Your First Bikepacking Bike
Are you looking for a biking adventure and don’t want to leave your essential gear behind? You may want to consider investing in a bikepacking bike.
Bikepacking is an extreme form of bicycle touring that involves carrying all of your camping and riding essentials on your bike, so you don’t have to worry about finding places to stash your supplies or hauling a traditional touring setup.
It requires the use of specialized gear, such as lightweight tents, sleeping bags, and other items designed for backpackers. Bikepackers must also be careful to select bikes that can handle the rigors of off-road travel — this means selecting the right frame, components, wheelset, and tires.
Enter the bikepacking bike – an effective solution that combines the best features of backpacking gear with those found on mountain and road bikes. In this article we will discuss what makes a good bikepacking bike as well as offer tips on how to select the perfect model.
Types of Bikes
Bikepacking is an increasingly popular form of adventure cycling. Bikepackers have to be prepared for a variety of terrain and must select the best bike for their needs. Common types of bikes used for bikepacking include road bikes, mountain bikes, touring bikes, cyclocross bikes, fatbikes and gravel/adventure bikes.
Road and mountain bikes are good options for short trips in familiar terrain. Touring and gravel/adventure bikes are designed to handle heavier weight loads and can accommodate anything from paved roads to backcountry single-track trails.
Cyclocross and fatbikes offer excellent traction on off-road trails but may be less efficient on paved surfaces than other types of bikepacking bikes. Whatever bike you choose, make sure it fits your height and rides comfortably no matter the terrain so that you can fully enjoy your bikepacking adventure.
What does it come down to? The most important characteristics of a bikepacking bike
When it comes to bikepacking, the most important characteristics of a bike come down to finding the right balance between lightness and capability. This means you want a lightweight frame combined with tough components like tires, brakes and drivetrain that can handle different surfaces while putting in long rides over all types of trails.
You’ll also want a comfortable geometry and suspension that makes shouldering your bike easier during hikes on difficult terrain. Bikepacking isn’t just about covering long distances; it’s also about carrying lots of gear safely and securely.
So, make sure your frame has enough water bottle mounts and rack attachment points for your frame bags, saddle packs, and bar bags. The type of bag setup will determine both how much space you have available for stuff as well as its positioning—so choose wisely!
Ultimately though, the best bikepacking bike is the one that fits your style and goals best.
What's The Best Bikepacking Bike?
Though there are possibly thousands of bikes you could use for bikepacking, here a few of my favorites with models to suit every budget.
Kona Sutra LTD
The Kona Sutra LTD is a bikepacking bike made for those who want to explore the unknown. Outfitted with a chromoly frame and wide tires, the Sutra LTD is ready to take you wherever your two wheels can take you. The upright geometry creates a comfortable ride on any terrain while the disc brakes give you confidence when descending. The bikepacking-specific attachment points make it easy to strap down whatever gear you have, from panniers to sleeping bags.
Say hello to the State Bicycle Co 4130 All-Road. This bikepacking bike is perfect for all types of terrain, from city streets to countryside roads and everything in between. Built with the highest quality chromoly steel with a progressive geometry that’s designed to go long distances in comfort. The 4130 All-Road has been outfitted with all the necessary components you need; disc brakes, mudguards, rack mounts, dropper posts and huge tyre clearance to ensure wherever your ride takes you, you’ll be ready for it!
The Salsa Journeyer Claris 650b is the ideal bikepacking bike with all the features you could want for multi-day cycling adventures. It has a tough butted aluminum frame and fork, 8-speed Shimano Claris drivetrain with hydraulic disc brakes for reliable performance on any terrain, and progressive geometry that provides superior stability and control over long distances. The robust alloy hubs with WTB Byway tires carry you across gravel roads and light trails alike, while wide mounts for water bottles and cargo keep you ready to go wherever your journey takes you.
The Motobecane Gravel X2 is an ideal bikepacking bike that allows you to take your adventures off-road. With a lightweight and durable aluminum frame, mechanical disc brakes for powerful stopping in any condition, and a comfortable upright riding position, it gives you the freedom to explore whatever terrain you might encounter. Plus, it’s equipped with versatile mounts for attaching extra gear so you can turn your ride into the ultimate expedition.
The Marin DSX Flat Bar is an adventurous bike for exploring the back roads and trails of the world. Crafted from strengthened aluminum, this bikepacking bike offers you a smooth ride, thanks to its burly wheelbase, long wheelbase and slack geometry. The frame features flat bars, ergonomic grips and a straightforward 1×11 drivetrain for easy shifting and climbing. It also features hydraulic disc brakes for crisp stopping power and rack & fender mounting points so you can carry all your essential gear with ease. Whether you’re on gravel roads or mountain trails, the DSX Flat Bar is sure to take you wherever life leads – no matter what the road conditions bring your way.
The Cannondale Topstone Alloy is the perfect bikepacking machine. With a lightweight, durable alloy frame, wide range of gears and clearance for tires up to 45mm wide, this bike is ready to tackle your wildest adventures. It features fat runner air suspension with 60mm of travel in order to cushion you while rough trails and features a dropper post to make climbing more comfortable. Take on any terrain with confidence when you ride the Topstone Alloy.
The Mongoose Elroy is an adventure bike that will take you anywhere. With a sleek frame and components, this bikepacking bike is perfect for your next challenge—whether it’s a backcountry tour or a weekend excursion. Featuring 29″ wheels and mountain bike geometry, the Elroy takes on challenging terrain with ease. This lightweight ride comes Ready Ride Tuned—just put in the included pedals and you’re ready to hit the trail.
Bombtrack Beyond – 29er Touring Expedition
The Bombtrack Beyond is a 29er touring expedition bike that’s perfect for long distance bikepacking trips, gravel grinders and all-terrain expeditions. Constructed from high grade aluminium alloy and equipped with high quality components, the Beyond will take you anywhere your imagination can reach. It features front & rear rack compatibility, an upright riding position, dropbar brakes for confidence & control and wide tubeless tyres for comfort and grip. Whether you’re heading off on a day trip or an extended tour of the continent – trust the Bombtrack Beyond to get you there quickly and reliably.
The Salsa Timberjack is the perfect bikepacking bike, with a modern geometry and durable steel frame, making it the ideal companion for your backcountry adventures. It’s packed full of features such as thru-axles and rack mounts in both front and rear, so you can easily attach gear or panniers to your bike. In addition to its rugged construction and modernized geometry, it also comes equipped with 27.5” x 3.0” tires for excellent traction – all designed with the intention of helping you explore further than before.
Kona Hei Hei
Experience the thrill of bikepacking and endurance rides with Kona’s Hei Hei. A mountain bike designed specifically for long-distance journeys, the Hei Hei is an all-terrain bike that won’t compromise on performance or comfort. Use this bike to take you as far as your heart desires — single track, sand paths, forest roads, snow drifts — whatever you are looking for is within reach. Featuring a lightweight aluminum frame, hydraulic disc brakes and 29ers wheelset to tackle any terrain you encounter. With a comfortable riding position and full suspension setup designed to absorb shock and vibration, conquer even the most demanding routes in confidence and style.
The Surly Ogre is the ultimate bikepacking bike, designed to explore whatever off-road terrain you can find. Its rugged steel frame and reliable components have been finely tuned to make ride quality top-notch while still being able to carry almost anything you can think of in its generous cargo capacity. With room for nearly four full panniers, or any combination of racks and bags, the Ogre’s mix of mountain and touring stability is ready to take on just about any adventure.
Introducing the Surly Ghost Grappler, a bikepacking bike designed for adventure and exploration. This versatile bicycle has a mixture of features such as wide tire clearance, front and rear cargo racks as well as flattened tube profiles for added carrying capacity. The lightweight aluminum frame features an upright riding position to ensure an efficient and comfortable riding experience, even when your rig is fully loaded. Travel with confidence knowing that the steel fork and thru-axles provide strength where it matters most. Mount up, explore far away lands and discover spectacular views with the sturdy Ghost Grappler!
The Tumbleweed Stargazer is a rugged, lightweight bike designed for adventure. This hardtail 29er bikepacking machine with 100mm of smooth suspension has been engineered to handle even the most technical trails and backcountry expeditions. The all-mountain geometry, roomy cockpit, 142×12 thru axle, Shimano SLX/XT drivetrain, reliable hydraulic disc brakes, and race-tuned RockShox Revelation fork provide an absolutely dynamic ride and excellent control on any terrain. Whether you’re gravel grinding or taking on more technical trails, the Stargazer will help you reach your goals and provide an incredible adventure along the way.
The Salsa Fargo bike is perfect for extended adventures and bikepacking, with a lightweight aluminum frame featuring sliding dropouts that allow you to alter its geometry for different trails. It comes equipped with fork mounts for carrying your gear on the front. The drivetrain features a wide-range 21-speed Shimano Deore gearing, allowing you to tackle any terrain at any speed. The 27.5″ wheels offer great maneuverability and traction in challenging conditions, while the 47mm tires provide cushion and grip on the most rugged surfaces. With all of this packed into one ride, you can explore farther and longer than ever before!
The Curve GMX is the perfect bike for dedicated bikepackers. It boasts an optimized frame that’s designed for long-distance travel, allowing you to take your adventures further and longer than ever before. With internal cable routing, a durable full titanium construction and featherweight components, the GMX is agile, versatile and reliable enough to accompany you on all of your outdoor exploration.
Rodeo Adventure Labs Flaanimal 5.0
The Rodeo Adventure Labs Flaanimal 5.0 is the perfect bike for your adventure! This bike was built with bikepacking in mind, featuring a lightweight frame and durable tubing that are optimized for high speed and responsive handling. The frame has plenty of eyelets to attach racks and accommodate various packing needs, while the components provide a reliable and comfortable ride. With its rugged looks, it’s a perfect choice for those long weekend rides or whatever trail you choose to explore!