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Old 12-11-11, 10:46 AM   #1
Big Lew
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touring on dirt and gravel logging and forestry roads

I'm planning a 20 day tour, 10 of which will be all on gravel and dirt roads through mostly remote wilderness without any re-supply options, but water supply is not a problem. I will be using an older model mountain bike with solid frame, seat suspension post, handle bar suspension, up-graded gearing with heavy duty axles, 32 DT Swiss spoke 26" wheels with 26 x 1.9 Kevlar wrapped tires, rugged front and rear racks and 4 panniers. Total weight including rider, provisions, and gear will be approximately 255-260 lbs. I have used this bike and set-up for similar rides, but with 15-20 lbs. less. I welcome any constructive comments and/or opinions and suggestions. I really don't want to use a trailer unless the weight is too much of a concern. I have the bike set up for a 2-wheeled trailer, and have used one to haul heavy camps into remote areas, but 2-wheeled trailers are an extra drag and worry, especially if the roads are rough with deep pot-holes and protruding rocks and are rarely maintained or used.
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Old 12-11-11, 11:12 AM   #2
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My only concern would be if when you say handlebar suspension you mean a suspension stem. Those things scare the hell out of me and I have only ridden them around the parking lot for test rides. Lots of flex and they change the angle of your bars as they move through their travel
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Old 12-11-11, 11:31 AM   #3
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I don't think you should worry too much about an extra 5 to 8% on the load. However, you know your bike far better than we can, and the trip might be quite committing and serious on those isolated roads. Is there a reason you are worried? Did you feel you were at the limit on previous trips?

I have to say I'm with nubcake on the suspension stem, but if you like it then it's not a problem, the extra weight wont have the slightest effect on the stem.
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Old 12-11-11, 12:14 PM   #4
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Thanks for the input....The suspension system is a 'Softride suspension system' which really doesn't pose a handling problem,(I've used it on many loaded tours, including the entire length of the Alaskan Highway. It's ability to take most of the rough road shock away from my arms and wrists really reduces soreness and fatigue. My biggest concerns are related to spokes and tire size. I've not had a problem with breaking spokes, but have read on this site about other riders having this problem. I can go for a wider tire, which would allow me to run with less air pressure, but that would slow me down greatly, including on the second leg of the tour, which is all on highways, even after re-boosting the tire pressure. (On my first tours, I had problems with split tires and bent rear axles, but have successfully addressed those concerns with replacing the rear axle with a titanium one, and using load-rated Kevlar-wrapped tires)
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Old 12-11-11, 01:09 PM   #5
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If you like the softride then don't worry about it. In my case its just a cyclist sounding of about a bit of kit he doesn't like. You like it, you use it, you know more about it.

I really think you'll be fine. If anything I'd guess that pulling a trailer over rough ground would put more overall strain on your kit than carrying the extra weight. I understand that if you've had problems before you'd like a second opinion, but you've fixed those problems to your satisfaction, and unless you thought the bike was on the limit before, I can't see a reason to worry.

I understand your worries about tyres, smaller tyres inflated harder are under more stress. But I think you're right to consider the disadvantages of going bigger. Did you know that you can often sew a split back together? That with a ducktape boot will usually last a long time. Even better though might be to bring a light folding tyre. Then you'd be just as fast, and more failure proof than bigger boots. Personally I probably wouldn't worry, that way lies madness, but then that's just me.


Warning! This bit contains the unsubstantiated opinions of the poster, no science content involved!

I think that broken spokes are about freak loads or fatigue in a badly maintained spoke. I've never had a broken spoke on a wheel I have owned for more than six months. (Two in 25 years of "proper"cycling") unless a spoke is damaged, it's rare for it to let go in a sensibly built, sensibly tensioned wheel unless something extreme happens to it. Yes it might happen, but if it hasn't yet just carry spares and know how to use them.
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Old 12-11-11, 02:15 PM   #6
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I have a 20 year old Trek 8000 MTB with an early generation flex stem that has very little play - just enough to take the edge off the washboard. I have toured extensively over the past years on dirt - - in fact, I swear by it. No place is better then BC - although the Liberal government has literally given away Crown Lands to the timber interests and BC Forest recreation sites are in bad shape. Still, there is no better place for dirt road riding than in BC. The main forest roads have a little auto/truck traffic - and the occasional log truck on weekdays - but they are generally quiet and serene.

Elk River Road - South of Elk Lakes



<img src="http://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j270/JohnnyGunn/Bike/ElkRiverRoad.jpg">

http://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j2...kRiverRoad.jpg
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Old 12-11-11, 03:31 PM   #7
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From your posts it sounds as if the first half of the trip is on gravel and the second half on pavement. If you are not going to be switching back and forth between the two and only make the change once at half way I would consider carrying a second set of foldable tires for the pavement. Put the biggest tires you can fit for the gravel and some 26x1.5s for the pavement. Trying to use a tire that works for both will work for neither very well. It would be nice to have 2.1 or bigger on the gravel and a 1.5 that can handle 85 lbs pressure on the road.

The bigger, lower pressure tire is not going slow you down on the gravel. It will be safer and allow you to ride more relaxed. You can also adjust the pressure to the conditions. Most big MB tire can range from 35 to 65 lbs.

Carry a good pump for adjusting pressure!

Last edited by sedges; 12-11-11 at 03:37 PM.
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Old 12-11-11, 04:13 PM   #8
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You should check out some of the bikepacking systems for your tour. Ie frame bags seat bags ect .Better weight distribution for the rough stuff. Good luck on you tour. Sounds like a blast.


Thom
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Old 12-11-11, 04:21 PM   #9
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I think you'll be fine. 26" wheels are quite strong. I regularly ride on dirt roads with 32h 700C wheels, and the combined weight of me, bike, and panniers comes in at 240# or so.
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Old 12-11-11, 04:40 PM   #10
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My last couple tours had reasonable amount of off tar sections.

The number one shocker for me is how soft dirt/gravel roads can be on the dry side of the mountains. Riding 4 bag in the fluff can be down right icky. Switching to 2 racks 2 bags and stuffs sack let me adjust the weight distributions based on conditions.

If you know how to "ride quite" a 1.75 slick on the rear will get you though your trip. The front is a bit tougher. I like a flatter slick middle with large slide flange for random on/road riding. (No single track). These types of tires work great on Mexican cobbles too.

Oh, softride stems are awesome for everything but technical off road. I -really- wish they would have kept it alive and updated to a quick release plate.
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Old 12-11-11, 07:20 PM   #11
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It sounds like you have a good amount of time on your current set up so assuming everything is in good shape mechanically (not too much rim wear, drivetrain in good shape, etc) then you should have no problems at all on your trip. heavy duty 1.9in tires are plenty even to handle somewhat technical mountain biking.
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Old 12-11-11, 09:12 PM   #12
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Thanks again, everybody.
I have quite a bit of experience riding the type of roads I'm heading for, but not while as fully loaded. I will be well equipped with tools, parts, including a few spokes, spare chain, tubes, boots, patching, a spare tire and appropriate nuts and bolts etc. I am fortunate that I'm experienced in wilderness camping with ultra-light gear, and know where the nearest ranches, line shacks, Native villages, etc. are, having traveled many times through the area by 4x4 truck. It's along the west side of Harrison Lake, Anderson Lake, the western side of the Fraser River, through the famous Gang Ranch to the Chilcotin River, following it back to crossing the Fraser River and then on to Williams Lake, south,and then east along secondary highways, south through Kamloops, east into, and down through the Okanagan, and then west above the U.S.A. border back to the Fraser Valley. (Once arriving in Kamloops, I can leave most of my extra gear with a resident Brother)
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Old 12-12-11, 12:48 PM   #13
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Softride stems seem to be well reviewed, if they fit ,
the necessity for the parallelogram suspension mechanisim to work,
has them needing to be rather long, like 15cm,
and they have been discontinued, so you find them as people sell theirs.
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Old 12-12-11, 05:29 PM   #14
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20 days of food is a lot of food. the fuel needed for 20 days of cooking is a lot of fuel.

you might need to haul a trailer.

Are you going to bring a hatchet for fires?
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Old 12-12-11, 07:14 PM   #15
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20 days of food is a lot of food. the fuel needed for 20 days of cooking is a lot of fuel.

you might need to haul a trailer.

Are you going to bring a hatchet for fires?
I only need food for 6-7 days at a time because I can restock on day 4 or 5 at Lillooet town, before heading back into the back country, and after day 10, I will be along highways with communities close enough to frequently replenish supplies.
There is abundant water for most of the way, so I'll be packing lightweight freeze-dried foods. I have extensive experience backpacking for many days and can easily start and build fires, rain or shine, anywhere I'm traveling without the need for an axe, which will allow me much weight reduction.
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Old 12-12-11, 09:35 PM   #16
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Softride stems seem to be well reviewed, if they fit ,
the necessity for the parallelogram suspension mechanisim to work,
has them needing to be rather long, like 15cm,
and they have been discontinued, so you find them as people sell theirs.
Yes, as I mentioned, mine works very well. (I would never sell it) I have 3 bikes, and the 'Softride' only fits me on 2 of them, my old mountain bike and my touring hybrid 'divinci.'
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Old 12-12-11, 10:48 PM   #17
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I only need food for 6-7 days at a time because I can restock on day 4 or 5 at Lillooet town, before heading back into the back country, and after day 10, I will be along highways with communities close enough to frequently replenish supplies.
There is abundant water for most of the way, so I'll be packing lightweight freeze-dried foods. I have extensive experience backpacking for many days and can easily start and build fires, rain or shine, anywhere I'm traveling without the need for an axe, which will allow me much weight reduction.
Glad you have the food thing figured out. Starting fires easily in the rain is quite the dubious proposition, maybe gumption is flammable up in Canada. I rather doubt it.


i asked about the hatchet because, you know, it's a tool for wilderness travel, and is certainly different from an axe! but have a great ride when it comes around. a week in the woods on a bike without resupply sounds like quite the adventure - the type of ride i'd suggest a hatchet or a Sven saw.

Last edited by Bekologist; 12-12-11 at 10:52 PM.
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Old 12-12-11, 11:16 PM   #18
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"Bekologist",
Starting fires easily in the rain is quite the dubious proposition, maybe gumption is flammable up in Canada. I rather doubt it.
i asked about the hatchet because, you know, it's a tool for wilderness travel, and is certainly different from an axe! but have a great ride when it comes around. a week in the woods on a bike without resupply sounds like quite the adventure - the type of ride i'd suggest a hatchet or a Sven saw.

Most of the country I'm going through has great stands of mature timber with good supplies of small dead branches and exposed hair roots that remain dry under the tree's canopy even during heavy rain squalls, so it's relatively easy to get a fire started. Other parts, especially up on the plateau through Gang Ranch, have a lot of old birch groves where it's easy to gather loose dead bark, as well as plenty of dead, dry branches. All I need is a good knife, but I will be carrying a light folding saw.
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Old 12-12-11, 11:40 PM   #19
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handy little things those folding numbers thats for sure. Memories of the long folding one my dad used to have on canoe trips as a kid.
How much gear weight do you think you will be taking (not knowing your weight, it was hard to figure)? I hope you can keep it down under 50lbs or so, just because being on potentially rough and soft stuff.
The 1.9 tires will be handy, especially if you hit soft stuff and or mud.
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Old 12-13-11, 01:25 AM   #20
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On most of my fully contained tours, I've been able to keep the weight around 40 lbs. or less, so I've set the max this time at 50 lbs. If I were not familiar with the route, or the type of country, and had to carry most of my water, I would indeed, have to use a trailer. As it is, because it involves high country plateaus and follows large river canyons and long windy lakes, I have to have the appropriate clothing, although not as severe as when riding from Fairbanks south in June. I did ride with this same bike for over 1400 miles while carrying a total, including me, of 140 lbs. without even a flat tire, although it was on paved roads, some every rough with the dreaded tar patch cross strips.
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Old 12-13-11, 09:24 AM   #21
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All I need is a good knife, but I will be carrying a light folding saw.
are you sure it's not an axe? Just kidding.

I've always found a folding saw more useful for making fires than a hatchet or an axe, that would be my choice as well for that type of trip.
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Old 12-13-11, 09:39 AM   #22
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well, all the best with this trip next year. I must say that Im impressed with all of you guys who have done riding in these sorts of locations. You certainly have to be more prepared and ready to deal with mechanical issues so much more than all of us who tour on regular roads (with cars going by for help if we have a major problem), not to mention using the usual "critter caution", especially the big critters.
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Old 12-13-11, 09:51 PM   #23
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Can you get a hold of a radio? Those logging trucks call out miles by radio and aren't expecting other vehicles. Sometimes they come around turns and hills really gunning it. I've had a few close calls driving on logging roads. Maybe you will be better able to hear them coming on a bicycle though.
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Old 12-13-11, 10:25 PM   #24
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Can you get a hold of a radio? Those logging trucks call out miles by radio and aren't expecting other vehicles. Sometimes they come around turns and hills really gunning it. I've had a few close calls driving on logging roads. Maybe you will be better able to hear them coming on a bicycle though.
Good suggestion, I have a scanner for traveling on active forestry and logging roads, and it sure works well....some private roads will allow users if they have a radio, scanner, or wait and follow a radio controlled vehicle in. For the trip I'm contemplating though, there's not likely to be any activity on any of the roads except main highways.
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Old 12-13-11, 10:29 PM   #25
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There's only one way that you wouldn't hear logging trucks.
That's if you are too busy listening to tunz.
No iPods for this boi.
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