Bikepacking is an idea. A way for people, bikes, and nature to come together. In fact, bikepacking can even be considered an attitude towards life. This will remain to be seen. It is already clear that bikepacking is not limited to a particular bike type or model. You can start out on an adventure with any bike. Some bikes are better suited for particular adventures than others, however. Here is a brief overview:
With a racing bike
Racing bikes are loved for their efficiency. No other bike with a conventional sitting position gets more propulsion out of leg energy than a racing bike. All components and features of racing bikes are subject to this speed principle: The tyres are narrow and filled with high pressure, the handlebar is mounted low, and the gears are designed for high speeds. At the same time, the bike should be as stiff as possible and still lightweight. At first glance, this seems far removed from the idea of bikepacking. It is not, though, because the first bicycle races took place under conditions that were very similar to today’s self-support races: poor roads, a high degree of self-sufficiency, and very long distances. There is the famous story of the Frenchman Eugène Christophe, whose bicycle fork broke during the 1913 Tour de France during the descent from Col du Tourmalet. He later received a time penalty for having someone operate the bellows while he repaired his bicycle at a blacksmith’s shop that he reached after walking 14 kilometres. However, more than any other race, “Paris Brest Paris” stands for the interface between racing bikes and bikepacking. The so-called randonneurs ride practically non-stop from Paris to Brest and back in 90 hours. Most of them store their equipment and food for this 1219 kilometre long ride in small bags on their bike and do without support vehicles or private assistance at the supply stations. In the meantime, there are even initial official self-support road races. Link Races
With a gravel bike/ cross bike
While cross bikes have a long tradition in Europe, so-called gravel bikes are a comparably new phenomenon. The two types of bikes differ in their technical details and dimensions. However, they share the idea of transferring the dynamics and speed of a racing bike to terrain; the cross bike on angular, short, and extremely demanding courses, and the gravel bike, on the other hand, on unpaved roads. As the name implies, gravel bikes are for riding over gravel or small stones, such as on dirt roads. Gravel bikes are thus at home on trails that are “unrideable” with racing bikes and too “boring” for mountain bikes. Gravel bikes always feel good on dirt roads. These include muddy roads, unpaved roads, gravel roads, or even service roads. There is a huge network of these in the USA, and they can be optimally explored with gravel bikes. In Germany, there are also countless forest trails and service roads that lie between the habitat of the racing bike and the home of the mountain bike. These also contain many shelters, lonely bus stops etc. that are also excellently suited for “longer breaks”.
With a mountain bike
Modern bikepacking focus on the mountain bike. Mountain bikes are by definition robust and for all terrains, thus perfectly suited for bikepacking. The special bikepacking bags fit practically any mountain bike. Some manufacturers already have bikes in their product range that are specially optimized for bikepacking. The position is more upright, the frame triangle is designed to be extra large for the bags, and an incalculable number of fastening points make it possible to fasten bottle holders, mudguards, lights, and so on.
The same variety of suspensions, gears, wheel sizes, and tyre widths is available as for other types of bikes. You should not pay any heed to these, though, and simply start off on your bike. Once you have gained experience and feel a desire for a new bike, there is an abundant selection. In the case of bikes with suspension, you must make sure that the bags are not within the spring travel of the wheels.
With a fatbike
The fat bike is an almost perfect adventure bike. The wide tyres can optimally handle any type of ground, and their “lift” also lets them ride very well on sand, mud, gravel, and snow. This lets bikepackers be very flexible and spontaneous, because the fat bike will still be able to ride regardless of what kind of ground is behind the next curve or hill. However, it should also be mentioned at this point that fat bikes have disadvantages on asphalt: In any case, they are not cycles for going fast.
Fat bikes open up completely new destinations for bikepackers: Gravel roads and sand trails along coasts and river banks, sandy heath regions, or even swampy forest trails are ideal adventure zones with a fat bike. In addition, fat bikes open up a new cycling season to bike riders: the winter. After all, fat bikes were originally called snow bikes. They have changed their name over the years but not their performance in snow. Fat bikes allow excellent cycling through winter forests, and an evening campfire is especially fun at cold temperatures.