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Bikepacking

bikepacking trendBikepacking, a term that has grown considerably in popularity over the past 5 years, takes its name after the similar, bike-free exercise of backpacking; The sense of adventure and exploration, carrying nothing but the bare essentials for the journey ahead. Bikepacking takes these core principles whilst allowing you to travel further and explore more in the same amount of time. There are no limits as to who can enjoy bikepacking, no matter if you own a small wheeled folding bike or a 29+ fat bike. The joy of bikepacking is in the ambiguity of the name, so how you choose to interpret its meaning is up to you.

The point of bikepacking is to get away from the hustle and bustle, ride off into the sunset and enjoy yourself. It doesn't matter if your idea of enjoyment consists of muddy trails, wild camping in a bivvy bag and showers in a stream; or a nightly hotel, hot shower, restaurant meal and a king size bed. As long as you're riding your bike from A to B, exploring en-route and enjoying yourself, you're bikepacking.

There are also no limits to where you can ride (law and physics permitting, of course!). Josh Ibbett, previous winner of the Rapha Transcontinental, is currently bikepacking around the world; no route, no time checks, nothing. Just a bike laden with his essentials and a 'focus on the journey, not the destination'.

Isn't bikepacking just touring? Well it has it's similarities of course, however cycle-touring usually makes use of pannier racks and bags. This offers a bit more space for those extra luxuries and for solely road-based journeys, the pannier combo remains entirely suitable for the job. However, with the equally recent rise of the term 'gravel bike', bikepacking is seldom just an on-road journey, instead favouring the road less well-travelled. The cumbersome pannier bags can be a hindrance to both the pace and the handling of your bike, which could cause problems if you find yourself on the aforementioned gravel road.

Bikepacking Kit List

By no means exhaustive, given every trip and rider's requirements are going to be different, but here is a bikepacking kit list with some ideas of what you may need for a bikepacking trip.

The Basics:

  • Bike (recently serviced)
  • Helmet
  • Bike Bags
    • Frame bag
    • Handlebar bag
    • Seat post pack
  • Water bottles
  • £5 note
  • Dry bag / plastic bags
  • Lights (basic, flashing)

Clothing:

  • Padded shorts
  • Baggy shorts
  • Cycling jersey/tee
  • Off bike tee
  • 2 x pairs of socks (on & off the bike)
  • Underwear
  • Waterproof windshell jacket
  • Gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Cycling shoes (MTB SPD cleats over road)
  • Off bike shoes / flip flops
  • Long sleeve base layer (also useful for sleeping)
  • Travel towel (doubles up as a pillow)

Washing:

  • Suncream
  • Soap
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • First aid kit

Electricals:

  • Head Torch
  • GPS device (for navigation, not Strava!)
  • Smartphone

Camping:

  • Tent / Bivvy bag
  • Tarpaulin
  • Pegs
  • Rope
  • Groundsheet
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping mat/roll
  • Lightweight stove (and fuel)
  • Cooking pan (to be used as bowl and cup)
  • Plate
  • Knife & spork
  • Lighter / matches
  • Water filter / purification tablets

Spares & Maintenance:

  • 2 x inner tubes
  • Bottle of tubeless sealant
  • Multi tool (with chain tool)
  • Chain lube
  • Pump / CO2
  • Spare spokes (store in seat tube)
  • Electrical tape
  • Duct tape (wrap around pump for easy storage)
  • Cable ties
  • Elastic bands
  • Needle & thread
  • Chain links
  • Cassette removal tool

Bikepacking Seatpost Bags

Small, medium or larger than life; there's endless choice when it comes to seatpost bags, however for the purpose of bikepacking, we'd recommend something big enough to carry around 1/4 to 1/3 of your total kit. As one of the larger storage options, it's worth making use of the out-of-the-wind position of the seatpost bag to store the sort of items you don't need easy access to whilst riding along. As a guide; Josh Ibbett - the self acclaimed pro-hobo who's currently bikepacking around the world - uses the seatpost bag as his wardrobe. Be sure it's waterproof if not using a rear mudguard, you wouldn't want the spray from the road to hose down your evening's attire!

Depending on how remote your journey, you may also choose to take cooking equipment with you, clipping these to the outside of your seatpost bag will keep them away from your hands or from banging against your frame.

Something worth being aware of when shopping for lights, is to ensure that whatever rear light you choose is compatible with your seatpost bag. It's no good using a seatpost mounted light if there's no seatpost left on which to mount it. Equally, a clip-mounted light won't be of use if there's no easy place to clip it. We'd suggest a Bontrager Flare R; a daytime-running light that can be mounted in a multitude of positions from seatpost, clip, frame and even your helmet. The same applies for your front light being compatible with your handlebar bag.

Altura Vortex Seatpost Bag

Specialized Burra Burra Seatpost Bag

Ortlieb Seatpost Bag

Altura Vortex Seatpost Pack - 12L

£59.99

Specialized Burra Burra Seapost Pack - 20L

£140.00

Ortlieb Bikepacker Seatpost Pack - 16.5L

£120.00


Bikepacking Frame Bags

When camping, the frame bag is the obvious location to store your tent; the length of the frame bag sat beneath the top tube is ideal for your tent's poles, and the overall should generally be big enough to fit the rest of your tent, perhaps even some additional kit. We'd advise using any free space to store any items you'd use at the same daily interval, such as your washing kit and your charging cables. If you're travelling 'heavy', and space if at a premium, you can complement your frame bag with 1 or 2 top tube bags, these are perfect for easy access kit such as maps, phone, snacks and cash.

For a shorter rider, we'd advise measuring the length of your top tube, and using this to ensure whichever frame bag you choose will fit between the triangle of your frame.

Altura-Vortex-Frame-Bag

Specialized Burra Burra Frame Bag

Giant Top Tube Bag

Altura Vortex Frame Bag - 5L

£49.99

Specialized Burra Burra Frame Bag - 5L

£80.00

Giant ST Top Tube Bag - 1L

£19.99

Bikepacking Handlebar Bags

A handlebar bag is widely considered an essential bit of bikepacking kit, the ideal location to store your sleeping bag, roll mat and bivvy bag, as well as easy-reach essentials like first aid, food, maps and spares.

If riding a bike with drop handlebars and STI shifters, be aware of your handlebar width and the space between, leaving enough room for your shifters to move inwards as required.

There are a few different options with how to build your handlebar bag setup. There are a number of dedicated handlebar bags, such as the Ortlieb and Altura offers below, or you can use a dry bag along with a harness or even a couple of simple buckle straps.

Specialized Burra Burra Handlebar Harness

Ortlieb Handlebar Bag

Altura Vortex Handlebar Bag

Specialized Burra Burra Handlebar Harness

£100.00

Ortlieb Bikepacker Handlebar Bag & Straps - 15L

£95.00

Altura Vortex Handlebar Rollbag & Straps - 12L

£49.99

Bikepacking Bikes

The best thing about bikepacking is you don't need a fancy super-niche type-specific bike, you can probably use whatever you already have in your garage! The way your new bikepacking bags are designed means they don't need specific racks, mounts, lugs and brackets to fit them to your bike. This means almost any bike is ideal for a bikepacking trip! If you're heading off the beaten path, you can take your mountain bike. If you're staying on the tarmac, your road bike should be perfect!

But what do you use on a bikepacking trip where you want the best of both worlds? The fast rolling performance of a road bike, but not be stumped should the road abruptly end. The answer; a gravel bike or a 'groad bike'.

Take a look at some of our favourite bikepacking bikes below:

Specialized Sequoia

Specialized Sequoia Elite

If you've ever felt torn between a "traditional" road bike and a dedicated touring rig, you're not alone. Now, though, the Sequoia Elite gives you both by combining the two in one genre-bending bike. It has everything you need to hit the road and not look back. The Sequoia's path to adventure starts at the frame, which Specialized constructed from Premium Cr-Mo tubing. This material is coveted for its strength, respectable weight, and tuned ride quality. They then took this a step further by selecting tubes that are specific to each frame size, further ensuring that every frame rides exactly as intended. Of course, this is only a piece of the equation, with the next being its dedicated Adventure Geometry. This geometry is unique in that it skews the line between a traditional road bike and a dedicated touring rig. You'll find an ample wheelbase and low bottom bracket for control, but the chainstays and tube angles ensure that you'll be able to travel efficiently and quickly, regardless of whether or not your rig is loaded. Digging into the details, the frame is outfitted with an ample number of mounts for water, racks, and mudguards. And for the build, Specialized included reliable parts, like a Shimano 105 groupset, powerful hydraulic disc brakes, and hand-built Hayfield wheels that are cased in wide, 2Bliss Ready tyres.

The Sequoia is built from Premium Cr-Mo, size-specific tubing. This ensures that every frame is strong, light, capable, and rides exactly as intended. This philosophy is furthered with Specialized's Adventure Geometry that provides ample confidence over rough and smooth terrain, alike. And lastly, they equipped this frame with fender & rack mounts to make sure you'll be well equipped whenever adventure strikes.

A beefy FACT carbon fiber fork is sure to take the sting out of harsh roads. And when you're deep into said roads, you'll be thankful for the extra water bottle mount found on its fork leg.

Hand-built Adventure Gear Hayfield wheels are cased in 700x42mm 2Bliss Ready tires to be burly and tough as a mule. It's the ideal wheelset for anyone looking to skip town and not look back.

Only £1750.00


Cannondale Slate Ultegra

Cannondale Slate Ultegra

A full-tilt road bike with legitimate off-road chops, the Slate brings a whole new dimension of hard-cornering, curb-hopping, trail-shredding fun to the concept of "road-riding". Balancing a racy position with comfort, the Slate is ideal for the longhaul bikepacking trips. Its Lefty 'Oliver' fork delivers 30mm of bob-free travel and pinpoint handling. It’s the most capable front suspension system on the road. Just be sure to get a handlebar bag that'll fit!

To add to the comfort, dramatically shaped seat stays and chain stays flex to absorb shock and vibration for comfort and control, while the Syntace 142 x 12 bolt-thru rear axle increase lateral stiffness, strength and durability. However it's the wheels that are the main talking point about the Slate. The 650Bx42c wheel/tyre combo offer the same outer diameter as a 700x23c, delivering the full-on speed and snappy handling of a road bike, but with the unreal cornering grip and float of big tires.

Was £2999.99

Now Only £1999.99

33% OFF

Save Over £999.00


Dawes 3IMA Titanium

Dawes 3IMA Titanium- SIZE 53CM AVAILABLE

The ultimate weather-proof-warrior! The brand new Dawes 3IMA Titanium offers great versatility, with it’s ultra lightweight 3AL/2.5V Titanium frame, full Shimano Ultegra 22spd groupset, you get a nimble tarmac racer, but with the addition of SKS Chromoplastic mudguards, Schwalbe Durano tyres with ‘Raceguard’ and Shimano BR-785 hydraulic disc brakes, this ultimate machine will also see you through the wettest of British winters!

Lightweight tourer, year-round Roadie or sleek commuter... you decide! The Dawes 3IMA really is the ultimate all rounder. The term Gravel-Bike is being used more and more recently, and this bike falls neatly within that category. Combining a lightweight titanium frame, Ultegra groupset, bomb-proof Shimano wheels and Shimano hydraulic brakes. This bike will fly up hills, then float down them with ease.

Was £2999.00

Now Only £1999.00

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Save £1000.00


Dawes 3ima Coureur

Dawes 3IMA Coureur - 2016

The Dawes 3IMA Coureur is designed to be an all year round mile cruncher. Competitively priced and within the CycleScheme limit, the Coureur takes qualities from both Road and Touring bikes, producing a fast tourer, capable of covering serious distance and starting all over again the next day. Ideal for 'credit card touring', bikepacking, commuters or winter training.

Specced with a double butted aluminium frame, carbon fibre fork, Alex rims and Shimano's Tiagra 10 speed groupset, complete with compact crankset and an 11-32 cassette, the 3IMA Coureur is built to make your day in the saddle as easy and comfortable as possible. Rarely will you run out of gears on the climbs, yet you'll find it easier to hold that extra 1 or 2mph over your long distance rides.

The ideal bicycle for someone looking for a durable endurance road bike that will offer effortless climbing and confident descending, all while carrying your touring gear!

Was £1099.00

Now Only £699.00

Over 35% OFF

Save £400.00


Dawes 3ima Scion

Dawes 3IMA Scion - 2016

The Dawes 3IMA Scion is big brother to the Coureur model and steps it up a gear in terms of componentry. Based around the same quality frame and fork platform, the Scion gets treated to 22spd Shimano 105 gearing, hydraulic disc brakes and a good helping of Ritchey branded finishing kit. It’s an excellent partner on long jaunts when you don’t want to hang about, allowing you to cover some serious mileage day after day.

Specced with the same double butted aluminium frame, carbon fibre fork and Alex rims as the Coureur; both bikes are designed with the same goals in mind. The Scion's spec improvements will improve the bike's handling, as well as bring the weight down to further increase the performance.

The ideal bicycle for someone looking for a low maintenance, super durable endurance road bike that will offer effortless climbing and confident descending, all while carrying your touring gear! Great for your next cycle touring holiday or bikepacking trip!

Was £1499.99

Now Only £1099.00

Over 27% OFF

Save Over £400.00


Dawes 3ima Sentir Titanium

Dawes 3IMA Sentir Titanium - 2016

If you want the best spec at a superb price, look no further! The new Titanium Dawes 3IMA Sentir is designed to last the test of time, completing long distance rides over and over. Constructed using a top quality Titanium DI2 ready frame, and performance proven carbon blade forks, you’d be forgiven for overlooking the plethera of top notch components that also comes as standard. Using a Shimano Ultegra 6800 drivetrain, Shimano ST-RS785 flat mount hydraulic disc brakes, Ritchey alloy finishing kit, SKS mudguards and Schwalbe tyres on the ever durable Shimano WH-RX31 wheelset. At 10.2kg all in, the 3IMA Sentir is a serious contender when advendure, bikepacking or groading is on the agenda - finished off perfectly with a beautifully engraved head badge.

When looking for a long-distance bike that can handle a bit of the rough stuff, a titanium frame has to be the perfect starting point, add to that the proven durability of the lightweight Ultegra groupset and the flat mount RS785 hydraulic brakes, you've got yourself an adventure bike that will turn heads everywhere you go! You can be sure that the Dawes 3IMA Sentir is the perfect combination of high spec, affordability, and future-proof design.

Was £2999.99

Now Only £2299.00

Over 23% OFF

Save Over £700.00


Specialized Diverge Comp

Specialized Diverge Comp

The Diverge Comp has been designed from the bottom-up to be a fully-fledged exploration machine. But now, it's also equally adept at crushing dirt climbs as it is to cruising to the coffee shop or hopping into a local group ride. And while it might sound cliché in a landscape of bike claims chocked full with hyperbole, the Diverge Comp truly is one bike that does it all.

With a completely redesigned frame, the new Diverge is more capable than ever. And with the constant goal to best meet your needs, Specialized took your number one request into account—tire clearance. The new frame will comfortably fit up to 700x42mm tires with plenty of room for mud, too. Along with tire clearance, weight was a large factor in the development, and taking some design cues from the development of the Roubaix, they developed a FACT 9r carbon frame that’s one of the lightest in the category.

Next up, they moved away from a traditional ‘cross geometry, instead opting for something that hasn’t been seen before—Open Road Geometry. We know what you’re thinking, “it’s just another marketing term,” but for the Diverge, Specialized truly did develop an entirely new geometry. With a touch less hyperbole, you can think of it as a road version of modern trail bike geometry. It provides playful handling and predictable steering for endless dirt skids and mid-corner drifts. The geo features a bottom bracket that's over a half-centimetre lower than the previous Diverge, a slacked-out head tube angle, short chainstays, and a short wheelbase. These changes make for a bike that's not only fun in the dirt, but also performs well on the road.

And while riding gravel and dirt roads on a road bike may add to the adventure, there’s only so much that wider tires with lower pressures can absorb in terms of bumps. With this in mind, they implemented a new version of our Future Shock into the Diverge design. It not only soaks up bumps with ease, but also adds the benefit of extremely predictable handling. That's because the wheelbase isn’t lengthening when you hit a bump, so the front end of the Diverge keeps the same effective head tube angle. In other words, when you dive hard into a turn, you won’t be surprised by under steer or sloppy handling. Unlike the original Future Shock, the Diverge's version features a progressive spring that makes this technology more suitable for off-road applications, where stiffer suspension is often needed to soak-up larger bumps and obstacles.

Adding to its multifaceted talents, they topped it off with three water bottle mounts, plus mounts for racks and fenders. So while it’s one of the most smile-inducing bikes you’ll ever shred fire roads on, it’s equally adept at bike packing, commuting, or even a spin to your local brewery.

The Diverge Comp is spec’d to keep you shifting crisply and braking smoothly mile after mile, with a Shimano 105 groupset, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, and an tough Axis Elite wheelset.

The FACT 9r carbon frame features our adventure-bound Open Road Geometry, Future Shock suspension with 20mm of travel, and front/rear thru-axles, making it the ultimate tool for your next adventure.

The lightweight FACT carbon fork is plenty stiff, aiding in handling, rigidity, and an overall light weight.

The fast-rolling, 2Bliss Ready Trigger Pro tires are perfect for adventure. The fast-rolling centre keeps resistance low on the road, while the shoulder knobs dig into corners in the dirt. And with this 2Bliss Ready design, you're able to run lower pressures for more grip & traction, while all but eliminating the risk of pinch flats.

Only £2600.00


Bikepacking Bike FAQ's

What material should I choose for the frame?

This is dependent on a few factors: budget, preference, and to a certain extent - where you're going.

There are four common materials used to build road bikes: steel, aluminium, titanium and carbon fibre and the material can influence the ride and purpose of the bike, so it's good to know the key differences before you make a decision.It's worth bearing in mind that if you're heading to the remote corners of the globe, you're less likely to find a carbon fibre repair specialist than you are to find someone who can weld steel.

Aluminium is the most common material, it's stiff, it's light, and it's easy to work with, meaning it's generally quite affordable. They do have a (perhaps unfair) reputation for providing a harsh and uncomfortable ride, but more modern, well manufactured frames utilize aluminium's strengths to offer both stiffness and compliance where needed, to offer a stiff yet incredibly comfortable ride. While aluminium might commonly be found at the entry-level end of the market, there are plenty of premium options so don't turn your nose up just yet. Just take a look at the super light Trek Emonda ALR or the new Specialized Allez as examples of the potential for high-end performance aluminium. You could say aluminium is back on cycling's radar, as manufacturers continue to develop what's possible, releasing impressively lightweight frames. You can now get a lot of performance and equipment for your money.

Steel always used to be the only frame material choice, until lighter, stiffer options became available. Steel does still have it's place in today's cycling marketplace though, not much can compete when it comes to the smooth ride it offers. It is often favoured by touring cyclists who favour comfort and don't mind a bit of extra weight. The additional fact that it is easy to work with has made steel the material of choice for the many a bespoke frame builder. If you want a customised frame, steel is a good option. Afterall, they do say Steel Is Real.

Titanium is sought after by those looking for superb ride quality, without the additional weight penalty and potential for rust. A Titanium frame should last a lifetime, helping to offset the high price tag the material can command. It’s often reserved for the year-round bikes, bikes designed to promote comfort for long distance cycling with or without luggage.

Finally, carbon fibre has worked its way to the top of most cyclists' wish lists. It’s the go-to material in the pro peloton, manufactured well, it can be incredibly stiff and feather-light, but it can also be the most expensive. Carbon Fibre is a very flexible material, offering manufacturers the freedom to curate the most tube shapes in a bid to create the lightest, most aerodynamic, most comfortable frame possible. Carbon fibre frames aren't all equal, though. There's a huge difference between cheap and expensive carbon fibre, the type of fibres used, how it's manufactured, quality control and other important factors all make a big impact. A good aluminium frame will be better than a bad carbon fibre frame.

It's also worth thinking about your cable routing: If you're going away for a long time, you may need to repair / replace your brake and gear cables. External routed cables will make this job much easier, but you'll need to be careful they're not in contact with your bags.

What type of brakes should I have?

Rim, cantilever or disc? Hydraulic or mechanical? Well, this depends where you're going, and for how long.

Hydraulic disc brakes are a vast improvement over mechanical when it comes to maintenance, but if you catch a hose on a tree and your hydraulic fluid is spilled, you could find yourself descending a mountain with no back brake. Of course, you can calculate the risk of this actually happening! The simplicity of cantilever and/or rim brakes is certainly worth bearing in mind, but the performance of disc brakes might just keep your underwear clean when you're approaching a -7% hairpin in the wet!

What size wheels and tyres?

This one's pretty simple: If you're planning on staying on the tarmac, go for a 700c wheel with as big a tyre as you can fit.

If you're going down the gravel road, some bikes (The Specialized Diverge, for example) can interchange 700C for 650B with a bigger tyre (this will require disc brakes!).

What gearing?

This one depends on your terrain. The more hills, the easier gears you'll need. For the Rapha Transcontinental, 2017 winner James Hayden went with a 48/34 chainset with an 11-32 cassette. If you're a strong cyclist, this should get you and your road bike up most hills. If not, go for something easier. There's no single answer for everyone. This is probably best decided in a conversation with us directly, feel free to get in contact and we'll happily help.

Do I want mudguards?

If it rains, you're getting wet - there's no getting around that. However, where mudguards come in handy is protecting your backside and your feet from being hosed in water spraying from your wheels. Especially useful once the rain has stopped but the road is still wet. If you don't expect much rain and don't care if it happens occasionally, then skip the mudguards. If you don't want cold wet feet and a damp rear, you know what to do.

Do you need lights?

Yes. If you're riding at night, you need lights. If you're concerned about being caught out by dwindling daylight, you need some back up lights at the very least. The cycling industry is leaning towards 'daytime running lights'; this suggests running a flashing light at all hours of the day. You may also need a dynamo based charging system if you're camping without electricity.

There are a huge amount of questions that you may come across, if you have any more that you want to be answered, please email us!

If you're still unsure and have any questions. you can contact us, or call us on 01363 460360 and one of our knowlegable, friendly experts will be happy to help.