Alright... Here's my story. (Eventual Kokopelli Trail Write Up)
So I've had an interest in doing the Kokopelli Trail since I found out about it several years ago. Just never had the means or the time. In the last year I've been doing a lot of Jeeping and Enduro motorcycling. Kokopelli crept back into my head last March during our four wheeling trip to Moab. I've been a pretty obsessive outdoorsman for the last couple of years now and it seems like everything I do is to further my life and career as an outdoorsman/adventurer.
That brings us to the last time I rode a mountain bike. August of 2011. I was riding my '03 Giant VT1 home from my local drinking hole and I completely misjudged what was actually a 5' ledge as a mere parking barrier. See; on the side I could see there was just a 10" landscaped parking barrier, but on the other side there was a 5' difference in elevation into the next parking lot that I failed to notice in the dark. I wasn't wearing a helmet and I hit head first. Multiple facial, orbital socket, and skull fractures.. Traumatic Brain Injury, the whole nine yards. Which was a shame, too. Because I had just returned to mountain biking from a few year hiatus.
Which brings me to the last few weeks. I quit my job and I don't start work at Chatfield State Park until May. I've got some empty time to fill with an adventure. I just can't dip into savings for anything I need for the trip.
I asked my one close friend that I would think might have interest in doing the trail with me, and he declined. Which is a huge bummer. My wife can't get the time off of work. My father is going back to school to further his career and won't have the time until the end of May. I figured unless I make a new friend between now and then, I'm boned for a partner on this trip. I then had to figure my mode of transportation. Feet, motorcycle, jeep, or bicycle. I played pros n' cons for a while before deciding that for my first time through the Kokopelli that I'd like to see a lot of it, do a few nights of camping, do some fishing, and still have it done in a reasonable amount of time. I figured I'd be cutting it really close fuel wise on the motorcycle even with my 3.2 gallon tank, I would need to do a fuel drop. The Jeep would have been fine but I don't think I would achieve the whole "connecting with the planet personal reflection" thing that I'm hoping to get out of reconnecting with my bicycling side again. Backpacking it just would have taken too long.
Which brings me to my rig. I have a 2003 Giant VT1 with a blown rear shock. Never was the biggest fan of the geometry of the bike, and it was nearly my demise. I'm holding a grudge. I knew I wanted to go the hard tail route for my Kokopelli trip so I put my artistic side up on the chopping block and started listing all my musical instruments on craigslist, along with my VT1 seeing if someone might want it in trade for their like valued hard tail.
I got several offers to trade hard tails for my VT but they were all inexpensive, poorly equipped, and heavily used. I began to think I'd have to suck up my pride and ride the VT and just rebuild or replace the rear shock.
However that all turned around today. I was able to sell off my drum kit and some of my other drum hardware. Now I'm in business. I found a 19.5" steel Pipedream frame that's brand new for $100. I just need to pick up the frame this week. Then I need to see what all doesn't fit from the VT to the Pipedream. There shouldn't be much.
So this brings me to luggage options; There's rear racks, front racks, handlebar rolls, panniers, saddle bags, gas tanks, frame bags, etc, etc.
What types of luggage sucks, and why? I've never had any luggage, or racks, or bags on my bike ever.
I've got quality light backpacking gear. I need about 50 liters of storage.
I'd figure keeping the weight equal or centered is ideal. What's the best way to carry gear? I'll have a very light and minimally packed Osprey Manta 30 on my back. Everything else must go on the bike.
I'm looking for high end - not top of the spectrum gear. Quality gear for a good price. I like hand-me-downs too! If anyone is looking to get rid of some luggage or racks.
I'm not sure if a rack and panniers is a better route than a saddle bag? Is a front rack better than a handlebar roll? Can you use a front rack with a suspended front fork?
Also, I'm planning my ride from April 20th-27th if anyone wants to join me. I'm going to give myself 5 days total to ride it. Probably Monday through Friday.
Let's say you decided to go rackless. You could put a 20L drybag on the seatpack, and another 20L on the handlebars. That leaves 10L, which you could easily handle in a backpack, or possibly a frame bag and a couple of those little containers that sit on the seat tube.
It wouldn't be a bad idea to get a couple of drybags and some straps, and try an overnight to see how it went.
Alternatively, you could go with something strapped on the handlebars, plus a rear rack and rear panniers. Racks and panniers are dandy for on-road touring, but off road the panniers jounce around noisily, sometimes they come off, and rack bolts have a nasty tendency to get loose and fall out just when you don't want them to.
I have limited experience using a BOB Ibex trailer, which is probably the heaviest/clunkiest way to mountain bike tour, given today's 'bikepacking' standards. There is huge value in lightweight/compact gear.
I've did some of the Kokopelli Trail on my KLR650 motorcycle- it would be a neat ride to do on a MTB. Probably too ambitious for me, though!
I have an OMM rack that mounts on my 2012 Stumpjumper FSR Comp with a special skewer/axle offered by OMM. That works, too- although like previously mentioned, there is the 'jouncing around' effect on rough stuff.
I wouldn't want to take a BOB trailer off-road. If I was looking to take a trailer off-road, the Extra Wheel looks like the best bet. I suspect an Extra Wheel trailer is outside the price range the OP is looking at for gear though.
Originally Posted by NDTransplant
I'll second the recommendation for Old Man Mountain front racks. Totally bombproof and compatible with shock forks. Only possible downside is your bike won't fit in a car rooftop carrier that is designed for the front fork to lock into.
All my touring has been on roads, with the occasional tame dirt track or rough gravel road, so I can't really help with advice for off-road touring/bike-packing, (I come to this sub-forum because I'm curious about bike-packing), I am curious to see if anyone has any information to share about using a large saddlebag on this type of riding. I use a large saddlebag (Zimbale 18 liter, very similar to a large Carradice*) daily and have used it on a couple of short tours (combined with panniers) and it did well, even on the very limited off-road portions I took it on. I suspect that on an off-road trail with close together trees it might be a liability though.
Originally Posted by NDTransplant
If you do decide to go the panniers and racks route, I can recommend the Jannd Expedition rear rack. This rack is particularly suited to converting hardtails to tourers as it sets the panniers further back than most other racks, which helps eliminate heel strike on your panniers, which can be a common problem when using an MTB with its shorter chainstays than a purpose-built tourer. The downsides to the Jannd are price and its paint flakes right off. Very well built and very useful for setting the panniers further back though.
* Supported by a Bagman Sport Quick-Release (orginal) saddlebag support.
ISO: 22" GT Rebound frame, year 2000 model
I've began training. Doing about 30 miles a day.
Bought a new saddle. A Specialized Henge. Got some padded shorts, some nice high end pearl izumis (my first pair of spandex bike shorts, but I learned my lesson of doing high miles without them in just a short couple of days riding, they are a must), I've got a set of panniers coming for my OMM rear rack. Some Lone Peak P-500's. Coming from Wayne and Cormac over at The Touring Store. I've got Goal Zero's solar charger kit coming from Costco. I purchased a new very spoiling sleeping pad (therm-a-rest Xtherm) I had been using a 3/4 REI core lite for 5 years for all 4 seasons. The thermarest sleeping pad is lighter, warmer, more lofty, and packs the same size and it's a full length. I'm in love with it already. I'm pretty much looking for a "trunk" for the top of my rack but I've decided to wait until I see my panniers on the bicycle so I can decide what size and shape I'll need, possibly even a dry bag, a couple straps, and a small seat bag for my bicycle related items (Topeak Alien, needle nose, patch kit, crank tool & adapter, full length 8mm allen, chain brush, lube) - Still looking for my McGuyver.. It's around here somewhere.
I've got both my latitude 40 maps as well as my GPX track for my Garmin eTrex 20. I still need to purchase a handlebar mount for the GPS. I need to get a cheap fish scale or something like that so I can better keep track of my loads. I want both my panniers to be carrying a fairly equal amount.
After everything is said and done I will probably only need my backpack for rain gear and water. My father has agreed to work with me/show me how to put together a frame bag for my A-Lite Monarch poles and tent poles(in the event of a get off I don't want to come down on those poles somehow and break them inside the panniers)
Soo.. I'm going to keep riding, get as comfortable on my new saddle and on the bike as possible putting down some respectable mileage every day I can. I've only got 31 days until launch. I feel happy about the bike's geometry. I will probably hit the velo swap when it comes to town with about $400 cash in my pocket and may try to cut some weight from my bottom bracket, possibly a new fork, maybe some carbon fiber goodies like bars or a seat post or something. Right now I'm trying to decide whether or not to change out the 2.5" Maxxis Minion UST DH tires that are weighing in at some 1500g's... They make for a plush ride but they're a ***** to pedal.
I need tire suggestions. I'd prefer to stay tubeless just to save on rotating weight.
Here's our thoughts on the age old framepack vs pannier vs trailer.
Hard to beat a front Old Man Mtn rack and a trailer if you're really loaded and want to be balanced. You won't go fast, but you can go far.
Extrawheel looks cool, we've never tried 'em. Hard tell if its that hybrid type thing where you get the worst of both combinations of pannier and trailer or the best combination.
A OMM rack and a frame bag would be a great combo for Kokopelli adventure. Particularly if riding every inch of technical trail were more important than a few creature comforts.
Looks like you are off to a good start! Keep the training going strong until the last week, and then lower the mileage to be fresh for the ride. I would suggest instead of a rack trunk, strap a drybag to the handlebars. There are a couple of threads about doing that, some using PVC spacers to clear the cables. That will help even out the weight front to back. Get some decent water bottle cages(I use King Cage), at least three. If you are making a framebag, get some hoseclamps and mount one cage to the bottom of the downtube and one on each fork leg. That will keep some weight off your back which you will appreciate after many hours of pedaling!
If I were you, I wouldn't bother swapping out parts right now, especially for carbon. Do find some new tires though! Look for something in the 2.2 to 2.4 range with low tread for reduced rolling resistance, and if your wheels are UST, stick with UST tires.
Hey man, making good progress! The build looks pretty sharp.
Here is my 2 cents as far as carrying gear. I am not a racer, just a recreational bikepacker. But I like to travel light to maximize my enjoyment. Looks like you have made decisions on a number of things, but I’ll still give my input:
Front: The advantage of the sling/harness setups is that they can hold items away from shifters and brake handles. They also make it easy to take things on and off the bike by just leaving the harness on when you set up camp. All that being said, I have had no issues with just strapping a bag to the bars with webbing. You will need to mash the cables back against the headtube, but in reality even with harnesses you have to do this to some degree. I would worry about it less with regular cables than with hydro lines, but still, this is what most everyone does (the mashing of the cables, that is). Be conscious of how you strap the bag on, watch for wear spots on the bag, make sure you can shift up and down without interference and that the brake handle doesn’t crimp the bag. Its really not rocket science, though. Plenty of people go without a sling/harness so I wouldn’t say this is essential. And the thread about using pvc is a good one, though the last time I looked at it, the OP’s pics were no longer there. I have never used a rack up front and don’t think it necessary unless you are carrying a ton of gear. IMHO.
Rear: Personally, I use a rack, but that is just because of my other biking needs. I have a Thule Pack n Pedal rack that connects via a clever mechanism using straps rather than threaded mounts. I love the rack and it is rock solid – a really great design originally developed by a small New Zealand company and purchased by Tule a few years back. I also have an Old Man Mountain rear rack but it only fits my 26” which I have also used for bikepacking. For me, I commute as well and I couldn’t really afford to buy a seatbag AND a rack (can’t carry paperwork in the seatbag…) so that’s the only reason I use the rack. I no longer use panniers because of the shifting around/banging/clanging mentioned earlier and just strap a bag to the top of my rack. As big or bigger than a seatbag in terms of capacity (depending on the bag you use) though you add weight for the rack itself. That’s the trade off. Many of the seatbag products are really nicely made.
Frame Bag: I have just ordered a frame bag and am excited about it. I live in New Mexico and water sources are not reliable so I end up carrying most if not all of my water with me. I had a hard time giving up on my bottle mounts (and I had three on the 26”) but my thought is to have a large 6l bladder in the frame bag instead. I don’t need to fill it all the way up if I don’t need to, but the option is there, any unused volume is collapsible, and it is safe from stuff like cattle dung which can get all over your bottle tops. Keeping the water low down and in the center of the frame is going to give you the best handling arrangement as well. And with a bag, you have some nooks and crannies to stuff other items.
Other bags: I also have two top tube bags which I can stuff little things like snacks and tools into. They work very well. One is made by Deuter, the other by Eleven81. Not fancy or expensive – in fact I believe they were purchased as old stock or otherwise discounted.
Backpack: I have been trying to get items out of my backpack lately. I still carry one with a 1.5 litre bladder for drinking while riding and I don’t mind things on my back, but I have found that the extra weight over the length of a whole day (or days) is tiring on your shoulders, ass, etc. This summer I am trying to carry just the bladder and a pump (and a few little light things) in a small Camelbak and get the rest on the bike.
As with you, I used thermarests for years. A year ago I purchased a Big Agnes insulated Air Core pad. Holy crap! That’s one comfy pad that packs down to a little larger than a Nalgene bottle. Amazing and the best night’s sleep camping I have had in, well, maybe ever.
A few other bits of gear I am fond of:
- SOL Adventure Bivy – adds about 10 degrees of warmth to my 45 degree bag or use alone in warm weather. Packs SUPER small and weatherproof (but breathes).
- Tarp – I am a tarp camper because we don’t have bugs to contend with here. My setup uses a waterproof nylon tarp (but not silnylon – too expensive for me), a Tyvek groundcloth and up to 12 stakes. The whole thing packs down to the size of a giant burrito. Tarps are great in that they are so light and you can set up in many configurations. Ventilation is great and so is visibility. They can take longer to set up, but again, I am not really in a rush.
- Stove – I have been using a homemade beer can alcohol stove which is amazingly light and small. I generally just use it to boil water (for soups or drinks or instant oatmeal) so no heavy cooking. But just yesterday I got a small folding wood stove – the Vargo Hexagon Wood Stove. Its awesome! Mine is the steel version, though there is a titanium version as well. It weighs 7.4oz and can be used as a windscreen for the alchohol stove if I want. But otherwise, no need to carry fuel! As with many items on my list, if you are in a hurry, this is probably not the item for you. Take a bit to get up to temperature and you do need to constantly feed it. But again, I am just out having fun and not racing.
- Tires – I really like the Geax Saguaro TNTs but I can’t say I have used a lot of varieties. I have Maxxis Crossmark LUSTs on my 29er and Geax AKAs on my 26er. Both sets are tubeless. The AKAs wear very quickly and so I wouldn’t recommend them for bikepacking. But they are super fast and gave great stick – I love them for regular riding. Many bikepackers seem to go for Continental Trail Kings though it can be hard to figure out which of their models are tubeless and which are not.
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