Going the distance means having reliable gear customized for bike packing, that hybrid undertaking that melds cycling and backpacking. Here are three specialty bikes and four cargo carriers that will make the going easier.
Epitome of the breed
Why we like it: Burly machine that'll survive anything and carry everything.
Info: $1,999, rei.com/b/co-op-cycles
Comfiest handlebar ever
Canyon Grail CF. Carbon-fiber gravel racer/bike packer road bike with 700C wheels, spacing for 42-mm tires and two innovations: a two-level flexing road-style handlebar that absorbs shock to the hand from the front wheel, and a flexing seat post.
Why we like it: Unmatched comfort for your hands because the “floating” top section of the two-part carbon handlebar acts like a shock absorber. Most gravel bikes destroy your hands; this one doesn't.
Info: Grail CF models (with the floating handlebar) run $2,499 to $5,000, bit.ly/canyongrailcf
No-limits distance machine
Specialized AWOL Expert. A long-distance specialist with a durable chromoly steel frame, numerous rack, fender and water bottle mounts, a kickstand plate, 700-by-45 tires, tall, upright-position stem, a battery-free, Dynamo generator front hub for lights, and a one-of-a-kind suspension seaport.
Why we like it: It's tough, basically the road-bike version of the REI 4.2, with lights. The 45-mm tires are best for gravel, not rough trails.
Info: $2,500, bit.ly/specializedawolexpert
Use your fork
Road Runner Body Bag. It’s a fork-mounted, waterproof pannier.
Why we like it: Very handy and smart design lets no space (such as the typically unused fork) go to waste. Roll-top dry-sack will keep gear dry in a river crossing.
Info: $50, roadrunnerbags.us
Lug everything but the kitchen sink
Burley Coho XC trailer. One-wheel trailer for road or trail that includes a shock to level bumps, a kickstand to hold the bike upright, and easy connection and fit to different wheel setups.
Why we like it: Simplest way to lug lots of gear, including large jugs of water for the deep backcountry, without the hassle of airtight packing gymnastics.
Info: $419, bit.ly/burleycohotrailer
Electronic seat dropper
Magura Vyron Dropper Seatpost. First-ever wireless dropper post.
(Dropper seat posts lower the saddle height at the touch of a handlebar button, which enhances balance during downhill riding during bike packing and mountain biking because it allows you to push your body weight back.)
Why we like it: With no wires in the way, this clean design is a standout among dropper posts.
Info: $499, magura.com
Topeak Backloader. Oversized under-the-seat bag that allows you to carry lots of gear without a rear rack.
Why we like it: Racks can break under the stress of mountain biking and can’t be used with dual-suspension bikes. This giant streamlined bag mounts easily, cinches tight so it won’t sway and has a waterproof inner liner.
Info: $74.95 for 6L size and $84.95 for 10L, topeak.com