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Three identical bikes with some special equipment modifications for Steven's Year Record attempt

On the 1st January 2015, Steven Abraham set off into the darkness with the aim of breaking Tommy Godwin’s 75,065 mile Year Record, set way back in 1939. Currently averaging over 200 miles and 18 hours of riding a day, he’s well ahead of Godwin’s record at the time of writing.

Such a ride clearly places a huge demand on your endurance and stamina, both physical and mental. But while it’s one thing to hope his legs continue to spin the pedals, his bike needs to be reliable and durable. There has been a lot of equipment preparation ahead of this Year Record attempt to ensure the bike can stand up to the challenge and that no miles are lost to a mechanical issue. The odds of something going wrong are high when you’re cycling over 200 miles a day.

The bike and kit needs to be able to do some serious mileage: in January alone Steven clocked up a mighty 5,743 miles. That sort of mileage places a huge amount of wear and tear on the bike, so for the record Steven, sponsored by Raleigh, has shunned the temptations of a lightweight racer and opted for a reliable and comfortable touring bike. The mostly stock and modest Sojourn is an £1,100 bike, that road.cc summed up in a 2012 review as a “smooth riding tourer but very heavy and modest.”  Tommy Godwin also rode a Raleigh during his 1939 record ride.

Steven actually has three identical Raleigh Sojourn touring bikes for his record attempt. The plan is to do roughly 6,000 miles on each bike, and then swap onto another one while that previous bike is whisked away to be fully serviced by Stripes Bike Shop.

The three bikes are handily identifiable by the colour matched Hope headsets, bottom brackets and hubs that have been fitted. He has a 'Silver', 'Black' and, the bike he started his challenge aboard, a  'Red' one. 

The ‘Red’ bike pictured has had a hard innings. It's been ridden through some atrocious conditions during January, with plenty of rain and lots of road salt to contend with. As such, on the 9th February, it was taken out of service, having covered 5,600 miles.

Steven is riding a mostly stock Raleigh Sojourn, but with several important changes. The Sojourn is your classic Reynolds 631 touring bike with a steel fork, and the addition of Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes. Why disc brakes? Steven reckoned that with the high mileage he’s doing, conventional brakes would only last a few days, and the rims need replacing every 6-8 weeks. The rims and pads last a lot longer with disc brakes.

The Sojourn sells for £1,100 and comes fitted with a 27-speed Shimano Sora groupset, with a triple chainset (50-39-30) and a Tiagra 9-speed cassette (11-25). Steven’s strategy at the moment is long and slow rides, and keeping his heart rate low. The wide spread of gear ratios will certainly enable him to conserve energy on any hills he faces and always find the right gear. 

Of course the bike has full-length mudguards fitted to protect him from road spray. He's using a Carradice rack to carry a Carradice rack-top bag, which will be stuffed with essentials like food, money, tools and spares and extra clothing. No sense in carrying it in your jersey pockets when you’re riding such long distances, where comfort is the highest priority.

Other modifications include a set of time trial extension bars, which are as much about providing a different position for his back, as cheating the wind. Steven will sit upon a Brooks B17 saddle, a very popular choice for any distance cyclists and has carried numerous cyclists around the world in the past.

British company Hope have supplied headsets, bottom brackets and hubs, and they’re colour matched on each bike. The hubs are laced to Stan’s Alpha 340 tubeless rims, which I reviewed last winter, with stainless steel spokes and steel nipples. They’re a light and sturdy rim and importantly allows Steven to use Schwalbe One tubeless tyres with sealant.

Avoiding punctures is of critical importance - Steven reckons the 10 minutes it takes to replace a punctured inner tube could cost him 3 miles. So far, Steven has covered 9,218 miles with no reported punctures. The Schwalbe One is very much a race tyre though and the prediction is 6,000 from the front tyre and 3,000 from the rear one.

Wondering what the bike weighs? Well, it’s not a light bike that’s for sure, normally it weighs about 26lb (11.79kg) but it’s closer to 30lb (13.6kg) when laden up.

Steven has worked out a schedule that would take him to 82,835 miles in a single year, averaging a lowest monthly daily distance of 170 miles in January and peaking at 285 miles.

You can find out more about Steven at the official website http://oneyeartimetrial.org.uk/ and have a read of this insightful interview. Plus you can follow his attempt on Strava as well.

Photos reproduced with kind permission of the The One Year Time Trial Support Team.

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

40 comments

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jasecd [438 posts] 2 years ago
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Completely in awe of this man and glad he is getting the coverage that his efforts deserve.

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darrenleroy [217 posts] 2 years ago
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How much of an advantage do other readers think using a recumbent would get you?

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portec [116 posts] 2 years ago
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The Schwalbe One is very much a race tyre though and the prediction is 3,000 from the front tyre and 6,000 from the rear one.

I think those numbers should be reversed. And I'd be very surprised if he got 3000 miles out of a rear Schwalbe One on a 13.6 kg bike. I wouldn't count on getting more than about 2500 miles even in summer.
An amazing effort though and I look forward to progress reports during the year!

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honesty [75 posts] 2 years ago
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Raleigh should really offer this build (well apart from the tri bars!) as a special edition, maybe with bb7's as well. Would be a pretty decent shout for a tourer if you ask me.

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David Arthur @d... [749 posts] 2 years ago
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portec wrote:

The Schwalbe One is very much a race tyre though and the prediction is 3,000 from the front tyre and 6,000 from the rear one.

I think those numbers should be reversed. And I'd be very surprised if he got 3000 miles out of a rear Schwalbe One on a 13.6 kg bike. I wouldn't count on getting more than about 2500 miles even in summer.
An amazing effort though and I look forward to progress reports during the year!

Yes of course you are right, slip of the fingers there. I'd be interested to inspect the tyres at the end of a month stint on the road - I've run these tyres myself in regular clincher version and had very good wear out of them, but I'd also question the 3000 miles. Guess that was probably more of a finger in the air prediction rather than a number based on accurate testing

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arfa [847 posts] 2 years ago
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Amazing achievement so far and best of luck him for the record. I think he pretty much settles the disc brakes/rim wear argument too  3

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TeamExtreme [103 posts] 2 years ago
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Without wanting to start another war-of-words, I'm surprised the American guy is using a recumbent, that's got to be a HUGE advantage.

It's like the old hour-record debacle all over again, we need the UCI to legislate on this before the year is out!

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Bärli Bär [7 posts] 2 years ago
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Thanks for the write up on the bike. Have been following Steve with some interest and its great to get insights like this.

An interview with the man now that he is (almost) a couple of months in would be super (though appreciate an interview may be the very last thing he wants to do after a day's ride!).

Wishing Steve all the luck. In my mind this has got to be one of the greatest sporting endeavours that I've had the chance to watch unfold. Truly inspiring.

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backflipbedlem [1200 posts] 2 years ago
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TeamExtreme wrote:

Without wanting to start another war-of-words, I'm surprised the American guy is using a recumbent, that's got to be a HUGE advantage.

It's like the old hour-record debacle all over again, we need the UCI to legislate on this before the year is out!

He is using a recumbent, but he also uses road bikes, I think he mixes it up a bit, apparently riding about 50 miles a day on the recumbent according to this interview. Guess it helps to break up the tedium, but agree there should be some legislation.

http://crookedlettercycling.com/2015/02/18/riding-miles-february-update-...

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robthehungrymonkey [165 posts] 2 years ago
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As already said, an awesome achievement (even so far!).

I am a bit surprised by the choice of equipment though. It seems the trend for the last few years of round the world records was to get lighter/faster bikes. Also, having been on my tourer a bit recently, man, it's slow compared to my road bike!

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cyclingtiger [8 posts] 2 years ago
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The UCI have absolutely nothing to do with this record attempt. They really aren't involved at all. Any legislation from them would be irrelevant. The only organisation involved in this are the UMCA who have already made their decision.

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cyclesteffer [249 posts] 2 years ago
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Goes to show that there is nothing wrong with Sora and Tiagra groupsets! I've been waiting for this article as was fascinated to find out what his bike was running. Thanks.

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gareth2510 [167 posts] 2 years ago
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I think its brilliant he's doing it on a Raleigh bike myself.  41

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Bärli Bär [7 posts] 2 years ago
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Really interesting thread on YACF with Steve announcing his intention to take on the record and ideas being thrown together to get it all going, ratifying the record, equipment etc. Many posts from the man himself which is great.

https://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=koe0lsjp8cjaaflvj5hh7pcs05&...

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icornell [3 posts] 2 years ago
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David Arthur wrote:

I'd be interested to inspect the tyres at the end of a month stint on the road - I've run these tyres myself in regular clincher version and had very good wear out of them, but I'd also question the 3000 miles. Guess that was probably more of a finger in the air prediction rather than a number based on accurate testing

He's sponsored by Schwalbe and I believe the recommendations come from them, so they are probably just factoring in a large safety margin to reduce the likelihood of something going wrong on the road.

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pants [237 posts] 2 years ago
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I can barely stay awake for 18 hours a day, let alone ride for that long everyday. amazing stuff.

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gazza_d [469 posts] 2 years ago
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Bärli Bär wrote:

Really interesting thread on YACF with Steve announcing his intention to take on the record and ideas being thrown together to get it all going, ratifying the record, equipment etc. Many posts from the man himself which is great.

https://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=koe0lsjp8cjaaflvj5hh7pcs05&...

Thanks for that link. that is a fascinating read. I genuinely laughed out loud in the office at the post asking people not to post on fb cos he hadn't told his mum yet.

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banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 2 years ago
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Amazing effort and very interesting to read about his bike set-up. I've been riding on a set of hope wheels this winter with Schawble marathon plus tyres pretty much bomb proof.

I think disc brakes is defjnately the way to go on turing and winter bikes. Interesting to see Sora / Tiagra group set choice.

I'm following his progress with awe and facination.

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CountrysideWobbler [3 posts] 2 years ago
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So what's the deal with Steve's gear changers? Do the STIs and the shifters on the aero bars both work?

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124g [37 posts] 2 years ago
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This is undoubtedly an amazing effort but I can't help think that Tommy did it without that sort of support so it really does show what a top top guy he was.

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grahamparks [1 post] 2 years ago
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There are no gear cables coming out the side of the shifters (which is how they run on Sora levers), so only the levers on the aero bars will work. Unusual choice.

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pullmyfinger [39 posts] 2 years ago
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Would coasting 38 miles downhill on Mount Kilauea six times a day count? If so, I can beat the record!  38

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Pub bike [205 posts] 2 years ago
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grahamparks wrote:

There are no gear cables coming out the side of the shifters (which is how they run on Sora levers), so only the levers on the aero bars will work. Unusual choice.

It is possible to have both controls work after a fashion using these http://jtekengineering.com/doublecontroll.php

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David Arthur @d... [749 posts] 2 years ago
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124g wrote:

This is undoubtedly an amazing effort but I can't help think that Tommy did it without that sort of support so it really does show what a top top guy he was.

Are you sure about that?

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Reggie Plate [57 posts] 2 years ago
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Amazing what this bloke's doing. His January mileage is incredible. Great way to evaluate equipment. Clothing and accessory firms should be showering him with products to test.

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CarbonBreaker [86 posts] 2 years ago
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Has anyone been out with him yet? How is he with people just turning up to keep him company for a day?

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Leeroy_Silk [145 posts] 2 years ago
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It'd be really interesting to see some kind of 'day / week in the life of' documentary. I just can't get my head around the numbers, 18 hours in the saddle, 6 hours rest and repeat. Where does the motivation come from? It's simply staggering!

It would be interesting too to see a catalogue of all the parts he gets through whilst going for the record.

I wish him all the best of British.

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Dropped [108 posts] 2 years ago
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This is a fantastic effort that I am keeping a close eye on but I just can't get my head round the effort involved. Mega impressed and a whole bag full of chapeaus.........with a cherry on top!

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hirsthirst [25 posts] 2 years ago
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Genuinely astonishing - what a guy, all the best to him.

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ianrobo [1201 posts] 2 years ago
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I will add my awe to everyone else's !! What an effort already in poor weather.

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