The Breadwinner Goodwater in Big Country
Photos and words by Gabe Tiller
Some friends and I had been scheming and dreaming up our Oregon Big Country route for an entire year, and this spring right as we were finalizing details Breadwinner Cycles launched their new Goodwater 27.5+ trail bike. I’ve known Tony since he moved to Portland from Salt Lake and watch him build bike after bike, each more lustworthy than the last. And they’ve pulled home award after award from NAHBS and the Oregon Manifest too. His meticulous craft building bicycles has become impeccably tuned, and the few times I’ve had the opportunity to ride bikes with him he’s whooped me soundly on the trail as well.
A few years ago when Surly launched their plus platform I took my first ride on the Krampus and instantly knew mountain bikes would be forever changed. Wider rims, more volume, and less pressure allowed me to clean technical lines I’d never come close to before. Rim, tire, and tubeless technology had brought high volume and large contact patches to the table without the weighing anywhere near as much as the motocross wheels they looked like. I was sold and thrashed my Krampus for a year before upgrading to a Ti Gnarvester. And now I really wanted to steal away on Tony’s fat-tired trail bike for our eight-day overland adventure through Oregon’s Big Country. Surprisingly when I asked, he agreed: “Sure, and ride it like I would—hard.”
He and Ira are often heard saying “We build the bikes we ride” and it shows in the Goodwater. Tony spends a fair amount of our rainy winter sessioning The Lumberyard and while the Goodwater is designed for an entirely different riding environment, he has maintained that nimble playfulness that make park bikes so fun. Giddily riding it home I could feel it begging to be flicked up curb banks and manualed through puddles. It’s got the shortest rear end (440mm) of any plus bikes I’ve ridden, and paired with the Fox Float 34 it cruises over rough terrain and still easily wheelies through desert stream crossings. At least the ones not filled with axle deep mud.
With internal routing, Shimano’s XTR Di2 1×11 drivetrain, Enve HV hoops, and a Thompson dropper it’s an incredibly clean build. It loaded up super well with my Porcelain Rocket Mr Fusion dropper hack, a Revelate framebag, and Limberlost’s DIY Handlebar Roll. It tackled the steep climbs and rocky descents over the Steens with ease, and the 2.8″ Schwalbe Nobby Nics held up well being pushed hard in loose corners or slogging through the Big Sand Gap on our way to Willow Hot Springs.
My only regret is that I didn’t get the chance to drop all the bags and really let this shreddy trail bike shine on some local singletrack before wearily giving Tony back his baby. I’m excited to see so many mountain bike builders embracing fatter tires, and Breadwinner is pushing the momentum of this movement with their Goodwater.
Follow along with the rest of our adventures at Limberlost.co.