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Bike touring/bikepacking on a road bike?

  • 23-01-2023 2:39pm
    Registered Users Posts: 3,086 ✭✭✭

    Just wondering if anyone here is into bikepacking/touring, what type of bike do you use and bag placements/weight etc.?

    I have a bog standard hybrid bike with rear pannier bags that I have done a few short 2/3 day bike tours on, averaging between 60-80km per day. Having watched some GCN documentaries about bike packing I'm eager to increase those daily distances but I need to get my overall weight down as I found 80km is my daily upper limit on such a heavy bike. Hoping to do 100-120km per day for 3-5 days, obviously depending on terrain, on my road bike.

    I got one of those large saddle bags to fit my stuff, pretty much nothing else. Should I try and get some wider tyres? Running 23mm at the moment, due to the rim brakes the widest I'll fit is 28 I'd say. I'm 75kg and the saddle bag fully packed weighs just under 3kg. Be interested to hear other peoples bikepacking stories, cheers!


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,673 ✭✭✭cletus

    If you can get wider tyres on, I would, if just for comfort. You could add a frame bag and a handlebar bag to your setup, it depends on what you need to carry. Will you be camping, credit card touring, cooking your food, eating out etc

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,086 ✭✭✭RikkFlair

    No won't be camping out will Airbnb it I reckon. Want to travel as light as possible. Was thinking a gravel bike with wider tyres clearance might be worth looking at.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,150 ✭✭✭CantGetNoSleep

    I know the search function isn't great on this new boards - but there have been some great threads on this over the years. I don't remember who exactly but it was one of the regulars who did a trip or two in Ireland, maybe someone else will figure out how to pull it up

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,552 ✭✭✭Trekker09

    I did the Royal Canal greenway last summer on my Surly Ogre. Had panniers and tent was strapped onto the handlebars. Wild camped 2 nights adn then got the train back to Maynooth.

    I used it as a taster for longer bike touring trips and to see how I got on with the bike. As much as I l love the Ogre (it's probably the coolest bike I've owned) I realised that there were small things that irked me. For one, I found the wide, flat bars slightly annoying trying to maneuver through tight areas. Being a roadie, it took a while to get used to it on longer rides. I've realised that for longer, multi day rides I'd prefer something a bit more nimble but comfortable. I'll probably end up with something like the Genesis Croix de Fur that I can use as a commuter etc.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,799 ✭✭✭Tigerandahalf

    I've only done small day trips on mine.

    For a hybrid bike or any flat bar bike you really need bar ends. They clip on to the end of the flat bars and are 90 degrees to the flat bar. This is important for your wrists to relax and gives you a few different positions when riding.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,086 ✭✭✭RikkFlair

    Sounds like a great trip, I may get into the camping/cooking out thing at a later date but for now just wanna see how far I can get with the basic change of clothes etc

    Do you mean like triathlon handlebars or something a bit wider?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,593 ✭✭✭Large bottle small glass

    It's been a while since I did anything needing a rack, but had this set up yesterday for a return trip to Killarney.

    160km each way although the 3.30am finish up I let the train take half the strain.

    Loads of room for changes of clothes, shoes.

    Not sure of the weight but it lightens the front wheel a little so assume you have less grip.

    Really handy set up and bag detaches in seconds from rack.

    On distance, even at 20kmh 120km is only 6 hrs pedalling. There's a long day there in summer time, and 120 is pretty conservative.

  • Registered Users Posts: 968 ✭✭✭8valve

    For an infinite variety of hand positions, to minimise hand/wrist fatigue, take a leaf out serious bike-packers books and look at butterfly handlebars. Enough scope there for an octopus to hold onto!

    WRT OP's original question, I recently built up a neo-retro 1970s steel vintage racing FAGGIN frame for a local young lady; the frame and forks had no braze-ons or threaded mounts for attaching racks, mudguards etc....we fitted a modern aluminium rear pannier rack with Blackburn P-clips, which are readily available online.

    She added panniers, a bar-bag and a saddle bag and has recently completed a spin down the east coast of Spain with no issues.

    Prior to that, I repainted and built up a neo-retro early 1980s Peugeot for a local young chap (in the same social circle as the lady mentioned above!); again, he added a bar bag, large-volume saddle bag and took his bike across Northern France and on to Amsterdam without issues.

    So yes, can be done quite easily!

  • Registered Users Posts: 461 ✭✭Cetyl Palmitate

    Great ideas. No need to overcomplicate things unless you expect to be 100s of Kms away from civilization

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,086 ✭✭✭RikkFlair

    Nice setup, didn't know such a rear bag mount existed. I notice you have rim brakes, what width tyres did you go with?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,593 ✭✭✭Large bottle small glass

    Yeah it's a simple set up. I did a 7 day credit card tour with that in 2015.

    Bags are like houses, you'll fill them with sh1t irrespective of the size.

    They are my last to gp4000 in 28mm but measure 31mm. I took a back road route with lots of bad surfaces and no issues.

    Top tip is put your clothes in plastic bag liners in the bags to keep everything dry.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,223 ✭✭✭Breezer

    I packed the kitchen sink on a 3 day trip out Wesht last year. And I actually used all of it! But I’m sure I could have gone lighter and managed just fine, and I definitely could have gone lighter if I’d done B&Bs instead of camping.

    That was on 38 mm tyres. They got shredded to bits when I went off road through some very rocky Coillte lands. I’ve since invested in a 45 mm set (Pirelli Cinturato Gravel M) that stood up to similar in Spain:

    But if you stick to boreens, canal towpaths etc., 28 mm on the road bike will likely do you fine. I’d probably go for something durable like the Schwalbe Marathon Plus though. The joy of bikepacking isn’t in getting there at top speed, it’s in enjoying the journey. Go for durability over speed. Particularly if you’re going to strap the kitchen sink to your bike, like I do!

    If you do decide you’re going to venture further off road though, I can definitely recommend a comfy gravel bike/wide tubeless tyre setup. Just have a think about whether or not you want mudguards and factor that into your choice of tyre too!

    If you haven’t seen it already, you might find helpful. Some really interesting setups and stories on there.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,086 ✭✭✭RikkFlair

    Excellent food for thought here, thanks to all. I think I'd like a bike that I can put the panniers on and pack up quite heavy for shorter 70k-ish rides, and also remove the panniers and just use the saddle bag for 100k+ rides (separate tours obviously). I like the look of those 35mm+ tyres, idk i just feel traditional road bike tyres will leave me open to pinch flats with the extra weight (even if its just the large saddle bag), but I guess I need to get the pressure right etc.

    I'm leaning towards a gravel bike, unfortunately due to budget I will be looking at entry level sub-1k in terms of cost, so maybe a Voodoo or a Triban, the triban I saw is almost 2kg lighter so leaning towards that. I don't plan on going off road much at all, maybe just the odd canal path or greenway, so I think with good 35-38mm tyres and a reasonably not too heavy bike I'll be a happy bike tourist.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,223 ✭✭✭Breezer

    If you’re not going off road, I’d seriously consider buying a couple of bikepacking bags that you strap to the frame, and a set of 28 mm tyres, and see how you get on using your road bike, at least to start with. Much cheaper than a new bike (n + 1 notwithstanding!)

    Have you factored the bike to work scheme into your budget?

    You really don’t need an uber fancy bike for bikepacking. I wanted one bike that would do me for everything, so I went upmarket. It’s lovely and comfy but totally overkill for just bikepacking. The whole idea of bikepacking is you can use whatever bike you have (within reason).

  • Registered Users Posts: 484 ✭✭benneca1

    This was my setup last Summer cycled to south coast of Spain about 2500 Km in total over two weeks. Two fork bags and a tailfin bag for most kit. Had panniers as far as Pamplona as I was camping in France I left them there and got them sent on by a friend who lives there. Setup Worked well for me. Few points Dynamo lights very handy but not essential third water bottle is quite important dual pedals nice if just cycling to shops or pub at end of day. Also if you have aches pains hot foot etc its nice to be unclipped. Tyres were 32 although bike takes 38 I thought the 32 would roll easier they did but had a few pinch punctures descending on bad surface due to weight. Next time I will keep bigger tyresMight give you some ideas.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,223 ✭✭✭Breezer

    I want to learn how to pack like that!

  • Registered Users Posts: 968 ✭✭✭8valve

    Old steel or aluminium mountain bikes (26 inch wheel) make fantastic touring bikes, are constructed for rugged terrain, and usually have all the braze-ons for adding racks, mudguards etc.

    Kit it out, fit drop, flat or butterfly bars as you prefer, a couple of Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres (the serious bikepackers choice!), a comfy saddle and away you go!