The weekly Debrief highlights small but important bits of news, products, and things that caught our attention on the website, in the conversation, and elsewhere around the community. These include upcoming events and interesting items our readers shared in the comments. Check out this week’s findings below.
Bits & Bobs
New products that are worth highlighting but didn’t make the Dispatch…
Pre-Orders Open for Maestro Rat Snake
Made in USA / $1,999 at MaestroFabrication.com
The Maestro Rat Snake is a collaboration between Joel Levin and Maestro Fabrication’s Young Mike. The first iteration was made this spring, and during the last six months, they’ve been quietly testing out the second prototype, which they’re finally ready to launch it to the public. The Maestro Rat Snake comes in seven sizes, including 27.5″ and 29″ specific smalls, and starts at $1,999 for the frame only. Custom sizing and custom paint jobs are available, but the standard price includes a one-color finish. Dig into our look at the first prototype Rat Snake here.
Rapha Trail Gore-Tex Pants
$325 at Rapha.cc
Rapha’s new Trail Gore-Tex Pants are 100% waterproof riding pants designed for wet, muddy, and wintery conditions. They have fully taped seams, room for knee pads, a cam lock fastening waistband, and two front hand pockets. For a limited time, they are also throwing in a Trail Hip Pack for free with the purchase of the pants.
Horse Cycles All-Road Adventure in Stock Sizes
Made in USA / $3,150+ at HorseBrand.co
Thomas Callahan of Horse Cycles in Brooklyn, New York, is now offering their All-Road Adventure gravel bike in stock sizes for those not needing to go full custom. It’s available in titanium or steel, has clearance for 27.5 x 2.25″ or 700 x 55mm tires, and comes exclusively with the ENVE Adventure fork. There are countless other options and add-ons available, including custom geo, dropper post routing, and more.
New REYR Gear Travel Fly Rods
$299 (or $379 Rod/Reel/Line) at Reyr Gear
If you’re into bikefishing, REYR (makers of the river booties and telescoping rod we reviewed) just released a new family of travel fly rods called the BCR Series (Best-Cast-Rod!). There are three rods available, the 5-piece 3-weight medium, 6-piece 5-weight medium-fast, and the 6-piece 7-weight medium-fast. Each is made from Japanese Toray carbon and promises “a performance and material grade not found in typical travel rods.”
2024 Panorama Chic Chocs
Made in Taiwan / $2,299 CAD at PanoramaCycles.com
Quebec-based Panorama Cycles just shared their 2024 Chic Chocs fat bike, and while nothing major has changed, the new paint job is looking fantastic. The Chic Chocs features a carbon frame and fork, lots of mounting points, and comes with 27.5 x 4.5″ tires but can handle 26 x 5″ and 29 x 3″ rubber.
Café du Cycliste Upcycled Caps
$TBD at Café du Cycliste
Café du Cycliste just launched a new upcycled cap collection that is made from unused fabrics from jerseys and bib shorts from their SS22 range. There are three cap styles: Janina, cut from Laureline Red Panther a gravel style jersey; Aldona in Check from Atelier bib shorts; and Regina in Clay, cut from Lara Jersey fabric. Each cap is handmade in the Bernot Caps workshop in Lithuania, and the construction makes maximum use of all source materials.
Bike Friday Powerstone
Bike Friday just launched a limited edition colorway called Powerstone, which is available on all models until March 1, 2024. This mesmerizing hammertone colorway was developed in-house by Bike Friday’s very own Thomas Powers. Already have a frame? Bike Friday is also offering it as an optional re-paint option for existing customers.
Cascada Guide Ultralight Vest and Lakewood Adventure Pants
$153 at Cascada.cc
Italy-based cycling apparel brand Cascada just added some fresh new color options and new pants for the winter. Their Guide Ultralight Vest is now available in three colors: Dark Tan/Green, Orange/Green, and Orange/Dark Tan. Plus, they’ve added their first pants to their lineup, the Lakewood Adventure Pants, which are crafted from the same stretchy material as their Lakewood Shorts.
All Black Vittoria Mezcal
$40-70 at Vittoria
The Vittoria Mezcal is one the most widely used bikepacking tires out there. It’s almost always the most popular tire at the annual Tour Divide and has created quite the reputation as a fast, reliable tire for a wide range of conditions. Previously available with a black and grey sidewall, Vittoria just released an all-black version for those who like to keep it stealthy.
True Love Crowbar
€3,000 at True Love Cycles
The True Love Crowbar is “a simple tool for complex tasks. A straight forward, go-anywhere all-terrain bike.” This stunning Crowbar build was presented at Bespoked last month, reflecting the needs and fascinations of its owner, Daniel. A thoughtful mix of modern and vintage components, (mostly found cheap on Ebay), that focuses on simplicity and functionality. The Crowbar is made from the highest quality Columbus tubing, has a steel unicrown fork, and clearance for up to 29 x 2.6″ tires. Framesets start at €3,000, contact True Love to learn more.
Exchanges and ideas that caught our attention in the site’s conversation section…
Where’s Your (Handlebar) Comfort Zone?
With all the talk of alt handlebars this week, we’re curious to see what the most popular bar width and backsweep is among our readers. Please take a few seconds to fill out this survey, and we’ll report the results next week!
Around the Community
News from around the bikepacking world…
Solo Cycling Mongolia
In July, Giacomo Turco set off on a 25-day solo adventure across the spectacular and rugged Mongolian steppe. Along the way, he documented his ride and his time spent with local people. You can watch the resulting 12-minute video above. Note that you may need to turn subtitles on.
Rockgeist on Pisgah Podcast
Several months ago, Drew and Mangler, the hosts of Pisgah Podcast, dropped by Rockgeist so Drew could get a fancy custom bag made for his Santa Cruz Tallboy. They spent the morning documenting the process of making a frame bag, the Rockgeist crew, and talking about the brand’s origin story with founder Greg Hardy. It’s worth a listen!
Ortlieb Repair Week
At their factory in Heilsbronn, Germany, Ortlieb not only produces bags, but they also repair them. In fact, according to their CEO, they repair some 18,000 products every year. The company has also extended their repair service by training its partners, dealers, and many sales partners around the world to make repairs locally. This year, from November 13th to December 3rd, Ortlieb is offering a 40% discount on repairs in collaboration with their dealer network. For more on Ortlieb’s sustainability initiatives, see here, and if you have a pair of old panniers in need of a proper repair or spare parts, contact your local dealer next week to see about taking advantage of the savings.
Grass up the Middle x Keep Pedalling Christmas Ride
In collaboration with Keep Pedalling, our friends at Grass up the Middle in Manchester, England, are hosting their annual Christmas group ride next month. Participants can expect a 25-mile route with a hearty mix of towpaths, lanes, and off-road tracks with a sociable pace. Riders need to be self-sufficient, but no one will be left behind. The ride will begin at Eastern Bloc at 9 a.m. on Sunday, December 3rd, and will finish at Balance Brewing for beer and snacks. RSVP by getting in touch on Instagram.
Seek Travel Ride Podcast
Launched in January and now in its 45 episode, Seek Travel Ride is a weekly podcasted hosted by Bella Molloy that shares the stories and experiences of people who have undertaken amazing adventures by bike. Some guests have set world records, others cycled around the world over multiple years, and still others have pushed themselves to the limit lining up for some of the premier ultra-cycling events such as the Transcontinental Race, Silk Road Mountain Race, Atlas Mountain Race and Trans Pyrenees Race. You can listen on Spotify, at Seek Travel Ride, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Events Starting Soon
What to watch this weekend and bikepacking events starting soon…
The Renegades Muster is a self-supported bikepacking race following a 843-kilometer loop in the Taranaki region of New Zealand. More than 80 riders took off yesterday from Whanganui on the north island and are making their way clockwise around the loop. You can follow them live here.
Escape L.A. is a 290-mile bikepacking event highlighting the beauty, accessibility, and contrast of the public lands surrounding Los Angeles. The grand depart took off from the Santa Monica pier yesterday morning, and most of the 30-something riders registered for live tracking are already almost finished the loop. Follow along live here.
Wish We Were Here
Shedding a little light on a route one of us is dreaming about riding at the moment…
Joe Cruz: The Veneto Divide
Last week, I reviewed the recent Isola Press book, Jobst Brandt Ride Bike! Brandt is a legendary figure in the history of drop-bar road biking on dirt. It got me seriously craving a late season trip in Europe on old gravel military roads through rolling valleys, embraced by history and sharp peaks. And I’d do it Jobst Brandt style by riding my English gravel bike with 38mm slick tires and just a waxed canvas seat bag for luggage. Yes, I’m aware that the Veneto Divide is best done on an ATB! I’d wear wool cycling bib shorts and a jersey with pockets, and I’d stay in mountain refugios and chalets and drink grappa. Ah, one can dream.
Some things we found around the ‘gram and elsewhere. This week, a couple new illustrations from folks we’ve highlighted in our longstanding Rider’s Lens series, which just turned eight years old a couple of weeks ago! These two artists have both been highlighted in Rider’s Lens features here and here, and Dean created all the beautiful illustrations in our recently updated Bikepacking 101 Handbook.
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