Posted by Lucas Winzenburg
Words by Elmar van Drunen, photos by Ellen van Drunen (@bicyclejunkies)
I’m Elmar van Drunen from the Netherlands and I’m a bicycle mechanic at a shop that specializes in touring and gravel bikes (Bike4travel in Rotterdam). Since 2001, I’ve been touring by bike with my wife; ranging from short overnighters to a three-month adventure in the ‘Stans, and finally in 2013 we left for a 27-month tour riding the spine of the Americas. Every year I do at least two tours and I have been riding in almost 40 countries; some I’ve visited multiple times.
I love mountainous regions, so I crossed the Andes a few times and rode Peru’s Divide and the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route as well. My bike was fully loaded back then, but I am now slowly moving towards more compact, lighter gear. I consider myself a semi-bikepacker at the moment, with an appetite for quiet off-road mountain tracks through vast landscapes. During weekends, you can find me either mountain biking in the woods or on my Santos racing bike.
As a kid I used to tour with my dad. I guess that’s where my love for bicycle touring came from. Lucky for me, my wife feels the same, and we both spend as much of our free time on the bikes as we can. I simply love the outdoors and camping in the middle of nowhere. I guess bicycle touring in remote areas, completely relying on myself, is my passion. My wife takes all the pictures and I am her model!
My colleague Marco de Wit designed the Avaghon X29 and I assembled them myself and built the wheels. It’s a steel bike and its geometry makes it a cross-over between a regular touring bike and a mountain bike. In the three years that I’ve owned this bike, it has had multiple makeovers, mostly because I have the luxury to test different parts and setups. But, the gearing system was a clear choice: Rohloff hub and Gates CDX belt drive with Expedition sprockets. I’ve been riding with a Rohloff hub and belt since 2010 and don’t ever want to go back to derailleurs. For me, the ease of use, lack of required maintenance, and durability of the Rohloff hub are all big pluses, and so is the belt.
Three things I changed recently are the rims and wheel size: starting with 28” rims and 50-622 tires, I now am riding with 27.5” rims and 65-584 Schwalbe Smart Sam tires. The rims were for testing purposes, but I usually ride with Ryde Andra 321. The second one is the front fork; from steel to carbon. I might go for a suspension fork in the near future. And third, for my recent trip to Peru, I switched from Shimano XT hydraulic disc brakes to Magura MT5 / MT4 hydraulic disc brakes and I grew fond of the latter, so they are a keeper.
- Frame Avaghon X-29
- Fork Niner carbon
- Rims DT Swiss HX531 (27.5″)
- Hubs SON 28 Disc Dynamo (front), Rohloff (rear)
- Tires Schwalbe Smart Sam 65-584
- Handlebars Flat bar with 6° backsweep
- Grips Ergon GP1
- Headset Cane Creek
- Crankset Truvativ Stylo + Gates CDX Exp 50T front chainring
- Cassette Gates CDX Exp 22T rear sprocket
- Brakes Magura MT5 4 piston (front), Magura MT4 2 piston (rear)
- Shifter(s) Rohloff 14 gear
- Saddle Ergon SMC4 or Brooks Cambium
- Seatpost Zoom
- Stem Zoom
- Front bags Ortlieb Handlebar pack
- Rear bags Vaude Aqua Back / Ortlieb Back Roller Plus
- Accessory bags Ortlieb Cockpit
- Other accessories Appcon 3000 USB charger / Garmin Edge 1030 GPS
The Avaghon X-29 frame is strong and stiff and very comfortable. As they’re custom built, you can choose your own gearing system (Derailleurs, Rohloff or Pinion), brakes, rims, tires, and all other parts such as saddle, pedals, etc. and even the color. It’s a versatile bike!
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