A toubabou is a “white-skinned” person: and it is one of the ways in which many peoples of West Africa refer to Europeans. It was therefore a toubabou Filippo Graglia, 32, who traveled on his Fargo from Italy to South Africa. 615 days, 25,000 km through deserts, forests, villages and cities, from Morocco to the end of the continent. Filippo’s travel story is also a book, “All’orizzonte un toubabou”, available on Amazon (in italian).
Filippo tells us how his bike was set up for this wonderful adventure.
I love this setup, optimized in the shop and then in two years on the road. Most of all I find the tires exciting, which guarantee me comfort and freedom to engage even technical trails. And above all they give good safety at high speeds on dirt roads. In the tubeless configuration I can go below 1 bar of pressure and not notice what runs under the wheels. I tried a standard touring bike on the same roads… believe me, they are very different
For less demanding journeys I mount a Victoria Mezcal 29×2.35 at the rear, which guarantees greater smoothness (and about 30% energy savings).
The C15 Cambrium saddle gives me equal pleasure, an real armchair.
As you can see, comfort is essential for me. Speaking of efficiency, I find the 1×11 gearbox exceptional, simple and versatile. Now 1×12 transmissions are also availabrle… welcome!
But now let’s see some negative aspects of this configuration: it goes without saying that traveling to remote areas with this non-standard bike (for cycling but not only) requires some sacrifices and the need to have some spare parts with you. For example, the rim can fit 2.3 inch tires and up. Go find them in Africa! In the same way it can be difficult to find chains for 11 speeds (in case of need it can be useful to know that a 10v chain also fits on an 11s transmission). The tubeless liquid: forget about it!
The 3-inch tire at the rear is at the limit. Among other things, the MAXXIS measures 3.2 mounted on that rim. When through that wonderful mud that sticks everywhere, the wheel immediately stops. Similarly, I broke the rear rim twice and having to travel with the wheel not centered, the tire touched the frame (ok, it’s an extreme situation, but it can happen). On this frame I recommend a maximum of 2.8 ”at the rear.
As for the transmission, it must be taken into account that the chain of an 11 or 12 speed wears much more quickly. At full load and under great effort, I recommend a change (or at least a check) at 2000/2500 km. For long journeys, I therefore recommend taking a chain checker with you, for what it weighs … Obviously, you can use more rotating chains, to slow down the wear of the transmission unit.
At full load (about 140 kg) the TRP brake overheats a lot on long descents, and loses efficiency. I partially solved the problem by mounting a 180mm disc on the front. On my last trips, I thought about switching to hydraulic brakes.
Frame Bag, definitely the best equipment bag.
Ortlieb produces a not optimal seat bag. To be filled carefully to make it rigid. Too much vibrations on technical dirt roads: oscillations are annoying. I would recommend a harnessed system (ex Porcelain Rocket).
With an XL frame I am fortunate to be able to mount two bags on the harness in a vertical configuration. Excellent solution, to take advantage of the space in the dropbar fold and not move the center of gravity from the fork axis too much. I suggest not to exceed 5 / 6kg of luggage on the handlebar in order not to lose excessive agility.
Frame bag contents: electronics, stove, tools & spares, documents, medicines, personal hygiene. Handlebar: camping eq, laptop. Seat bag: Clothing. Fork: Food. Cockpit: snacks, sunglasses, mosquito repellent, various and any to keep at hand.
We could talk about the equipment for hours. I would like to emphasize the importance of a good mattress for nighttime comfort and isolation from the ground. The gasoline stove (also butane and diesel) is needed for remote areas. For a trip to Europe I would do without it. Very dirty gasolines (such as those found in Africa, South East Asia) require constant cleaning and maintenance of the many components of the stove. For navigation, I have always relied on the Mapy.cz application and good old paper maps for an overview. Spot Gen3 is a nice-to-have, not essential. Several times I have asked myself: but if I press the SOS button, will someone really come to save me in the African forest? As you can see from the list, a powerbank was enough for me to have electric autonomy (all USB charging devices). About four days of autonomy with 4 devices. I found it helpful to have a small backpack with me. On many occasions when you are away from the bike and have something to carry, or go on a hike, it is convenient.
I did not have a water treatment system with me. Questionable choice, and above all dictated by adaptation. If you drink forest water, it is better to have filters or tablets with you. What I couldn’t do without: the comfort and versatility of the Crocs when I’m not in the saddle.
What I missed: a rearview mirror.