Words by Bo Shan Go, photos by Evan Christenson (@evanchristenson)
My name is Bo and I live and study in Amsterdam, arguably the best place to live for a cyclist commuter. Despite growing up with the bike as my main mode of transportation, it took me a long time to realise that you can in fact ride a bike across borders and landscapes and that it can be recreational instead of merely functional.
It was dating an American that opened my eyes to the world of bikepacking. After riding Mexico’s Baja Divide on our first date (read all about it in the seventh issue of The Bikepacking Journal) I got hooked, of course, on this magical way of exploring the world. Our next trip was scheduled only three months after coming home from Mexico. We planned to ride from Italy to Armenia and I needed a bike. I started looking into new bikes, but besides getting lost in the vast market of touring, gravel, mountain, and all-road bikes, I also found out quickly that almost none of them would be delivered in time due to the general shortage of frames and components.
I started scrolling second-hand bike pages and quickly stumbled across a cool-looking steel Giant from the early 90s. It was completely set up for flat, smooth, Dutch asphalt—and probably not much more—and I bought it without consulting my bikepacking-expert boyfriend. I figured any bike can take you around the world as long as it looks cool, and I turned out to be right. While video calling Evan, I started to replace part after part, learning a lot and falling in love with the bike in the process. Slowly, I started to believe that old 26-inchers might be truly perfect for epic bike rides where not speed but reliability is key.
- Frame/Fork Giant Hurricane ATB 1990
- Rims Mavic Crossride 26”
- Hubs Mavic
- Tires Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB 2.25”
- Handlebars Nitto Bullmoose quill stem
- Headset Original
- Crankset Shimano Exage 300 Ex
- Pedals Shimano SPD
- Cassette Shimano XT 11-46
- Derailleur Box 11-speed
- Brakes Something from my local shop
- Saddle Specialized Power Comp
- Seatpost Genereic
- Front bags Vaude Trailfront harness + drybag
- Frame bags Merit custom roll top frame bag
- Rear bags Specialized Burra Burra
- Accessory bags Orucase snack pouch, Agu snack pouch, Revelate gas tank,
Building up the bike myself was great preparation for the big trip, and opting for bulletproof and very heavy Schwalbe Marathon tires over anything tubeless turned out to be a good decision. The very big frame triangle for the relatively small frame size is a big advantage over modern-day mountain bikes that I gladly filled with a custom Merit bag that exceeded all my expectations. The beautiful Newbaum bar tape that I initially used for harlequin wrapping was far from bikepacking resistant and quickly had to be swapped for rather inelegant anatomical grips. Of course, there are many things that could be improved upon (hose clamps that came undone, crank arms that are too long, a lack of braking power), and I probably will never stop tinkering on this bike, but I’m positive I will ride many more miles and countries on this bike. To me, this bike proves that a dream bike could be the one dusting away in your garage. It will take you around the world, you just need to make it look cool.
Send Us Your Bikepacking Rig
Use the form below to submit your bikepacking rig. We’ll choose one per week to feature in a Reader’s Rig Dispatch and on Instagram. To enter, email us your best photo of the bike (preferably at a 90° angle), your Instagram username (optional), and a short description of you and your rig. If your bike is selected, we’ll need a total of five photos and a little bit more info.
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