Omar di Felice will cross Antarctica on a Wilier fat bike prototype
We most often think of Wilier for lightweight carbon road and mountain bikes, but ultra-cyclist and environmental activist Omar di Felice is about to pedal Antarctica’s longest bike crossing on a prototype. fat bike Wilier. In teasers of the -50C, 1,600km long, 10,800m high expedition effort across the South Pole, Omar di Felice is seen riding an unlabeled carbon fat bike, but his most recent preparatory training through Iceland this summer was on an alloy prototype, custom-made for him by Wilier Triestina…
A Wilier fat bike prototype to cross Antarctica
Cycling through Antarctica has been Omar di Felice’s lifelong dream, and now, after years of increasingly extreme winter adventures, Antarctica Unlimited is coming soon.
The bike that Wilier developed for Omar di Felice to ride 1600 km across Antarctica is a welded raw alloy frame. He had previously ridden what appears to have been a blacked-out Canyon Dude. But this new aluminum prototype seeks to retain the 27.5-inch wheels, while increasing tire clearance for the extra flotation needed to traverse the unpredictable snow and ice of Antarctica.
Omar trained for the next expedition exclusively on fat bikes fitted with Manitou’s Mastodon Pro suspension forks. Although it’s unclear if he’ll stick with the Antarctic trip or opt for a lighter, simpler rigid fork?
As for the rolling stock, even fully blacked out to hide the tan sidewalls of the non-sponsor tires, Omar’s bike as he rode through Iceland earlier this summer was fitted with 27.5 x 4.5″ 45NRTH Dillinger studded tires 5, with 252 concave carbide tipped studs for grip in icy conditions.
Its hubs are labeled as Mavic which is its correct wheel sponsor, but we don’t really think Mavic is working on a prototype fat bike wheelset, here.
Instead, the shape of the rim cutouts (particularly around the valve) suggest it is a set of the latest 27.5″ edition of the 76mm in-house DT Swiss BR 2250 wheels which have been only introduced as a Canyon when their Dude carbon bike switched to larger diameter wheels two winters ago.
Another interesting tidbit here, it uses Shimano’s recent Deore LinkGlide 1x 11-speed drivetrain which promises increased durability from the 11-50T cassette for high-load situations.
Omar’s prototype alloy frame has a wide seat and chainstays that go very thin on the tire sidewalls to make room for the big tires, while likely keeping the bottom bracket and crank Q-factor relatively narrow. Presumably, to compensate for the thin tube sections, the frame features a number of braces, reinforcements and gussets – including at the seat cluster, seatstay bridge and BB.
The prototype fat bike frame routes the cables outboard along the seatstays, but then they seem to travel inboard into the downtube, exiting on the left side just behind the tapered head tube.
The bike also features a sturdy-looking stud to attach a rear rack and a set of cage mounts under the downtube for a tool bottle. Omar can usually be seen riding a mix of a custom frame bag, stock saddle bag and Wilier branded strap toptube bag, all made in Italy by Miss Grape.
Unique Off-The-Bike equipment too!
The Ski Pulk Paris luge is true fat bike expedition gear that has remained consistent no matter what frame Di Felice is pedaling on the snow. Lightweight, American-made sleds take the weight off the bike itself for better maneuverability. And when you go on a two-month self-guided ride through the South Pole, you’ll need plenty of extra food, warm clothes, and emergency gear to go along with the ride.
The standard Ski Pulk attaches a hitch to the seat post, but it might also be possible to attach it more securely to a rear rack setup.
Beyond the bike, it will take a lot of warm clothes. Italian sportswear outfitter UYN has developed a special high-altitude, low-temperature fat bike expedition suit for Omar, based on their mountaineering suits, but adapted for pedaling. Then put on a warm beanie, a few layers of Buffs and a Lazer aero helmet because #aeroiseeverything…
But also because the adjustable ventilation of the Bullet 2.0 helmet allows you to regulate the temperature on varied terrains. Fat biking is hard work, and sweating it out at -40°C isn’t going to end well.
Antarctica Unlimited, Omar Di Felice’s latest challenge
“Antarctica Unlimited is part of the “Bike to 1.5°C” initiative, through which Omar seeks to raise awareness of the serious climate crisis, this time in Antarctica. The region is known to be a real-time map of climate change and, unfortunately, where the effects of global warming are most visible. In fact, this is an area where scientists around the world are studying climate change. We need look no further than ESA (the European Space Agency) which is currently working in Antarctica with radar to monitor glaciers and analyze global temperature trends.”
Di Felice’s Antarctica Unlimited challenge continues the Italian cyclist’s effort to raise awareness of the impacts of climate change and in particular how the world’s glaciers are melting at an increasing rate.
From this Antarctic Winter/Summer (exact date to be determined), Di Felice will set off on his planned 60-day expedition from the coast at Hercules Inlet on the Ronne Ice Shelf (as do many overland expeditions to the South Pole). He plans to travel to the South Pole, then return to the coast opposite the Ross Ice Shelf under Leverett Glacier (halfway to McMurdo Station), then return to the South Pole itself to complete the trip as the longest bike ride through Antarctica. .
“This is the longest bicycle crossing through Antarctica, in which Di Felice will cross the South Pole from coast to coast: a solo expedition of 1,600 km and 10,800 m D+ in temperatures as low as -50°C.
In the coming weeks, all the details will be unveiled on the timetable for the cycling expedition, which will undoubtedly be the most delicate and exciting phase of the project, and which is closely linked to the permits necessary to cross Antarctica.”
Keep up to date with Omar’s expedition on Facebook, Instagram and Komoot.