Howdy, I’m Matt from the north coast of California, but until quite recently I was living in Bath, England for about two years. Mountain biking and cycling, in general, have been my main outlet for physical and mental well-being since I was a kid.
I only had the bright idea (thanks to this website) to combine backpacking with bikes somewhat recently, but the dynamic nature of bikepacking really suits my temperament better than backpacking. Long story short: I was living in Bath with my wife, no car, getting sorted out with my work visa, etc., and then the pandemic struck. The countryside around Bath, and of course Bath itself, is heaven on a bun for a North American (just ask @steel_and_rubber). I haven’t done so much walking and cycling in my life as when I lived there.
There’s an amazing network of public rights of way in the UK, which originate from paths historically used for getting around before cars. Most of the bridleways and byways (horsie trails and 4WD doubletrack) are open to bikes, so I’ve just been out there exploring and weaving together fun routes (okay, living here hasn’t all been roses!). In fact, Chris Goodman (@uninspiredramblings) and I have been working on a bikepacking route around Bath.
So, how did I end up with the Jones in England? I did a few bikepacking trips with a certain Jones aficionado, including the Brecons Bash. We shared a love for high stack and plus-sized tyres. I was transfixed by the Jones SWB Complete he was riding; it seemed like the perfect bike for the riding I was doing in the UK, which in a single ride involves narrow paved lanes going straight up and down, interspersed with singletrack bridleways that make for great natural mountain biking. A gravel bike just doesn’t satisfy on the bridleways, which are often quite steep, rough, and sloppy. And a squishy mountain bike is too easy and too high maintenance.
On a trip back to the US in late 2019, I picked up an LWB Complete Bike from Jones in Ashland, Oregon. The LWB was more interesting to me because of the long chainstays and the slack-ish head angle combined with its three-inch fork offset. Anyway, I’ve put loads of miles on the bike since then, both bikepacking and trail/bridleway/lane riding, including a week trail riding in Moab, two winters riding in UK poopie, and a three-week bikepacking trip up the GB divide route in Wales, then the West Highland Way and Outer Hebrides cycle route in Scotland. I can confidently say that I wouldn’t have been able to do that trip on my gravel bike or my full-suspension bike because my back or wrists would have given out.
I think Jones nailed the geometry on the LWB for a tall rider (I’m 6’4.5″ for reference) so long as you don’t mind lots of seat post and steerer showing. In my mind, the chainstays would be quite long for a shorter rider who enjoys wheelies, but I’ll leave that to them to determine. The frame’s reach could be a tad longer to utilize a shorter stem. Some of the components on the complete build failed, and some weren’t quite right for UK riding. The freehub uses cup and cone bearings, and it didn’t take kindly to the poopie. The Vee T-Fatties definitely had to go after one winter due to an utter lack of mud grip. I ended up going with 29 x 2.6″ (Rekon up front, Ikon in rear) and feel that 2.6″ on a wide rim is great for UK riding, where you don’t want to change tire pressure for constantly changing conditions. However, I most recently have a Bontrager XR4 3″ up front and a hand-me-down 2.4″ Ardent in the rear.
- Frame/Fork Jones Complete Bike Unicrown
- Rims Jones (front) / Nukeproof Neutron V2 (rear)
- Hubs Jones (front) / Nukeproof Neutron V2, HG freehub (rear)
- Tires Bontrager XR4 Team Issue 29 x 3 (front) / Maxxis Ardent 29 x 2.4 (rear)
- Handlebars Jones Aluminum Loop H-Bar, straight gauge, 710mm width
- Headset Jones Sealed Cartridge H-Set
- Crankset Truvativ Stylo, 170mm length (too short)
- Pedals Shimano SPD, or DMR V12 Magnesium flats
- Cassette SRAM NX Eagle 12 speed, 11-50t, HG
- Derailleur SRAM NX Eagle
- Brakes Tektro MD-M300 mechanicals swapped to sintered pads
- Shifter(s) SRAM NX Eagle
- Saddle WTB Pure
- Seatpost Specialized, 20mm offset
- Stem FSA 100mm, 6 degree rise
- Front bags Topeak Frontloader or homemade cordura bag
- Frame bags Homemade cordura bag
- Rear bags Revelate Terrapin System, 14L
- Accessory bags Older Revelate Mountain Feedbags, Topeak Fuel Tank Bag
- Other accessories Quad Lock phone mount, Salsa Anything Cages, lots of Voile Straps, bell
This new setup is sort of like the hardtail of rigid bikes, and I really like the combo. Do I regret not getting an LWB frame and building it up myself? Sometimes, but the grass is always greener, eh? Anyway, I’ve been gearing up to do some framebuilding of my own and I’m working on my version of the nonexistent XL LWB with suspension-corrected geometry.
Keep up with Matt on Instagram @blaze_tolliver.
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.
Make sure to dig into these related posts for more info...
Please keep the conversation civil, constructive, and inclusive, or your comment will be removed.