If you have a new account but are having problems posting or verifying your account, please email us on [email protected] for help. Thanks :)
Hello all! Please ensure that you are posting a new thread or question in the appropriate forum. The Feedback forum is overwhelmed with questions that are having to be moved elsewhere. If you need help to verify your account contact [email protected]

Bikepacking / touring tips

  • 28-07-2022 1:29pm
    Registered Users Posts: 2,108 ✭✭✭

    I'm planning my first bikepacking / touring trip in a few weeks. I hope to mainly follow dedicated cycle routes or gravel cycle tracks, travelling through villages and towns over a period of about a week. My accommodation will generally be AirBnB's or hotels so no camping this time round.

    I was wondering if anyone has any tips on how to approach it, or what exactly to bring to make the best of it. I aim to do maybe 75-100km a day, spread throughout the day cycling a max of an hour at a time I'd say.

    My main concern is with security when stopping in various towns. I will be riding a gravel bike and will lock it with a U-lock, but even at that I'm worried that people will rob my panniers! Not easy to carry them around whilst sight seeing.


  • Registered Users Posts: 164 ✭✭mh_cork

    Nobody is interested in stealing your panniers - who wants someones dirty laundry! Your bike, wheels and your personal belongings (wallet / phone) are what needs to be secured.

    But no need to bring a big u-lock. A small cafe lock will suffice. Just use common sense, e.g.

    • keep wallet and phone on you at all times - use a bumbag / musette when you go into shops.
    • remove or cover any expensive attachments (Garmins / lights).
    • avoid shops in towns. Stop in garages / small villages
    • If staying in hotels, ask if you can leave the bike there while sightseeing
    • Park the bike where people pass by - someone is less likely to tamper with it.

    But dont overthink it. People cycle around the world and never have a problem. If a situation does not look good, then just move on.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,108 ✭✭✭VonLuck

    Obviously no one will want my clothes, but people could rob it thinking there's something valuable in it, or else just for the bag itself. I know if it was in Dublin I wouldn't trust my bags being left on the bike and know they'd get stolen.

    I'm not sure what you mean by saying "avoid shops in towns". A big part of my trip will be visiting towns and walking around. Are you saying this is a bad idea?

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,011 ✭✭✭T-Maxx

    Scrotes will rob anything, ramble through it around the corner and dump whatever they don't want in the gutter, ditch, canal, etc.

    Backpack style panniers is an option but you're still going to be lugging everything around though.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,077 ✭✭✭CantGetNoSleep

    Do you have the option of leaving the bike where you are staying, roaming around a town for a few hours, then going back to collect the bike and gear and head off to the next place? I think the issue is fully loaded bike just left in the middle of a town will be a risk almost anywhere

  • Registered Users Posts: 63 ✭✭EAD

    We have done this in Ireland and on the continent and we've always locked our bikes, taken out our valuables and left the bikes with the panniers on. Noone has ever seemed even remotely interested in our spare knickers and sweaty cycling gear. We tend not to bring anything we would be upset to lose or couldn't replace.

    More importantly, on that smelly cycling gear; hand wash and dry overnight works on the continent but not in Ireland - make sure somewhere you stay is able to do laundry.

    And finally, we've found that true touring speed and sightseeing with liberal doses of eating and drinking means a daily 100km is doable but not ideal. For me it's more about the stops and smelling the coffee that just clocking up the Kms.

  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 2,108 ✭✭✭VonLuck

    Unfortunately, no. The plan is to stop off on a number of villages and towns along the way to my end destination each day. I was thinking even wrapping a lock around the panniers, but I don't actually think the ones I have are lockable. There's no loop for it to pass through!

    That's good to hear. The most upsetting thing to lose would be the bike itself, but any valuables will come with me in a back pack whilst I ramble around for 1-2 hours. My trip is actually to the continent so should hopefully be okay clothes drying wise!

    I understand what you're saying about 100km being a lot, but I cycle at a reasonable pace. I tend to average maybe 25km/h which would mean 4 hours of cycling a day. Planning on cycling during the period of 8am to 6pm, so that should give me 2 hour breaks after each 1 hour stretch. Being pessimistic, maybe I'll average 20km/h but even then that's give me 1h40 each break. It's my first trip like this so I'm bound to learn some lessons on what not to do!

    Also, any thoughts on navigation? Can I get away with a phone on some kind of app? I don't want to invest in a dedicated GPS system just yet, but at the same time I do want to follow specific routes with better cycling tracks and locations I want to stop off at. Does "ride with gps" work well for that?

  • Registered Users Posts: 63 ✭✭EAD

    In recent years we've just used our phones backed up by an old school map (I like maps). Tourist offices can be a good port of call for info on more local routes.

    We'd normally tip around at about 28kmph when cycling at home but find we end up closer to 20kmph when on hols between the weight of the bikes, photo stops, coffee stops, wrong turns etc. Don't forget that you may also have to factor in the weather.

  • Registered Users Posts: 21,552 ✭✭✭✭Squidgy Black

    I’d definitely shoot for the lower average, don’t forget you’ll be laden down with extra gear and you’ll be doing it a couple of days on the trot too, plus any time spent fixing punctures or taking a little extra time at a cafe stop or wandering around a town.

    You don’t want to feel rushed, especially if you’ve to make a check-in for a hotel/airbnb or always checking your watch for time.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,108 ✭✭✭VonLuck

    The problem I find is that there are loads of turns on country roads on my route so it's very easy to go the wrong direction. Taking out a map at every junction is not ideal!

    I have done trial runs with my bike and panniers with an equivalent set up / weight. I averaged 25km/h with wind against me, but I was pushing myself. But I tend to always push myself. I will be working on the assumption I'll be doing 20km/h anyways to allow for any missed turns, hick-ups or other distractions. The 1.5-2 hours in between should give me enough to play with and if I do get a puncture etc. I can make the time up easily.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,992 ✭✭✭two wheels good

    Greenways are very well sign-posted in France Germany Austria and cover long distances. e.g. voies vertes in France, river bank routes in Austria.  I think information boards and tourist office maps will be sufficient to supplement the phone or vice versa.


    What about a few cable ties, ideally re-useable ties for convenience but a small wire cutters isn't such a burden. (Deliberately not suggesting a penknife). Tying the pannier to the rack, slipped through the buckle of the pannier strap. It will help deter the opportunist thief.

    Alternatively "Pacsafe" brand security netting. But I think that would attract more attention.

    Removing the saddle might also deter an opportunist thief.

  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 434 ✭✭mvt

    Don't know if this is any help ,just back from a trip to Coventry via Hollyhead.

    Took two days each way & used komoot to plan route which I felt was really helpful for a cycle friendly route.

    As ever it's the little things that can trip you up or as in my case slow you down.

    Getting lost is part of the fun but maybe not when you have a ferry to catch.

    Also maybe try & distribute the weight in a way that's not going to drive you nuts & also have go to items readily accessible.

    Hope it work out for you.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,108 ✭✭✭VonLuck

    Thanks for the tips. I've never heard of Komoot. Does it provide navigation for your routes while you're cycling? That's what I'm most concerned about at the moment.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,434 ✭✭✭jebidiah

    Depending on your phone you may burn through the battery using the navigation feature on it all day. Bring a battery brick or try and snag an older Garmin or the like that you can load routes onto.

    I picked up a Garmin Edge 520 earlier this year and it's been much better than using my phone.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,108 ✭✭✭VonLuck

    Unfortunately I can't justify that spend right now. This is my first long trip with my bike and who knows, could end up not liking it!

    Would Komoot be the best alternative to buying a dedicated GPS device?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,434 ✭✭✭jebidiah

    I know what you mean! Ive only done a few long journeys but I knew after that first over night trip that my phone wasn't going to cut it. Keep your eye on adverts and you might pick up a deal in the future.

    For Komoot, I haven't personally used it, but I previously just used Google maps and Strava.

    I think most of the routing services will be pretty similar

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,108 ✭✭✭VonLuck

    I would use Google Maps and Strava, but you can't plan your routes on either of those. Google just gives you the quickest direct route to your destination, not necessarily the roads you'd prefer to take.

  • Registered Users Posts: 417 ✭✭MangleBadger

    You can plan routes using Strava if you have the premium version

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,550 ✭✭✭Large bottle small glass

    Since you are on a budget just

    *get a phone holder for your handlebars (I've occasionally used a Lidl one for years)

    *map your routes in RWGPS (using RWGPS cycle layer) or

    *upload to komoot or wherever

    In reality if on dedicated cycle routes in European mainland, you are not going to need a lot of navigational aid.

    IMO the best thing you could do is relax, enjoy it and don't worry about getting "lost". You are on holiday and 100km max a day credit card touring is at easy end of spectrum. Don't rigidly stick to some route you plotted on a pc when you are on the ground; have a wander explore, go up that pretty road/path.

    I've done 3 or 4 credit card tours doing a lot more than a 100km per day and even then there is time for exploring and going "off track". I use an old school hiking garmin for occasional audax and riding navigationally busy routes I've plotted myself in Ireland but never when touring and it worked out just fine.

    Just use the komoot when occasionally needed and with a decent phone battery you should be fine as screen will rarely be lit.

  • Registered Users Posts: 451 ✭✭ARX

    I've toured all over Europe (getting on for 20,000 km) with a fully loaded bike (2 front & 2 rear panniers, rack bag and top tube bag - tent, sleeping bag, camping stove, the whole nine yards).

    I had a handlebar bag that came everywhere with me - that contained my key, wallet, passport, phone etc - everything I'd need to get home if my bike and luggage were stolen.

    I've left my bike and luggage parked up all over the place from Italian cathedrals to Hungarian industrial estates and never had any problems except once in a sleepy village in Germany near the Dutch border. I came out of a shop and a guy came riding furiously towards me and handed me my camera. He explained that someone had stolen it from the top tube bag and he'd given chase and retrieved it. Then he rode off as furiously as he'd arrived.

    A fully loaded touring bike sticks out a mile, I would regularly come out of a supermarket and find four aul' lads clustered around it having a look. So anyone interfering with it is going to draw attention.

    So really I wouldn't worry about security. I have a frame lock and a cable and that's enough really. Consider what you'll do if you lose your key. I have a spare key stashed inside the bike.

    For navigation, I mostly used paper maps and a compass. They don't run out of battery, they're easy to read in bright sunlight, they don't break if you drop them and you can get a much better overview of the land than you can with a phone or GPS device (where you either have a big picture with no details or a picture with details that's too small). I would wake up in the morning and know that I was heading in the general direction of, say, Warsaw, and then I'd use the map to figure out what would be a good route. I wouldn't be faffing around plotting routes on Komoot or whatever - it's a holiday FFS. Just get on the bike, point it in the right direction and ride.

    In the afternoon I'd use to book accomodation or a campsite finder to find a campsite. Mostly I used my phone to book accomodation and to find it - although using GPS to navigate to an address is sometimes very difficult: it can tell you that you've arrived and you still have to follow a lane through a field, or find some obscure side gate down an alley. Don't underestimate how hard that can be!

  • Registered Users Posts: 434 ✭✭mvt

    Some good advice above there, not to worry too much about it, it is a holiday.

    Just again about komoot which I found very user friendly.

    You can just put in your start & finish point & it will plan out a cycle friendly as opposed to just pointing yourself in the direction you want to go.

    You can save this & use it off line with somehow your gps still working . Have no idea how this works but it does & is very easy on the battery, had no problem with nearly 200k a day.

    I used a handlebar phone mount & just checked it when I needed it.

    I quickly realised that I was following a nation cycling route in the UK, very well signposted so between the two it worked for me on what I felt was a really nice route.

    Am fairly familiar with audax & using a route sheet & map but have to say I was impressed with the komoot & would use it again.

  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 434 ✭✭mvt

    Sorry, just one other thing, would be very wary of depending on google maps, it can lead you into some tricky spots in my experience.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,740 ✭✭✭brownian

    There are lots of cycle route planners - google will show you. Several have apps, some better than others. Komoot is (IMHO) pretty good, and I used it for a month this summer around Italy and Switzerland. I only occasionally left the Komooted route, if I found a nice cycle track, or whatever. Certainly much better than using Google maps. Whatever app you use, make sure you can actually plan routes on it, so that you're not dependent on having access to a 'real' computer, to plan your route.

    If you don't know about Open Cycle Map, then maybe google that too.

    While I can see that a bike computer (easy 300e) is a big extra expense, you'll use it hundreds of times a day. You can use a phone instead, with a power pack for when you run out of battery, but it's a pain in the rain, or if falls off the bike, or....

    Make sure you have shoes other than cleated ones, for walking around towns in.

  • Registered Users Posts: 471 ✭✭dermabrasion

    Just done a 6-day solo bike-pack/tour in Ireland. Second year doing this. No camping, B&B's and AirB&B.

    • Used Kamoot. Used the 'gravel bike' tag to plan the route. In Ireland, this means, canal's, boreen's and fire roads, and Kamoot will find one if it's there. This is really peaceful, and what I was looking for. But it is hard on the legs (and bike) because of the many steep gradients and the slower surfaces. It therefore impacts the distance you think you can do. If you are used to 100k road spins, I think you need to consider dialling that back to 0.75-0.8. Lastly, if you need to buy a coffee, sambo or sugar, kamoot tends to avoid urban areas, so remember to plan a stop when plotting a course.
    • I brought one spare set of cycling gear. I washed the gear I wore that day in a basin. It was dry by the night after. I had MTB shoes, and runners. I did that in case the MTB shoes got soaked, I could wear runners around the towns I stayed in. Flip-flops can be hit and miss in an Irish summer. But, I would use more collapsable shoes next time because the the bulk.
    • I brought a wind/light rain jacket and a proper rain jacket. While this may be overkill, I was really glad of this when the rain comes in sideways.
    • I used a cafe lock. Every place I stayed helped me with storing the bike overnight. So security was not a thing.
    • My rig was a 15L saddle bag (clothes, next-day cycling gear, small towel), bar bag (runners, toiletries, mini 1st aid, charging plug and cables), Top-tube triathlon bag (battery pack, phone, energy bars), hip-pack (multi-tool+ Swiss army type of tool, mini-pump, patch-kit, derailleur hanger, quick-link, tyre lever, cycling cap), wallet, wipes. 2 bottles, 2 spare tubes strapped to frame. Front and back lights.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,434 ✭✭✭jebidiah

    Would love to see your route/photos! Sounds great!

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,270 ✭✭✭kenmc

    Not sure I'd fancy day 4 😀