For those thinking about picking up a bikepacking rig, it may be difficult to decide what kind of bike best suits your needs. Hardtail? Full suspension? 29er? 27.5 Plus? Steel? There are so many choices out there today that we thought we would try to make it just a bit easier to narrow the choices by touching on some of the big ideas.
Let’s begin with the type of frame. There are some benefits and draw backs to both hardtails and full suspension bikes. Hardtails have a more efficient pedal stroke and tend to have more storage space on the frame for a nice-sized bag or even a rear rack and pannier setup. Full suspension bikes ride very nicely and provide some relief after really long days in the saddle. They also make descents with a lot of weight on your bike much easier. A 14 hour day in the saddle is rough on any kind off bike…
Now lets talk wheel size. Most folks in the bikepacking world tend to gravitate toward 29er wheels because they seems to be the most efficient all around size. Whether on long flats or challenging obstacles, the 29er is up to the challenge. The newest wheel size, 27.5 plus is also really taking off due to the lower pressure you can run in these big tires (3.0) and the crazy traction they provide on loose and technical trails. The 27.5 plus can also be swapped with a 29er wheel set as the dimensions are the same. That makes a 27.5 plus bike really two bikes, if you choose to invest in a 29er wheel set you can pick and choose which would be the best choice for a given trail.
Frame material is really personal preference and/or dictated by budget and your environment. Steel has a great feel but could rust if not maintained in a wet environment. Aluminum is light, tough, and won’t rust. Carbon is even lighter and stronger, but very expensive.
I’ve just tried to touch on a few aspects of choosing a bikepacking rig, but I hope it’s been helpful. Some of our favorites around Durango Cyclery for bikepacking shredders are the Devinci Marshall 27.5 Plus full suspension, the Surly Karate Monkey 27.5 plus, the Devinci Cobain (very reasonably priced hardtail) 27.5 plus, and the Devinci Django 29er. Stop by for a demo! Hope to see you on the trail.