Oregon Timber Trail Rigs and Packing Lists
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Miles and Ben completed the Oregon Timber Trail earlier this month, and by the looks of it they both had their rigs dialed in for plenty of singletrack riding and the challenging hike-a-bike sections along the route. Read on to learn more about Ben’s Why Cycles S7, Miles’ Surly Karate Monkey, and their two-person Oregon Timber Trail packing list…
Ben and I may have exemplified one of the most extreme instances of bikepacking with strangers during our recent Oregon Timber Trail trip. Bringing two completely unknown people together to tackle such an involved route meant a fair amount of time went into planning our gear, lurking each other’s social media profiles, and eventually riding together for just under two weeks. Expect more photos, stories, and footage from our ride soon, but for now, here are all the details on both of our bikes, the gear we packed, and a look at Ben’s GoPro / Drone setup and how he packs it.
Ben’s Why Cycles S7
Words by Ben Handrich
In the spring of 2017, after searching all over for the right bike, I eventually landed on Why Cycles’ titanium hardtail mountain bike: the Why S7. Having owned it for well over a year now, and having ridden more than 2,000 miles on it, the S7 has proven its merits time and again, both loaded and unloaded. Unloaded, the S7 is a twitchy shredding machine that handles technical climbs and descents with ease. Loaded, the twitchiness of the lightweight titanium frame gives way to a reliable and predictable maneuverability. With a comfortable riding position for long hours in the saddle and room for a big frame bag, I think the S7 makes the perfect all-day adventure wagon.
The beauty of buying from a “boutique” bike dealer like Why Cycles is that very few modifications are needed straight out of the box. From the SRAM Eagle drivetrain to the Race Face Carbon handlebars, Why Cycles spares no expenses in their build kits. Nonetheless, I’ve made one or two changes to the bike. Specifically, I’m over the massively wide handlebar trend in the bike industry. As a 5’8” guy, 760mm bars simply feel too wide, so I hacked off almost an inch of handlebar on both sides to make it more manageable for a shorter person like me.
Although I haven’t replaced them yet, I’m hoping that my SRAM Guide RS brakes will fail (in a non-life-threatening scenario, of course), so that I can replace them with some Shimano XT brakes. The SRAM Guides do NOT work well for bikepacking, as the hydraulic fluid container is too long, and when using a Revelate Sweetroll or harness, the brake cable housing bends to an uncomfortable degree. I’ll also eventually swap out the 175mm SRAM Eagle crank arms for some 170mm ones. The Why S7 has a relatively low bottom bracket, which is awesome for ripping down a trail, but makes for a few more pedal strikes than I’d like when climbing up technical terrain. Other than those minor changes, the S7 is dialed in for bikepacking, and is definitely a bike worth considering if you’re ready to invest major cash in a mountain bike that could be the last one you ever need.
The Why S7 is perfect for a ride like the Oregon Timber Trail. The ability to use a full-sized frame bag makes a hardtail ideal for long, singletrack-heavy bikepacking trips like the OTT, because no one likes to carry 10 pounds of food and water on their back. Its 2.8” tires not only provide extra grip in the sandier portions of riding found in Central Oregon, but also offer added cushion when descending the more technical sections found near Oakridge and south of Idanha. Overall, the 27.5+ platform feels to me like the perfect balance of comfort, simplicity (no rear suspension to fail on you), and utility (storage capacity).
- Frame: Why Cycles S7 Ti
- Fork: Rockshox Pike 130mm
- Handlebars: Race Face Next
- Stem: Race Face Atlas
- Seatpost: Rockshox Reverb 125mm
- Saddle: Ergon SMA3
- Grips: Ergon GE1
- Brakes: SRAM Guide RS
- Wheels: Knight Composites 27.5+ UD Carbon
- Hubs: Project 321
- Tires: Maxxis Rekon 27.5 X 2.8″ 120 tpi
- Cassette: SRAM Eagle X01
- Shifter: SRAM Eagle X01
- Crankset: SRAM Eagle X01 32T
Ben’s Drone Setup
Ben took advantage of the Revelate Egress’ internal velcro section to secure the padded insert to keep his various batteries, chargers, and controllers in check during the entire Oregon Timber Trail. The Egress provided quick access as well as a weatherproof and secure means to carry delicate electronics along the trail. Here are a few detail shots of how he packed his DJI Mavic Air and accompanying gadgets.
Stay tuned for video footage Ben captured along the Oregon Timber Trail!
Bikepacking Bags & Packlist
Ben’s Oregon Timber Trail packlist:
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 Tent, Therm-a-Rest Neo Air Xlite, Expeco Blow-Up Pillow, REI Co-op Helio Down 45 Sleeping Bag
Vargo titanium mug, Ti spork, Two lighters
Tools and Spares
Crankbrothers multi-tool, tire levers, bike pump with Gorilla/electrical tape wrapped around it, Dynaplug tool, Wolftooth Master Link Combo Pliers, 12-speed quick links, 27.5+ tube, zip ties, SPD clip and screws, chain lube, grease rag (old sock), Gorilla Glue, tire patch kit
DJI Mavic Air, three drone batteries with charger, etc., GoPro Hero 6 with charger, etc., Anbee 25,000 MHz battery charger, Garmin Fenix 5X GPS watch one, USB wall charger, headphones, Light & Motion 800 front bike light, Bontrager magnetic helmet-mount rear light
Sun screen, ibuprofen, Benadryl, chapstick, ear plugs, toothbrush/toothpaste, Native sunglasses, tweezers, toilet paper, wet wipes, cell phone, wallet, handkerchief
GORE Bike bib shorts, Dakine full-finger gloves, Specialized rainproof gloves, polyester blend bike pants, Icebreaker wool underwear, heavier Pearl Izumi socks, light Smartwool socks, Dakine short sleeve tech shirt, Smartwool short sleeve merino wool shirt, Specialized sun sleeves, Outdoor Research Helium II jacket, Montbell EX Light down jacket, light synthetic beanie, Giro Terraduro SPD Shoes, Bontrager Circuit helmet with cycling hat
Camelbak Syline LR 10 three-liter hydration pack, Revelate Designs frame bag, Revelate Designs Sweetroll, Revelate Designs Egress, Revelate Designs Pika Seatbag, Revelate Designs Gas Tank, Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbag (x2), Revelate Designs Jerry Can
Miles’ Surly Karate Monkey
My current Karate Monkey doesn’t look much like the stock version I rode, and enjoyed, for several months before initiating the transition into trail-shredder-bikepacking mode. Major changes include adding a RockShox Revelation 130mm fork, Race Face Aeffect dropper post, Hunter Cycles Smooth Move bars, and swapping the stock SRAM brakes over to Shimano XT. I originally swapped the drivetrain over to a Shimano 11-speed setup, but before riding the Oregon Timber Trail I swapped things over to a 12-speed SunRace drivetrain alongside a Race Face Aeffect crankset with a steel direct mount 28T chainring. What I’m left with is a bike that craves singletrack, is comfortable to ride day after day, and isn’t too bad to look at, either.
I wanted a capable daily trail shredder that didn’t feel bogged down when laden with bikepacking gear, and I think this iteration of my Karate Monkey is as close as I can get it. As soon as I decided to ride the Oregon Timber Trail with Ben, I knew the rugged and raw trails the route follows would be the ultimate testing ground for the bike and the gear I was bringing, as well as my ability to cope with the unusually hot Oregon temperatures we encountered.
Most of the bits were chosen around proven performance, reliability, and comfort. And, in a few cases, out of pure curiosity. The 12-speed SunRace drivetrain, which I’ll be writing more about soon, was a somewhat last-minute addition to the ensemble, as was the Onza Canis 27.5 x 2.85 rubber. There are so many different ways to ride the Oregon Timber Trail, and countless different bikes that could do the job, but Ben and I both agree that the 27.5+ hardtail platform was perfect for the terrain we encountered. You’ll notice that I used King Cage USBs to fasten bottle cages onto both legs of my fork and a ManyThing Cage on my downtube mounts. I carried a 1L bottle in each of these, plus a 750ml bottle in one of my feed bags, which sufficed even on some of our warmest days when temperatures neared 100°F (38°C). Ben chose to lighten up his bike and wore a small hydration pack that contained 3L of water, plus a backup 750ml bottle on his downtube just in case.
As usual, I covered my bike with Porcelain Rocket bags. The 52Hz frame bag fits the Karate Monkey like a glove, and the sturdy Albert seat bag allowed me to use the full length of my dropper post, increasing my riding time on some sketchy descents along the way. Up front, I used the MCA handlebar setup with a 10L rectangular dry bag and a Horton pocket. I splurged on some waxed canvas Randi Jo Fabrications Pocket ‘Tender bags for water and snack access during the day. Do they match the gumwall Onza Canis tires perfectly? Oh, I hadn’t noticed…
- Frame: Surly Karate Monkey
- Fork: RockShox Revelation 130mm
- Handlebars: Hunter Cycles Smooth Move
- Stem: Promax
- Seatpost: Race Face Aeffect Dropper
- Saddle: WTB Volt
- Grips: Ergon GS1
- Brakes: Shimano XT M8000
- Wheels: Alex MD40
- Hubs: Salsa 110mm x 15mm / 148mm x 12mm
- Tires: Onza Canis 27.5 x 2.85 60tpi
- Cassette: SunRace CS-MZ80
- Shifter: SunRace MZ 12-Speed
- Crankset: Race Face Aeffect with 28T steel ring
Bikepacking Bags & Packlist
My Oregon Timber Trail packlist, by bag:
Handlebars (Porcelain Rocket MCA)
Sleep system (MSR Carbon Reflex 1 tent, Western Mountaineering Nanolite Quilt, Klymit V Ultralight SL Pad, MEC Air Pillow)
Handlebars (Porcelain Rocket Horton)
Topeak Ratchet Rocket Lite NTX, Clever Chain Barrel tool, Clever Tool (tire lever / master link tool), Gerber Dime multi-tool, DynaPlug Pro, snacks, sunscreen, toothbrush/toothpaste, sealant, Black Diamond Storm headlamp, spare batteries, wall charger + iPhone charger
Handlebars (Randi Jo Bartender + ‘Pocket Tender)
750ml water bottle (left), snacks (right)
Downtube (King Cage ManyThing Cage with Voile strap)
Zefal Magnum 1L bottle (two more mounted on fork using King Cage USBs), Lezyne Micro Floor HV Pump
Hip Pack (Dakine Hot Laps 5L Waistpack)
Money, credit card, iPhone, SPOT tracker, camera, small snacks, spare camera batteries, spare memory card
Frame bag (Porcelain Rocket 52Hz)
Heavy food storage, spare 27.5 tube, Brake pads (x2), assorted nuts and bolts, Gorilla/electrical tape, quick links (x2), chunk of 12-speed chain, tent poles, MSR Trailshot filter, MSR PocketRocket 2 Mini Stove Kit, lighter, wet wipes, toilet paper, Vargo titanium folding spork, water purification tabs
Seat Pack (Porcelain Rocket Albert)
MEC First Vista long sleeve, Outdoor Research Helium jacket + pants, Patagonia Nano-Air Hybrid vest, Outdoor Research Transition hoody, Outdoor Research Synthetic boxers, synthetic cap, synthetic camp socks
On My Body
Merino wool t-shirt, Pearl Izumi wool socks, Pearl Izumi Escape PRO shorts, Outdoor Research Ferrosi shorts, SMITH Session helmet, Shimano MT7 shoes, Pearl Izumi Divide gloves, SPY sunglasses
You can follow Miles’ adventures on Instagram @MilesArbour and Ben @Pedals_Packs_and_Pinots or on his blog Pedals Packs and Pinots. Expect more stories, gear reviews, and photos from our Oregon Timber Trail ride soon. And feel free to post any questions about our setups in the comments below!