Erik’s Peacock Nüke AWOL 650b is a Death Valley Tourer

Behold. A steel bicycle that lasts a lifetime and pushes through the trends, accepting new builds and uses with ease, with finesse, and most importantly, with style. Do you remember Erik’s Di2 Alfine 11 Peacock Nuke AWOL? That photoset was fire back in 2014 when we originally posted it. While propped up on a hillside in Bernal Heights, an incredibly scenic neighborhood in the US’ most scenic city, Erik and I lamented how this whole “adventure” stuff was going to take off, big time. The AWOL was the first bike Erik designed for Specialized, which is raced the Transcontinental Race on and little did he know that just five years later, the brand would put a bullet in this peacock project.


So why did Specialized kill the AWOL? Well, there hasn’t been an official announcement but I imagine it has something to do with the very reason I’m praising this bike. S is in the business of selling bikes and a steel bike will last a lifetime, adapt to trends, and S wants its customers to upgrade every few years. They’re also a carbon company, so their expertise lies in engineering carbon bikes. Using another factory to make a handful of frames was probably difficult to manage.

Then there’s the market report, noting that “bikepacking” and “adventure” bike sales have swayed a bit, bowing to the immense weight that is the roadie 2.0 market merging into the already plump “gravel” movement.

That said, the Sequoia remains in the lineup, but one must beg the question, “for how long?”

Desert Peacock

With our last trip, two years ago, our route had a considerable amount of sand, making me request that Dylan and Erik ride fatbikes, rather than AWOLs. For this trip, however, we would hit sand but it would mostly be during our descents, making it a bit easier to navigate on a smaller tire.

Erik used his trusty rack and pannier setup, with a Burro Burro seat bag, Pizza Rack, and Pizza Rack Bag, guy-lining his bike to make access easy, carrying 10l of water to be self-sufficient and packing his vegan gourmet setup to regain those precious calories.

A big difference with this build is the flat bar and 650b wheels. He stuffed a 27.5 x 2.3″
tire into the AWOL to give him a bit of padding against the washboard, rocks, and deep sand. The flat bars would let him steer this stout bike with ease and allowed him to go Eagle on his Peacock.

We’ll be looking at our Central Death Valley route tomorrow, with a plethora of information and photos to stoke your winter desert flames. Stay tuned!