Full suspension trail bike loaded for bikepacking

Full-suspension bikepacking

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 four StraddleBags (4)*. 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. * two regular Straddlebags and two XL straddlebags. Contact Sara for pre-orders of the SeatBag and XL’s.

Full suspension trail bike loaded for bikepacking
Loaded up for a two night, three day unsupported trip. With the remote suspension controls tire clearances in chunky-bits can be readily managed.

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.

Contents of SeatBag
While not the lightest, these pieces have been selected for excellent sustained performance in a wide range of summer alpine riding and bike-pushing conditions.

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.

Top view of SeatBag
SeatBag loaded and installed under the seat. The combination of the internal bag structure and three straps yield an extremely stable mount. Contents placed near the roll-top closure can be accessed without removing the bag. The Ergon saddle has allowed me to stop riding with a chamois. Thanks to Miles Arbour of Bikepacking.com for the saddle review that led to this purchase.
Frame bag contents – two litre MSR water bladder, Lezyne HP pump used for tires and suspension adjustments; Tubolito tube; the white box contains brake pads, hanger, chain tool and links, glue, patches, spare cables; tire lever; sealant; chain lube. The 600 ml titanium pot holds a gas canister, stove, lighter and folding spork. The stove system with a full fuel canister weighs ~400 grams. The same pot and an alcohol burner are used for longer unsupported trips. The stove system can also be loaded into the bottom of the FenderBag. The two blue items in the upper right are hidden tool rolls that fit in each end of the handlebar.
Prototype #4 custom highly water resistant handlebar bag that is 43″ long open. Weight 120 grams. Second pair of gloves, riding vest, Vesper down quilt, spare OR sun hoody, Sea to Summit pump bag, OR down beanie, spare compression socks, spare Icebreaker merino boxers, Sea to Summit pillow, Sea to Summit ultralight drybag backpack (2 of 2). Both backpacks can be used front and back if the bike needs to be lightened up for carrying or steep pushing.
First Aid kit with emergency blanket; medicinal flask 🙂 ; dehydrated food packages; coffee, tea, and water purification tablets; toiletries; drybag for carrying and bear-hang. The small red rectangle on the yellow drybag is a custom bear-hang kit with 20 metres of paracord on a spool , and some “bits”. The small red bag also holds a few rocks for heaving the line over tree branches.
Sleep system, spare clothes, and food loaded into handlebar roll and strapped into harness.
This is an alternate loading of the StraddleBags. All of the contents listed above plus the addition of two standard water bottles. The cache battery has been turned to allow access to the ports for charging while riding and powering the primary LED headlamp. The tether on the InReach has been looped through the front left Straddlebag catch cord for secondary device security.
View from the cockpit. The lights are mounted using a DIY interlocking Velcro system that is readily adjustable, lightweight and extremely stable. The crossed elastic cords in the centre of the H-Loop are part of a 2 metre (6.5 foot) loop that stores in a pocket in the harness. A favorite use of this strap is to secure the tent on top of the loop and add Nalgene water bottles to the FenderBag.

Background:

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!!! The bike has seen over 30,000 km of bikepacking.  There are a few aftermarket upgrades including We Are One  Agent enduro rims (game-changer), Shimano 2 x11 drivetrain (meh), 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…

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