Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Touring
Reload this Page >

On-Road to Off-Road: making the switch

Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

On-Road to Off-Road: making the switch

Old 09-19-14, 02:48 AM
  #1  
urbanescapee
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
urbanescapee's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Posts: 188

Bikes: 2011 Raleigh Sojourn, 2012 Marin Four Corners, 2013 Soma Saga, 2014 Scott Spark 940, 2017 Brompton H6E

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
On-Road to Off-Road: making the switch

I have been using a touring bike (Soma Saga) for the past couple years primarily as a car replacement/commuter. I still have a car to get around when needed, just don't use it much for local trips. I haul four full panniers of groceries regularly on my way back home from school. For around town use, I love this bike; full fenders, front/rear Tubus racks, sprung Brooks saddle, etc. The trouble is, I've never really used the Saga for touring. I've done just a few S24O's, some I really enjoyed, some I could have done without. As a bike, I'm happy with it, and I intend to keep using it as I have been. But as for the road touring aspect, I feel like I'm over it. I learned on my last overnight trip from Santa Barbara to LA, that I hate having cars whiz by me all day long. I can deal with the cars for commuting because I never really ride more than 10 miles one way, but when I'm riding for hours upon hours each day on a trip it just gets annoying. If I can find more isolated routes I'm sure I will keep doing overnighters on-road here and there, but now I'm looking at taking my trips off-road.

I purchased a full suspension mtb (Scott Spark 940) and am now considering doing trips on that, away from the cars. I know there are already lots of people mtb touring (although I'm sure there are far fewer than road tourists) but for some reason I'm not finding many posts on here. I'm already a very experienced light backpacker and bike mechanic so I've already got pretty much all the gear and repair know-how. Now I'm just looking at how best to carry it all on the bike.

My min. pack weight/volume for backpacking is currently something like 30 lbs/ 40 L. But evaluating my equipment, anticipating some upgrades, and considering I can travel much further and faster, I'm confident that I can get away with something like 30 L of baggage. I don't like carrying stuff on my back while I'm riding so I want it all on the bike. I've seen some of the rack options for full suspension, namely OMM and the newer Thule Pack n Pedal. The OMM won't work on the bike I've got because it has a 12 mm thru-axle in the rear and the Thule rack looks rather inelegant. I'm also a bit concerned about having a load strapped on to the middle of what are the mtb equivalent of seat stays because on this bike the stays are very narrow and supposed to be very light aluminum. Also, I don't know that having extra weight on the part of the bike that moves the most is such a good idea to begin with, I'm sure the suspension will feel very sluggish. All these concerns leave me with putting something under the saddle and something on the handlebars. There's really not any significant space for a frame bag.

I've been looking at some of the seatpost and handlebar bags like those made by Revelate, but I feel like they are very costly for what they are and that I can just as easily strap a dry bag under the saddle and handlebars in similar fashion. I have resolved that two 15 L bags should suffice, not including water which I may just get a small Camelback-type backpack for.

After all this, my questions are:

1) Has anyone already been through all this? Any tips?
2) For those of you who use dry bags like I've mentioned, is there a particular brand/type/dimension that you prefer? Why?

Thanks in advance.
urbanescapee is offline  
Old 09-19-14, 04:08 AM
  #2  
SparkyGA
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Jasper Alberta
Posts: 469

Bikes: Surly Ogre

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 19 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Check out bikepacking.net for how to make your own bikepacking equipment.

I run a hybrid setup of bikepacking/panniers on my Surly Troll. Using the best of both systems to build a bike that weight efficient. durable and high capacity. I use a lot of Relevant Designs stuff and I feel their quality is simply top notch. It's extremely well thought out equipment that is very durable and well worth the dollar if your can afford it.

SparkyGA is offline  
Old 09-19-14, 04:16 AM
  #3  
ironwood
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Boston area
Posts: 1,692

Bikes: 1984 Bridgestone 400 1985Univega nouevo sport 650b conversion 1993b'stone RBT 1985 Schwinn Tempo

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 397 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Why not just put bigger tires on the Saga? the 7c model is supposed to take 47mm wide tires, and the 26" version will take 2"+ tires. That'll handle most roads and trails.
ironwood is offline  
Old 09-19-14, 05:32 AM
  #4  
urbanescapee
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
urbanescapee's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Posts: 188

Bikes: 2011 Raleigh Sojourn, 2012 Marin Four Corners, 2013 Soma Saga, 2014 Scott Spark 940, 2017 Brompton H6E

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
Why not just put bigger tires on the Saga? the 7c model is supposed to take 47mm wide tires, and the 26" version will take 2"+ tires. That'll handle most roads and trails.
Yes, I have the 700 model. Although I can fit larger tires than what I've got on there now, a fully rigid frame can only travel so fast on rough trails; even worse when laden with gear. I don't want to limit myself to fire roads and slow goin'.
urbanescapee is offline  
Old 09-19-14, 09:04 AM
  #5  
vik 
cyclopath
 
vik's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Victoria, BC
Posts: 5,264

Bikes: Surly Krampus, Surly Straggler, Pivot Mach 6, Bike Friday Tikit, Bike Friday Tandem, Santa Cruz Nomad

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by urbanescapee View Post
Yes, I have the 700 model. Although I can fit larger tires than what I've got on there now, a fully rigid frame can only travel so fast on rough trails; even worse when laden with gear. I don't want to limit myself to fire roads and slow goin'.


Touring with a FS MTB has many challenges for the reasons you mentioned. I'm touring on a rigid MTB which can take a suspension fork. I'm using softbags and a backpack.

When I was road touring I didn't want weight on my back, but when you are riding dirt - especially techy trails - having some weight on your back makes riding easier as well as the inevitable hike-a-bike sections. I tend to put my food on my back. It means the bag gets lighter everyday, my food is always with me for cooking and snacking - at the end of the day I can hang the pack or put it somewhere else safe from bears.

MTBR.com has a bikepacking section specifically about MTB touring and in there is a member's rigs thread which is worth looking at for ideas.

Post your Bikepacking Rig (and gear layout!)

If you are willing to wear a backpack you can get a fair bit of gear on a FS bike in a bar bag, a seat bag and a backpack.

BTW - once I switched from road to MTB touring I never looked back. I'll ride the odd day on pavement to link up dirt sections, but I am always happy to get back on dirt.
__________________
safe riding - Vik
VikApproved
vik is offline  
Old 09-19-14, 12:58 PM
  #6  
urbanescapee
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
urbanescapee's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Posts: 188

Bikes: 2011 Raleigh Sojourn, 2012 Marin Four Corners, 2013 Soma Saga, 2014 Scott Spark 940, 2017 Brompton H6E

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by vik View Post

If you are willing to wear a backpack you can get a fair bit of gear on a FS bike in a bar bag, a seat bag and a backpack.

BTW - once I switched from road to MTB touring I never looked back. I'll ride the odd day on pavement to link up dirt sections, but I am always happy to get back on dirt.
vik, that's an awesome photo, and akin to some of the views I'm used to while backpacking. Thanks for the tips. For some reason I figured BF would be my one stop shop for all bike related discussion. Now I see that I need to branch out a bit. I used to check out MTBR several years ago; the last time I had a mtb.
urbanescapee is offline  
Old 09-19-14, 02:30 PM
  #7  
vik 
cyclopath
 
vik's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Victoria, BC
Posts: 5,264

Bikes: Surly Krampus, Surly Straggler, Pivot Mach 6, Bike Friday Tikit, Bike Friday Tandem, Santa Cruz Nomad

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by urbanescapee View Post
vik, that's an awesome photo, and akin to some of the views I'm used to while backpacking. Thanks for the tips. For some reason I figured BF would be my one stop shop for all bike related discussion. Now I see that I need to branch out a bit. I used to check out MTBR several years ago; the last time I had a mtb.
Also check out: bikepacking.net
__________________
safe riding - Vik
VikApproved
vik is offline  
Old 09-20-14, 07:02 AM
  #8  
Tourist in MSN
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 5,767

Bikes: 1961 Ideor, 1994 Bridgestone MB-6, 2006 Airnimal Joey, 2009 Thorn Sherpa, 2013 Thorn Nomad, 2015 VO Pass Hunter, 2017 Lynskey Backroad, 2017 Raleigh Gran Prix, Perfekt 3 Speed -age unknown, 1980s Bianchi Mixte on a trainer. Others are now gone.

Mentioned: 30 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1243 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 12 Times in 11 Posts
I do not mean to tell you that you have the wrong bike, but I think you will find that most people that are doing what you want to do have no suspension or only front suspension. If you go the bikepacking type bags thatn hang from the saddle or seatpost, that is not a necessity, but it sure could help for mounting racks.

Go ahead and try using what you have, but keep in mind that you might need to re-think the bike option.
Tourist in MSN is offline  
Old 09-20-14, 09:34 AM
  #9  
vik 
cyclopath
 
vik's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Victoria, BC
Posts: 5,264

Bikes: Surly Krampus, Surly Straggler, Pivot Mach 6, Bike Friday Tikit, Bike Friday Tandem, Santa Cruz Nomad

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
A few more good bikepacking/MTB touring resources:

Zen On Dirt
Diary of Scott Morris
gypsy by trade | Ridin' bikes and travelin' light.
While Out Riding | Dirt road cycling adventures across the Americas
Bike Grease and Coffee
kurt's going nuts . . .
Pat Mulrooney Photography

and some of my bikepacking photo sets:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/vikapp...7645746023216/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vikapp...7642901522103/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vikapp...7634759352023/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vikapp...7634412270724/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vikapp...7633570829164/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vikapp...7633442751545/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vikapp...7633144023804/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vikapp...7629321511881/
__________________
safe riding - Vik
VikApproved
vik is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.