Words and photos by DeArmond Lopez (@premium_drifter)
Hi, my name is DeArmond Lopez, and I am from Albuquerque, New Mexico. I am a photographer and adventurer who uses a bicycle to venture into new places. I initially got into cycling while living in northern New Mexico. I would drive around the mountains and eventually get to some rough roads I couldn’t drive up in my Subaru Outback. I had the realization that if I had a bicycle, I could just pedal up there, and if it became too rough for my bike, I could simply just walk the rest.
The gnawing feeling of needing to explore the entire length of a road is what keeps me cycling. This has been my thought process since day one. I prefer to ride into obscure areas that haven’t been heavily photographed, primarily into the backroads of New Mexico and its numerous wilderness areas. Until recently, I would create new bikepacking routes around New Mexico, focusing on under-utilized areas of the state. I don’t cycle for the love of the sport but rather to utilize the bicycle to document places at a slow and personal pace. My rig allows me to travel through rough roads that vehicles will have trouble with and also through urban landscapes without moving too fast. I am currently cycling across Mexico with the goal of reaching the southern tip of Patagonia.
My philosophy concerning my bike is strictly utilitarian. I’ve been working in the bicycle industry as a mechanic for about five years and definitely appreciate a tastefully assembled rig. However, I like my bikes to be rough around the edges and obnoxious with lots of stickers! All I need my bike to do is haul all of my stuff across any kind of terrain, hence the somewhat overbuilt parts on my rig. I consider it a bonus if the bike is tough looking, permanently caked with mud, and has the personality of a hungry coyote lost in a wasteland.
So far, my bike has taken me across multiple mountain ranges, diverse deserts, many miles of hellacious peanut butter mud and sand, and, more recently, beautiful coastlines. I’ve put about 2,000 miles on this build and have yet to have a mechanical while touring (knock on wood). Shoutout to David at Mellow Velo in Santa Fe for gifting me the frame!
- Frame Salsa Timberjack Ti
- Fork Whisky No. 9
- Rims Santa Cruz Reserve 28
- Hubs DT Swiss 350 Ratchet
- Tires Vittoria Martello 29 x 2.6 Enduro Casing
- Handlebars Spank Spike Riser Bar
- Headset Cane Creek
- Crankset SRAM GX
- Chainring Absolute Black Ovular 28t
- Pedals Supacaz Orbitron DH
- Cassette SRAM GX
- Derailleur SRAM GX Mechanical
- Brakes Shimano XT 2 Piston
- Shifter(s) SRAM GX
- Saddle Random Specialized takeoff
- Seatpost Thompson Elite Setback
- Stem PNW Range
- Front bags Salsa Handlebar Cradle w/ Zpacks Dyneema Backpack
- Frame bags Salsa EXP Framebag
- Rear bags Revelate Alaska-Made Seatpack
- Accessory bags Buckhorn Bags Feedbag, Revelate Alaska-Made Feedbag, Apidura Top Tube Bag
- Racks Old Man Mountain Divide (front) / Salsa (rear)
- Other accessories Tailfin Fork Cages, Ortlieb Gravel Panniers and Accessory Pack x2
Some of my favorite touches to the rig are the Revelate Design Alaska-made feedbag and seatpack. These are some of my oldest pieces of bikepacking gear, and I’ll keep using them until they disintegrate. I like all of my stickers and other nonsense on the bike too. I don’t like my bike to be too flashy and don’t want it to turn heads. I also really like the Spank riser bar. It makes for a comfortable touring position without diluting its rough riding capability.
Since this is a small frame, having a rear rack is essential in preventing the seatpack from rubbing on the tire. I do like the look of having a seatpack with a rack. It’s obnoxious and something taller folks won’t understand! It also allows me to carry way too much gear when needed, which I really appreciate.
You can follow DeArmond on Instagram @premium_drifter.
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