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  1. #1
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    1 trip, but on which of my 2 bikes?

    Hi guys,

    I'm planning on doing a big trip in Australia and New Zealand starting in September this year. The plan is to ride from Cairns down to Melbourne, doing large chunks of the Bicentennial National Trail and just enjoying the country. After about four months I'm planning on flying to New Zealand to cross from South to North. The plan isn't fixed so I'm open to whatever will cross my path, but this is more or less what I'm planning on doing just to give you an idea

    Not so long ago my beloved Cotic Soul, on which I cycled across Chile and Argentina, got stolen. A few months after, on the lookout for a new travel bike, I bought a Salsa Fargo 3:



    My plan was to do the trip I described above on this bike, mounting Thule Pack 'N Pedal racks front and rear and adding Ortlieb panniers to carry all the stuff. But talking with some people made me doubt a bit. Especially in New Zealand (e.g. Queenstown), but probably also in Australia, the singletrack riding is said to be absolutely epic. Vids on the internet (e.g. Pinkbike) confirm that the riding there must be amazing. I'm a mountainbiker so my heart starts beating quicker when I hear and see that, so soon the doubt set up.

    The other bike I have is a 2Souls Quarterhorse:



    Absolutely amazing bike of which I love every little bit. Full X01, Hope brakes, LEV dropper post, Renthal kit etc. In short, a bike that can take a beating and is amazing on the singletracks. Though, I'm doubting whether it will be a nice bike to do a trip on from Cairns to Melbourne. Singletracks, technical mountainbiking, downhill fun on the QH? Hell yeah. Long distances multi day (well, month actually) touring? Maybe..

    I mounted the Thule racks on the QH and attached an Orlieb pannier to the rear rack and soon found out the pedaling would be impossible:

    1 trip, but on which of my 2 bikes?-2015-06-05-11.37.20.jpg

    I guess this can be solved by putting the big rear panniers on the front and the smaller front panniers on the back, but I haven't been able to test that out since I don't have the smaller panniers here.

    However, and now come the questions I have for you... I think that weight will be much more of an issue if I go on the QH than when I would go on the Fargo. So taking into account that I'm going for half a year, what options do you see fit to carry all the luggage (tent, sleeping stuff, cooking stuff, clothing, food etc.)? Maybe a front bag? If you would choose between front racks only or rear racks only, what would you choose (considering the Ortlieb pedaling issue with the QH)? I find it difficult to estimate how much bags (e.g. only a frame bag, also saddlebags etc.) I would need to get around the same luggage space as two panniers. Any thoughts?

    Or should I just swap the front and rear panniers? Of maybe just go on the Fargo?

    Your insights will be much appreciated!

    P.S. If I would go on the QH, I would probably take a EVOC Freeride Enduro Team (16L) pack with me solving the water issue (3L water bag).

  2. #2
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    Spring in NZ?
    Don't forget your waterwings.
    Seems obvious the Fargo will be less a PITA.
    Whats the issue as you see it?

    Oh and Cairns to Melbourne.... Cant see your 3litre water bag cutting it.
    I haven't been to Cairns but its hot in Aus and whilst 3 litres will do some for a day (not me), Aus typically has big mileages in between many habitations/towns.
    Me tinks more research is going to be needed on that stretch.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBHD View Post
    Your insights will be much appreciated!
    1.if you are carry fully loaded Ortliebs you will not be ripping singletrack. You'll be ripping/bouncing the panniers off the bike and probably destroying the rack so be realistic about how much real mountain biking you'll be able to handle with your setup.

    2. no matter what you think test out the setup you go with locally on the most challenging terrain you expect to have to deal with. That way you can either make changes before you go or at least your expectations are realistic.

    3. If it was me I would either take the Fargo with panniers and not plan to ride the most challenging singletrack or I would take the mountain bike and get myself down a very lightweight setup sans panniers or just a couple small lightly loaded panniers with which I at least had a shot of enjoying the singletrack.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBHD View Post
    Hi guys,

    I'm planning on doing a big trip in Australia and New Zealand starting in September this year. The plan is to ride from Cairns down to Melbourne, doing large chunks of the Bicentennial National Trail and just enjoying the country. After about four months I'm planning on flying to New Zealand to cross from South to North. The plan isn't fixed so I'm open to whatever will cross my path, but this is more or less what I'm planning on doing just to give you an idea

    Not so long ago my beloved Cotic Soul, on which I cycled across Chile and Argentina, got stolen. A few months after, on the lookout for a new travel bike, I bought a Salsa Fargo 3:

    My plan was to do the trip I described above on this bike, mounting Thule Pack 'N Pedal racks front and rear and adding Ortlieb panniers to carry all the stuff. But talking with some people made me doubt a bit. Especially in New Zealand (e.g. Queenstown), but probably also in Australia, the singletrack riding is said to be absolutely epic. Vids on the internet (e.g. Pinkbike) confirm that the riding there must be amazing. I'm a mountainbiker so my heart starts beating quicker when I hear and see that, so soon the doubt set up.

    The other bike I have is a 2Souls Quarterhorse:

    Absolutely amazing bike of which I love every little bit. Full X01, Hope brakes, LEV dropper post, Renthal kit etc. In short, a bike that can take a beating and is amazing on the singletracks. Though, I'm doubting whether it will be a nice bike to do a trip on from Cairns to Melbourne. Singletracks, technical mountainbiking, downhill fun on the QH? Hell yeah. Long distances multi day (well, month actually) touring? Maybe..

    I mounted the Thule racks on the QH and attached an Orlieb pannier to the rear rack and soon found out the pedaling would be impossible:

    I guess this can be solved by putting the big rear panniers on the front and the smaller front panniers on the back, but I haven't been able to test that out since I don't have the smaller panniers here.

    However, and now come the questions I have for you... I think that weight will be much more of an issue if I go on the QH than when I would go on the Fargo. So taking into account that I'm going for half a year, what options do you see fit to carry all the luggage (tent, sleeping stuff, cooking stuff, clothing, food etc.)? Maybe a front bag? If you would choose between front racks only or rear racks only, what would you choose (considering the Ortlieb pedaling issue with the QH)? I find it difficult to estimate how much bags (e.g. only a frame bag, also saddlebags etc.) I would need to get around the same luggage space as two panniers. Any thoughts?

    Or should I just swap the front and rear panniers? Of maybe just go on the Fargo?

    Your insights will be much appreciated!

    P.S. If I would go on the QH, I would probably take a EVOC Freeride Enduro Team (16L) pack with me solving the water issue (3L water bag).
    Hola JBHD,

    I hope your beloved Cotic Soul wasn't stolen in Argentina

    You're very lucky to have those 2 amazing steeds to choose from, but if I're you, I'll stick with the Fargo... but I'll make some changes with the bags.

    I'll use the backpack to carry fragile & light stuff instead of a 3L bladder (which I'll carry on a frame bag).
    I'll carry the 2 front panniers in the rear rack, sell the front rack & rear panniers and replace them with a "bikepacking setup" (frame bag, handlebar bag, dry bags in the fork (Salsa Anything cages), & a dry bag on top of the rear rack... I think with this new setup will be VERY comfortable on pavement and might survive some singletrack, too

    Saludos,
    Federico

    PS: You can also attach a Topeak XL water cage to the down tube with a 1.5L water bottle and carry a folded 70oz Platypus bottle to be used when needed.
    Soon to be bikepacking South America making & printing family portraits for those who've NONE. www.theironlyportrait.com

  5. #5
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    Fargo.
    Oh noes. I'm going to drink the Kool-Aid.

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    Thanks for the answers and opinions so far! I think I have to clarify some things first since I guess (based on your feedback) I missed some important things in the opening post.

    I'm not planning on riding singletrack with full load. Neither on the Fargo, nor on the 2Souls. Instead, I would be riding to a place (e.g. Queenstown in NZ), stay there a few days/week, detach the panniers and ride singletracks without the load. Detaching and installing the panniers takes 5 minutes, so that is not an issue. I don't want to be bouncing around (did that in Argentina/Chile on the Cotic and quickly found out it wasn't fun), so no singletracks with full load! Just unload the bike, ride trails, load it, and head off again.

    I'm planning on heading to NZ from January onwards. As far as I know it's in the middle of summer. So I hope I can leave my waterwings at home. A family member is a kiwi, so I'm sure he know what he's talking about

    I don't think water supply will be an issue when I'm on the BNT. According to their website try to make sure that there is a water supply every day (for hikers even = about 25km), so I guess that'll do. I've contacted them for some extra info I wasn't able to find on the internet, but unfortunately they haven't replied yet. When I'm not on the BNT I was hoping there would be houses/towns/farmers I would cross where I could simply ask for some water or rivers/falls etc. I'll look into the route more when I have the time, but I'm sure I'll be oké. The water supply in Chile/Argentina wasn't a problem at all. Very easy access even in remote areas, so I was kinda relying on that experience and hoping it would be similar in Australia. Guess I need so get more info on that!

    No Federico, the Cotic wasn't stolen in Argentina Just in my own home country... If I do the trip on the Fargo I'm sure I'll stick with the 'Cotic' setup (racks front + rear). I've done 230+ km (140+ mile) day's on the Cotic with full load Chile/Argentina, so I'm quite sure that that won't hold me back

    I hope this clarifies some things and why I'm seriously doubting. Curious what you'll have to say after reading this

  7. #7
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    I would either get another small set of panniers for the back of the 2Souls, or beef up the Fargo. Get a dropper post for it and move your suspension fork over.

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    Seems the question mostly is: Squish fork/1x or rigid/FD. If the QH is it I would use bars with more back sweep, and put your Brooks on.

    I've run either/both soft packs and racks/panniers on road and singletrack. I would mod the rear setup for heel clearance and consider using the front bags on rear (I've done both). Old Man Mountain racks, easily modified and stout. Use burly hardware and thread-lock, and bring spare HW and an insulated clamp or two. If you use threaded frame eyelets, use screws long enough that you can remove the stub of one with pliers if it breaks.

    Also, most panniers, Ortliebs included, are hopelessly void of compression straps. Easily overcome with some cheap 3/4-1" fastex accessory straps. Rig them horizontally, completely around the rack supports. This will keep bouncing under control and also provide more heel clearance.

    Get your stuff together and try packing scenarios. If you're not riding ST with the bike loaded, the packing/singletrack discussion is pretty much moot. Unless that extra couple inches of dropping your ass over the rear tire is gonna make or break.

    Sounds like an exciting trip. Have fun planning...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Welnic View Post
    I would either get another small set of panniers for the back of the 2Souls, or beef up the Fargo. Get a dropper post for it and move your suspension fork over.
    I could just put the front panniers (smaller ones) on the back and the back panniers (bigger ones) on the front. I don't know what that will do with the weight distribution, but I guess it could work? Fargo travel can be max 100mm, the fork in the QH is 120mm.

    Maybe I have to add that I don't have a whole lot of money to spend on extra bike stuff unfortunately. The trip will already cost quite a lot and I don't have money growing on my back as a student So I'll mostly have to work with the gear I have now.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by She&I View Post
    Seems the question mostly is: Squish fork/1x or rigid/FD. If the QH is it I would use bars with more back sweep, and put your Brooks on.

    I've run either/both soft packs and racks/panniers on road and singletrack. I would mod the rear setup for heel clearance and consider using the front bags on rear (I've done both). Old Man Mountain racks, easily modified and stout. Use burly hardware and thread-lock, and bring spare HW and an insulated clamp or two. If you use threaded frame eyelets, use screws long enough that you can remove the stub of one with pliers if it breaks.

    Also, most panniers, Ortliebs included, are hopelessly void of compression straps. Easily overcome with some cheap 3/4-1" fastex accessory straps. Rig them horizontally, completely around the rack supports. This will keep bouncing under control and also provide more heel clearance.

    Get your stuff together and try packing scenarios. If you're not riding ST with the bike loaded, the packing/singletrack discussion is pretty much moot. Unless that extra couple inches of dropping your ass over the rear tire is gonna make or break.

    Sounds like an exciting trip. Have fun planning...
    Thanks for your feedback! If I go on the QH, I'll put bar ends in the middle like I did on the Cotic Soul (see pic below). The Brooks will definitely swap over!

    How did it go mounting the front panniers on the rear? No difficulties with weight distribution or anything? I guess it depends what stuff you put in it, but I'd still like to hear your insights on that


  11. #11
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    On most forks you can lower the amount of travel fairly cheaply. I think that if you use your big panniers up front you would want to add the compression straps that She&I mentioned and not fully load them. Or maybe you can get that to work with them on the back.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBHD View Post
    How did it go mounting the front panniers on the rear? No difficulties with weight distribution or anything? I guess it depends what stuff you put in it, but I'd still like to hear your insights on that
    Aye, no issue at all, but I modded my panniers substantially and did not want or need the removal option. You obviously want this feature, so working with the rack and the shape of the bag is prolly the best way to get what you need. The saving grace is the small size of the panniers and the mounting system options. For a later rigging, I used the rear in rear and made some longer stays to move the rack back, which worked sweetly. There again, they were not removable by design.

    Nice aero bar setup! 👍🏼

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by vikb View Post
    1.if you are carry fully loaded Ortliebs you will not be ripping singletrack. You'll be ripping/bouncing the panniers off the bike and probably destroying the rack so be realistic about how much real mountain biking you'll be able to handle with your setup.

    2. no matter what you think test out the setup you go with locally on the most challenging terrain you expect to have to deal with. That way you can either make changes before you go or at least your expectations are realistic.

    3. If it was me I would either take the Fargo with panniers and not plan to ride the most challenging singletrack or I would take the mountain bike and get myself down a very lightweight setup sans panniers or just a couple small lightly loaded panniers with which I at least had a shot of enjoying the singletrack.
    Not to be a disagreeable prig, but once upon a time, all we had were touring bike panniers and the odd Norco frame bag. Somehow, we still did singletrack just fine. They are really no more wide than your body or your handlebars. Ride what ya brung, mang.

    PS: That 2 Souls is beautiful!

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    Quote Originally Posted by She&I View Post
    Aye, no issue at all, but I modded my panniers substantially and did not want or need the removal option. You obviously want this feature, so working with the rack and the shape of the bag is prolly the best way to get what you need. The saving grace is the small size of the panniers and the mounting system options. For a later rigging, I used the rear in rear and made some longer stays to move the rack back, which worked sweetly. There again, they were not removable by design.

    Nice aero bar setup! 
    Good to hear! I'll check for heel clearance once I have my smaller panniers here. The bar ends are more for comfort and being able to change hand positions without losing complete control, than for aero Worked perfectly on the Soul!

    Quote Originally Posted by Haust View Post
    Not to be a disagreeable prig, but once upon a time, all we had were touring bike panniers and the odd Norco frame bag. Somehow, we still did singletrack just fine. They are really no more wide than your body or your handlebars. Ride what ya brung, mang.

    PS: That 2 Souls is beautiful!
    The width is not the issue, it's the weight on the bike which doesn't improve handling to say the least. That is what makes it pretty difficult to ride singletracks fully loaded up. "Ride what ya brung, mang."? Does that mean something like "ride whatever feels best for you"? I'm not a native English speaker And thank you for the complement!

    Both bikes have their pro's and con's I guess, but I still find it pretty hard to make a good decision... I initially never thought of doing this trip on the QH to be honest, that is why I bought the Fargo. But when this idea popped up, of doing this trip and being able to ride singletracks when I'm at a place I like (e.g. Queenstown), I started doubting. It almost sounds stupid not to ride the most beautiful singletracks when you get the chance.... But then again, the Fargo is a great touring machine...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haust View Post
    Not to be a disagreeable prig, but once upon a time, all we had were touring bike panniers and the odd Norco frame bag. Somehow, we still did singletrack just fine. They are really no more wide than your body or your handlebars. Ride what ya brung, mang.

    PS: That 2 Souls is beautiful!
    Sure. I've taken panniers and racks down technical trails. Possible yes. Fun ? Not if there was an alternative.

    It's the difference between riding and walking to protect your panniers and racks vs. Riding to enjoy the trail and you happen to have camping gear along.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
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    Have you considered a trailer? They add substantial weight but it might be worth it for you seeing al the troubles you are having with racks. The Extrawheel will take a set of panniers and also some stuff up top. It has a full size wheel and tracks well, I barely know it's there, you could probably even shred some singletrack with it on. You won't be doing that with any front panniers and even on the BCT if it is off-road then you are going to have an unpleasant time with loaded front panniers.

    Heavy front panniers really suck, I hate them. If it was me wanting to lug all that gear around I would go for the trailer route. But instead I would probably try to reduce the amount of stuff I'm taking esp since it's warm and you won't need much clothing. If you need it later on then just buy more and figure it out then.

    Here is a mod that I did that greatly reduced the front weight problem but still allowed me to carry large but light items. On one side I have my sleeping bag and on the other my sleeping pad. And on top you can throw some more stuff. Because the weight is close to the fork you can turn it easily, which I guarantee you won't be able to do with front panniers.



    It is a 3/8" aluminum rod which you heat up with a propane torch till soft. Then bend to go over the wheel, mounting on each eyelet near the axle. For the lower mount I wrapped the rod around a dummy bolt, then cut it and reheated to flatten it out so it became an eye. Attach the top with standard rack mounting pieces. Add a few extra pieces in middle to keep the stuff out of the wheels and put apiece of rubber sheet on the sides to also protect from the wheels. Then you can cinch stuff on it tight, right up next to the fork.

    Look at other frame mounting options. Frame bags, handlebar bags, the various top tube pouches, seat bags, and of course a backpack which gives good options for carrying more stuff if you need to, or less if you don't. Get one with a separate mesh back part so your sweat doesn't go in the pack.

    Look at Revelate Designs and also check out Cass Gilbert on whileoutriding for lots of info on bikepacking gear and setups.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBHD View Post
    The width is not the issue, it's the weight on the bike which doesn't improve handling to say the least. That is what makes it pretty difficult to ride singletracks fully loaded up. "Ride what ya brung, mang."? Does that mean something like "ride whatever feels best for you"? I'm not a native English speaker And thank you for the complement!
    It means use what you have readily available. In this case, I mean that if money is an object, just use what you have. I've seen so many trips stall out because people get bogged down in what kit they need to make the attempt, when most of the time, we don't need very much at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by vikb View Post
    Sure. I've taken panniers and racks down technical trails. Possible yes. Fun ? Not if there was an alternative.

    It's the difference between riding and walking to protect your panniers and racks vs. Riding to enjoy the trail and you happen to have camping gear along.
    I'm not disagreeing with you, at all. But see above. Specialised gear is pricy and if purchasing a full set is the difference between staying and going, I'd vote for using what you have and getting on the trail.

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    Thanks for all the feedback guys! Much appreciated

    @Mark_BC, I don't have the money to buy a trailer as they are quite expensive. Besides, I often read that people complain about the handling with a trailer compared to panniers. Interesting that you find the opposite. Maybe the huge tires influence the handling with panniers in a different way than 'normal' size tires? Buying complete bikepacking gear is also out of the question as that is also pretty expensive. I've looked at Revelate Designs and like their products, but they are too expensive to buy a complete set.

    @Haust, thanks for the explanation Indeed, using what I already have would be best and I guess it should work, since the gear I have isn't rubbish.

    I've solved the issue with the shoe touching the pannier, so that is one problem less Now I can pedal freely without touching the large Ortlieb pannier. So I guess it is now down to question what bike to choose... I might sell the front rack & panniers and get myself the Revelate Designs Sweet Roll, but I'm not sure yet. I think the roll offers sufficient space and it would benefit touring on whatever bike I choose. Less weight up front and less weight overall.

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    I've seen people on 3 day xc use frame bags and handlebar bags. Maybe aus has long single track that goes somewhere but I'd think you won't be riding those to get any place, so you could ride the Fargo for traveling and rent a mtn bike at any single track hotspots which likely have a shop nearby.

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    Like I already mentioned, I solved the issue with the shoe touching the pannier. I mounted the rear rack on the QH and took it for a spin. You hardly notice it's there and all technical lines that I normally do here went fine. I haven't tried it with luggage yet, so can't say anything about that. I wonder if the frame can handle the strain of all the weight... What do you think?

    1 trip, but on which of my 2 bikes?-2015-06-07-18_fotor.jpg

    That would mean that if I would use only the rear panniers and a large Revelate Sweet Roll handlebar bag (and the EVOC backpack), I would only have to get the panniers and handlebar bag off and could leave the rack attached for singletrack riding. And the capacity of the handlebar bag + the EVOC pack is larger than the capacity of the smaller front panniers so I would actually have more space.

    So I'm now contemplating selling the front rack + panniers to get myself the Revelate Sweet Roll. It doesn't matter for the bike I choose, since the Fargo would also benefit from this change, but there still is some doubt. I can't really explain why cause it seems like a good idea. Any thoughts?

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    I'd want to take the MTB if as you say: there are some great singletrack trails, and you can take the gear off the bike when riding them.

    However, getting racks and accessories off the bike isn't easy, particularly when the bike isn't designed for them (no braze-ons) and you've had to use custom hardware. So messing around with nuts and bolts and washers and getting everything re-aligned is going to get old very soon, when out on the trail. It will take the edge off your enjoyment.

    What about a more flexible setup with a bar bag, top frame bag, triangle bag and a seatpost mounted bag, then maybe a backpack to carry only small, lightweight clothing items? (Don't beat up on me over the backpack. I know it's not ideal but I pack mine light and don't even know I'm wearing it. The only downside for me is that it does make your back a bit more sweaty!).

    I took my gravel bike out this weekend loaded up and it rode pretty well. My tent is too heavy and I didn't have the load distributed properly but that will all get ironed out.

    Getting stuff on and off the bike is easier than having to uncouple hardware, it's all clip and release.
    But does it have the ultimate capacity that you need? I don't know.



    Anyway, sounds like a great trip.

    Incidentally, the Fargo is a nice bike and will handle most of that singletrack stuff just fine. I picked my Warbird over the Fargo only because I lean a little more towards road riding, gravel, rails-to-trails etc. For off-road touring and riding I'd take my Carbon Beargrease every time, using the same setup shown above

    EDIT:
    Here's another shot where she's almost ready to roll.
    I use a 2L bladder inside the triangle bag. It also holds tools and other stuff. I have attachments for 3 water bottles and can easily add a 4th to the handlebar extender.
    The gear is Revelate Designs Viscacha, Gas Tank and Sweetroll. There's a full review on my blog. To be honest, I wasn't thrilled with the Revelate Designs gear when I first got it, but it's growing on me.
    Just a fat old guy riding a fat old bike...
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    Sweet bike you got there!

    I don't use custom hardware, and there are no nuts and bolts to be messed with on the Thule racks. Just one simple (allen) key is all you need to get them off (on). But the short ride yesterday made me think that detaching the rack isn't even necessary, so that would mean that there is even less hassle than with the full bikepacking setup to ride 'weightless'.

    And yes, I've thought of a bikepacking setup, but don't have the money for that. I'm a student that is about to graduate, so before committing myself to a fulltime job I decided to make a big trip. This means that I now have to work with the limited amount of money I have, so no complete overhaul of gear. Only thing I could do is sell one set of racks and the small panniers, and get a Revelate Designs Sweet Roll instead. But really, that is all.

    I'm now doubting whether the frame can handle the strain of all the weight.. Any welders/framebuilders/experts that know if the frame should be able to cope with it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBHD View Post
    So I'm now contemplating selling the front rack + panniers to get myself the Revelate Sweet Roll. It doesn't matter for the bike I choose, since the Fargo would also benefit from this change, but there still is some doubt. I can't really explain why cause it seems like a good idea. Any thoughts?
    Slow down, brother. Give your proposed kit a good shakedown under real conditions before liquidating anything. I would rig up my own drybag storage before taking a beating on good gear that I might have to buy again. Or just buck up and get the hbar kit — there usually is some cost associated with taking an exotic vacation for months...

    Nice gear is...nice. But I sense some assertion that you can't have fun if you don't kit up with off-shelf or custom frame bags. Which is nonsensical kool-aid pimping. Anyone with mechanical aptitude and creativity can devise a system that will work smashingly and save coin. You should see some of the rigs out on the Great Divide, et cetera...replete with riders having a great time.

  24. #24
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    You might be able to hang gear off your handlebar without the Sweet Roll. For the long stuff like your tent see if you can hang it with buckles by itself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by She&I View Post
    Slow down, brother. Give your proposed kit a good shakedown under real conditions before liquidating anything. I would rig up my own drybag storage before taking a beating on good gear that I might have to buy again. Or just buck up and get the hbar kit — there usually is some cost associated with taking an exotic vacation for months...

    Nice gear is...nice. But I sense some assertion that you can't have fun if you don't kit up with off-shelf or custom frame bags. Which is nonsensical kool-aid pimping. Anyone with mechanical aptitude and creativity can devise a system that will work smashingly and save coin. You should see some of the rigs out on the Great Divide, et cetera...replete with riders having a great time.
    Nah, I really don't think that you can't have fun without a nice kit. I do think that a good preparation can double the fun you'll have. So I just want to prepare myself as best as I can. Might be that that is the control freak in me that takes the upper hand..

    I'm not sure if I completely follow you on the rest (again, English is not my native language), sorry I am by no means planning on selling stuff soon if that is what you're saying. I usually don't take quick decisions without thinking about it thoroughly. But initially, the idea of a handlebar bag to replace the front rack doesn't sound that bad.

    Maybe a picture to visualize my gear a bit is a good idea (and besides, I also think it's a beautiful picture worth sharing):


    At the border crossing from Argentina to Chile

    This is the exact same kit I will be using, but then on either the Fargo or the 2Souls. The idea I'm having now is to replace the front rack + panniers you see by the handlebar bag and a backpack. The rest would stay the same (also with the tent on the back).

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