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In Search of Bikepacking Frame

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In Search of Bikepacking Frame

Old 10-15-16, 08:10 AM
  #1  
BlarneyHammer
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In Search of Bikepacking Frame

One thing I've noticed about bikepacking frames, and mountain bike frames, is they have a top tube with an unusually pronounced slope, and to compensate, the seatpost has to be extra long.

For example, the Salsa Fargo:


compared to a more traditional touring geometry, the Fuji Touring:


The Salsa's top tube is almost parallel to its seat stays, and it meets the seat tube below the point where the seat stays do. And this is one of the less extreme examples; it gets worse from there. I've never understood why almost all mountain bikes have top tubes like this; does anyone know the reason?

I'm looking for a bikepacking frame, with these features:

1. Cromoly
2. 29" wheels
3. Clearance for 2.5" tires (up to 3" might be even better)
4. Clearance for 100 mm of front suspension
5. A more traditional touring geometry

Does anyone know of such a frame?

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Old 10-15-16, 09:10 AM
  #2  
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You need to put a foot down much more frequently off road, sometimes suddenly, and on uneven terrain. Sloping tubes are for crotch clearance and to protect the family jewels.
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Old 10-15-16, 09:30 AM
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I'm pretty sure if you want to run 29 x 2.4 tires you are going to limit yourself to 29er frames with a little extra rear clearance, Salsa and Surly spring to mind, Scott "regular" 29ers and the Lynskey MT29 most likely will not accomodate the 2.4 width (just to name a few), Most any 29er fork will clear that size. Now to address the 2.5 issue: Like I said, I'm no expert but you are looking at a special plus sized (29+) bike to get a 2.5 in there. You will need a little wider rim, too. Please post anything you find to prove me wrong, as I am also curious. What is "traditional touring geometry"?, 'cause I'm thinking anything that slopes like the Fuji is not very traditional to some of the old folks here.
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Old 10-15-16, 09:48 AM
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I am not sure of your goal here. You specified bikepacking so is it to get a nearly horizontal top tube so that you can fit a larger frame bag? Or is your goal simply aesthetics of a nearly horizontal top tube?

A 100mm suspension frame is likely a mountain bike frame or a lower end commuter hybrid frame, and of those two categories, the fatter tire size you want won't be on a commuter. So, I think you need to search for a mountain bike frame.

And if you want drop bars on it, that shortens up the top tube a bit, so you would likely be looking for a taller steerer tube and seatpost on a smaller frame size to get the fit you want.

Good luck.
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Old 10-15-16, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by reppans View Post
You need to put a foot down much more frequently off road, sometimes suddenly, and on uneven terrain. Sloping tubes are for crotch clearance and to protect the family jewels.
That makes sense. Thanks!
...but why aren't cyclocross bikes the same way? Urban commuters? ALL bikes? Is there any advantage to level or nearly level top tubes? And if so, you'd think at least a couple mountain bikes would be made with a more level top tube.
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Old 10-15-16, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by venturi95 View Post
What is "traditional touring geometry"?, 'cause I'm thinking anything that slopes like the Fuji is not very traditional to some of the old folks here.
Most touring bikes I've seen (or had) look something like a road bike, but with somewhat more slack angles throughout, and generally have a slightly sloped top tube, rather than a level one, like you often see on road bikes.

A few other popular examples, the Surly Long Haul Trucker and the Salsa Vaya. I used the Fuji Touring as an example because it's somewhere in between those two.
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Old 10-15-16, 01:40 PM
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Level top tubes were once the standard way to build bikes. Older mountains have them. Compact frames have some advantages as others have pointed out and you see them now from time to time on everything from touring to road racing to cross bikes.
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Old 10-15-16, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I am not sure of your goal here. You specified bikepacking so is it to get a nearly horizontal top tube so that you can fit a larger frame bag?
Bingo. I'd like to carry as much in the center of the bike as possible, and I'm not a large man (5'5"). It's hard to find a frame bag that fits a bikepacking frame in my size.
Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Or is your goal simply aesthetics of a nearly horizontal top tube?
I'd be lying if I said this wasn't part of it. I'd like to also use the bike as a commuter (with a rigid suspension-corrected fork), and I don't want it to look like a ladies' bike.
Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
And if you want drop bars on it...
Nah. I prefer alt bars for bikepacking. The Soma Sparrow and the Velo Orange Milan are the two I'm mulling over at the moment.
Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Good luck.
Thanks!
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Old 10-15-16, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by BlarneyHammer View Post
That makes sense. Thanks!
...but why aren't cyclocross bikes the same way?
Probably some UCI regs that I never pay attention to, and you need to be able to shoulder them easily.
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Old 10-15-16, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by BlarneyHammer View Post
Bingo. I'd like to carry as much in the center of the bike as possible, and I'm not a large man (5'5"). It's hard to find a frame bag that fits a bikepacking frame in my size.
...
A bike with 29 inch wheels and a 100mm suspension fork will have the bottom of the steerer tube where it goes into the lower headset bearing at the head tube pretty high off the ground. If you find a frame with an extremely short head tube and a nearly horizontal top tube, that frame size might be too big for you. Thus, a horizontal top tube just might be impossible for the size frame you might be looking for.

And if you get a frame that fits you with 29 inch wheels, you might have big time toe overlap issues. You might also have minimal clearance for your under seat bag if your saddle is as close to a 29 inch wheel as I suspect it might be. Have you tried to estimate how close your saddle will be to your rear tire?

If I was looking for a bike and was your height, I would be looking for 26 inch wheels. But, I already have two 26 inch wheel touring bikes, I am partial to that tire size, my bikes are rated at 59 and 61 cm frame sizes and they have that smaller wheel.
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Old 10-15-16, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
If you find a frame with an extremely short head tube and a nearly horizontal top tube, that frame size might be too big for you. Thus, a horizontal top tube just might be impossible for the size frame you might be looking for.

And if you get a frame that fits you with 29 inch wheels, you might have big time toe overlap issues. You might also have minimal clearance for your under seat bag if your saddle is as close to a 29 inch wheel as I suspect it might be. Have you tried to estimate how close your saddle will be to your rear tire?

If I was looking for a bike and was your height, I would be looking for 26 inch wheels. But, I already have two 26 inch wheel touring bikes, I am partial to that tire size, my bikes are rated at 59 and 61 cm frame sizes and they have that smaller wheel.
I already have a 29" bikepacking frame with 100 mm suspension clearance, and it fits me great! If anything, I feel like it's a little small. Size is 15.5", for what that's worth. My biggest problem with it is the shape of the frame itself, and I think the excessive seatpost look is goofy. If I wanted that, I'd get a folding bike.

In the center are two small-ish frame bags, both of which are intended to leave most of the frame open, allowing for use of water bottles.
I have a couple other things I'd like to change on it, but at this point, I figure instead of spending a bunch of money upgrading this bike, I'd rather sell it and start from scratch. First step: the frame. Fitting isn't an issue with this one, so if a manufacturer made a similar frame, but only leveled out the top tube, we're in business!

I prefer 29" wheels for the smoother ride, and for the fact that my road touring (700c) and bikepacking bikes would have parts that are cross-compatible. Yeah, I'm aware there are disadvantages, and I'm sure someone will say the benefits of 29" aren't as great as they're made out to be. I might be convinced to settle on a 27.5" if I find a great frame at a great price, but at this point, 27.5" isn't ideal for touring because of availability.
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Old 10-15-16, 04:39 PM
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I gather the OP is sorta packed for packing from the URL. There is the idea that maybe given the limitations of BPs, they should enlarge the part of the equation that is made of large bits of steel. Here is a thought, what about making something out of small lightweight tubes that would hold bags in almost any configuration.


The truth of the mater is that BPs mostly make sense on bikes with dual suspension that make mounting bags difficult, and even there there are several better choices.
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Old 10-15-16, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by BlarneyHammer View Post
If I owned that bike and felt the main thing that was missing was more space for inefficient ways to carry stuff, I would get some 1" webbing and tension it between headset and post, then mount a bag that tensioned off that ridgeline, and attached to the top tube. The tension would support the frame and seatpost loads, so it would not hurt anything, and you could stop it sliding down the post with a stiffener. You could then add a bag larger than the size of the one you have there now. Patent pending.

(just noticed the line I am suggesting for the webbing (wide side parallel to the earth) is about the same place as the underside of the wooden stud in the fence behind. Maybe to the rear a little above the level of the toggle on the seat tube)
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Old 10-15-16, 05:27 PM
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Its sloped because its a fat tire 29er frame designed to take a pretty long travel MTB fork,
but the one you pictured has a suspension corrected fork blade length to keep the head tube high. angle unchanged..

then you show a 700c wheel bike without the wide tire capacity and a fork with shorter blades, because they never intended it
to use any suspension fork.

quite Apples and Oranges..




'/,
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Old 10-15-16, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by BlarneyHammer View Post
I already have a 29" bikepacking frame with 100 mm suspension clearance, and it fits me great! If anything, I feel like it's a little small. Size is 15.5", for what that's worth. My biggest problem with it is the shape of the frame itself, and I think the excessive seatpost look is goofy. If I wanted that, I'd get a folding bike.

....
If I knew you had a bike and gear like that I would have saved a lot of time typing. Your photo makes my point perfectly. If you put a horizontal top tube on the bike, to get it on at the head tube your seat would have to be higher just to get the saddle on that big a frame. Thus, you would not fit on the bike.

And you can see that if you removed your rear rack and hung a bag from your saddle, that bag would be really close to the rear tire which was one of my other points.

Have you tried to put a bag above the top tube and strapped to the seatpost? The tiny little triangular bag on my bike in the photo below is not big at all, but it makes my point, you could put a bag like that but bigger above your top tube and strapped to the seatpost. Such a bag could be quite tall because you have a lot of room there. The bike in the photo is frame size 59 cm and has 26 inch wheels.
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Old 10-15-16, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by BlarneyHammer View Post
That makes sense. Thanks!
...but why aren't cyclocross bikes the same way? Urban commuters? ALL bikes? Is there any advantage to level or nearly level top tubes? And if so, you'd think at least a couple mountain bikes would be made with a more level top tube.
That's why I mentioned "uneven terrain." Commuters are on flat ground and while cyclocross includes dirt, most of it looks like groomed track through parkland, and the tougher sections are typically run through on foot with the bike shouldered. Cheaper 26" wheeled mountain bikes with no suspension seem to have flatter top tubes. As mentioned above the trend toward larger 29" wheels and long travel suspension increases the height of the headtube, and so necessitates a more steeply angled top tube to get reasonable stand-over clearance.
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Old 10-15-16, 07:54 PM
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I was a spectator at a couple cyclocross races. Brought a couple of my DSLR camera for the fun of it. I do not think I ever saw anyone that would have benefited from having a lower top tube, as nobody ever had both feet on the ground with the bike in between except at the start and finish. These were national level racers, maybe at lower levels they could use a lower top tube, but these guys and gals never got near the top tube.
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Old 10-15-16, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I was a spectator at a couple cyclocross races. Brought a couple of my DSLR camera for the fun of it. I do not think I ever saw anyone that would have benefited from having a lower top tube, as nobody ever had both feet on the ground with the bike in between except at the start and finish. These were national level racers, maybe at lower levels they could use a lower top tube, but these guys and gals never got near the top tube.

Note how a lower top tube would make it harder to shoulder most of those.
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Old 10-18-16, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by BlarneyHammer View Post

1. Cromoly
2. 29" wheels
3. Clearance for 2.5" tires (up to 3" might be even better)
4. Clearance for 100 mm of front suspension
5. A more traditional touring geometry

Does anyone know of such a frame?
Not the 100 suspension, but most everything else.

VO Piolet Frameset - Frames
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Old 10-18-16, 11:09 PM
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Couple thoughts:

- 29" frames and smaller riders don't mix that well. They do make bikes in that configuration but you end up with a bunch of compromises (like a heavily sloped top tube, minimal frame bag space)
- Straight top tube on a mountain bikes aren't common anymore for a bunch of reason. People are pushing the limits like crazy on bikes these days and you would be testicle free with such a high top tube. I've smacked my boys a few times more than I could count from running a slightly too big for me frame in order to get a bigger triangle for a bigger frame bag...
- Plenty of frame bag options these days. There is almost a supply glut of high quality custom bag manufactures out there. Custom made stuff is reasonably priced if your design is simple, maybe 10 to 15% more than an off the shelf high quality BP bag.
- Try running a frame the next size up. I do that myself on my Surly; I run a set of Jones H bars with a very short stem in order to ride a bigger frame.
- Look at top tube bags. Looks like on your current bike you've got piles of room to put a huge bag between the seat post and the top tube.
- Personally ride a Surly Ogre as my 'normal' touring bike. 2.5" tire clearance, handles somewhere between a MTB and a touring bike (good on/off road, decent ride on trails). 80 mm suspension correction/non tappered forks is kinda of a negative but I live with it. Steel frame to boot. I've slapped a 4L water bag in the frame bag, along with a few parts and tubes with a big of room to spare.
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Old 10-19-16, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by BlarneyHammer View Post

I'm looking for a bikepacking frame, with these features:

1. Cromoly
2. 29" wheels
3. Clearance for 2.5" tires (up to 3" might be even better)
4. Clearance for 100 mm of front suspension
5. A more traditional touring geometry

Does anyone know of such a frame?
My Surly Pugsley has a pretty high top tube, which lets me run a pretty big framebag. I love that.




I know there are a couple of frames out there with more space for framebags. Check out the Salsa Woodsmoke and the Salsa Cutthroat, and also the Rawland bikes, Ulv and Ravn. The Ravn looks pretty good for you.

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