• Latest little project re-thinking my front loading touring set up. Picked up a couple of Blackburn cargo cages and drilled an extra hole to accommodate a 3rd mounting bolt then knocked up a quick roll top bag for it. Of course I could have just bought a regular dry bag but this has some features I wanted like a semi rigid panel in the back and high density foam in the base to give it some shape and avoid rattling contents as well as extra webbing for running straps through.

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  • looks really neat good work!

  • I did the same for my Blackburn cages, tbh I don't know why Blackburn didn't themselves

  • my front loading touring set up

    Just a general question on packing set ups (because i am about to buy a touring bike): why would you have it more front loaded than loaded on the rear rack?

    Initially i thought weight on the front wheel is more difficult to steer (in particular side bags) but then i thought front weight makes a better balance given that the riders weight is on the rear wheel

    Is the latter correct?

  • Edit: awesome work on those bags of course!!

  • So there are some reasons that are often touted as to why front loading has become more popular. The point you make about the riders weight being closer to the rear wheel but I think strictly speaking that one doesn’t actually hold up so well if you think about the direction your weight is moving relative to where the rear hub is. The other point you make is also true about a front load making handling feel slower but this is where it helps to choose a bike that has a ‘low trail’ geometry (like the AWOL) which goes some way to offset this. Ultimately though I think it just comes down to personal preference. When I ride loaded I like my bike to feel as much like it does to ride unloaded. For example I used to ride a surly cross check with the standard two outline rear panniers and riding out the saddle you really notice the ‘sway’ they cause at the rear end. My current strategy is not so much front loading but really having weight balanced between lots of places in the bike. So that means heavy items (tentpoles, pegs, knife and tools etc.) go in the frame bag and other stuff divided between saddlebag and front load with probably only slightly more weight in the front. Those latest bags will mostly be for a small cook kit on one side balanced by something like waterproof clothing and gloves on the other. TBH no one gets it perfect to begin with and every tour involves a bit of juggling stuff around and trying different things out. More important is that the frame really fits you well.

    Saying that one of the best tips when using a bivvy set up that I got from Jesse Carlsson is just to leave everything in side of it. In Japan, my inflatable sleeping mat and ‘quilt’ just stayed inside the bivvy and got rolled with it and my groundsheet meaning at the end of the day I just threw it on the ground and got in.

  • Very helpful, thanks!

  • New Specialized power saddle to replace my very worn fabric knock off and finally got round to trying out the new bag set up. Bagged a Nitto M18 rack from eBay to support the cavernous front bag and hopefully attach a dynamo light too soon.

    Add a saddle bag and a couple of stem bags and I think this could be new go to touring set up. Also tempted to try some of those new crazy wide 54cm Nitto drop bars.

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  • So my plan to limit the amount of bikes I own to two hit a hurdle last month when I picked up this boardman carbon cx frame with a Force groupset and finishing kit for a pretty tasty price.

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  • My thinking was to move the groupset over onto the curve and then sell on the frame but having never owned a carbon bike I instead settled on keeping it and taking it to Budapest with me for the next 6 months while I write my MSc thesis. First though I fancied giving it a bit more of a subtle paint job as a previous life racing cross in Scotland meant it wasn’t exactly in the best nick. Goal was to do it as cheap as possible in my parents garage and trying to get a semi-decent rattle can finish. What followed was a week of sanding, applying two coats of primer, four coats of ‘winter grey’ and then two coats of clear coat on top.

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  • There was a bit of a scramble to get a few last minute bits including a wheelset and a bottom bracket that would allow me to run a GXP crankset but everything came together and got packed into my trusty homemade bike travel bag.

    Unfortunately pulling the bike out the bag at the other end I realised that the 48 hrs I had left for the clearcoat to dry definitely wasn’t enough as the padding I’d used to protect the frame had left marks in the paint in places which was a bit annoying as prior to that I’d been very happy with the finish I’d managed to get. Ultimately though though I don’t mind too much as this was always intended to be a bit of parts bin build.

    Anyway I finally got it all put together last night and took it out for a first ride in Budapest this morning but was enjoying myself so much I forgot to take any pics of outdoors. The groupset is an old sram 10 speed force shifters paired to an X9 rear mech and 11-42 sun race cassette that has been bullet proof over the three different bikes I’ve used it on.

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  • Looks nice and comfy!

  • I thought it's time to do update this thread on some little bits I've been working on.

    I'm about to start a new job with the opportunity of a decent commute by bike something that hasn't been necessary for a few years now and this got me excited about re-building my AWOL as a winter commuting tank.

    First port of call was to move over the dynamo wheelset from my Curve and undertake something I've been avoiding for years, namely going tubeless. I picked up a couple of Muc-off sets on sale recently and upon arrival they seem pretty comprehensive. As a complete novice I had no problem getting an old pair of WTB riddlers to seat and hold air, the rim tape in particular I found easy to apply and the sealant pouch even has measurements for different tyres sizes printed on along with a transparent window.

    Next I added a Nitto lamp holder to my M18 front rack and installed a B+M IQ-X up front along with a toplight line rear light down at the non-drive side dropout. For a brief moment I thought about ordering one of the fairlight 3d printed mounts but instead I found an IS to post mount brake adapter in my parts box which seems to hold it on fairly well. I wanted the cable run to be as neat as possible so I heatshrinked the dyanamo cable to the brake hose starting at the down tube all the way to just before the dropout and installed some supernova gold connectors there for good measure.

    As for gearing I'd been toying with the idea of going for a wider ratio cassette for loaded riding and where I'm headed also has plenty of hills. I'm a big fan of Sunrace cassettes which shift well and last a long time for the cost so I picked up one of their massive 11-46 numbers. This I paired with a 42t chainring on a set of new shimano deore cranks.

    I had a set of Sram Force 1 shifters that came with the Boardman however the accompanying Force derailleur seems to have some issues getting up into the largest cog which leads me to suspect that the cage is bent). So instead I opted for a 12 speed GX eagle mtb derailleur. As standard this isn't compatible with the 11-speed shifters because it has a different pull ration but this is easily remedieded by simply swapping the cable fin between the two derailleurs. After trying it out shifting is great and this means that if I wanted to go for an even larger 11-50 cassette in the future I can just stick it straight on.

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  • Next I started think about a bag for commuting, I knew I wanted something to sit on the front rack, be easy to remove and something that I might conceivably use for touring in the future. Ordinarily I would just make something for myself but with time being tight I settled on a second hand Carradice Super C saddle bag with a plan to do some modifications to it.

    I don't like how a lot of quick release bag/bar systems are pretty chunky so I wanted to try and do something that was a little more svelte but still secure. I saw that Restrap use Fidlock magnetic fittings to attach their rando bag so I thought this might be the solution for me so ordered up some bits from contact left.

    First step was to remove the QR fitting that the bag came with and widen the existing holes to screw in the Fidlock female connectors. As for the handlebar mounted connectors I was orginally going to mount the male connectors on a piece of stiff plastic sheet which would in turn be mounted using the clamps from a DrJ0n G-funk handlebar set up. Instead I came across a thin piece of metal sheet of the perfect width in the attic and cut that up instead.

    Just testing it the connectors work really well and they need a really positive action to unclip so I don't think the bag will be flying off any time soon. At the moment the backing plate is bright orange but I'll be spraying it black. Then I'll make a matching unit that will be zip tied on top of the rack and attach to other connectors which I'll be putting on the bottom of the Super C.

    After that I planning to add some internal sleeves in the bag to hold stiffeners to give it some body as well as a carry handle and repair the d-rings on the back in order to hook up a shoulder strap. Hoping to have some more pictures of the whole thing once it's finished this week.

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  • This thread makes me envious in multiple ways. Great bikes, impressive bags and awesome-sounding trips.

    Is the bag making etc just a hobby or is related to your occupation?

  • Always good to see this thread bumped.

  • Thanks much appreciated! Nah I’m about to start a PhD so it will remain just a hobby that sometimes ends up taking up way too much of my time.

  • I really like the look of your fidlock mod. Looking forward to hear how it works out.

  • Love this thread, keep it updated. Those attachments that Restrap use are good but I had a case where the entire thing came through/off the bag after over-zelously pulling it off the holder one time. So watch out for that

  • I had thought about this but the size of connector I have actually have quite a lot of surplus ‘clamping area’ to catch a lot of material. Plus the cotton duck fabric of the Super C is pretty tough even so I might reinforce it with another layer anyway.

    While I’m here, here is an updated pic of my GXR from a ride in some late summer sun this afternoon. After swapping to a 100mm Zipp stem to match the seatpost and going down from a 44cm to 40cm bar it’s feeling pretty dialled now. The bars are the Shimano pro discover model and after the first ride I liked them so much that I bought a second set for the boardman. The ergo tops in particular feel really good.

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  • If you wanted to make the fidlock more secure you could just rotate one of the connectors on the bag so that it was side on. Would make it marginally different to attach the bag (would have to do it one at a time) but probably a lot more secure.

  • Yeah 90 degree turn should suffice, that’s how they are on my restrap bar bag extra pouch thingy. Seems very secure.

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  • PS, the bikes are great, Love the colour of the respray!

  • So after surviving yet another plane journey the AWOL has finally been put back together and my carradice mod is finished. Unfortunately no test ride for a while as I’m stuck in my apartment for mandatory 10 day self isolation, super happy with how it came out though!

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  • Update so after a month commuting and some long rambling sunday rides I can confirm that the Super C with Fidlock set up works super well. Although @hp93 are @Belagerent were totally right that a 90 degree turn for one of the connectors is very helpful in stopping unexpected bag ejection when things get rowdy.

    In other news having a great set of trails on my door step (including switchbacks straight up to 800m+ elevation) has inspired me to get a hardtail again. So far I've just been riding them on the AWOL but now the snow has arrived the lack of clearance bettwen the tyres and guards means that has become a bit more sketchy. Plus I figured I'm in Switzerland now and a proper MTB opens a lot of doors for weekend riding.

    The market for second hand bikes here in Zurich is surprisingly small so for the first time in 12 years I considered just buying a complete bike from new. I had my eye on the mid range Orbea Alma or Trek Procaliber but availability seemed to be limited for the next few months. But lo and behold, last week this popped up on ebay in my size:

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Some bikes (Specialized AWOL and Curve GXR) and a lot of DIY bikepacking bags and racks.

Posted by Avatar for SoYaap! @SoYaap!