For the Nepal trip I rode my 2008 Giant Trance X0. Any mountain bike would have been fine. With the high altitude steep climbs and occasional big distances, though, the singlespeeds would have been inconvenient. And the local availability (albeit limited) of replacements recommended in favor of 26″ wheels. With respect to the latter, I had in my imagination the time Greg Roubidoux’s wheel was horribly mangled on the way to Pakistan; he ended up running a very impromptu and problematic 69er. Finally, knowing that we’d be doing a lot of bike carrying argued in favor of the lightest weight machine possible. Really, the complete calculation yields a rigid geared 26er, but since I don’t have one of those, nor a 26er hardtail, I took the dualie instead. Risky? Sure: a blown shock likely wouldn’t have found a straightforward remedy.
In the event, I had no mechanicals and only one puncture. Beyond that, I’ll sheepishly admit it: the 27lbs. Nevegal-shod hydraulic brake 5″ travel Trance was beyond excellent. At home I hardly ever ride the thing (why I even own it has to do with my road team sponsorship and wanting a replacement for a stolen Superlight), preferring the rigid singlespeed 29er for the irrational aesthetic elements. But the Trance is a rocketship: fast, comfortable, confident. I descended ancient staircases and severely broken track at full tilt, danced over technical singletrack, and locked everything out for climbing. It’s great.
Incidentally, my expedition mate Alex rode a rigid 7speed 29er.