16 October, 2020

Kevin's Gravel Packer Pass Hunter

by Kevin

As we near the launch of the new Pass Hunter, we have received a number of questions from customers interested in racks and bags to pair with the frame. We envision the Pass Hunter as an ideal "sport touring" bike, well-suited for a spirited weekend jaunt unencumbered by heavily loaded front and rear panniers. Pushing the concept a bit further, I wanted to see how the frame could perform as a pseudo-bikpacking rig. With a weekend gravel tour as the test, I dreamed up my minimalist gravelpacking (is this a thing or did I just make that up?) setup.

I primarily am a road cyclist, and so my original Pass Hunter build was designed around Shimano's Ultegra R8000 drivetrain and a set of 700c wheels with TRP Spyre brakes. I went with the widest Ultegra cassette offered and paired with our compact Drillium crank. I wanted a build geared for road climbing--this is a Pass Hunter, after all. And that noir Drillium crank just looks sweet, doesn't it? (The crank is on sale now, by the way).

For bars I went with our Nouveau Randonneur drops mounted to our Tall Stack stem. A 0 Setback Seatpost and Brooks C15 saddle round out the cockpit. The Cambium saddles can be a bit divisive, but I've had mine for years and tend to swap it around between my touring setups. Our noir Moderniste bottle cages complete the black and blue look, with a gold seat collar and brass stem cap (a close enough color match) providing a dab of glitz. 

When preparing the bike for gravelpacking, I swapped out the 700c wheels for a set of Shimano GRX 650b wheels. These were ready to go with a set of Teravail Rampart tires (tubeless) in 47 mm. For me, this was a major jump from the 32 mm max I am used to. I've never claimed to be down with the #supplelife, but I have to admit the supple lifers might be onto something. 

For luggage, I wanted to keep things simple and compact. I reached out to our friends at Roadrunner Bags and settled on their Jumbo Jammer handlebar bag and Fred saddle bag. This proved to be just enough space for a three-day tour, with room for my camping gear, a change of clothes, snacks, and some other miscellaneous gear. If needed, a frame bag or some fork-mounted cargo cages could easily expand carrying capacity.

After a weekend in the mountain backcountry (read my ride report here), I at times found the road groupset to be a bit outmatched. A gravel-centric 1x system might ultimately be the only change I'd make for a similar tour in the future. Otherwise, I was quite pleased. I don't see myself going back to a rack and pannier system anytime soon. Check out the complete build list under our Bike Build Ideas page.


Anonymous said...

Could you go into why you thought the road Groupset was outmatched? I'm curious because I'm also going with the Ultegra group build.

VeloOrange said...

@Anon the Ultegra group is great for road (which was my intention with the initial build). For rugged Category 4 Gravel (http://ouroutdooroffice.com/2017/11/13/making-gravel-standard/) with extremely steep grades (a good portion of the Rockstar gravel route I took this build on) I found myself wishing I had a bit more range. More a matter of the specific application versus any shortcoming of the Ultegra groupset itself.

Lucas said...

Can't wait to get mine! What size is kevins frame? Is that a VO 1-1/8" / 1-1/2" headset?

VeloOrange said...

@Lucas the frame is an XL. The headset is a prototype of the tapered headset we will offer as a new item alongside the launch of the Pass Hunter.