Bikepacking In Patagonia | GCN’s South American Gravel Adventure

Bikepacking In Patagonia | GCN’s South American Gravel Adventure


(upbeat music) – What bike and equipment do you take when you’re bikepacking in Patagonia? Well, let me tell you. (graphics whoosh) Hopefully you’ve seen Mark
Beaumont’s and my video where we tackle dirt and a gravel loop in the Patagonian lake district by now. But if you haven’t make sure you check it out over on GCN. There was a little bit of everything thrown into the mix, and
certainly no shortage of amazing views, amazing
food, and amazing people. But in addition to that I also wanted to be able to talk to you through all that super
cool tech we had with us. This was our top-end bikepacking setup. Let’s start off with the bike. This is BMC’s new gravel
bike, the BMC URS. URS is short for unrestricted. Which pretty much sums up where Mark and I have been riding. But you probably don’t want to see it with fully kitted up, you want to see the bike, don’t you. So I guess I should
get all these bags off. (Velcro scratching) So now I’ve taken all the kit off, you can really see this beautiful bike, but I’m sorry, it is covered in dust, and it’s pretty, well,
dusty here in Patagonia, but to be honest, I think it adds to it. Now, on the gravel spectrum, this leads more towards the off-road rather than the on-road,
not because it’s heavy, or it’s slow, quite the opposite actually. BMC says this bike comes
in at 8.3 kilograms, which is pretty light, and added to that, this bike’s got some really cool features that lean more towards the
adventure gravel rider. Geometry-wise, this bike more leads towards the modern mountain bike. It’s got that long
frame, or long tops tube, with a really short stem on the top. It’s also got quite a slack head tube, so when we’re looking at a gravel frame, tire clearance is absolutely crucial. BMC say you could run 45 mil wide tires on this URS frame. I’m running 42s meaning I’ve got that little bit of extra space, or a little bit of extra wiggle room. So I can run slightly less tire pressure, but also this URS frame has another trick up its sleeve. This is known as the MTT, the micro travel technology, that BMC have integrated
into this URS frame. BMC first introduced this technology on the Teamelite XC mountain bike, and it adds an additional layer of comfort to the bike. It gives you just 10 millimeters of suspension travel, but it’s significant enough to take that edge off bumps, and is also designed to help with traction on rough and loose trails. Now, adding to that MTT a little bit of suspension there, we’ve got some comfort added by this D shaped seat post, and that’s taken inspiration through a lot of other of the BMC frames. Up front we got Easton’s carbon fiber bar, and attached to that, we’ve
got a very short stem there. What allows you to have
that really short stem is the longer top tube, so you
can really get away with it. On a road bike, you wouldn’t be able to. Now, Shimano has also helped us out on this trip of a lifetime
here in Patagonia, and they’ve also got us
their new GRX group set, so I’m using the RX 800
electronic Di2 version. Now, a lot of you bike packers out there will be shaking your heads at the thought of me taking electronic
gears out on an adventure, but, to be honest, with the tech proven over the last 10 years,
I am not concerned. And Mark Beaumont has told me that he rode the length of Africa using Di2. So, this group set is
very like the BMC frame, it kind of merges roads and off-road with a couple of really cool features. So on the back there, you got shadow, plus a clutch system rear mech, and then on the front you got the narrow, wide chain ring at the front there. That’s all to help keep the chain on, and that chain tight
through rough terrain. In fact, on the URS, you have to run it 1x, as with the tire clearance and nice short chain stays, you actually can’t fit
a front derailleur in. Now you’re probably wondering what gears I’m riding. Up-front I’ve got a 40 tooth chain ring, and on the back I’ve got 11/40. That rear mech also
helps with the quietness of your ride, so it stops any chain slap, which is really helpful. But also, in an added thing, Shimano have worked on looking at people’s riding through gravel, and where people ride, and what position they ride in, and they’ve found that a lot of people ride gravel in their hood. So they’ve actually
changed the pivot point, meaning it’s far easier to
brake when you’re in hoods, and you’ve got better leverage. Now no bikepacking check video can finish without showing you some of my bags. Luckily Shimano have sorted
me out with them too. This is my seat post
bag, so in there I’ve got my Vango tent, which
is the world’s lightest tent, coming in at 700 grams. I’ve also got some cooking equipment, some food, I’ve got one
of my thermal layers there from Altura also. Then if I lead onto my top tube bag, so this is a really important one. So I’ve got my wallet, my phone, a battery pack just in case I lose battery in the Wahoo, or my phone. And I’ve also got my passport, because we went through the Argentinian boarder just a moment ago, so that’s really useful, and easy accessible. And I’ve got my frame bag, in there I packed some food, maybe a map, if I’m getting lost, or tools, anything I want in quite quick, without unraveling anything too big. So, anything I need on the day I’ll put in there. And then, my bar bag. In my bar bag I’ve got my sleeping bag, my roll mat, a few extra layers, I’ve got trousers in
there, and a pair of shoes. So that’s going to go on my bike in a moment, because I’m headed to the other side of the lake, where that’s where we’re
going to be camping. Mark Beaumont’s obviously with me on this trip, he’s taken a larger bike with the same frame, but he’s also got some different components on there, so I reckon we should take a look at what he’s bringing. – Well my steed for the
Patagonian adventure is pretty similar to James’, the BMC URS, obviously a bit bigger, I’m 6’3″, and the geometry
for me is fascinating, just to see the evolution of bikes built for bikepacking and
gravel over the years. Gone are the days, I remember being in southern Ethiopia with the spoon, trying to clear the mud out so I could carry on and
not have to push the bike. You know, I’m riding 42s at the back, similar at the front, they might be slightly narrower. And let a little bit
of air out of the tires as soon as we went from the tarmac, onto the gravel, and that
made all the difference. But what I really like, which I’ve not come across before, is
that dampening in the rear, which is meant to give you about 10mm, and it just does, as
well as getting the tire pressure right, just smoothing out the ride on these sort of constantly rough, loose roads. In-terms of group set, I’ve gone for almost exactly the same as James’, except for traditional
as opposed to electronic. So it’s the GRX 1x very much inspired by you know, the single chairing at the front there, the cross country setup, and what looks like quite
a big dish at the back, you know, with all your sprocket choices. But you need them, and
we’ve felt that already in Patagonia, with the big hills, we’ve both been in the granny gear at points, but also there’s times where we’re fleeing along at 20 plus miles an hour, and it’s quite nice to have that top end range as well. What I’ve not ridden before on the Shimano group set, is this clutch system. And what I’ve noticed on the sort of corrugated roads that you’re not getting any of that sort of chain jump. You’re not getting any
of the rattling around you quite often get if
you’re taking a road bike into the gravel, or a more
old fashioned gravel bike. The frame bag setup that I’ve gone with is different to James’, I’ve gone with the new Altura bags, and that’s sort of about an 18 liter setup at the back. I’ve got really, spare clothes, things I don’t need to
access during the day, pots, pans, cook setup. In the front, this is what I always call my house, so that is basically in, I don’t need that until
the end of the day. It’s quite often the heavier bag on the bike as well, and having that weight up-front, you know, can quite often help. But you know, the overall setup in terms of the look and
the shape of the bike, pretty similar, chosen
some different componentry, and well, we’ve got a long way to go yet, and some more technical
terrain ahead of us. But so far, really enjoying it. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tech video by James and myself, all about the BMC Shimano setup her in Patagonia. If you actually want
to watch the adventure itself, click down here for the link. Don’t forget to subscribe,
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