I send you this article from Punta Arenas, South of Chile, only a few hundred kilometres to go to our final destination: Ushuaia. The race, it indeed was a time race along Andes, started 4 months and 11000 km ago in Quito, Equador, and led us mainley over non-paved trails. Up to now, my bike and I accumulated each well over 140.000 meters of positive climbing.
It is clear that for such a race, one selects his material with painstaking care. First objective: reliability! Second objective: ease of maintenance! Tired of derailleurs, grease, adjustments and tracing spare parts - as I had to do on a daily basis during my last biking trip beween Paris et Beijing - I had contacted SIMPEL.CH: only they seemed to have the correct aproach to a bike without built-in worries, So, I had chosen their model "Frischluft Tour" with Rohloff gearing an Gates Carbon Belt transmission.
I had tested the bike over 7000 km before starting my adventure in South-America, with, among others, a participation at the " Store Styrkeproven" between Trondheim and Oslo, Norway - a non-stop race over 550 km and in one single go, partially in rainy and freezing cold weather. Indeed, no mechanical problem appeared.
I will not hide that I owned many critical regards from other long-distance riders at our start in Quito: most of them shook their head and did not believe that the Gates Carbon Belt transmission could go far, not to mention to the end of one of the longest and certainly the toughest race in the world. How wrong they were!
Not only did the bike work (apart from a rare failure of its crank-axle, an item identical to these on other bikes - a great "thanks" to the quick SIMPEL.CH customer service), but it also proved that absolutely no maintenance was needed on this bicycle during the complete race. And our bikes were certainly thoroughly shaken: we never did, looking for maximum speed, try to avoid stones, potholes or other washboards..
I changed myself the oil in the Rohloff rear hub after 6000km an that was about all. When the other participants cleaned, tuned or changed parts on thier bike, I could plainly profit from my rest-day to visit interesting places, talk to local people, take pictures, reply to emails, rest and take care of myself.
Under these circumstances, the Rohloff proved to be well superior to th most sophisticated derailleurs, especially during technical passages through deep sand or gravel, or under heavy wind blasts, when many gears had to be changed qickly. Never the Rohloff failed. The Gates Belt still looks like new - and it has certainly seen lots of snow, mud, rain, salt, sharp gravel...When nearing the end, zhe bikes of the other participants became very noise and showed to be very tired (many are those that had more spare parts flown in by airplane), the "Frischluft Tour" with his Gates Belt had itself admired by operational noise close to zero: as if its cyclist was perpetually riding on a cloud...
The breaking pads of the AVID mechanical dics, very stressed under the extreme race conditions, are still original, this well in contrast to the hydraulic mountings on other bikes, which nearly all knew serious mechanical and maintenance problems to make the distance.
But it is the total of all components. the "Frischluft Tour", which gave me the immense pleasure to discover, worry-free, the trails and the superb scenery of the Andes. Ultra-stable, quick in difficult technical portions, my bike suprised, and left behind, even the most powerful racers.
I envisage using the same belt, accumulating 18000 km today, on my next transcontinental trip - I am absolutely confident that it will make the supplementary disatnce.