TANDEM BIKEPACKING SETUPFOR SOUTH AMERICA
We knew the Andes were going to be tough going on the tandem, the mountain roads are notorious for being steep dirt roads which touch the heavens. We needed a plan to drastically cut the bikes weight down as we were starting to find the roads in Central America a struggle. Our plan was to turn our big rig into a fully fledged gravel eating bikepacking machine.
How did we do it?
First we removed the rear rack, panniers, and rack bag and replaced it with a single seatpost bag which holds the tent and my sleeping bag.
Next, we utilized the frame space by having Bedrock Bags, create two bombproof custom framebags for us. Bedrock bags were super easy to work with, all we had to do was trace the inside of our frame and send it to them, two weeks later a set of bags arrived and fitted perfectly. In the front framebag we keep tools, spare parts, and my water bladder pouch. In the rear bag we have our cooking pot, MSR Dragonfly stove, electronic bag, food, tent poles, pump, first aid kit and Julie’s water bladder pack.
We kept the Surly front rack, two panniers and installed a Wald 137 Basket to the top of the rack, this replaced the handlebar bag. The basket keeps our waterproof hip bag (Fanny pack/Bumbag) and waterproof backpack, which folds up neatly and lays flat on the bottom of the basket. We can also use it to hold extra food and water if and when we need to. The two panniers contain our clothes, laptops, sleeping pads and Julie’s sleeping bag. I also bought a shorter handlebar stem, I was using 100mm before, now i’m running a 50mm, I was hoping would solve my wrist pain and make the bike more responsive. Under Julie’s (stoakers) handlebars is a 13L drybag where we keep all the wet/cold weather gear which makes for easy and quick access when the bad weather arrives.
How does it handle?
Surprisingly well to be honest, way better than before. Removing the handlebar bag and having a shorter stem has made the steering lighter and more responsive, this makes the descents less frightening…. for Julie, and no more wrist pain for me. When looking behind my shoulder the bike doesn’t wobble anymore, this is thanks to less weight on the rear. Climbing mountains are still a challenge, but I’ve noticed way less drag holding us back, and we can climb for longer without taking a break. This makes climbing easier, but anything over 10% for too long and you can forget about it, we’re pushing until it flatness out.
Another major bonus is the tires last way longer without all the extra weight on the back. With a traditional two rack four bag setup we would get just under 1000 miles out of our Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour‘s, and now with this new setup we have put over 2000 miles on them, and still there’s a considerable amount of tread left on both. Win Win.
Of course, the downside to this setup is we can’t carry as much as before, we had to downsize a lot, gone are the extra pair of shoes, Macbook Pro 15″, hiking backpack, extra clothes, coffee grinder (sob sob). However this trip has taught us that we only need a few items in our lives to make us happy, it’s quite liberating in someways…. Except i’m missing that coffee grinder, A LOT.
Below I have detailed all the components which make up our tandem.
- Frame: Co-Motion Equator – co-motion.com/
- Rear Hub: Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 – http://amzn.to/2m3v4kI
- Front Hub: Phil Wood Touring Hub (36h) – philwood.com/
- Rims: Rigida Andra CSS – Front 36h, Rear 32h – ryde.nl
- Front & Rear Cranks: FSA Gossamer 172.5mm, Tandem – http://amzn.to/2m3AGtL
- Rings: Gates Carbon CDX 69T, 55T – gatescarbondrive.com/
- Shifter: Rohloff – rohloff.com
- Tires: Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour – http://amzn.to/2lmtyLR
- Bottom Brackets: FSA Gossamer – http://amzn.to/2mOb9EE
- V-Brakes: Shimano Deore T610 V-brake – http://amzn.to/2m3n2GS
- Disc Brake: Avid BB7 – http://amzn.to/2mTRv9A
- Disc Rotor: 203mm Rohloff – rohloff.com
- Brake Levers: Shimano Deore XT
- Headset: Chris King – http://amzn.to/2m3tO16
- Front Handlebar: Jones Loop H-Bar 710 – jonesbikes.com/
- Rear Handlebar: Jones Bend H-Bar 710 – jonesbikes.com/
- Front Stem: Thomson X4 50mm – http://amzn.to/2lmlKK1
- Rear Stem: Co-Motion Max Adjust Stoker Stem Post – co-motion.com/
- Captain & Stoaker Saddles: Brooks B17 – http://amzn.to/2m3pUFt
- Front Pedals: Blackspire Sub4 Flat Pedals – http://amzn.to/2m3qBOU
- Rear Pedals: Ergon PC2 – http://amzn.to/2mmvZgX
- Captain Seatpost: Thomas Elite – http://amzn.to/2mTWVkR
- Stoaker Seatpost: Cane Creek Thudbuster – http://amzn.to/2mO14Yf
- Front Rack: Surly Front Rack – surlybikes.com/
- Basket: Wald 137 – http://amzn.to/2mB7xca
- Cargo Net – http://amzn.to/2mASH5E
- Bottle Cage: King Cage – kingcage.com/
- Bicycle Computer: VDO M4 WL – http://amzn.to/2m3KwNM
- GPS: Garmin Etrax 20 – http://amzn.to/2m3Q5vB
- Bell: Crane Suzu – http://amzn.to/2mmueR1
- Pump: Topeak Turbo Morph – http://amzn.to/2mjnzH3
- Front Bags: Ortlieb Back Roller – http://amzn.to/2lmLohE
- Front & Rear Frame Bag: Bedrock Bags – bedrockbags.com/
- Seatpost Bag: Revelate Designs – revelatedesigns.com/
- Top Tube Bag: Revelate Designs Gas Tank – revelatedesigns.com/
- Tool Bag: Lemolo Tool Roll: Contains the following
- Spare Parts Bag: Contains the following
- Spare Brake Cables
- Spare Gear Cables (Tandem Length)
- Phil Wood Grease
- Inner Tube Repair Kit
- Spare Gates Carbon Belts