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Bike Check: Comparing Matthew Fairbrother & Eric Olsen's 'Enduro-Packing' Setups

Apr 5, 2023
by Eric Olsen  

Last year I headed off to Scotland for my first EWS with a plan to bike tour between the EWS rounds with my friend Dan Perl. When we arrived in Tweed Valley we were told by Wyn Masters that there was a Kiwi kid planning on doing the same. Wyn was of course talking about the legendary Matt Fairbrother.

Photo taken by Jesse Melamed after winning the race. Taken on my disposable camera. Thanks Jesse!
Choccy milk break during the heat wave in Austria

Dan and I joined forces with Matt and Lucas Walsh for the transfer from Petzen-Jamnica to Val di Fassa last season. Matt, as you know, continued his tour in North America. I planned to join him but I was instead selected for the Pinkbike Academy while riding to the airport in Venice.

Now we're back for another season of "Enduro-Packing," starting things off in Tasmania with new and improved setups. Both of us were completely new to bikepacking last year. This year we have a bit more experience and have (theoretically) streamlined our setups to be more comfortable and useful.

Matt Fairbrother
Age 18
Hometown Christchurch, NZ
Instagram @matthewfmtb

Bike Details
Model Deviate Claymore
Frame Size Medium
Wheel Size 29"
Suspension Fox 38 and Fox DHX2
Drivetrain & Brakes Shimano XT
Cockpit TrailOne
Saddle Funn Adlib HD
Chamois No
Wheels & Rubber Raceface NextR & Maxxis

Eric Olsen (me)
Age 24
Hometown Bellingham WA, USA
Instagram: @jankyeric

Bike Details
Model Orbea Rallon
Frame Size Large
Wheel Size 29"
Suspension Fox 38 and Fox DHX2
Drivetrain & Brakes SRAM 11 speed & Hayes Dominion
Cockpit Raceface
Saddle Nukeproof Sam Hill Enduro Saddle
Chamois Yes, Aliexpress $30
Wheels & Rubber WeAreOne, Chris King & Schwalbe

3rd for me in the Open race in Derby.
The rules are unclear with the recent UCI merge but rumor has it this is enough to get back in the big show. Pinkbike Academy conflicted with the East Coast rounds so I lost out on points.

Matt is on the same high pivot Deviate Claymore as last year.
I've switched to an Orbea Rallon from a Forbidden Dreadnought

Rear Racks
Matt is running the Tailfin rack system
While I'm using the Aeroe Spider rack

The Tailfin uses a special axle and mounts
While the Aeroe straps to the seatstays

Both systems allow for more carrying capacity and less stress on the seatpost compared to a saddle bag. In my case I can still use the dropper post, which is handy for resting the hands on descents.

Matt is running the Tailfin fork bags
I've got custom frame bags from Loam Equipment

Slicks for Matt on the road this time. Maxxis Grifter 29" for road and the ubiquitous Assegai/DHR2 setup on track
I've chosen not to switch tires this trip. I'm running my all-time favorite Schwalbe Eddy Current / Big Betty combo. I chose 40psi F/R on the dirt roads here in Tassie and 23F 26R on track.

To swap or not to swap? That is the question. After carrying a full wheelset on my back last year and then experimenting with knobby tires on the road I've decided to not bother swapping tires this time around. I just pump them up to 40psi and call it good. Matt swears by slicks and expressed no regrets about the whole hand cutting incident last year when I brought it up.

EWS Petzen Jamnica 2022
Last year I carried a whole spare wheelset. Never again.
Matt loaded up with tires and inserts.

Matt carried his spare tires to Maydena but opted to send them with a friend on the way to Derby.

Matt stores his helmet on his bars and uses it to hold his snacks, GoPro, or drone as needed. He only lost a few gummys and one of his drone control sticks while I was with him.
I have Loam Equipment feed bags for my dad cam and water, and then my Loam x Jank "ultra light bike travel system" wraps around a drybag of clothes

Flight Logistics
Matt goes for the bike box method at his final destination
I've devised a system where the front roll is the travel bag. This is "V2" after testing a successful "V1" last season

Some assembly required
My clothes and sleeping bag act as padding via built-in pockets. It takes me about 1hr to pack or unpack.

Brakes and Gearing
Matt is on a full Shimano package this year. Full range 10-51 12-speed and XT Trail brakes. Raceface Next R wheels.
I have no drivetrain sponsor so I'm on the trusty SRAM GX 11-speed. Dominion brakes from Hayes, Chris King Hubs laced to WeAreOne Convergence rims, and Raceface Era cranks, all from Fanatik Bike Co.

Suspension Setup
We've both gone for a Fox 38 and DHX2 for enduro performance. We both tour with the climb switch on.
The only notable difference is I'm running a Sprindex cranked up to 500lbs for the road.

Matt riding into Maydena
Me riding into Derby

One thing we completely agree on is that the bike feels so light once you take the bags off
Trouty in Derby

Action shots by Piper Albrecht

I want to pay respects to the original owners of the land upon which this trip took place, the Muwinina and Mumirimina people, who did not survive British colonisation. I want to acknowledge the Tasmanian Aboriginal community as the continuing custodians of lutruwita (Tasmania) and honour Aboriginal Elders past and present.

Author Info:
ericolsen avatar

Member since Aug 10, 2014
14 articles

  • 206 1
 Following these two on Strava is also highly recommended - they're having some wild adventures. Matt recently broke a chain and decided to run the distance of a marathon wearing his bike shoes to get a replacement: www.strava.com/activities/8792223310.
  • 20 0
 That guy has quite the motor, damn.
  • 15 0
 That was insane. 40K's after midnight by foot/coasting!
  • 2 24
flag taskmgr (Apr 5, 2023 at 11:07) (Below Threshold)
 What is Stavros?
  • 18 0

I think he was a Bond villain.
  • 2 0
 That is a very respectable time for a 44km run.
  • 7 0
 I couldn’t quite tell if he ran with his bike? Originally I thought pushing it in front of him but maybe just top tube between his teeth.
  • 2 0
 www.youtube.com/@matthewfmtb is a must watch as well - absolute Legend
  • 12 0
 @taskmgr: that's a swinger club in Greece. Hightly recommanded BTW.
  • 2 0
 @danstonQ: 10-4, on my way!!
  • 6 0
 Love it, every time Matt comes up against adversity he doesn't take the easier option, he just levels up and goes even harder.
  • 2 0
 @johnny2shoes: The bike just got pushed along by his bow wave.
  • 3 0
 @salespunk: with a broken foot.
  • 54 0
 This is inspirational. Time to strap more things to my enduro bike.
  • 20 0
 Agree. My young dudes, you are doing it right. This will build character that will make most anything in life seem surmountable.
  • 3 1
 *Straps car and house to enduro bike and becomes a member of the big dumb bike club
  • 54 6
 As a Canadian, where acknowledgements of land are pretty common, it's interesting to see acknowledgements of past inhabitants who no longer exist. I had been wondering about Europe or Asia in this regard , as there must be countless layers of colonization, with layers increasing the further back you look.
  • 43 3
 In Europe you don't see this as the same original innhabitants just continued to live on their lands, with some... ehem... exchange of opinions (wars) with their neighbors and moving a bit some frontiers here and there. Europe got a good whipping from the huns first (Atila), then by the mongols (Genghis Khan) and also Spain by the arabs that lived in Iberian peninsula for 800 years. But at the end current inhabitants in Europe are just descendants of the original tribes that used to live here with a big mix between them. Sadly it was Europeans that at some point embarqued into colonization, or whatever you call it (sorry, english not my mother tongue) other regiones in the world, like the cases here, Canada, Tasmania, etc, and commited horrible crimes with the natives there.
  • 8 1
 I can only try to speak for Europe...: I guess colonization is the wrong Word for It, more like thousands of years of war, violence and rivalry between tribes, Kingdoms, emperors etc.

If you Go Back Long enough, the History of mankind begins somewhere in northern africa i think, so yeah, there was a time in which africans did colonize Europe. But i dont know If at that time there we're only Animals living in europe or probably some Neanderthaler or some Other Kind of in between homosapiens and apes... Wink

Anyway, i am an engineer and no paleontologist Wink
  • 7 9
 @Ar4S: OT: Just want to point out that there isn't, nor ever was, an in-between Humans and Apes (no, I'm not a Creationist!). Humans and Apes share a common ancestor, as in something that predates both but is neither Ape nor Human. But Humans did not 'come from' Apes. This simplified explanation is a common refrain that is used to explain away evolution. I.e., if we evolved from monkey's, why are there still monkeys? So says religious zealots.
This is also the reason that the Apes are called 'cousins on the evolutionary tree' and not 'parents/ ancestors on the evolutionary tree'.
Regarding the acknowledgement of the previous inhabitants of the land, I'm not glossing over the abuse suffered by those inhabitants. But now is a good time to point out that not one human on this planet doesn't have the blood of a rapist/ slave owner cursing through their bodies at this very moment and this absolutely includes European whites. It turns out that primates are savage creatures and always have been. The past is in fact the past that no one alive today has any responsibility for.
Lastly, there are more slaves this very day, on this planet than there has ever been in history. Most are underaged Asian girls forced into sex slavery, and no one seems to give a sh*t about them. So spare me the fake BS about people that have been dead, in some cases for centuries.
  • 24 1
 It has become pretty common to do acknowledgements here in Australia in the last 15years.
When australia was settled by Europeans they claimed the legal case that it was ‘terra nullius ’ meaning it was uninhabited or unoccupied, which was grossly incorrect.
To acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land is a way to start the process of rectifying this dispossession and the accompanying atrocities. As a former resident of Tasmania it is particularly important as there was a concerted effort to eradicate the aboriginal population 190 years ago, and many more less official efforts since that point.
Acknowledging the people group that were in those areas is fitting.
  • 9 1
 @elyari: This is just not true. Tribes the world over have expanded and encroached upon the territories of other tribes forever, some tribes being absorbed into the conquering tribe, and most certainly some being exterminated. This has happened nearly everywhere on the globe. The Bantu of western Africa expanded and displaced the Khoisan tribes that once lived on most of east Africa. The Romans nearly eliminated the Celts in France and Germany. The Etruscans of Italy vanished, much like the Anasazi of the southwest US. It's absurd to assume that no displacement has happened in Europe, or any place for that matter. Such a place may exist, but one can not simply assume this is the case.
  • 12 1
 In Tasmania, the indigenous people were all but eradicated by white settlers. It's a terrible mark on Australias history that gets swept under the rug. Literally a genocide of people.
  • 4 2
 @neongreen: you right, but look at what your examples, european tribes or native innhabitants almost "neighbors" from one each other, romans, celts, normads, picts, etc, etc, they all killed each other, their stories overlapped, shared lots of common historic events and more. But not the case in Australia, Africa, or USA or Canada or Latin America, where several different european nationalities established their rule or laws or whatever you call it and by doing so they nearly exterminated the original innhabitants of those regions or displaced them from their regions, claiming technical, cultural or even race superiority.
  • 2 1
 @Mcphisto1978: can we please pay homeage to the traditional custodians of britain ,bloody romans what have they done for us?
  • 45 1
 It's so refreshing to see people taking different approaches to the race scene and riding in general... The cast of various characters in this sport is what makes it so interesting
  • 1 58
flag owl-X FL (Apr 5, 2023 at 11:27) (Below Threshold)
 you're serious with this?
  • 28 0
 Trusty ol' GX 11-speed. Somehow the most bombproof derailleur SRAM has ever put together until maybe XX. Pretty tall gear to be... IS THAT A 34t CHAINRING?!

You guys are both monsters but Eric how the f*ck are you managing this running 34-42? Nevermind how that'll be getting round to round in the Alps, the liaisons would melt me in that gear! Props dude!
  • 1 6
flag lehott (Apr 5, 2023 at 10:43) (Below Threshold)
 Cadence? And Breathing? I run a 34t on my Honzo, sure apples to oranges here (there on full sus I'm on HT)....dudes got it right by switching to faster rolling tires. Mega kudos to these gents. Inspires me to strap a bunch of things to my bike and go somewhere far
  • 46 0
 32tooth on the front. And I actually was running Zee 10spd before so going this way felt like a ton of range haha. I guess it’s all what you’re used to. It’s funny when people at the races look at it and say “that’s a tiny cassette!” and a few years ago I feel like 11speed cassettes were huge. Pretty impressive how SRAM normalized a huge cassette and derailleur.
  • 5 1
 You guys are some serious kind of tough. Tip o' the hat. What a great adventure!

Had to weigh in on the GX11 kit. Still running the OEM GX11 shifting on my ratty-old breathed-on beat-to-ratsh__ '17 Timberjack. Still works like new. Have replaced jockey wheels & cables. 11-46 cassette (thank you Mr. Hanger Gauge). Almost 6.5 years of hard use, wet & dry, mud & dust, rocks & roots, bad lines & bashing. And that old GX stuff continues to amaze. Clickety click click de click!
  • 1 0
 @jimicarl: what brand of 11-46 cassette are you using with gx11 pls?
  • 3 0
 @ericolsen: you’re a beast, I cannot go harder than a 30t with 51t lighter gear for the steep stuff or when I’m tired! I cannot immagine backpacking through mountain passes with all the stuff you carry with a 32/42 that’s nuts
  • 2 0
 I have GX-11 with 11--46 Garbaruk on one bike and GX Eagle on another. Can't tell much of a difference and actually prefer the feel of GX-11 shifter. I haven't found a reason to upgrade yet.
  • 42 17
 Cheers on the land acknowledgements. Good luck this year!!
  • 22 0
 At the end of the year.. For sale: One Deviate Claymore and Orbea Rallon. Mostly just used for commuting. Comes with extra set of tires. Has attachments. Call for price.
  • 12 0
 Hahahaha the scuffs and scratches just add character I swear!
  • 17 0
 Really awesome and quite inspirational. My first reaction sadly is to say if I were 20 years younger I'd totally do this but maybe it should be, I need to start planning to do this! 47 isn't too old.
  • 24 0
 Never too old! Matt’s dad Mike joined in on the adventure this trip. (if you’re reading this I’m not saying you’re old Mike)
  • 12 0
 heatproofgenie - get out there man, you don't have to ride a million miles a day. And there are ways of doing it lighter if that's your thing.

I recently did 1200km over a week with a couple of mates on gravel bikes. We go super light and rely on a credit card in order to do that. Accom is booked ahead so we have to make our end points (but you pick a distance you know you can make), eat out breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's actually not that expensive. There are downsides, ie - we can't stop and camp somewhere cool but the otherside is covering lots of ground each day.

Could be a week, could be an overnighter, point is just make it happen, such good fun and great for the soul!
  • 3 0
 ps heatproofgenie - forgot to mention I'm 6 years older than you. While we were on our ride we came across a guy riding the length of NZ who had to have been very close to 80. That's who I want to be like when I grow up.
  • 2 0
 @Muzled: Thanks for the input guys! My big challenge is time more than anything. Married and two young kids, yada, yada. I'm actually heading out for 4 days in the desert of riding with friends so I do get out there. I wrote that as a reminder and for myself to not put limits on myself and that I should still dream big. Keep it up!
  • 12 0
 We need a calories/day update on this! Can't imagine the waiter's face when they pull up to a local diner with that setup and pound 4k calories haha
  • 22 0
 The “perma-hunger” is real. I think its the hardest part for me. Which is why it looks like we eat so much candy. It’s the only way to efficiently eat enough calories and stay feeling somewhat normal during the day.
  • 4 2
 @ericolsen: Watch out for cavities on your teeth
  • 16 0
 @wburnes: I brush my teeth most days on tour
  • 2 4
 @ericolsen: you might get better aerodynamics and ease of use by using a bike trailer and some aero bars. My brother uses a little trailer to pick up his groceries
  • 13 0
 @wburnes: my original idea for the bike travel system was an EVOC style case that converted into a trailer and used a full size spare 29er wheel set. The problem becomes that you are adding weight not only that you have to drive, but you start butting up against the limits of what you are allowed to take on a plane.
  • 4 1
 That's the most unbelievable part of this adventure,how can they stay ride day after day only on junk food and candy,I was hoping some brand of healthier food would come up as a sponsor this year just for their health sake. Stay safe,guys!
  • 6 0
 @ericolsen: Permahunger is one of the highlights of riding lots imo.

Stuffing 3 donuts in after a big meal at lunch, mmmmm, nom nom...

Although for you guys travelling it probably gets expensive.
  • 2 1
 @nozes: Calories in calories out! When you're riding all day, it really doesn't matter what you're putting into your body since you're burning through the fuel so quickly. Day-to-day I almost never eat candy, but whenever I bike pack I stick to those Twix and those sickly sweet strawberry and banana fruit smoothies you can get in the gas station.
  • 9 0
 Next up, can we see what items made it into those bags?

Kind of like this Ryan Wilson post:

  • 27 0
 Stay tuned for a video by @fanatikbikeco on my full packing list
  • 10 0
 You guys are awesome! Huge respect to you both
  • 8 0
 Go Eric Go! This is the most entertaining part about the EDR/EWS this year....
  • 4 0
 @ericolsen @matthewfmtb good mahi fullas, go hard.

What's on your current packing list? e.g. tent, sleeping bag etc. Also, is there anything you packed (or previously packed) but then realized it wasn't worth carting around?
  • 8 0
 Gives "long travel" bike a whole new meaning
  • 6 0
 Still can't believe Matt doesn't use a chamois....dude's gotta have some crazy taint calluses
  • 7 0
 This is the content we want.
  • 6 0
 Anyone know the weight of the bikes with all the bags?
  • 46 0
 No joke mine is 69lbs on the airport scale.
  • 3 0
 @ericolsen: Dam! Can't imagine how good it feels to ride when that is off the bike.
  • 7 0
 @ericolsen: Wondering this too! I'd be interested to know weights of both bikes fully kitted (water, snacks, ready to rip the open road) and both riders If you find time in the next block to document that!!
  • 5 0
 That travel bag/bar harness is slick!
  • 4 0
 Incredible, you guys are legends! I really want to go on an adventure on my long travel rig like this. Also 11 speed sram!
  • 6 0
 These dudes are so cool
  • 1 0
 I was hoping Matt would improve his energy intake this season. Dude I know it works for you now when you´re young, but I believe you could do a bit smarter.
Huge respect to both of you. I hate peddaling my EN bike on asphalt even the 2kms to my trails
  • 3 0
 Following your and Matt's adventures last season was awesome and inspiring! Thanks for continuing the adventure
  • 3 0
 These two doing something different, going against the status quo and getting the exposure they deserve. Cool to see!
  • 3 0
 This is the content I wanna see. Racing is fun, but the adventures along the way are the best part
  • 4 0
 So rad. Well done boys
  • 8 5
 Kudos to Eric Olsen for the last paragraph!
  • 3 0
 Nice work, fellas! What a way to see the country while you're at it!
  • 1 0
 Matt needs a helmet bag (just a soft bag) with a hole cut out to mount on the bars. You don't want to lose too many gummies, son.
  • 1 0
 "Choccy milk break during the heat wave in Austria" ...just for the picture i guess, i can see some Gösser beer cans nearby Big Grin
  • 3 0
 Matt does all that mileage with no chamois? The boy loves pain!
  • 2 0
 I toured Europe last year on my enduro bike, and I can say those ski straps are the best invention ever
  • 5 3
 Awesome.id like to see ebikers try this and see how far they get..
  • 1 0
 I'm the guy who gave you a ride out of Derby onto your way to Launceston. hope you are well.
  • 1 0
 Yooo!! you caught me in a moment of weakness for sure. Cheers bro it was nice to not have to ride in the dark. My flight out of Launceston ended up canceled but I made it to Christchurch a day later on the next flight. Great to meet you!
  • 1 1
 lots more of this sort of thing please, pinkbike. i’m going to mention ebikes and bike packing, too.
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