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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Everybody-
So I have some questions doing the CT. Honestly it's a ways off (summer 2022) - so these questions are premature (well some of this stuff will apply to me more immediate rides tho) but if I don't ask them I won't be able to stop thinking about them. Plan is to do a few 3 day trips summer 2021 and probably a couple more shorter trips in 2022 before the big trip in...Aug or September. I own virtually no gear. Yet. So now I'm in research mode. Here. Bikepacking.com. YouTube.

Let's jump right in.

What do you guys think about this tent?
https://sectionhiker.com/eureka-solitaire-aluminum-tent-review/
I like that it's $100 and 2 lb 11 oz. vs. a Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 at..$300-$400? But the BA tent is 6 oz lighter. This Eureka tent looks pretty tiny - like literally a cocoon.

Thoughts?

I'm okay with spending the extra money as long as it makes sense. As I often say, I'm OK with spending money - but not wasting it.

Let's talk...bikes!
So currently I have a significantly upgraded aluminum Fatboy fat bike - including a Bluto and lightweight carbon wheelset and more. And I just bought a near perfect fit Salsa frame bag for it. I will use this bike this upcoming summer. But I don't see myself riding the full length of the CT on it.

I also have an Electra Rat Rod Cruiser - it's 3 speed so it climbs OK compared to the one speed. Not sure if the coaster brake can handle the big descents. Would make for great IG pics at least.

Ohh.. here's where I say our goal is 10-11 day ride time. So...50ish miles/day. I live in Denver and will be in good shape but I'm not like a crazy fit person. Will be 50 yrs old. So we're not racing but I think those will be big days - need to have an efficient bike and gear.

My other current steed is a Pivot Mach 5.5. I just don't see myself riding this bike either. Change my mind.

I'm thinking / debating... On one hand I'm thinking I should do a lightweight (duh) carbon hardtail 29er. Light, simple, roll fast, frame can accommodate a good frame bag.

But on the other hand I love FS bikes. More comfortable overall and stable on descents. Maybe find a good, lighter (than my 5.5), better climbing cross country bike - one that climbs well, maybe has a lockout shock (vs CTD?) and hopefully with a frame/shock design that accommodates a half decent frame bag? I ride a size large so that may help.

But, even tho I've never had a rear shock failure, ever...in what...22 years of riding FS bikes - I mean if ever there was a time that would happen - it would be on that ride, according to Mr. Murphy and his infamous Law. In the middle of BFE. Just more to go wrong overall - shock, pivot points, etc.

Anybody have first or second-hand accounts of suspension failure on the CT ride? Looks like a decent percentage of people do use a FS rig for the ride...

Then of course there's dropper posts. Such a great thing. And one more thing to go wrong. In my YouTube research I saw two cases of dropper post issues.

Assuming we go light - quality lightweight gear - how realistic is it to think we could get away with doing this ride with no Camelback or backpack? Bike bags would be Terrapin 14L seat bag, Revelate harness plus Salty roll, a tank bag, and some sort of frame bag that obviously depends on the frame. Possible another top tube bag up against seat tube - but was thinking maybe mount a water bottle there..? water bottle under downtube. maybe one of those other little snack bags in the cockpit...

So those are the questions that have been really occupying my head the last few days.

Thanks in advance for any and all insights.

CObikeman
 

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I would never, ever carry a tent for the CT.

I'd find a tarp that suited my needs soon, and start learning to use it every chance you get.
 

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MoShroom
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Thats a great goal! I rode the CT in 2019 and it was one of the most beautiful and challenging adventures I've had. You're gonna love it!

I would look around for lighter shelter options. Tarptent makes some pretty light shelters. Or look into Bivy sacks. I understand some people need a tent. But your bike is going to be really heavy no matter what and any weight you can shed will make your experience that much more enjoyable. It can be very surprising how fast the bags fill up and how heavy the bike gets as a result.

Personally I would never ride the CTR on a hardtail. People do for sure, but there is some seriously rocky singletrack that will take its toll after consecutive long days. I think your Mach 5.5 would be perfect if you can get the weight down. You could get a light carbon wheelset for it and run lightish tires like Maxis Ardent Race (exo version), that will do a lot to make it faster. Or the FS XC bike option. I raced the CT in 5 plus days on a 140mm 27.5 Hei Hei with a 160mm fork with light carbon wheels and it was great. Next year I plan to race CTR on an SB115. I don't think you would need a remote lockout unless you are racing. Even then it's not necessary, I had one and didn't end up using it as much as I thought.

You might be able to get away without a pack if you find a bike with a huge open main triangle, like a hardtail or a FS bike like the new Kona Hei Hei, Epic Evo, Giant Anthem...but it will be really hard if you're carrying a tent. One thing to consider is the amount of hike a bike you will be doing (ALOT). With that in mind I would be careful of loading the front end of your bike with too much weight. When you're hiking you will be lifting that front end up over rocks and if its really heavy that can be rough. And bikepacking bags affect the handling of a bike, I personally prefer a lighter front end when riding technical trail as it keeps the bike nimble. So for me I chose to carry a pack to help keep the front end weight down(still had a bar bag though). That stretch between Silverton and BV/Mt Princeton is looong without resupply so you will have a lot of food to carry for sure.

I personally love my dropper post and don't like riding trail without one. There are safer options out there such as 9point8 Fall Line. It uses a cable and air pressure instead of hydraulics, so if that post fails it's default is an automatic clamp that holds the post and all that you would have to do is lift it all the way back up and it would basically be a rigid post, worst case scenario. There are other posts on the market with a similar design as well.

So many good options for bikepacking bags now, once you choose your bike you should be able to figure out what you like and what works; feed bags, gas tank bags, under the down tube bags, dropper post bags...Each bike will be better suited for different set ups.
Have fun! CT is SO amazing!
 

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I like the Big Angus tents myself. Cant speak to your Eureka Bivy at the link. Looks small.

Rear suspension pretty much kills a good sized frame bag.

I like your early planning. I too would like to ride the CT but might be a few more years when I got most my kids out of the house. I’ll be in my early 50s by than and not feeling any younger...


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

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Lots of questions there.

Being a prospective CTR rider here myself, all I can say is get some gear, and go bikepacking. See what works and what doesn't. Every trip is totally different depending on the weather, resupply, length, if you are riding for speed or for comfort, etc. I've got about a dozen trips under my belt ranging from backyard overnighters to 400 miles and I've never packed the same gear twice.

I do know when I rode Jefe's Gunny Loopy Loop (which mimics the difficulties of the CT), I was very happy to have full suspension.


And PLEASE, if you manage to ride that Electra cruiser bike on the entire CT from Denver to Durango without a major mishap, stop by my house and I'll give you a beer.
 

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CT and racks

Good thread. Quick question, I ride a small frame bike and want to run a dropper post on the CT. This means I'll need to run a rear rack and small panniers in addition to my frame bag and front bag. My bike will be my Salsa Beargrease fat bike with 29x3 wheelset and front Wren shock. Do you see any issues with clearance running the small panniers as far as trail width?

Thanks!
 

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MoShroom
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Good thread. Quick question, I ride a small frame bike and want to run a dropper post on the CT. This means I'll need to run a rear rack and small panniers in addition to my frame bag and front bag. My bike will be my Salsa Beargrease fat bike with 29x3 wheelset and front Wren shock. Do you see any issues with clearance running the small panniers as far as trail width?

Thanks!
I think you might be limited by the bags at times, but I’d guess it’s doable. It would make me a bit nervous though. There are some sections of trail that are tight and overgrown where it could be an issue. I would also be concerned about interference with your legs during hike a bike sections (which are considerable). I don’t have experience with panniers on trails, so maybe they would work. Personally I’d look into dropper post compatible seat packs, is which there are several now. I ran a terrapin on the CTR with no issues. You won’t get as much space as a pannier with a dropper seat pack, but if you can add some other bags to your kit you should be able to carry what you need relatively easily.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thats a great goal! I rode the CT in 2019 and it was one of the most beautiful and challenging adventures I've had. You're gonna love it!

I would look around for lighter shelter options. Tarptent makes some pretty light shelters. Or look into Bivy sacks. I understand some people need a tent. But your bike is going to be really heavy no matter what and any weight you can shed will make your experience that much more enjoyable. It can be very surprising how fast the bags fill up and how heavy the bike gets as a result.

Personally I would never ride the CTR on a hardtail. People do for sure, but there is some seriously rocky singletrack that will take its toll after consecutive long days. I think your Mach 5.5 would be perfect if you can get the weight down. You could get a light carbon wheelset for it and run lightish tires like Maxis Ardent Race (exo version), that will do a lot to make it faster. Or the FS XC bike option. I raced the CT in 5 plus days on a 140mm 27.5 Hei Hei with a 160mm fork with light carbon wheels and it was great. Next year I plan to race CTR on an SB115. I don't think you would need a remote lockout unless you are racing. Even then it's not necessary, I had one and didn't end up using it as much as I thought.

You might be able to get away without a pack if you find a bike with a huge open main triangle, like a hardtail or a FS bike like the new Kona Hei Hei, Epic Evo, Giant Anthem...but it will be really hard if you're carrying a tent. One thing to consider is the amount of hike a bike you will be doing (ALOT). With that in mind I would be careful of loading the front end of your bike with too much weight. When you're hiking you will be lifting that front end up over rocks and if its really heavy that can be rough. And bikepacking bags affect the handling of a bike, I personally prefer a lighter front end when riding technical trail as it keeps the bike nimble. So for me I chose to carry a pack to help keep the front end weight down(still had a bar bag though). That stretch between Silverton and BV/Mt Princeton is looong without resupply so you will have a lot of food to carry for sure.

I personally love my dropper post and don't like riding trail without one. There are safer options out there such as 9point8 Fall Line. It uses a cable and air pressure instead of hydraulics, so if that post fails it's default is an automatic clamp that holds the post and all that you would have to do is lift it all the way back up and it would basically be a rigid post, worst case scenario. There are other posts on the market with a similar design as well.

So many good options for bikepacking bags now, once you choose your bike you should be able to figure out what you like and what works; feed bags, gas tank bags, under the down tube bags, dropper post bags...Each bike will be better suited for different set ups.
Have fun! CT is SO amazing!
That is awesome intel - thanks much. What I don't like about the Mach 5.5 for the ride is minimal space for a frame bag - and I just think I can find a better climbing FS bike (heck my old Mach 5.7 was a little better on climbs frankly) - a true cross country FS bike with less travel - and lower weight. I'd have to see where I could shave weight off this bike - its 12 spd XT (XTR rr der) - wheels/tires for sure...maybe a few key XTR parts? But still - the climbing efficiency and frame bag thing...

I will have to think about shelter....

Thanks guys let's keep the conversation going.

COBikeman
 

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MoShroom
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That is awesome intel - thanks much. What I don't like about the Mach 5.5 for the ride is minimal space for a frame bag - and I just think I can find a better climbing FS bike (heck my old Mach 5.7 was a little better on climbs frankly) - a true cross country FS bike with less travel - and lower weight. I'd have to see where I could shave weight off this bike - its 12 spd XT (XTR rr der) - wheels/tires for sure...maybe a few key XTR parts? But still - the climbing efficiency and frame bag thing...

I will have to think about shelter....

Thanks guys let's keep the conversation going.

COBikeman
Yeah the bag space, weight, and efficiency are limiters on the 5.5. Depending on your current wheel/tire setup, you could probably save 2lbs there alone. If you like riding XC/marathon bikes and don’t mind dropping the coin, there are some really good options for sure that will tick all your boxes.

For an example my entire sleep system weighs 2lbs 4oz and it could get lighter for sure.
Mont bell bivy-6oz
Exped airmat ul-11oz
Western mountaineering Summerlite 32f -19oz

For how lightweight it is it’s actually really comfortable and I’ve done nights in the mid 20’s and am toasty down to about 32 if I wear my clothes and down jacket. I use this setup for non-racing as well. You will get some condensation on your bag with the bivy. Tents are comfy but light bikes are fun:)
 

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Good on you for eyeballing the CT! It's such a fantastic and challenging route!

I'll echo what others have mentioned, a tent not needed unless you feel it is needed for you to be successful on a full trail completion. A high quality alpine bivy or similar works well. I 'm a fan of Outdoor Research bivies. Everyone is different, and if you fancy some good sleep...bring what is needed for you....even if that includes a tent. You do you.

As for the bike, I've ridden most/all of this CT on all kinds of bikes: 100mm XC hardtail, 120mm XC full suspension, 140/130mm trail bike, etc. I plan to head out on the trail again in 2021 and will definitely take the 140/130 trail bike. The CT is not fast (3-4 mph avg speed) and you might as well be comfy and have some fun. Take a bike that is fun to ride and can carry the gear you need.

Take a dropper post if you can. This will aid in enjoyment and descending safety.

If you are on a 1x drivetrain get a 28T chainring.

My minimum go-to tire size is 2.4. I like to run a Maxxis Ardent/Ardent Race combo .

Focus on gear that serves dual purpose. For example for fast touring of the CT, I don't carry a warm sleeping bag. I take a down jacket, down pants and a 45º sleeping bag. These 3 items make for enjoyable sleep. The down jacket and down pants can also be worn on the bike during those cold mornings and evenings.

As for water, I never carry a pack for water. 3 large water bottles is typically enough as there is typically a lot of water sources to filter on route. Everyone has different water needs....so lean towards what works for you.

I have some pictures of my go-to CT touring set up: https://www.strava.com/activities/4023330485

Enjoy the process and absorb all the knowledge others graciously put online.
 

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Thought about a 29x3" wheel set for the fatty? I like my big agnes copper spur. At 6'4" I can sit up and it is long enough for me. The bikepacking version has short poles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
True that could be an option. Still a long way's off but today I'm leaning towards a XC FS bike...I have time to figure out what I'd want, find a good used one, and do all the key maintenance. After the ride sell it. Maybe. Part of the fun will be in the planning and thinking.

Just today was joking..mostly..kinda - that it would be funny to bring a scale into stores...weigh stuff that I'm thinking about buying.

I was starting to lean towards a Fly Creek if I do a tent (probable). Maybe use the non-bikepacking poles (a few oz lighter supposedly) as I should have 2 maybe 3 places I can carry them even at 18" long...

Thanks for weighing in! Much appreciated.

COBikeman
 

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when I did my research for my trip, the weight difference btwn a bivy and a tarp tent (I got one from Henry Shires) was really small. The difference in comfort is huge. I'd recommend carrying a pack, but keep it light. Carry the water on the bike, and bulky stuff on your back. I wouldn't want to do it on a hardtail.
 

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MoShroom
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when I did my research for my trip, the weight difference btwn a bivy and a tarp tent (I got one from Henry Shires) was really small. The difference in comfort is huge. I'd recommend carrying a pack, but keep it light. Carry the water on the bike, and bulky stuff on your back. I wouldn't want to do it on a hardtail.
Curious how light your tarp tent is? I agree the comfort difference is big for sure, but my bivy is 6oz and is totally warm and waterproof down below freezing, and I don’t know of anything even close to that weight unless you just bring a dyneema tarp with very minimal cordage. But would love to be educated if there’s something else out there I’m not aware of.
 

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That is really light, my 2 person tarptent is probably around 2 lbs, but you can get lighter ones. That must be silnylon? Don't you get condensation inside?
 

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MoShroom
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That is really light, my 2 person tarptent is probably around 2 lbs, but you can get lighter ones. That must be silnylon? Don't you get condensation inside?
It’s a 2 layer waterproof breathable nylon, Montbell drytech similar to an UL rain jacket. And yes I do get condensation most nights. But it’s always just a little on the surface of my bag. Living in CO it’s usually dry, so easy to leave your bag out while you eat breakfast or lunch and dries in 30mins max. Every bivy I’ve slept in has had that issue to some extent. It’s worth the weight and space savings for me when bikepacking, not backpacking though. But totally understand it’s not for others.
 

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if you fancy some good sleep...bring what is needed for you....even if that includes a tent. You do you.
It is worth pointing out that some folk who race routes like the CO trail bring minimal or no sleeping kit to intentionally make sleep cold and uncomfortable so they'll be motivated to sleep as little as possible. This combined with lighter load means they'll ride longer and faster, thus finishing sooner which in turn requires less sleep to get to the finish line. Fine if you're racing and that's your strategy, but that won't work well for most of us on longer timelines.

I've been in my bivy enough times in soaking overnight rain to know I wouldn't want to deal with that on a longer high elevation ride like the CO trail where storms can hit every day, and if you're unlucky it turns into an unexpected week-long storm. Check out Schillingsworth's trip for what is close to a worst case example: My Two Schillingsworth: Colorado Trail Race '17 - Wet 'n Wild Edition If it's just intermittent storms a bivy will be ok but if its your third or fourth day in a row of rain and you wake up to more rain and want to wait it out, a bivy is not where you want to be. Even in an UL 1-man tent you can sit up and move around a bit, get changed, and you can bring your bags inside so they don't get soaked. You can't do that easily in a bivy. And there can be minimal weight penalty to bring the tent. My original goretex OR bivy weights 2 lbs. My tent weights 2lbs 2oz. I think my new OR bivy is 18oz, but it gets much more condensation as it is not goretex. For a 3-day CO trail section ride with clear-ish forecast I'd bring the bivy. For the full CO trail it will be tent for sure for me.

At the end of the day a tent, bivy, or tarp are all shelters and each has their pros and cons which may weigh differently depending on the conditions you expect or actually experience and your tolerance for discomfort. For me a tent is an insurance policy. You may not need it, but if you do you'll be really glad you brought it. I've never used a tarp, but it seems like one would be similar to a tent but with less protection from the elements. Personally I'd take the extra weight. Mikesee, maybe you can elaborate on why you would bring a tarp rather than a tent.


The suggestion to do as many trips as possible to try out your setups is a good one. Hard to know what will work best for you and your local trails and conditions when you haven't been bikepacking before. Start with what you have. With the FS you may not be able to carry enough on the bike to avoid the pack, but that is something you'll figure out. Some FS designs have a pretty open rear triangle. A hardtail will get things done if need be. Remember you won't be going as fast on a loaded bike. For me, the ability to lower the saddle an inch or so makes more difference than having full suspension. I don't need a dropper to do that. These are things you have to figure out for yourself based on that your riding style and priorities are. Something to work on as you do more trips is to reduce what you bring. There is a tendency to throw a few extra things in "just in case," like clothing. You can get away with 1 set for the most part, maybe extra socks/gloves/chamois and some layers. When I did the AZT I mailed a bunch of stuff home from Flagstaff. I'd used some of it but didn't really need it. Next time, I wouldn't bring those items. For the CO trail I'd add in a raincoat and maybe rainpants, that would be about it for changes to my gear.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
great stuff EVDOG - thanks! Holy crap that account of the race by Schillingsworth was brutal!! Just wow. I appreciate your insight, too.

Here's another question: any recommendation Durango to Denver VS Denver to Durango? Curious if the trail rides better in one direction vs the other. Living in Denver, logistically Durango to Denver probably makes more sense...but if the climbs are worse in one direction....

COBikeman
 

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I don't think direction matters much. There will be sections that suck and sections that are awesome either way. Personally I think Durango is a cooler town to finish and hang out in. I have friends who've flown into Denver airport, built their bikes there and ridden/bused/trained it to the start. Schillingsworth had the opposite opinion, start in Durango and get the highest elevation riding out of the way first. There's a few thousand extra feet of descending that way but over 500+ miles that's not really a factor. Unless you have a preference due to other reasons I'd just go with whichever way the logistics are easier.
 
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