Results 1 to 21 of 21
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Posts
    4

    Selecting a bikepacking bike

    I'm just about to graduate with my PhD and I didn't get my dream job spending a year at the South Pole (although I got very close), so I'm looking to get a bit of adventure in my life. I'm primarily a road cyclist but I love to travel and backpack, so I started looking into bike touring. Ultimately, I decided bikepacking was more my speed.

    I'm looking to buy a bike for this purpose of bikepacking. I've read some threads here, and looked at people's blogs, and I see mostly gravel bikes and full suspension bikes (and a few front suspension only bikes). I've been looking at two bikes, the Jamis Renegade and the Rocky Mountain Sherpa. I don't want to get caught up on the details of these specific models but just use them as an example of the two styles I'm looking at.

    I get that the gravel bike will be better on long stretches of pavement or gravel but will be less comfortable (or slower) on rough single track. But the thing I can't seem to determine is how limited will I be with gravel bike (seems like most can accept up to 40mm tires) vs something like the Sherpa? I have read lots of various contradictory information online and my lack of experience is definitely evident.

    I'm sure a lot of people will say "well, where are you going?" and I could list a few destinations I have in mind, but the problem is I don't want to buy one bike for one trip and then realize for a bunch of other trips I'll need another. On the other hand, I'd accept "you really need both depending on how remote you go" as an answer.

    Thanks for the advice and sorry this post is so long.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    3,006
    I would get a mountain bike vs. a gravel bike. A lot tougher and more capable of off road adventures.
    I like a hardtail for reliability.
    If I were to look at a bike that could "do it all" you might look at a 27.5 plus bike that has the capability of taking 3 inch tires or 29 inch wheels with regular mountain bike tires. With a 29er wheel you could use a gravel type tire if you wanted to.
    If I were shopping now for a new bike I would take a hard look at this one: Save Up to 60% Off Plus FREE SHIP 48 STATES ON ALL BICYCLES FREE SHIP* Motobecane NEW Fantom Boost Ti PRO 27PLUS NEW Boost 27PLUS Titanium Bicycles, 27PLUS Mountain Bikes

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: vikb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    9,798
    Quote Originally Posted by richwolf View Post
    I would get a mountain bike vs. a gravel bike. A lot tougher and more capable of off road adventures.
    +1 - you can always ride a MTB on the road, but you won't love a road bike on a steep techy singletrack trail.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Posts
    4
    Quote Originally Posted by richwolf View Post
    I would get a mountain bike vs. a gravel bike. A lot tougher and more capable of off road adventures.
    I like a hardtail for reliability.
    If I were to look at a bike that could "do it all" you might look at a 27.5 plus bike that has the capability of taking 3 inch tires or 29 inch wheels with regular mountain bike tires. With a 29er wheel you could use a gravel type tire if you wanted to.
    If I were shopping now for a new bike I would take a hard look at this one: Save Up to 60% Off Plus FREE SHIP 48 STATES ON ALL BICYCLES FREE SHIP* Motobecane NEW Fantom Boost Ti PRO 27PLUS NEW Boost 27PLUS Titanium Bicycles, 27PLUS Mountain Bikes
    Quote Originally Posted by vikb View Post
    +1 - you can always ride a MTB on the road, but you won't love a road bike on a steep techy singletrack trail.
    So basically trying to offroad on a gravel bike with 40mm tires result in a lot of hike-a-bike? I'm not getting too caught up on the details of which bike to get, just trying to figure out what style to get. How rough is it gonna be riding a lot of miles on pavement with a mountain bike? I think given the number of them I've seen in bikepacking threads/blogs and talking to some XC friends who do a bunch of training on gravel, it won't be as bad as my inner road biker says it will.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    3,006
    Quote Originally Posted by nuclear_biker View Post
    So basically trying to offroad on a gravel bike with 40mm tires result in a lot of hike-a-bike? I'm not getting too caught up on the details of which bike to get, just trying to figure out what style to get. How rough is it gonna be riding a lot of miles on pavement with a mountain bike? I think given the number of them I've seen in bikepacking threads/blogs and talking to some XC friends who do a bunch of training on gravel, it won't be as bad as my inner road biker says it will.
    Tour Divide is a good example of a typical bikepacking route. Almost everyone uses a mountain bike for it although several have tried with cross bikes. When you get to more difficult routes like the AZT and Colorado trail then a mountain bike is pretty much mandatory.

    I have three bikes: a Trek Stache which is better for more rugged technical routes, a Ti 29er hardtail which is suited for Tour Divide type routes and a rigid Ti 29er hardtail with 44 c Compass road tires which is more suited for pavement with a little bit of gravel thrown in.
    You can really tell the difference between the 3 bikes as far as rolling resistance and off road capability is concerned.

    You pretty much can't go wrong with a 29er hardtail although in my mind I enjoy my Stache more as a trail bike.

    A rigid gravel bike would be no fun off road once the trail gets even a little demanding and you will certainly have more flats and a greater likelihood of damaged rims. Gravel bikes are the hot thing right now but to me they are for the roadie who wants to take the path less traveled and to get away from heavy traffic.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: life behind bars's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    2,172
    Quote Originally Posted by nuclear_biker View Post
    So basically trying to offroad on a gravel bike with 40mm tires result in a lot of hike-a-bike? I'm not getting too caught up on the details of which bike to get, just trying to figure out what style to get. How rough is it gonna be riding a lot of miles on pavement with a mountain bike? I think given the number of them I've seen in bikepacking threads/blogs and talking to some XC friends who do a bunch of training on gravel, it won't be as bad as my inner road biker says it will.




    Expect the best, prepare for the worst.

  7. #7
    Jammin' Econo
    Reputation: Smithhammer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Posts
    2,092
    I'm guessing I'm pointing out the obvious here, but the Renegade and the Sherpa are very different bikes, at fairly opposite ends of the bikepacking spectrum.

    I would say that the Renegade would be a 'light touring' type of bike, fine for going with a fairly minimal/light kit on gravel roads.

    If you aspire to bikepacking on rougher terrain that that however, you're going to want something that at the very least can accommodate larger tires, as others have said. Whether you need the full suspension of something like the Sherpa depends entirely on what kind of terrain you want to travel, your skills, and whether it is worth it to sacrifice a significant part of your triangle in favor of a rear shock.

    I know you're not looking to get caught up in a discussion about these two particular models, but they are representative of the big-picture choices you will need to make. The bottom line is that if you are looking for something that you can use for "a lot of road miles" and also use on rougher dirt trips, you're going to have to make some compromises.

    A hardtail bike with front suspension is going to lie somewhere between these two extremes and afford the most versatility. It is also by far the most common type of bike that you will see people using for bikepacking on a variety of (largely) off-road surfaces.
    I dream of a day when my children will live in a world without the shackles of cause and effect.” - S. Colbert


  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Posts
    4
    Quote Originally Posted by Smithhammer View Post
    I'm guessing I'm pointing out the obvious here, but the Renegade and the Sherpa are very different bikes, at fairly opposite ends of the bikepacking spectrum.

    I would say that the Renegade would be a 'light touring' type of bike, fine for going with a fairly minimal/light kit on gravel roads.

    If you aspire to bikepacking on rougher terrain that that however, you're going to want something that at the very least can accommodate larger tires, as others have said. Whether you need the full suspension of something like the Sherpa depends entirely on what kind of terrain you want to travel, your skills, and whether it is worth it to sacrifice a significant part of your triangle in favor of a rear shock.

    I know you're not looking to get caught up in a discussion about these two particular models, but they are representative of the big-picture choices you will need to make. The bottom line is that if you are looking for something that you can use for "a lot of road miles" and also use on rougher dirt trips, you're going to have to make some compromises.

    A hardtail bike with front suspension is going to lie somewhere between these two extremes and afford the most versatility. It is also by far the most common type of bike that you will see people using for bikepacking on a variety of (largely) off-road surfaces.
    Sorry if I was unclear, this is actually exactly the kind of info I was looking for. WRT specifics of those bikes, I was more talking about Jamis's gravel bike vs Genesis's gravel bike.

    Based on what's been said here plus a little research I think a 27+ mountain bike (or MAYBE 29+) is the way to go for a good compromise of offroad and gravel/pavement riding (although I have seen a surprising number of fat bikes on a lot of these blogs...).

    Local bike shop has some hardtail and full suspension plus bikes for rental so that may be a good place to start. That said, based on reading and zero real world experience, the rear shock doesn't buy you much in terms of bikepacking and sacrifices storage space.

    So I guess unless I learn some things in my test rides, I'm looking for a 27+ hardtail. I really appreciate the advice given here; its helped guide my research into the extremely diverse types of bikes.

  9. #9
    Big wheels keep on rollin
    Reputation: senor_mikey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    313
    just to throw another thought out there, a bike like the Salsa Fargo kinda splits the difference. It can handle some pretty rough trails like a hardtail, but with a rigid fork it is lighter, and simpler. With some low profile knobby's it will be faster on gravel roads and it can carry a lot of stuff. You can also get one with 27.5 + tires for rougher trails. Unless you want to ride really technical singletrack it will handle most bikepacking routes.
    And because of your roadbike background you may prefer riding drop bars that the Fargo uses.

    mike

  10. #10
    Co Springs
    Reputation: bachman1961's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Posts
    946
    I think Jamis has the dragon series that are featured as bikepack set ups or some other model/s. 27.5 plus, steel hardtails with the extra frame braze-ons for fitment, cages or luggage and racks etc....

    They've been reviewed pretty extensively on some biker packer forums and tests and reading up on them may help get some other insights no matter what brands or characteristics you want or are shopping or comparing.

    I'm not camping or bike-packing but the all'round versatility of some of these with the plus tires and trail geometry kinda talked me into a Marin Pine One since I wanted a steel h/t 27.5 plus anyways.

    http://www.marinbikes.com/us/bikes/family/pine-mountain

    In the Middle Ages, the biggest mistake was not putting on your armor because you were 'just going down to the corner.'

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Posts
    25
    I've been very happy with my Soma Wolverine and would recommend that type of bike:

    Ability to have MTB tires
    Large triangle for frame bag
    Rigid fork

    Other bikes in this category are the Salsa Fargo, Salsa Vaya (if 27.5 wheels), Specialized AWOL, Elephant NFE, lots of Surly options. Hardtail MTBs like the Jamis Dragonslayer and Advocate Hayduke are popular options as well.

    I have a Niner RLT Steel which is very similar to the Renegade series. The Renegade would be a great option if you are not planning on doing much technical stuff. It excels at dirt and gravel roads, and easy singletrack, but lacks the tire size and low gearing for anything harder. If that's what you are planning then go for it!

    Check out the bike reviews at www.bikepacking.com

    Good luck

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    3,564
    As said, a 29er hardtail will give you lots of options. I use a Karate Monkey with 100 mm fork and 29x2.3 sort of slicks. While I use it for single track, I mostly seek out pave, dirt and double track for exploring. The other choice I think works well are the 29er plus bikes.

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Posts
    4
    The Jamis Dragonslayer and Marin Pine Mountain 2 look like exactly what I'm looking for, although I have to say the Marin has a bit better specs (1x11 vs 2x11, XT brakes vs Deore) for only a slight price increase. Edit: actually this might not be true given how confusing Shimano groupsets are.

    I rented a Cannondale Beast of the East 2 (27+ HT) from my local shop; it was the only 27+ HT they had. They also have at FS 27+ (Scott Spark 720) that I might try as well. Not suggesting I would get these bikes for the purpose of bikepacking but they do give me a chance to get some mountain biking experience on bikes similar to what I'm looking at and to get some idea what FS vs HT buys me.
    Last edited by nuclear_biker; 06-12-2017 at 08:20 PM.

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Posts
    137
    Hard to go wrong with a Surly Troll or a Krampus if you want fatter taller tires, excellent on gravel and soft stuff, good on uneven pavement, lots of options for accessories and drivetrain upgrades. Pretty much a ready bike for any round the world adventure.

    Start with the black frame set and build it up to your specifications.

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation: bakerjw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    545
    Great points so far.
    Things that I look for in a bikepacking bike...
    Rugged/Durable.
    Some frames are just not built to handle theload of a rider and another 20+ pounds of gear.
    Frame material.
    The bike, when loaded, will be heavy. I like to get the base bike as light as possible.
    Large frame triangle.
    The frame triangle (between top, down and seat tube) is precious real estate.
    Hard tail.
    Full suspension is probably nice (never ridden one) for technical riding but not necessary for many bikepacking routes.
    Front suspension is tricky.
    In 2016 I rode part of the TD on a Steel Karate Monkey with a Rock Shox Reba suspension fork. HEAVY bike combo.
    In 2017, I rode a rigid carbon form for many training rides. Killed my wrists so I put on a Lauf fork. Gained about .6 pounds but wrists loved it.

    If you're just getting into bikepaking, things will evolve. You will learn what you like and what works. Bikes may come and they may go. The Lynskey Ti that I originally built up for the TD this year was replaced by a carbon bike and the Ti got shifted into a commuter bike role. Things change.
    Help chart the mountains at www.appalachianbiketrails.org

  16. #16
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Posts
    29
    Since you don't yet have a good idea of what type of routes you'll do, a good option might be to err on the side of a frame with large tire clearances. You can always use smaller wheels in a larger frame. For example, my own bikepacking rig is a Salsa Mukluk Ti. With this bike I can run fat tires, 27.5+, or a 29er setup. It's super versatile and much cheaper than having 3 bikes.

  17. #17
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    1,465
    These kinds of threads are common, and one commonality is that they seem to concentrate more on bikes than riding – a mistake, IMO.

    I think it's foolhardy to theorize ad nauseum about what bike is best when one has no idea what kind of riding she likes. Preferred riding points a rider in a direction. The rest falls into place based on that.

    Any bike can be a bikepacking bike. It need not be designed for the purpose. I think concentrating on BP-specific bikes negates a world of fun bikes that can get the job done. What job? Get a variety of mileage behind you and and it will become clear. Ride more, project less. Get an economical bike that won't kill you to replace and get busy.

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    17
    I have a Surly Karate Monkey and getting set up for my first bikepacking sub 24 so I'm still very new. My Surly started out as a rigid 27.5+. I have since switched to 29 with 2.3 and 2.4 tubeless tires. This is noticeably lighter and maybe a little less capable but I don't notice. I also like the fact that I can carry a spare 29er tube instead of the huge plus ones.

    I'm not mounting anything on my fork right now but may try a rack in the future. I'm probably going to put a Rock shox Reba on the bike because the added weight isn't rotational. Also, the rigid fork kills your momentum when you're pedaling on flat terrain and hit a rock. Uphill, the rigid gives you better power transfer, but you can also lock out a suspension for; downhill it's more bumpy. I think the pluses will outweigh the minuses on the suspension fork. Also, there are ways to mount stuff on the suspension fork if you really need to.

    Again, I'm a total newb, but I'd say hard tail with suspension fork. Something like the Surly that offers a lot of options is cool but not necessary. Also, it serves me well for non bikepacking which is 90% of what I'll use it for.

    And I agree with She&I. You can make any bike work for bikepacking, so pick one you'll get the most use out of.

  19. #19
    mtbr member
    Reputation: vikb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    9,798
    Quote Originally Posted by Feendog View Post
    I also like the fact that I can carry a spare 29er tube instead of the huge plus ones.
    FYI you don't need a "plus" tube for a plus tire. I carry a normal 29er MTB tube for my 29+. Works fine. I run the 29+ tubeless so needing a tube is rare, but it will work without issue should I need it.

    You can also use that 29er tube in a 26er or 27.5 bike in a pinch and vice versa. You don't need an arsenal of tubes to match every wheel/tire size.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  20. #20
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    17
    True you don't NEED it.

  21. #21
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Posts
    13
    I'm also into bikepacking and exploring by bike. Even though I mostly just bring some coffee or beer for day long rides on forest paths.

    So I went with the 2017 Fargo and couldn't have been happier. I love the woodchipper bars and have it setup with 29+ tyres. Sure, it's a bit bumpy on roots and rocks but waaay better than my Genesis croix de fer. Still, if you want to do some "normal" mtb riding I would probably recommend flat bars and a more common bike. I knew I wouldn't have the time to keep up with suspension maintenance and the like, so I went rigid.

Similar Threads

  1. New guy needs help selecting a bike
    By skabeds in forum Bike and Frame discussion
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 10-18-2011, 07:29 PM
  2. Need some help with selecting a new bike for NC trails.
    By DemonKiwi in forum North & South Carolina
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 09-27-2011, 10:00 AM
  3. New guy needs help selecting a bike
    By skabeds in forum Beginner's Corner
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 09-15-2011, 05:00 AM
  4. Replies: 6
    Last Post: 06-14-2011, 04:10 PM
  5. Need help on selecting my first bike Quick 4 vs. CX 3?
    By Wing in forum Beginner's Corner
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 06-13-2011, 11:41 AM

Members who have read this thread: 160

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •