BWR San Diego Tech Q

For anyone that has done BWR San Diego, do you feel a rear mech with a clutch is a necessity? Right now I just have the regular R8000 RD. If I can avoid dropping $120, that would be great…but I’m not going to go without the clutch if it’s something that will make or break my day.

Thanks for any input.

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I rode it last year on my road bike with Dura-Ace (so no clutch) and never really feared any chain issues at all. Planning to do it on my gravel bike this year, which has no clutch either, so no wouldn’t worry too much about it

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Awesome. Thanks for sharing!! Hopefully I’ll see you out there :grin:

The guys I know that have done BWR here did it on road bikes where the only alteration was running 28s instead of 25s. And they were pretty fast.


I’ve done BWR for many years. Never had a clutch, never needed it. HOWEVER, this year has a much gnarlier course. I would NOT buy or fret over not having a clutch, but I would be mindful of your chainstays and give them a wrap for protection. NO, it won’t stop dropping a chain, but it will protect your ride.


Brother Kurt! BWR recommended tire size for this years course is 32mm. You can find all the details on IRC’s website (BWR specific page). This year’s course is a lot more gnarly dirt, not just more Mighty Mule.

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Yep, the guys I was referring to did it a few years ago, and I think it’s changed quite a bit since then. And you’ve done it! That said, I don’t think you need a clutch or anything tremendously fancy in terms of drivetrain… yet?

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Well…I guess we’ll see what happens! :joy:

Preface - I have not done BWR before and I’ve no clue what the course is like, so it will be a surprise no matter what for me this year.

With that said, I’ve followed their newsletter and have read about all of the “gnarlier” sections they advertise. What I’ve noticed is that yes, it is more gravel, but I’m not so sold on it being gnarlier. They seem to hype it up and post the hardest bits of a sector though, so I’m not sure how bad it truly is. I’ve watched the BWR video of the latest sector they posted and compared it with a full ride-through, and it certainly holds true.

I’m running Challenge Strada 33c … so no real grip. Maybe I’ll regret my actions :rofl: I land Thursday so I’ll get to pre-ride some dirt on Friday. May be swapping tires in a hurry or may be perfectly happy, only one way to see.

Same in that I’ve never done the race and now that we’re 2.5 weeks out, overthinking the whole thing. The set up I’ve landed on is Conti Terra Speed 40’s (650b Flo Wheels), sub compact 2X with 11-34 cassette. Pretty sure I’m going to leave my Relevate Design small frame bag to haul spares and nutrition. I would rather have the weight low on the frame than carrying stuff in my jersey all day. Bottle on the down tube and mounting a bottle on my stem so it’s easy to get to. With the small frame bag, I can only get 1 bottle in the triangle comfortably. I also have a dark speed works top tube bag for easy to grab snacks. I’m only racing myself and the sun. Best Bike Split has me coming in around 11:30. Hopefully factor in some drafting and I will still make that time with bottle refill stops.

Someone mentioned traction concerns on steep climbs with the Terra Speeds. But I’m still fat so likely will have more grip than the light weights. LOL :laughing:


I’ve committed to IRC Boken Plus 700x32. Gearing is 52/36 11x34. I might swap the 36 to a 34…but I’m so burnt out thinking about this dumb race that I’ll most likely just leave everything as is and roll with it.

In other words, I’ve made my bed and now I shall sleep in it.


Just wrap your chainstay with tape. With 2x, there’s no where for your chain to go that you can’t fix it real quick.

My recollection with my gravel bike riding that area last year was that it wasn’t really bumpy, just steep in spots.

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My biggest concern was gearing. I’ve 48/35T chainring with a 10-28T cassette. Took a long time to find a new cassette, but I now have a 10-33T waiting for me in California. Most of my worries disappear with that!

Tires will always be a compromise. You can trade grip on dirt for speed on tarmac. There is lots of time to be lost and made up on both regardless of your choice. Whatever gets you through the day without a flat will be a good choice!

I would imagine the 10-33 with the 35 up front should give you enough to play with. I’m sure at some point you’ll wish it was lower, but I guess that is part of the appeal of the race…there is no ideal set up. It’s almost like a run what ya brung atmosphere.

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I’m sure I’ll wish for a few more gears at some stage, but 35x33 should be sufficient!

You’re absolutely right with the second part, the race is so diverse that there is no one killer setup. You’ll lose time on the road, on dirt, on single track. You won’t have enough gears or your spacing will be too wide. Pressure too low or too high. Too much in your jersey pockets or too many stops. It will be a compromise and goal is to make it through as unscathed as possible!

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I did it on a SuperSix Evo, 28mm Gatorskins (with tubes), Dura Ace (no clutch), 50/34 and 11-30 (or 32, can’t remember).

I thought it was the best setup for me.

The only sure thing about BWR, year on year, is that at some point you’ll have the wrong tyres. Although any BWR tyre discussion usually turns into a “who rode the skinniest” competition. I rode 30’s last year and hated it so this year I’ll be on 35 GravelKings


After doing the last BWR recon ride over some of the new dirt in Black Canyon, I’m going to test out some IRC Serac 32’s this weekend over the same terrain. Tubeless road tires have been fine so far over past BWRs–28" Conti’s in '19 and 32" Conti’s in '21, but the jeep trail off Black Canyon is prompting me to add some tread this year. The trail was climbable on the 32 Conti’s but the descent was painfully slow. My Canyon Endurace maxes out at 32s so can’t go any bigger–which should be fine.

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Give the Boken Plus 32 a try, if you can. Ive liked them so far. They actually measure at 34.5 at 48psi (tubeless) on 21mm internal. Sure descending in dirt sucks, but i suck at descending. So there’s that…lol

Can you recommend a water bottle strategy for the event? Should I carry two and plan to stop to put in mix/water, or do the aid stations have pre-mixed bottles ready to go that you can just pick up and keep riding?

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