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9/8/2013 3:28 PM
 

 Thought I'd share this latest project I've been working on.  I wanted to come up with some ways to use things that I regularly carry as part of a backcountry load-out and have them do double-duty for use with a mountain bike for Bikepacking.  I was able to MacGuyver some things together and after the first test ride on singletrack, everything remained rock-solid.  I rode over roots and ruts, turns, and some loose terrain....no problems.  I was able to build the bike bags using some things I already had setting around, and just added a few odds and ends to make it all work well.  

This set-up is a pretty good option if you don't want to buy dedicated bike bags for a rackless system....most are over $120.00 to buy.  Also, running dedicated bike lights means maybe running out of juice at the most inopportune moment and not having a way to recharge them.  The ones I rigged both operate off of CR-123 batteries, which I carry spares for anyway.  Using my Streamlight TLR-1 (300 Lumen Spot) from my pistol and my Surefire Minumus Tactical (100 Lumen Flood), I have a total of 400 Lumens to use on the bike, and be able to quickly transfer them back to pistol and headlamp duty once an overnight spot is reached.

By building versatility, I can keep the total amount of weight lower for at least a couple nights out in the hills on my bike, easily.  With this system, you can then carry a Tarahumara, Highlander, Umlindi, or stripped-down Ute on your back containing food, stove, serape, light rain gear, etc. and run a Kit Bag up front.  Total weight will be dependent on how long the planned trip is to be.

Hope this helps anybody else out there that's interested in coming up with your own Bikepacking set-up!

Ken

Everything stayed put really well.

I used a Thigh Rig Molle panel, the included straps, two Blackhawk Speed Clips, and a 15L OR roll-top compression sack for the rear bike bag.  I also used the flap from a spare pistol mag pouch as the strap for around the seatpost.  I never ran a thigh rig (JV), so I'm glad I found a use for one!

I used a pair of G-hooks to connect webbing tabs from the roll-top onto straps to the bottom to create additional length-wise compression.

I used another thigh rig panel and straps to create a nice compression panel for my HPG 915 stuff sack for the handlebar bag.

I removed the headstrap (secured in my HPG Kit Bag) from my Surefire Minimus Tactical and rigged it to the handlebar with a simple shock cord and barrel lock system.

I used an ITW QASM Picatinny Ramp mount, a pair of ladder-locks, a 1" strap and a piece of double-sided velcro strap to fix it to the top of my helmet.

Here's what it looks like with the light detached.


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9/9/2013 11:25 AM
 

Looks good!  That seat rig looks especially solid.

 
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9/9/2013 12:50 PM
 

Nice work.  Are you short like me, or am I looking at a 29 incher?  If thats a 26in, it looks like a 15-16in frame

 
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9/9/2013 1:42 PM
 

Take-a-knee wrote

Nice work.  Are you short like me, or am I looking at a 29 incher?  If thats a 26in, it looks like a 15-16in frame

Thanks!  It's a Singlespeed 29er and 19 inch frame.


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9/9/2013 1:43 PM
 

DaveC wrote

Looks good!  That seat rig looks especially solid.

Thanks much!


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12/29/2014 7:25 PM
 
Hey, Alpendrms, I know you are not using this bike anymore, but I'm curious if you could explain the rear dropout to me. It looks like a vertical, but its a SS and you aren't using a chain tensioner, so, how does it work?
 
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12/30/2014 5:26 AM
 

It's so that the bike can be converted to geared and back to SS.


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12/30/2014 11:55 AM
 
What keeps the chain taut? Does it use half links, or an eccentric bottom bracket, both?

I have an older Fisher on a Genesis frame and I'm considering converting it to SS. It was a 27 speed originally, but it's a 1x9 now due to a derailleur malfunction. I never put it back, because I like it and I've been considering going even simpler.


I'm also considering picking up a 29+ single speed from Bikes Direct. That might be the overall simpler option. And it takes 4" tires :)
 
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12/30/2014 12:22 PM
 
The EBB kept the chain taut. It was adjustable with an Allen wrench. I didn't care for the EBB all that much. It got creaky pretty quickly after riding in wet / muddy conditions. That said, it only threw the chain once, and that was when I was pre-riding a course for a 12 hour race I rode it in.

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12/30/2014 9:38 PM
 
Praharin, your other option to make a vertical dropout bike singlespeed-able is the Surly Singleator. It's basically a dummy derailleur/ chain tensioner. I haven't used one personally but they've been around for years and are well proven. Another innovation to aid in keeping the chain running where it should are the narrow/ wide chainrings. The teeth alternate thickness and do an amazing job keeping the chain on. I'm running one N/W ring on my 6+ inch travel bike with no additional retention device and haven't dropped a chain yet!

http://surlybikes.com/parts/drivetrain/singleator

"Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children."
 
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12/30/2014 10:53 PM
 
I've seen it. Been doing research on this for a few days. The EBB isn't really a realistic conversion, and it seems a lot of people have had them come loose (eek). The Singleator is already bookmarked, and I'm looking into chain ring tensioners too. Same concept, but mounts at the crank set rather than in the derailleur holes.

Once I go through all that, I'm still thinking I'd be better off getting the 2015 Motobecane 29+ SS from BD. It comes in matte gray... I'm kind of smitten
 
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12/30/2014 11:16 PM
 
When you say "chain-ring tensioners" do you mean a chain guide like this: http://www.mrpbike.com/g3guide/ ? Or like this: http://www.cambriabike.com/Dimension-Chainstay-Mount-SingleSpeed-Tensioners.asp ? Just trying to make sure I'm thinking of the same thing you are. If I were doing a conversion I'd go Singulator or something similar. I think PAUL Components makes one too and they're made in the USA. EBBs are a gimmick at this point I think, they were an interesting fix to a an easier to solve problem clinging on for life 15yrs too long.

Also when you're referring to 29+ I'm assuming you're talking about 29in wheels with 3in wide tires. If you're thinking of building this bike as a backcountry traveler that's an excellent place to start. I strongly considered building one up myself. If I didn't work for a Ti frame builder and were in your shoes I'd point you towards the Surly Krampus. Yes they're made oversees (so are Motobecanes ;) but they have every accessory mounting option you could possibly want. Not to mention they invented to whole 29+ thing.

"Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children."
 
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12/31/2014 10:09 AM
 

I mean this, specifically: http://www.blackspire.com/qs/product/83/5947/263221/0/0


I'd love a Krampus, but at nearly 2 grand it's out of the question for now. The frame alone costs more than the entire Motobecane. I just can't do that. I wish I could.

It's not really going to be a backcountry bike. Actually, we don't have a lot of what you guys would call backcountry here in the east. Since I've spend over half this year recovering from a shoulder injury, I was not able to ride too rough. Hitting the rail trails was decent enough, and more enjoyable than sharing the road. riding 20 miles in one direction will take you through 3 little towns. It's tough to really get away from civilization like you can in the Rockies. I hope to hit some single track again next year though. Should bring back memories of cruising around the tank trails of LeJeune ;)

Also been considering trying some off road drop bars to see what it's like. Seems people love it or hate it. Since this SS wouldn't be doing any serious downhill (or uphill, hopefully) I think it would be ok. Salsa made a prototype fat drop bar bike earlier this year or last year (depending on when you read this). It was a mashup of their Mukluk frame and their Fargo with the Woodchipper bars. Apparently they were going to mashup the names, but the results were NSFW, so they called it the "Purple Reign".

 
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1/3/2015 8:26 AM
 

alpendrms - I like the setup especially since you just re-used a lot of what you had to begin with.  Looks great.

General question for everyone - Are single speeds really that practical for the mid-west (think mountainous terrain)?  Is the weight savings/simplicity worth the loss in gearing options?  Also, what's the practical advantage of 29ers over 26ers (trying to line up my thoughts with reality)?

 
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1/3/2015 9:26 AM
 
Personally, I would never have a single speed as general purpose bike, which being that is all I own tells you were I stand. The single speed has it's place, but Alpndrms is no longer riding a single speed as his primary. I am sure he can provided more thoughts.

As far as the 26 vs 29, I put off riding a 29 for a long time since I kind of thought it was a gimic. Well now all I ride is a 29er and for me it is way more efficient and fun to ride. I find that I have to work less hard to keep up my cruising speed. I am not a big obstacles guy so the loss of some agility is not an issue for me. One ride on a 29er was all it took for me to be in the market. I would recommend finding a place to rent both a 26 and 29 and ride them, or find someone to hook you up.

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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1/3/2015 11:10 AM
 

The two reasons I got rid of my single speed was because of a damaged knee that I had surgery on, and also limitations for using the bike as part of a bikepacking set-up.  Had I not injured my knee, I would likely still be riding a SS 29er....even for bikepacking.  They are lighter and a lot more nimble than a geared bike, especially a full suspension.  They are also very quiet bikes to ride (unless you have a creaky bottom bracket or something).  There's another attribute too....a SS has no derailleurs, so they are less prone to breaking in the backcountry.  With a SS bike, you are the extra gears.  When we were kids, we didn't let a hill stop us on our Schwinn Stingrays, BMX bikes, or the like...we just got out of the saddle and pumped up that hill.  If it got too steep, we jumped off and pushed as quick as we could.  With the right chainring and cog combo for the terrain you ride mostly, hills become a non-issue once your fitness level and leg strength come on line.  They are just really fun bikes to ride.  I've raced mine and ridden with guys on geared bikes and had no problem keeping up...often passing them when they were searching for the right gear to shift into.  Three speeds on a single speed bike....in the saddle, out of the saddle, and pushing.  I kind of miss my SS 29er, but what's done is done.  If you have hills and mountains where you are, get the right chainring and cog combo, build your leg strength, then get out there and rip it up.  The more you ride it, the better you get on it.  Lots of folks bikepack, race, and ride everywhere on a SS. There are guys out there that ride SS in races against geared bikes and beat everybody.  I know of an older guy (late 50s) that rides a SS 29er on some very steep and hilly terrain on trails near my home and he shreds everything out there.  He has ridden that bike so much it has become an extension of his body.  He's not a genetic anomaly, either...he just put in the work and got damned good on that bike.  It all comes down to personal preference and riding style.

All of that said, I do love my full suspension bike...my first one in my life.  All before this bike have been hard tails, sometimes with a suspension fork and sometimes a rigid fork.  Having gears again has kind of spoiled me, but at the end of the day, I'm happy with my decision and my new bike.  

 I am a big fan of 29ers in general...single speed or geared.  With a 29er, it almost feels like you are riding "in the bike" rather than on it.  Larger bumps and obstacles can be surmounted without bunnyhopping, unless they are really big.  There are now bikes that are in between a 26 and 29...27.5.  Haven't ridden one of those, but some say they are the best of both worlds...the agility and acceleration of a 26, and the stability and terrain-eating ability of a 29.


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1/3/2015 11:13 AM
 
Praharin, what that device is designed for is aiding chain retention on a bike with gears front and rear. I basically pushes the chain further around the chainrings so there's more contact. It's not designed however to hold the kind of chain tension needed on a singlespeed. It's a retention device not tension. Something along the lines of the Singulator or one of these (http://bike.shimano.com/content/sac-bike/en/home/components1/pavement/alfine/ct-s500.html) from Shimano will serve your needs better. And concerning drop bars if you're willing to put the money in knowing there's the possibility you'll hate it go for it. For the rail trails and that type of terrain I'm sure they could be pretty nice. Just keep in mind they'll pull you further over the front of the bike, which might cause more strain on your shoulder.

The practicality of the SS is directly related to your willingness to pedal it up whatever the local terrain dictates. I know lots of guys that ride nothing but SS. It will make you fit! It also forces you to stand more climbing which is a more natural way of pedaling and as long as you've got good core strength/ stability probably healthier in the long run. The human body isn't designed to sit and produce power for extended periods like we do on bikes. Standing pedaling mimics running more closely.

And as far as the whole 29V26 (and now 27.5 to make it more complicated) debate goes here are my thoughts:
26ers have worked well for a very long time and there's really nothing wrong with them, accept now the entire bike industry is starting to move away from them and into either of the two bigger wheel sizes. They still have the best strength/ weight/ stiffness of any of the three but do have a steeper approach angle to trail obstacles so they don't roll quite as smooth. If you were building a bike to travel through lots of third world type countries this would be the one to choose based simply on the fact it's the one you'll most likely find spares for.

29ers have certainly earned their place in the market. Like Scott I was very hesitant to ride one. I finally did get around to riding a few and still wasn't impressed, at first. For me a lot of the problem came down to the geometry and riding position. My background is in DH racing so the tall bike with steep angles and long stems was an odd sensation that I could never quite adjust to. Finally I decide to wing it and build a custom frame built around what I thought would be best. Luckily it payed off and I ended up with a great riding bike that behaved the way I wanted. The problem, with most MTN bikes really, is that the geometry has been all wrong for the past 20+ years. The industry is finally figuring that out and changing designs accordingly, slacker headtube angles, and longer toptube lengths make the biggest difference. Paired with shorter stems and wider handlebars it makes for a way better riding bike. But back to the topic at hand 29ers when built properly can be great riding bikes, and do cover ground with amazing efficiency. They are a bit sluggish in tight corners and slower technical terrain but unless you're racing it's negligible.

Now for 27.5 (aka 650b), in short this is supposed to be the "goldy locks" wheel size. Not to small, not too big, just right. It's been gaining steam more and more for the past few years and looks like as a whole the bike industry is headed this way for nearly all their mtn bikes. So much so the Giant has changed over ALL their mtn bikes to 27.5 except for their cheapest entry level models but I'm sure those will follow soon. My current main bike is a 27.5 with 6.5in of travel front and rear. As far as I can tell they work mostly as advertised. Even with 2in less travel than my DH bike it gets through most terrain just as fast if not a bit faster in a lot of places. If you're after a bike for riding lots a varied terrain and performance is a key concern I'd give one a spin. Even without the "need for speed" they offer some advantages, mainly that since the bike industry as a whole seems to be adopting this as the new "standard" parts availability into the future should be reliable.

Sorry for the rant but bikes is one of the few topics in this forum I've got a lot of experience in and can contribute constructively to ;)

"Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children."
 
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1/3/2015 11:47 PM
 
steamboatsystema wrote:
Sorry for the rant but bikes is one of the few topics in this forum I've got a lot of experience in and can contribute constructively to ;)

 

I, for one, appreciate it. I'm sure I'm not alone in that. I came across that device while looking for SS conversion options. C'est la vie

I'm thinking converting is not a great idea anyway. It'll stay a 1x9 until I decide to reattach the front derailleur. I'll just be on the look out on Craigslist for a SS drop out frame. The hard part is really finding one compatible with tires at least 42mm wide. Dang track bikes

 
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1/6/2015 9:08 PM
 
Thanks for the feedback, gentlemen. Very much appreciated.
 
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