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  1. #1
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    Building up an ultralight tourer

    I currently have a Surly LHT for my long tours, but was looking to build up an ultralight tourer for 3-5 day jaunts. Anyone have any recommendations on frames or complete bikes? I was thinking of using the Surly Pacer as I've certainly had good luck with the brand in the past, but I'm not really sure if it's the best frame for the job. I'll probably use a Carradice saddlebag and maybe a Tubus Fly rear rack (only if I can't squeeze/lash everything onto the saddlebag). Would the Pacer be up for the job, or are there more suitable frames?

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    hmm, you've pretty much opened up the choices to any kind of road bike you like to ride that you're going to put 15lbs on. Specialized Tri Cross?

  3. #3
    Senior Member tarwheel's Avatar
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    My Bob Jackson World Tour weighed about 6 lbs. for the frame and fork with an uncut steerer tube and lots of bolts in the braze-ons for fenders, water bottles. Built up, it weighed only about 21.5 lbs. with a 9-speed DA/Ultegra group and Campy Centaur crank, Open Pro wheels, DA bar-end shifters, pedals and Nitto front rack -- but not including computer, seatbag, rear rack. That is pretty light for a touring bike. Using a Carradice bag should save weight compared to most panniers. Packing and component choice is very important if you want to keep it as light as possible.

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    Senior Member mijome07's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
    My Bob Jackson World Tour weighed about 6 lbs. for the frame and fork with an uncut steerer tube and lots of bolts in the braze-ons for fenders, water bottles. Built up, it weighed only about 21.5 lbs. with a 9-speed DA/Ultegra group and Campy Centaur crank, Open Pro wheels, DA bar-end shifters, pedals and Nitto front rack -- but not including computer, seatbag, rear rack. That is pretty light for a touring bike. Using a Carradice bag should save weight compared to most panniers. Packing and component choice is very important if you want to keep it as light as possible.
    Nice setup.

  5. #5
    Senior Member ocho's Avatar
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    Might want to look at the Jamis Endura series. I think I read where the frame has fender and rack mounts even though its carbon. Takes wide tires too.
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  6. #6
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    I'd build up a Soma Smoothie ES with a carbon fork. long reach brakes, relaxed geometry, long head tube IMO. Tange Prestige tubing.

    and fairly inexpensive.
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    If you're going ultra light, don't fuss. Either carbon, or better still, titanium. Brooks Ti saddle and a Carradice Camper or a Nelson Longflap at minimum.

    I've built up a CF bike as a randonnee bike, which means I am consistently doing long training day rides and then events. If I was going ultralight touring, I wouldn't hesitate to use it subjeect to a few small alterations (replacing the Topeak Dynapack with a Nelson or Camper, and the handlebars with alloy ones so I could fit a large handlebar bag to replace the small one on there now).

    Machka's new Ti frame is an example of something that will provide light weight and longevity. It doesn't have braze-ons or eyelets, but then for ultra lightweight touring you don't really need them.

    As to mechanicals, if you want to go really light, go fixed or singlespeed. I toured France in 2007 on a fixie and it was great fun, so it can be done, depending on terrain of course.

    Ultralight touring interests me, but not Machka so much, so I'm not likely to do much of it in the foreseeable future.
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    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Depends on what you mean by ultralight. When we tour, I weigh the full panniers, the limit is 22 pounds.
    With that for a limit there are no tents, of course. We stay in motels, B&Bs, inns. We stay mostly in places that serve breakfast.

    Do you have an ultralight tent? I ask, because if you aren't saving a bunch of weight, is there really a point in doing it?

    My bike is a Gunnar Sport, I suggest going with traditional sport geometry or a cross bike. I can't give you exact weights, but my frame
    weighs 2-3 pounds less than a Surly. I used a surly fork for a few years, the thing was a beast, super stiff and weighed a ton.
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  9. #9
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    True ultralight would just be a road bike and a light backpack, would it not? Otherwise you're just playing the retail gear game.

    Maybe it's just me ..... but a lighter bike and gear does not equal a better experience.

    If it's speed you're after ..... you'll never go fast enough.

    If it's weight you're after ..... you'll never be light enough.

    What I'm saying is dance with the partner you already got. The grass is always greener somewhere else, is it not? You can court the idea of a super nothing-weight bike that'll take you around the moon in 10 days ...... but what do you really gain? A loss of another grand or two?

    No offense intended folks ......

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    here we go again

  11. #11
    nun
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocketshipready View Post
    I currently have a Surly LHT for my long tours, but was looking to build up an ultralight tourer for 3-5 day jaunts. Anyone have any recommendations on frames or complete bikes? I was thinking of using the Surly Pacer as I've certainly had good luck with the brand in the past, but I'm not really sure if it's the best frame for the job. I'll probably use a Carradice saddlebag and maybe a Tubus Fly rear rack (only if I can't squeeze/lash everything onto the saddlebag). Would the Pacer be up for the job, or are there more suitable frames?
    Combos of saddlebags and handlebar bags work well on most bikes because they need minimal support and you can use a bike without eyelets. However, you're still touring so I think it's best to avoid super short wheelbase, tight tire clearance bikes. So look for a sport tourer, audax, randonneur type geometry that will be comfortable and give you the ability to run 28mm tires. Long days spent on 120psi 23mm tires are hard and on tour you never know when you'll need to go off road a bit.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    If you're going ultra light, don't fuss. Either carbon, or better still, titanium. Brooks Ti saddle and a Carradice Camper or a Nelson Longflap at minimum.

    I've built up a CF bike as a randonnee bike, which means I am consistently doing long training day rides and then events. If I was going ultralight touring, I wouldn't hesitate to use it subjeect to a few small alterations (replacing the Topeak Dynapack with a Nelson or Camper, and the handlebars with alloy ones so I could fit a large handlebar bag to replace the small one on there now).

    Machka's new Ti frame is an example of something that will provide light weight and longevity. It doesn't have braze-ons or eyelets, but then for ultra lightweight touring you don't really need them.

    As to mechanicals, if you want to go really light, go fixed or singlespeed. I toured France in 2007 on a fixie and it was great fun, so it can be done, depending on terrain of course.

    Ultralight touring interests me, but not Machka so much, so I'm not likely to do much of it in the foreseeable future.
    I didn't think about titanium! Great suggestion. The single-speed would be interesting, but I'd probably stick with a road-ish gearing. I'll probably be using this in the Northeast US mostly, so I'll have some hills to deal with.

    Quote Originally Posted by late View Post
    Depends on what you mean by ultralight. When we tour, I weigh the full panniers, the limit is 22 pounds.
    With that for a limit there are no tents, of course. We stay in motels, B&Bs, inns. We stay mostly in places that serve breakfast.

    Do you have an ultralight tent? I ask, because if you aren't saving a bunch of weight, is there really a point in doing it?

    My bike is a Gunnar Sport, I suggest going with traditional sport geometry or a cross bike. I can't give you exact weights, but my frame
    weighs 2-3 pounds less than a Surly. I used a surly fork for a few years, the thing was a beast, super stiff and weighed a ton.
    I have a pretty light tent (2-person, 39oz), but I was thinking of going with a hammock for the get-up. Still not sure. I've never actually weighed my pannier/rack-top bag setup, but I'd imagine it falls in at 25-30lbs before water, and with a 30lb bike, that can start to feel pretty sluggish. No problem on the long tours, but on little weekend jaunts, I think I'd like the lighter and quicker feel. I'm hoping to keep the combined bike/gear under 30lbs, hopefully around 27-28lb. I'll look into the Gunnar

    Quote Originally Posted by Garthr View Post
    True ultralight would just be a road bike and a light backpack, would it not? Otherwise you're just playing the retail gear game.

    Maybe it's just me ..... but a lighter bike and gear does not equal a better experience.

    If it's speed you're after ..... you'll never go fast enough.

    If it's weight you're after ..... you'll never be light enough.

    What I'm saying is dance with the partner you already got. The grass is always greener somewhere else, is it not? You can court the idea of a super nothing-weight bike that'll take you around the moon in 10 days ...... but what do you really gain? A loss of another grand or two?

    No offense intended folks ......
    No offense taken, I completely understand your point. As far as saddlebags go, the large ones seem to be around the same size as my backpacking daypack, so there you go. Plus, what's wrong with adding another purpose built bike to the stable

    Quote Originally Posted by nun View Post
    Combos of saddlebags and handlebar bags work well on most bikes because they need minimal support and you can use a bike without eyelets. However, you're still touring so I think it's best to avoid super short wheelbase, tight tire clearance bikes. So look for a sport tourer, audax, randonneur type geometry that will be comfortable and give you the ability to run 28mm tires. Long days spent on 120psi 23mm tires are hard and on tour you never know when you'll need to go off road a bit.
    That's why I was looking at the Pacer. Takes wider tires, isn't super tight, but still doesn't weigh too much (the complete comes in around 18lbs, I hear). You guys have definitely given me some more options to look at, though, so thanks! I'm probably not going to build it up super soon, but I'll keep you updated!

  13. #13
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    Not knowing your BMI the easiest place to take weight off is the crap that gets put on the bike. I'd be shy about putting 30lbs on a 20lb. road bike with light wheels but 18lbs on a 25lb road bike with bomber wheels be lighter overall. All of which is kind of irrelevant if you're packing on an extra 30lbs of body fat.

  14. #14
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    I have a tough time stuffing full ultralite camping kit with the gear i want to carry for bike touring into a handlebar bag and a carradice - i always seem to desire a skosh more room, need to strap something on top and wonder too what i'd do with the bag of groceries on the way to the campsite.
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  15. #15
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    Nice build, Bekologist. The camping gear was my main concern, but I think a hammock and sleeping bag liner (It'll most likely be just a summer-only getup) should solve that problem. Plus, my touring diet usually consists of plain quinoa and peanut butter and jelly on a tortilla, so that's generally pretty compact

  16. #16
    One legged rider
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    I saw a guy a while back, can't remember where, who instead of a handlebar bag had is sleeping bag/pad/tent rolled up or stuffed in a stuff sack and strapped under his handle bars. Seemed like it would work, then the rest of the gear on the back.

  17. #17
    Senior Member zeppinger's Avatar
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    There was a thread started a while back by a guy named Nun who had an awesome three season touring setup with just a handlebar bag and carradice saddle bag. He even has a video on youtube with him showing you what he has in all his bags. I think his total luggage weight was under 20 pounds and I think the bike was a Rivindel A. Homer Hilsen.

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    Bikes Direct has a sick ti 'cross bike that would be perfect. If only I needed a new touring bike.

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