With COVID 19 kicking around the globe, as for many people, my plans for touring and bikepacking this year have had to change.
My original plan was to get a ferry to St Malo in early May and cycle down to Biarritz and then on to Perpignan and grab a train home from there. In early May no one was going anywhere so that had to be shelved.
I spent the lockdown period and money I saved by not being able to go anywhere in refreshing my rig and load out.
I finally purchased a bike I’d been eying up for nearly a year. The Bombtrack Beyond + ADV 2020. This is a beast. It’s a go-anywhere, do-anything tank of a bike. I love it. It’s also the most expensive bike I’ve ever bought. By a long way. So having decided to commit to this I went in with both feet. I ordered a new front wheel from the amazing chaps at The Woods Cyclery with a Son 28 dynamo hub, based on the same wtb i45 rim and a Sinewave power regulator embedded in the stem. So this gives me a great off road adventure machine.
To give me options for more hard surface touring I really went to town with an alternative wheelset, ordered from the super helpful Paul at PT Cycles. Paul came up with 3 options for me. A workable option, a sensible more money option and a ridiculous, silly money option. I picked the latter.
- Front Hub – Son 28 Dynamo 110 x 15 Boost
- Rear Hub – Chris King 148 x 12 Boost
- Scope 02 carbon 29″ 28 hole
- Spokes – Sapim Race double butted black
These wheels are simply stunning. I have set them up tubeless with some Schwalbe G One Bite which seated so easily…Although as I write they are sitting at home awaiting their turn later in the summer.
All in all I have spent around £6k on my ultimate bikepacking machine with the two different wheelset options, depending on type of trip, and I love it.
Given that this first trip is mostly off road, I’ve stuck with the big chunky 3″ WTB Rangers, set up tubeless.
- Apidura Backcountry Food Pouch Plus (1.2ltr) – I use this to sling the current water bottle I am using. I have just ordered another one fir the other side of the cockpit to keep snacks / iPod in. Probably for the iPod mostly as if I put snacks up there they will go, fast!
- Apidura Racing Bolt On Top Tube Pack (1ltr) – This is the bolt on, magnetic close top tube bag. I mainly use this for a passthrough Zendure power pack, recharging from the Sinewave/Son 28 combination.
- Brooks Cambium C19 carved – replacing the stock Bombtrack saddle which arrived with the bike. I’ve had leather Brooks saddles on previous touring bikes and loved them, however I don’t love what happens to them when they get wet. So the cambium range seemed like a good bet and right out of the box, I loved this one.
- Tailfin Aeropack X Rigid Seatpack – My rear luggage solution is built around this rigid seatpack from Tailfin. It is superb, although pricey. The additional 3rd party pannier fittings allow me to expand downwards with small lightweight panniers, In the seatpack I have my cooking solution – based around a Solostove Lite with clean alcohol fuel as my primary, although the option to use found twigs/sticks as an alternative should I run out of fuel is great and I did find myself burning wood after cooking for a small heat source later in the evening while I read and sipped from a flask of Jameson’s..
- Porcelain Rocket Microwave Panniers – These are my extra luggage options for longer trips. I took them on the test trip to find out how the bike behaved with these on prior to a longer trip in France next month. They are great. They fit the Tailfin perfectly and their innovative strap based fixing system holds them secure and solid. The dry bags haven’t been tested in any real rain on this trip, but they feel well made and pretty rugged with enough capacity to hold everything I would need, and some.
- Ortlieb Framepack 6ltr – This is a temporary fix while I wait for a custom bag from Bike Bag Dude in Australia. In the event, this fits snugly into the frame space and performed well – no cursing and fighting to open the zip whenever I needed it. I may well transfer it to my Whyte 905 once it’s replacement arrives.
- Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 Bikepack – This is a new tent for this year, both for Big Agnes and for me! Replacing my MSR Hubba Hubba NX which looks a bit ragged having survived being mistreated over the past 5 years. The Copper Spur is a bit smaller and I was initially concerned about this, but in practice it is unnoticeable. The additional groundsheet makes the vestibule useable and the in-built lofts and hooks inside are really well thought out. It’s major selling point for me was the pack size. The poles snap down to give a total pack length of 14x33cm – absolutely ideal for slinging under the back bar of the Jones H Loop on my ADV, leaving the front free for further luggage options. In this picture, slung under the tent is a tarp – a Weschel Wing – which can be deployed to create a porch for my tent, high enough for me to sit under or an emergency shelter in case of a sudden downpour when I am in the middle of nowhere!
- Restrap Bar Bag (14 + 3 ltr) – This front bar harness and bag from the Yorkshire based Restrap is the ideal size to fit the rest of my sleep system into. The 14 ltr dry bag contains my sleeping bag (Sea to Summit), sleeping mat (Thermarest) and pillow (Big Agnes). What I particularly like about this harness over my Specialised Burra Burra which I use for bikerafting, is the additional 3ltr zipped pouch which attaches easily, yet securely, on to the front – more space for snacks, face masks, sanitiser etc…
- MSR Fuel Bottle mounted on the seat stay mounts.
- Woho Seatpack Stabiliser – This is deployed purely to provide 2 additional bottle cages. It is not needed to stabilise the Tailfin, but I like to carry a lot of water!
- DOM Gorilla Dry bags – These are an ideal size to contain enough food for me for a whole week. Totally waterproof and shaped to fit on the front forks.
- Topeak Versacage – Although they can’t really be seen here, the real heroes of the fork luggage solution are the Topeak Versacages which are bolted to the fork mounts on the ADV and cradle the DOM Dry bags. Very well made and feel much more secure than other solutions I’ve tried in the past.
Overall this setup worked pretty well. A couple of things I will probably change before my longer trip;
- I was carrying a Hiplock lite, which even though it is the “Lite” version, still weighs in at 2kg +. I am going to investigate some other options for a lighter lock solution. None of the wearable type locks I gave tried are suitable for long days in the saddle. It might be that I end up with a D lock and cable solution.
- Overall my biggest concern was weight of the bike + luggage. I can probably shed some weight by carrying less food, skipping a few spare batteries and eating fewer pies between now and then.