Gravel

Ti Tuesday: Tim Wiggins, his Ti Rove and the Dirty Reiver

It’s time for something a little different for Ti Tuesday. UK Kona Grassroots rider Tim Wiggins recently took part on the 200km (120 miles) Dirty Reiver and chose his Ti Rove to tackle the gravel course. We are going to kick things off with his race report and then get into his bike check. Read on.


Dirty Reiver 2017 - 45am. The sun glistens on the reservoir and bounces off morning dew. Kielder Forest – the largest forest in the UK, sits silently; its paths and tracks ready to welcome the largest gravel event in the UK – The Dirty Reiver 200.

A Reiver was a border knight – an armored horseback rider, patrolling the border between Scotland and England.

Today, 800 riders will take to the same trails and tracks that were ridden by the Reivers; except these riders will be on a plethora of cyclocross bikes, ‘gravel’ bikes and mountain bikes.

The Ride

Massed in front of Kielder Castle, the pre-event kit chat continues; as it has done for the preceding months.What tire width are those? How’s that Lauf suspension fork? Have you double wrapped your bar tape? Personally, I’m more concerned about how many flapjacks I can wolf down at each feed station, and whether I have enough supplies in my back pocket…7am. We roll down the hill from the castle, along the road for a short section, and then plunge into Kielder Forest.Gravel tracks take us from shady forest onto open heathland. Miles of expansive trails, punctuated with surprise climbs and off-camber gravel bends. The mass start is soon strung out. I decide to split from the small group I find myself in; opting instead to ride within my

The mass start is soon strung out. I decide to split from the small group I find myself in; opting instead to ride within my limits and play the ‘tortoise’ race tactic, which has worked well for me in the past. By 10 am the sun is strong, and I’ve passed through the first well-stocked feed station. I’m pleased to say I managed to grab 4 pieces of flapjack, and a banana #fuelfortheride. 90 kilometers in, and my legs are feeling accustomed to the challenging terrain; whilst my mind is getting accustomed to the rear wheel drifting around the gravel apex of every corner.

110 kilometers. Two feed stations passed (more flapjack, banana and Jaffa Cakes consumed). I am riding solo, and picking up several places from riders who went into the red early on.

At 140 kilometers, I pass a duo of riders. Ant White (a well-known endurance mountain biker) is one of the pairs and jumps on my wheel as I pass. For the next 20 kilometers, Ant and I swap places and shelter behind each other in the building wind. We rush into feed station #3: he foregoes the food, whilst I miss the drink. 200 kilometers on 2 bottles was not on the plan, but I dare not lose that wheel…

By 170 kilometers, we can see the Kielder reservoir coming back into sight. Having ridden a lap of the lake the day before, I move my hands down into the drops and push on: a smile spreading across my face as I take in the swooping pinecone strewn trail.

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As I roll onto Kielder Dam, and then onto the final ‘straight’ home, I glance back to see that Ant has dropped off. There’s nobody in my sights ahead, so I just lay my forearms on the tops, and push on for the final road section. A little bit more twisty singletrack, one last energy gel, a sprint up the hill to the Castle, and I cross the line.

07:51:04 hours of riding. 3,250 meters of climbing. 4th place out of 800 riders.

The challenge, excitement, and diversity of mixed surface endurance racing makes it clear why this kind of event is getting such a great following.

One big day out. One great day in the saddle.

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Clothing

My clothing choice was all about being versatile and comfortable. I opted for ¾ length Windstopper shorts from Gore Bike Wear, as well as the Gore Bike Wear Windstopper Power Zip-Off Jersey.

A GripGrab Cotton Cap, GripGrab Raptor Gloves, and GripGrab High-Cut Summer Socks protected my extremities. The only other piece of kit I took was the superb Gore ONE 1985 SHAKEDRY Jacket (which luckily remained stuffed in my Restrap framebag for the duration of the event).

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Accessories

To keep me grinding through the gravel, I took a few additional accessories to normal.

These included a Lezyne Rap20 Multitool (so many tools!), a Lezyne Road Drive Pump, 3 spare tubes, a spare gear cable, and a few other bits. My navigation came from the the Lezyne Super Enhanced GPS.

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One for your bucket list

The Dirty Reiver took inspiration from the Dirty Kansas – a huge gravel race in the USA. This second edition on UK soil has the same incredible mix of fun, drama and challenge. I can see this event growing rapidly year-on-year, and I thoroughly recommend adding it to your bucket list. I’ll be back for sure; and I am also avidly hunting down other ‘gravel’ events, both in the UK and abroad. ‘Gravel’ is growing, because it is such great fun to ride.

Kit Choices

Despite trying to abstain from the rampant kit-chat, I had made some customizations to my bike and kit for this event. In fact, it was pretty much a custom ‘gravel’ bike build, and a very carefully selected set of clothing and accessories.

The Kona Rove Ti

Built around a titanium Kona Rove frame, my bike for the Dirty Reiver was fitted with a Lauf suspension fork, 44cm carbon handlebars, and a SRAM 1×11 drivetrain – all to provide added comfort for hours in the saddle.

The day before the Dirty Reiver I made a very good decision to upsize my tires to the Panaracer Gravel King 40c Tubeless. The added grip, bounce, and puncture protection was very noticeable and very beneficial.

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Three Bikes in One: Pedal Bicycles on the Kona Major Jake

We’ve always known that our Jake series of cyclocross bikes is highly versatile. Something about confidence-inspiring geometry and room for higher volume tires makes for a bike that naturally gets put to use outside the tape of the ‘cross course. For many years, riders have chosen the Jake for club rides, winter training, everyday commuting, around-town, and of course, gravel (before it was even called that).

With a simple swap of the tires, Tim Krone from Pedal Bicycles in Kalamazoo, Michigan shows off the Jake’s versatility perfectly. From the high volume and grip of the WTB Nano 40c to the cushy 30mm Roubaix slicks to the 33mm Clement MXP ‘cross tire, the multiple faces of Tim’s Jake only prove what we knew all along. Some might say that our Rove series is more suited to broader purposes, but we won’t argue with people who just want to use their bike to its fullest. Here are Tim’s thoughts on his Jake: 

I was talking to my Kona guy yesterday (yes, it does make me feel special to have a Kona guy) and somehow got to bemoaning the way the bike industry feels like it has to slice everything super-fine so there are a million different products and no one knows what the hell they’re talking about or how to differentiate them. I was specifically complaining about adventure vs. gravel vs. cyclocross bikes. “Cripe!” says me. “It’s nothing you can’t fix with some tires, and my Jake will take all sorts of tires.”

That’s how we started talking about Carbon Drop Bar Bikes in which you could (and might!) have a bike upon which you could mount slicks and get out there for the Wednesday Night Ride or something knobbier for CX racing or something burlier still if you just want to get out there and take what nature serves up.

This afternoon I figured I’d demonstrate this premise on equipment that I own. First, here’s Jake with the setup I used all last summer: WTB Nano 40s set up tubeless. Pros: bring-it-on width and tread pattern + smooth ride with low pressure. Cons: pretty heavy even when tubeless, so acceleration is less than thrilling.

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Next up: road ride. Same bike and wheels with some 30mm Specialized Roubaix tires. This is terrific setup if you’re gonna use your cross bike for road riding in the summer. Tons of grip, smooth ride and only a bit heavier than the race tires you’ve been using on your road bike.

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When CX season rolls around, Bang! 33mm cross tires. I found these Clement MXPs tucked away somewhere and was instantly reminded of the fun times I had racing on them in years past.

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The above pics highlight why Jake is probably my favorite drop bar bike of all time. It’s a very versatile bike, and gobs of tire clearance is one of the things that contributes to the versatility. Another thing is the way it’s built, with a comfortable ride. I’ve ridden cross bikes that were so stiff that they crossed the line into the kingdom of Harsh. While those were pretty darn good cross bikes, they weren’t something that I’d get all fired up about riding all day on skinny tires pumped up to big psi.

Last thing on this subject, Jake has good geometry. Due to their need to provide clearance for pretty big tires and mud, cross forks are “taller” than road bike forks, so the bars on cross bikes tend to be higher relative to the bottom bracket than road race bikes. In fact, they get pretty close to the endurance road geometry that’s so popular these days.

Does this mean that I advocate against “pure” road bikes. Absolutely not. I have a road bike in my garage that I enjoy enormously. What I am suggesting is that, with ample tire clearance and disc brakes, the idea of “one bike” is perhaps more attainable with less compromise. I’m also suggesting that it’s not a bad idea to look beyond the way a bike is spec’d on the floor, and think about what might actually work, tire-wise.

While I’ve gone on about my carbon Jake, the argument works just a well for aluminum bikes. Further, I think plus size mountain bike tires and bikes are doing the exact same thing for the “one bike” crowd who desire something with a flat bar and single-track capacity.

Peloton Magazine Reviews the 2017 Kona Sutra LTD – “The Sutra is such a capable bike it could be your only bike.”

Peloton Magazine has just published their 2017 Adventure Issue and it features a great review of our drop bar quiver killing Sutra LTD.

Reviewer Ryan Yee seemed rather enamored with the bike, claiming that “the Sutra is such a capable bike it could be your only bike” and “the Sutra LTD is a bike with a fun factor that’s off the charts.”

A high-resolution JPEG of Ryan’s full review is available here or by clicking on the image below.

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