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Cycle Monkey

Internal Gearing Specialists, Bicycle Distribution & Service Center

Ventana El Comandante Bike Packing bike with Rohloff SPEEDHUB and BeltDrive

Riding the Divide is one of the most awe-inspiring and grueling cycling challenges in the world. The 2,700 mile, 200,000 foot elevation gain ride goes from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, traversing the whole length of the United States along the Continental Divide. The Divide is also the route of the annual Tour Divide, a famous unsupported endurance race. The record for the race is 15 days, but the ride is also done at a more leisurely pace by non-competitive riders who want to enjoy the beautiful Rocky Mountain scenery along the way. We built this Rohloff SPEEDHUB-equipped Ventana El Comandante for a customer who is planning to ride and train around his home near Columbus, OH with the goal of eventually gearing up for a Divide ride of his own.To start this build we called our friends at Ventana to order an El Comandante frame. This model is a versatile 29er aluminum hardtail with balanced geometry that works well general trail riding as well as off road touring. Another one of our customers rode an El Comandante to victory (and a new course record) during the 2012 Tour Divide race, so the capabilities of this frame for the TD event have been proven. Like all of Ventana’s frames, the El Comandante is handmade in Northern California and built to last. It features rocking dropouts for chain or belt tension with an integrated belt drive split point. Rohloff cable routing and extra water bottle mounts on the seat stays were added through Ventana's semi-custom program, and their popular eye-popping Mango Tango color finished things off.With the frame in hand, we set to work selecting the other parts. On a ride like the Tour Divide, a rider’s bike must be both durable and light to get to the finish with no mechanicals and a decent time. We started with Niner’s carbon RDO fork, which is exceptionally light but is also designed to be compliant enough to be comfortable on rough trails and long rides. While a ride like Tour Divide might seem like it would necessitate a suspension fork, the terrain is predominantly gravel roads and pavement, so many competitors opt for a rigid fork. The length of the ride and the intense weather conditions that are often encountered can cause accelerated wear on a suspension fork and lead to malfunction unless a rider stops along the way to get their fork serviced. A suspension fork also adds additional weight to the bike, which this customer wanted to avoid.We also used carbon for a few of the bike’s other main components, including Thomson handlebars and Race Face Next SL cranks. A Chris King headset and bottom bracket, Thomson aluminum stem and seatpost, and TRP ML930 brake levers paired with Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes round out the build kit with reliable components.When considering strength, the wheels are perhaps the most important components to focus on. On a long tour, a folded rim or a few broken spokes in the middle of the wilderness could leave you completely stranded. Wheels and drivetrains are not an area to skimp on when building a lightweight touring bike. For this bike, we used NoTubes' ZTR Flow EX 29er rims, which are wider and thicker than most lightweight XC rims and have held up well in a variety of conditions.  We laced up the rims to a Chris King ISO disc hub in the front and a Rohloff SPEEDHUB in the rear using Sapim Race spokes and brass nipples.  While a touring wheelset must be strong and durable to keep a rider from being stranded by mechanical problems, the same goes for the drivetrain. The Rohloff SPEEDHUB offers the most durable drivetrain on the market, and paired with the Gates Carbon Drive system, you have nearly zero maintenance. You also get assurance against snapped chains, bent derailleurs, broken derailleur hangers, and other problems that plague long distance riders. This gear hub offers 14 evenly spaced gears protected within the hubshell and shielded from the elements. The gears span a range of 526% – the same as a three by nine mountain bike derailleur system – making it versatile enough for the many different types of terrain encountered on a long tour. Dirt, water, mud, and road grit do not affect the shifting, and the hub only needs an annual oil change to keep it running smoothly. To top it off, the Gates Belt Drive belt lasts at least twice as long as a chain and does not stretch over time, again reducing the possibility of mechanical problems on a long trip.When our customer received this bike, he contacted us to say how pleased he was with the build and how excited he was to start riding and training for the Tour Divide. If you are considering a long ride of your own and need a durable and lightweight bike of your own to get your through the tour safely and comfortably, get in touch with us to see what we can put together for you!Build Details:• Frame: Ventana El Comandante• Fork: Niner RDO Carbon Fork• Headset: Chris King InSet• Stem: Thomson X4• Handlebar: Thompson Carbon• Shifter: Rohloff• Grips: Ergon GP3• Seat post: Thomson Elite X4• Saddle: WTB Valcon• Seat Clamp: Ventana• Front Hub: Chris King ISO Disc• Rear hub: Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14• Spokes: Sapim Race• Nipples: Sapim Brass• Rims: Stan’s NoTubes FlowEX• Tires: Maxxis Ikon 29x2.2”• Cranks: RaceFace Next SL• Pedals: Shimano SPD• Bottom Bracket: Chris King• Chain ring: Gates Carbon Drive• Rear Sprocket: Gates Carbon Drive• Chain: Gates Carbon Drive• Brakes & Levers: Avid BB7 brakes, TRP ML930 levers• Rotors: Magura Storm