Bikepacking Scotland, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Austria, Italy, Portugal, France, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria x 2, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan x 4, Russia, Nepal, India, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan x 3, China x 2, Tibet, Mongolia, England, Switzerland, Iceland…..as long term reviews go this isn’t a bad test for the V1 and V2 Tripster ATR – as blog readers know I ride my bike quite a bit.
Along with the actual miles of riding, there’s also the fact that for many of these trips the bike had to be packed in a box and flown involving the standard abuse by luggage handlers, then sometimes strapped to the roof of a taxi to get to the start or end of a tour. The V1 was strapped to the roof of a Indian bus, had toilets flushed on it between train carriages to Calcutta and spent weeks locked up in a Delhi hotel’s basement. It’s been the full package of classic WeLoveMountains tough love!
I should also say that I am supported by Kinesis, but if you think about it I also now have two bikes which means I can be as honest as I like about them! I have also been offered bikes to use from other brands but they just aren’t as good in my opinion. I will explain why below;
The bike had a slacker head angle and longer reach than almost anything else drop bar based when the V1 was launched, it was similar to an XC MTB head angle in 2013 and that innovative geometry continued onto the V2. Some competitor bikes still haven’t caught up!
The 650b option on the V2 added to the handling and is so much fun, when I’m at home in Scotland I tend to run 650b so I can link up all kinds of trails into big loops and it handles superbly. The stiff light Reynolds ATR wheels match it perfectly. Why not just get a MTB you people ask? Well I have a lightweight Carbon 29er and that’s fast but it’s a different experience to the Tripster mostly because it doesn’t ride the road sections as well. I set the Tripster ATR with slick faster tyres and I do use the drops a lot on windy sections.
2; It’s Titanium
This is simply the ultimate material to make true adventure bikes out of. Steel and aluminium both have advantages in certain ways, but overall if you can afford it Titanium will be the best. Afford is the key word because it isn’t the cheapest and to some an aluminium or steel frame makes more sense but I am talking about the ultimate bike. You can’t escape the fact it is the strongest metal material per gram used. You can get crazy light and strong steel, but the tubing gets too thin making it susceptible to dings when transported. As most of you will know Titanium also rides forgiving like steel, the example I still give is that in 2013 I rode an Alu fork and framed Kona to Istanbul and had numb forearms and back, in 2014 I rode the Tripster with carbon fork and Ti frame on similar route and had no problem at all.
Trusty not Rusty Titanium – A good paint job helps, but other metals will corrode over time. Through my continuous winter riding I had a top quality steel frame that corroded and a Kona aluminium frame where the paint is flaking off and the metal dissolving to white powder from salt. The Titanium is still the same.
A word on carbon – This is the material of choice for light and fast, but I like to fly a lot (in a plane not metaphorically on the trails) and I don’t always have the option to pack the bike too well. Carbon doesn’t like baggage handlers nor being strapped to a Tajik taxi with the tailgate bumping on it! For gravel racing I like the directness and lightness of carbon, the Lauf True Grit bike is a good example and I would love one in the locker for those fast gravel blasts, but I don’t have the space or money for a bike for every niche!
This goes for the components too, which have been ever reliable but I will be negative and list all of the issues I have had in 4 years of Tripstering;
a; The seat post slipped on the V1 in 2014 so I bought a wider non Ti clamp and its been fine ever since.
b; In Uzbekistan we hitched a ride in an old bus, they loaded heavy rugs on top of the bikes. The plastic barrel adjuster snapped on the 105 rear mech, the hanger was still straight!
c; The bolt through front axle has to be properly tight or it can work loose on the V2, but I guess that goes for all bikes!
d; The internal cable routing inset guides in the frame came loose. A dab of epoxy and they have never moved again since. This isn’t a problem when riding because the cable tension kept them in place.
e; In total 3 spokes have broken at the aluminium nipples on the original 2014 CX Lite wheels.
That is literally everything in 4 years of riding that I can remember. Not even a rear mech hanger has gone. If you saw me on a descent at the Dirty Reiver you’ll now I like going quite fast on rough gravel too!
4; Understated good looks.
This is a bit subjective but makes an interesting point. Almost all true bike lovers love the sleek beauty and simplicity of a Ti frame matched with a simple carbon fork, but in many parts of the less bike obsessed world it looks like a cheap unpainted old bike! Mine maybe more so given all the abuse it’s had! That slick painted bike can draw in unwanted attention for example when riding in the Altai Jack had a bright yellow Condor and Marion the stunning Arran blue Tripster AT and both attracted more attention than my Tripster ATR. To this effect I have never had anyone try to steal my Tripster ATR or anything else in all these years, and I put it down to my scruffy beard and ‘understated’ bike.
5; Feeling Smug
Back in 2014 I asked if the Tripster ATR was the ultimate Adventure Bike in this blog. I made the argument that we were too hung up on the classic steel touring bike design and I got pretty strong words from cycle tourers online that I was putting myself in danger, Titanium can’t be fixed in a random ‘stan, a carbon fork will snap, the geometry isn’t comfortable etc.
This might seem smug and I’ll be honest it is, but I now see those bloggers on bikepacking bikes like the Tripster with bags strapped on….on reflection I was pretty much spot on with how bikes developed. 2013 was the start of a monumental shift in drop bar bike design and the Tripster was a forerunner. Since then it has been copied whether directly or just the trend has grown around it. A lot has changed in a short space of time, I have since ridden across the long list of countries above and I have a better idea of why this bike works so well and I can now also prove how reliable it is!
Tripster V1 – Current road Set Up
Tripster Frame and fork
Shimano 105 Groupset
Triple Front Crankset
TRP Carbon Spyre mechanical brakes
Kinesis Cross Lite CX wheelset
46cm wide drop bars on 70mm stem
Tripster V2 #Beyondgravel set up
Lauf Grit fork
SRAM Force Hydro 1×11
10:42 Casstte 40t front
Ritchey Venture Max flared drop bars
Praxis Alba cranks (never changed the BB still!!)
Continental Travel contact in 700x42mm
Reynolds ATR 650b wheels