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Jordan P
(jordo_99) - MLife

Locale: Nebraska
Thinking about making/selling UL bike gear... on 03/21/2013 12:29:39 MDT Print View

I'm trying to get an idea of how much demand there would be for some UL bike gear.
I'm thinking about s startup with UL kits in mind...this would be stuff like Cuben and silynlon panniers and other bags. One specific thing would be waterproof bike covers (or even just a seat cover):

Panniers be very light (3-4oz) but mostly aimed at the rider who just needs volume for their UL gear--clothes, down bags, etc. Likely a 10-15lb limit.
Bike covers weighing in at around 6oz
Seat cover would be under 1oz
Pannier covers 1oz

Any idea how much interest there would be in this? I'm a regular cyclist but have very limited bike camping and touring experience and I'm looking to get into it a lot more once the weather allows it...still there's not much of this going on where I'm at so it's hard to gauge interest.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
UL Bike Gear on 03/21/2013 12:42:14 MDT Print View

If you haven't already, check out www.bikepacking.net

It's sorta' like the BPL for bikepacking trips...

Rob E
(eatSleepFish)

Locale: Canada
Re: Thinking about making/selling UL bike gear... on 03/21/2013 13:16:40 MDT Print View

If you search around there is a huge bike packing/touring community, and there is definitely interest in gear. So do your market research... just like the UL cottage industry, there are quite a few bike packing cottage gear makers out there, plus a pretty strong MYOG community for making bike packing and touring gear.

Edited by eatSleepFish on 03/21/2013 13:17:48 MDT.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Thinking about making/selling UL bike gear... on 03/21/2013 15:02:49 MDT Print View

Competitive bicyclists not only already have the weight-saving bug, but are willing to pay much more $/gram saved than UL BPers.

Of course, no one races with panniers, but even so, for touring cyclists, they've already been getting the save-weight message in all their gear buying.

I'd agree that soft goods are ripe for weight-saving fabrics. And for a start-up. Maybe not for kits, though. If someone is willing to sew it themselves, they aren't far from totally DIYing it. And they want to retain the $$ savings in return for their labor. So I'd suggest you think more about selling completed ultralight and custom cuben / silnylon gear that you sew.

Starting with lighter fabric, there wouldn't be as much weight penalty to have compartmentalized and divided pannier and handlebar bags. I know I'm always rooting around the bottom of a bag for the allen wrench or my wallet and "a place for everything and everything in its place" while still being many ounces lighter could be a win-win.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Re: Thinking about making/selling UL bike gear... on 03/22/2013 08:44:23 MDT Print View

Not sure how much demand there is. I know that the interest in going lighter does seem to be growing.

I will say that these days I tour in that weight range and rather than use panniers just use sil-nylon dry bags that are already available and in the weight range you mention.

I can't imagine that too many who go ultralight would carry a bike cover, I know that I wouldn't. Ditto for seat cover and pannier covers.

So the specific items you mention are not all that interesting to me. Of the list, the panniers come the closest to interesting me.

Also when you are talking 10-15 pounds of gear it is pretty easy to carry 1/3 of it in a bar roll or handlebar bag, 1/3 or it strapped under the seat, and 1/3 of it on your back. I tried that approach and liked it pretty well.

Christopher *
(cfrey.0) - M

Locale: US East Coast
Maybe on 03/23/2013 10:47:32 MDT Print View

Agree with above comments, but will admit even the custom-made gear for lightweight off-road touring trends toward being overbuilt. I'm fortunate enough to own a really nice Porcelain Rocket set-up and, while I love it, I'm pretty certain it could survive nuclear war. I started making my own stuff as a result.

Matt Thyer
(mthyer) - MLife

Locale: Pacific North West
Weight Savings? on 04/14/2013 10:16:41 MDT Print View

The problem with weight saving on a bike (touring or bikepacking) is that most cyclists never really feel any added weight; not the same way that a backpacker will. Weight weenies, as the guys who shave grams off peddle housings are known, just don't pop up that often in the world of long distance, self-supported riding where its easy to carry both bulk and weight. So I think the majority of your market is going to have to be people who have an irrational obsession with weight savings and this may tend to limit your growth potential as a company.

Another problem is that while on a bike a rider is less capable than a walker at protecting relatively delicate fabrics used in UL construction. There's a reason you see a ton of 500+ D Cordura and rubberized canvas in bike touring gear. I've punched a whole through a pannier when my kick stand sunk in soft dirt dropping a set of Ortleibs onto a poky stick in the ground. Have you ever ridden during mud month in the Rockies? There's salt and road goop everywhere, one weekend tour is enough to discolor most heavy duty fabrics permanently. I'd hate to see what might happen to > 1 oz materials given these conditions.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Thinking about making/selling UL bike gear... on 04/15/2013 17:23:53 MDT Print View

I have been thinking about this myself recently, as I return to cycling after a long, long break. I have recently purchased a handle bar harness and a Viscacha seat post bag from Revelate. I haven't used them much yet, but they seem superbly designed and made. At first they reminded me a little of my old Dana Designs rucksack in terms of seeming over built.

The Harness weighs 18oz with a large 20L dry sack. The Viscacha is 14oz and a max volume of 20L as per BPL review, so we have a total volume of 40L for a weight of 2lbs. A 40 L Porter pack from HMG weighs 26 oz, so the difference in not huge. There is probably a bit of weight saving to be had, but personally I am happy with the weight of my Revelate bags becasue:

1. Bike packs seem to me to take a lot of punishment in terms of rubbing against metal and the vibrations of riding. I don't want my seat post bag to fail when I am 8 hours ride from the road end. I also want them to be well secured or the effect on handling will be heightened.

2. My bike (Surly Ogre)is designed for durability over weight savings and any frame bag savings are going to be minor as proportion of total weight.

3. It seems to me that total weight is not as important in biking as it is in backpacking, becasue in biking the weight isn't carried on the body. I also feel that fitness and conditioning makes a huge difference in cycling.

4. I am already using UL camp, clothing and cook kit.

Bikepacking may well develop an ultralight arm in terms of bikes and bags, but I think the advantages will be less clear cut and the trade off greater than for




Chris Zimmer made Doug some Cuben panniers if I remember rightly.

Dan Swick
(rascaltwitch) - F
delicate fabrics on 04/24/2013 12:56:34 MDT Print View

I would mirror what others here have said. I don't believe the market for UL bike baggage is going to be the same as backpacking. It's just an entirely different set of constraints. Having seen the kinds of wear and tear on heavy canvas and tarpaulin baggage, I just can't see sil and cuben surviving long hours of abrasion and/or potential crashes.

Christopher *
(cfrey.0) - M

Locale: US East Coast
Re: delicate fabrics on 04/24/2013 17:02:51 MDT Print View

Weird. I am not accustomed to hearing the "voice of moderation" regarding weight savings on this site. This is BPL, right? LOL.

Okay. I'll be the devils advocate.

POINT 1: People used to poo-poo the idea of lightweight backpacking gear. That view evolved.

POINT 2: It depends on what kind of bike touring you do and the geometry of the frame you ride. Weight on a bike can have enormous effect on handling and balance.. I have riden the Great Divide route. The off-road route tips, pitches and climbs and you feel every pound as much as if it were strapped on your back. Heck ... in many cases the bike winds up on your back as you hike-a-bike through a particularly narly section. I wanted to jettison whatever weight I could, wherever I could. Just like any good UL hiker. Now factor in sucking mud and soft fine sand and you cannot tell me weight doesn't matter on a bike.

POINT 3: It depends on what kind of system and gear you use. If you are thinking panniers, then I agree you want something bomber since they hang out all over the place. However, Tour Divide racers are known to pack sub-eight pound kits in frame bags, bar bags and seat bags alone. That is my system (I never use panniers) and the heavier weight fabrics are just over-kill in this case. My framebag, bar bag and seat bag have combined about as much capacity as a ULA Ohm at 1.5 times the Ohm's total weight ... and they obviously don't have the obligatory hip belt/harness/frame. Yes you have frame rub and moderate abrasion from laying the bike down but a backpack can easily take as much abuse. As with anything how you take care if your gear is a huge question.

I think that an argument can be made that there is a lack of UL specific providers in the bike-bag market. Chris Zimmer and the like can copy things in lighter fabrics, but it is not their sweet spot. Where are the bike-specific innovators?


I here-in end my turn at devils advocacy and will faithfully look for my BPL BoyScout badge in the mail.

Edited by cfrey.0 on 04/24/2013 17:12:34 MDT.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Thinking about making/selling UL bike gear... on 04/24/2013 17:59:17 MDT Print View

I am not accustomed to hearing the "voice of moderation" regarding weight savings on this site.

LOL. I have been noticing this a bit more lately, especially in terms of packs. Where people are trading off weight against a better carry.

People used to poo-poo the idea of lightweight backpacking gear. That view evolved.

That's why I wrote "Bikepacking may well develop an ultralight arm in terms of bikes and bags, but I think the advantages will be less clear cut and the trade off greater than for backpacking". The OP was asking if there was likely to be much demand now.

and you cannot tell me weight doesn't matter on a bike.

I don't think anyone did.

I think that an argument can be made that there is a lack of UL specific providers in the bike-bag market. Chris Zimmer and the like can copy things in lighter fabrics, but it is not their sweet spot. Where are the bike-specific innovators?

Agreed. I would have looked at options if they had been available. I think Porcelain Rocket are starting to experiment with stuff in Cuben.
http://hikinginfinland.com/2013/03/trip-report-contest.html

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Thinking about making/selling UL bike gear... on 04/24/2013 19:27:05 MDT Print View

"Chris Zimmer made Doug some Cuben panniers if I remember rightly."

Not only panniers, which performed great on a short trip in Germany (only 8 days, as I recall), but a seat post bag in cuben as well, which has been on my road bike ever since I returned from that trip in Germany a couple of years ago.

Note, though, that the panniers were a hybrid, cuben and dyneema (dyneema on the bottom and back). You can see them here: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=50709

Greg Wheelwright
(gdw) - M
Lightweight bikepacking gear on 04/24/2013 22:38:53 MDT Print View

The reason you're not seeing ultra lightweight gear is that there has been little interest in it from the target audience. Most bikepackers aren't racers and want reliable gear which will last for the life of their frame or bike and stand up to the abuse of riding singletrack where crashes and falls are part of the game. The few ounces you save by using a lightweight fabric or zipper aren't really worth the risk of having the piece fail while on a extended backcountry trip. The additional cost of products made from cuben is also a deterant since quite a few of the people getting into bikepacking are college age or recent graduates.

That said I think that there is a small market within the racing community especially among the riders competing in the Tour Divide. Is the market large enough to support a company specializing in lightweight gear...probably not yet. Several of the current manufacturers have and are willing to build gear made from cuben or the lightest Dimension Polyant fabrics. If you explain your needs to them the odds are they will take on the project.

Christopher *
(cfrey.0) - M

Locale: US East Coast
Re: Thinking about making/selling UL bike gear... on 04/24/2013 23:44:30 MDT Print View

Jason thanks for that link to Hendrik. I had not seen that ... I didn't even know Hendrik did bikes. That bar bag is from Eric at Revelate Designs. Scott from Porcelain Rocket makes sweet, sweet gear ... and he makes it to last. Like a millennium. Like until dinosaurs rule the earth again. But in all seriousness I cannot recommend a piece of gear more than the stuff from PR. It is some awesome kit from an awesome guy and I do not say that about many things.

Okay. To your post. And please remember ... I am the advocate of the devil here.

You suggest no one said weight didn't matter ... but Matt Thyer wrote just a few posts above yours in this thread "most cyclists never really feel any added weight ... Weight weenies just don't pop up that often in the world of long distance, self-supported riding where its easy to carry both bulk and weight." I read that to say weight on bikes doesn't matter ... because .... well ... because thats what those words mean when you put them together in that particular order. LOL. I just made myself giggle.

You stated "The OP was asking if there was likely to be much demand now." I would argue the average bike-tourer is witnessing his base-weight falling in step with the falling base-weights of average hikers as UL goods become more mainstream and begin to infiltrate the general commercial market. A lot of the gear crosses over ... hence a bike-packing thread on a backpacking site. The lacking commodities in the market ... the market right now ... are the UL bags for the bicycle. Well ... the exception apparently being Revelate Designs, Hendrik and Douglacide ... but I think the latter is addicted to cuben-fiber so I am not certain he counts.

From your previous post: "My bike (Surly Ogre) is designed for durability over weight savings and any frame bag savings are going to be minor as proportion of total weight." I disagree. One of my bikes is also an Ogre! I love that bike! The steel construction sucks up road buzz like a champ. It lets me comfortably run the frame fully rigid on ANY AND ALL terrain. The Ogre's steel frame is 5.6 pounds without modification and I run a 1.5 pound White Brothers aluminum crown/carbon leg rigid front fork. I also have a zippy 3 pound carbon 29er frame ... but it needs a 3.5 pound front suspension and a titanium seat post to actually be ridden outside. If you think systemically, you are only sacrificing about 8 ounces with the steel frame and the proper build. You are a bike-packing UL pioneer and you didn't even know it! Now all you need are lightweight bags! (Like how I tied that back to the OP? Can you say "full circle"?)

And now, in recognition of the fact that only you and I and the man who killed Douglas are reading this thread, and that even the OP gave up on it long ago, I rest my weak and quickly crumbling case.

PS: Jason I jumped on your site out of curiosity and you do some killer work!

Cheers!

Christopher *
(cfrey.0) - M

Locale: US East Coast
Re: Lightweight bikepacking gear on 04/25/2013 00:14:59 MDT Print View

I was typing my post when you posted Greg so I missed this.

Are you Greg Wheelwright of Bolder Bikepacking gear? I have seen your stuff. Interesting voice to have on this thread. I apologize for threatening to reduce it to frivolity.

In light of the OP, my serious question Greg ... and it is honestly not meant in a harsh way ... is where are the cutting-edge lightweight innovators in your specific market? Where are the people pushing brand new designs and new materials specifically for lightweight bike-packing and not back-packing? If I am not making it myself ... where do I go other than the down the fully custom-build route? Is there a case to be made that the manufacturers, particularly the cottage guys, need to be the ones that help drive and develop the lightweight in any foreseeable lightweight bike packing market? (Lead and they shall follow?) To say that you need stronger more durable gear on a bike ... well ... I imagine Kelty and Gregory used that same logic with their 7 pound backpacks for years and years.

Anyway I am not actually smart enough or creative enough to answer the question ... just enough to ask it. LOL.

Cheers

(edited by sobriety)

Edited by cfrey.0 on 04/25/2013 16:57:55 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Thinking about making/selling UL bike gear... on 04/25/2013 12:02:31 MDT Print View

"but I think the latter is addicted to cuben-fiber so I am not certain he counts."

Tossed aside again. Sigh.

But seriously, I think that perhaps some of you are looking at this a bit too narrowly. There's a whole 'nuther audience out there that road tours - rarely if ever bikepacks - so absolute durability is not as much of a concern for them, but saving weight can be. When I did a self-supported tour in northeastern France, we did some pretty hellacious climbs. Same thing in Ireland, actually. I felt every single pedal stroke going up and over those climbs. I wish I knew then what I know now about lighter gear.

So I think there's a universe (though, I admit, I don't know the size) of folks who could be quite interested in lightening up their touring load - from shelters to bags.

William Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: Weight Savings? on 04/25/2013 18:38:54 MDT Print View

Late to the party, but here's my $.02. (I am a usually ULish, occasionally bordering SUL backpacker, a regular road cyclist, and occasional touring cyclist.)

"Weight weenies, as the guys who shave grams off peddle housings are known, just don't pop up that often in the world of long distance, self-supported riding where its easy to carry both bulk and weight. So I think the majority of your market is going to have to be people who have an irrational obsession with weight savings and this may tend to limit your growth potential as a company."

It'll be important to know whether Matt's right. If you're talking ounces, this'll be about culture, not rationality. Anyone who's calculated how much time shaving a few ounces is going to save on a 20' climb will be laughing, depressed, or both by how little a few ounces matter unless you're racing for a living, on the rivet and one second from losing the wheel in front of you.

What really matters is aerodynamics. If you can figure out a way that people carrying light loads can carry them more aerodynamically, it'd be a game-changer. I know, easier said than done.

Back to lurk mode.

Cheers,

Bill

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Thinking about making/selling UL bike gear... on 04/27/2013 01:54:57 MDT Print View

Chris - Thanks for your kind comments about my photography. I think I saw over at bikepacking that someone had some cuben Porcelain Rocket stuff.

I should have said "I didn't suggest weight didn't matter". My bad:).

I still think that if you are using bikepacking bags you probably have your kit down to a fairly light and minimal set up anyway. It seems different to me than for backpacking when people changed all their gear and found they didn't need their Dana sacks anymore. Then switching to a 2 lb pack was a massive saving. I am sure bikepacking bags can be made lighter, but by how much?

As to road tourers. The ones I see here in NZ seem to have massive loads carried in bomb proof panniers. There would seem to be room to save weight in many areas before looking at panniers, but that would certainly also help. I also get the feeling that many road tourers are also on holiday and probably carry a lot of gear for that reason.

Anyway it will be very interesting to see how the bikepacking market develops over time. I hope there isn't too much change, because it will be along time before mine wear out:). It's an exciting time for cycling!

Eric Douglas
(1ekdouglas) - M

Locale: Brooklyn
Re; Thinking about making/selling UL bike gear... on 04/27/2013 04:51:05 MDT Print View

Speaking only for myself...

I've been commuting and road touring since the early 1980s. For commuting and tours longer than two weeks or in isolated areas durability trumps weight. In these cases, nothing beats my Ortlieb panniers. However, for shorter tours I would be interested in lightweight rack mounted bags.

The Ortliebs are overbuilt, as is appropriate for their intended use. However, even though they are lighter that most quality touring panniers, they still weigh 4 pounds for the pair. Since I've gotten my warm weather bag/tent/pad/clothing weights down to about 10 pounds, 4 pounds of pannier seems like a bit much. Since I know how to take care of my gear and I need no extra features its not hard to imagine sub 1 pound for the pair panniers that would serve my needs for short tours. Nothing ultralight like cuben needed her--silnylon or dyneema would be fine.

Also, one thing again worth mentioning is the effect of weight on handling. If bike frame is not designed to handle touring weights if used for touring it's handing will be likely very adversely affected. For example, I have a road bike that if I carry 20 pounds in the rear handling is pretty poor, especially for spirited riding. However, with 10 pound in the rear the bike handles fine. A lighter weight carrying system cam make it easier to tour on a non-touring intended bike.

Eric

Edited by 1ekdouglas on 04/27/2013 04:58:42 MDT.

Jordan P
(jordo_99) - MLife

Locale: Nebraska
Follow Up on 05/01/2013 11:39:01 MDT Print View

Edit: summary at the bottom since this is long.

Alright guys, I'd forgotten about this thread and then stumbled back across it a few days ago after trying out a few prototypes (with nylon). Here's what I've learned:

Nylon is terrible material for packs (thankfully these are just for fun/testing). Also, I need to find a good/cheap source of dense foam to keep the shape of these packs. My prototypes have worked well until I started packing them full and then the nylon deforms the shape of the pack completely but the cuben fabric shouldn't have nearly as much problem.

On the down side, I'm starting to realize that Cuben isn't going to drop weight THAT significantly because a lot of weight is added by notions like webbing, plastic and zippers...I have some good ideas on how to significantly reduce the amount of this stuff without compromising the reliability in doing so...just need to test them out now.

I'm going to order some of the heavier 1oz cuben (materials currently used by most places are 4oz or more). I'm going to make a complete set of touring bags for my bike. Hopefully I'll get a complete set for my friend who's going on a 2 month long trek and he can test them out too (lots of car camping but bringing his bike with him). Assuming the packs hold up well I'll open things up to a custom-made per order type side-business to my normal 9-5 job in IT.

During testing I'm also going to try making a few seatbags out of cuben and put them up for sale on weight weenie forums that I frequent (yes, I'm one of those goons who's got a spreadsheet with weighs down to the spring in their derailleurs measured out...it's "fun"). These would be the type of bags that hold a spare tube, CO2 and multi-tool with little room to spare. Not sure of the exact weight I'd be saving but I know my current bag on my weight weenie bike is around 150g and I could drop that down to around 50g pretty easily.

Summary: I've been working on this still. Going to be ordering some cuben to finally make some good prototypes to test out...if they perform well then I'll start selling these made-to-order and custom. No idea on pricing yet. I'm also going to take apart one of my current seatbags (the small ones that I use on my normal road training/racing bike) and probably throw those up on WeightWeenie forums.

Edited by jordo_99 on 05/01/2013 11:42:06 MDT.