Bennie (old GMC Safari)
Alicia Legget (@offleash568) describes her Van with an affection generally reserved for bicycles, or dogs. An accredited EWS racer, factory Knolly rider, and general badass, Alicia genially refers to Bennie the Battleship, a GMC Safari of unimportant, or perhaps unknown age as a ‘rad beast’. Bennie is a sturdy affair- driving dynamics are perhaps described best as ‘intentional’ or ‘nautical’.
Allegedly capable of speeds north of 90 mph, Bennie prefers a more stately 60. Carefully designed and built to be self-sufficient and sporting an independent streak a mile wide, the Safari is a natural travel companion for Alicia.
Living in her van full time, Alicia has driven to Arizona, California, Whistler, New Mexico, crisscrossed Montana and more- the Battleship’s modest lift and aggressive tires allow it to reach all manner of trailheads, in all manner of conditions.
Adept at nomadic living, Alicia has a knack for practical skills that suit her adventures. Preferring to travel unaccompanied, her relaxed, easy going demeanor is reflected by her home’s DIY interior. A few bungee nets, under-bed storage, a rooftop box, and the passenger seat offer all the storage options a girl could want, for any adventure that Alicia embarks on.
Alicia’s carbon Knolly Warden is built using the same philosophy- reliability is prioritized over weight. A SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain paired with Spank wheels, Cushcore, and suspension by MRP (fork) and Fox (shock). Skid triggers by TRP. Pro tip: Alicia and Bennie will be traveling to various EWS races this year, add her to your fantasy team.
Layla (Dodge Ram 1500 Van)
Shayli Lones (@shaylischralps) and her husband Spencer rescued their Ram 1500 Van from it’s pedestrian life as a commercial delivery vehicle, and christened her Layla - after the 1970 Eric Clapton song. Loosely based on a 12th century romantic saga, Layla (the song) was heavily influenced by Erik Clapton’s infatuation with Pattie Boyd, the then-wife of the Beatles’ George Harrison. This tidbit has no bearing on Shayli, her van, or her bicycle, however the blues-rock hit is exemplary of the music enjoyed by the duo as they travel together with their trail dog Thea around the Western US.
Layla (the van) was built by Shayli and Spencer to be a highly specialized support vehicle, capable of carrying them, the pup, and two Knolly Fugitives. Based in Utah, the dynamic duo are quick to pick out the presence of real sheets as Ram 1500’s best attribute. Anticipating the question, Shayli explains that the low roof was necessary due to the desert wind, and clearance needed to access remote, and often heavily wooded camping spots.
Complete with a twin mattress (again, with real sheets), a vertical bike storage system, and plenty of drawers to hold necessities such as solar panels, and a space heater, Layla is a shining example of why we all need engineers in our lives. No wood glue or zip ties adorn the interior, instead an aluminum bed frame, personalized hammock setup, and Lego level customization options ensure she is ready for everything, and any weather.
Accompanying Shayli and her van is Thea the trail dog. Boasting a travel resume as good as any Instagram influencer, this hound has even run Mag 7 trail in Moab. Trained to let Shayli know when other trail users are approaching a climb, Thea follows the latest enduro fashion trends, preferring to forgo a pack of any sort- instead relying on Shayli to carry water for them both.
“We've always been drawn to high quality. We buy gear that we can use. And oh do we use it.” - Shayli Lones
Shayli and her husband both have chosen the Fugitive LT as their weapon of choice. Quick to credit the versatility of the platform, Shayli explains that the bike is forgiving enough for Colorado bike parks, while retaining the mile-eating trail ability that Rocky Mountain backcountry expeditions require.
Earl-aka-Sandoma (Toyota Tacoma)
Michael (@grimlandm) is a firm believer in the ‘built, not bought’ philosophy. Unfortunately he isn’t remotely mechanically inclined enough to fabricate the interior of his own van, so he settled on outfitting his third-generation Toyota Tacoma with various accourtaments that lend themselves to accessing remote trailheads and comfortable living arrangements at enduro races. Although he prefers not to name bikes and vehicles, if pressed, he will admit the rugged tan Tacoma has a softer side, and prefers to be called Earl.
Equipped with a Voodoo bed rack supporting a Tepui roof top tent, Michael swears he had the tent before they were cool- an overland hipster, so to speak. TRD wheels and Falken rubber keep the Taco rolling where it’s pointed, while LED lighting thwarts the majority of malignant efforts by Montana mule deer. Yes, he knows he should have gotten a long bed. An oft-recommended Recon Rack adorns Earl’s derriere.
Riding for Knolly's Regional team, Michael’s summer is filled with road trips across the rocky mountain west, chasing the Montana Enduro Series and various higher profile races such as the North American Enduro Cup, and NorthWest Cup downhill series. A Fugitive LT, made as capable as possible with a 160mm Lyric up front, We Are One Composite wheels, and Schwalbe Magic Marys complete with Cushcore front and rear means all types of racing can be accomplished with only one bicycle.
Earl-aka-Sandoma enjoys flexing in parking lots while Michael chases Strava times on the Le-Mans blue Fugitive, and has recently been relieved of commuting duty with the addition of a KLR 650 motorcycle.
Dream #vanlife van (Iveco Daily)
Martin Zietsman’s (@martin_zietsman) Iveco Daily van is all business- what it lacks in name, is made up for in sheer detail. Every inch of available space has been analyzed and obsessed over, with the end result being a truly impressive, mobile workstation with more amenities and creature comforts than one might expect, given the near-surgical levels of tidiness. Complete with refrigeration and a stove, this behemoth is Xzibit-approved, especially with the flat screen tucked neatly into a corner.
The van’s 2.8 liter diesel engine helped the Daily win the prestigious ‘Van of the year” in 2000, and this one in particular is soldering on, to give 2019’s competition a run for its money.
Martin’s mug shot can be found next to the definition of ‘Engineer’ in the dictionary, truly the person you want to find in the parking lot next time you start twirling the dials on your fork and wonder where all the traction went.
Having left his job in February, Zietsman is racing full time, including a promising EWS finish. When asked if he would take the lifestyle leap again, Martin replied:
“It's what I've wanted to do more than anything my entire life and one day I realized that if I didn't just do it, it would never happen. Not regretted a single day of it yet!!”
As for the draw to Knolly? Easy, after being persuaded to try the 4by4 suspension system, Martin says he’s never looked back, and has made some great friends and met fellow Knation riders around the world.
With a Fugitive LT and a Carbon Warden on tap, Martin is ready for most anything the EWS can throw at him. “I’ve never felt more comfortable and confident” he says when asked for riding impressions.