This post outlines setting up a full-suspension dropper post trail bike for multi-day unsupported bikepacking. Without a backpack! The Bikepackers Foundry products that enable this are the SeatBag (1), FenderBag (2), BotttleCradle (3), and a pair of StraddleBags and two XL StraddleBags. Up front the DIY Jones H-Loop harness and V4 custom drybag (5) complete the ultralight luggage system. The dropper post is in it’s lowest position. Despite the look of the picture there is adequate clearance for fork travel.
Appropriate weight distribution is critical for the reduction of fatigue and repetitive injuries. This packing system has been designed to centralize mass with lighter and bulky items in the handlebar roll and SeatBag. As pictured the bike and all gear described below weigh 23 kilos (51.5 pounds), which is evenly split between bike and gear. The upper limit on weight attached to the seat is about 1.5 kilos (3.4 pounds), the handlebar bag and lighting weigh 3.6 kilos (8.1 pounds). When 3 litres of water are being carried in the BottleCradle and framebag , the SeatBag has 10% of the weight, the handlebars 25% and the frame carries 65% of the load. Most food is carried in the handlebar roll which gets progressively lighter and more compact during the trip. The total weight of all the luggage components and straps is about 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) these weights have been included in all totals. With the exception of the framebag there is significant unutilized storage capacity. The SeatBag, FenderBag, and handlebar roll each take less than one minute to remove from the bicycle. All have been designed to be packed prior to attachment to the bike. This method greatly reduces packing and unpacking time and effort.
Full-zip rain pants, eVent hard shell, Gore-Tex shoe covers, Gore-Tex over mitts, spare gloves, ultralight dry-bag backpack (1 of 2), hooded Evertherm down jacket, SeatBag and straps. Total weight ~ 1.5 kilos. The bag loads quickly and easily off the bike. The contents are then compressed using the roll-top closure. Further compression occurs after the bag is strapped to the seat.
The bike is a 2012 Scott Spark Pro 29’er with 100 mm travel front and rear. The three-position remote suspension and controls are superb!!! There are a few aftermarket upgrades including We Are One Agent enduro rims (game-changer), Shimano 2 x11 drivetrain, SLX brakes, PNW Cascade dropper post, OneUp flats, and Jones H-Loop carbon handlebar. Tires are currently Specialized Ground Control GRID set up with Finish Line tubeless sealant.
Navigation is with a Wahoo Elemnt Bolt, DeLorme InReach, and Ride with GPS on an Android phone. All charging is from cache batteries. Typically done with 10,000 and/or 26,800 mAh RAV Power Delivery units. Lighting is a handlebar mounted LED, with a helmet-mounted headlamp, rear red blinking lights are on the helmet and left seat stay. All electronics recharge via USB.
The rider is north of 60 and requires good bike-fit, quality sleep and fueling for sustained and enjoyable riding. This entire set-up has been screened, developed and field-tested against those criteria. Injuries and reconstructive surgeries have resulted in strong biases to minimize handlebar loading and develop systems to migrate mass onto the frame.
Tools and spares are an eclectic mix of standard, custom, and adjusted based on route and expected conditions. EDC includes, Leatherman PS4 with the pliers adjusted for Quick Links, Park Tool MT-1, Leyzne HP micro floor pump with mechanical gauge (this pump does double-duty as an on-trail shock pump), one or two Tubolito S tubes and patches, 1 or 2 pairs of brake pads, derailleur hanger, shifter cable (1 or 2), custom handlebar mounted tool and tire repair rolls, 3-4 types of high-quality tape wrapped around pump barrel, Park tire levers, zip-ties, Ti wire.
The luggage has evolved over the kilometres to become mostly DIY custom bags augmented with high-quality dry bags from PR, Salsa, Sea to Summit, Outdoor Research, etc. The switch to a dropper-post in 2019 led to the elimination of the absolutely fantastic PR Mr. Fusion seat bag from the mix, and the development of the Bikepackers Foundry SeatBag. After spending too much time and energy on bikepacking-tetris the thinking has shifted to employing integrated systems. These systems must maximize utility, packing efficiency, volumetric flexibility, and overall usefulness… particularly while packing up at 3 or 4 am on day X…