One heck of an adventure bike

What’s the perfect bike for Kyrgyzstan, North Korea and Ethiopia? Dan Milner shows us his trusty Yeti SB5 adventure bike.

>>> Here’s what wildman Dan Milner packs for a trip into the backcountry

Few bikes find themselves as deeply among adventure’s challenges as that of pro photographer Dan Milner. He’s searched out trails in some of the world’s wildest places, from Afghanistan, Chile and Lebanon to Ethiopia, North Korea and most recently Kyrgyzstan (pictured). Here Dan talks us through his ultimate adventure bike build.

Yeti SB5

The most versatile bike I’ve ever ridden, with 127mm (5in) of very capable rear travel, helped by the Switch Infinity link. The Yeti SB5 makes for easy, efficient pedalling on the climbs when you’re knackered, while dishing out tons of playtime on the way down.

Fox factory 36 fork

These stiff, sub-2kg forks have proven ultra reliable in all conditions, weather and temperatures. I switch between 150mm and 160mm travel depending on the potential rowdiness of the trip,

Mavic Deemax Pro wheelset

Truly bomber wheels with wide rims that are still light enough (1805g per pair) for big hike-a-bike days at altitude. From Crossmax to Deemax and the new XA pro, Mavic’s wheels have stood up to everything I’ve thrown at them over the last decade.

WTB tyres

I roll a WTB Vigilante 2.5 high grip front and usually a Trail Boss or Breakout 2.4 fast rolling rear, both with slashguard sidewalls. I’m a light rider so can get away with the ‘light’ option and save a couple hundred grams per tyre.

Shimano XT M8000 1×11 speed drivetrain

Shimano XT is my go-to expedition choice because it’s light but incredibly durable with reliable shifting no matter what the conditions. I’ll usually run a 30T front chainring with an 11-46T cassette.

One Up Components 50T extender sprocket

If I’m heading to the 4000 metre level I’ll extend my XT cassette’s low gear by adding a 50T sprocket. Even though OneUp says it wont, adding the 50T sprocket to Shimano’s 11-46T cassette shifts fine.

Shimano XT M8000 brakes with 180mm rotors

I never get brake fade with XT’s Ice Tech rotors and organic pads even on Himalayan-length descents. And if I ever need to bleed the brakes on long trips, the XT’s are incredibly easy to service anywhere.

Race Face Turbine stem (50mm) and Next carbon bars

A light but stiff combo that uses the 35mm diameter interface for best strength to weight ratio. I trim my handlebars to 750mm width.

E*Thirteen TRS+ Dropper post

Running a 150mm dropper post that is 100% mechanically sprung and cable activated avoids potential hydraulic or cartridge failure in remote places.

Crank Brothers E LS Mallet Pedals

Nothing beats the efficiency of clipless pedals but the Mallet’s large, pinned cage also lets me drop into trails unclipped without worrying. The long spindle version avoids heel rub on wider boost rear triangles.

WTB Volt saddle

Titanium rails keep the weight down to a decent 200g, and its microfibre saddle cover can withstand a lifetime of abuse in a single trip.

E*Thirteen TRS Bashguard

Because trying to find a replacement for a bent chainring in Kyrgyzstan is not an option.

OneUp EDC Tool

Storing this neat multi-tool in the headtube lets me shave some grams from my backpack and makes it easy to grab for trailside tweaks. I keep some spare chain links and bolts in its integrated storage capsule too.

WTB front mudguard

A simple but essential solution to keeping the animal crap out of my mouth and minimise downtime on the toilet.

Chris King headset

Smooth and ultra reliable, these headsets see me through mud, snow, river crossings or sandstorms without a grumble — which is more than can be said for me.

Backcountry Research Mutherload strap

Attaching inner tubes and energy bars to the bike helps lighten my backpack at altitude. It makes a big difference when I already have camera gear and spare clothes on my back.

DMR Deathgrips

Simply the most comfortable grips I’ve ever tried. I like full rubber ends as they prevent handlebars from denting car roofs, scratching other bike frames or cracking windows when you’re bikes end up in a Moroccan taxi, bus or jeep.

Lezyne Super GPS

I like to log the big trips just so I can look back at the pain from the comfort of my sofa. The Lezyne GPS lets me do it well.