Ultra-endurance rider & Hunt wheels Beyond adventure product manager Josh Ibbett spent two & half weeks this summer, taking on the challenge of The Tour Divide race. We got a close look at his green Mason InSearchOf (ISO), the steel 29er bikepacking bike & its off-road racing setup. Now you can check out the bike, AND watch the ups & downs of such an effort in The Length Of Time, the just released film by Ryan Le Garrec & supported by Hunt for a look inside the Divide.

Start with the Mason ISO steel 29er bikepacking bike

Mason InSearchOf bikepacking bike, steel Mason Cycles ISO 29er off-road adventure bikepacking bike Josh Ibbett at The Tour Divide

screengrab c. Hunt from The Length of Time

It was a pretty brutal Tour Divide this year with weather & trail conditions testing the best long-distance racers in the world, with everyone resorting to pushing up steep mountain tracks and through mud & snow somewhere along the way.

Mason InSearchOf bikepacking bike, steel Mason Cycles ISO 29er off-road adventure bikepacking bike Josh Ibbett at The Tour Divide

Josh rode this Italian-made steel Mason InSearchOf bike, starting with something close to Mason’s own factory Force 1x build that sells for £3500 before you start adding those Miss Grape bags. Or get a frameset for £1595. Mason has the frames welded in Italy from a custom mix of multi-butted Dedacciai Zero & Reynolds 853 steel tubes, that are shaped just for them.

Mason InSearchOf bikepacking bike, steel Mason Cycles ISO 29er off-road adventure bikepacking bike Josh Ibbett at The Tour Divide

The ISO gets a SRAM Force 1x HRD groupset with affordable spec mechanical drivetrain & hydraulic disc brakes. Josh puts on a two tooth larger 36T Eagle direct mount chainring to the stock Truvativ Descendant DUB carbon cranks.

Working & developing adventure wheels for Hunt, Josh was riding his own version of prototype wheels (vs. the stock Search 29 Dynamo wheels), lacing a set of Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel X-Wide rims to a SON dynamo hub up front for continuous power. Those are also spinning on C-Bear Ceramic bearings to help offset the dynamo drag.

Spearheaded by Josh for this type of riding, Hunt has gone on to extend a partnership with CeramicSpeed to develop a viable ceramic bearing option for their premium Beyond adventure wheels.

Mason InSearchOf bikepacking bike, steel Mason Cycles ISO 29er off-road adventure bikepacking bike Josh Ibbett at The Tour Divide

Tires are a tough choice for an off-road race that starts in Canada, crosses the entirety of the USA, before ending in Mexico. Josh opted for the 29 x 2.1″ WTB Nano as a balance, working in a wide range of conditions without too much drag.

Mason InSearchOf bikepacking bike, steel Mason Cycles ISO 29er off-road adventure bikepacking bike Josh Ibbett at The Tour Divide

The Mason ISO has tons of mud clearance around the fork & Shutter fender up front and the seat & chainstays in the back. One of the hallmarks of Mason’s frames, the InSearchOf gets tubing sized & shaped specifically for each frame size. So Josh’s 58cm XL ISO gets tons of room, plus rack & fender mounts for max versatility.

Mason InSearchOf bikepacking bike, steel Mason Cycles ISO 29er off-road adventure bikepacking bike Josh Ibbett at The Tour DivideNo racks needed for Josh’s lightweight setup, though (total of 18kg with everything except water as far as we know). A full suite of Miss Grape Italian-made bikepacking bags haul all the gear. A Cluster saddle bag, a Node toptube bag, a Bud bar bottle bag, and a custom full frame bag. Josh has a couple of fancy ti bottle cages on his fork when we saw this setup, but raced with more proven Elite tubular stainless steel cages, plus an extra spare inner tube electrical taped in the small gap under his frame bag.

Mason InSearchOf bikepacking bike, steel Mason Cycles ISO 29er off-road adventure bikepacking bike Josh Ibbett at The Tour Divide

Josh wasn’t entirely sure about the Shutter fender that Mason developed for the bike, unsure what he would mount to it. He tried the idea of strapping on a Miss Grape Trunk drybag. But the fender has just a 2kg load weight limit, so ultimately the bag stayed at home.

Mason InSearchOf bikepacking bike, steel Mason Cycles ISO 29er off-road adventure bikepacking bike Josh Ibbett at The Tour Divide

Instead, Josh used the small rack area of the fender & a couple of those orange Mason x Voile straps to secure extra water he would buy in gas stations along the way.

Cockpit is super important for rides that are measured in weeks. Josh rode the stock alloy Ritchey VentureMax WCS bar with its big flare, wavy bend, and a thick double wrapping of bar tape.

For more positions on the go – or maybe a place to almost take a nap while riding – Josh rides a pair of Deda Elementi Metal Blast TT mini clip-on aero bars.

Besides all the positions & easily-accessible Miss Grape storage, Josh’s cockpit is rounded out with a Wahoo Element mounted to the stem for low power consumption ride tracking & navigation.

Mason InSearchOf bikepacking bike, steel Mason Cycles ISO 29er off-road adventure bikepacking bike Josh Ibbett at The Tour Divide

Lots of riding in the dark, so an Exposure Revo Dynamo headlight is powered by the SON dynamo in the Hunt Beyond wheels. A separate Exposure Redeye taillight was strapped on for night time riding. Not visible from the outside, Josh runs two wires from the front dynamo hub – one goes directly to the Exposure light, the other goes into the frame bag where a Sinewave Revolution converts dynamo power to a USB output to charge his phone, GPS & other small electronic devices.

Josh’s shortest riding day was 12 hours on the bike, longest was 24 hours.

Mason InSearchOf bikepacking bike, steel Mason Cycles ISO 29er off-road adventure bikepacking bike Josh Ibbett at The Tour Divide

You can’t go wrong with some make-your-own Safety Pizza for maximum visibility balanced with some fun. Inside that Miss Grape saddle pack was his minimal sleeping gear: a pair of down trousers & a down jacket that Josh would put on before climbing into a Rab bivi bag.

Oh, and Josh only slept a total of 76 hours over the course of the 17 days out on the Divide, for an average of <4.5 hours a night.

The Length Of Time Tour Divide video recap

Wonder what it’s like to ride the Tour Divide? Being out on a bike, sleep deprived, on your own, for more than two weeks? Settle in for The Length of Time, a deep look into the scenery & psyche of Thriving in the Divide. It conveniently sums up 258 hours of riding over 17-1/2 days into a little over an hour…just enough time for a good trainer ride, no?

This isn’t our first look at the racing of this past Tour Divide. We watched Lael Wilcox as she just wanted to crush it in I Just Want To Ride back in November. In fact, Lael pops up in the middle of the film following Josh as they contemplate whether to abandon the unrideable mud for a more reasonable route. Josh teased us with just a couple of minutes of bikepacking ride footage back in June.

Seriously worth the watch. Save it for when you have time to let it play out, even if just in the background while you finish some other task…

Mason InSearchOf bikepacking bike, steel Mason Cycles ISO 29er off-road adventure bikepacking bike Josh Ibbett at The Tour Divide

screengrab c. Hunt from The Length of Time

Want to ride the 2020 Divide? It’s free, just 2745 miles long, and starts in Banff next June 12th. Bikepacking.com/event/Tour-Divide-2020

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