Nate Hills’ Bikepacking SB5.5c Nate Hills’ Bikepacking SB5.5c

Nate Hills’ Bikepacking SB5.5c

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

By now you’ve probably seen the photos from Joey Schusler’s 9-day bikepacking trip to the Cordillera Real mountain range in Bolivia (if you haven’t, click here). Along for the ride was professional Enduro racer Nate Hills, who gave us insight into the setup of his bike for a trip deep in the backcountry. 

For reference Nate weighs 145 lbs. (65 kg.) and is 5’9” (175 cm.) tall. He rides a size medium Yeti SB5.5c that weighs in at 30lbs (13.6 kg.) when he’s racing, but with the addition of bikepacking bags on his seatpost and handlebars, he added 24 lbs. (11 kg.) His backpack was close to 20 lbs. (9 kg.) on the first day of the trip. 

Drivetrain:

What advantages does SRAM Eagle™ bring to a trip like this?

“I normally run a 36T chainring on all my bikes, at all times. That was my gearing with the original version of SRAM XX1, but even with the addition of range that the Eagle cassette offers, I opted to downsize to a 34T chainring for this trip, due to the additional weight and elevation in excess of 17,000 feet. I was blown away at what I could climb when I was fully loaded down. Eagle made a lot of the steep climbs rideable and kept me from pushing a great deal of trail. Pushing a heavy bike is no fun at all, so this was exactly what I was looking for under these conditions.”

Suspension:

How would you describe your optimal suspension feeling when weighted down with bikepacking bags? How do you change this when you took the bags off?

“I basically added some air pressure and increased the rebound a few clicks, to compensate for the additional weight of the bags. I normally tried to keep most of the weight off of the handlebar bag, as the steering starts to feel really slow and unbalanced with additional weight. I ran my rear shock compression in the middle setting to hold the bike up more in the mid-stroke. The saddlebag would buzz my rear tire in the lower 1/3 of the travel, so it was essential to keep the rear end riding higher than normal. As we ate more of the food, later into the trip, the bags got lighter and we adjusted the pressures closer to normal.”

Suspension Setup:

  • Suspension Pressure without bags - F: 75psi / R: 150psi
  • Suspension Pressure with bags - F: 85psi / R: 180psi
  • Bottomless Tokens: 2
  • Rear Shock Bottomless rings: 3
  • Fork rebound (clicks from Closed): 8
  • Fork Low Speed Compression (clicks from Closed): 2
  • Shock rebound (clicks from Closed): 3
  • Shock Compression (clicks from Closed): Middle Setting

Brakes:

What about your brakes, did you make any changes for this trip?

“My Guide Ultimate brakes have plenty of power and even with all the additional weight, they felt great. No changes were made.”

Any other major changes from your normal Yeti 5.5c settings that you use when racing Enduro?

“I did not run a chainguide for this trip. I didn’t think it was necessary for this sort of riding and opted to remove the 200g from my bike. I never lost a chain.”

Cockpit:

Wheels:

  • Wheels: SRAM Roam 50
  • Tire Pressure while loaded: 25psi front, 27psi rear
  • Tire Pressure while unloaded: 25psi front, 27psi rear

Photos by Joey Schusler.

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