On 27th February, Justin Morris is starting the Simpson Desert Bike Challenge – it’s an epic route across the Simpson Desert, where riders are sponsored to raise money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. This isn’t just an event you choose to do on a whim, it takes some calculated planning, fundraising, and getting the right bike.
Norco Bicycles Australia have assisted with the provision of their ‘Sasquatch’ fat bike. It has an alloy frame, and is built around a ‘full fat’ tyre porfile, and with a tyre profile of 26×4.8 there is very little this machine cannot get through. The stock Schwalbe Jumbo Jims have been swapped out for Vee Tires’ Mission Command, based on advice from previous participants at The Simpson Desert Bike Challenge.
“Training on the sands of Sydney’s beaches I have been dialling tyre pressures to try and find the ideal psi for my weight on the sand. I will be running approximately 5psi in the front tyre and 7 psi in the rear tyre for the sandy stages,” said Morris. “This is a very different set up to my regular Norco Revolver.”
“Converting the tyre’s to tubeless is essential due to the prevalence of sharp burrs in the outback, I have opted for a thick sidewall, low profile tyre to try and encourage smooth rolling and minimal chance of flats.”
Contact points are crucial for any endurance event – and while the saddle is a fairly standard f’zi:k Gobi Versus, Justin has gone a little old school with bar ends. “I have fitted the thickest grips possible to help ease the constant jarring of the corrugations of many outback roads, plus some bar ends. Once a must have in XC racing circles bar ends have all but disappeared recently in elite mountain biking. The pair I had collecting dust at the bottom of my parts box were fitted to a flat bar to allow my hands some variation of position over the long, dusty, corrugated stages of the Simpson Desert Bike Challenge.”
Gearing for sand, not snow, with the Norco Sasquatch
“With such a wide and high rolling resistance, gearing is crucial, I have opted for a tiny 28T front chainring, allowing me to spin a consistent high cadence over the dunes.”
The Norco Sasquatch comes specced with a SRAM GX 1×11 group set, so the 10-42 driver gives an excellent range from the single chain ring. Justin is lunlikely to be useing the rack mounts on the aluminium frame.
Apart from a longer stem, a flat bar, and the seat and post change, the rest of the Norco Sasquatch is pretty much stock, even down to the RockShox Bluto suspension fork.
Justin has packed the Ride Mechanic Bike Mix chain lube for use on his Norco Sasquatch, which has received praise from previous racers in the challenge.
Dressed for success
“Heat will be the biggest factor influencing my clothing choice” said Morris. “But my regular Seight team kit will be my choice for the 5 days of racing, a high quality chamois will be much appreciated coupled with the ‘Downunder’ chamois creme from Ride Mechanic.”
“I will also sport a legionnaires cap for the first time since primary school to protect the back of the neck from harsh sun burn. Of course sunscreen will also be utilised in copious amounts. Adidas eyewear Evil Eye EVO glasses have a HUGE lense which should help protect my eyes from the constant sunlight.”