughts of finally going thru axle cropped up when the Hunt dynamo wheel set came onto the market. Getting a good deal on a new fork to fit and with the axles and dropouts supplied with the frame we were ready to go, finally thru axle after all.
It has to be said that straight after the change it was obvious the straight bladed thru axle fork was not as compliant as the QR one, the bend in the original really soaks up the hits. I have never swapped it back, but for a very long rough track trip it would certainly go back on. The wheels have their own history page.
I find the overall comfort of this bike to be amazing. The more upright position using a 90mm stem puts more weight on my rear so to speak, but the combination of Brooks saddle, 27mm seatpost and the frame rear takes care of that. With further big trips to Italy for the Alpi4000, and the double race run of Race Around Holland, PanCeltic and TransIberica we have had some adventures. But when speed is required the weight and less aero ability means I will still go for the Salsa as happened for the Panceltic race and tours to meet up with friends at Mallorca and Flanders.
As 40,000 miles ticks over you could say the bike has been a bit of a triggers broom, but it’s still on the original headset bearings, nothing has broken causing any problems (after the QR droput problem). The seat, stem, seatpost, and brakes are all as originally fitted. Changing cables out in the field through the frame hasn’t been a problem and with the solid threaded bottom bracket I would happily go round the world on this.
As I slow up and have more time to play with, me and the Tank (new nickname as its no longer one for all) are ready to go anywhere and take on some big adventures. More time, more luggage and having done about the last 15,000 miles exclusively on Schwalbe G1 38mm tyres that’s how its going to stay.
Hopefully 2021 will see the return to some long testing trips, even if travel is restricted its a big old island to explore.
The Tripster ATR is now on version 3 of the frame with several changes and much more clearance, and that new Range fork looks very useful with the luggage inserts. I could be interested in swopping to that fork, but not for £400. Coming soon I will be making my own budget fork luggage cages and mounts.
Footnote: If your interested in the new Tripster or its history then check out Ed who has put all variants through their paces as he is supported by Kinesis https://welovemountains.net/kinesis-tripster-atr-v3-reviewed/