Back from holidays


Happy new year

Just back from 2 weeks in Cuba ……
Lots of photos of bikes from there and a couple of rides we did there were very good….. Even if on crappy bikes

Here is moaner (sic) looking good

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Apidura Saddle Bag for Bikepacking


From Bikepacking mag:

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Apidura has turned the heads of many long distance ultra cyclists across the world. A company based out of London, England, the folks behind Apidura have established a brand that strives to create rackless packing systems that will optimize bike handling and weight distribution for your trip – whether it be pavement, gravel, or trail, Apidura has proven to succeed, and has many athletes to back that up.

The company was built on experience. Apidura was born after owner, Tori Fahey, completed the Tour Divide in 2012.  A race like the Tour Divide is never something that is thrown together. It takes months to plan your rig, what you will carry and what bags you will use. No matter how much you train with your set up and dial in the intricacies, you might end up running into issues, or things you wish were different about the gear you chose to bring along. Tori took the 2,700+ miles to reflect on what could be more efficient about her bags, and how they could be designed differently to help with weight distribution, or ease of use. Thus, Apidura came to be.

The company as a whole has a focus on creating bags that are ultralight, durable and functional – but what really strikes me is their mission, which is to promote “unencumbered bicycle touring so that cyclists can spend more time enjoying the ride.” That is really what it is all about, right? We want to feel as close to being on a empty bike as we can while riding on a loaded rig. Not only does it provide the most efficiency, but comfort as well.

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We had the pleasure of testing the Apidura Saddle Pack (regular) on an overnight fat bike excursion to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado. The pack is designed using a 4-layer laminated xpac fabric for the main body which provides superior waterproofing, and is lightweight and durable. This pack also holds an excellent shape when empty. Apidura uses a hypalon fabric, which is ultra durable in high abrasion and high stress areas, and will help protect against friction or puncture. The straps which connect the bag to the seat post are extremely durable and easy to yank on. They also stay in place very well through rough terrain. It is to be noted that we were testing a sample pack versus the commercial production pack. The difference here was in the buckles – they were different than what you would see on a purchased pack from Apidura. The commercial production packs use Woojin Lion Buckles (below right), which are significantly more durable to tension and strain than the buckles on the pack that we tried (below left).

Wooljin Kross Buckle - less sturdy buckle on pack we tested

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The regular size pack is relatively large. Although the strap systems allow the pack to compress very well,  it is still rather deep.  I was riding on a small frame Surly Pugsly, and was cutting it close with about an inch of clearance.  I did try this pack on a small frame Rocky Mountain Element, and was not able to use it with the rear suspension without rub.

Apidura

I was able to fit my entire sleep system in the saddle pack with plenty of room to spare. As we were just going on an overnight and the distance was not too significant, I decided to pack for comfort. In the bag I packed a Grand Trunk Hammock with ropes and carabiners, a Big Agnes 20 degree down sleeping bag, a Marmot Bivy, and finally a Big Agnes Clearview mummy sleeping pad. I was able to fit all of this while still compressing the bag down as far as the straps would take it.  This illustrates how high volume the bag actually is. Again, aside from the minimal clearance while using this pack on a small frame, the bag performed exactly how it should and I did not have any rub on my rigid fat bike. If you are riding on a small frame, I would suggest going for the compact bag option, especially if you have a full suspension bike. This will ensure a good fit with plenty of clearance.

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While we were riding back to the car after our overnight trip, one of the sample pack edition buckles broke from tension. The buckle was connected to the left strap which connects the bag to the seat rails. It was sagging lower than the day before, so we really yanked on it to gain more clearance.  While doing so, the male side of the buckle snapped and was rendered useless. We were able to tape it up and be on our way. Although this is not idea for the long haul, as mentioned above, Apidura had used a less durable buckle on their sample packs, and are using a much stronger buckle for their commercial production bags.

Overall, the Apidura Saddle Pack was extremely well constructed. You can tell there was a lot of thought put behind the construction of the pack.

BIKPACKING review: The Interesting Jones H-Bar ….


From Bikepacker:

Through the years, strapping my bags to my bike, loading them up with camping gear, and hopping over my saddle has been described as “the couch.” Maybe it was a reference to watching football every Sunday on the couch, with a beer, food, and your team on the boobtube, everything you need, right? What I’m getting at is that the couch is pretty darn comfortable. A least at the beginning of the game, before your team goes down 14-0, that couch is a pretty cozy place.

When I thought my couch was as comfortable as it could get, I slapped on some 710 Jones Bikes Loop H-Barson my Surly Moonlander. The main reason was to give me a more upright position to cure my unnecessary pains. Not until I actually talked to Jeff on the phone did he convince me that his bars are capable of so much more. Riding my bike down Schafer Road, into the canyons and along the White Rim, I kept thinking to myself, he was right.

The Jones Bikes Loop H-Bars

Jeff Jones has gone through a number of styles with his bars, but has stuck to one major theme, a lot of sweep, 45 degrees to be exact. Also present on all of his bars is a 13mm rise/drop. Starting with his original steel H-Bar with one hand position, all the way to the Loop H-Bar – Jeff understands the need for comfort, and carries through with these innovations.

Jones Bikes Loop H-Bars
Jeff Jones designed the Loop bars to make for a better overall ride. The bar gives riders more hand positions, an inherent benefit for bikepacking. The extension bar out front gives space for plenty of fun gadgets, like lights, GPS, SPOT, and other items. The loop feature also stiffens up the bar. Jeff originally started with the 660mm bars, Surly asked Jeff if they would make some longer ones for a hand full of 2014 bikes. The rest is history, even Jeff said he digs the longer bars.

“It’s made from two different tubes that are butted (one is also tapered) then both are bent , mitered and welded together, then heat treated, etc. This is not a normal handlebar that is made from a single piece of bent tubing. And it is not made it giant numbers like most normal bars. It is very well made and works very well” says Jeff Jones.

The Test
The Loop H-Bars have been on my Moonlander since June, primarily for the fatty commuter I put together early this summer. But my intentions have always been to use them for long days in the saddle. Recently I have done just that, trying to figure out if these bars are Tour Divide friendly. Although the bars are pretty beautiful naked, I installed extra long ESI Chunky Grips and some red Lizard Skin Bar tape, which doubled as my bag stabilizer and bar protector.

Jones Bikes Loop H-Bars

Unless you purchase a custom bar, 45° of sweep is the most you are going to find for mountain biking. A normal bar will typically have about 9° of sweep. Some companies, like Salsa, have bars with more sweep (23° ). Either way, it’s no where close to what Jeff Jones is doing. By using so much sweep, the bars keep you more upright. It also keeps you more centered on your bike, rather than leaning forward which proved to be helpful on descents.

I have noticed the sweep does not hinder my riding performance, it actually gives me more confidence which was hard to believe before my first ride with them. The industry trend has gone towards shorter stems and wider bars. 710mm bars could be considered short now. But the H-bars actually feel much longer than what they really are creating a bar with stability and responsiveness. You don’t have to move the bar all that much to get your bike to do what you have ordered. The bar comfortably kept my hands, and shoulders in a position that I enjoyed being in. I am currently using a 90mm, 10mm rise Thompson stem.

Hand Positions
After I got off the White Rim last week, my next ride on my full suspension was rather interesting. I instantly moved my hand from the grips and tucked my hands in closer to the stem of my bars. My body understands comfort, and it instantly mimicked the upright position of my Jones Loop H-Bars. My standard position would be right over the brake clamp, it is a nice middle ground.

Jones Bikes Loop H-Bars

While pedaling out of the saddle or in more aggressive terrain my hands would sit at the ends of the bars, giving me full leverage to pull up or crank down. When I needed to have my hand on the brake for descents, I would align my hands with the brake, about 2 inches in from the end of the bars. When I was working against the wind I would lean over the bike, and reach my hands on the loop further away from me. This position makes you more aero while not sacrificing comfort all that much. I also found myself resting my forearms on the loop part of the bars mimicking aero bars.

A few things to note. When I plan on using the bars for more singletrack, I will likely roll with an 80mm stem. I did not notice too much reach out of the 90mm stem, I just want a little more comfort and control on the rough stuff. Your hands naturally want to be placed at the end of the bar when descending, this took some getting used to for me. I could always trim my ESI Grips a bit and move the brake clamp down the bar, but it would create a useless space on the bars, the opposite of what these are meant for.

Pros:
Multiple hand positions
Plenty of space for gadgets
confortable sweep
Flip bars for 13mm rise/drop
Cons:
Have to move hands to brake
Heavy, but carbon available soon

Overall

The Jones Loop H-Bars are the alternative to your standard flat or drop bars. The ability to have so many different hand positions, while creating so much extra space, without sacrificing function of steering is a huge bonus. I keep finding new comfortable positions, which is likley to alleviate the issues with numb hands. Jeff has found the sweet spot between sweep, rise, and length to make a fantastic product, especially for adventure cycling.

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FatBike Friday First Time Fun


OK the niggle i will get out the way first – and this is it. Riding a fat bike on Pavement or tarmac is crap. Granted I only have to do 20min at the start and end of the ride to get into the trail but it isn’t great.

But the good things

Amazing traction – anywhere loose ridged sandy Muddy and Icy you will have great grip. I stood up on an icy fire-road ascent and when the weight moves forward the rear started to loosen and slip but keep seated or your weight back and there is no issue

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heavier Steering
That wider rubber does need firmer input on the arms – but just think of it as a work out for the upper body.

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Mud – Got the joining up with the path wrong and slammed into a wedge of mud about 20cm deep at 30kmh …. the bike slowed jolting me but then popped up and over where my other bike would have flipped me over the bars … ‘great i though saved by my Fat’ I thought.

Anywhere that is more technical is where the bike really shines. I was doing rocky single track without the normal worries about picking a line that i do on the Lynskey 29er.

Here is a short video (using GoPro template) that i edited (in 3 min) so not detailed but gives a flavour of the bike.

The ride here on Strava

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