Cycling on ice can be hazardous or fatal! These ideas are presented entirely at your own risk and expense.
The Nordic ice skating community has developed specific tools for assessing ice thickness. Luc Mehl’s Wild Ice course (highly recommended) was the catalyst for this little project. This blog post is a DIY adaptation of an ice probe sized for carrying on and deployment from a fat bike; without interfering with other gear typically carried for winter camping. While this probe has so-far only had a few trips I’m very impressed with the timeliness and accuracy of the information it can provide.
The primary components of the ice probe are a shortened segment of aluminum Nordic ski pole, and a length of steel rod. Combined the weight is around 500 grams. Given the anticipated harsh service I opted for creating a single pole that does not extend or retract. The potential for unwanted corrosion of dissimilar metals is minimized (perhaps eliminated) by the separation of aluminum and steel with self-fusing heat shrink tubing around the steel rod. The steel rod is then driven inside the segment of ski pole.
After more than half a year and several thousand kilometres of backcountry riding (sans chamois) it’s time to report an initial impression. The Seymour is by-far the most comfortable saddle I’ve ever ridden!!!
In early 2022 Ryan Draper founder of Cycling 101 contacted me about a new saddle that he felt might be suitable for my riding style of predominantly backcountry bikepacking, year-round in the Canadian Rockies.
Ryan and I found a time where he could do a saddle-fit on my RollingDale Ti 29’er hardtail in a Wahoo trainer. The molding took about 30 minutes, closely following the excellent directions included with the saddle. On the trainer the Seymour is merely very comfortable … in the real world the exceptional design and construction start to manifest themselves. The saddle shell is forgiving, firm, supportive, and appropriately “grippy”. There is noticable compliance in the one-piece carbon fibre frame and rails.
After a few days of trail riding I knew that the fatbike also needed a new Seymour saddle. I swapped the original saddle to the fatbike and got a second Seymour from Ryan for the 29’er.
At this point, March 2022, I decided to ride on the second saddle without molding it first…
During a bikepacking race in 2017 I developed severe saddle sores that required medical intervention after I completed the race. Since that time I’ve had numbness and varying levels of discomfort with every saddle, until the Seymour.
… After riding about 300 km on the un-molded Seymour saddle all of my usual undercarriage symptoms were evident again.
I’d purchased one $50 molding power supply with the first saddle and used it to mold the second Seymour saddle on my trainer. Within a couple of days of backcountry riding the 29’er with the freshly molded saddle my symptoms had disappeared again, and have not returned on any subsequent rides! After molding, both saddles have subtle asymmetrical characteristics, which I believe helps provide the extraordinary comfort. This comfort is particularly evident on longer rides (>100km) when I don’t have the sub-concisous need to lift myself off the saddle. Other riders report similar experiences during big rides.
During the 2022 Buckshot (a May-long bikepacking race) I had the privilege of riding briefly with George Bailey of Vancouver BC Landyachtz, which are the creators of Reform Saddles. These folks are doing innovative work that’s worth following, and perhaps purchasing! Any products that we choose to review are purchased by us at retail prices.
Bikepackers Foundry creates original designs and produces durable field-tested ultralight bikepacking gear. All products are hand-made in Western Canada.
For reference I’ve been primarily riding on the excellent Specialized Power Pro Elaston (carbon fibre shell with titanium rails) for the past 20,000 km or so.
Here’s a link to a podcast about how products and DIY ideas emerge from the Bikepackers Foundry. Grateful that Sarah Hornby of Bikepack Canada and Steve O’Shaughnessy of MyBack40podast found this topic of interest to the community.
As one of the most requested guests for the Podcast, many of you already know who this man is. For those of you who don’t, say hello to Guy Stuart. Guy has been in the Bikepacking scene for the last handful of years and has made his presence known by participating in any event he can get his wheels into. Guy is also a passionate DIY sempster (tailor, sewer) and has manufactured most of his own luggage. In this episode, Guy discusses his passion for cycling and his analytical approach to the design and fabrication of his pieces.
This DIY concept is a simple cutting and sewing project to extend the functionality of a tent. A vestibule footprint can block mud and debris from entering the tent and also provides a larger barrier for moisture migrating from the ground and condensing on the inside of the tent fly. Any piece of coated fabric will work. In this example a piece of coated ripstop nylon was used. The total weight addition is 30 grams.
Design considerations: a. Size the vestibule footprint smaller than the fly to prevent water from pooling on the footprint. b. Fold and sew edges to minimize water and debris accumulations. c. Add a length of elastic cord to hold the footprint in tension.
Spring 2020 – The purpose of this post is to give folks ideas about an approach to develop DIY gear for bikepacking and possibly bikerafting. Looking critically at all possible storage areas of my bikes led me to seriously examine the role that panniers could play in extending distances and multi-sport travel,*aka bikerafting. What problems might be solved by panniers that can be adjusted during the journey? Thinking ahead to possible outcomes when Covid-19 controls are reduced results in evaluating the prospect of needing to carry all or most supplies over bikepacking trips of several weeks. Ideally this could be achieved without using a backpack. Can on-bike storage be reconfigured to meet changing needs of food and bikerafting realities? These were some of the disparate thoughts rattling around as I considered prototyping more storage options for extended completely unsupported bikepacking trips.
From these ideas emerged some usage criteria: no unnecessary weight, quickly flexible, integrated with existing gear and systems, durable and without dangles, hikeabikeable, complementary to packrafting, function over form.
I then moved on to considering what gear and food might fit into different storage locations on the bike and packraft. While thinking about how this might work on a trip, the idea of significant volume flexibility emerged.
The main integration items are drybags, compression drybags, and food packaged in ziplock bags, ultralight backpack. For bikerafting the items are PFD, cold water immersion gear, inflation and repair supplies, miscellaneous packraft components. For a fairly minimalist bikepacker the list got long very quickly …
Typical 20 litre drybags* seemed like a good organizational size to start working from. This resulted in rough bag dimensions of 4 inches deep, 10 inches wide, and about 24 inches tall when open. Other integration checks included 5 and 8 litre compression drybags, ziplocks full of food, PFD, full packraft kit (raft and 4-piece paddle are carried on the handlebars). * The Sea to Summit Ultralight Drybag Backpack (a favorite of mine) is also approximately this size.
The combination of usage criteria and volume flexibility results in the Mega to Mini panniers prototype. A maximum closed volume, 4 folds, of about 18 litres with a minimum volume of <5 litres when fully compressed. When empty, each pannier is flat with no protrusions.
This is a very simple method of securing a hip pack to a Jones H Loop handlebar. The attachment method works with many styles of bags simply by attaching a loop near the bottom to hold the bag in place within the H-Loop. At 240 grams this 4 litre rolltop drybag is not ultra light, however it is extremely durable. Newer models are available that weigh 180 grams. The only modification required is to push a knotted loop of paracord through the drain hole of the zippered pocket, a bead or ring to prevent the cord from sliding out is optional. The mounted bag pictured below contains a down jacket and vest, cache battery and cables, and an InReach. The bag also works well as a deckbag when bikerafting.
Valhalla Pure Outfitters carries these Seal-Line Hip Pack bags for less than $65 Cdn. The weight can be reduced by replacing the heavy 25mm (1 inch) waist belt with a lighter grade of webbing and buckle set. This change dropped the weight of the red bag to 180 grams.
Adding an accessory pocket
The red bag has a patch of industrial Hook Velcro attached to the outside of the pocket. It was placed and clamped overnight for the adhesive backing to fully adhere. This patch becomes the platform to attach other items such as an electronics case. The image above has a couple of examples of utilizing different Handy Andy cases for holding devices and securing a cache battery to the Loop Velcro inside the case.