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Am I a fool for touring with road/race bike?

Old 09-11-19, 07:55 AM
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Swiss Footbikes
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Am I a fool for touring with road/race bike?

Proud owner of a Specialized Allez, this bike has been excellent to me over the years in casual riding of all distances up to 115 + miles. Planning a cross continent tour next year, Considering using the Allez. I'm highly UL when it comes to backpacking recently completed AT and PCT, so I know how to pack light. Assuming my gear wasn't more than 30 pounds, would this be a foolish idea? Anyone know of others that have used a bike like the Allez to tour with?
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Old 09-11-19, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Swiss Footbikes View Post
Proud owner of a Specialized Allez, this bike has been excellent to me over the years in casual riding of all distances up to 115 + miles. Planning a cross continent tour next year, Considering using the Allez. I'm highly UL when it comes to backpacking recently completed AT and PCT, so I know how to pack light. Assuming my gear wasn't more than 30 pounds, would this be a foolish idea? Anyone know of others that have used a bike like the Allez to tour with?
I would do it, but 30# isn't very light unless maybe you are counting water, food, and fuel. 30# is just regular touring in my estimation not even necessarily even light touring let alone ultralight. You probably can go lighter if you are an AT and PCT thru hiker. I bet if you try you can very easily get down to at least a 20# base gear weight. Remember, restocking opportunities are frequent on a bike tour. You really seldom need to carry much food or water and should not carry more than you need to with only a very small emergency cushion. That generally means shopping daily most of the time.

Bikepacking type bags work well for light loads on a road bike. I improvised stuff sacks strapped on a light rack on one tour.

On the Trans America I met quite a few who took another approach with road bikes. They packed fairly heavy and used a trailer. Some had put lower gearing on and some managed to somehow get by with road bike gearing (at least one destroyed a knee only about 750 miles into the trip).

I did the ST on an older (1990) Canondale Crit bike, but base gear weight was 14 pounds and I used lower gearing by using an improvised ultra compact double (actually a triple with the outer ring removed). Gearing was a 39/26 with a 12-28. It worked out well. Some of my gear wasn't especially high end and I actually could pack lighter now (10# base?) and still camp and cook in comfort.

Edit:
If your 30# gear weight included the bike ignore everything I said
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Old 09-11-19, 09:22 AM
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I did the ST on my Trek 5200 carbon fiber bike with a triple. It was older and had metal drop-outs with threaded holes that allowed me to mount a rack. My gear weight was under 20# not counting food or water. Take care in how you mount a rack to your bike, make certain that the screw holes are strong enough for mounting a rack.

I would advise you to make certain your wheels are robust enough to handle crappy road surfaces with a loaded rear rack. My wife just rode her Trek Madone across France with a similar load and I'm really glad I changed her stock rear rim for a much stronger one as we encountered lots of cobblestone streets and she would have certainly broken spokes on her stock rear wheel.

Also, I would really work at halving your load, 30# is a big load for touring.

Have fun, ride safe.

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Old 09-11-19, 09:59 AM
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I pack heavier than you, but I have seen several bike tourists on road bikes, either with bikepacking setups or with trailers. And they appeared to be having a great time.

But, if you really want to use a road bike, since a lot of road bikes lack the really low gears that are commonly desired for touring, have you thought about your gears and whether or not your gears are low enough for the route?

I attached two photos below of a couple I met in Iceland that were using their Ritchey Breakaway bikes for a tour. I cropped out the faces since I did not ask permission to post photos.






Although they were packed for only a two week tour, not as long as you would be riding, I find that once I have a week worth of stuff, a longer trip does not need much more stuff.

If you wanted to go with rear panniers on the bike, I would suggest you try to move some of the weight further forward, either supported from the handlebars or with a frame bag or both.

If you can't fit fenders due to tight tire clearance, you might consider race blade fenders. I have toured without fenders and it can be quite a mess. The Pro XL version fit nicely on my 28mm wide tires on my road bike.

For a cross continent trip, there may be times you need to carry a lot more food and water, so that would be a consideration.

Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I would do it, ...
If I recall correctly, you posted on Crazy Guy on how you did your light weight touring, if so the OP might benefit from the link.
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Old 09-11-19, 10:00 AM
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I have toured on a road bike but with nowhere near 30 lbs, probably less than half that. For comparison, my longest tour on a heavy-duty touring bike lasted 8 weeks, I had 40 lbs of gear including tent and cooking stuff, and I could have got by with 5-10lbs less. So like @schoolboy2 I'd suggest cutting your planned load in half, sticking it a frame bag and a saddlebag, and you're good to go.
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Old 09-11-19, 10:02 AM
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I rode the seperate(2700, 1700, 5000+) miles long trip on my Allez Comp using the same backpack I used on the AT in 1997 with 40 pounds of gear. Go for it. Explore and have fun.
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Old 09-11-19, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
If I recall correctly, you posted on Crazy Guy on how you did your light weight touring, if so the OP might benefit from the link.
I got most of my philosophy from this guy: Ultralight bicycle touring
He's way more extreme than I will ever be, but I like his basic ideas: weigh everything!
The gear list for my first tour is here: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/..._id=318550&v=i
The gear list for my coast to coast retirement tour is here: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...id=543530&v=1Q

As you can see I started cooking a bit and I also got a bigger tent. The weight went from 20# to 30# but I was planning to be gone for months and simply needed more stuff.
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Old 09-11-19, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
If I recall correctly, you posted on Crazy Guy on how you did your light weight touring, if so the OP might benefit from the link.
There is a link to my stuff on the CrazyGuyOnABike site in my signature line in these posts. The stuff there probably isn't all the way up to date with my current gear, but there is some useful stuff there. I have a couple articles and some trip journals there. There is also stuff from my heavy touring days.
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Old 09-11-19, 12:15 PM
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With a light enough load, you certainly don't need a touring bike. A hiker friend of mine tours on his road bike wearing a small backpack. Not for me, but he makes it work.

My first 2000+ mile tour was on a road bike with a traditional heavy load in five packs. It was stiff and uncomfortable but I made it.

My last XC tour (4500 miles) I got smarter and lightened the load to less than 15 pounds base weight in two rear panniers only (this was after hiking the Triple Crown). I had an old steel touring bike with a granny gear, but virtually never used the granny. I learned that with that small a load, I no longer needed a heavy touring bike, so I sold it. (I replaced with a sort of compromise, a gravel bike with rear rack attachments (and disk brakes, which I love).)
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Old 09-11-19, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Swiss Footbikes View Post
Proud owner of a Specialized Allez, this bike has been excellent to me over the years in casual riding of all distances up to 115 + miles. Planning a cross continent tour next year, Considering using the Allez. I'm highly UL when it comes to backpacking recently completed AT and PCT, so I know how to pack light. Assuming my gear wasn't more than 30 pounds, would this be a foolish idea? Anyone know of others that have used a bike like the Allez to tour with?
My wife used her Allez quite a bit for 1-3 week light tours. She did carry all her camping gear. We were active alpine climbers at the time and had pretty light weight equipment. I made custom panniers for our road bikes. They had more taper to accommodate the shorter chainstays. We used 25 mm tires on our road bikes, and they were OK. Her loads were in the 20-25 lbs. range, and mine were slightly heavier. Gearing was not optimum, but that can be modified. Her bikes had fittings to install a rear rack, which is a good way to go. The only issue was the seat stay fittings did not work well on her small 50 cm frame. There is a work-around, if you have a small frame. Could you ride across the country on an Allez--absolutely.

This was her first Allez, and you can see the taper on both of our rear panniers. If you have small feet, rear panniers may work for you.

This is her second Allez set up for self supported trips. I put a mtn bike rear derailleur and a 11-34 cassette on when she used it for touring.


This picture shows the shape of the panniers a little better. I was using a Trek road bike

Last edited by Doug64; 09-12-19 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 09-11-19, 09:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Swiss Footbikes View Post
Proud owner of a Specialized Allez, this bike has been excellent to me over the years in casual riding of all distances up to 115 + miles. Planning a cross continent tour next year, Considering using the Allez. I'm highly UL when it comes to backpacking recently completed AT and PCT, so I know how to pack light. Assuming my gear wasn't more than 30 pounds, would this be a foolish idea? Anyone know of others that have used a bike like the Allez to tour with?
30lbs isnít UL. If you are a light person going UL with 15lbs and a road bike is a piece of cake. Sounds like you know enough what works.
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Old 09-11-19, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Swiss Footbikes View Post
Proud owner of a Specialized Allez, this bike has been excellent to me over the years in casual riding of all distances up to 115 + miles. Planning a cross continent tour next year, Considering using the Allez. I'm highly UL when it comes to backpacking recently completed AT and PCT, so I know how to pack light. Assuming my gear wasn't more than 30 pounds, would this be a foolish idea? Anyone know of others that have used a bike like the Allez to tour with?
You can tour on anything you like, just be aware of the limitations of your bike of choice.
A road bike has lighter wheels and tires, so certain road surfaces can leave you on foot. Even though you've done long day trips on the bike, doing it for weeks may be more painful. Not saying for sure, but just something to keep in mind.
I agree with the other posters; 30lbs is not UL, but forget the labels. If you want it, bring it.
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Old 09-12-19, 04:58 AM
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We haven't heard back from Swiss Footbikes. I would be curious to hear back on what they carried as a base weight on the AT and PCT. It might give a better idea of what might make sense for them on a coast to coast bike tour. Of course some folks look at the bike as a tool that allows them to carry more since the load isn't on their back. This approach is even possible with a race oriented road bike, but the gearing is more likely to become an issue.

If we knew a bit more about what the OP would be doing we might be able to give better advice. Barring that after choosing the general route I normally suggest the following general approach:
  1. Decide what gear you want to use.
  2. Go over the list and trim, refine, and generally get it just the way you want it. Repeat ad nauseum...
  3. Choose baggage that will handle the baggage that will carry the gear (panniers, bikepacking bags, improvised stuffsacks and racks, trailer, whatever).
  4. Decide on the bike that suits the gear and baggage.
The order of the steps may vary, but I think the first step should almost always be first. The second is more or less continuous and the refining never ends for me. The third and fourth may be switched. You, can choose the bike first, and lots of folks do, but it is kind of backing into the process. I sometimes do the process backwards myself, but still think it is backwards.
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Old 09-12-19, 09:05 AM
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I would add one more criteria, estimate how far you might have to go between food resupply and water resupply. If resupply distances are short, not much volume or weight capacity is needed.

When I rode the Pacific Coast, we saw a Safeway about every other day, other food sources (restaurants, convenience stores) much more frequently than that. Thus, did not need a lot of capacity for such expendables. I have no clue how often you can resupply crossing the USA prairie or if taking a southern route how often you can find water, as I have not ridden there.

When I went into the interior in Iceland I brought over two and a half weeks worth of food along, my 31 liter Ortlieb duffle could not hold all the food, I needed another drybag for overflow.
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Old 09-12-19, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I would add one more criteria, estimate how far you might have to go between food resupply and water resupply. If resupply distances are short, not much volume or weight capacity is needed.

When I rode the Pacific Coast, we saw a Safeway about every other day, other food sources (restaurants, convenience stores) much more frequently than that. Thus, did not need a lot of capacity for such expendables. I have no clue how often you can resupply crossing the USA prairie or if taking a southern route how often you can find water, as I have not ridden there.

When I went into the interior in Iceland I brought over two and a half weeks worth of food along, my 31 liter Ortlieb duffle could not hold all the food, I needed another drybag for overflow.
I just assumed road touring and that when there is a rare need to haul a lot of food or water, I'd just do whatever it takes. Even if it meant carrying 5 bottles in a jersey pockets, or using a very light backpack now and then to handle the overage. I typically have a backpack along anyway, at least a Sea 2 Summit ultrasil one (a mere 2.5 ounces). That or something a bit more substantial like an REI Flash 18 (9 ounces).

I really don't mind having a pound or two in a backpack on a regular basis and once in a while where I need to haul water for a long stretch I will load up with a heavy load for a stretch between two widely spaced restock points. I only do the latter once in a great while as needed in places like west Texas. The good news is that water gets used quickly and the load lightens fast. I have never gone too much more than 24 hours between resupply on a road tour and don't do that very often (never overnight on the TA, and overnight a couple times on the ST, but some long days in both cases). I only started using the backpacks fairly on my last few tours, but really find them useful.
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Old 09-12-19, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I just assumed road touring ...
When I read your post, I had forgotten that he planned to tour on a road bike, so probably most of the time re-supply is probably not an issue. The far from re-supply situations are probably not on road bikes. My error.

A few months ago when I was on the north end of the Cabot Trail, that is somewhat of a food desert, but you still could find a grocery store or restaurant at least every other day. The only stretch where I went for four days between grocery stores, I had a great fish and chips meal at a nice restaurant half way between the grocery stores.
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Old 09-14-19, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Swiss Footbikes View Post
Proud owner of a Specialized Allez, this bike has been excellent to me over the years in casual riding of all distances up to 115 + miles. Planning a cross continent tour next year, Considering using the Allez. I'm highly UL when it comes to backpacking recently completed AT and PCT, so I know how to pack light. Assuming my gear wasn't more than 30 pounds, would this be a foolish idea? Anyone know of others that have used a bike like the Allez to tour with?
are you crossing Asia or Australia?

in other words, get back with some more info, folks have taken the time to put down experiences, but not knowing what you have in mind, its a bit hard to give recommendations other than the standard common sense stuff about wheel strength and gearing.

hopefully you return with more details.
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Old 09-15-19, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
are you crossing Asia or Australia?

in other words, get back with some more info, folks have taken the time to put down experiences, but not knowing what you have in mind, its a bit hard to give recommendations other than the standard common sense stuff about wheel strength and gearing.

hopefully you return with more details.
Yeah, I hope we hear back with more details. Even the common sense stuff isn't really a slam dunk since we really don't know what the OP will be carrying. They did say under 30 pounds, but is that base gear weight? Total including consumables? Total gear including the bike? Any of those are actually possible.

As far as locale. I had assumed coast to coast US, since they mentioned the AT and PCT, but if a different continent the advice might well be different (and outside my area of experience).

Sadly we often hear from folks once and never again with no follow up. Sometimes we get some conversation and even feed back after a trip, but that is the exception. We never know if it was a whim and they lost interest or whether they moved ahead to other sources and followed through.
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Old 09-15-19, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Yeah, I hope we hear back with more details. Even the common sense stuff isn't really a slam dunk since we really don't know what the OP will be carrying. They did say under 30 pounds, but is that base gear weight? Total including consumables? Total gear including the bike? Any of those are actually possible.

As far as locale. I had assumed coast to coast US, since they mentioned the AT and PCT, but if a different continent the advice might well be different (and outside my area of experience).

Sadly we often hear from folks once and never again with no follow up. Sometimes we get some conversation and even feed back after a trip, but that is the exception. We never know if it was a whim and they lost interest or whether they moved ahead to other sources and followed through.
well written and does sum it up well.
You have a budding career in Diplomacy.
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Old 09-15-19, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
well written and does sum it up well.
You have a budding career in Diplomacy.
Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Yeah, I hope we hear back with more details. Even the common sense stuff isn't really a slam dunk since we really don't know what the OP will be carrying. They did say under 30 pounds, but is that base gear weight? Total including consumables? Total gear including the bike? Any of those are actually possible.

As far as locale. I had assumed coast to coast US, since they mentioned the AT and PCT, but if a different continent the advice might well be different (and outside my area of experience).

Sadly we often hear from folks once and never again with no follow up. Sometimes we get some conversation and even feed back after a trip, but that is the exception. We never know if it was a whim and they lost interest or whether they moved ahead to other sources and followed through.
The OP made his ONE post four days ago. It'd be nice to hear if he followed any of the advice given here.

Cheers
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Old 09-15-19, 05:14 PM
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Well, even though the OP hasn't come back, I found this discussion very helpful as I'm plotting out doing some credit card touring with my road bike in 2020 and 2021. It was good to get some feedback on how my stuff should weigh (or not weigh I should say!). I'm awaiting delivery of a Dill Pickle front bag and then I will lay out all that I imagine that I need and see if it will fit into the combination of the front bag, top tube bag (eoGear), and my expanding seat bag. I typically wear a waistpack on brevets so can stash a few small items there as well. I don't do backpacks.

My plans are to try out 1-2 nights away from home next summer, then a much longer trip of about 7-8 nights away from home in 2021 to celebrate entering a new decade of my life. All rides will start/end from my house in the western suburbs of Chicago. I'll make a big loop up into Wisconsin. Some of the route will include roads that I'm already familiar with from brevets as well as from the two permanents that I have up there.
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Old 09-15-19, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by GadgetGirlIL View Post
... I'm plotting out doing some credit card touring with my road bike in 2020 and 2021. It was good to get some feedback ....
You probably do not recall, but I had a Carradice bag on my bike on the 200k this past May. Since your saddle is a Brooks and has saddle bag loops that can take that type of bag, that could be a good option for credit card touring too. I think the one I have is the Pendle and is rated at 11 liters. It is more of a classic design, in that it is wider than it is long. But I find it a very convenient type of bag.
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Old 09-15-19, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by GadgetGirlIL View Post
Well, even though the OP hasn't come back, I found this discussion very helpful as I'm plotting out doing some credit card touring with my road bike in 2020 and 2021. It was good to get some feedback on how my stuff should weigh (or not weigh I should say!). I'm awaiting delivery of a Dill Pickle front bag and then I will lay out all that I imagine that I need and see if it will fit into the combination of the front bag, top tube bag (eoGear), and my expanding seat bag. I typically wear a waistpack on brevets so can stash a few small items there as well. I don't do backpacks.

My plans are to try out 1-2 nights away from home next summer, then a much longer trip of about 7-8 nights away from home in 2021 to celebrate entering a new decade of my life. All rides will start/end from my house in the western suburbs of Chicago. I'll make a big loop up into Wisconsin. Some of the route will include roads that I'm already familiar with from brevets as well as from the two permanents that I have up there.
A number of years ago I did some light touring on a MIELE with a COLUMBUS SL frameset that did not have any rear eyelets. I used the Blackburn adapters I referenced in an earlier post in this thread. On the rack I carried a lightweight tent, a sleeping pad and a lightweight sleeping bag. The sleeping bag fitted into one small pannier and the tent went into the other one. My rain gear and some food went into the extra space in each bag. It was quite enjoyable.

Cheers
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Old 09-16-19, 04:49 AM
  #24  
GadgetGirlIL
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
You probably do not recall, but I had a Carradice bag on my bike on the 200k this past May. Since your saddle is a Brooks and has saddle bag loops that can take that type of bag, that could be a good option for credit card touring too. I think the one I have is the Pendle and is rated at 11 liters. It is more of a classic design, in that it is wider than it is long. But I find it a very convenient type of bag.
I took a look at your bag. I've been using a Timbuk2 Sonoma bag which is rated at 11-25 liters. It has worked out really well for me especially on spring rides where it starts off really cold and then heats up later in the day. While my bag isn't waterproof, I do stash clothing in Ziploc bags if there is any chance of rain.

I found out about the Timbuk2 bag on some other forum here in 2018. The red version was only $25 on Amazon so I figured I try it out. Best $25 I've spent!
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Old 09-16-19, 06:00 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by GadgetGirlIL View Post
I took a look at your bag. I've been using a Timbuk2 Sonoma bag which is rated at 11-25 liters. It has worked out really well for me especially on spring rides where it starts off really cold and then heats up later in the day. While my bag isn't waterproof, I do stash clothing in Ziploc bags if there is any chance of rain.

I found out about the Timbuk2 bag on some other forum here in 2018. The red version was only $25 on Amazon so I figured I try it out. Best $25 I've spent!
I think the bag I have now would cost around $100 from most sources, so you got a fantastic deal. Glad it works for you.
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