Author Topic: how to lighten a load  (Read 1514 times)

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Offline JuanEstrecho

how to lighten a load
« on: November 04, 2022, 04:17:18 pm »
I recently did a maiden voyage on my new Surly Disc Trucker (which I love) from Galveston to Austin, traveling south of IH10 on Alt US 90. Five days and 310 miles. I was credit carding the whole way. I don't bike pack. I was carrying two saddlebags with a total weight of 15 pounds. Yikes. They just felt too damn heavy...on a big steel bike. I started running thru my head: what can I leave behind?
* leave my light wool sweater; I can use my bike jacket when I'm out of the saddle in town
* I don't really need waterproof rain pants
* don't need a pair of wool socks for cold because I'm in the south
* Most importantly: instead of two riding kits, why not just bring one? I'm washing it every night anyway and it's mostly dry in the morning. But in all my long trips, I've always brought two complete kits.

Thoughts?

very best,
John 

Offline John Nettles

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Re: how to lighten a load
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2022, 07:06:31 pm »
I try to make everything do double duty if at all possible.  A shower cap is a seat cover.  A rain jacket is a light jacket.  My bright NiteRider 750 light I use as a rear taillight (even though it is white), a camp flashlight, and very rarely as a bike headlight.  I typically do use regular shirts (no bike jerseys) and just wear the a shirt for one 24-hour period (shower to shower).  I even have a somewhat dressy nylon webbed belt that I use as a strap if I need to strap something onto the bike unexpectedly.  Of course, some things like a first aid kit, bike tools, etc. can not do double duty but I try where I can.

Can some of your gear be left behind or made lighter, i.e. use a 1/8" cable and a cheap luggage lock for a deterrent locking system.  Much lighter and more compact. 

Of course, you can buy ultra lightweight stuff to begin with and that will definitely help some but honestly, 15 pounds total (including the packs) is not that much even for credit card touring.

Tailwinds, John

Offline John Nelson

Re: how to lighten a load
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2022, 01:11:49 am »
If you want to make your gear as light as possible, just ask yourself this question about every piece of gear: what’s the chance that I’m going to die without it?

For less severe weight-cutting, you can change the question to: what’s the chance that my trip will be cut short without it? Or maybe, what’s the chance that I will be very uncomfortable without it? Or maybe, what’s the chance that I won’t have any fun without it?

Offline froze

Re: how to lighten a load
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2022, 12:02:06 pm »
15 pounds?  That's all?  And that's too heavy for you??  I guess my question for you is why did you buy a heavy Surly Disk Trucker and two saddle bags if you're not going to carry a load?  That makes no sense to me, you could have bought a lightweight gravel bike since you're not going to carry a load, attach a large handlebar bag and call it a day; or for that matter, since you're on the road, bought a lightweight road bike.

Whatever.

One of the suggestions of using a headlight as a tail light is not legal anywhere in the US, and could land you a ticket; only a red tail light is legal to be used on the back of a bike, or any other method of conveyance.

If you don't need rain pants then ditch them.  Wool sweater and socks, ditch them.

A large handlebar bag like the 8-liter Topeak Tourguide DX, or a large saddle bag like either the 10 liters or 15 liter Topeak Backloader, which are both waterproof unlike the handlebar bag I mentioned, will reduce the weight of how much your two panniers weigh plus the weight of the rack significantly.  Of course, you don't have to get the Topeak brand, but Topeak makes the largest and best handlebar bag with a map cover; but in saddle bags, there are a lot of brands out there that carry similar quality bags, I just know that Topeak stands behind their products, I can't vouch for others.  That Topeak Backloader simply hooks onto the seat post and seat rails, no need for racks.  The handlebar bag is a bit of an inconvenience for attaching anything to the handlebar, which means you would have to get a handlebar riser so you can attach stuff to it; so in your situation, I can't recommend the handlebar bag system, but I mentioned it because maybe you might prefer it for your needs, but doubtful.

So if you want to reduce the most amount of weight, get rid of the panniers and rack.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: how to lighten a load
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2022, 12:20:23 pm »
One of the suggestions of using a headlight as a tail light is not legal anywhere in the US, and could land you a ticket; only a red tail light is legal to be used on the back of a bike, or any other method of conveyance.
I agree and know that it is indeed illegal in the USA and in many other countries but I strongly prefer to be seen and a biker IS noticed when using these.  Almost on every tour, I have one or two drivers tell me they saw the light from a distance and they really like it. If someone made a REALLY bright blinking red light, i.e. 700+ lumen, I would switch because I sort of do feel bad about breaking the law; just not enough to reduce me being seen.

I seriously doubt I would get a ticket when using in the daytime but honestly, that is a price I am willing to pay to be unquestionably seen.  I have never used the bright white light as a rear taillight at night as it would definitely blind the driver. 

The biggest downside is riders typically do not like to ride behind you.


Offline froze

Re: how to lighten a load
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2022, 11:49:40 pm »
One of the suggestions of using a headlight as a tail light is not legal anywhere in the US, and could land you a ticket; only a red tail light is legal to be used on the back of a bike, or any other method of conveyance.
I agree and know that it is indeed illegal in the USA and in many other countries but I strongly prefer to be seen and a biker IS noticed when using these.  Almost on every tour, I have one or two drivers tell me they saw the light from a distance and they really like it. If someone made a REALLY bright blinking red light, i.e. 700+ lumen, I would switch because I sort of do feel bad about breaking the law; just not enough to reduce me being seen.

I seriously doubt I would get a ticket when using in the daytime but honestly, that is a price I am willing to pay to be unquestionably seen.  I have never used the bright white light as a rear taillight at night as it would definitely blind the driver. 

The biggest downside is riders typically do not like to ride behind you.

I have a 300 lumen tail light, and have had cops tell me they could see my tail light from a couple of miles away during the day! so I don't really see any advantage of doing what you do and break the law by doing so.  I have a Nite Rider Omega 300, the newer version is called the Omega 330, and this tail light is very bright, nearly as bright as any car tail light, car tail lights put out 400 lumens, so the difference is not that great between my light and a car light.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: how to lighten a load
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2022, 11:52:54 pm »
Froze,

If you like what you have, great.  I prefer something else. To each their own.

Tailwinds, John

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: how to lighten a load
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2022, 08:35:20 am »
I don't want to come across as unduly critical of a newbie's choices, but I have to agree with froze on this one.  The Disc Trucker is 5-10 pounds heavier than a decent gravel bike with the capacity for wider tires.  15 pounds is as light as most people go with an ultralight bikepacking setup.  I suspect OP's expectations are a bit off.

Now that said, you might go over your packing list once more (and perhaps post it for more suggestions).  If your overnights are strictly motel/B&B, do you need more than one set of riding clothes?  Wash and dry them overnight.  OTOH make sure you're ready for the worst riding conditions likely during your tour -- you never want to bet your life that it won't rain, so make sure your gear will protect you from hypothermia if a thunderstorm hits.  Do you need a spare set of shoes?  You'll have to balance an extra pound or two against the comfort of changing out of bike shoes at the end of the day's ride.

Offline HobbesOnTour

Re: how to lighten a load
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2022, 10:25:32 am »
I'll come at this a little differently.....
Instead of reassessing your load, why not reassess your thinking patterns?

First of all this was your maiden voyage, right? So you have to give yourself time to get used to your load.
Heavier will slow you down or shorten your distance but it will usually make you stronger over time. Maybe think on that?
Yes, you could wear a jacket instead of a sweater but how will you feel in the jacket? If you're motelling all the time that means eating and drinking and socialising in public. Personally, I prefer to look like Joe public than Joe the Cyclist.
Yes, you could carry just one outfit but putting on damp clothes first thing in the morning is something that I personally hate. (It's also the time when a wool sweater helps!)

Personally, I wouldn't be without a pair or three of wool socks. Even wet, they keep my feet warm and are a huge comfort at times. Mind you, I tend to camp.

You could, of course, go without and see what happens. These days with mobile phones help is literally a phonecall away - providing you've cell coverage.

I raised the thinking process because the curse of the long distance bike tourist is the ample amount of time to think. If we're thinking of the wrong things, or in the wrong way it can make our days very difficult.

For what it's worth I'm toting about 40kg of gear on my bike (that's what? 90+lbs?). Sure, I go up hills slower than some (but not all!) but I can stop as and when I like. That suits me. I suggest you find out what suits you.

By the way I've ridden around Austin at this time of year and I wouldn't do it without rain gear and woollen socks!



Offline staehpj1

Re: how to lighten a load
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2022, 10:58:11 am »
I recently did a maiden voyage on my new Surly Disc Trucker (which I love) from Galveston to Austin, traveling south of IH10 on Alt US 90. Five days and 310 miles. I was credit carding the whole way. I don't bike pack. I was carrying two saddlebags with a total weight of 15 pounds. Yikes. They just felt too damn heavy...on a big steel bike. I started running thru my head: what can I leave behind?
* leave my light wool sweater; I can use my bike jacket when I'm out of the saddle in town
* I don't really need waterproof rain pants
* don't need a pair of wool socks for cold because I'm in the south
* Most importantly: instead of two riding kits, why not just bring one? I'm washing it every night anyway and it's mostly dry in the morning. But in all my long trips, I've always brought two complete kits.

Thoughts?

very best,
John
Riding motel to motel you really only need whatever you would have for a day ride.  In that part of the country the colder temps will be in the morning so if you don't have wam enough clothes you can just get a little later start.  When I rode the ST in late winter it was always warmish by 10 AM or so even when it was freezing overnight.  Also you can buy stuff along the way if you really miss something.

My suggestion is to experiment and see how you like to travel.  Carry enough tool and stuff to fix a flat.  Also enough clothing to be safe.  Beyond that what have you got to lose?  A day of discomfort?

I don't gey why anyone would choose a disc trucker for credit card touring.  One of the advantages of CC touring is being able to ride a more sporty light weight bike.  I guess some folks like riding a tank.  I definitely don't.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: how to lighten a load
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2022, 11:51:43 am »
I ride a Surly Disc Trucker as well (when touring) and I am also a long distance backpacker. My bike is the heaviest part of my load when I tour, weighing in at almost 40 pounds with front and rear racks (and that is with tubeless tires)

The Trucker shines while carrying a load, but with out a load why ride a motor home when a sport sedan (carbon fiber) weighing in at 18 lbs with a small bag would more than do the trick and be fun to ride.

Sell the Trucker and get the right bike for your needs if you can afford it.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline froze

Re: how to lighten a load
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2022, 05:39:07 pm »
I ride a Surly Disc Trucker as well (when touring) and I am also a long distance backpacker. My bike is the heaviest part of my load when I tour, weighing in at almost 40 pounds with front and rear racks (and that is with tubeless tires)


Sell the Trucker and get the right bike for your needs if you can afford it.

Are you sure the Trucker weighs 40 pounds with racks?  My Masi Giramondo 700c weighs 36 pounds out of the factory with steel racks and stupidly heavy 1,100 gram a piece tires, which I replaced with 623 gram a piece tires, my bike cost about half of what a Trucker costs, and I thought with racks your bike weighed around 32 pounds when I checked back in 2019.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: how to lighten a load
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2022, 02:49:53 pm »
Yes, I weighed it multiple times.  39.3 to be exact. It is a 52 with 26" wheels. My wife and I have the same bike and tour together and she needs 26" wheels to get stand-over clearance.  The spec without pedals was around 27.9 pounds for a 56 with 700C wheels but the real weight was closer to 29.9 out of the box. I have the Surly chromoly racks front and rear (about 3 pounds each). Went to different wheels and tubeless tires from stock and added a SON dynamo hub, but that actually saved some weight with the tubeless tires. I added double side Shimano SPD pedals. I did switch to a Brooks C17 saddle, which also required a setback seat post, and added an adjustable front stem, but that was pretty much a net equal swap. The 39.3 does include a Sinewave Beacon headlight and Schmidt tail lite which are mounted on the bike and full fenders (forget the brand but German and plastic). It also includes a mount for a Ortlieb handlebar bag, 3 water bottle racks and a Zefal Spy mirror. No kick stand but probably a frame pump in the weight.

Start adding Ortlieb panniers at 1.75 lbs. for the front and 2.1 lbs. for the rear and you are looking at over 45 lbs. before you load in your gear. Add three filled 26 oz. water bottles at 2 lbs. each and you break 50 lbs. It is the only bike purchase I have really regretted because it weighs so freaking much.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline froze

Re: how to lighten a load
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2022, 06:05:26 pm »
26" tires are a pain to find a tubeless fast rolling tire, the selection gets very limited which means if you destroy or wear out tire on a tour you may not be able to find a tubeless tire at some local bike shop; the best option I found was the Surly ExtraTerrestrial, and no bike shop would carry those, you would have to have them shipped to the bike shop while you wait a night or two.

But I guess what I'm confused about, and as I mentioned earlier, is why did you buy a touring bike when all you needed was a lightweight road or possibly a gravel bike since all you carry is 15 pounds?  I don't know if now you want to buy another bike to lighten up that aspect significantly, or maybe you have a road bike in the garage.  If you can't swap the bike, and if you only carry 15 pounds you surely don't need the front and rear racks and there goes 6 pounds, the Ortlieb handlebar bag is too small to carry 15 pounds so dump it and the mount for it, and get a large saddle bag that will connect to the rear seat post, and dump the Ortlieb panniers, and there you lose almost 4 pounds in panniers.

Another good large saddle bag is the Rockbros Bike Saddle Bag Bikepacking Bag Waterproof Large Capacity, which has a 10-liter capacity, for under $50; if you need more capacity they also make a 14-liter model.  if you like the Ortlieb brand they also make these same type of bags and they go from 11 to 16.5 liters, of course, Ortlieb will cost almost 4 times as much as the Rockbros; these bags weigh about a pound.


Offline David W Pratt

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Re: how to lighten a load
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2022, 07:30:38 pm »
How much you carry largely comes down to two issues:  How daring are you willing to be, meaning how thin will the survival, first aid and repair inventory be?  The second, is how grungy are you willing to be, how few changes of clothes will you wear?
In general, it is easier to find 5lb. you can live without on the rider than on the bike.  If you want inspiration, just think about how much money it would cost to get a bike that was 5 pounds lighter.  Losing that amount of weight is like paying yourself that amount.