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What’s the best bike for tackling the Transcontinental Race across Europe? Take a look at the leaders’ continent crushing machines

Comfort vs lightweight: here’s what the best ultra-endurance riders are using to ride from Belgium to Bulgaria as fast as possible

#Update: After 9 days and 14 hours, Christoph Strasser has now finished the 2022 Transcontinental Race across Europe, averaging nearly 470km per day. Scroll down to see his bike and kit choices as well as current second place rider Ulrich Bartholmoes as he also approaches the Black Sea.

If you're unfamiliar, the Transcontinental is a self-supported bicycle race from one side of Europe to the other. Competitors must plan, research and navigate their own course and rest stops while only consuming what they can carry or buy. They can't have any help from an entourage and the clock doesn't stop until they reach the finish.

Four mandatory control points guide the route and each year the riders cover around 4,000km (2,500 miles) to reach the finish line. This raises the interesting question of which bike is best for such a mammoth ride. Well, here is what the current leaders are riding...

Ulrich Bartholmoes

2022 Transcontinental Ulrich Bartholmoes @ubartholmoes

Bartholmoes came into the 2022 edition as a hot favourite to take the overall with many high-profile endurance events already to his name.

Second in the solo competition at the fourth and final control point, he eventually finished sixth.

His bike of choice is the BMC Teammachine SLR01 fitted with a Sram Etap AXS groupset. The crankset is a Rotor Inspider Aldhu Carbon with 48/35T chainrings paired to a 10/34 cassette.

2022 Transcontinental Ulrich Bartholmoes lightweight wheels @ubartholmoes

A rather interesting choice is the Lightweight Meilenstein Evo wheelset. These wheels have carbon spokes and are known more for their low weight and high stiffness than their durability. Nonetheless, Bartholmoes says that he's confident in their ability and they help make the bike weigh less than 7kg without packs. That'll certainly help on the mountainous route.

On the CP4 parcour which included long gravel sections, Bartholmoes took some "minor damage" to his wheels, no pictures yet on just what went wrong...

2022 Transcontinental Ulrich Bartholmoes Hutchinson Challenger @ubartholmoes

The wheels are clad in 32mm Hutchinson Challenger tyres which are set up tubeless. These are an unreleased tyre and currently only the tube-type clincher version is available to the general public.

2022 Transcontinental Ulrich Bartholmoes KMC collossus cage @ubartholmoes

The German rider uses a Kogel Kolossos OSPW (oversized pulley wheel) system and Kogel also supplies ceramic bearings for the wheels too. There's always a mix of road and off-road pedals; Bartholmoes opts for the latter in the form of a set of Shimano XTRs.

2022 Transcontinental Ulrich Bartholmoes apidura bottle cage  @ubartholmoes

> Apidura releases Racing series bags

Apidura Racing Series bags are very popular at the Transcontinental. Bartholmoes uses a saddle pack, frame bag and top tube bag, the first of which has two bottle cages mounted to it which once again highlights the extreme weight saving that the rider has gone to. Not much padding on that saddle either!

Christoph Strasser

The overall winner, who is also the 24-hour time trial world champion, uses Specialized equipment and his bike of choice was an S-Works Roubaix. This is the bike usually used for the cobbled classic road races and features the Future Shock system which offers 20mm of suspension at the front.

Strasser details his rather extensive kit list for the event...

> Review: Roval Alpinist I wheels

The bike rolls on Roval Alpinist I wheels with 28mm clincher Specialized Roubaix tyres and the groupset is once again Sram Red eTap AXS, this time with a 46/33T chainset and 10/33T cassette. Apidura Racing Series provides the cargo hauling bags.

> Transcontinental Race: Defending champion Fiona Kolbinger has purse and tracker stolen while sleeping

You can follow the athletes that are yet to finish on the Transcontinental website. On his way to victory, Strasser rode a total of 4,578km in 9 days and 14 hours 0 minutes. That's about 470km per day!

What bike would be your weapon of choice for a multi-day self-supported ride? One of these two? Let us know in the comments section below...

Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...

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OldRidgeback | 1 year ago

My nephew did the TCR a few years back. I think he'd suggest puncture proof tyres. He ran out of puncture patches towards the end, despite having taken loads, and had to limp into Istanbul with a flat back tyre while being trailed by some of the many stray dogs that line the roads in Turkey.

Global Nomad | 1 year ago

christoph about to arrive atthe end point.....super kudos, amazing avergae daily distance of crica 470km

Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago

There's also at least 1 bloke doing TCR on a Brompton - whose rear frame failed and he had to get another one.....

James Houston – Bicycle Adventures and Other Things

He deserves an honorable mention at least.

Looks like the nutter did the Pan Celtic a few days prior to TCR 

Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago

Its worth noting that though Ulrich was 2nd past CP4 he stopped for a rest and has been nursing a mechanical on those Millenstiens,  given that immedately prior/after CP4 there's a mandatory 45km nasty gravel section, he was leapfrogged immediately by Adam Bialek.

"Having damaged his rim on the parcours, Ulrich was forced to walk, resorting to using foil blankets as leg warmers against the cold."

pockstone replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
1 like

All of which reinforces my first thought... A Honda Gold Wing with a/c. Towing a caravan.

Simon E replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago

Those 1380g wheels are £5,419 at Sigma Sports. Not great value, even if they didn't break. Pairing them with 32mm endurance tyres seems an odd combo.

Plenty of good quality wheels in the 1400-1500g bracket for a fraction of that price but I guess Mr Bartholmoes may not have had to pay for his set. The same goes for his 'vanity' jockey wheel.

In 2019 featured Fiona Kolbinger's TCR-winning kit list:

From instagram, it seems he's not been having much luck:

"I also fell several times, my knee, wrist, thumb, shoulder, thigh are battered.
I slept outside, it was pretty wet and cold, I was running completely empty and it took me most of the day today to get back into the stride."

These people are made of sterner stuff.

Talking of which, Christina Murray attacked Christina Mackenzie's 12 month old LEJOG record last week. She was ahead of the record well into Scotland but, as an Army Sport Control Board facebook post states, after covering 760 miles in 46 hours the conditions forced her to abandon just 80 miles from John O'Groats. So near yet so far!

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