It’s fair to say I’ve loved riding my Kinesis Tripster V1 over the years and the trip to Tibet was going to be a final big adventure for it. Only 3 years ago when I rode from England to India, me riding a Titanium bike and a carbon fork was quickly dismissed by so many touring ‘experts’. They said it would break and would be unfixable unlike reliable steel, and a carbon fork is just not suited to long tours- all this I was told by armchair experts in forums. Today there’s many similar bikes to the Tripster out there because people are rapidly realizing that riding a fast light titanium bike makes touring or bikepacking way more fun. I like to think my adventures have played a part in changing the perceptions of what the ultimate touring bike really looks like!
While I am super excited to try a bang up to date set-up on teh new V2 it’s sad this might be the last big trip on a bike I am pretty attached to now!
Have a read of my past reviews of the bike but this blog is about my current set up and how it worked in Tibet.
To me wheels make or break a good frame. I opted for Kinesis CX discs, the latest version for Tibet. I have them in the standard aluminium nipple version and the brass CX Disc HD version. There’s a 30gm difference after I weighed them on Marion’s kitchen scales, for some reason this annoys her when I put clean or even dirty bike parts on cooking utensils.
Yes it’s 30gms of rotational weight but will you notice 30 grams? Probably not. Still it was nagging in my head so I compromised, I took a standard front and the HD brass nipple version on the back! I didn’t break anything on either wheel. Although they need a clean from the Tibetan dust:
The new wheels have a new rim profile, like Stans rims they have shorter side walls and they’re tight to get tyres on but they set up tubeless super easily with just a track pump. They’re also slightly wider than my old ones at 24mm external. Weights are; Front: 750g. Rear: 890g.
The older Kinesis CX Discs had a heavier rim and lighter weight spokes which always felt a bit out of balance to me. These feel a better setup. I know a few people had an issues with the alu nipples on the older wheels but I had 3 go in 2 years of hard bikepacking so I didn’t think that was bad at all. One was when I hit a rock on single track too.
But Kinesis have spec’ed the HD version with Brass nipples to mitigate this if you want to. These new ones both the standard and HD still run true, no broken spokes and the bearings feel good after 5 weeks of bike packing on them. I’m not super nice to kit either, I try to test them hard and give honest feedback to Kinesis when stuff is not to my liking. I am currently using them with 40mm Nanos as per the picture for Scottish gravel riding. They set up tubeless like a piece of cake with the Nanos and also with the WTB Crosswolfs I have used previously.
In Tibet on the Front I used a 28mm Gatorskin. My go to touring tyre. I’ve had a few more cuts in them recently, which might be the Scottish roads but it has put a few doubts in my head. However I stuck with them on the front and had no punctures or struggles for grip at all.
On the back was a Continental Travel Contact. I love this tyre, the slick central profile is fast but with nobbles good on any gravel or snow corners! I have never damaged or even punctured this tyre in all the tours I have used it over 2 years, I also raced teh dirty Reiver on it. It is also the lightest but still super solid touring tyre I have used.
As ever I double taped my bars for comfort, do this once and you’ll never look back, especially if you have big hands. However the big difference was the new flared drop bars. I had to fit a totally full bar bag in so needed the extra room that flared drop bars offer. I used Planet X or On One Midge bars. These are cheap £26 and looked a good shape. I couldn’t see the Salsa Woodchippers for sale and lack the budget of these original flared design drop bars. If someone wants to send me some to test I’m all ears!
After the trip I was left convinced that flared bars are a good thing. The extra space, good stability and the varied hand positions worked well, but the shape of the drops wasn’t perfect on the Midges’. They need just a bit more of an extended curve backwards to give good support on the drops. The drops just feel like they end a bit early, if that makes sense. I tend to use the drops a lot when the wind picks up because the Tripster is quite high at the front and my 6ft4 frame catches the wind if on the hoods. I’ll stick with these bars though for the time being.
I was still on the trusted 3×10 setup with a wide 26:36:46 and 11:32 on the back. It’s old school these days but I couldn’t afford a complete overhaul to anything else that still offers this same range.
My V2 Tripster is going to be on the cutting edge of gearing so will be interesting how it comapres…no not DI2 not that cutting edge…
I was back using the SKS bottle cage mounts that clip onto the frame. They started to die on the plastic clips towards the end of the trip and trusty zip ties saved the day. The new Tripster is featuring an extra cage mount underneath which will be awesome for fuel bottles!
The pedals were back to toe clips, this saves any additional footwear being needed for hiking off the bike. When not using SPDs I notice that my calves get more of a work out, the flex in the soles and the less optimum foot position shifts effort from your more powerful quads to the calves, it’s not a huge impact but after 3 weeks it’s noticeable.
Quickly a look at Marion’s bike. She likes flat bars for gravel riding not drop bars and she loves the setup she’s on. Not much had changed for Marion she was using a new Surly Lang Haul fork, I liked the rake on these for comfort, but boy are they heavy! The extra luggage bolts are useful too, we used them to fit extra bottle cages for water. These replace some old Specialized
The other difference was going to 2×10 gearing. The road triple crankset she had in the Pamirs with SLX shifters never quite shifted right on her bike so we went full MTB group set on it. A 24:36 easy gearing was appreciated on the climbs, but with a 36:11 it wasn’t enough on the long descents, so I wasn’t left convinced at all by this setup for fast touring.
To help her sore shoulders she was using the excellent Ergon grips, nothing beats the original and best ergo grips. No issues with these, super comfy and market leaders fora reason!
She used Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels 28 strong well beuilt spokes have never let her down wherwevere we ride. Continetal touring pro tyres are awesome she’s literally never ever punctured on these in 2 years of trips and they’re lighter than Schwalbe Marathons…just saying.