Reduce bicycle pack weight while cycle touring

June 10, 2018

It's always the fun question when you meet, mostly male, cycle tourists: How much does your bike weigh?

There are cyclists who like to take as much as possible with them, including axes, full sized pumps and a 4 person tents.

There are other gram chasers who cut their toothbrushes in half and have a jersey to sleep in instead of a sleeping bag.

Of course you should find your balance somewhere between the extremes. That said, a lighter bike, makes for easier more enjoyable cycling. Not only is it easier to go up hills, it's easier to push, less demanding on your bicycle and cheaper to fly/travel.

 Cycle touring with a heavy pack weight can be fun.
Sometimes cycling with a heavy bike can be fun because you can surf at the same time!

Some tips to reduce your weight:

  1. Pack just the right amount of food. Food is heavy, you do not have to buy for three weeks of riding if there is a town every other day. Make sure you pack a bit more than you need until the next stop for emergencies but keep the weight down. We met a guy who checked his bags and found 1 kilogram of lentils that he had forgot about and carried in his panniers for 2000km. He was always complaining about how tired he was!
  2. Reduce the amount of bags and containers you use to pack things. All those "handy" items weigh something. Use a plastic bag, or fabric drawstring bag without zips. Zips are heavy!
  3. Try reuse items for different purposes. Use a simple cup for drinking, tea, eating porridge and a cup of wine. We met a girl with a heavy enamel tea cup, a bowl, a flask for whiskey and a thermal bottle that she never used. Add those up and you will be surprised how much it weighs! A simple plastic cup and a plastic water bottle will be good enough.
  4. Don't take expensive things with you. Even though you can try as hard as you can to pack an optimal bag when leaving on a trip, you will always realise that you do not need something. Then give it away, send it home or sell it! Do not be scared to reduce, you very rarely miss them.

Most importantly, do not get to hung up about weight. On a bicycle it is not as important as when you are hiking, the bicycle carries the weight, especially if its flat. So be pragmatic. An extra cycling skinsuit is not a problem to take along because it makes the trip more pleasurable!





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