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Old 02-28-17, 09:34 PM   #1
bosco500
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Loaded bike weight - 75 lbs vs 60 lbs

So I'm fresh meat when it comes to bike touring. I have planned a 700 mile trip at the end of March. I bought a LHT, the biggest front and rear panniers I could find, and loaded that sucker down. Final weight (without water) was 75 lbs. I took it on an overnight camping trip 85 miles away, and thought I was going to die before I got there. I have ZERO problems riding that distance on my road bike, but boy was I in for a surprise. I felt like a tractor trailer going down the hills, then shifting down rapidly to find myself in the highest gear, going nowhere uphill. The next day I made it 50 miles towards home, and finally called my wife to come get me. I was absolutely beat and couldn't take anymore. The hills killed me.

So I got rid of all 4 panniers and replaced them with two ultralight rear panniers, and no fronts. Dropped some miscellaneous cooking gear, switched to a lighter laptop (something I need), lighter tools, etc. Wound up dropping 15 lbs. Took it for a 40 mile ride today and felt MUCH better. It handles much better and I actually feel like I can move the bike uphill. Hard to believe how much of a difference 15 lbs can make. Still not like riding a road bike, but this is much closer. Before / after pics below
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Old 02-28-17, 09:38 PM   #2
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75 pounds is a lot. The bike probably weighs right around 30 pounds so you're talking about a base weight of 45 pounds. Knocking 15 pounds is a fair reduction in that base weight for a total of 30 lbs. If you ditch the front rack, you'll save a fair amount of weight as well.
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Old 02-28-17, 09:40 PM   #3
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75 pounds is a lot. The bike probably weighs right around 30 pounds so you're talking about a base weight of 45 pounds. Knocking 15 pounds is a fair reduction in that base weight for a total of 30 lbs. If you ditch the front rack, you'll save a fair amount of weight as well.
Thought about it, but I need somewhere to put groceries and water when I get close to campsites. I drink LOTS of water at night, not sure where else I would put it since the rear rack is full. Open to suggestions
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Old 02-28-17, 10:16 PM   #4
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I also like having an open platform on the rack for random crap.
I also started with four, large panniers and the rear rack loaded up. With some weeding and replacing gear with stuff that packed better, I got down to two, large panniers. I'd carry them up front with random items on the back: groceries, firewood, drying clothes, and, depending on the trip, a cooler.

I do agree that two racks give you a lot more options on how you carry your gear. But I also agree that an "extra" rack means extra weight and invites extra gear. I'm now using a hybrid bikepacking set-up, and, looking at your load, I wonder if that might work for you. I carry my tent on the handlebars. Might not work with drop bars, and, of course, you have another bag up there. But that bag isn't huge. If you could relocate that stuff, maybe even go back to the bigger pannniers, and put that stuff from the rear platform on the handlebars, you could free up the top of the rear platform and eliminate the front rack.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:18 PM   #5
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Thought about it, but I need somewhere to put groceries and water when I get close to campsites. I drink LOTS of water at night, not sure where else I would put it since the rear rack is full. Open to suggestions
I use a small lightweight backpack to carry consumables to the campsite. As much as I dislike backpacks, carrying extra weight all day is far harder.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:20 PM   #6
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Get something like this sea to summit daypack for groceries. It weighs 2.4 ounces and stuffs into a small pouch. Why is water an issue if going to a campground? Otherwise get something like the blackburn outpost cage to replace your seat tube cage; that can hold a large water container.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:25 PM   #7
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The next day I made it 50 miles towards home, and finally called my wife to come get me.
You should never admit this sort of thing in a public forum.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:29 PM   #8
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Great ideas, thanks. A light backpack could easily replace the front rack
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Old 02-28-17, 10:31 PM   #9
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You should never admit this sort of thing in a public forum.
The way I felt, I either had to call my awesome wife or a taxi, or hit the pavement and get smashed. I opted for the cheaper option
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Old 03-01-17, 12:00 AM   #10
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I'm surprised 15 lbs made that much of a difference - you have to be pushing a combine rider/bike/gear weight over 200 lbs and 15 is <7%. Could it be the 85 mls vs 40 mls.... perhaps if only psychologically?

(Btw, hilariously written OP)
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Old 03-01-17, 12:24 AM   #11
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Before replacing the front rack right off the hop you should just slow down a bit and weigh it first. Just saying this because so far you have already replaced two sets of panniers and, if its light it would be better to carry some stuff low rather than on the handlebars and back.

Also, you have three bottle cages now which gives you somewhere like 2+litres of water. Add a bottle stashed in a pannier and that should be plenty.

For the moment why not look at the gear you are packing rather than the way you are packing it. I suspect more weight saving would be found there.
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Old 03-01-17, 12:31 AM   #12
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Your 700 mile tour is scheduled over how many days?

85 miles on day one, even on an overnight trip sounds ambitious (to me).
Yet, at the end of a 19 day trek, I did average 130km/day (80miles).

You did great. The best part, the experience. Viewing forums never matches miles in the saddle for what "really" works (for you, or me).
Enjoy your trek at the end of the month.

-Snuts-
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Old 03-01-17, 12:56 AM   #13
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1) 15 pounds difference is not much. It requires something like 6% more energy to climb a 5% hill. (you can fiddle with weight and grades with this calculator) (btw, 15 pounds is probably very close to being 6% of your bike+rider weight)

2) Even though a pound is a pound, a pound on your back will most likely feel heavier than a pound on your bike.

3) Many tourers would recommend front panniers to distribute weight fore-aft. Some will go as far as suggesting front panniers only.
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Old 03-01-17, 01:30 AM   #14
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You should never admit this sort of thing in a public forum.
Nonsense! You did well. If anyone who figures they are in great shape they should step back and do what you tried and then consider what happens when you feel like stopping.

It is more of a matter of "getting into shape". I tour outback Australia unsupported and camp where ever I can. BUT it takes me a couple of weeks to get my body in shape for the 80km/day travel. If riding on dirt/gravel roads (aka the Savannah Way or the Outback Way - google them and look at the pics and route) it takes me a bit longer.

However, carrying less weight is always better than carrying too much stuff. Question is what is "enough". I have wine box "bladders" with 5L of water for extra. They are easy to put somewhere.

I have front and rear racks, 4 panniers, an ortlieb waterproof bag for the back, a frame bag for the triangle, and a handlebar bag. I manage to carry up to 3 days of water and food for a week. yadda.

Enjoy your travels. Start off slowly and build up your body. When tired, stop, recover and push on...
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Old 03-01-17, 01:56 AM   #15
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When I train for a tour I usually put 40lbs of weight on my bike and ride 20 to 40 miles daily. Total weight with bike is about 75 to 80 lbs. Eventually I get accustomed to that weight and it doesn't see so bad, but it can certainly be felt riding uphill. I recommend focusing on carrying what you need and then get accustomed to riding with that weight or a little more. Having wrote that, my normally tour with a gear weight is 20 to 30lbs - similar to my backpacking gear weight which is normally under 25lbs including food and water.
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Old 03-01-17, 02:19 AM   #16
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your big misteak was riding that far with a load on the first try.
wasn't the weight, plenny ride with double the load double the distance reg'larly.
as mentioned, 15 pounds is no biggie. the fact you could easily ride a shorter
distance with less weight was more likely due to better training/conditioning.

no point in comparing to a road bike. i can walk 15 miles easy, but strap
an 80 pound pack to my back.....and, uh, i'll get tired really fast.

not sure about the LHT gearing, but maybe look at a smaller inner ring,
perhaps a 22 tooth?

replace your heavy-duty front rack with a super lightweight platform
front rack. an empty 2L soda bottle bungeed on can be filled up
late in the day.
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Old 03-01-17, 05:06 AM   #17
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I have zero experience in bike touring, but extensive experience back packing. I would have never considered carrying that much weight. My packs in winter weigh around 30-35 pounds. Being on a road with stores and such means I would be able to carry less.
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Old 03-01-17, 06:13 AM   #18
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Bikes have gears. The human body does not. When backpacking, the weight is supported by your body. Usually not the case with bike touring. As such (and for other reasons), comparing weights for the two activities doesn't get you anywhere.

Early on during my first tour (about 6,000 miles), I put my loaded bike on a truck stop scale. It weighed in at 90 lbs., primarily due to the large amount of film camera equipment I was carrying. Yes. I struggled in places, but the weight was generally manageable.

With that said, I would definitely notice a loss of 15 lbs. worth of gear. I can feel the difference when I stop for a few lbs. of groceries and a bottle of wine. However, on the issue of overall tiredness, I also think it could have been the distance and inexperience that did you in.
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Old 03-01-17, 06:59 AM   #19
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I use a small lightweight backpack to carry consumables to the campsite. As much as I dislike backpacks, carrying extra weight all day is far harder.

+1

https://www.rei.com/product/867165/s...ra-sil-daypack
Dont mind wearing it for 5-10 miles after the shop looking for a place to camp.
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Old 03-01-17, 07:25 AM   #20
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You've done well! You could drop another 10 lbs with a lighter bike and some of your gear might be excessively heavy. You can easily get a sleeping pad, sleeping bag, shelter and cooking gear that together weigh less than 5 lbs. Take a look at sites like http://www.whiteblaze.net for gear ideas.
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Old 03-01-17, 08:04 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by bosco500 View Post
So I got rid of all 4 panniers and replaced them with two ultralight rear panniers, and no fronts. Dropped some miscellaneous cooking gear, switched to a lighter laptop (something I need), lighter tools, etc. Wound up dropping 15 lbs.
If you have time, perhaps try a day ride with the full gear, but set the panniers on your front rack and leave the huge bag on the top of the rear rack.

Your bike wont be so rear-heavy this way. Steering will be slower due to the weight up front, but the bike will be more balanced and you might find it even easier to ride up hills.



Just know that even very experienced riders around here change their setup from tour to tour depending on weather, location, and trying out new setups. Point is- its an ever refining process for most due to personal preferences, so there really isnt much that can be considered 'doing it wrong'.
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Old 03-01-17, 08:07 AM   #22
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My first few decades of touring were "traditional"--five packs and loads of stuff on the racks, over fifty pounds of stuff. Then I gave long distance hiking a try, realized I was getting too old to hump loads like that all day, every day, and revolutionized the load I carry. Now my touring load, including packs, is just over 15 pounds, self-supported three season camping down to 30F. I'm enjoying touring now more than ever after over forty years of doing it.

The differences for me were: Switching to a single wall silnylon tent (Tarptent), getting a high quality down backpacking quilt (enLightened Equipment), switching to a stoveless camping style, but most importantly carrying less stuff, mainly clothing. All clothing should be able to be worn at once as part of a coordinated layering system. This alone may greatly reduce pack volume, therefore fewer packs needed.

None of this was very expensive, just over $200 each for the tent and quilt.

Good suggestion above about looking at the backpacking sites for ultra-light (UL) techniques.
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Old 03-01-17, 08:35 AM   #23
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Too ambitious!

I'm with those saying you were too ambitious!
85 miles fully loaded first time out is way too far in my opinion!
And I think you just found out that touring is not the same as road biking

Lots of people advocate light or ultra-light packing. That works for them. Personally, I like my comfort, especially on the road. I could go lighter..... and faster.... but I prefer to take my time and be comfortable wherever I am and whatever may be thrown my way.

You've got a 700 mile tour on your horizon (Lucky you!). It's your call as to whatever option you go for.

But, like I said at the start, expecting to just hop on a fully loaded bike & cover 85 miles with no issues was just a tad optimistic!

Lots of people do it, some even enjoy it! But the number of people who do it on day 1 (and enjoy it!) would fit in your saddlebag ;-)

Enjoy your tour!
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Old 03-01-17, 09:04 AM   #24
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And I'll add that it's not necessarily Day 1, when your legs are relatively fresh, that you need to be concerned about biting off too much. Day 5, after four days of hard riding, can be even more difficult if your legs don't have time to recover fully at night. You may need a rest day or at least a couple shorter days to adjust. Obviously, extra weight carried over several days adds to the cumulative toll.
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Old 03-01-17, 09:28 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
1) 15 pounds difference is not much. It requires something like 6% more energy to climb a 5% hill. (you can fiddle with weight and grades with this calculator) (btw, 15 pounds is probably very close to being 6% of your bike+rider weight)

2) Even though a pound is a pound, a pound on your back will most likely feel heavier than a pound on your bike.

3) Many tourers would recommend front panniers to distribute weight fore-aft. Some will go as far as suggesting front panniers only.
I bought 2 extra panniers and a front rack because of a comment similar to your first point. It makes sense on paper but when I stopped to buy a gallon of water (8lbs) before the last 10 or so miles to camp one day the difference was very noticeable. I have since ditched the front panniers, rack, refined my gear list, and have had no issues with handling. Agree with your #2 point not to mention the heat/sweat issue.
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