bikepacking dirt brevet gevenalle Jeff's Bike Revolution Cycles TA tour aotearoa touraotearoa Yeti

Jeff’s Bike – Jeff’s Bike Blog: Nil’s bike

 Like me, Nils van der Heide lives in Wellington, and yet I only met him once before the 2016 Tour Aotearoa. His bike was a bit different to most, and he had obviously spent a lot of time getting Jonty at Revolution Bicycles to build it up. It was a very sound machine. Nils shares some pix and a bit of background to it.



The day I heard about the Tour Aotearoa over a year ago I thought:
“this is me”. An amazing opportunity to explore New Zealand, and what a
great way to do it by bike. I had been looking at the Kiwi Brevet for a
couple of years now but time wise could never commit to any of them.
This would be my first adventure of this kind.

soon worked out that cycling 3000km on my full suspension Yeti would be
a long way. A bit silly really as 3000km is a long way regardless.
However this is where the idea started to build my own bike from
scratch. A unique chance to build a “go anywhere, do almost anything”
kind of bike that would not be fast and work well. Furthermore I wanted
it to be  aesthetically pleasing as I work as a designer.

doing some research online I soon worked out that a bike suitable for
the Great Divide Ride would most likely be suitable for the Tour
Aotearoa (TA). This is where inspiration for certain ideas started.
Since I am extremely pleased with the geometry of my full-suspension
Yeti SB95 I decided to turn Yeti’s rigid carbon ARC frame into my
starting point. The next question was front suspension or not. I decided
to go rigid as it is lighter, there are fewer parts that can break (=
less maintenance), and would cater well for 80% of the terrain.

next thing to decide on was the cockpit. I had been intrigued by the
Salsa Woodchipper bars for some time now and thought they would be the
way to go for my bike. I liked the idea of dirt drops but it turned into
a big time consuming effort to find brake levers and shifters that
would work with the Shimano XT Dyna-sys derailleurs for my 2×10 setup. I
ended up with a set of Gevenalle GX shifters. They are probably one of
the most notable parts on my bike. They’re like a funky old set of thumb
shifters mounted onto Tektro brake levers. The shifters take a bit to
get used to but they work flawless. Another advantage is that you can
run them indexed as well as friction. Furthermore I used a Fred Bar to
mount my aero bars onto. I read good things about them as they put you a
bit more upright while riding in the aero bars. This proved very useful
on 10+ hour days in the saddle.

It was
amazing to see the bike come together and it’s even more fun to ride. A
big shout out goes to Jonty from Revolution Cycles, Oli at Roadworks,
Zeph at Cognitive Cycle Works and Kashi at Yeti NZ for all their help.
The bike really inspires me to ride just about anywhere. Drop bars and
fat tyres go a long way, they are an awesome combo. I did end up
swapping the Woodchipper bars for the Cowchipper. The biggest difference
is that the Cowchipper allows me to ride off road tracks in my drops.
My hands are too small for the Woodchipper and were sliding down going
over rough terrain.

To date I have done about
5000km’s on my “one of a kind” Yeti, including the Tour Aotearoa. It has
proven to be a great brevet bike for this type of terrain. I would love
to take it over to the States one day and ride the Great Divide Ride on
it too. Here’s to adventure…!

FRAME: 2015 Yeti ARC Carbon – size medium

FORK: Enve Mountain Fork 29″ – tapered steerer, 15 mm through

• PAINTWORK: Custom painted in Yeti turquoise by Guy 

HEADSET: Chris King

HANDLEBAR: Salsa Cowchipper – 44cm wide model

BAR TAPE: Specialized Roubaix Tape plus Bar Phat gel pads

STEM: Thomson Elite x4 stem – 0 degree rise, 70mm extension

BRAKE LEVERS plus SHIFT LEVERS: Gevenalle GX – Compatible with Shimano Dyna-Sys Deraileurs

BRAKES: Avid BB-7 front and rear with sintered pads

BRAKE ROTORS: Shimano XT 160mm front and rear

AERO BARS: Profile Design T3+ Carbon

AERO BAR ACCESSORY: Fred Bar by Siren Bicycles and homemade gps and bike light mount

CABLE ACCESSORY: Jagwire compact adjusters

FRONT DERAILLEUR: Shimano XT direct mount 2×10

REAR DERAILLEUR: Shimano XT – medium cage

CRANKSET: Shimano XT 2×10

BOTTOM BRACKET: Enduro XD15 threaded

CHAINRINGS: Shimano XT 28t – 38t

CASSETTE: Shimano XT – 11- 36

CHAIN: Shimano XT SilTech 10 spd 

PEDALS: Shimano XTR Trail


SADDLE: Specialized Phenom Expert

HUBS: DT Swiss 240’s – front 15×100 & rear 12×142 6 bolt 

RIMS: Light bicycle 29” carbon rims – 30 mm wide and tubeless ready

SPOKES: DT competition


SEALANT: Stans- about 100ml per tire

TIRES:  Schwalbe Thunder Burt SnakeSkin 29×2.1 

WATER BOTTLE MOUNTTrevor’s unique double cage mount

WATER CAGES: Specialized side mount

Tour Aotearoa, a 3000km dirt brevet from Cape Reinga to Bluff

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Alex Revell Cyclocross Cyclocross national series De Snor Geoffrey Notman Jeff's Bike Mondo Kopua Singular Kite Yeti

Jeff’s Bike – Jeff’s Bike Blog: Mainland weekender

De Snor, Alex Revell
was keen to head down and asked if he could stay in the Voodoo Lounge.
His fellow Revolution Cycles rider Geoffrey Notman had to head down
south anyway to take photos for some painting he was doing, so it
would have been rude not to fit in the race while he was there as well.
For me it was a good chance to catch up with my family and bring back a
motor scooter my brother had offered me, and obviously I would take part
in the race too.

There was a taste of things to come when on the Friday morning
as I was getting ready a particularly nasty quake rocked our house. It
was a lot worse at my work where people were getting a bit more
excitable, as is there job to. While I was sailing over the Cook Strait
on the Bluebridge Ferry later on I got a text from my daughter saying
another one had struck.

Alex roosts it up. Image from Sarnim Dean.

Things seemed to cool down for a bit that night while my
brother shouted us out to tea at the Redwood Tavern. The next day,
Saturday, like a couple of gun-fighters, Alex and Geoff rode into town
rather than accept the complimentary Voodoo Lounge flat-deck-truck

They checked out dads latest “eagle” and made themselves comfy
in the Voodoo Lounge. It was the first time for Geoff but Alex had
stayed before and after the 2012 Kiwi Brevet..

We tweaked
the bikes for the next day’s event and after a wholesome meal topped off
with a complimentary bottle of wine left over from the Grape Ride three
years previous, we hit the sack.

Around 7am on Sunday we were awoken by a sharp quake that knocked a
picture frame off the shelf. Hmmm. A bit of a swarm thing going on

I had first heard of Mondo Kopua at the inaugural Kiwi Brevet in 2010 and he seems to have taken up the role of
introducing CX to the locals in Blenheim. They were very organized and I
think they also had a points system for the non-CX class where they got
credits for things such as skin-suits, costumes and leg-shavings.

Image from

The course had some good technical bits and was quite a bit rougher
than the manicured stop-banks and parks we are spoilt with in Upper
Hutt, or “Upper Belgium” as its known. I was happy to be on my steel Singular Kite and wondered how much battering Alex and Geoff would have
been getting on  their alloy Yeti’s as they bounced over the
myriad of cow-pocks that were in parts of the course. I don’t usually
race CX with gloves on, and this day was no exception but by the end of
the event I had a very nasty blister from my cow-pock induced

My speedy starts seem to be a thing of the past so
these days I seem to be relying on a consistency that manifests itself
in a 14 second spread on a long 7-8 minute course like this. Geoff
and I were both racing vets men 45+ and I watched as he started putting
putting a good 10 seconds a lap on me as he rode off leaving me to battle
with the fastest ladies. Anja McDonald and Jenna Makgill were both riders I had heard about through mountainbiking and I knew technically
speaking both of them would ride rings around me. Downhill, Cross
country, fixed gear and Singlespeeding, these ladies have big reps, World champ and National Champs status across all codes, but I had no idea any of them were CXers. 
Me flying my Kite.
Check out the levers.

I busied myself at trying not to fall off on the
slimy off-camber and after a few laps I managed to haul Jenna back
probably courtesy of my running fitness, up one of the grunty walking
climbs. It was common for me to come a cropper at least once a lap, and
to fail at reclipping into my pedals as my crash point was usually
followed by a pocky descent that was bumping my feet off the pedals.
Sucks to be a nana!

The race was to be a bit longer than normal at 60
minutes plus 1 lap and eventually I pulled back Geoffrey and started
catching a few more riders and lapping a few more. The “other” Mike Anderson from
Stoke Cycles was just around the corner and for two laps I tailed him
and Anja as Anja’s lap times started to blow out. On the last lap I made
a move and somehow cleaned the technical bit that was stymieing me,
dropped Mike and ran past Anja on the next climb. Great I had it nailed.
Unfortunately the last zig-zag proved too much for my nana-skills and I
lost the front-end yet again and with my levers getting progressively
lower with each get-off there was no way I was going to make the time
back with less than a couple of minutes to go!

Somewhere along the way we caught Jut Bishop who I
remember from back in the 90’s as being the area’s top MTBer. Its cool
to see him still out there giving it a crack. 

Geoffrey Notman with his racing head on.

Alex was having it mostly his own way after his main competition,
Logan Horn from Christchurch burped his tubeless tires twice on a firm
part of the course, not that it meant that Alex slowed down at all, indeed
he came a good cropper on the triple-set of stiles at the start-finish
and scored a good haematoma for his efforts. It was great to hear some
of Alex’s tales from his CX racing in Europe last year.

We were late in starting the race so Geoff and I split ASAP
when it finished to get out to his next appointment at Renwick where he
was taking some shots for inspiration for his next series of paintings.
Alex also took off so sadly missed the prize giving which looked
particularly salubrious with some very nice bottles of wine and other
goodies up for grabs.

After attending the Renwick Boar Slaying comp we realised what a
completely fringe activity Cyclocross is by comparison. Thanks Mondo for
lifting the profile!

After another
wholesome meal from my mum I was contemplating jumping on my new scooter
for its last ride on the mainland, to the ferry, when the next quake
hit at 5.09. A 6.5 ! What a monster. I cant say I’ve ever been scared of an earthquake
to that extent in NZ before. Suffice to say it was a busy week at work
the next week.
We really enjoyed our brief shaky interlude down
south and would recommend anyone to check out the CX events Mondo, Brent and
his crew are putting on down there. We travelled via the Bluebridge Ferry which has free wifi and movies. Compare this to the
Interislander Ferry where you have to pay for both of these, on top of a
more expensive passage fee, plus The Bluebridge people had a half price
deal on : )

Thanks to Sarnim Dean for the use of his awesome images on these pages. Check out the classic one below. This is Kim Swan (the one on the left ; ). She is a good friend of my fathers and has written many books on Pig-Hunting and horse riding.  For more on this theme check out Sarnim’s pix in his Flickr feed.

Kim Swan, look harder, no, on the left !

Results here.

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