Get your bike ready for Bikepacking. When I say this, I don’t mean just put your bikepacking bags on the bike, then pack it. This is way before that. What I’m doing is get the bike ready, i.e. making it more bikepacking friendly. I just finished building my Bamboo fatbike; time to get ready for its maiden voyage.
Let’s get started. The first thing is to make sure your bike is running tubeless. Personally, I have had no luck going tubeless. From it leaking from the spokes to the valves breaking… basically just a pain in the ass. It got so bad that for 5 years I have just been using tubes. Which is easy since anyone can fix a puncture, even me. So, why am I going back to tubeless if it was such a pain in the ass?
On my last trip to Australia, I had 4 punctures in 4 hours. At that point I had enough. I am planning some really remote desert adventures in the future, like Bikepacking the Baja Divide where I know the desert trails will have a million thorns and have been told that tubeless is the only way to go.
So even with all the problems I had with tubeless in the past, anything that could go wrong with running tubeless, it all happened to me, ‘lucky of the Irish’ they say, screw that. I decided after four years to go back to trying tubeless and watched many many YouTube videos. At last I got the tubeless setup which is perfectly bomb proof.
My tip: Weeks before going on your Bikepacking adventure, do the tubeless setup. That way it gives you time to fix any problem that may arise way before rather than on the trail
Second thing to think about is this seat. Remember guys, you’re going to be in the saddle all day, maybe 12 hours from sunrise to sunset or longer if you like night riding. So spend the money on a good seat, you won’t regret it.
Many times I saw people with expensive bikes and the best Bikepacking gear money could buy having their trip completely ruined by a pain and discomfort. Having to take many breaks just to ease the pain.
I always plug the Infinity Seat which should’ve been the first thing I put on my bike years ago. Unfortunately, it was my last upgrade I did. I hesitated because of the price. But after 6 months of putting it off, I said to myself what’s the point in having all this gear and not enjoying the ride. Luckily I found a Discount code that saved me some money. It still works to this day.
So get yourself a good seat, use the discount code bikepack at check out https://infinitybikeseat.com/shop/infinity-e2-series-seat/. Leave the padded shorts and chaff cream at home and use that space on your bike for more important things like food and water, just bring talc powder.
The next thing to get your bike ready is adding eyelets to your bike. I run a carbon fork and there are no eyelets on it. There are a few options out there for this setup. I’m going to be using the Mule by BarYak. If you want to see other options like gorilla mounts by Dorm here is a video, I did years ago.
The Mule by BarYak installation is pretty simple. Basically some zip ties and some tape. Once you have the Mule installed, then add the Salsa cages or Black burn cages. I use Salsa cages for years and have never had a problem, but I think if I had to buy again, I would try the Black burn cages as a lot of good Bikepacking friends swear by them. What ever cage you use, dump the straps that come with them and use voile straps or even better yet use the new sea summit straps which have a better locking system.
Depending on your setup, if it’s an overnight or weekend Bikepacking trip you probably won’t need to use that space at all.
Later in the bikepacking setup page I show you a simple and fast overnight setup. If you’re going on longer trips, then the front fork is valuable real estate specially 4 seasons.
If you install bags, make sure they’re waterproof like gorilla bags. They are fantastic and the price is good. On one side of the fork bags I put summer clothes, on the other side of the fork bag I put winter clothes.
Or you can add 60 ounce yeti water bottles on each side of the fork for areas that don’t have much water on the route. Basically, this gives you more options for carrying Bikepacking gear or supplies.
It’s really up to you how you use this extra space. The principle is that you have at least 10 liters of bag space to use or 4 liters of water.. which is a lot of space in the Bikepacking world.
The next attachment I add to my bike is under the frame. This time I use monkii cage and attachment as it is easy to take on and off, no undoing straps. Just simply click on and click off. Installing it is the same principle as Baryak mule. Zip ties and tape, these things won’t move.
The monkey cage clips on and clips off easily. Some people carry water there or a complete cook system like Jetboil. For me, I use that space for my MSR fuel bottle to store my fuel for my alcohol stove or petrol for the MSR Dragonfly. If you want to use that space like me for fuel get the bigger 32 oz bottle. It fits fine. I just order one, so I can go 11 days of cooking without filling up. That’s 3 hot meals a day.
If you want to carry more water there, I recommend Camelback. They have a water bottle called the Gravel water bottle or Dirt Bottle. Basically, it has a protective cap, so it doesn’t get dirt around the nozzle.
Tip Put frame bag on to make sure frame bag straps don’t get in the way of the Monkey cages so you have a perfect fit.
I added one small sea to summit strap to the under frame as well. It is a perfect place to store your Backpacking Potty Trowel and it won’t get in your way. I bought cheap ones on aliexpress but they broke after a few days on the trail so I recommend The Tent Lab Ultralight Backpacking Potty Trowel made in the USA. Remember, you need to dig down 6 inches in some places to meet national park regulations. The Tent Lab Ultralight Backpacking Potty Trowel only weighs 12.8 grams; crazy you won’t even know it’s there.
The next attachment I put on the bike and leave it permanently attached to the bike to make it more bikepacking friendly is the front harness. There are many styles of harness out there, like Bike Bag dude, Jpaks, Salsa, etc. which I have used for many years. I stayed away from plastic ones, thinking one more thing to break, if I come off the bike. After trying a hard plastic harness ie the spider last year, I really liked the style of harness and switched.
There are a few reasons for this. When it’s a solid piece like the Spider by Aero, it just holds the bag better, being a solid piece. It’s more sturdy, no shaking and no movement at all. Easier to put your dry bag on and off when at camp even one handed while drinking a cold beer after a day’s ride.
It also stops any wires from getting in tangled like brake cables, gear cables charging cables, etc. I just leave the Spider on the bike, never to be taken off. The only downside is that it’s heavier compared to material but to me it’s worth it, if I can lose a few oz climbing big hills then it balance out . All these add-ons I am attaching, I just leave permanently on the bike, including the harness as I attached a water bottle to the top side, so even on day rides it’s fine.
The next thing I look at is the handle bar cockpit. When I first started Bikepacking I had a lot of gadgets attached to the cockpit. Cycle computer & GPS, even an alarm system with motion detection. GoPro one facing me, one facing the trail, both with gimbals; too much stuff. Now you can just but the 360 max so no need for 2 cameras. And not to forget the solar lights I added. At the time I thought they would be a brilliant idea charging in the sun while I am riding and making me more independent.
But until you go to use the lights at night, the light was so low, I mean really low, that I had to stop and put my hand in front of the lights to see if they were on. A waste of money and riding at night on a busy road was down right dangerous …
After riding 500 km I quickly realised I do not need all that stuff. It distracts the ride. So I simplified it. I connected Quadlock mount to connect my phone underneath the mount where you can connect Dji Action Cam. I also have that same attachment on my way DJI drone controller. So when I’m droning I connect my phone to the controller and the controller is connected to the Quadlock mount. A really simple setup plus my phone is running motionx app. All the data I need is on that..
The last thing I add to my bike before any bikepacking bags is my lights mount attachments. I attach a knog light, which is the Powder Trail 1000. It’s easy to detach when I go into a shop, just in case someone tries to steal it.
It’s also a battery bank While I’m riding, I have that light battery bank plugged into the solar panel. I use the battery every day for charging the camera and my gps and phone. It’s fully charged usually by the afternoon and if riding at night there is still plently of battery left. On the rear of my bike I attach also a light by knog, which is usb chargable with a good battery life like 20 hours they say but I get about 18 hours.
For me, I use maybe 1 hour a day so I get about 18 days before recharging it and it’s fast to charge like when I stop for lunch break at noon I just plug it straight into my solar panel. It has an excellent reputation of good visibility up to 1.5 km away. It’s a great light over 3 years old and still going strong.
So this is how I get my bike ready for Bikepacking before I add any Bikepacking bags. On the next blog, I’ll do the Bikepacking core setup. It’s the foundation of all my bikepacking setups. The layout structure stays the same, i.e. the foundations of the bike. I just add to the outer layout depending on the adventure pack rafting, winter setup, etc.
A lot of bikepackers are now adding rear racks to their Bikepacking setup, just like traditional cycle touring they are adding frame bags and stem bags creating a Bikepacking hybrid. For me, I generally stay away from racks as I’ve seen so many times traditional cycle tourers fix them at weld shops or replace the broken clips. Just watch a few cycle touring videos on YouTube and you see people holding their bags together with bungee cords after they failed..
So, why would I even recommend a rear rack when you can easily fit all your Bikepacking gear on your bike with just Bikepacking bags? Well, not everyone can fit a 10 or 15 liter seat post bag under their seat.
A perfect example: my Vietnamese girlfriend is only 4 feet 8 tall, and she rides a fatbike that she built herself. Her seat comes way down not giving any space for a seat post bag as it would rub of the 26×4 inch tire and would have destroyed the seat post bag, if she could even get under there. We tried even 8 litre bags but no luck. So I ordered a rack from Aeroe. It’s a more modern take on a racking system without many bolts and after 2 years of testing it, it has never failed and I really can’t see it ever failing. If you feel you can’t fit a seat post bag, then go ahead and add a rear rack from Aeroe and they have the Spider and 12 liter dry bag setup that works great or add the pod they make …
The only thing that might come off the bike depending on my setup, especially on overnight trips or weekend 3 season trips where I don’t need it, is the Anything Cage by Salsa, which is easy to remove with allen key and put on again like installing a bottle cage. But as I say, I mostly leave all the attachments on the bike.