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Panniers can be fast!
Lachlan Morton recently set a blistering ITT time of 12 days, 12 hours and 21 minutes to get from Banff to Antelope Wells on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.
For those who aren’t familiar, this 4296km/2670mi dirt road route traverses the length of the Rocky Mountains from Canada to the Mexican border. It’s not flat either – Lachlan had to muscle up 58,521m/192,000ft vertical on his journey.
So, what bike setup does it take to average a distance of 344km/214mi per day over endless dirt roads?
Let’s dig into the details and the reasons behind Lachlan’s bike and kit setup.
Lachlan Morton’s Tour Divide Bike
- The bike is lightweight, has a wide gear range, suspension for rough surfaces, and lots of hand positions.
- Wireless blips on aero bars.
- Spot tracker and zip ties attached to the handlebars.
- Roll of spare tape around the seatpost.
Frame – Cannondale Scalpel Hi-MOD Ultimate
Fork – Cannondale Lefty Ocho, 100mm travel
Drivetrain – SRAM XX1 AXS, 38T chainring, 10-52t cassette
Brakes – SRAM Level Ultimate
Wheels – FSA Gradient Off-road i29
Tyres – Vittoria Mezcal Graphene 2.0 29×2.35”, rear tyre changed halfway through as a precaution
Tire Inserts – Vittoria Airliner Light XC
Handlebar – FSA KFX Carbon flat bar, 9-degree sweep, cut to 640mm with FSA TT extensions
Inner bar ends – More hand positions
Stem – FSA adjustable
Seatpost – FSA Flowtron XC dropper, nice to change your saddle height a bit to recruit different muscles
Saddle – Prologo Scratch M5 PAS, extra padded
GPS unit – Wahoo Elemnt Bolt
Lights – 2x Fenix BC26R Rechargeable, 1600 lumens each
- The idea was to carry everything Lachlan wanted and needed.
- Additional volume for extra food/water, maximum water carried was 5.5 litres.
- Side panniers provided a lot of space, and Lachlan liked their simplicity.
- Lachlan can get to everything really quickly with this setup.
Panniers – 2x Tailfin 10-litre mini panniers
Rear Rack – Tailfin AeroPack Carbon
AeroPack Bag – Tailfin 20-litre prototype
Top Tube Bag – Tailfin 1.1-litre prototype
Down Tube Bags – 2x Tailfin 3-litre downtube packs
Total volume: 47.1 Litres
- The panniers primarily carried clothes and food.
Puff jacket – Packs small and is warm
Rain jacket – Worth its weight in gold, spent a lot of time in it
Waterproof rain pants – Necessary on this Divide ITT
2x padded cycling shorts – To alternate and allow one pair to dry while wearing the other
Hydration pack with 1.5L bladder – Used for additional water storage but packed away when not needed
500ml water flask – Nests at the front of the hydration pack
First aid kit – Thankfully didn’t have to use it
Rain shell jacket – Additional warmth layer, dries quickly
Short sleeve undershirt – Warmth layer when cold but it’s cool enough for warm conditions too
Long Sleeve Undershirt – With neck gator, additional warmth layer
Arm warmers – Merino, warm, soft, dry quickly
Leg warmers – Merino, warm, soft, dry quickly
Gloves – Gas station gloves as it got a bit cold
Small dry bag – For dry clothes to wear off the bike
Eye mask – To fall asleep quickly
Sunglasses – Gas station model as the original pair were lost on route
Cowbell – Gift from someone on the route
- Lachlan keeps his oversized sleeping gear in the 20-litre Aeropack bag.
Big sleeping bag – Good down to -15C/5F, no sleeping pad required because it was so thick!
REI Superlight Bivy – Comfortable single pole design that creates good ventilation and personal space
Chain lube – Stuffed in a side pocket
Water filter – Stuffed in the other side pocket
- Mostly for electronics and personal items.
26,000mAh battery – All that was needed
20,000mAh battery – Backup power bank, never used
USB wall charger – Charging at the hotel
Spare Wahoo GPS – Route loaded up because you never know
Headlamp – Good around camp, not really used while riding
AXS battery charger – 3x batteries, two batteries were depleted per day
2x Front light batteries – One spare was more than enough but nice to know there would always be light
Cables – More charging cables
Foldable backpack – Great for shopping
Chamois cream – Necessary for a long ride
Suncream – Lots of sun exposure
Toothpaste/brush – Dental hygiene
Passport – For the border control
Spokes – Spares just in case
- A 3-litre tool bag that was thankfully rarely accessed.
2x Tubes – None were used
2x CO2 canisters – Good for if you’re in a rush (eg. due to cold)
Tyre repair kit – Levers, plugs, boots, a section of tyre sidewall, super glue
Chain repair kit – 3x chain quick links, 5x chain links, chain breaker
Voile strap – Didn’t need to use it
Other spares – AXS shifter battery, spare headphones, brake pads, derailleur hanger, spoke tool
Downtube Pack 3-Litre – Connected to the aerobars, primarily used for snacks (16-17 candy bars!)
Top Tube Pack 1.1-Litre – Food, multi-tool, pocket knife, scissors, and rubbish storage