Ultralight Bike Touring Tips

Proof we really did get the bikes up here!!Andrew and I are as far as you can get from the ultralight bike touring crowd.

At times, our panniers have been known to contain up to 6 books, a rock collection, 2kg of not-yet-ripe avocados (they were on sale!) and a whole wardrobe of clothes that we weren’t wearing but couldn’t bear to throw out because you just never know when you might need them down the road…

And despite this tendency to bike with far more than we probably need, somewhere in the back of our brains is a fascination with ultralight touring, so I spent a happy few moments perusing this ultralight cycling setup, after spotting a link to it on the excellent Bike Touring Tips website.

I know I’ll never be hardcore enough to adopt his idea of bubble wrap as a sleeping pad or abandon my cooking gear and a hot cup of coffee in the morning in favour of saving a few grams by leaving the pots and stove behind, but I still gleaned some good tips from these ultralight touring pages.

My favourite 3 from the ultralight cycling site are:

  • If you want to cut weight, cut the big things first.
    “A common mistake that we all make as newcomers to ultralight cycling is to start with cutting the handle of a tooth brush. The prospective ultralighter, on the contrary, should start with thinking big. There are 6 big ones (in terms of weight or volume) which you should consider first: bicycle, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, cooking equipment and carriers.”
  • Consider alternatives to panniers.
    “A backpack (stripped of unnecessary straps and belts), together with a bungee cord or two, is lighter than any pannier(s) of the same capacity. For example, my 40 l backpack was 1120g, and is now 820g after I cut off the waist belt and removed few other appendicies. For comparison, if you take 2 Ortlieb ‘Back Roller’ panniers, the capacity is the same, 40 l, the weight is almost twice as much, 1630g.”
  • Tape Things On Your Bike Frame
    “I usually tape less frequently used items to the frame: spare tubes, spare tyre, spare spokes, canisters with oil and sun screen, duct tape, pump, light, lock. This reduces the stress on the racks a bit and more importantly reduces the volume of your stuff bags, so you may end up by using smaller stuff bags in the end.”

The page includes dozens of tips for reducing weight and volume on a bike tour so take a moment to check them out. You might not go ultra-light on your next trip but even a few grams saved might help you up that mountain a little bit faster.