Back on it

It’s been a tough period since the last post. Sadly my mother passed away; other family members have had spells in hospital; and I’ve moved house. The bike necessarily took a back seat.

Anyway, now back and I’ve been catching up getting ready for a trip. No specific plans what that might entail yet but I did get out on a short trial run with some new and old kit to check the riding performance and experience, which overall was very good.

The test was simply a 100km ride around the Cheshire lanes with a full first pass lightweight touring set-up. By lightweight I mean its paired back as much as possible and mostly lightweight accessories. It’s not a credit card touring set-up though as it includes everything for camping except a stove. All in the total weight including the bike for what you see in the photos was 24kg.

Whats the set-up?

The rear panniers are Carradice Super C Universal. These are a front pannier used on the rear since I want a light and tight package and they seemed to fit the bill well. These sit on a Tubus Airy titanium rear rack which is beautifully minimalist yet fantastically stiff. It is very narrow at the top, which I also wanted to keep the total panier width down to a minimum. I had to modify the top stays to clear the brake but the solid rods bent easily by hand in a vice.

The front bag is a Carradice zipper roll type which hangs simply between drops. I’m not sure its the ideal bag for the front but I’ll give it a whirl. I loaded it with the usual cycling paraphernalia of pump, food/gels, money, ID, powerbank, gillet and rain jacket.

On top of the rear is my old late 70’s Ultimate Tramp II “A” frame backpacking tent. At 2.8kg its not much heavier (for a 2-person) than current offerings so with a wash and a Nikwax re-proof it will be fine for now. Behind it is an Exped dry bag containing a few loose items and a Thermarest neoair xtherm matress.

In the panniers is a Thermarest Corus HD quilt. This is my first time trying a quilt rather than a conventional sleeping bag. I’ve always preferred to open up the zip on my bag and also leave my feet out at times so a quilt seemed a good idea to try, especially as I’m not planning to camp when the weather is cold. Anyway the Corus is a thing of beauty and stuffs into a tiny sack for travel.

The rest of the pannier space is taken up with a simple set of non-bike clothes, a spare lightweight pair of bid shorts & jersey, long sleeve jersey (for bike or night) and socks plus some sandals, micro towel and wash kit inc. suncream etc. Electronics consisted of a USB charger and a Kobo eReader though I plan to purchase a tablet computer for map editing in the future. I dropped in a small bowl and plate plus eating utensils and of course the obligatory tin mug is popped on top, well I am a brit!

The test route I took was relatively simple and fairly flat but included a section of unpaved track (unintentional as it happens) which was useful. Overall it went well. The weight distribution could be better between front and back so I may look to move something up front somehow. I was using my standard Hunt aero wide wheelset which were a bit overloaded with the additional weight on the rear so I’ve now got a set of their Superdura wheels which will take a 130kg rider set-up which should provide better durability without compromising the feel (I do like my standard Hunt wheels). I’ll also go up from a 25c to a 28c tyre as the Kenesis Ti frameset will easily take it.

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