With the new full suspension bike, the Giant Trance 'En-Trance Rob', I was after a 'no backpack' solution for day rides. I hate riding with a backpack; the weight high up, straps and 'clammy back' thing annoy.
En-Trance has tubeless tyres and, even with the dropper post, the basics of puncture repair (spare tube, CO2 cartridge, plug tool and small bottle of fluid) fit in a small saddle bag, but that doesn't account for other gear.
For a day ride I want to carry the following minimum:
- Warm/Wet Gear
- Rain shell
- Arm and Leg warmers for cycling and, if more remote, a thermal top
- Over gloves or full wet gloves (depending where)
- SealSkinz waterproof socks
- Small dry bag for money, cards, keys
- Small Quick-Dry Microfiber Towel and swim gear (to save spending the rest of a ride in wet bike shorts)
- Common to all my bikes items (in a soft bag I transfer between them for the ride)
- Tyre levers
- Mini tool with chain breaker & spoke adjuster
- Tube patch kit (stick-ons) & cable ties
- Disposable Gloves for repairs &/or first aid use
- Security, medical and emergency
- Light lock and cable (just for in/out of a shop type use)
- Small first aid kit and small hand sanitiser
- Personal Locator Beacon
Rear bags are difficult on a suspension bike, I tried a bike-packing seat post style one but there is not enough clearance unless the rear suspension is locked (so why bother, take the hardtail!).
I have an ancient 'Pinnacle' Handlebar bag—last used when cycling to Tech in the mid-1980s—which was good enough to prove riding with a front bag was OK, but too 'floppy' as has no internal frame/structure.
I started looking at conventional touring style handlebar bags but there wasn't much selection. The few listed were not in stock, at the usual local stores, but while browsing I found a review for Aeroe gear. They are NZ designed racks and bags for bike-packing on all kinds of bikes, including full suspension.
Initially I just got their Spider Cradle – Handlebar/Front Fork bracket. Ordered direct on-line it arrived in about a week. The cradle attaches to the handlebars with two soft coated straps tightened, with Allen screw tensioners, to make a solid and rattle/scratch free connection.
Weight: 479g (1lb) (includes in built straps) | Load capacity: 5kgs(11lbs)
Materials: High grade stainless steel, anodized aluminium, glass reinforced nylon and silicone coated straps. (spec. from Aeroe.com)
I have a dry bag, thought might have been OK, but proved to be a bit small for the gear I want to carry so initially used the ancient handlebar bag.
The two straps secure any bag, tent, or sleeping bag and are long so can be crossed to improve lateral stability if the load requires.
The old bag size was OK but it is not waterproof, so I ordered the 8 litre Aeroe Dry Bag to complete the set. This combo is perfect for a day ride and leaves the option of adding their rear racks/bags if decide I need more capacity. I love the vivid orange colour of the bag as both a relief from the 'everything black' bike and for the visibility it provides. Have often wondered why touring bags mostly are black, toasts everything inside in NZ summer sun!
Weight: 233g (0.5lbs) | Load capacity: 4kgs recommended (9lbs)
Materials: Heavy duty TPU fully welded. Fully waterproof. (spec. from Aeroe.com)
The Aeroe bag is a well-built dry bag with the addition of two strap loops which improve load stability if the bag is not full or tightly strapped. I found the size perfect for my needs and it sits low enough not to impede visibility of the front wheel, great for placement on slow technical stuff, and allows handlebar mounted lights (and my Cycliq camera) an unobstructed view.
I also added a Topeak DeFender FX/RX 279er front guard which fits OK under the Aeroe Bag. It fits into the fork steerer tube, bracket locked by a single Allen screw, with the split sections easily removed using a quick release (leaving a short bracket) for transport, or if not needed.
I've now ridden about 400km on a mix of tarmac, gravel roads, forest and single track with this combination and recommend it. The Aeroe cradle is firm and rigid, there are no rattles, and the bag easily passed an Auckland torrential rain leak test. Check out aeroe.com for this and a range of other innovative bike-packing bag solutions.