Good Bikepacking bike?
I've been invited to do the Great Divide Trial this summer, the group I'm going with would probably only do 1000 of the 2700 ish miles, so I am in the market for a good bike.
I was looking at the 2013 Specialized Crave/Carve because my local bike shop has it on sale for $1200, which is about my price limit for a bike itself.
Any input or other recommendations would be greatly appreciated?
Specialized Carve Comp 29 - Cary, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Apex - The Bicycle Chain
Also I would like to use the bike that I do end up buying for regular mountain biking after this trip.
I think people overthink the bike. People have been riding around the world on all means of two wheeled contraption for the last 200 years or so. I don't think that bike will have any toubles making it 1000 miles.
That being said, if you want to get the most from your purchase and limit possible headaches consider a few things. First, there is a reason you will find a lot of guys running rigid forks and mech brakes. Less moving parts means less things to fail, and the simpler the ones that do move are they easier they will be to fix. Not that that's a deal breaker though. Second, if you don't have nice gear you may wind up with a "heavy" setup which means you may want a wider gear range. That's up to you though. And last, make sure the bike is correctly put together. I have almost never seen a bike come out of a box with correctly tensioned wheels, properly adjusted hubs, or a correctly installed BB and it is rare that a shop will actually take the time to do those things (only one of the four shops I have worked at did it correctly) because most customers wont notice.
And ride the crap out of it before the trip. Things stretch and needs ajustment to fit you comfortable. Don't forget bags to fit your bike properly. There are some good blogs out there as well as a few blogs on Salsa Cycles website done by people that have raced it.
Here's a good read:
Tour Divide « Nick's Misadventure Page
Vincit qui patitur
2012 Salsa Spearfish 2
2014 KONA Process 153
2016 KONA Operator
2013 Giant Defy
Salsa Fargo, it was designed for that ride
Forgot to mention the comfort aspect. Might be a good idea to get fit by a professional (someone who actually takes measurements not that sales guy who steps back and says "looks perfect") and to add some hand positions (barends, areobars, alt bars, etc).
I just got this frame bag for my bike. I guess any bike that will hold a frame bag makes for a good bike-packing bike, but I'm not sure.
Probably good to keep in mind that the ride is 90% dirt auto roads.
With that said, I'd be looking more at the mountain bike you want to end up with than the "right" bike for the Divide. I'd consider a professional fitting for the new bike. Scrutinize contact points (seat/pedals/bar/grips) and tires, which are easy to swap out.
I BP on a FS 29er. I can't justify a purpose bike for one or two of BP trips a year. And, as good as my bike has been on the long trail, I don't feel a need for something else.
I bought a Salsa El Mariachi complete 2 a few months ago. Picked it up for these reasons in order 1. just to ride the trails. 2. easy conversion to ss (my other bike is a rigid ss) 3. comfort on longer rides/gravel grinds 4. possible bikepacking.
As someone that used to backpack a lot, the idea of bikepacking excites me. The Fargo intrigued me but reason one was/is the main reason for the choice. FS bikes I have tried but prefer a HT or rigid more.
The first 1,000 miles of the Great Divide MTB Route will have you ending in Idaho. I purpose-built up a Karate Monkey to ride the Tour Divide, but here's my suggestion, plus some pros and cons.
If you're looking for a bike to ride the GDMBR and then use it as a regular trail bike afterwards, I would look long and hard at a hard-tail. Stick a Reba fork on it, or better yet, put a carbon fork (niner carbon forks were very popular this year) on it, and then after the ride, put a suspension fork on it for singletrack stuff. I had drop bars with aero bars on my KM and was eternally grateful I did. Nothing on that part of the Great Divide is technical, and you'll be thankful for the extra hand positions.
Two reasons I would opt for a hardtail instead of FS are reliability and the ability to use a frame bag. A full-suspension bike is really overkill, and the rear suspension is just something else to break 200 miles from the nearest bike shop. Actually, that's a good reason to not have front suspension either. In the first 1,000 miles, there are only three bike shops: Whitefish, Helena, and Butte. The framebag is really personal choice, but not carrying anything on your back is going to make the trip a lot more enjoyable and will dramatically reduce fatigue. I would strongly suggest planning your kit to the point of not having to carry a backpack/camelbak. My frame bag carried a 4L MSR bladder, repair kit, pump, water filter, and extra food. It was pretty plump at times, but MUCH easier than having to carry all that on your back. Something to think about.
Whatever bike you choose, just remember it's about the trip not the gear. The route is absolutely breathtaking. Hope to see some pics of your journey!
Thank you all for your input, it has given me a lot to consider. As a newbie, I appreciate the valuable feedback
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