Further is an intriguing event in terms of equipment. The race route around the Pyrenees is based around a series of 'sectors' which must be completed in chronological order; however, the riders must plan the best route in between each sector. The Sectors are primarily either gravel roads or off-road mountain tracks, but the fastest way between each sector is undoubtedly on the road. So, what is the fastest bike for this kind of event. Are we talking a road bike with the widest tyres possible, or a mountain bike with fast tyres, or was the event that the Gravel bike was designed for? We took a look at some of the bikes of Further to see what riders’ thought was the fastest option...

(photo: Callum Nicklin)

Phillippa Battye selected the aluminium framed Mason Bokeh with a fairly stock SRAM Rival finishing kit. The small Apidura race frame pack gave her enough room when the bike needed shouldering. Phillipa opted to go for 650b Adventure Sport wheels fitted with WTB Senduro tyres. 

Hamish Paine's Charge Plug was one of the more beautiful machines on display at Further. This skinny steel tubed Reynolds frame is actually a one off prototype version of Charge's most popular model. Hamish used Restrap bags and a Force 1x groupset, although he did comment post race that he'd prefer a smaller chainring than the 42t fitted! A Hunt Gravel X Wide wheelset finishes the build with a Wtb Venture 50mm front tyre and  Wtb Venture 45mm rear.
This Mason InSearchOf was ridden by Josh Ibbett. The bike was set up as in the Tour Divide a few month prior with the exception of the Venture 50c tyres fitted to a custom 30 Carbon X Wide dynamo wheelset. A custom MissGrape frame bag carried luggage, however did make it tricky to shoulder the bike in the many hike-a-bike sections tricky. A bike check video from Tour Divide can be found HERE.
One of the more visible bikes on the race was Jo Burts Kinesis Tripster AT. He ran Super Dura Dynamo Disc wheels and a SRAM Rival groupset. A full set of Apidura bags ensured all the essentials could be fitted in and a third water bottle on the downtime mounts came in particularly useful in the intense heat of the day.
Hunt wheels with Wtb tyres proved to be a popular combination. Claire Frecknal's Titanium Reiley Gradient was one of the few bikes to use a 2x groupset which she would no doubt have been a huge benefit on the long Pyrenean Climbs. A  Carbon Dynamo disc wheelset kept Claire's gadgets charged and the road lit at night while Wtb Venture tyres proved to be a good combination of rolling speed on the road, grip and comfort off road.
Second place finisher Angus Young is relatively new to the world of Ultra Racing but is already making waves. He chose the Mason Bokeh fitted with Shimano Ultrgra Di2. A Di2 Xt rear mech allowed Angus to run a rear mtb cassette for a wider gear range. 4 Season Gravel Disc wheels fitted with a Wtb Riddler front and Venture Rear tyre was Agus's compromise between speed, grip and comfort.
Lastly, and by no means least is the fastest bike bike of the race. Former Olympic medalist and World Time Trial Champion Emma Pooley dipped her toe into the world of Ultra racing in style by winning her first ever event. Her custom Titaium Sonder was built to try and mimic the road position that she has perfected over years in the professional peloton. Emma used an Ultegra Di2 and XT Di2 combination for smooth shifting and a wide gear ranger. Emma took risks with very little luggage and fitted a piece of foam pipe lagging to the top tube to give a small amount of comfort on the long Hike-a-Bike sections of the race. Her bike was fitted with Hunt x Mason 650b Adventure Sport wheels with Wtb Resolution tyres mounted.
August 28, 2019 — Josh Ibbett
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