Bikes & Trailers
With endless choices available there will always be debates and varied opinions on what kind of bike is best; Hardtail v Dually, 26er v 29er (not to mention 69er’s) 9mm v 12mm v 15mm v 20mm axels, carbon v steel v titanium, tube v tubeless, single speed v geared, and many more decisions. At the end of the day it will come down to a personal choice, your existing bike/s and available budget.
A dually will definitely be more comfortable, and on rough surfaces they assist in maintaining momentum when hard tails start bouncing around. Many people say duallys reduce fatigue, which after a couple of days and a few hundred kilometres, might just help you to get back in the saddle and do it all again.
I have done similar rides/trails to the Pipeline Challenge on bikes ranging from a $500 7 year old 26” Giant Boulder to a sub 8kg $8,000 29” carbon hard tail. While speed and comfort varied a great deal they both did the job and I still love a good hardtail. Most well maintained and in good condition mountain bikes will do the job if ridden appropriately. If you think you can buy a $99 (on special) mountain bike from K-Mart / Big W / Red Dot and do the ride you better have lots of spares and lots of life insurance! Nothing will spoil your ride more than having to walk or sit in your support car due to a crappy bike choice. Just make sure you have your bike serviced and tell your local bike mechanic what you are doing so he knows what you are going to be putting your bike through.
Tyre choice is often considered to be more important than bike choice, after all they are the only contact you want to have with the trail. Good quality tyres can make the difference between riding carefree for the day or stopping to repair or replace cheap tires. On trails like the Pipeline Challenge I would use the Continental Travel Contact, they have great sidewall protection and excellent rolling resistance and are designed for trails like this one. However any decent tyre will do the job and I would happily use any of the ones sitting in the shed at home.
The trail is not considered a technical ride. There are sections that are rutted and rocky that you will have to take carefully. Other sections are sandy and will really test your legs, while some sections will be long and fast and test your physical and mental endurance, especially if there’s a head wind. The most important thing when mountain biking is to look where you are going so you have time to see obstacles and ride appropriately according to the terrain.
Trailers & Bike Racks
Depending on the size of your team and the type of vehicle you have most people will need a trailer to carry their bikes and equipment. On these sorts of trails I have seen more trailers fail than I have cars; stubb axels falling off, wheel bearings collapsing, springs breaking, no spare wheel and rust causing terminal draw bar failures.
The ideal trailer is one designed for off road use and a good one will not let you down. A decent well maintained trailer that is in good condition should survive the trail if driven appropriately and not overloaded. It might be a 750kg trailer but if you are taking it off road you would not want to carry anywhere near that amount. No monster trailers or caravans are to be taken along the trail. Not only will they get stuck but they are also a hazard when riders and other support vehicles are passing you.
There are lots of options for bike racks. The best are usually ones that people make to go on top of a trailer with a few bits of channel and a few decent tie-down points. I have seen bikes get pretty scratched up on your standard bike rack that attaches to the back of your car. Trust me bikes don’t make a very nice sound when they fall off. You want a rack that will make it easy to get on and off during rider transitions and that can handle 5 days off road. It all depends on how much love you have for your trusty stead.