My first bikepacking trip & impressions (Surly ECR on the White Pine Trail, Michigan)- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    My first bikepacking trip & impressions (Surly ECR on the White Pine Trail, Michigan)

    My 48-year-old knees hurt like hell, and my left hand still has numbness and some weird nerve thing affecting my ring & pinky fingers after my 2-day, 125-mile solo bikepacking trip. That said, I really enjoyed my first bikepacking trip.

    Mine was on the tame end of adventure relative to many here. I left home in Northeast Grand Rapids, Michigan, hopped on the southern-most end of the White Pine Trail about 5 miles from home, and rode it straight north to a little town called Paris just north of Big Rapids. I had never ridden north of Sand Lake previously, where the asphalt turns to 2-track for the majority of the route. Aside from dodging piles of horse poop for more miles than I'd prefer (equestrian use is prohibited, but apparently not being enforced), the dirt portions were quite enjoyable. There were a handful of greasy/slick sections, and also a couple sandy ones. Most was hard pack, though.

    I rode a Surly ECR that I built up from a frameset. I built it as a combination commuter/bikepacking ride. It may see some local singletrack, too.

    The bike performed flawlessly, as I had hoped. The Shimano XT 1x11 drivetrain isn't as "polished' as the SRAM GX 1x11 on my Big Fat Dummy, but it was still a solid choice based on the savings over the equivalent SRAM parts. Time will tell if I feel the same way after a couple years of riding. The bike has a mix of RaceFace Turbine & Chris King parts, with WTB Scraper i40s laced to XT hubs, the front being a dynamo that powers a Supernova headlight & Sinewave Cycles Reactor USB charger. Bags & handlebar harness are all Revelate, with the exception of a Salsa Anything Bag. Despite that the ECR was designed around a 29" x 3.0" tire, I feel like the 2.5" Surly ET tires were born for this bike. I have read countless threads with mostly speculative comments about the bottom bracket height causing pedal strike, but for my purposes, I'm not concerned. It still has 1/8" more BB clearance than my SS Steelman Eurocross, and I've never had issues with pedal strike on that bike in a number of on- & off-road conditions, including local singletrack. The ETs roll smooth on pavement, which makes them great for the commuting duties the bike will see.

    I may try a set of Jones H-Bar Loops to see if that helps with the numbness. I like the Surly Moloko bars for around-town riding, but something about them wasn't agreeable with my hands for an extended trip. Numbness, I actually can handle. It's the lack of motor ability in my left hand after the ride that has me nervous. I code for a living, and even typing this write-up took about 4x longer than it normally would take me to type.

    If you're in the midwest and want a low-key, non-technical bikepacking route, the White Pine would be something to consider. Here are a few pics from my mini adventure.

    Craig

    ***

    EDIT: Gear overview/review...

    Storage/Cargo:
    • Voile Straps (20"). Everyone should own several. That is all.
    • Problem Solvers Bow Tie Strap Anchors. Brilliant, lightweight, minimalist design. 3-lb. limit for a pair. I bought 2 pair, and used 3 on my right fork, and added the remaining single bracket on the frame under my frame bag. Very happy with these. Paired with three (3) 20" Voile Straps, they held my cook kit (pan, MSR Pocket Rocket 2, and MSR fuel canister) firmly without any shifting/slipping. These are a TON lighter than the Salsa Anything Cage, and don't interfere with the retention arm on my Thule T2 rack like the Anything Cage did.
    • Revelate Designs Pika seat bag (now discontinued). This bag is smaller than the Viscacha, and worked well for me. I don't think I'd want more weight back there, and while the newer Terrapin systems look cool, I can't justify the need for my purposes. The Pika worked just fine. Carried my NorthFace Stormbreak 1 tent, vacuum-packed roll of T.P. (just in case), TheTentLab The Deuce, baby wipes, a couple empty zip-lock bags, shower/campground shoes, some basic first aid stuff, expanding towel tablets, lighter/matches, and 550 paracord.
    • Revelate Designs Harness and Saltyroll. Nice stuff, and worked great with the Moloko bars (Jones, too). I added a retention strap to the backside, which held it to an Ahrens Wisecracker bottle opener/headset spacer. No swinging, nothing touching my head tube. This set-up carried my sleeping bag, sleeping pad & camp pillow, along with a handful of dehydrated meals.
    • Surly/Revelate Frame Bag. A very nice piece with a great fit. Two thumbs up.
    • Revelate Mag Tank 2000. Excellent bag for quick access. Love the retention clip/magnet. The foam spacer block makes funny squeaks against my Whiskey carbon headset spacers, though...I have to figure out a remedy for that. This bag carried my aux battery w/pass-through charging, electronics cords, and some small snacks (gel blocks & snack bars).
    • Quad Lock cell phone mount. Excellent phone retention for easy access. I have the mounts on two different bikes, and my wife has one in her car. Love it.
    • Salsa Anything Cage HD. I own 3 of these, and used 1 on this trip. While it's utilitarian, it's also very heavy and bulky. When mounted on the fork, they interfere with my Thule T2 rack. When used on the fork of my Big Fat Dummy, they interfere with me being able to load the bike inside my Honda Element, as the front of the bike sits between the front seats (too wide with the Anything Cages). My feelings are mixed, and I'll likely keep these around for use on an as-needed basis only.


    Electronics:
    • Shimano XT dynamo hub. Not particularly sexy, but it did its job.
    • Sinewave Cycles Reactor USB charger. Worked as intended, and looks sexy, to boot. I did hit some slow speeds that interrupted charging, thinking that the aux/pass-through battery would keep it charging if I went to slow, but this wasn't the case. My solution is to ride faster through the greasy mud next time.
    • Supernova E3 Pro 2 dynamo headlight. Since the ECR will serve double duty as a city commuter, I went with the E3 Pro 2 instead of the E3 Triple 2, Sinewave Beacon or K-Lite. Given that all of my riding was during daylight hours, I didn't use the light on this trip.


    Tools/Spare Parts:
    • Tubolito 29+ spare tube. Small & light insurance. I carried this under my stem with a ~4 1/4" o-ring. It never moved, and was up high enough to keep it away from grit being thrown by the tires.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails My first bikepacking trip & impressions (Surly ECR on the White Pine Trail, Michigan)-img_3191.jpg  

    My first bikepacking trip & impressions (Surly ECR on the White Pine Trail, Michigan)-img_3187.jpg  

    My first bikepacking trip & impressions (Surly ECR on the White Pine Trail, Michigan)-img_3197.jpg  

    My first bikepacking trip & impressions (Surly ECR on the White Pine Trail, Michigan)-img_3189.jpg  

    Last edited by 1x1_Speed_Craig; 3 Days Ago at 05:37 AM.
    I dig steel-framed bikes of all shapes and sizes.

  2. #2
    Bikesexual
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    Awesome! I've only done one mini tour staying at air bnb but this is something I will love to do soon. I think for your first trip, it was a great idea to go easy.

    Congrats! Nice ride too!
    Surly Krampus
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  3. #3
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    Hi mate nice looking ride to break the ice. That trail looks great to have at you door step, a quick route to the countryside.

    As for Jones bars don't know if they will be much different to the Surly ones. I have Trolls bike with Jones bars and find the higher you have them the better. Also playing around with the angle of the bars makes a difference, you could try that with the Moloko bars.

    Enjoy your riding.

    OZ.

  4. #4
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    Thanks, gents.

    Regarding the bars, I exchanged a couple messages with a buddy who uses both Moloko & Jones on his various bikes. I did raise my stem the remaining 12.5mm this morning (uncut steerer tube), and will give that a try. I'd love to demo a set of Jones bars just as a comparison for the sweep. Of course I'm eyeing the lightweight (spend) carbon ones, which is why I'm hesitant to just throw money at a set of bars that may not make any tangible difference.

    Thanks again,
    Craig
    I dig steel-framed bikes of all shapes and sizes.

  5. #5
    Thingamejigger
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    How about a pair of Ergon grips to help you??

    Produkte – ERGON BIKE

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying_Scotsman View Post
    How about a pair of Ergon grips to help you??

    Produkte – ERGON BIKE
    I have a set of regular Ergon grips that I originally had installed, but not the ones designed for the high-sweep bars.
    I dig steel-framed bikes of all shapes and sizes.

  7. #7
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    Impressive miles for a first trip and nice set up !
    Michigan native and moved west in 1993 , my early 30's. Never rode much there but got the bug here. Later years before moving, was with GFS / based in G Rapids, working and living in Saginaw area.
    bachman must spread some Reputation around before giving it to himself again. :madman:


  8. #8
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    Nice

    Did you try playing with rotation of that bar to see if that helps with the numbness any? If not, maybe that high sweep bar isn't for you for long riding, might want something in the 20-25 degree range like the Salsa Bend Deluxe bar
    https://salsacycles.com/components/c...rs/bend_deluxe
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??

  9. #9
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    Thanks for sharing this Craig. Love the pics with the weathered door. Changing bars may help, but I'd also give some thought to moving some of the weight off your hands by getting more upright. Shorter stem, more stem rise (or spacers under stem) or narrower bars are the usual means. Lastly, fatter squishy grips can help. Hoping you sort it out and continue more of the same and enjoy the views.

  10. #10
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    Thanks, everyone, for the tips regarding the hand numbness. I have played around some with the fore/aft tilt of the bars, and ran the same Molokos on my Big Fat Dummy for a while, so they're not completely new to me. I have not tried a stem shorter than 70mm, but that's not out of the question. I'll post a follow-up shortly after I do some adjustments and/or swap out some parts. I may try some ESI Extra Chunky grips. The ones on here now are Jones Kraten grips.

    bachman1961 - Small world. Michigan has a lot of great trails. I haven't spent as much time on singletrack in recent years, but my heart's in the woods on a bike.
    I dig steel-framed bikes of all shapes and sizes.

  11. #11
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    I like 15-20 degrees of sweep on my bars, running the salsa bend 2 with 23 degrees now. I have large hands and find a double wrap of bar tape, plus bar ends great for comfort and change of hand positions.

  12. #12
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    Tried the SG 2 riser Jones bar. Cant recommend them myself, they flex way too much for me. The higher end alloy double butted flat ones and carbon models may not have that issue (?); the sweep was nice for cruising though.

    Running the Fouriers Trailhead in 7000 series alloy on my ECR. The bend in the grip area really does help with hand fatigue. They appear to be 58* from center frame line, so ~32* sweep by normal measurement (some articles say 28* and others 58*). Adding SQlab 411 innerbarends give you multiple hand positions and the ability to lightly rest your palms on top of the bar with your thumbs against the innerbarend top lip to prevent hand slips due to bumps; thus allowing your hand to sit in your own comfortable sweep position independent of the bar sweep when relaxed riding.

    Will be using my Pro Taper 20/20 Carbon on the Banshee Paradox build in progress (20* sweep). The Tailhead and 20/20 both sweep forward then back which eliminates the need to run longer stems with a sweep bar. Have a pair of SQlab innerbarends on a this bar as well.

    The Soma B-Side is sporting SQlab 311 16* sweep bars with Ergon GP2 grips/ends and GP5 ends with the stops ground out as long innerbarends covered with ESI chunky grips for comfort. A little of everything on this ride that is really one size too small for me.

    As you can see there are a ton of options out there, including Salsa that others have mentioned. IIRC the Surly Moloko bars have a 34* sweep. Too bad you arent closer, we could do some trial swaps. I have always wanted to try the Molokos. My LBS let me hold a customers Moloko before she picked them up and they felt good in my hand, plus the extenders felt better than the Jones constant sweep in the forward position.

    I think the Velo Orange Clunker bars (45* with 3 of rise, 680 width) might be a nice fit for an ECR too. They have a crossbar like the Surly Sunrise (16*). Their sweep starts at the stem mount point, so they will put you more upright by bringing the bars higher and closer to you.

    My more sporty rides have less sweep with innerbarends for comfortable cruising. For me, the 16*-32* sweep range with innerbarends is best for an all-around do everything ride. Anything more and jamming singletrack doesnt feel quite right.
    Banshee Paradox V3...
    eSurly ECR 5spd IGH (BBS02B)
    Soma B-Side BD 3spd IGH
    Santa Cruz Hightower (sold)
    Niner Jet 9 (sold)

  13. #13
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    Handlebar options

    Quote Originally Posted by 1x1_Speed_Craig View Post
    I have a set of regular Ergon grips that I originally had installed, but not the ones designed for the high-sweep bars.
    Hey Craig, congrats on great trip! FWIW, On my Krampus, I love the Moloko bars with the ergon grips specific for swept back bars. I too had the stock ergon originally, and the ones made for swept back made a big positive difference. I also double bar taped all areas on molokos that I grip as well. Lastly using a very short high angled stem to get more upright, and less weight off hands. I cant thank MTBR forum contributors enough for everyones constant suggestions!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1x1_Speed_Craig View Post
    Numbness, I actually can handle. It's the lack of motor ability in my left hand after the ride that has me nervous. I code for a living, and even typing this write-up took about 4x longer than it normally would take me to type.
    The nerve damage you are experiencing can take quite a while to resolve...weeks even months, but over time your hand will go back to normal. I won't repeat the ergonomic advice other people have posted other than to say experiment and see what happens. A long-ish day ride on a new setup should give you an idea if it's a change that's headed in the right direction. It may take a few tries to hit on the right riding position so don't get discouraged.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  15. #15
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    You might also look at gloves. I did the PCH many years ago with flat bars and had difficulty for up to a month after with my right hand. I got the Specialized Body Geometry gloves that take pressure off the heel of the hand underneath the pinky/ring finger and it seemed to help.

  16. #16
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    Im definitely jealous. I need a bike trip in a bad way.

  17. #17
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    Personally I love the Jones H bars. I have a set of carbon ones on my bikepacking rig. The key that I found was to get the angle adjusted where the outer edges of your palm have equal pressure on the bar. I them wrap some gel material or similar under the wrap so that it bulges into the palm a bit.
    Help chart the mountains at www.appalachianbiketrails.org

  18. #18
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    Thanks, everyone, for your input. Much appreciated. I did order a set of Jones SG Loop Bars to try out. I've been curious about them for a while and planned them for my build, but already owned the Moloko bars, and decided to save some dollars after extending the build budget more than originally intended (story of my life ). If I truly love them, I'll save for a set of the carbon ones.

    I did tip down the ends of the Molokos a bit, but haven't had a chance to test-ride it yet.

    On an unrelated note, I'm going to edit my original post to give my opinions (worth what you paid for them ) on the gear I used to the bottom of my original post.



    Quote Originally Posted by vikb View Post
    The nerve damage you are experiencing can take quite a while to resolve...weeks even months, but over time your hand will go back to normal. I won't repeat the ergonomic advice other people have posted other than to say experiment and see what happens. A long-ish day ride on a new setup should give you an idea if it's a change that's headed in the right direction. It may take a few tries to hit on the right riding position so don't get discouraged.
    This makes me feel a little better. Thanks.


    Craig
    I dig steel-framed bikes of all shapes and sizes.

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