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is 50 pounds a normal load for touring?

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is 50 pounds a normal load for touring?

Old 09-17-14, 08:15 PM
  #1  
alaskadude
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is 50 pounds a normal load for touring?

I am going on my first bike tour. It will be in Asia (Nepal, maybe India) I have been to this area many times, but this is the first time on a bike.
I have read many sites, and pared my gear down as much as possible. I think when I am done, it will weigh about 50 pounds. This seems like a lot to me, but it seems to ride OK around home. I also cant see too much that I packed that I can get by without on a 4 or 5 month trip. I am not taking anything I can buy along the way.
That 50 pounds includes the weight of the panniers, a waterproof duffel where the tent, sleeping bag, and some clothes will go. Anyway, all that stuff, including the weight of the dry bag and 4 panniers, comes to about 50 pounds. This does not include the weight of water and food. These will vary as to the part of my trip I am on. In much of Asia there is cheap food and accomodation. I have considered not taking the tent, but there will probably be situations where I will need to 'stealth-camp'.
The bike is a Surly LHT with S&S couplers, so that will be one bag. The dry bag holds all the panniers, and all the gear. So therefore I have only two bags. One of the Ortlieb bags will be my carry-on.
I am 6'2" and weigh weigh 250 pounds--
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Old 09-17-14, 09:14 PM
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Many people carry 50lbs of gear....some more, but people also carry 30lbs, 20lbs or less. It's a very personal thing and also depends on where you'll be touring.
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Old 09-18-14, 01:59 AM
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Personally, I like when my bicycle + gear weigh less than half my body weight. YMMV.

But I would advise loading up with everything you want to take ... and going for a long weekend or week-long tour in similar terrain to what you will be riding. Find out for yourself whether 50 lbs of gear works for you or not.
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Old 09-18-14, 03:50 AM
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I've no experience with S&S couplers, but is there a limit to what they can bear? Similarly some rims have a recommended maximum weight. How many spokes?

When I weighed 150 lbs, I went cross country with about forty pounds of gear.

Ian Hibble was a great touring cyclist; if you look up some pictures of him and his bike, it looks as if he is carrying a lot more than fifty pounds.
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Old 09-18-14, 04:41 AM
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50 pounds is definitely on the heavy side. Lots of folks carry more though, so it isn't all that unusual. On the other hand getting below 20 pounds and still maintaining comfort and camping and cooking capability isn't that hard, so if you want to, you can definitely trim that quite a bit. The question is do you really want to? The fact that it is a 4 or 5 month trip has little impact on how much you need to carry IMO.

Not knowing what is on your gear list I can't make any specific recommendations.
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Old 09-18-14, 05:30 AM
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It's pretty normal. But as noted above, there's plenty of opportunity to go lighter if you want.

Consider a heavy-duty plastic bag like a trash compactor bag instead of a water-proof duffel. Line one pack with it and put your critical insulation in it. The tent can get wet, or at least I hope so. That could save pounds.

One suggestion for weight management is to pick up a good digital scale and weigh everything. Even those extra pairs of briefs that "weigh nothing" come in at 4 oz each, maybe more for a bigger guy. The typical packing list contains about 60 items. Lose an ounce off of each item and that's nearly 4 pounds.

Another suggestion is clothing--you should be able to wear everything at once as a coordinated layering system. Extra clothing is often a huge mass and volume, requiring larger packs and more waterproofing.

Good luck and have a great trip.
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Old 09-18-14, 06:36 AM
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50lbs is a lot. So if you have time reconsider your gear. I've always been happy I've left stuff at home and rarely wished I was carrying more.

Keep in mind you will be somewhere that sells stuff. So If you really need something you can buy it there.It may not be exactly what you would bring from home, but that may mean leaving 10-15 things at home and having to buy 1 or 2 on the road.

I saw your loaded bike over on MTBR and it looked pretty weighed down.

Like Nun says - gear ends up being a personal thing so it comes down to what you need/want to be happy.

If you want to cut back, but are having some trouble one way I've found that helps is to reduce the number of bags on your bike. Get rid of the front rack and panniers. Try and get everything in the rear and see what doesn't fit. It will force you to prioritize.
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Old 09-18-14, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
Another suggestion is clothing--you should be able to wear everything at once as a coordinated layering system. Extra clothing is often a huge mass and volume, requiring larger packs and more waterproofing.
I'm not sure I agree with this if you are going to have off the bike days, which I assume is the case with a 4 month trip. IE, you will want (or at least I want) clean(er), dressier clothes for wandering around town, perhaps occasionally eating at a bit nicer of an establishment, etc. That said, try not to carry multiples of the same thing. For me, the exception is bike shorts, socks and a jersey since I wear them daily. You can wash one and have it dry on your bike rack while wearing the other. Your "daily" clothes may look different, but you get the point.

Have a great trip!
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Old 09-18-14, 07:49 AM
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Someting to consider is that "weight" is not - or should not be (IMHO) - a "be all and end all" consideration. Equipment functionality & durability are at least as important considerations as weight is for me. I don't want to have to be repairing, purchasing and/or re-purchasing a tent or a tarp because I went with material that was too thin to handle day after day use, for instance. Thin material requires more care than thicker material and generally doesn't last as long, even with care - at least not in my experience. (Lesson learned the hard way as a backpacker.)

Otoh, multi-use items can help keep weight down. For example, some people swear by "sporks" while the few extra ounces involved in carrying both a spoon and a fork are worth it to me. You won't catch me dead with a spork - well, maybe then.

50 pounds all up without food or water was VERY common from the mid-60s thru the mid-90s. Better/lighter materials and more books&publications showing how to do more with less on hiking, backpacking and bike touring trips may have lowered the average loads carried by some people since then. But few of these articles/publications really distinguish between global and US trans-continental weight loads - that is, they don't say things like, expect to be able to buy this for this trip and not have to carry that for that trip. At least, very few of the books, articles and pubs make such comparisons very clearly.

FWIW, I'm in the midst of planning a 9month to 1 year partial perimeter ride of the US and expect that my all-up weight w/o food&water will likely be in the 35-45 pound range. At least 10lbs of that is pannier/bag weight which I'm sure causes people like Pete Staehling (sp?) to choke as he reads that. But my choice of bags fits my organizational style, so it works for me and I don't expect to regret it (except on super-long or super-steep hills on days even dogs search for shade rather than chase me/bikes).

YMMV.

Added: BTW, I have nothing but respect for Pete and his method of "going lightweight". It's just a different perspective than mine.

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Old 09-18-14, 08:02 AM
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Are you normal? 5 bags averaging 10 each seems .. you know ...
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Old 09-18-14, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by alaskadude View Post
I am going on my first bike tour.
Before you head over there, go on some shorter tours. Start with an overnight out-and-back, then try another one in the 4-10 day range. In my experience, a tour of 4 or 5 days requires about the same amount of gear as a multi-month tour. Experience will probably show that there are at least a few things on your packing list that you don't need; that was definitely the case for me. On my last tour (3 weeks in the Rockies, including a good deal of hiking), my gear weighed slightly less than what I used on my first tour (8 days around the Olympic Peninsula), even with carrying hiking boots, a small backpack, and some other hiking-specific gear.

If you do want good "off-bike" clothes, I've used REI travel shirts and zip-off pants. Depending on how much you like padded bike shorts, they also work pretty well as on-bike clothes. They're not cheap, but they are comfortable, durable, synthetic (i.e. they keep you warm even when they're wet and dry quickly), and they look normal-ish.
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Old 09-18-14, 09:59 AM
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Personally you sound pretty heavy. Do you mind posting a list or at least some photos of the gear you are bringing? Would be a big help for us to help you out.

Consider reducing the amount of gear your carrying to a point where your not using front panniers and the associated racks. That alone can save you 5 to 6 pounds. Use water bottle cages and plastic bottles to put smaller, heavier items inside, like spare parts.

As the poster above said, invest in clothing that can be worn on and off bike. For example a neutral colour merino wool shirt works great in cooler temps and looks totally fine off bike. You also don't need to carry massive quantities of underwear, socks and such. If you can only wear one pair of underwear at a time, why carry two pairs? Go commando when washing. Also your likely going to be staying in a lot of cheap hotels in Nepal, so you can regularly wash your clothing i.e. nightly wash your cycling clothing in the sink. That way you don't bother carry multiples of those items.

Last edited by SparkyGA; 09-18-14 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 09-18-14, 10:58 AM
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Lots of good answers. I think I am on the right track. I have done lots and lots of camping, and know what gear I need. The heavy rubber bag has a double purpose: I can pack all my gear in it for airplane travel, or even if I take a bus for parts of the journey. Then while touring it carries the tent and sleeping bag. If I just use a huge plastic bag, I will still need something to carry it all in.
All my stuff is from second hand stores, and tools are off ebay, and so if I need to get rid of stuff, I can just give it away.
The people in Asia are quite small, and the clothing available does not fit me, and is also of very poor quality and falls apart in a few days. Therefore I must carry all my clothes that I will need for 6 months. The trip is 6 months, but I imagine Ill bike tour about 4, or 5.
There are no real bike shops--so I have to carry enough tools and spare parts to keep myself going.
Im not trying to set speed records, I was just concerned if the bike can handle the weight. (S&S couplers are stronger than the original frame. Im pretty impressed with them so far. strong!). Im concerned about wheel bearings and whatnot that might be stressed with all that weight.
I am also not too fanatical about riding the entire distance. If I come to a mountain range, Ill put the bike on the roof of the next passing bus, and ride over to where the pedaling is easy.
I traveled on the roof of the bus for the last 30 years. I have been to this part of Asia 23 winters (Escape the cold winters in Alaska)And so the journey wont be too much different, Ill just have a bike with me.
I looked at pics of other 'expedition' travelers, and my packs look about the same size. Also, at my age (56) I like a few creature comforts I would have lived without a few decades ago.
Like I said, Im not trying to set any speed records. My first goal is to travel like 20 or 30 miles a day. Ive been doing that commuting to work the last few summers, with about half the weight. I carry 25 pounds to work with me.
Anyway, I think the 50 pound packs will be OK, it just surprised me when I saw it all on the bike at the same time.
I have the same gear every list on the internet suggests. nothing out of the ordinary, and actually rather spartan. I considered not taking camping stuff-just stay in cheap hotels-but many of the bike tourists I talked to in Asia carry camping gear-- Even in civilized places like Thailand.
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Old 09-18-14, 01:14 PM
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My experience is that once you have enough gear to sustain you for two weeks, you have enough to sustain you for two months. Even after many years as a tourist, I still come home with items of clothing I haven't worn, because I have taken something just because I have the room for it. On a two-month tour I was more than fully equipped with about 40lbs of gear including food and water.
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Old 09-18-14, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by alaskadude View Post
I am also not too fanatical about riding the entire distance. If I come to a mountain range, Ill put the bike on the roof of the next passing bus, and ride over to where the pedaling is easy.
I traveled on the roof of the bus for the last 30 years. I have been to this part of Asia 23 winters (Escape the cold winters in Alaska)And so the journey wont be too much different, Ill just have a bike with me.
Not carrying too much weight helps you when riding and also when you go on public transport. If you have 4x panniers as baggage and a heavy touring bike it can be expensive and very inconvenient to put your bike on public transportation. When I tour I have a saddlebag and handlebar bag that I can easily carry onto a bus, train or plane. Here is my gear list so you can compare it with what you are taking. I have considered comfort as well as weight, eg I have a single walled tent rather than a tarp as I don't like being bitten by bugs at night. Google other lists and come up with something that suits your needs, but as some others have mentioned I have never regretted reducing my gear load as having only what I need makes cycling more fun and camping more efficient.

Lightweight Touring Gear List Redux. | The Wheels of Chance
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Old 09-18-14, 01:38 PM
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While doing the Oregon coast this summer we met a German couple, mid 50's maybe, going from Seattle to SF. He was carrying 88lbs including a large portion of his wife's gear as she was suffering some. His bike had dyno front hub and internal gear rear hub with lots of lights and phone attachments. We guessed his bike had to be close to 40lbs unloaded as well. We had our wives driving sag so had our lighter road bikes,about 28lbs with bar bag. We we're making considerably better time than them but they were getting down the road just the same. He's supposed to contribute his ride write-up to crazy guy on a bikes blog but haven't had a chance to check it out yet.
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Old 09-18-14, 01:56 PM
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My loads seem to be the same whether it is 3 weeks or 3 months. I just finished packing for a month-long tour that will include riding in the mountains as well as the hot California Central Valley. Because of the time of year and higher elevation camping, I am carrying right at 40 pounds of gear. We have more warm clothes, heavier sleeping bags, and full rain gear. I'm also carrying a small netbook for some work we need to do while on the road, and about 4 pounds of food. This is about 5 pounds heavier than my load for a summer tour.

I wouldn't say 50 pounds is normal (if there is such a thing as normal), but considering where you are headed, maybe 50 lbs is not bad if it meets your needs.

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Old 09-18-14, 06:06 PM
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Sounds like you know what you're doing. Second the suggestion to do a shakedown trip or two.

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Old 09-18-14, 10:15 PM
  #19  
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I would cut clothing in half, that is generally the most egregious weight taker. People like to take a lot of extra outfits when they can take two and wear one and wash one. However there could be other stuff taking up extra weight and I might do a shakedown trip as people have suggested. Though it very well could be where you are going that 50lbs is reasonable but I would try to cut down for your own sake.
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Old 09-18-14, 11:47 PM
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Originally Posted by alaskadude View Post
Lots of good answers. I think I am on the right track. I have done lots and lots of camping, and know what gear I need. The heavy rubber bag has a double purpose: I can pack all my gear in it for airplane travel, or even if I take a bus for parts of the journey. Then while touring it carries the tent and sleeping bag. If I just use a huge plastic bag, I will still need something to carry it all in.
All my stuff is from second hand stores, and tools are off ebay, and so if I need to get rid of stuff, I can just give it away.
The people in Asia are quite small, and the clothing available does not fit me, and is also of very poor quality and falls apart in a few days. Therefore I must carry all my clothes that I will need for 6 months. The trip is 6 months, but I imagine Ill bike tour about 4, or 5.
There are no real bike shops--so I have to carry enough tools and spare parts to keep myself going.
Im not trying to set speed records, I was just concerned if the bike can handle the weight. (S&S couplers are stronger than the original frame. Im pretty impressed with them so far. strong!). Im concerned about wheel bearings and whatnot that might be stressed with all that weight.
I am also not too fanatical about riding the entire distance. If I come to a mountain range, Ill put the bike on the roof of the next passing bus, and ride over to where the pedaling is easy.
I traveled on the roof of the bus for the last 30 years. I have been to this part of Asia 23 winters (Escape the cold winters in Alaska)And so the journey wont be too much different, Ill just have a bike with me.
I looked at pics of other 'expedition' travelers, and my packs look about the same size. Also, at my age (56) I like a few creature comforts I would have lived without a few decades ago.
Like I said, Im not trying to set any speed records. My first goal is to travel like 20 or 30 miles a day. Ive been doing that commuting to work the last few summers, with about half the weight. I carry 25 pounds to work with me.
Anyway, I think the 50 pound packs will be OK, it just surprised me when I saw it all on the bike at the same time.
I have the same gear every list on the internet suggests. nothing out of the ordinary, and actually rather spartan. I considered not taking camping stuff-just stay in cheap hotels-but many of the bike tourists I talked to in Asia carry camping gear-- Even in civilized places like Thailand.

If you're planning to go multi-mode, then here's my suggestion.

Go for a 4 day tour. Cycle in various terrain each day. Hopefully you'll have various weather. In the middle of each days' ride, get off the bicycle, remove the panniers and everything, and carry it all ... walking ... for about 100 metres. Can you do that comfortably without making several trips?

Can you pick up your loaded bicycle and walk about 50 steps with it?

If you're just planning to ride, that part isn't particularly important ... but if you're planning to load it onto busses or something along the way, lighter is better.

Also, what about the airline? Have you looked into their weight limits? Airlines are really tightening up these days. A common total limit is about 30kg for everything ... checked luggage + carry-on.


And really ... if you're not taking camping gear, what on earth are you taking to make up 50 lbs? Rowan and I travelled around the world for 8 months, and with the airline weight limits, I'm pretty sure we weren't up to 50 lbs of gear (not including the bicycles) each ... and Rowan had camping and cooking gear with him.
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Old 09-19-14, 10:48 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by SparkyGA View Post
Personally you sound pretty heavy. Do you mind posting a list or at least some photos of the gear you are bringing? Would be a big help for us to help you out.

Consider reducing the amount of gear your carrying to a point where your not using front panniers and the associated racks. That alone can save you 5 to 6 pounds. Use water bottle cages and plastic bottles to put smaller, heavier items inside, like spare parts.

As the poster above said, invest in clothing that can be worn on and off bike. For example a neutral colour merino wool shirt works great in cooler temps and looks totally fine off bike. You also don't need to carry massive quantities of underwear, socks and such. If you can only wear one pair of underwear at a time, why carry two pairs? Go commando when washing. Also your likely going to be staying in a lot of cheap hotels in Nepal, so you can regularly wash your clothing i.e. nightly wash your cycling clothing in the sink. That way you don't bother carry multiples of those items.
This is my bike with the ortlieb panniers. Also a pic of me with a donkey I bought to cross the Tibetan Plateau. The picture of the donkey is 25 years old, and I have been doing this kinda stuff the whole time. The bike pic is last weekend on a practice trip.
The donkey was carrying about 50 pounds, but that included food. I had no tent, and stayed with nomads.
The bike has about 50 pounds. I have a tent, and a Trangia Alcohol stove. I maybe have too many clothes. As stated, I can ditch them along the way--I buy all my gear second hand. All the gear on the donkey was also purchased second hand.
I still have time to reduce my gear. I work on it every day. I am still within airline regs. One nice part about the surly with S&S is that it fits as regular luggage. I havnt weighed it yet, but I think with the box about 30 pounds. Then the duffel with all my gear and panniers will have to be below 50 pounds in order to avoid excess charges.
I could skip the bike and get another donkey instead, but I sort of have my heart set on trying bicycle touring. It sounds like something I could do for the next few years, once I get the hang of it.
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Old 09-19-14, 11:36 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by nun View Post
Not carrying too much weight helps you when riding and also when you go on public transport. If you have 4x panniers as baggage and a heavy touring bike it can be expensive and very inconvenient to put your bike on public transportation. When I tour I have a saddlebag and handlebar bag that I can easily carry onto a bus, train or plane. Here is my gear list so you can compare it with what you are taking. I have considered comfort as well as weight, eg I have a single walled tent rather than a tarp as I don't like being bitten by bugs at night. Google other lists and come up with something that suits your needs, but as some others have mentioned I have never regretted reducing my gear load as having only what I need makes cycling more fun and camping more efficient.

Lightweight Touring Gear List Redux. | The Wheels of Chance
I read your list. I have basically what you have, although some of yours is newer stuff and lighter weight. My tent weighs a pound more than your. I have more clothes, but like I said I will be gone all winter, and no resupply. I have found I start to look too rough even by third world standards if I take too few clothes. People have commented in the past about how rough my clothes look after 5 months of harsh travel.
My tool kit is too heavy. I have only been maintaining bikes for 3 years, and so with new bikes, that is not a lot of experience since nothing ever wears out. On the other hand, rural Asia has no real bike shops, just places that repair rickshaws, and so I am erring on too much extra parts and tools. Here again, I bought the stuff on ebay, and can give it to a rickshaw driver. Anyway, I keep fiddling with my bike and try to choose the best tools for the job but will not leave me stranded. Also, I might have too many spare parts, but I do not really know what is likely to wear out in that much time, or break, or I might damage them by not understanding how to adjust them. Or whatever. It would be a bummer to have to abandon the trip because I neglected to bring some small replacement part, making the bike inoperable. Im sure Ill know a whole lot more about it a half year from now.
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Old 09-19-14, 11:39 AM
  #23  
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I've Overpacked for cold weather I didn't find, when I got there, then mailed things home the next day..
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Old 09-19-14, 11:43 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
If you're planning to go multi-mode, then here's my suggestion.

Go for a 4 day tour. Cycle in various terrain each day. Hopefully you'll have various weather. In the middle of each days' ride, get off the bicycle, remove the panniers and everything, and carry it all ... walking ... for about 100 metres. Can you do that comfortably without making several trips?

Can you pick up your loaded bicycle and walk about 50 steps with it?

If you're just planning to ride, that part isn't particularly important ... but if you're planning to load it onto busses or something along the way, lighter is better.

Also, what about the airline? Have you looked into their weight limits? Airlines are really tightening up these days. A common total limit is about 30kg for everything ... checked luggage + carry-on.


And really ... if you're not taking camping gear, what on earth are you taking to make up 50 lbs? Rowan and I travelled around the world for 8 months, and with the airline weight limits, I'm pretty sure we weren't up to 50 lbs of gear (not including the bicycles) each ... and Rowan had camping and cooking gear with him.
You misunderstood. The 50 pounds includes camping gear.
I definatley understand your ideas on being able to pick it up and walk with it all. It is essential to be able to walk with all your gear in one trip. I think I have it like that--if not I will abandon some stuff. I actually dont think I have as much gear, or weight, than I was traveling with before the bike. I used to do a lot of photography, and so I am not taking all those big lenses and tripods.
But, yea, definatley make sure I can walk fairly long distances carrying all the gear at once or it will just degenerate into a nightmare and not much fun.
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Old 09-20-14, 01:38 PM
  #25  
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Just fine for 3 1/2 season touring. If you were summer or riding I'd say lighten up but for multi season and elevation the gear list increases.

You tent, pad, bike, and sleeping bag will all weight more than someing scaling their equipment to 5'6. It all adds up.

This guy http://www.rad-fernweh.de

is your size and carries almost 5 kilos of gourmet camera equipment. Going up 2000ft hills he was much slower than I but that's that an extra 50lbs will do.

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