It’s a great time to be a bike tourer or bikepacker because travelling on a bike has never been more popular. With this wave of popularity comes more brands, more products, more competition and more money for designing cool things. I’m lucky enough to get all the new products shoved in my face, so I thought I’d round up my favourite bikepacking gear innovations from this year. Let’s go!
This list is in alphabetical order.
The Best Gear Innovations For 2018
1. Apidura Magnetic Top Tube Pack
This new top tube pack uses magnets to hold it in place. Not only does it look super neat, but you can keep your phone/wallet inside and remove it all while you run into a shop. How cool is that?!
2. Apidura Racing Handlebar Pack
The Apidura Racing Handlebar Pack caught my eye for two reasons. Firstly, it mounts directly to aero bars, keeping the bag stable and reducing the strain on your cables. It also has integrated feed bags on either end to quickly stow more bidons or snacks.
3. Jones SG 2.5 Loop Bar
This is a really elegant solution to achieving a bit more height out of your front end. Plus you get all the benefits of a wide touring bar with heaps of space for accessories!
4. kLite Bikepacker ULTRA Dynamo Light
Bikepackers are loving this new dynamo light by kLite. Compared to other lights, it has an exceptionally wide beam, more brightness (1350 lumens!), reduced flicker at lower speeds and a longer stand-light. It’s available in two beam patterns for on-road or off-road riding.
5. KT Dynamo Hub
KT is a new dynamo hub brand offering a model with interchangeable end caps that allow you to fit QR, 12mm or 15mm axles. The hub internals are KTs own design, but it shares the same hub shell with SP Dynamo. Given it has just been released, it’s not proven yet, but it’s looking very promising.
6. PDW Bundle Roll
In the last 12 months, we’ve seen dozens of stabilized bikepacking bags hit the market. The Bundle Roll is just one example, using a handlebar mount to keep everything still. This design will keep the drybag stable, will prevent paint rub, will give your cables room to breath and will make sure the drybag can’t rub on your front tyre.
7. Problem Solvers Bow Tie Strap Anchors
This is a really neat solution for mounting bottles of all sizes. These Bow Tie Anchors bolt on to your existing bidon mounts and provide the loopholes you need for some Voile straps to secure a water bottle, fuel bottle or drybag!
8. Restrap Accessory Bag
The Restrap handlebar harness now has this neat quick release accessory bag – simply slide it up and across to remove it. Like the Apidura Magnetic Top Tube Bag, this is another great place to stash your valuables.
9. Sawyer Micro Squeeze Water Filter
I’ve been using Sawyer Squeeze filters for almost as long as I’ve been travelling around the world. They’re super cheap and pretty much bombproof. Sawyer released a ‘Micro’ model this year which makes packing a filter even easier than before. The filter spec is 0.1 microns and it’s rated for 100,000 gallons!
10. SRAM NX Eagle Drivetrain
The SRAM NX drivetrain has made bikepacking bikes better thanks to its wide gear range and low cost. While stock bikes previously had 11-42t cassettes, the Eagle climbing gear is now boosted up to 50-tooth. This gives you more range, but more importantly, you can achieve an 18-inch climbing gear on a plus-bike without any trouble.
The Best Travel Bikes For 2018
11. All City Gorilla Monsoon
I really like what All City have done with the Gorilla Monsoon. This is a bike that can accommodate 27.5 x 2.4″ rubber, or alternatively 650B x 47C slicks with full fenders. The size range is great and it’s available as a frameset too. It has a super cool twin-plate fork crown and mounts for Surly-8 and 24-Pack rando-ish racks. The 1x drivetrain may be fine for some, but for lower gears, you could change the front chainring, or alternatively, fit a front derailleur. The wider-than-usual 73mm threaded bottom bracket shell makes fitting MTB front derailleurs and MTB cranksets (eg. 48/36/26t or 42/28t) very easy.
12. Cannondale Topstone Sora
When you factor in price, the 2019 Cannondale Topstone undoubtedly comes out on top in the light touring category. The aluminium frame features a threaded bottom bracket shell (big tick), rear rack mounts, internal cable routing in the downtube, routing for a dropper seatpost, 3x bidon cage mounts, a cargo cage mount and top tube bag mount. The frame is able to accommodate 700 x 42C and probably 650B x 47C too. The fork is FULL carbon (unheard of at this price) and thanks to the sub-compact crankset and wide range cassette, the climbing gear ratio is 24 gear inches. Achieving even lower gears is a very easy mod – simply swap the rear derailleur and cassette. Oh, did I mention a Topstone Sora is just a thousand bucks??
13. Salsa Warbird v4
The 2019 Salsa Warbird has once again paved the way for other carbon bikepacking bikes. It’s lighter and smaller than previously (good for 142cm/4ft8 riders). It fits 700c x 45c or 27.5″ x 2.1″ tyres. There’s provision for 2-3 bidon cages in the front triangle, one under the downtube and one on either side of the fork. There’s a top tube bag mount for those who like the idea of reducing strap wear. And it fits front/rear racks! The weight of the bike is between 8.4-10kg and the prices start from US $2399.
14. Surly Bridge Club
The Surly Bridge Club is my favourite flat bar tourer for 2018. It’s US $1200, it has a 17 gear inch climbing gear and it can fit 27.5 x 2.8″, 26 x 3.0″ or 700 x 47C tyres. It has also got all the braze-ons you need for touring, including mounts for the Surly-8 and 24-Pack rando-ish racks. Fit some fat slicks (Schwalbe Super Moto X) and fenders and you can take this bike on a long road tour too.