October 9, 2020

bikepacking in australia

There are so many different bike options available these days that it can hard to distinguish the differences between them and what each is best suited to accomplish. Between mountain bikes, commuter bikes, road bikes, folding bikes, and cyclocross bikes, you have countless choices to select from at any given moment.

With this large selection available to choose from, you’re probably wondering where bikepacking bikes fit into the mix. While you can use most of the previously mentioned types of bikes for bikepacking, it’s best to look for a model that’s designed with bikepacking in mind if you can. Just remember some mountain bikes may be the exception to this rule.

In this article we’re going to dive into some of the features you should look for in your bikepacking bike, as well as our picks of the top products you can buy for bikepacking in Australia. We’ll wrap things up by answering some of your frequently asked questions about the topic so you can know where to best invest your money.

 

why bikepack

Bikepacking Australia: What to look for in a bike for bikepacking?

The idea behind bikepacking is having a versatile biking solution that allows you to easily transport whatever you need on your bike. Whether this means camping gear or an overnight kit, the bike needs to be able to support your supplies over a long distance through sometimes rough terrain.

Don’t worry too much about things like a carbon fork or fancy technology when it comes to a bikepacking bike. Instead focus on what matters the most. Here are some of the things you should look for in a bike to make sure it’s going to deliver where you need it the most.

Frame Material and Build Quality

Depending on what you plan on loading onto your bike, you’re going to need a model that has a sturdy frame. This means looking for a bike that can withstand rougher terrain, something along the lines of the body of a mountain bike but with the functionality of a bikepacking bicycle.

The build material of the frame is also a consideration you should make. There are a number of different options available including aluminum, steel, carbon fiber, and titanium. Each of these have their own pros and cons you have to think about before deciding on which type of frame material is right for you.

You should also make sure the bike has a full suspension system on the front and rear of the bike so you have less of an issue on long trips through potentially rougher terrain. Get the full spec sheet on the bike before you make your purchase so you know what you’re buying and what you can expect from it prior to hitting the road.

If you have a dream bike configuration in mind, you can always build your own bikepacking bike. Just remember to keep the build material of the bikepacking frameset in mind as your starting point. Also, make sure that the top tube of the bike frame is sloped downward like what you would encounter on a mountain bike. This allows for additional stand over clearance on the bike.

Tyre Size Allowances

Whether you plan on using your bike for mountain biking types of terrain or gravel bike paths, you need to make sure that the clearance in the frame has enough space for you to have the right sized tyre. Technical terrain means you’ll likely need to consider a wider tyre size to get through it without too much of a struggle.

Wider tyres also mean you’ll get more rolling resistance on the road, which will help you get where you’re going without as much exertion. This is especially important on long distance rides. Your front and rear tyre is the most important consideration you can make before you start bikepacking, so make sure you have the space in the frame to give you what you want.

Storage Options

When you’re using a bike for bikepacking, you need to consider the types of storage solutions you have available to make sure it’s going to work for what you need. This includes everything from a bottle cage to hold your water to plenty of places on the frame of the bike to strap your kit or bikepacking bag securely against.

The traditional bike storage solution was to attach pannier racks to the frame of the bike and load the luggage onto those racks. Newer cycling luggage lets you strap them directly onto your bike with the large pannier racks. This allows for a smoother and easier ride overall. You should also remember that if you’re going to be carrying a handlebar roll on your bike, packing them onto wider bars will help them fit more securely.

Warranty Information

In addition to all of the features we listed above, you need to make sure the bicycle you’re considering getting has a warranty that will protect your investment. These bicycles aren’t cheap and the last thing you want to do is put your money down for one and have something go wrong only for the warranty to not cover the problem.

Make sure you speak to the retailer or manufacturer who sells you the bicycle to ensure you understand what is and isn’t covered by the warranty, as well as what could void the warranty. You should also familiarize yourself with the return policy in case the bicycle isn’t as comfortable as you expected once you leave the store. Real world conditions are often very different than those you encounter in a store or read about online and you need to make sure you can return the product if you need to.

The Top 5 Best Bikepacking Bikes

The following are our picks for the best bikepacking bikes that will get you where you’re going. Each of these bikes are great all-around options for long rides on the road or on mountain biking trails. These models are listed in no particular order, so you just need to select the one that sounds like a good fit for you to get started.

Sonder Frontier Rigid

Sonder Frontier Rigid bikes are 27.5″ mountain bikes that have a 12 speed chainset and lots of mounting points. These bikes are fitting with high-quality WTP Ranger tyres along with Sonder’s in-house Love Mud wheels and finishing kit. This is a jack-of-all-trades bike that gives you a full suspension system to help you have a more comfortable ride.

 

bikepacking bike sonder

 

Pros

      • High-quality bike frame that delivers
      • NX1 drivetrain
      • SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed chainset

Cons

      • Aluminum material may turn some people off
      • Not actually a bikepacking model bike

Brother Kepler Disc

While this model is more expensive than other options on the market, it’s worth the extra money for how much fun you’ll have on riding around. The recent improvements to the build have only improved what was already a great bicycle. These improvements include a hydraulic disc brake system and increased tyre clearance.

 

kepler disc bikepacking bike

 

Pros

      • Steel frame
      • 45mm tyres on 700c or 48mm tyres on 650b wheels
      • Steel fork with numerous mounting spots

Cons

      • Wheelset is basic Formula/Alex Rims combination
      • Replacement forks are hard to come by (carbon fork can be used instead)

Specialized Epic Hardtail

This bicycle is the perfect choice for long distance riding across roads or rougher trails. Thanks to RockShox fork’s 100mm travel, you’ll have a smoother ride during your bikepacking journey to your destination. While there are less mounting points available when compared to other bikes, this model is a lightweight solution for those wanting an alternative to steel frames.

 

epic specialized bikepacking bike

 

Pros

      • Carbon fiber frame
      • 100mm suspension travel system
      • Great for rougher terrain

Cons

      • Fork has less refined feel than others
      • These bikes kit is lackluster

Kona Rove

The Kona Rove is a great option if you’re looking for a bicycle that can handle dirt paths along with roads. While the narrow tyres may not work well for rougher riding, they do well in dry conditions. This model also has a double chainring which will help you climb steeper paths than you might otherwise be able to handle.

 

best kona rove bike

 

Pros

      • Great bike for the price
      • Perfect for both the road and mountain bike trails
      • Double chainring to help with steep hills

Cons

      • Aluminum frame material isn’t as sturdy as steel
      • Front-end comfort is lacking

Trek 1120

This bicycle is designed specifically for bikepacking, which means it comes with storage solutions built into the frame. This includes integrated racks for storing your gear, as well as a bottle cage for your water. There’s also a dropper post to climb on and off the bicycle easier, as well as larger tyres to help you handle different terrain.

 

trek bikepacking bike

 

Pros

Cons

      • Aluminum body may not be for everyone
      • Extra racks add weight to the bike
      • Missing dynamo wire routing

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you have a better idea of what you can expect from the best bikepacking bikes on the market, let’s dive into some of the common questions about bikepacking.

What is the best bike for Bikepacking?

There really isn’t a simple answer to the best bike as it depends on your needs. You need to think about the terrain you’ll be likely riding on, whether that’s mountain bike trials, gravel bike paths, or smooth road riding. You also should consider the suspension, the gearing system, the wheel and tyre size, and the frame material of the bikepacking bikes you’re looking into.

Are fat bikes good for Bikepacking?

Fat bikes are more difficult to ride long distances but are able to handle a wide range of terrains. This oversized bike has larger tyres to help with the different types of terrain such as snow, sand, and mud. Depending on where you plan on bikepacking and how far you’ll be riding is going to play a role into figuring out if a fat bike is good for your needs.

What is the most versatile bike?

The most versatile bike is likely the mountain bike because it can be used for both mountain trails and for riding on the road. The optional suspension system helps to absorb shocks while riding as well. While not as light as commuting bikes, they can be outfitted to be used to move around town.

What are the best touring bicycles?

Some of the most popular touring bikes include the Disc Trucker, the RLT 9 Steel, the AWOL Expert, and the 520 Disc. Some aspects of this type of bike to consider include the wide tyre and fender widths, the low gear ratios, and the wheel strength.

What makes a bikepacking bicycle different from other types of bicycles?

The biggest difference between a bikepacking bicycle and other models is the storage options and tyre clearance size. While other bicycles are designed for commuting or hitting trails, bikepacking bicycles are created for traveling long distances with a lot of gear. This means it has to be comfortable for long rides and practical to use across different terrains.

Conclusion

While you may not be worrying too much about your bike having a carbon fork or an extra bottle cage, there are some features you need to make sure your bike has in order to ensure its a good fit for you. This includes considering the frame material, the type of full suspension system, and the tyre size allowance. Looking for at least a 12 speed bike is also a good idea for those long rides.

Whether you’re going to be bikepacking across a smooth road or a mountain bike path, you have to make sure the bike you buy can transport you to where you’re going with all of your gear still attached. The importance on reliability and quality why we recommend each of the five models in this article. These bikes are all built with bikepacking in mind and are sure to be an investment worth making.

About the author 

Beastie Bikes Pete

Hi I'm Pete. I'm a passionate mountain biker in Australia. I enjoy writing about biking as much as doing it......almost!

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