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Spring and summer bike adventures
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Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Spring and summer bike adventures on 07/22/2014 09:06:39 MDT Print View

My wife has a Jamis commuter bike supplied by her employer as a parking and state clean air law incentive. I've always had a thrift store/yard sale beater bike around, but never really got into steady use. I tuned up a hybrid bike with a better seat and lights, but it was a fat tire rig and hard to keep up with my wife on 32c randonneur tires and paved rail trails. Then I lucked on a Trek PDX aluminum commuter bike in a thrift store for $70. That created a biking explosion much like getting into UL hiking.

I've been tweaking the bike for local trips and rail trail cruising for the last couple months and we've been having a ball with regular rides. I'm to a point of physical condition and equipment that some short multi-day trips look promising. My plan is to use my usual UL hiking equipment for shelter and cooking. The only specialized clothing I've added is a rain jacket and padded shorts, and of course a helmet. Camp clothing comes straight from the hiking gear locker. I have some used panniers that will hold my UL gear easily. Add water and pedal :)

Max Dilthey has been a great resource for information and inspiration. I enjoy his blog and he has given lots of good advice on equipment and maintenance.

This is the bike as I found it. It's all stock except for the SKS fenders.
Used Trek PDX

And this is what it looks like today:Customized Trek PDX

I have arthritis in my neck and tried a couple schemes for getting the handlebars raised a bit so didn't have to raise my head as far. I found the Origin8 basket/handlebar combination. That takes care of my wishes for some sort of front rack and it is great for urban errands. One reviewer hauled a 29 pound watermelon with one, so it should handle any UL gear I want to haul. Odd that a 12 pack fits so nicely :)

The rear rack is a Toba Roger Randonneur. My bike has disk brakes and that really complicates the rear drivetrain. Items like fender stays and rack supports can be a convoluted mess and this rack has an integrated fender and mounts on the axle skewer with one more attachment to the seat stay cross bar. Simple and elegant, much like UL hiking gear I think.

One great tip from Max was Schwalbe Marathon tires. My bike came with fast but skinny 28c tires. I changed them out to 32c Schwable tires and they work great. I would have gone to 35c tires, but 32's are recommended safe maximum for my rims. With the Marathons, I have 5mm of protection from flats and a great tread pattern. The high pressure rating is 95psi--- a smoother ride than the 120psi 28c tires.

Other than that I have added lights, a small wireless computer, a tiny bell and some water bottle cages and a kickstand. Biking can be as bad as hiking gear on small accessories and there is a pump, patch kit, spare tube, a small took kit, and panniers.

I'm looking forward to some hybrid trips, using bus and bike to get to a trailhead as well as more typical bike touring.

Edited by dwambaugh on 07/22/2014 14:43:39 MDT.

David T
(DaveT) - F
bike. on 07/22/2014 09:47:21 MDT Print View

Nice one Dale!

I never feel bad about spending money on bikes. I mean, it's a bike after all. Exercise, free transportation, general happiness and quality of life, etc.

I'm looking forward to a long bikepacking trip in a couple months. There is so much cross-over in gear from UL hiking to bikepacking, so it's easy.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: bike. on 07/22/2014 10:35:34 MDT Print View

Dale -

I can't tell looking at your photo or the Origin8 site...

Is the stem the only thing that grips and stabilizes the front bars/rack/basket, or is there a widget somewhere providing a 2nd support point?


Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: hikin' and bikin' on 07/22/2014 10:38:46 MDT Print View

The cross-over in gear is great. My wife a daughter did a quick overnight trip in the San Juan Islands (Lopez). My first insight was that sleeping bags eat pannier space. My front basket is perfect for that with a dry bag. Dry bags with daisy chains are great for strapping onto bikes.

I'm adding a plastc ammo can to the top of the back rack. There are 30cal models that are fairly shallow so I don't have to be a gymnast to get my leg over. That can be locked to keep casual theft, although I would never leave anything really valuable. I had a nice trunk bag but it seems to be permanately mounted on my wife's bike :)

Bikes can absorb cash. You get a bike and there are basics like helmet, lights and locks that can suck up a couple hundred bucks with no effort. Then you can start working on racks and bags. It would be easy to double the cost of a $600 bike when adding all the goodies to make it ready for touring.

I got some cheapie Performance Bike panniers for $5 each in a thrift store :)

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Origin8 basket on 07/22/2014 12:02:15 MDT Print View

Greg asked, "
I can't tell looking at your photo or the Origin8 site...

Is the stem the only thing that grips and stabilizes the front bars/rack/basket, or is there a widget somewhere providing a 2nd support point?"

It is mounted only on the stem. I went to a 4-bolt stem with a 60mm reach. These things need to be used with some basic common sense. One reviewer dumped a watermelon in there. A small bag of groceries is about all I expect of it. The stem and bearings can handle that.

This was my first attempt at raising the bars. It is stronger than it looks, but still kind of kludged.
Extended handlebars

I swapped out the stock 2-bolt stem with 110mm reach for a 60mm version with a 4-bolt clamp. That brought the bars closer and the Origin8 basket has about a 3" rise. It fits me well.

Origin8 handlebar/basket on a Trek PDX

The Origin8 handlebars have a second mount that can raise the bars another 4". I tired that and used the adjusting rings for my steerer tube at the lowest point. It was too high for me, but it was solid. I prefer the lower center of gravity for stuff in the basket too.

Origin8 handlebar/basket on a Trek PDX

With two small panniers on the back and using UL gear, 10 pounds would be a lot of stuff. I have a silnylon dry bag that is pack liner size and my plan is to put bulky stuff like my sleeping bag up there.

I think it is a good thing to keep the weight down on the front just for easier steering and stability on the kickstand. If I were consistently hauling loads, a two-legged kickstand like the ones used on cargo bikes would be the way to go. At this point, bike racks and walls have sufficed.

This is the mess I had with a rear rack secured on the seat stays with P-clamps and the fender stays artfully bent to work around the disk brake caliper. It was busy! It also jacked the panniers forward, reducing heel clearance, and raised the top of the rack up closer to my seat, so anything on top bumped me in the butt. No bueno.

Old rack mount

This what the Toba Roger rack mounting looks like now. Much better! it is rated for 25kg, although I don't plan in anything more than UL backing loads split with the front basket. 10 pounds per side would be a lot in the UL world.

Toba Roger mount

I found a cool bolt-on fender tail light, a Spanninga Pixio Xb. It is very bright, but lacks "blinky modes". Toba needs to step up to the plate and make a rear light for these integrated fended racks, as well as making a matching front fender.

Spanninga light

My front fended is a cast off from a Dutch WorkBike. It is aluminum with tubular stays and has a trick mudflap. I got that at Dutch Bikes in Seattle for $15.

Dutch fender

Dutch fender

Dutch fender

The only adaptation needed was to grind out the stay end a bit to fit around the caliper hardware.

Dutch fender

Edited by dwambaugh on 07/22/2014 17:44:09 MDT.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Origin8 basket on 07/22/2014 12:09:24 MDT Print View

Thanks Dale.

I've seen brackets/braces that went back to the head tube, but apparently not here.

Yes, let common sense prevail.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Origin8 basket on 07/22/2014 13:14:32 MDT Print View

There are lots of baskets that brace to the fork braze-ons or the axle skewer and legions of front racks for cargo or panniers. You still need to keep the weight sensible. A couple panniers could easily end up with a heavier load, but they would have a much lower center of gravity. The weight would be riding on the axle bearings and lower head tube bearing, but not the top head tube. I imagine a big guy smashing around single track would put a lot more stress on the stem and bearings than my little basket of groceries. I'm hardly a performance bike rider! I'm sure you would get plenty of warning if things started to loosen or crack-- it is right under my nose and I'm a mechanical sort.

REI has a sweet urban hauler in the Novara Barrow model. I was eying one closely last week. The front basket is attached to the head tube, so it doesn't move with the wheel. They have a nice stretch mesh trampoline to keep stuff in the basket. I should tie up a shock cord cargo net for mine.

REI Novara Barrow

A cool step in bike-n-hike setups would be racks and backpacks that live well together. A nice UL pack design with a rack made to fit would be sweet. I'm thinking that a loosely filled frameless pack could be thrown over a rear rack and lashed down. It could be protected with a trash compactor bag or just a big stuff sack. I have a 10 liter tarp fabric dry bag that is great for a rack trunk bag. It has a daisy chain, so securing it is easy.

My Alchemy Goods messenger bag fits the font basket like a glove. I found that the front flap buckles work well for securing it. I tuck the shoulder strap inside so it doesn't end up in the spokes. With the simple top flap, I do not rely on it for complete waterproofness, but seeing that it is made from inner tubes, it is highly water resistant :)

Alchemy Goods Pike messenger bag

Edited by dwambaugh on 07/22/2014 17:46:10 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Spring and summer bike adventures on 07/22/2014 17:35:22 MDT Print View

Bike racks are another expense and complication to owning bikes. We've been using a Thule trunk mounted rack that barely holds two bikes. Those strapped on racks scare me, with visions of looking in the rear view mirror to see my bikes doing cartwheels down I-5 at 70mph and creating some huge liability issues. They are hard on the finish and you can't open the trunk lid.

The other day I saw a couple with a massive tandem touring bike on the rood of their Camry. It looked like a crane boom up there! I'm not a fan of roof mounted bike racks.

So I got a Reese under car receiver on the web for $107 and it took me about 15 minutes to bolt it on. I spent more time gathering the tools and changing to my work clothes! It goes right into the nuts welded in place for the tie-down hooks, so there's no drilling or weirdness for the install. I got an Allen 3-bike rack on Craigslist. The top rails fold down so it's not hanging out there all the time and it bolts in place, so there's no sway or rattling. With the 3-bike spacing I can actually get two bikes on without trying to weave the overlapping parts to avoid scratching the bikes up or removing a spoke.

We've been thinking about getting a teardrop trailer or building one-- this could be dangerous :)

Bike rack

Edited by dwambaugh on 07/22/2014 17:39:37 MDT.