Jon Yazzie from Dzil Ta’ah Adventures and His Ti Vassago Optimus 29+ SS Bikepacking Rig

We rolled back into Kayenta from an overnighter with Jon Yazzie from Dzil Ta’ah Adventures and I reminded him that I wanted to shoot his bike. “Yeah! Leave the bags on it. As is…” I said to him. Jon took a few moments to tidy up the straps and make sure the bags were tight and neat before handing it off to me. He loves this bike and so I took it as an honor to photograph it. For me, there’s nothing better than riding with the person whose bike you’re documenting. It feels less transactional and more personal. You get to see how they treat their ride. Are they crashers or thrashers? In doing so, there’s a real connection that’s established. For Jon and I, we’ve spent a few years communicating over email when projects arise. Josh has done an exceptional job documenting Dzil Ta’ah Adventures’ trips in Arizona in the past and this trip was the first time I met Jon in person. It felt like a no-brainer to shoot his titanium Vassago Optimus 29+ tourer, so check it out in detail below.

If you have ever met Yazzie, you know his love for the brand Vassago. He has a rigid fatbike, a rigid 29+ (this bike), and a hardtail (which he talks about making rigid). All singlespeed. All perfectly aged with the right amount of beausage riding in the desert provides. Want to patina your bike like a desert bike? Rub it with sandpaper…

This one in particular is perfect. We use the term “dialed” a lot and if there was ever a Radavist Wiki or dictionary, this build would be next to the word. It’s an Optimus and Vassago builds each frame from 3AL/2.5V titanium tubing, with s-Bend/ovalized oversize chainstays, sliding dropouts, which can be used in singlespeed (32×20) applications such as this.

For bags, Jon used Nuclear Sunrise Stitchworks. Based in El Paso, TX, they specialize in bikepacking bags and have thoroughly vetted them in the desert. Perfect for someone who lives right outside Monument Valley, the most iconic desert landscape.

Jon makes the most with his bag real estate, packing everything he needs for either an overnighter or a multiple-night trip on the Optimus’ frame as so. We only did an overnighter with Jon – which we’re posting tomorrow – but he took off on a four-day trip a few days after we left and didn’t bother unpacking his bike.

I did my best to document all the products used to assemble this handsome ride, but if you have any questions on components, drop them in the comments…

Pedaling this bike to photograph it in front of a mural I saw while riding back into town, I couldn’t help but notice how well it rode. Titanium bikes, especially when loaded down, have a very unique ride quality. Some would call it “noodly” but I find it extremely comfortable. They flex when you turn, move with you when you’re out of the saddle, and gobble up washboarded roads, as well as anything can…

Riding with Jon was a real treat. Shooting this bike was just the icing on the cake. Check back tomorrow for our trip Reportage and if you’re curious what Dzil Ta’ah Adventures is all about, don’t miss out on the Related articles below!