/ Scottish Winter Bikepacking
I'm a fairly keen road cyclist, and am also partial to a winter bothy trip and was musing a combination of the two this winter.
My knowledge of mountain bikes is fairly limited, does anyone have any bike recommendations for this sort of thing? I would be looking for something capable of taking on decent dirt paths as well as estate tracks and some roads etc. ideally under £1k for I don't envisage trying to ride anything too technical so think full suspension etc. probably overkill.
I was thinking along the lines of something like this:
Any advice/ experience appreciated.
Not a mtb but have you considered a CX bike - good all rounder for roads/mtb trails, trips into bothies - manages fine apart from the gnarliest of trails which you may have to walk round but probably get more usagae out of one than a MTB
Perhaps not the best in deep snow but then neither is any bike:
A Carrera Vulcan from Halfords would be fine for that job. It has lugs on the frame for pannier racks, if that's how you choose to do things rather than get dedicated frame bags. It is reliable, easy to maintain, will cope with very poor estate tracks and stalkers' paths, and leaves you with lots of beer money in hand.
If you intend to do any more challenging riding then a get a lighter, more responsive and generally better hardtail bike, but the Vulcan is good at what it does.
Quite a few bike companies doing 'adventure bikes ' . This is what you need. Typically 29" / 7 00c wheels and rigid forks, maybe 650c wheels .
Top end, see Salsa Fargo. Mid range, Genesis Caribou?, Sonder Frontier. I'm a bike snob: can't name any bottom , entry level examples
We might pass on the trail! Great game!
I've done a bit of bikepacking recently and have used a trek 29er hardtail which was fine. Used front, mid and rear loader bags. Bike felt comfortable and stable when loaded.
Have just bought a jamis adventure bike to use going forward when I bike pack as I want to cycle longer distances. Have used it unloaded on various trails/hills etc and it was fine.
Personally if I had to choose just one bike then I'd go for an adventure bike for bikepacking. Just make sure that it can take wide(ish) tyres (min36) and unless ur mega fit and/or go ultra lightweight then have a double chainring.
My summer bikepacking kits weights in around 5.5kg and a single chairing would be a pain if fully laden going up hill or off road.
Seems pricey to me.....for £900 I think there are better hardtails around! Check the reviews from MBR on youtube or online..
Thanks all, some good (albeit varied!) advice - as expected.
I always thought I'd need higher volume tyres than I imagined you could get on a CX bike - maybe I'm completely wrong about that and it's just because I'm used to road tyres and pressures.
Unfortunately the Vulcan is too small for me (6'4) according to their sizing, but the thought had crossed my mind to get something cheapish. The issue is that being relatively heavy and powerful I don't mind paying a bit extra for components that can stand up to a bit of abuse.
All food for thought - much appreciated UKC!
The Marin looks fine/good for some bike packing and mt biking. ..
I bought a genesis vagabond recently and its a brilliant all rounder, used for commuting and the odd bike into a munro... and I am glad I bought it and use it loads but... I still rely on my mt bike for a proper bike packing trip. The CX bike is too limited and struggles on rough terrain (too hard a ride). I run a full sus as I mt bike quite a bit. But if you mainly want a bike for bike packing/munro access I'd get a hardtail with plus tyres (2.8). My full suspension although brilliant for stand alone mt biking suffers when fully loaded as I can't stiffen up the rear suspension enough when laden.
But really after all off that .. you can get most places on any bike so enjoy!
The reasonably priced mountain bike getting rave reviews for the last few years has been the Voodoo Bizango, again from Halfords. I've not ridden one, but I did have a Voodoo Hoodoo with many of the same features and components, and that was a fantastic bike for the money. The Bizango comes in a 22in frame. Some enthusiasts would urge you to get something "better", but I think you'd have to spend a lot more cash to get any worthwhile improvements in performance or durability.
Also remember that you'll have to spend a bit on bikepacking bags, whether conventional panniers or frame bags. I like panniers myself, and I reckon they're a bit cheaper. However, they can be awkward to fit to some modern frames which don't have dedicated lugs (it can be done, but it's awkward) and frame bags are the latest and greatest thing.
> The reasonably priced mountain bike getting rave reviews for the last few years has been the Voodoo Bizango, again from Halfords.
And on.offer at £520 currently....a lot of bike for the £££!
I've got a very similar bike to the Marin, mines a Pinnacle Ramin 3 plus, alu, not steel, but no suspension, 650b+ tyres, Deore gears and brakes just like the Marin. It has plenty of extra bosses (forks and frame) for extra cages and the like. So really good for off road bikepacking. I have a gravel bike as well, so I tend to use that on smoother tracks. The Ramin is for proper mountain bike bikepacking - the one upgrade Ive made is a dropper post, which turns it into a BMX (or so it feels) when you are falling down ridiculously steep hill sides! Fun fun fun.
From the type of riding you want to do, a gravel/adventure bike would probably be best, 700 X 40 to 45 c tyres or 650b x 45-50 c, would be way quicker than a steel plus bike. Comfort wouldn't be much of an issue on most estate tracks or dirt paths. Only really need a mountain bike for doing more hardcore and technical paths where a bit of pushing of the bike may well be needed as well, and for such routes a lighter alloy hard tail with normal sized tyers often makes things easier than a plus bike anyway.
Look out for Pinnacle arkose 2019 bikes or discounted 2018 models if still available.
I wouldn't recommend the Marin Pine Mountain, looks a nice bike, but probably over kill for what you want to do with it. It must weight 14-15 kg so factor in kit and will be a chore to ride, and the gearing is fairly rubbish for anything steep when carrying kit, realistically you would upgrade the cassette to 11-46 but best way to do this might be a expensive upgrade to 1x 11 groupset.
If you want to go down mountain bike route, look at Boardman's hardtails, Pinnacle Ramin, new btwin hardtails at decathlon or alpkits new 29er.
Tyre pressure wise on cx/gravel/adventure bikes, 30-40 psi give good comfort, grip and I find punctures are rare.
I ride a 29 er with 2.4 inch tyres and gravel bike with 700x 40c, and find for general off road riding the mountain bike is 5km an hour slower.
The most popular bikepacking bike on the bearbonesbikepacking forum is a rigid 29er
Has a nice combination of weight/capability/robustness/comfort
Many options available as already indicated above
This thread seems to be an example of the internet at its best - lots of really helpful comments and plenty of food for thought.
Maybe something like the Voodoo Bizango is a good place to start, as a road cyclist there is something about suspension that put me off - horses for courses I suppose.
A lot of the choice seems to come down to exactly how 'technical' I want to ride - for context on a trip last year coming down from bealach cumhann to ben alder cottage I thought a bike would have been very handy (a few streams etc. looked fine to carry the bike over - not too steep to go back up the other way too) but that is about as difficult as I envisage trying to ride and I'm more than happy to walk any tougher sections
Since there seems to be a lot of knowledge here - if I can average 18mph on the road bike, what is reasonable on a hardtail (on the road) - 12?
For the record , I hate bike porn , but each to their own I guess.
whatever, bike you get I would be careful/ experiment with tyres that work on all /most/ some /any snow/ice conditions.
I've recommended hardtails because they really do take the pain out of fast descents down Scottish hill tracks. I've been on quite a few trips with friends riding gravel bikes or mountain bikes with rigid frames and although the bikes coped fine, their riders were often very sore in various parts of the anatomy at the end of the day. The ruts, bumps, stones and chippings on most estate tracks and the like really can really take their toll.
As for average speeds, I couldn't begin to work that out, but I'm sure I've hit 40kph on downhill sections of track, riding a fully laden hardtail mtb.
I'm in agreement with you Guy... You can ride most stuff on rigid bikes, well quite techy stuff, but its often not fun and very quickly gives sore joints as you feel you have been in a washing machine.... Whereas a hardtail with suspension forks, and wider tyres makes it much more pleasurable, and then often less tiring on the body overall. I did a 35km mt bike ride in Torridon a month ago and my overall average speed was 3kmh I think (but there was lots of pushing up and down hill... and rest stops!)!!!
Work have just announced they will start using Halfords for the CTW scheme - coupled with the very positive MBR review this would seem to be nudging the decision towards the Bizango.
Have you considered going Fat? I've been pootling about on a Fatty (On One) for a few years now. Reasonably capable on technical ground (the grip you get on rock is awesome but they don't like deep mud) and you don't have the "worry" of suspension to go wrong, or get damaged when dropping.
Bothying, you should be able to get away with bike packing bags rather than panniers, especially if you go for fashionably wide bars which will allow you to get a decent down bag and mat bar mounted.
No idea what's good on the market just now but try "Singletrack" forum, which has plenty of fat lovers and haters! Just something else to put in the mix.
I've cycled into a bothy in the winter. I also remember cycling into Craeg an Dubh loch in the winter.
4 separate journeys and I fell off 5 times on the ice. However as one of the journeys was in the pouring rain into the face of a gale you could argue that I fell off 5 times in 3 journeys.
I haven't got a clue about what bike you should buy if you want to give it a go but I would strongly recommend a good first aid kit and a fully charged phone in case the kit proves inadequate.
I’d think about trail plus tyres as a good option on a hard tail, let me know how it goes I’m interested in giving this a go on my hard tail
I have one of these, I've used it everywhere form North Wales and Scotland, can pick them up second hand for £500, which Is what I done, they're lighter, faster and well built.https://www.bikeradar.com/mtb/gear/category/bikes/mountain-bikes/product/review-boardman-ht-team-12-46330/
I've got a Boardman CX + panniers I do bothies/hill tracks on (+ the commute etc). Fine for fair tracks but tyres too thin, gearing too high and brakes prone to mud problems for anything much rougher. So good to get to Ben Alder cottage but not up to the pass.
Before this I bikepacked (while i still called it touring) with a rigid, steel frame MTB + panniers. Steel frame gave some flexibility on rough track but not much and a fast, bumpy descent bucks my (ortlieb) panniers off.
Although both got me out n about neither bike is/was comfortable for extended tours on the rough. So now I'm looking for a hardtail 29er MTB with fatter tyres, sprung forks (better for my wrists/palms) and leave the panniers at home (pushing a bike with panniers off track is hell, unremitting, miserable hell).
I was looking at Bizango too .. but not sure if there's enough 'in triangle' frame space for a custom bag and while I never want to be wrong side of a pannier again, the Bizango (especially for wee guys like me) doesn't look like it would take rack at back and those wasp-tail off-seat-stem-bags don't look robust to me ..
So did you get a voodoo?
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