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Lightweight adventuring

Old 04-06-10, 05:49 PM
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cosm
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Lightweight adventuring

Hello all,

I'm here seeking advice from all the experience folk here. I'm planning to do a lot of fast cycle touring for 6 months or so. I am in the fortunate position of being able to buy a new bike and some gear and want to go into this without preconceptions. I've been riding retro bikes so I'm out of touch with what's available now. I have a bit of experience in ultralight backpacking where questioning my gear has got me down to 6kg, so that's the mind-set I'm coming from. It will be unsupported, camping most of the time.

Given such a light weight I'm wondering about bike recommendations. I am thinking about either titanium or carbon and expect that either will be suitable for my 70kg. I'm more wondering about practicality and I guess the biggest factor is going to be fun - and a large part of that is speed. For example if I can get away with it I'd like to have my gear on top of a rack rather than over the wheels with panniers so I get that extra aero speed thrill :-). I don't have any flexibility or comfort issues so I'm inclined to go for a more race geometry rather than a touring type geometry.

Anyway, does anyone have recommendations for suitable bicycles/frames/wheels and also setups for carrying a modest amount of gear. Budget is generous but not unlimited (about $4000ish for bike, rack, etc).

Thanks for your help!
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Old 04-06-10, 07:47 PM
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Moved this to touring where the experts are. The long distance forum is for people that are not sensible enough to stop for the night.
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Old 04-06-10, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
Moved this to touring where the experts are. The long distance forum is for people that are not sensible enough to stop for the night.
Ok. I thought the lightweight (and speed) emphasis might make it more "long distance". Hopefully I'll get both perspectives.

Cheers.
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Old 04-06-10, 08:25 PM
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Check out www.bikepacking.net.
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Old 04-06-10, 08:28 PM
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I toured on a race bike.
Just add a seat post rack, frame bag and a bar bag.
Seat post rack has a 20 lb capacity.

The seat post rack can also protect your back from rear wheel rain riding spray.
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Old 04-06-10, 08:35 PM
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A big seat bag (like this: https://www.rivbike.com/products/show...-medium/20-132 ), combined with a handlebar bag might be a good way to go. Not quite as aerodynamic as a rack trunk, but positions the load closer to the center of the bike for better handling.
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Old 04-06-10, 08:36 PM
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Are you talking about credit-card touring? If you want light-weight.. then carbon it is... titanium is more durable and rides like steel. IMO, you should be at least looking at longer chainstays, short stays put the wheel under your butt and accept only small tires no fenders - that means a bumpy wet ride which could get annoying.

https://www.ifbikes.com/OurBikes/Road/Steel_Club_Racer_/

That comes in TI... and just under 4k... you could but a rack on it..
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Old 04-06-10, 08:57 PM
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Oh no - not again.
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Old 04-06-10, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Richard Cranium View Post
Oh no - not again.
What happened, run out of milk?
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Old 04-06-10, 09:09 PM
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It sounds like you and I have similar goals when it comes to touring.

Many people will say to go "rackless," and get a large saddle bag and handlebar bag combo for your purpose, and others may go the route of 10 Wheels and put on the seatpost rack. I'm sure these solutions are great for some people, but not for me. I think handlebar bags, seatpost racks and saddle bags have a very negative effect on a bike's handling characteristics. Since you said "fun" is your primary concern here, I would advise you to stay clear of those solutions. Yes, they will give you the lightest weight possible, but remember that it's not all about weight... it's about WHERE the weight is on your bike.

In my opinion, the best compromise of handling and speed while touring (which is what makes a bike "fun" for me) comes from getting a set of narrow profile rear panniers on a lightweight rear rack. The panniers will be largely shielded by your body, and since this keeps the center of gravity much lower than with a saddle bag or seatpost rack, the bike will still handle pretty well. You can carry 20-25 pounds of gear total like this, with most of your stuff in the panniers, and then strap your tent and/or bag on top of the rack in a compression dry sack.

Robert Beckman makes excellent racks and panniers with this type of efficient traveling in mind. I only mention him because you said you had $4000 or so to spend. His racks and panniers are expensive, but if you have the cash, it's worth it. Sounds like you have the cash.

Obviously, this is just my opinion based on my experiences.
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Old 04-06-10, 09:18 PM
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https://kentsbike.blogspot.com/2009/0...s-of-home.html

https://www.carouseldesignworks.com/index.html

https://www.peterwhitecycles.com/carradice.asp
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Old 04-06-10, 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by cosm View Post

I'm more wondering about practicality and I guess the biggest factor is going to be fun - and a large part of that is speed.
My thought is don't blow most of that wad of dough on a bling bike unless you want the bragging rights. You can buy a perfectly suitable carbon road bike with mid level components at www.bikesdirect.com for about a $1000. Tack on a seat post rack, a frame and bar bag, and head out. Even with a 185 pounds aboard, the wheels should hold up just fine, at least for 6 months. But do take a few spare spokes and/or a Fiber Fix temporary, and watch for excessive rim wear from braking.

Oh, figure out how you're gonna haul enough water/food to get you thru desolate sections. Maybe a back pack. Or just avoid.
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Old 04-06-10, 11:18 PM
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Thanks for the replies so far - great leads there!

Just to clarify, the way I am thinking about this is to take a fresh look at unsupported touring in the same way as the ultralight backpacking crowd have re-thought long distance hikes. In my experience from backpacking you can basically halve your weight by not taking things you don't really need and then halve that again with modern materials.

I won't be needing bike specific baggage as I was planning on putting my gear in a waterproof cuben fibre stuff sack with backpack straps (plus a homemade frame bag). Everything I need should fit in baggage weighing not much more than 100grams. Pannier bags weigh over a kg empty. It's not the low weight of things that matters so much as how that allows me to increase the fun factor by not having a heavy/unbalanced bike and by not catching so much air with panniers.

Having used heavy steel frame bikes 36 spoke wheels for years I'm relatively clueless about what the good value bikes/wheels/racks out there at the moment that would suit my purpose. Given my weight (70kg) and a max load of 6-7kg (plus a couple of water bottles) what sort of wheels should I look for?

Thanks again.
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Old 04-06-10, 11:29 PM
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Consider this if it's distance you want to cover just ride longer, not faster - https://bicycledreamsmovie.com/ Just heard a good piece on it in this podcast (about 19mins in) where they only ride 13-14mph, but for oh 23 hours a day and finish coast to coast in 8-10 days in the Race Across America.

Radiolab Podcast: Limits - https://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/M...t?id=152249110
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Old 04-07-10, 12:10 AM
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Originally Posted by cosm View Post
Just to clarify, the way I am thinking about this is to take a fresh look at unsupported touring in the same way as the ultralight backpacking crowd have re-thought long distance hikes. .
There are lots of different approaches that people have taken to what you are doing. I don't think it's as "fresh" of a look as you think; it's just that different folks have tried different approaches and have different answers.

Some options:

1. A racing bike with a seatpost back - as shown above.
2. A bike with a saddlebag and a handlebar pack - as shown above.
3. A lighter-weight touring bike (or a cyclocross bike) that can handle a rear rack, with a very small rear rack and small rear panniers (advantage - may handle better, as mentioned above).

There are two more to mention:

4. A lighter weight bike with a trailer, like an Extrawheel.
5. A rando bike; a specific bike built for randonneering and equipped to take front panniers only -- like this:
https://www.renehersebicycles.com/Randonneur%20bikes.htm

One thing to mention -- your post so far is focusing on the weight of the bike and the load you're carrying. Another thing to consider is that the fit and geometry of all of these bikes are going to be different. You're not just carrying a load; you're sitting in a saddle all day, for many days in a row. Some people are fine doing this on a racing style bike with narrow tires. Others would say they want something more upright, that fits in a bit more relaxed way, and which is a bit more stable and has wider tires for comfort. My two cents is that since you're going to be creative about paring your weight down to the smallest amount you need, you should start with a bike that you really, really want to ride for long distances, and work backwards to figure out how to carry the load you want).

Any number of carbon fiber or ti bikes would work, if you decide to go carrying things in a seatpost bag or saddlebag. If you want something that will handle a rear rack, but is still lighter than an all-out touring bike check out a Co-Motion Nor'Wester or Gunnar Sport.

Last edited by BengeBoy; 04-07-10 at 12:17 AM.
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Old 04-07-10, 12:29 AM
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Old 04-07-10, 01:02 AM
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Your questions about recommended wheels and tires will depend far more on what road surfaces you plan to encounter than on the weight of your luggage. Given your 70 kg body mass the total load on the bike and wheels isn't going to be all that different whether you can keep your load down to 6 kg or if you were carrying a more typical 16 kg. The main problem with using racing-oriented bikes for touring isn't that they can't handle the weight but that they are limited to narrow tires and various compromises with regard to fenders. That's ok if you'll stay mainly on paved surfaces in reasonable condition, but not so good if you'll frequently get off the beaten path on surfaces that aren't so kind to skinny tires.

Physical comfort is also a big consideration. Racers pay much less attention to this - their goal is to ride as fast as possible and usually for a more limited amount of time. They know they won't be very comfortable during a race and accept that - the reward comes in doing well in the competition. But touring is supposed to be enjoyable and that's hard to achieve if you're not reasonably comfortable - especially on a longer tour of a few weeks or more.
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Old 04-07-10, 01:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
My thought is don't blow most of that wad of dough on a bling bike unless you want the bragging rights. You can buy a perfectly suitable carbon road bike with mid level components at www.bikesdirect.com for about a $1000. Tack on a seat post rack, a frame and bar bag, and head out. Even with a 185 pounds aboard, the wheels should hold up just fine, at least for 6 months. But do take a few spare spokes and/or a Fiber Fix temporary, and watch for excessive rim wear from braking.

Oh, figure out how you're gonna haul enough water/food to get you thru desolate sections. Maybe a back pack. Or just avoid.
Thanks, that's the a very practical pointer. It would probably take days to find links to good value bikes like that (I said I was out of touch!). I was a bit concerned about wheel strength given that some touring experts recommend tank-like wheels. That makes perfect sense when the weight is over the back wheel, so I think the light load and weight distribution will help a lot.

As for provisions, I will probably not be more than a day from some kind of civilization or creek for water. Things should be easier than hiking in that respect.

Edit: Just noticed bikesdirect don't ship to Australia. Any other suggestions? LBS prices here are double or triple!

Last edited by cosm; 04-07-10 at 05:46 AM.
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Old 04-07-10, 01:52 AM
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Originally Posted by ullearn View Post
Consider this if it's distance you want to cover just ride longer, not faster - https://bicycledreamsmovie.com/ Just heard a good piece on it in this podcast (about 19mins in) where they only ride 13-14mph, but for oh 23 hours a day and finish coast to coast in 8-10 days in the Race Across America.

Radiolab Podcast: Limits - https://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/M...t?id=152249110
Thanks that's interesting to know and could be useful. Most of the time I'll just probably go faster than sensible because the little kid in me likes to! Basically I would like to keep as much of the 'fast and fun' experience as I can while carrying the minimum to be relatively self-sufficient.
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Old 04-07-10, 02:25 AM
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
Your questions about recommended wheels and tires will depend far more on what road surfaces you plan to encounter than on the weight of your luggage. Given your 70 kg body mass the total load on the bike and wheels isn't going to be all that different whether you can keep your load down to 6 kg or if you were carrying a more typical 16 kg. The main problem with using racing-oriented bikes for touring isn't that they can't handle the weight but that they are limited to narrow tires and various compromises with regard to fenders. That's ok if you'll stay mainly on paved surfaces in reasonable condition, but not so good if you'll frequently get off the beaten path on surfaces that aren't so kind to skinny tires.

Physical comfort is also a big consideration. Racers pay much less attention to this - their goal is to ride as fast as possible and usually for a more limited amount of time. They know they won't be very comfortable during a race and accept that - the reward comes in doing well in the competition. But touring is supposed to be enjoyable and that's hard to achieve if you're not reasonably comfortable - especially on a longer tour of a few weeks or more.
Oh yes, I didn't mention that most of the riding will be on average roads with the occasional dirt road for sightseeing if I feel inclined. I was planning on using 25mm tyres if that's an indication. I think 28mm would be overkill if the frame does its job well. I would definitely like a comfortable frame in terms of absorbing bumps but riding position of itself does not seem to be a problem for me - touch wood.

Lighter wheels will be more fun to ride but how light can I go to keep it reliable for 6 months on the road? That's where I need some experienced advice. Just to throw out some names, anyone have any preferences between Mavic Ksyrium Elite, Fulcrum racing 3's or the similarly priced Campag (or others)?
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Old 04-07-10, 07:54 AM
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perplexing dilemma.

You seem disinclined towards 36 spoke wheels, and want to ride 25c tires, but are asking for experienced advice on what types of wheels or equipment is going to 'keep it reliable for six months on the road'.

While bike touring, 'Unsupported, camping' and carrying a gallon or more of water is certainly not unusual.

Rack recommended.
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Old 04-07-10, 10:08 AM
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I do similar light touring at times. I think what you propose is quite viable. My bike of choice is a Gunnar Sport with fenders, 700x28c Continental 4 Seasons tires, Ultegra hubs with 36 spoke Velocity Aeroheat rims, Sel-Anatomica Titanico seat, handle-bar bag. I have outfitted it two ways: Sometimes with a Carradice saddlepack; and sometimes with a Tubus Vega rack (not a stable top platform) and Ortleib Sport Packer panniers. The container weight for these is about the same. I have found the pannier system to be slightly more stable because it places the weight lower but agree that it is probably somewhat less aero. The bike alone with racks but no panniers weighs about 22.5lb.

Let us know what you come up with.
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Old 04-07-10, 10:16 AM
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I'm surprised no one has linked this yet. It doesn't get much lighter than this, if you're serious read up:

https://www2.arnes.si/~ikovse/weight.htm

I'm sure he'll pipe in, but Nun travels pretty light as well.

https://wheelsofchance.org/gear/
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Old 04-07-10, 11:25 AM
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Cutting weight doesn't have nearly the same benefit in bike touring as it does in backpacking. If you have extra weight on your back, even standing around takes work. But on a bike, weight only really matters if you're going uphill, and as long as you can gear low enough, it doesn't even matter that much. You're not going to see much of a speed gain with blingy wheels and a carbon frame, but you're going to trade off a lot in durability, repairability, rack compatibility, and comfort.

I think 28mm would be overkill if the frame does its job well.
You have been reading too much bicycle frame marketing material.
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Old 04-07-10, 11:40 AM
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just last week I rode from Monterey to Morro Bay with 1 stop.
total of about 130 miles, in 9hrs thru Big Sur.

then i rode to San Luis Obispo and hopped on the amtrak to SD and now I'm on Coronado for a few days.

I've been riding around SD, La Jolla, etc...

last year I rode Portland to Ventura with a light setup
using a set of Schwalbe Marathon 38c CX tyres, and did a fair amount of dirt
plus a 12hr MTB Race
all on the same set of tyres, and using the same gear the whole of the way.

honestly, if you can pull off 15mph average speed for a whole day, thats pretty fast.

when it comes to covering distance vs time; the trick is not necessarily to work harder and go faster, but to be more comfortable, and spend more time on the bike.

its good to be able to access your needs while rolling.
and the bike needs to be able to handle a variety of road surfaces without issue.

if you get into an urban area, and get a lot of flats, it will end up costing some time...
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