New Bikepacking Project
This is serving as my introduction to the forums!
Basically I'm selling my current bike and buying a 2014 Merida Big Seven Alloy 100 hardtail that I'll gradually convert into a bikepacking project before next summer. I liked the bike, namely the front suspension lockout option, all of the hardware and particularly the 27.5" wheel size.
I'm very well acquainted with wild camping (and thus obviously, hailing from Scotland, terrible weather) and would really like to have a shot of adding mixed-terrain cycling and some adventure to compliment it.
I've been looking at frame/saddle/handelbar bags over the last few weeks and have a good idea what I'd like to take gear-wise from previous experience but have some questions with regards to the bike setup:
1) Bike computers: I'm fine with using maps but would a bike computer - perhaps with GPS - prove better?
2) Tyres: I prefer chunkier tyres (2.4"+), I'm fine with inner tubes for pure functionality while touring and I don't mind the high wear of softer rubber. Can anyone recommend me some tyres for bikepacking, bearing in mind the 27.5" size?
3) Pump: I'm looking for a lightweight, hardwearing pump with a PSI indicator?
4) Handlebars: Opinions on full touring bars?
Also, out of pure curiosity, why so many tents and bivis rather than hammock/tarps in bikepacking setups?
(I'll maybe add more questions as I think of them)
I'll answer what I know.
Computers - The only reason I have a computer on my bike is because I like knowing roughly how many miles I've put on the thing. Honestly it serves so other purpose and I'd probably be better off ditching and freeing up that bit of handlebar space for a headlight or something. However, I find a GPS to be very handy. As I'm sure you know, a GPS is a supplement to a good paper map, not a replacement. I like the GPS for being able to map out a route ahead of time, plug it in, and then not have to spend too much time navigating, and for the ability to record routes.
Pump - I have the Topeak Road Morph. There's also a Mountain Morph model which maybe better for large tires somehow, don't ask me how - the Road Morph gets the job done for me. The pressure gauge doesn't seem to work too well, but I pretty much just go by feel anyway. Don't know what the availability is in the UK.
Handlebars - I'm running flat bars with 15 degrees of sweep - Surly Torsion bar. For grips I've got Ergon GR2's, which gives me two hand positions - one extremely comfy one for long distance riding, and one on the barends for climbing or changing up the position. The grips are a bit on the big side for technical riding, and when they wear out I might get the same model in small size instead of large. Still, I find them essential for long rides without getting hand numbness.
Hammocks - it seems like a lot of people on here are in places where there aren't reliably enough trees to use hammocks. Also, hammocks just don't have that big of a market share (yet) among outdoor folks, though I think they're going to continue growing. I use a hammock when I'm in my home area (eastern US) and a tent when I'm in places (like the Middle East right now) where trees are more scarce.
I use a GPS. I'm not all that concerned with mileage. I just want to ensure I'm on my planned route and I like having a record of the trip I can share with others who might want to ride it. I generally also have paper maps with me as they are easier to see the big picture with and if plans need to change they help determine an alternate route. They are also nice to sit and share around camp with your partners and talk about what happened and where you are going. Of course they don't rely on electronics so they offer a back up to your GPS.
You should run the tires you need for the terrain you plan to ride. I don't have any idea what bikepacking tires would be? You are riding a mountain bike so select something suitable for mountain biking the terrain where you are headed.
You need comfortable bars for bikepacking that are suitable for riding the terrain where you are headed. I like the Jones H-bars for non-technical terrain, but don't enjoy them for real mountain biking. So I've settled on some MTB riser bars with Ergon grips that have small bar ends installed. Like shoes, saddles, clothing - this is all about personal fit and preferences. If you have a mountain bike setup you like I would just keep using it and see what happens. You don't have to reach perfection in one move. You can ride and tweak your setup until you find nothing significant you feel the need to improve.
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