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  • Writer's pictureMark Currie

Designed for The Divide - JK's GT-1 XD

Jason's GT-1 XD Mosaic Titanium Adventure Bike

As of this morning, July 3rd, Jason Kiefer (above) and his prototype 1.0 GT-1 XD are pointed squarely at the Mexican border, cruise control set southbound, counting down the final miles until they reach the fabled Antelope Wells Port of Entry - the finish line of the Tour Divide. Reaching that destination is a dream of many, and the reality of a select group of incredible athletes each summer who participate in the Tour Divide Grand Depart. Roughly 200 athletes toed the start line in Banff on June 14th, and somewhere around 140 are likely to finish. In the world of bikepack racing, it's the big one. It's the ultimate test of a person's physical capability, mental fortitude, and preparedness. The route is a notorious torture chamber for equipment, so if you want to put something through it's paces, there's no better place to do it than The Divide.

Enter, the GT-1 XD. A purpose built Tour Divide machine made especially for our friend, Jason Kiefer.

Custom Titanium Adventure Bike frame draft

I (Mark) ran into Jason on a bike ride during the first week of May. We pedaled together for a few miles that day before going our separate ways, and as you do, I asked him "What's the plan for the summer"? He said he was "thinking" about giving the Tour Divide a crack, and after a few minutes of question and answer, I realized that he was more than just thinking about it. He had plane tickets booked for the whole family, lodging arranged at the start, and had been more than casually training all Winter & Spring. What I quickly came to find out, however, is that he didn't have a bike... Jason has a GT-1 45 that he got in 2021, which he's put tens of thousands of miles on, but it wasn't quite the right tool for the job... He needed more tire clearance, suspension, bag mounts, different gearing... With the Tour Divide Grand Depart only 6 weeks away, the very next morning, I cued the music and set about designing a bike for Jason to tackle the adventure. Later that same day, Jason came to the shop where we sat down and ironed out a build list, finalized geometry specifications, and all the little details that you have to obsess over to make a ride like the Tour Divide a success. The GT-1 XD project was a go.

We put the project into overdrive, and just 7 days later after a few early morning coffee sessions and after hours Facetime calls, we had ourselves a completed frame. Lead frame builder Jamie Appleton worked closely with Jason to dial in every little detail, making sure he had mounts where he needed mounts, holes for wires, and every decision triple-checked. Knowing that it takes a significant amount of gear to cover 2700 miles from Canada to Mexico, storage space & frame bags are key elements to any successful bikepacking trip. Luckily, we've got friends in high places in the form of Joe Tonsager, Owner/Operator at JPaks. After a quick call to Joe, we were en route to Denver with the GT-1 XD to let Joe work his magic. With Joe's input, Jason settled on a 1/2 frame bag, extra-long top tube bag, handlebar bag, and the first-of-their-kind prototype Tailfin Paks to boost the frame storage volume even further.

With the bags in production at Jpaks, the frame was back to Mosaic and off to paint. You might be asking, "Why paint it, isn't raw titanium more durable...?" Well, not so fast... Back in 2021 when we launched the GT-1 and GT-2X, we rode the Denali Highway in Alaska. We had three bikes with us - two painted, and one raw titanium. We didn't use any kind of frame protection, strapped framebags right to the frame, and off we went. At the end of the trip, the two painted bikes looked significantly fresher than their raw titanium sibling. We've got some incredibly high-quality, hard matte clearcoat to thank for that, so we opted for the same for Jason's GT-1XD. A Pearl Rootbeer Knockout, in Matte. Keep it simple and striking.

With a freshly painted frame and a big box of parts in hand, Jason and I headed up the street to see Zach Edwards at Boulder Grupetto who we'd lined up to complete the build. Zach's attention to detail is second to none, so having his eye on the build gave us all a level of confidence that this thing was going to work, and work perfectly. Jason opted for a SRAM XXSL Transmission groupset, Level Ultimate 4-Piston brakes paired up with SRAM Force Levers, a Hunt/Dynamo Wheelset, a Tailfin Rack, and an extra-wide Tumbleweed Big Dipper Drop Bar to give him plenty of riding positions and space for all the accessories.

48 hours later with the bike build complete, Jason mounted up the freshly delivered JPaks bags, wired up his lights and packed up his gear. He swung by Mosaic to say hi, slap high-fives with the crew and let me shoot these photos before pedaling off into the high country to give it a proper shakedown before packing it up for Banff. The GT-1 XD was complete, Tour Divide ready.

In about 150 miles time, later today, Jason and his GT-1XD will complete their Tour Divide race. Following the dot tells one story, but we can only imagine the stories we'll get to hear in the next few weeks as the whole experience begins to settle in. We're incredibly proud to have been a part of this one, and owe Jason a huge thank you for trusting us to run with this idea and build him a bike. Who's next?

Jason Kiefer and his 2024 Tour Divide GT-1 XD


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