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Bicycle Touring
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Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Bicycle Touring on 03/11/2010 12:27:18 MST Print View

A place to discuss ultralight bicycle touring also referred to as ultralight bikepacking.

David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"Bicycle Touring" on 03/11/2010 15:18:11 MST Print View

I just wanted to post here first!

But seriously, I did one overnight "stealth" camp in a nearby park on my bike and it was great. I would definitely like to do more.

Maybe the folks going on the upcoming Bay Area BPL trip to Henry Coe can get a feel for how that park is for bikes.

My understanding is that it's very steep throughout the park, but I've never been.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Bicycle Touring on 03/11/2010 16:51:00 MST Print View

Wow Sam! I didn't expect this! Very nice!

I have to apologize for my own snarkyness the other day.


Edited by butuki on 03/11/2010 16:52:28 MST.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Bicycle Touring on 03/11/2010 17:11:24 MST Print View

Personally I prefer not to take a bicycle onto hiking trails, much preferring to walk them, but I do very much like bikepacking on remote roads and using the bicycle to get to trailheads and connecting long stretches between hiking trails. I've done a lot of bicycle travel, far more than I've hiked. In 1995 I traveled around Europe for 6 months by bicycle and was able to get to certain areas that either would be difficult by car or that would be too long by walking, or that simply are quieter and more enjoyable at the pace of a bicycle. My dream is to bicycle from Alaska to Patagonia, and also from Kamchatka to London, though I wonder if I'll ever be able to do them. I'm constantly at odds between hiking and bicycling, always torn between them (and sea kayaking, too!).

The best stretch of a tour I've ever taken was the old "Golden Road" on the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan, back in 1977, when half of Hokkaido's roads were still dirt tracks. It was pouring rain, wind bucking off the ocean with huge waves crashing across the road at points, so foggy that we could only see about 30 meters ahead, and mired in mud, but, man, we had the time of our lives! I was only 17.

The best downhill I ever rode was a 125 kilometer, non-stop downhill from the northern flank of Mt. Fuji all the way down to Fuji City on the southern coast.

And the most beautiful road I ever bicycled on is a difficult choice, but along the fjords of Norway might just be it. Hard, but sublime! Nova Scotia comes pretty close, too.

I didn't do UL bicycling, but I intend to start now with my Bike Friday New World Tourist.

David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"Bicycle Touring" on 03/11/2010 17:16:54 MST Print View

I like a nice single-track, but I do try to keep it legal.

We have a lots of mountain biking spots around here (SF Bay Area), but not many allow back country camping.

I know Coe has a MANY miles of fire road, not sure about the single-track.

I would love to find a spot to bike in, set up a base camp, then explore on bike for a day or two.

Of course, I'll probably have to buy a bunch of new stuff.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
hike v. bike on 03/11/2010 17:32:32 MST Print View

I enjoy hiking and biking for reasons both overlapping and divergent.

I do like riding pretty technical stuff, and generally if I can ride a mountain bike on it, I prefer to bikepack. Hiking is for rough stuff, off trail, wilderness (another issue), and national parks (yet another).

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
bikepacking on 03/11/2010 19:26:04 MST Print View

I like backpacking, but I don't always care that much about the 'walking' part of it. I like MTBing so combining the two is often the best of both worlds for me. The part I like least about hiking in the mountains is the downhill stretches, and the part of MTB that I like best is the downhill, so it makes many routes a lot more fun.

There is a separate website for bikepacking:

John Davis
(Bukidnon) - F
Bicycle Touring on 10/01/2010 11:37:22 MDT Print View

David, in Britain, before the invention of the mountain bike, rough stuff was for cycling and the Rough Stuff Fellowship still exists. Some of the places rough stuff cyclists went defy belief. I felt dizzy just looking at a photo of Geoff Newey's bicycle perched in the middle of a high angle ice patch. But he used to cheat. He carried a pedal spanner so that portages would be easier, for example when crossing a pass which linked two remote, Canadian valleys.

My question is whether ultralight bicycle touring requires an ultralight bicycle - for example a sub-20 pound hard tail. Shaving weight off a touring bicycle is surely easier than shaving weight off camping gear.

Ryan Dunne

Locale: Humboldt
Ultralight bikes on 10/03/2010 06:56:08 MDT Print View

I like to tour lightweight, but wouldn't consider using a super lightweight bike for touring anything but the most bicycle-friendly routes. So you're planning on riding 150 miles a day. What happens when you're in the middle of that and you break something you can't fix?

My opinion is it depends on the route. I rode the Pacific Coast a couple months ago and would say for that route a 20lb bike would be fine as long as you weren't loading it down. Right now I'm starting to plan a great divide trip and couldn't imagine taking a bike with most 'lightweight' components.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: ultralight bikes on 10/03/2010 10:41:03 MDT Print View

With bicycles there's light, and then there's light. My main ride (a Lenz Leviathan, a full suspension 29er) is built about as light as I care to make it. Going light would mean either sacrificing reliability (which I agree is a silly thing to do for most), or buying really expensive components (if I win the lottery I'll get some carbon rims). Even if I did a money is no object rebuild of the bike (which would entail lighter rims, hubs, bottom bracket, and cranks) I'd probably only drop 2-3 pounds at most.

Building a light and strong engine (me) is far more profitable.

On the other hand, a ti hardtail would automatically drop almost 2 pounds off my bike, and a carbon rigid fork another 1.5 or more. I bet Chris Plesko's recording setting rigid singlespeed was around 20 pounds without any stupid light components.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Ultralight bikes on 10/03/2010 14:13:44 MDT Print View

I hope you saw the thread about the 6-pound bike.


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: 6 pound bikes on 10/03/2010 14:33:42 MDT Print View

Road bikes are barely bikes in my opinion.

John Davis
(Bukidnon) - F
Bicycle Touring on 10/07/2010 10:16:24 MDT Print View

Sam said: "A place to discuss ultralight bicycle touring also referred to as ultralight bikepacking."

If we are less anal about our bicycle than we are about our camping gear, surely it is just ordinary cycle touring and not ultralight bikepacking. This is theorising. My Thorn xTc has strong, steel tubing.

My posts are one place you will not see anything about 150 mile days despite my tourer's comfort. As for breakages, have you had any recently. They used to be a plague in the 70s but I've gone for weeks, mainly on road but also off on the xTc without problem. I'm touching wood while stating that metalurgy has come on in leaps and bounds in the last 35 years.

Consumables are one area where a cyclist can beat a backpacker. The range possible on two wheels makes shops accessible more frequently.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
touring on 10/08/2010 22:02:10 MDT Print View

If you tour on light cycling products and carry anything heavier then a credit card you will get to meet me or any other of a bunch of skilled fellows with torch and tig or Craig Calfee's carbon genius,I'm about the second or third day in on a northern ride across the US and during the season get calls from the LBSs to see if I can patch something up repeatedly. That said bikepacking differs from our other pursuits by the need to carry basic repair items for the bike and the ability to resupply more often [as stated above] and the possibility of providing cover for the bike.
The last bikepacking trip I took I used a hard tail mtn bike with frame bags and a bolt on aero bar extension that allowed me a place to strap my tent without resorting to a front rack + more body positions. It was mixed road and off-road.
I cannot ride any distance wearing anything more then a fanny pack but other folks might be able to carry a pack.

John Davis
(Bukidnon) - F
Bicycle Touring on 10/09/2010 23:28:04 MDT Print View

Thorn xTc touring bicycle
Definitely not ultralight with Ortleib panniers and an Akto aboard, but tough and comfortable.

That aero bar arrangement sounds interesting, Larry. Robin Thorn, whose company made my bicycle, is a Rohloff enthusiast. I avoided that kind of gearing because I was given the impression that it would not work with drop bars. You may have hit upon the solution.

Two questions.
Where do you fix your lights?
How often do you have to fix adapted cross bikes?

Edited by Bukidnon on 10/09/2010 23:34:26 MDT.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
cross bikes and lights on 10/13/2010 12:43:05 MDT Print View

Cross bikes are a decent alternative especially considering most use cantilever brakes, what you do have to watch is heel clearance if you mount a rack to the panniers, many cross bikes have short chainstays to aid in climbing traction and you can have some interference with traditional style touring bags. There is a possibility of going ultralight using a seatpost mounted rack like the Moots tailgator but don't use a carbon seatpost with them.
moot's tailgator
For a light I've been using an Exposure Joystick that I siliconed to a quick release handlebar mount fastened to the apex of the bar extension and a seatpost flasher.
I've never had to repair a cross bike used for touring.single speed touring bike
This is a single speed touring bike commisioned by a former pro-BMXer. He had me build an internal chase for a bottle mounted battery pack, I tried to highlight it, this bike also has 3 sets of bottle mounts and I did try to talk him out of the single speed thing too.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
this bike on 10/13/2010 12:52:45 MDT Print View

This bike is based on cross geometry, sorry I left it out.

Craig Savage
(tremelo) - F

Locale: San Jacinto Mountains
Re: this bike on 10/14/2010 19:28:45 MDT Print View

Some close-ups of the amazing welds pyeyo does:

perfect beads

The bmx'r he speaks of has always been a primo photographer as well as an amazing rider. If you get a chance, please check out Sandy's new book.

Plug over, pyeyo's custom rides are mint.

Edited by tremelo on 10/14/2010 22:24:29 MDT.

Willem Jongman
(willem) - F
Rohloff shifter for drop bars on 10/27/2010 12:55:10 MDT Print View

My expedition tourer will take me to the end of the world and back. It is a steel custom bike with 26 inch wheels, a Rohloff hub, drop bar, Magura HS 66 hydraulic rim brakes, and a SON hub generator and lights. For a Rohloff shifter for drop bars, see: The bike is built for strength and reliability, so I think the 16 kg all in weight (including a frame lock, rear rack, fenders etc) is not bad at all. The Rohloff hub is perfect for such a bike for rough conditions.
Of course, a lighter bike would be nice, but compromises would be necessary. I will not use dangerous parts like carbon rims, handlebars or forks, and my bike needs to cope with pretty severe off road beatings and unsympathetic bagage handlers. The light end of the sensible range would be a 10-12 kg (complete with fenders, racks and lights) classic 650 B rando bike in the French tradition. With one of those you could still take ultralight camping gear in a French style bar bag and a UK style saddle bag, and with 38-42 mm tyres you could comfortably and safely ride not only tarmac, but also fire roads and most trails. I am comtemplating getting one built, as an alternative to my loaded tourer, for lighter and faster but less demanding trips.
I have been reducing my luggage weight considerably over the last few years, but cycling will always remain a bit different from backpacking. Ortlieb are currently experimenting with (and selling small numbers of) considerably lighter pannier bags, but even so, those still need stiffeners and relatively heavy mounting systems. Cyclists also need tools and spares to the tune of at least a pound, and sometimes two pounds. On the other hand, weight is not nearly as critical as it is with backpacking. On flat terrain weight matters little. But with climbing it sure does.

Edited by willem on 10/27/2010 12:57:16 MDT.

John Davis
(Bukidnon) - F
Ultralight Bicycle Touring on 01/25/2011 15:26:49 MST Print View

I guess if we really want to know about the ultralight approach to touring on a bicycle, the practices of racers on the Continental Divide are the place to look. A bicycle which makes it from Canada to Mexico is tough enough for me.

However, I don't understand those bags which fit inside the frame. Don't those racers ever have to shoulder their steeds? Perhaps slow preparation for portage is the price for avoiding panniers, which can be difficult off road.