Torino Nice Rally Salsa Cutthroat
Torino Nice Rally Salsa Cutthroat

Kit Check: Tom does the Torino-Nice Rally

The Torino-Nice Rally has been on my must-do list for this year as soon as I heard about it, back in late spring. At the time I had visions of actually doing a bit of training for too. As happens too often, life got in the way. Work and other trips took priority and before I knew it, it was a week to go, and I hadn’t even booked flights, let alone done the quantity of riding I’d hoped for.

Flights were easy enough to sort, and rather than worrying about lack of fitness I’ve decided to worry about the stuff I can control… kit! I’ve gone for a mixture of tried and tested and brand new kit for this ride, using it as an opportunity to get some long miles in on test kit.

The bike

Torino Nice Rally Salsa Cutthroat

Ready and loaded.

This is the biggest new factor. The Salsa Cutthroat is on loan thanks to Greg May (and Raleigh UK), who used it for his Tour Divide ride earlier in the summer (read about the ride in issue 009 of Rocking some flared drops, but relaxed geometry, I’m hoping it will prove comfortable for very long days in the saddle. To help with this, I’ve re-wrapped the bars in some cushy Fabric bar tape and fitted my favourite Fabric Scoop saddle.


My view for a few days. Hopefully the scenery will be more interesting…


Bum happiness

A few other highlights:

  • Three bottle cages for the hot weather that is forecast
  • The first time I’ve ridden a granny ring on an off-road bike for well over 12 months. I think I’ll be thankful for it on some of the long climbs
  • Dynamo hub, Exposure Revo light and cinq5 The Plug USB charging port – worry free riding into the night and keeping electrical gismos charged
  • Given more time I would probably swap the tyres to something faster rolling, but in the true spirit of run what you brung, I’m leaving the current low-profile XC treads on.

What would Jenn do? Keep pedalling, probably…



More electronics than a branch of Maplin

The bags

The core of my bikepacking kit is from Restrap. I’ve been using it for over a year without issue so far. I’ve supplemented the Restrap gear with a Topeak and a Wildcat gastank, and Apidura feedbags. There’s actually quite a lot of free space even when fully loaded, but it leaves room for food and the ability to quickly stash spare layers while on the move.

Here’s what’s in each bag:

  • Saddle bag – bivvy bag, down quilt, sleeping mat
  • Bar bag – spare clothing
  • Frame bag – spare parts, tools, passport and wallet, toiletries, room for food and a spare layer
  • Rear gastank – electrical cables
  • Front gastank – camera and phone
  • Feedbags – snacks



I’m using an Alpkit Cloud Cover quilt, Alpkit Numo mattress and Outdoor Research Helium hooped bivvy. The mat and quilt have been used a few times this summer, and I love the flexibility that a quilt offers over a regular sleeping bag. The bivvy is another loan item from Greg, but I hope it will offer a little more space and protection over my more basic model.



I’ll be riding in Rapha Pro-Team shorts – they are simply the most comfortable shorts that I currently own. I’m using a Morvelo Ambush baselayer. The forecast is very warm for next week – I’ve chosen this base layer as at a push it will double as a jersey during the heat of the day. To supplement this, I’m bringing a Gore Power Windstopper jersey. It’s similar to the one Jason tested for Singletrack, but with zip-off long sleeves. Perfect for cooler mornings and I’ve been comfortable riding in temperatures up to around 20ºC. Morvelo once again provide my sweary socks and cap.

My waterproof will be an Upperdowns Neo waterproof jacket. We have literally just received this in to test. No criticism of Upperdowns, but I hope I won’t need to use it on this trip. I’m sure the Polartec NeoShell jacket will be more than up to the task though.

I’ll also bring an old lightweight Mountain Hardwear Ghostwhisper down gilet, Castelli Nanoflex knee warmers and a spare pair of socks. Finally, I’m bringing merino under-crackers and t-shirt, and a  pair of 7mesh Glidepath lightweight baggy shorts for travelling to Torino and chilling out in Nice after. A Mint Sauce Buff is a must and I’m also using some Oakley Jawbreakers, with photochromic lenses.


This is Why

My helmet will be a new Specialized Airnet, which according to the big S is, ” ideal blend of functionality and performance for riders seeking both adventure and style”. Sounds perfect. It was also a blank canvas for a bit of #dirtydropbargoodness sticker-bombing. Specialized have also provided my shoes – the top end S-Works 6 XC. This is possibly my biggest risk – not because I don’t think the shoes will be any good, but just because I’ve not ridden in them yet. They feel slipper-like though, and I tend not to have any problems with my feet (feel free to deride me at a later date).


Other stuff

Navigation duties are being performed by a Garmin Etrex – mostly because of its ability to take AA batteries as well as USB power. I’ll be bringing a Nikon 1 V1 camera. I’d usually rely on iPhone photos, but I want to be able to take higher resolution pictures for a future issue of the magazine. A good quality compact would do the job, but I’ve already got the V1, so it’s coming along. A couple of external batteries can charge while I pedal. I’m also bringing a mains/USB adapter (with european pins) should I get the chance to access some on-tap juice.

“Don’t Cry, Pedal” top cap. Used to be Jenn’s and comes with me on big rides now. Sage advice too…


Right, I suppose I should dismantle the bike and load it into a box, ready to fly. Wish me luck! I’ll tweet from the @gritcx twitter account while away and share photos on @24tom and @gritcx instagram accounts. Also look out for the #torinonicerally and #1sttnr hashtags for other participants experiences.

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1 Response

  1. johnnystorm says:

    Looking out the window at the grey sky and drizzle I’m even more jealous….

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