New! Old Man Mountain racks for fat bikes

OMM is now making the Cold Springs front and rear racks specifically for the Pugsley and the Salsa Mukluk!  Unfortunately, a pair of these will set you back $320.

No published weights for these new racks yet but I sent an e-mail asking for that info.  Will post as soon as I hear something.

Update: well, the reply to my e-mail asking for weights was “1.5 pounds”.  This is disappointingly imprecise; I expected better.  However, I discovered that a different page on the OMM site lists the Cold Springs weight as 610 grams.  I’d imagine the Pugsley specific rack differs mainly in the attachment hardware, so this should be close to the truth.

Nitto M12 rack — a no-go

Well, i thought I had the perfect answer to how to carry a dry bag on the front of my bike without strapping it to the handlebars: the Nitto M12 front rack.

This little beauty attaches to the hole in the fork crown and the cantilever bosses, and weighs only 250 grams — that’s less than 9 ounces!

Well, the rack arrived today and unfortunately, there isn’t nearly enough clearance between the arms for a 3.8″ tire.  D’oh!  Why didn’t I see that coming?

Still, this seems clearly to be the right approach to carrying a light load on the front of the bike. All the other racks on the market are twice as heavy, and are way overbuilt for carrying a 5-10 pound load. There is a shop here in town whose owner does his own TIG welding, and I’m going to see if he’s interested in taking on a project like this.

Review: Revelate Tangle and Pugsley frame bag

Last summer, after I built up my Pugsley, I knew right away that I needed a frame bag for it because I couldn’t fit the damn spare tube in my seat bag! Since I needed a solution “yesterday”, I couldn’t order a custom full-frame bag. I settled for a Tangle, Revelate’s stock, rectangular bag that only occupies part of the main triangle.  I ordered the largest size, of course, and it fit well, leaving enough room in my giant main triangle for a full-size water bottle or two.

Revelate Tangle on the Pugs.

The Tangle bag by Revelate. The Pugs likes to be photographed in front of my F-250 because it makes it feel petite.

The Tangle has a full length zipper on the right side to access the main compartment, and a second full-length zipper on the left side that accesses a flat accessory pocket.  Both pockets are lined with a bright yellow fabric to improve visibility. The main compartment  is exactly the right size and shape to hold a hydration bladder (although I never used it that way), and you can put wallet, cell phone, etc in the flat pocket. All in all, well worth the money.

With the recent release of the Revelate-Surly co-branded Pugsley frame bag, I felt it was time to upgrade.  I was quite frustrated in my inability to find any details of this bag online. Now that I’ve received mine, I thought others considering this purchase would like to know some details, so read on.

First, here’s a comparison of the full-frame bag to the Tangle.

The full-frame bag compared to the Tangle.

Large Revelate Tangle (top) compared to the 22" Revelate Pugsley bag (bottom).

Of course the full-frame bag has a larger face area, but the real story is in the bag’s depth:

Bottom view of Pugsley bag (left) and Tangle (right).

Both bags start out about 2.5-3″ wide, but the full-frame bag fattens out to nearly 6″ at the head tube! Also note the wear strip on the down-tube-facing edge of the full-frame bag; a nice detail.  Here’s the top view:

Top view of Pugsley bag (left) and Tangle (right). My, what big Velcro you have, Grandma!

I estimated the volume of the full-frame bag to be about 8.5 liters by pretending it was a perfect triangle with a uniform 3″ depth.  Obviously, this is an under-estimate, and it’s probably closer to 10 liters.

Here it is mounted up.  Looks sharp, doesn’t it?  Check out the combined Revelate/Surly logo.

Full-frame bag on the bike. Full length zipper to access main compartment. (Click on the photo for a full-resolution image.)

Man, that’s a lot of Velcro! That stuff is really sticky, it took several minutes to peel all of it open before I could mount the bag.

Notice the single full-length zipper to access the main compartment.  The main compartment has a vertical Velcro divider, and also a little pocket at the front for a cell phone or camera.  As usual, the interior of the bag is yellow for better visibility of contents — another nice detail.

Main compartment of full-frame bag.

The one weakness of the bag, if it can be called that, is that the left side’s flat pocket is not rectangular and full-length as it is on the Tangle.  Instead, it is triangular-shaped; it shares one seam with the internal vertical divider of the main pocket.

Accessory pocket on the left side of the frame bag.

This might not seem like a big deal but I’m used to the full-length, rectangular accessory  pocket of the Tangle.  This pocket is very deep and comes to a point at the bottom, so it’s not really as usable for small items as the Tangle’s pocket.  If I’d never used the Tangle I’d probably not have noticed this.

I took the bag for a spin and there were no bad surprises.  It fits the bike like a glove and you don’t even know it’s there while you’re riding.  I packed the following items into the bag for my test ride and had room to spare:

  • Rain jacket
  • Spare Toob and pump
  • Tool bag
  • Small tupperware of snacks
  • Wind vest
  • Wallet, phone, sunglasses (it wasn’t a very sunny day so I wasn’t wearing them), garage door opener
  • Meiser dial-type pressure gauge

The one unpleasant surprise I had during my ride concerned my relocated water bottle.  Since the bag fills the entire main triangle, you have to find somewhere else to put it!  I could have put the bottle inside the bag but I wanted to try out the TwoFish Quick Cage bottle cage adapter on my fork blade:

TwoFish Quick Cage bottle cage adapter on the Pugsley fork.

In a word, FAIL. The strap cannot be pulled tight enough to prevent the cage from rotating around the tube to wherever it feels like pointing.  I tried it on the back of my seatpost (yes, I actually have room for a full water bottle back there), and although it stayed put a little longer than on the fork blade, eventually it started wandering around there too.  I can’t recommend the TwoFish Quick Cage at all.  I know I could carry a camelback, but I really don’t want to.  I don’t mind it for a short day-ride, but day after day on the GDMBR, it’s going to get old.   I guess I’ll have to try a band-clamp style cage adapter.

So all in all, is the full-frame bag worth the extra money? ($135 vs. $75) The Tangle is a great bag, it will hold just about anything you need it to on a day ride, but for doing a long tour you want all the volume you can get.  Now that the Pugsley full-frame bags are a non-custom item, the price differential is very reasonable. Keep in mind, however, that you will have to find someplace to relocate your water bottle(s).

This is what a BIG bike looks like

Following up on yesterday’s post, I promised a pic to show how much space I have under my seat:

Dry bag on my rear rack

A 20 liter dry bag sitting on top of my rear rack.

That orange blob is a Seal Line 20 liter dry bag.  That’s 40% more volume than a Revelate Viscacha for 1/5 the price (not counting the rack, but I already own that).  This is why the dry bag solution is so appealing to me.

Note that I ride the largest Pugsley frame (22″) and I still have that much seatpost sticking out.  I am a big guy.  All my gear is big too. My sleeping bag and pad are extra long; my clothes are XL or XXL (tall, of course) and take up more space. My shoes are size 15 and I need a spare pair for when I am off the bike and trying to pass as a normal human.  Where am I supposed to put all this stuff?  It’s hard for me to imagine fitting everything I need without resorting to something like this.

Gearing up

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how I’m going to approach my gear needs for this trip. Given the choice between camping and a hotel, most of the time I’m going to choose the hotel because, let’s face it, I’m an old fart. Camping is an inevitability on the GDMBR, but since it won’t be an everyday thing, I’m going to try to go as lightly as possible.  If I can cut my travelling weight down enough, I might be able to get by without panniers or a trailer (more on this later).

This means I needed a new, lighter tent, and fortunately REI Outlet had the Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1 on closeout.  After reading lots of enthusiastic reviews about this tent, including many from tall users, I decided to pull the trigger on it.  It arrived yesterday, and it’s perfect.  Just big enough for one 6’4″ person to stretch out in, enough headroom to sit up, and it tips the scales at 3lb 2.5oz including all stuff sacks, stakes, fly, and the optional footprint.

This got me in the mood to drag out all of my camping gear to see how much it really weighs.  I was pleased to find that my North Face Blue Kazoo down bag weighs only 2lb 9oz (vs. manufacturer’s claim of 2lb 12oz), but I was shocked to discover that the new pad I bought last summer — an Exped Synmat 9 — clocked in at 2lb 11oz (vs manufacturer’s claim of 2lb 9oz)!  I have a hard time rationalizing carrying a pad that weights more than my sleeping bag or my tent!  It makes me wonder about these superlight Klymit Inertia pads that I stumbled across the other day. The XL model is extra-long for us tall people and still weighs under 17oz.  Amazing!

Another way in which I intend to cut weight and space is by changing my meal philosophy.  When I’m staying in a hotel, I’m going to be eating in a restaurant.  So I will be cooking only a minority of my meals.  Because I’m not anxious to have a grizzly bear over for dinner, I’ve decided that on the nights that I cook I’ll just be rehydrating a freeze-dried meal. This means I don’t have to carry around a lot of fresh food, and also that the only thing that will ever touch my cooking gear is boiling water.  So my needs for stove and cook gear are very minimal, and all I’ll need is a superlight alcohol stove.

It might seem strange to count ounces when you’re riding a beast like a Pugsley (after all, a spare tire and tube weight as much as my tent and sleeping bag combined!).  But my main concern is compactness, not weight. I’d like to obviate the need to pull a trailer or carry panniers.  I’m inspired by the setups I see at bikepacking.net. I’ve already purchased the new Revelate Designs Pugsley full-frame bag (I’ll review this tomorrow, after I’ve used it on a ride).  The typical setup for the ultralight crowd is the full-frame bag, a giant seat bag like the Revelate Viscacha, and a handlebar sling to hold a bedroll.  Now I’m lucky in that my frame bag is gigantic because I ride the 22″ Pugs; but the flip side of this is, I don’t want to put a bunch of extra weight way up high.  I have a ton of room between my saddle and my rear tire (I’ll post pics when I review the frame bag), and between my bars and my front tire. So I’m thinking about lightweight front and rear racks with a drybag on top of each one. I believe this will keep the center or mass lower than the seat bag / bar bedroll.  It won’t be as low as panniers, but it won’t have the wind resistance of panniers either.  And it will encourage me to pack more minimally than if I were using panniers.

Whew!  These thoughts have been careening around in my head for a while now, it’s good to finally get them out of there!  I welcome comments and suggestions.

Maps Arrived Today

image

After considering the route some more, I’ve concluded that’s it’s probably unrealistic to make it all the way to Colorado in only 4 weeks — it would require doing 60 miles a day on dirt with virtually no rest days.  My new plan, which I think is brilliant, is to rent a car in Jackson WY, drive to Steamboat Springs, and ride home from there.  There’s a marked spur off the route to Winter Park, and from Winter Park I can get to Boulder via  Rollins Pass.

My only regret is that I will miss Union Pass in the Wind River / Absaroka range, which is supposed to be beautiful. But on the other hand I’ll also miss the Great Divide Basin, and that’s a trade-off I think I can live with!