This week’s Reader’s Rig comes from Dylan Kentch, whose 2008 Vanilla has seen countless miles around the world, from the Australian Outback, between Alaska and Patagonia, and beyond. Needless to say, it’s been through a lot (including once being struck by lightning). Find complete build details, more backstory, and additional photos below…

I’m Dylan Kentch and I live in Melrose, South Australia, at the base of Mt. Remarkable, where I’m sandwiched between singletrack and gravel roads that go for days (months, really) to my north and east. I like to go exploring and see new places on reliable bikes that won’t break down when you’re doing the hard yards in the back blocks. I love getting onto the station tracks and quiet roads past Belton, Orroroo, and Cradock. If I see more than four utes per 100km, I’m surprised at the heavy traffic.

Dylan Kentch, The Vanilla Workshop

I bought this bike as a singlespeed frame and fork from Vanilla Bicycles back in 2008. Singlespeed touring is still likely the best kind of touring, but in South America I realised a lack of gears limited where I could go. I had Vanilla chop off the track dropouts and add a derailleur hanger, cable stops, and a new coat of paint in 2018. Immediately after that, I led an Adventure Cycling Association Southern Tier tour on it. I also got wild and woolly on some routes (New Mexico’s NMORR and Monumental Loop, Oregon’s Mt. Hood Loop, the Oregon Outback, and the Oregon Big Country Route).

I’m continually amazed at how well this bike works. The only thing I would change would be to give it clearance for 29 x 3″ tyres… and make it be titanium. Those tyres weren’t common 11 years ago, however, so that’s okay. Disc brakes would be cool too, but I rode those battleship grey XTR v-brakes (and front hub and handlebars) down to Ushuaia from the States in 2010 and they’re still going strong. Again, reliable bikes in the back blocks!

  • Dylan Kentch, The Vanilla Workshop
  • Dylan Kentch, The Vanilla Workshop
  • Dylan Kentch, The Vanilla Workshop
Dylan Kentch, The Vanilla Workshop

All bags are stock sizes, courtesy of and proudly made by Revelate Designs. That Gas Tank is on only its second zipper and has maybe 75,000km on it. Those are mostly continual touring kilometers, which means multiple zips open and shut all day, often in crap weather and overloaded with dirty things all the time. Eric and I have stumbled around on some hell biking tours in Alaska over the last decade and I’m proud to call him and Dusty and Holly and Sheila my friends.

The titanium Jones bars are from 2007 and you can’t get that shape any longer. They’re perfect for touring, amazing for single-speeding, and they were covered in blue fire when I was hit by lightning while riding between Chicken and Tok, Alaska.

  • Frame and Fork Vanilla with S&S Couplers
  • Rims DT Swiss TK540
  • Hubs Phil Wood (front), Hope Pro 4 (rear)
  • Front Tire Specialized Ground Control Sport 29 x 2.1″
  • Rear Tire WTB Wolverine 29 x 2.2″
  • Handlebar Jones Titanium H-Bar
  • Crankset Sugino square taper, 34T Wolf Tooth ring
  • Bottom Bracket Phil Wood
  • Cassette Sunrace 11-40, 10-speed
  • Brakes Shimano XTR V-brakes
  • Shifter(s) Microshift 10-speed thumb shifter
  • Rear Derailleur Shimano Deore long cage
  • Saddle Brooks B-17
  • Dylan Kentch, The Vanilla Workshop
  • Dylan Kentch, The Vanilla Workshop

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