Words and photos by Lee Connelly (@clconnelly)
The name’s Lee, I’m 30 and hail from Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK (I am originally from Middlesbrough, but please don’t tell the locals that). By day, I work within IT Services at Northumbria University and by night, I’m a book and comic nerd who, if he didn’t have cycling and camping, would need to get out of the house more.
I cycled BMX (dirt/street) for 12 years until I reached university, where I found beer and books, then eventually sold the BMX and left the pedal pushing world behind. Fast forward a couple of years after university, I finally plucked up the courage to get another bike, but this time, with gears and those things people call “brakes.” Now, on my days off, I enjoy nothing more than planning a nice long route, packing my bags and buggering off into the English countryside to see myriad cows, sheep, hills and green. Perfect.
When I eventually stumbled into the world of bikepacking, I knew I would get hooked and want to build my own bike. In my head, I wanted something I could take on slow, long cycles, but also something that would be fun to blast over to a friend’s house, the shops, and work.
To my surprise, shortly after deciding that I wanted to build a bike, I found someone on a UK cycling forum–Bear Bones Bikepacking–willing to part with their Trek 520 frameset. When it finally arrived, I slowly built it up using bits from an existing bike and parts I’d bought after ogling them on Instagram. It’s a dangerous place, that. When I was mentally building this bike, I had a vision of installing an 11- or 12-speed massive-gear-ranged monster but I weirdly settled on a 9-speed/friction shifter/Shimano GRX setup, because it worked. Strange how things turn out.
- Frame/Fork 2018 (?) Trek 520
- Rims Hope
- Hubs Hope Pro 4
- Tires Panaracer Gravel King, 43mm
- Handlebars Dajia Far Bar Handlebar, 48cm
- Headset Chris King
- Crankset White Industries G30 with 34T TSR chainring
- Cassette Shimano HG 9-speed
- Derailleur Shimano GRX RD-RX812
- Brakes AVID BB7 Road S; TRP RRL SR
- Shifter(s) Dia-Compe Downtube
- Saddle Brooks Swift, Honey
- Seatpost Thomson Elite
- Stem Paul Components Boxcar
- Front bags Whatever fits in the basket!
- Rear bags Carradice, Camper Longflap
- Accessory bags Chrome Industries Cardiel Sling
- Other accessories Horlicks storage bottle; trusty Sighh by Polly tote
Does it meet all of my demands? Absolutely! Do I need to clean and maintain it more? Yeah, probably. Do I have to thank BIKEPACKING.com and its awesome community? That I do. Thank you, everyone!
See more from Lee on Instagram @clconnelly.
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