Words and photos by Ryan Noir (@roadrageryan)
Hi, I’m Ryan. By day, I lead a team of metal fabricators in an aerospace company. By night, I’m an MBA student and bike shop consultant. I help out at a new(ish) local bike shop, Airline Cycles, by doing some wrenching and sharing some knowledge I gained managing a shop a few years back. In exchange, I get to tinker with my own bikes in the stand and keep up with the industry. I love the bike industry and like to be a part of it somehow, even when my work takes me elsewhere.
I’ve been a big fan of touring and bikepacking for a little over 10 years now. My friends and I like to do overnights, usually stopping at cafes and breweries, and occasional bigger trips. It’s been great to see the evolution of luggage, gearing, and tire volume. I haven’t been able to go on any long trips in 2020 with travel restrictions and events canceled, so instead I built up a speedy bikepacking rig/endurance gravel racer for when things get back to normal.
The frameset I chose to start this project came out of need. I’ve had a Surly Pugsley as my single-bike quiver for a few years now. With a few different wheelsets and gears, a Pugsley can suffice in almost any non-speed-focused situation; it’s pure joy for escapism. But during an attempt on the Green Mountain Gravel Growler, I had a sense of longing for some speed again on those gorgeous gravel roads of Vermont. Slogging along with the Pugsley on the light and fast brewery-to-brewery gravel jaunt had me thinking about how I’d optimize a bike for future extended bikepacking trips where more speed would allow me to see more, hit more attractions, and get the thrill of the wind. I set about building a list of the features I’d want and started looking at frame options for the build. I found exactly one frame that met all my requirements: the Otso Warakin Stainless Steel.
Steel is definitely real, and the realest steel is stainless. It sits somewhere between steel and titanium in price and qualities; it’s surprising there aren’t more stainless options out there. Otso completely nailed every aspect of the Warakin Stainless. It’s light, fast, rust-proof, and highly capable. There’s no paint to chip or scratch. The Tuning Chip allows it to feel like a stable bikepacking rig or a quick road bike. It’ll fit big tires and big chainrings. It pretty much has every aspect you could want in a modern all-road bike.
For the build kit, I started with the brakes and cranks. I don’t prefer hydraulic brakes for longer trips so the TRP Spyres were a must. I also wanted the option to run 1x and 2x and a power meter in a clean, simple manner. Enter the Easton EA90 crankset, which will effectively accommodate whatever you can dream up. After that, the rest of the build fell into place. Ultegra offers a clutch model rear derailleur and uses cable brakes and Easton had some great options for cockpit and wheels in stock, which, given the parts market in 2020, was a big consideration but I am delighted with the quality and functionality of the entire system. I pay very specific attention to touchpoints so to finish the buildout, I’m running an awesome 3D printed Fizik saddle, plush ESI bar tape, and Bont Vaypor G shoes with Shimano XT pedals.
- Frame Otso Warakin Stainless (58cm)
- Fork Lithic Hiili carbon
- Rims Easton EA90AX
- Hubs Easton Vault Road Disc
- Tires Panaracer Gravel King 700 x 38mm
- Handlebars Easton EA70AX
- Headset Wolf Tooth Premium
- Crankset Easton EA90 (46/30) and Cinch Road power meter
- Pedals Shimano XT
- Cassette Shimano Ultegra (11-28 & 11-34)
- Derailleurs Shimano Ultegra RX rear and Ultegra R8000 Front
- Brakes TRP Spyre
- Shifter(s) Shimano Ultegra R8000
- Saddle Fizik Antares Versus Evo R3 Adaptive
- Seatpost Easton EA90 ISA
- Stem Easton EA90
- Front bags Revelate Designs Handlebar Harness
- Frame bags Custom tapered Rockgeist Lite Skin 21 Half Frame Bag
- Rear bags Still waiting for Tailfin S Three or Tumbleweed T-Rack
- Accessory bags Rockgeist Cache Top Tube and 2x Honeypot Feedbags
- Other accessories King Cage Low-Mount Stainless Cages, Profile Design Aerobars w/70mm risers
- Navigation Fourier watch mount (for Garmin Fenix)
To close it out, I built this bike as a fast all-road/gravel/light bikepacking rig to complement my other bike. After the first ride, I knew I’ll have this bike for life. It’s fast, fun, comfortable, and highly capable for anything from road group rides to gravel events to loaded bikepacking trips. It’s a really smart, well-executed frame with endless build possibilities.
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.
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