Bicycle Travel > Gear Talk

do I have too much crap?

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I decided I'd start loading the bike up more on my ride to and from work to get ready for my 11 day tour in June.  I went about 3/4 loaded today.  I was missing just my tent (5 lbs), sleeping pad (2.5 lbs), sleeping bag (1.5 lbs) and food and miscellaneous toiletries.

I weighed my bike tonight, 63 pounds!  I'm guessing it will be more up around 80 pounds with food and tent and such.  For being 63 pounds it really didn't ride that bad or even that slow.  I think my hour commute only took a couple minutes more than usual.  I guess I'm ok with the weight, I just had no idea it would be that much.

Was anyone weighed their bike fully loaded for commuting?  Is there a sweet spot to shoot for?  Obviously I know carrying extra crap just for the sake of carrying extra crap is not a good idea and the lighter I go the happier I'll be to a certain extent.  That said I want to cook (stainless pots) and be comfortable (sleeping pad) and such as well.  I guess I could leave out stuff like the first aid kit, etc.

For the ride to work I'll probably just keep loading it up heavier and heavier to get ready, no harm in doing that, it's only 12 miles of moderate hills.  It will be nice to be "lighter" come tour time.

John Nelson:
Normally, I would say that if you ask this question, the answer would be "yes".

Although 80 pounds is probably above average, assuming you are including everything including three full water bottles and your pump and all your tools and spare parts, it's not outrageous. Load it up with the rest of the weight and take it for a 50-mile ride, including up and down all the biggest hills in your area. That will tell you if it is too much.

Lots of people like to go light, but it's not necessary to do so. If you want to eliminate some weight, most people take at least twice the clothes they need, so that's the first place to look.

Pat Lamb:
Like John says, if you ask this question, the answer is "yes."

Adventure Cycling started weighing all the loaded bikes that came through last year.  IIRC the "champion" was around 120 pounds.  So you're well under that.  The average load, which most people weigh, seems to come out around 35 +/- 10 pounds.  My bike is 32 pounds "naked" (with saddlebag, fenders and racks); if your bike is a similar weight, your load is around "normal" (assuming there is such a thing among people who are so abnormal that they go for long tours on a bicycle).

Do you have what you need?  Have you made contingency plans for an emergency?  Do you have enough for comfort that you won't go ape on the trip?  Have you taken into account that you can probably resupply within two or three days via mail order and express shipping?  After you've gotten that far, your load is adequate.  You should forget about it and go ride.

The topics of loads and equipment lists come up often. You can spend several happy hours researching them here and I suggest you take a looka thte ultralight backpacking and bike camping communities. Wehn I was backapcking, I went from a load of 45+ pounds to less than 20 and still felt secure. It was a tranformational event, completely changing the nature of the sport.
Minimalism comes at a price, though. You might need some expensive replacement gear (a sil-nylon tarp and bivvy bag instead of a tent, for instance) and you need to practice under a variety of weather conditions to make sure you can rely on your equipment and your competency to keep you warm and dry.

You can also forget all the numbers and just take off. People do that all the time and they enjoy themselves tremendously. 

For training, check your local charity bike event calendars. Even if you don't sign up for the rides, you can download their route maps and they can make excellent training runs because they are always loops and usually take interesting backroads. Charity routes tend to avoid hills, though.

Thanks for all the replies.

I weighed the bike alone today and it's 36 lbs. That's with stainless fenders, front and rear racks and a dynamo hub.

So I guess 27 lbs isn't awful for two sets of panniers and a large handle bar bag loaded.  That said I'm not at 100% load yet either on the list I had.

My typical ride to work route is a good test of weight.  It gains about 800 feet over 10.5 miles.  I've also done lots of century days, although on a nice light road bike.  I'm not so worried about the fitness portion of it, I just don't want to be plugging along at 9mph hauling a bunch of stuff I don't need.  Everytime I go out on the road bike and see the huge speed difference I start thinking I have too much stuff on the touring bike, I have to change my mindset more than anything.


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