To test a durable and versatile bike like the DSS2 – one that’s built to be ridden on road, gravel and for touring – we knew we had to do something special. A real challenge. To that end, Tom Donhou and his good friend and photographer George Marshall took two of the prototype DSS2 models to Iceland, with a goal of traversing the country’s barren and rugged interior, unsupported, fuelled by nothing more than pasta, tinned tuna and a healthy sense of adventure.
The pair struck out from near Reykjavik and immediately found the conditions testing – persistent rain and 15% climbs ensured they had to battle for every kilometre. Fortunately, they were starting out on the tarmac surfaces near to Iceland’s biggest city and the DSS2 has road riding in its DNA.
After 2 days of hard riding and gradually leaving civilisation behind, it was onto the Sprengisandsleið – an ancient pass that strikes straight through the heart of the barrenest, most otherworldly and challenging terrain in Iceland. The name of this fearsome road is derived from the term ‘to ride your horse to death, to explode from exhaustion’. A charming moniker and the ideal way to explore the capabilities of the newest ‘steed’ in the Signature Steel range.
Any semblance of surfaced roads soon vanished – the Sprengisandsleið is a mix of hard pack, gravel, sand and rock strewn tracks. Near to the start, a sign by the road serves to drive home just how barren the next few days would be, “Next services 254km”.
The route skirts round the edges of calm, blue lakes; climbs high into the interior; offers tremendous vistas of melting glaciers and the imposing Hagafell mountain; and is buffeted by constant winds that saw both George and Tom unseated more than once. Still the DSS2 endured, sticking steadfastly to the job at hand, giving confidence in the increasingly tougher and tougher conditions.
Trying to outrun the storm that had been threatened for some days prior, it eventually caught up as the pair reached Nyidalur – a lonely mountain hut offering shelter to weather beaten travellers. When they asked about the possibility of continuing on, the ranger at the station shut the idea down very quickly, “These winds you experience are nothing compared to what will come through the night”. It would have been foolhardy to carry on.
Two days later, they dropped down from the desert plateau, eventually reaching the Northern stronghold of Akureyri and the northern Norwegian Sea. They took a lot of heart from the way the two bikes had stood up to the test. With no mechanical issues beyond a few punctures, and with great performance in some of the toughest conditions either rider had ever experienced, the DSS2 remained undaunted by the Icelandic extremes.
100% happy with the DSS2’s performance, Tom started production as soon as he arrived back to the workshop.
We would like to thank Pannier and Brooks England for their support with this project. If you would like to read more on the trip, there is a full account, with lots more of Georges photographs over on the Pannier Journal.