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Thread: Bikepacking - Fatbike vs Gravel Grinder... Front triangle space.

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    Senior Member slo's Avatar
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    Default Bikepacking - Fatbike vs Gravel Grinder... Front triangle space.

    Hi all,
    entertaining the idea of doing some self sufficient overnight/weekend trips with the intention of building up to a remote adventure.

    I currently have a 2016 Norco Sasquatch which I could set up as a dedicated adventure bike, however before I get it kitted out I am a little wary of the small front triangle on these frames. Would I be better off flipping this bike in favor of something steel and rigid to potentially gain more frame bag room, and the ability to easily carry light things on the fork? (Currently have bluto front end on the Sasquatch).

    Looking for peoples experiences around longer trips and required space to be self sufficient (first big trip that were working up to is a 200km loop through Flinders Ranges, allocated 3-4days).


    Thanks in advance for your help!


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    Depends on when you want to go and how much stuff you want to take with you and how big a backpack you want to wear. You can fit a lot in if you don't carry too much if you go pretty minimal with your gear (or spend a lot for the ultralight stuff). How much experience do you have camping?

    The frame bag is great for dense stuff to keep in centred. Good for food, liquids and tools. With a small seat pack. You can expand on space for dense things by adding bags onto the top tube. You can fit one near the stem, another near the seat post and even something under the down tube (a bottle, tools etc.). A small front triangle can mean you can make up for the space under the top tube with space over it, though you may be limited for bulky things.
    The handlebar bag/sling and seat pack are good for lighter stuff. You can put a lot of stuff here but you don't want much weigh in these positions. With a bit of weight the seat bag will swing and the handlebar bag/sling can effect your steering. The handlebar bag will be less obtrusive to handling if it is as close to the steer tube centre as possible and you can put a bit of weight into it if you don't have it hanging forward from the bars.

    I don't think you would be too restricted with the fatbike. Aside from the framebag you should be able to swap gear to different bikes as needed if you have a couple.

    I've done a lot of trips with racks and panniers. I've learnt to go pretty minimal with gear so I could fit more food in (fit 3 weeks of food on the bike at most for a winter trip along the northern NSW section of the bicentennial national trail). I'm heading overseas to ride the Colorado trail in 2 weeks and am loading my MTB up with minimal gear for the trip as it is all up and down singletrack where my heavy offroad tourer wouldn't cope well. Have a look at the setups below. The black bike is my offroad tourer (Surly LHT set up with flat bars and 2.25" tyres). That's in the middle of nowhere in Siberia. I used the same bag setup when I needed 3 weeks of food on the bike but in that case there were a lot of spares and just in case gear as there were no bike shops for thousands of km. The other is my test setup for my Trek Stache for the Colorado trail. It doesn't have a very big front triangle either but I'll fit 4-5 days food, tent, sleeping mat, quilt, stove/pot, waterfilter, clothes and gear on there/in the 11L backpack.
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    Senior Member teK--'s Avatar
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    When we went recently we were lucky enough to have huts that we could avoid carrying a tent and mattress. We carried most stuff in a backpack and in bottle cages.

    Others we saw on the way who were camping, had stuff mounted on bars and on racks which extend out from the seatpost. Needless to say they were hardtails so did not have issues with rear wheels hitting things.

    There are a few companies who make custom bags to suit your frame to maximise the storage room.

    I'd say the more weight you can get off your back the more enjoyable you will be.

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    I'll tells ya! johnny's Avatar
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    That loaded up Stache looks the biz.
    Respect the Mountain. Ride the Bull. Feel the Flow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny View Post
    That loaded up Stache looks the biz.
    Cheers. Hope it does the trick.

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    Senior Member slo's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies all, appreciate it!

    Quote Originally Posted by teK-- View Post
    I'd say the more weight you can get off your back the more enjoyable you will be.
    ^^This is the plan. Ability to avoid a pack would be ideal, why Im looking to flip the fatty for something with a bigger triangle.


    Quote Originally Posted by LPG View Post
    Depends on when you want to go and how much stuff you want to take with you and how big a backpack you want to wear. You can fit a lot in if you don't carry too much if you go pretty minimal with your gear (or spend a lot for the ultralight stuff). How much experience do you have camping?..
    ...I don't think you would be too restricted with the fatbike. Aside from the framebag you should be able to swap gear to different bikes as needed if you have a couple...
    ...The other is my test setup for my Trek Stache for the Colorado trail. It doesn't have a very big front triangle either but I'll fit 4-5 days food, tent, sleeping mat, quilt, stove/pot, waterfilter, clothes and gear on there/in the 11L backpack.
    Most of my camping has been car based, swags / fridges / big heavy tings.
    We go remote though, so no probs digging a hole in the ground for a poop.
    Like you have said a seat bag and handlebar roll etc are interchangeable, I really just want to do it once and do it right.

    Your Stache looks siiiiick! Colorado trail will be amazing, hope the trips everything you want man!


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    What do you want to ride? What bike suits the riding you will do. The fatbike will be rideable in more conditions than the gravel grinder but will be slower where conditions are good. A gravel grinder can make for a great road bike if you don't have one and are inclined that way. The fat bike can be ridden in places that you won't be able to ride other bikes but if you're thinking of selling it you probably aren't getting much use out of it. There are much more important differences between the fat bike and a gravel grinder than the front triangle.

    If you are getting the gravel grinder purely based on the space in the front triangle I think you could work around it. I suspect you just want to get a new bike and are using the front triangle size to justify it to yourself. Nothing wrong with that if that's what you want to do.

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    I've been through 29 hardtail, dually, cross, graveller, and monstercross. Monstercross is what you want.

    On a serious note though having drop bars is a real bonus except for sketchy descents where you are too low in the drop not to flip over. So depends on how you plan to ride it.

    As for triangles, I'd forget cross bikes all together. You spend a lot of energy fighting the terrain instead of plowing through it and if there is any rain, then you will be in a world of pain going through muddy areas.

    My serious recommendation is to go for a rigid 29er. Frames like the merida offer much larger front triangles than the equivalent norco. They are cheap enough you will come out with spare change from selling your norco and plenty of scope to possibly go rigid forks and some less aggressive tyres like race kings/ikons in 2.1.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Calvin27 View Post
    My serious recommendation is to go for a rigid 29er. Frames like the merida offer much larger front triangles than the equivalent norco. They are cheap enough you will come out with spare change from selling your norco and plenty of scope to possibly go rigid forks and some less aggressive tyres like race kings/ikons in 2.1.
    I'd agree here. I think the most versatile rig is a hardtail/rigid with flat bars and tri bars mounted on them. This gives you the best of both worlds. Use ~60mm wide aggressive tyres where needed and ~40mm slicks/semislicks when you are on roads or anything in between as needed. This would be just as efficient as a gravel grinder IMO and more versatile. Just swap the tyres around, change forks to go from hardtail to ridid and add/remove the tri bars if you feel like it depending on what you want to ride. This way you can get away with one frame bag for most if not all bike trips you go on.

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    Senior Member teK--'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LPG View Post
    What do you want to ride? What bike suits the riding you will do. The fatbike will be rideable in more conditions than the gravel grinder but will be slower where conditions are good. A gravel grinder can make for a great road bike if you don't have one and are inclined that way. The fat bike can be ridden in places that you won't be able to ride other bikes but if you're thinking of selling it you probably aren't getting much use out of it. There are much more important differences between the fat bike and a gravel grinder than the front triangle.

    If you are getting the gravel grinder purely based on the space in the front triangle I think you could work around it. I suspect you just want to get a new bike and are using the front triangle size to justify it to yourself. Nothing wrong with that if that's what you want to do.
    This.

    The terrain will make a huge difference to bike choice.

    Either way it's going to be a balance.

    Either work harder on the flats/smooth trails, but hate the rocky/technical descents, and vice versa.

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