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  1. #1
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    Backback Touring

    Important question, brief summary: I am planning on a cross country tour this coming march via the southern tier route. First tour, longest previous ride has been a couple of centuries. My bike is far from a traditional touring bike. It is a 2002 Lemond Victoire, a very decent titanium road bike. I know this is not ideal, but I just don't have the kind of money to get a decent touring bike so I figure I will slap some 28s on and hope for the best.
    The biggest problem I am encountering is where to put the load. I plan on relying mostly on camping, and of course the bike is not setup for racks and paniers, so my idea is to use a large handlebar bag, a seatpost clamp rack that will serve to carry tent and sleeping bag tied down, and carry everything else in a large quality backpack such as the Chrome Sultan. Am I setting myself up for disaster here? I've looked around and can't really find info on anyone else using back storage so is it just unheard of? I know it will be a strain on the back, but weight-wise it shouldn't be more than around 30 pounds and I am used to commuting 20 miles each way daily with a messenger bag loaded to like 15 pounds, so I figure it is possible. Anybody have some valuable input on this?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Thulsadoom's Avatar
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    No reason it's not possible, but it sounds excrutiating. Have you considered just towing a BOB trailer? I picked one up off Ebay for around 100$.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Old Hammer Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thulsadoom View Post
    No reason it's not possible, but it sounds excrutiating. Have you considered just towing a BOB trailer? I picked one up off Ebay for around 100$.
    +1 Couldn't have said it better myself! I did the ST using a BoB. Loved it...

  4. #4
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    I would rather tour with a stick stuck through my cheek than with a backpack on my back. And maybe I'm just completely out if it equipment-wise, but apart from a rear disk brake, just what would make it so hard to mount a rear rack on your bike? If it's just missing braze-ons, then have a bike shop install the rack -- there are as many ways to accomplish this as there are competent bike mechanics.

    Or the trailer, though that's heavier. But noooooo, not the backpack!

  5. #5
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    I tried bike touring with a backpack once. Once.

    The BOB trailer seems like a good idea.

    Another appealing to me is to go ultralight. Try looking at Carousel Designs: http://carouseldesignworks.com/flyer.html

    And take a credit card.

  6. #6
    Zen Master Miles2go's Avatar
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    I have a couple of Chrome bags... and they're heavy! If you look the FLT Gallery (see my sig) you'll see that several folks have figured out ways to get expedition loads onto race bikes (images 88, 144, 178, 185).

    The whole trailer vs. pannier thing is a ancient religious battle that's killed thousands. Decide which side you'll forever pledge your allegiance and go from there. Leave the backpacks for commuting, unless you're really into self-mutilation, like Takara. (A stick stuck through your cheek?!)

    One good trailer approach would be to load up a backpack for a week tour. You'll be mailing things home after the second day. After the week tour is over, put what gear you have left in the trailer and limit yourself to that. Trailers have huge capacities and if you find the one guy pulling a trailer in a group of tourers, you've likely found the one that got convinced into carrying the gallon of wine for the whole group. It's why you need to limit your load in the first place, right?

    Tailwinds,
    Last edited by Miles2go; 09-04-07 at 11:41 PM.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member slowjoe66's Avatar
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    I bought a Burley Nomad trailer for $225 new with free shipping a few weeks ago and I'm happy with it. No way I'd do a backpack.

    If you think you might, load up your bike as you described, and go ride a century while it's still summer. See how you like it. I have a pretty good idea. I've commuted with a backpack for a few weeks; it's not good.
    I don't have a solution but I admire the problem!

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    I rode with a guy for a few days who was carrying a backpack, for credit card touring - he hated it immensely.

    I just got a Tubus Fly rack (330gm) (thetouringstore.com, Wayne rules), rated to 40 pounds, and I'm attaching it to my titanium road bike with a QR attachment kit (hard to find, ordered from biketrailers.com, but it hasn't gotten here yet so who knows if it's vaporware). If you remind me after 9/17, I can tell you how that works out, I'm doing a 4 day CC tour using that rig.

    Those beam racks have a really low load rating and look like they would flex like crazy if you put much more than a jacket on them. boing boing boing. No thanks. Not if you ever want to stand up to climb.

    Old Man Mountain also makes racks that mount to the QR/Brake bosses.

    If you put a steel fork on it you could use a front rack too, and you would be stylin' ... except for the gearing which you will want to lower as much as possible. I bet steel forks are a dime a dozen.

    Good luck!
    ...

  9. #9
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Backpacks for cycling are okay if you're using them for short errands or short commutes. They are not okay for longer rides or tours. At best you'll be uncomfortable. For your bike, a trailer is your best choice. As others have said, you can acquire one without spending too much money.
    Life is good.

  10. #10
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    I don't think a backpack is impossible, as long as it weighs under 10 pounds, and you can get a lot of gear in a ten pound pack. Lots of people carry packs every hour they cycle.

    I would, however, mount a rear rack. I think a rear rack can be mounted on any bike. You may have to get clever to avoid heel strike. There are front racks to fit any wheel config, unfortunately some of them are expensive. Another option is a touring bike fork, with eyelets, there are some deals out there I think Nashbar has one for 10 bucks, just be sure the crown height is OK, the tube is the correct diameter, and you can get the crown race cut. Another option might be to make a bracket that could be hung from the current axle, and is threaded for a front rack. That would invove 2 holes and a tap.

  11. #11
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    If you decide to stick with the backpack approach, I suggest you try it out for a 3-4 day trip before you embark on a long journey...

    A nice trailer sounds like a much better solution.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Thulsadoom's Avatar
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    Nashbar sells this little trailer:

    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...%20Accessories

    pretty cheap.

  13. #13
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I'd be wary of the Nashbar trailer. I met a guy using one on the Northern Tier this summer. He was having troubles with it. I didn't get a chance to get details; he left me and headed east and that was the last I saw of him. But as he pulled ahead I noticed his trailer had a definite list to one side. The thing just doesn't look strong enough for real touring.

  14. #14
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    One thing that does work well is a moderately-sized fanny pack where the seat ends up holding most of the weight. I have CC toured with that plus a small seat wedgie with tools and tubes, a handlebar bag and of course bike shirt pockets. Not really suitable enough capacity for camping, though.

  15. #15
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    This question always comes up as if it is something new.

    The short answer is don't do it. There is a reason the bike touring world is divided into trailer vs. panniers
    and not backpacks vs.panniers.

    I've tried it for a bike 'n' hike back country trip, it worked okay, but it was uncomfortable and not the solution for a multi-day tour.

    You can dispense wirh panniers if you go ultra-light and have a saddlebag/ handlebar bag combo like Henry Kingman. It looks doable but I've never tried it.


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    1 trick pony dogpound's Avatar
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    I toured with a lemond and ordered a rack from thetouringstore.com with the special QR adaptor.
    I would call him, dude knows his stuff.
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  17. #17
    Got an old Peugeot kipibenkipod's Avatar
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    I don't know why nobody mentioned http://www.extrawheel.com/index_en.php, so here it is.
    This will take down the stress on your back wheel.
    Good luck.
    On the bike I feel like a conqueror ;)
    4 months touring trip from England to Spain http://www.underadometent.com

  18. #18
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    Hey, which rack? I'm working on my Tubus Fly install right now, and it's a little confusing.
    ...

  19. #19
    Senior Member gregw's Avatar
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    A backpack is right out! This way is much easier on the back, but choose your helmet wisely.

    "The whole trailer vs. pannier thing is a ancient religious battle that's killed thousands."

    Just think how many lives we would save if everyone just lugged their stuff around balanced on their heads!
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    Last edited by gregw; 09-06-07 at 07:41 PM.

  20. #20
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    thanks for the input everyone, I'm not even really considering a trailer just because I've never ridden with one, and I don't think I would be comfortable w/ it, plus it's just that must extra hassle carrying around. I know that it is possible with adapters to get a rear rack on, I guess part of my rationale was thinking
    1. budget wise, it will run me a lot more to get the adapters (dropout, and seat stay), rack, and paniers than a quality backpack.
    and
    2. I am worried about the load of a rack on my 24/20 bontrager racelites, so I may be considering a more appropriate wheelset, anyone have an input on that?
    Last edited by l3ica; 09-07-07 at 03:46 AM.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    .... with a QR attachment kit (hard to find, ordered from biketrailers.com, but it hasn't gotten here yet so who knows if it's vaporware). ...
    not vaporware just slow mail, but i got the last set, possibly in the country, until the shipment comes over from germany. at that point, wayne will have them
    ...

  22. #22
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Well... My philosophy is: use the right tool for the job.

    For a 1 or 2 week tour, you can use any bike that you can ride comfortably. But for a 10-week tour on a racing-style bike while wearing a massive backpack with 40+ lbs of gear is, simply put, the wrong set of tools.

    I doubt it would be a "disaster" but I think you'd find it rather unpleasant.


    Quote Originally Posted by l3ica
    1. budget wise, it will run me a lot more to get the adapters (dropout, and seat stay), rack, and paniers than a quality backpack.
    Well, not really.

    Cheap Nashbar panniers: $50/pair
    Basic rack: $50
    P-Clamps: $5-10

    So that's what, $110, maybe $150 if you really have to do something funky? I'm not seeing a huge cost savings over a quality backpack.

    If you don't believe the general consensus here, I'm sure you either have or can borrow a basic backpack. Try loading it with 40+ lbs of gear and riding, oh, 50 or 60 miles. Then imagine doing that for 10 weeks in a row.

    I.e., don't cheap out. You don't have to have a super-duper expensive bike, but at a minimum you do need a way to efficiently carry your gear, even if that means you have to save up for an extra couple of months for your tour.


    Quote Originally Posted by l3ica
    weight-wise it shouldn't be more than around 30 pounds and I am used to commuting 20 miles each way daily with a messenger bag loaded to like 15 pounds, so I figure it is possible. Anybody have some valuable input on this?
    I think you'll be dealing with closer to 40 or 50 lbs, really, unless you're going ultra-light. Which either means you already have your 2 lb tent, plan to use a bivy sack and no sleeping pad, or will pay dearly for the privilege of such light and less-than-durable gear.

    Try this: put together the stuff you will want to take on tour -- presumably 2-3 sets of cycling clothes, and 1 set of regular clothes; tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad; 1st aid, hygiene, and bike maintenance stuff; your kitchen; food; extra water. Then, weigh it.



    Quote Originally Posted by l3ica
    2. I am worried about the load of a rack on my 24/20 bontrager racelites, so I may be considering a more appropriate wheelset, anyone have an input on that?
    Those wheels probably won't be strong enough, no matter where you put the weight. Tourers generally go for 36-spoke wheels. Do you really want to worry about replacing spokes when you're in the middle of Kansas?

    Considering that a different wheelset could run you $300 easy, you really ought to consider using a different bike. You've got more than 6 months, right? So keep an eye on Craigslist, yard sales, flea markets, eBay, and see if you can find an old steel road bike that's in good shape and has at least eyelets on the dropout. Or spring $400 for a decent hardtail hybrid with wide tires and eyelets. Or just save up an extra $750 and get a Jamis Aurora -- and possibly even sell it at the end of your tour.

    By the way, if you haven't done so already: I highly recommend you do at least some short tours before you set out on a 10-week trek. You've got plenty of time, and you will learn a LOT from even doing a one-week tour.

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