Monday, September 05, 2016

Bar Yak For The Fargo

The BarYak Q: Pro
I just got a piece of new gear for my old Fargo that I am pretty excited about. It is an item from a company called "BarYak". Before I get into the part I purchased, I wanted to give some background on BarYak and its founder, Joe Stiller.

I first came across Joe when he e-mailed me wanting to get into Trans Iowa several years ago. I started checking him out via the "innergoogles" and found out he was big into Winter events like the Arrowhead 135, Tuscobia 150, and more. Eventually, at Trans Iowa v10, I met Joe and then it wasn't long before I started hearing more about Joe's exploits including his Trans South Dakota bikepacking event. Well, to say that Joe is an endurance event junkie is putting things mildly.

The interesting thing about endurance cyclists is that many of them are problem solver/inventor types. Most of what we have come to know as "bikepacking gear" was developed by some genius bikepacker's mind while fighting sub-standard gear during a long event. That's one thing about endurance events- you have a lot of time to think through a solution for a problem while you are out in the field. Necessity is the mother of invention? This never rang more true, I think, then it does with endurance cycling events.

Well, getting back to Joe, one of the things he saw when he came to Trans Iowa was the various cue sheet holder systems that were invented by many of the riders. Joe took the idea of what he thought would be best and made it a reality as the "Q:Pro" cue sheet holding system. I actually got to see and hold the first couple of prototype Q: Pro cue sheet holders at Trans Iowa last Spring when Joe's BarYak company sponsored the event and put up two for the Pre-Race Meat-Up raffle. That is where I got real interested in perhaps owning a component from BarYak. Interest was further piqued at this year's Dirty Kanza 200 where I spoke with Joe at the DK200 expo and got to see and handle his "Complete" BarYak set up and hear about the development and construction of the parts and pieces. One day, I was going to get one of these set ups.

My mileage (computer was off on the low side) from Gravel Worlds. Note cue sheets in lower RH corner
Well, as I related in one of my posts on Gravel Worlds, I had issues switching out cue sheets. That was just one of the many issues I had with the system I used for cue sheets at that event. Gravel Worlds publishes route information just a couple of days ahead of the event. As a rider, you can either download a GPS file for a device, or you can print good ol' cue sheets for yourself. Since I do not own a GPS device, nor would I trust one 100% anyway, I decided to print my own cues.

My printer formatted the things so that they came out fairly large and were bigger than my Cyco-Active Bar Map's pouch. They actually hung out the end far enough that I had to use a rubber band to hold them in so they would not get lost. Switching out cue sheets was a trick while riding. I had to momentarily let go of the bars when I was executing a swap, which wasn't always possible on the sandy, wash-boarded roads of the course. What is more, the border of the Bar Map obscured several lines of cues at the bottom of each sheet, which made for some frustrating navigation. This was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I contacted Joe shortly after Gravel Worlds.

My BarYak system arrived well packaged and safely.
The nice thing about BarYak is that it is truly a one man operation and you talk to the owner when you call the company number. I first contacted BarYak by the e-mail contact form on their site and received a response asking me to call. Joe and I discussed my needs and he provided a few options. The BarYak system is configurable and can be combined with the Q:Pro cue sheet holder, which is the route I took. Joe suggested to me that if I had a spare handle bar that wasn't being used I could use it as part of the system. I happened to have an old Bontrager 118 titanium bar which Joe suggested would be a perfect substitute for the carbon cross bar he uses as stock. So, I got the BarYak bars, Easton carbon bar ends, and the Q:Pro minus the 3D printed bars that usually go with that.

I received the items double packed in bubble wrapped envelopes and shrink wrapped to a cardboard base. Very secure and safe. I got some blue anodized bar stock, just because it isn't black! BarYak does blue and red as stock colors, I believe, along with black. All attachment hardware is also included, of course. I should mention that the clamping size at the handle bar is 31.8mm, which is the most common size people have, but it isn't the only size out there, so double check your bike before ordering. The cross bar is a clamp size of 25.4mm, so if you plan on using your own handle bar stock, make sure it is a mountain bike handle bar.

My titanium Bontrager bar was a shimmed one, so it was 25.4mm all the way across its length, so I used the center portion of it and cut back the ends myself.  This allowed me to customize the length of the cross bar to my liking, which was nice.

And here is the Fargo Gen I with the BarYak system attached.
A look from the saddle.
Okay, so just above you get the look from the saddle at the BarYak system and how I set it up for now. Note- LOTS could change with this, so don't take any of the above as my "final set up". That said, I have some comments about what I have going on here below.
  • On that cross bar: I noted the old Ti bar had some back sweep, so I used that as "forward sweep" to somewhat better align the bar ends with my arms if I use a more aero grip while riding. By the way, there is the Peregrine Arm Rests which can attach to the BarYak system as well, which was out of stock when I ordered, which I will add in the future. One could go sans arm rests, if that doesn't seem to bother you. 
  • I popped on my wired (!!) Cat Eye computer and my Trelock Control Ion 950 light onto the cross bar. While it doesn't appear so, I can grasp the bar ends comfortably with these components there. Now that doesn't mean that they are staying there! They won't, but for now, it works. 
  • Notice the Q: Pro cue sheet holder is rather spacious. This would have been the trick set up for my Gravel Worlds cues. Also of note- Joe got rider feedback on the Q: Pro saying that the original, shiny clip which holds the cues down was a reflector and was blinding if the Sun was just so. Joe laminated a sheet of carbon fiber on there to alleviate that issue. 
  • The bar ends were purchased from BarYak, but any old mtb bar end you have that you really like can be substituted. 
  • Note my Bike Bag Dude Chaff Bags. I was able to strap one to the slotted bar stock of the BarYak to allow for a different placement. (Left side). My original placement is on the right of the stem in the image above. 
  • The BarYak system is not only configurable, it is adjustable as well. You can rotate the rails up or down to taste and the bar ends can be rotated on the cross bars as well depending on your desired ergonomics. 
Here you can see the slots in the rails which allow for a multitude of strap attachment options.
So that's the set up for the Fargo Gen I, but I probably will move this around to different bikes as the seasons change. I will, for instance, swap this over to the Blackborow DS at some point where the BarYak system will allow me to strap on a front bag and not foul my brake cables. It may end up on the Fat Fargo at some point depending upon the needs I have. Or, it could easily go on one of my gravel grinding rigs for cue sheet duty.

The fit of the parts are precise and the rails are claimed to carry some ridiculous amount of gear, so I expect that I will be able to use this system for years to come. Like I say, it is configurable, and I am certain to add the Peregrine Arm Rests soon and I may utilize this system in different configurations as the need arises. Besides that versatility, I could also see myself adding a Q: Pro cue sheet holder to another rig as a standalone piece. Keep in mind that the rails on the Q: Pro are 3D printed, so they are not up to gear hauling, should you think you want that. In that case, I would advise the regular BarYak as the solution.

Okay, so stay tuned for more as I get used to this set up and make any changes.


Tyler Loewens said...

Very cool! I keep playing with the idea of getting a setup.

Guitar Ted said...

@Tyler Loewens: I think that if you are planning on a bar roll type of bag, this is a trick set up. The slotted bar stock allows for easy attachment/removal of a bar bag and like Joe says, it keeps your bag from crushing the cables.

But other than that, it just is a neat, solid, sturdy way to add some versatility and more hand positions to your long distance rig.

SURLY Joe.. The Ring MASTER.. said...

Thank you Mark for the detailed review... and yes as you said I'm always willing to listen try to Taylor a BarYak system to meet the rider's needs..
Thanks again, Joe Stiller