Bike Test | Long Haulers – For Bikepacking In Comfort

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Antony de Heveningham looks at three unconventional mountain bikes that come with fitted racks and a sense of adventure. Perfect for bikepacking. Words by Antony de Heveningham. Photos by James Vincent. Not so long ago, many mountain bikes were designed so their riders could carry stuff on racks. Just bolt one to the back of your hardtail, add some panniers and you could disappear off on an adventure. Probably to a youth hostel, or a sixth form college, but an adventure nonetheless. At some point though, bike manufacturers decided that this rather lukewarm strain of excitement wasn’t doing it for their target market, and racks started to disappear. The advent of suspension and disc brakes didn’t help, as neither of them played well with racks. But, more than that, racks and bags fell victim to an image problem. Mountain bikes were fast, adrenaline-fuelled and youthful, and encumbering them with luggage was viewed in the same light as mounting a roof box on a Porsche 911. The campsite is this way! If there’s one defining rule of the 21st century, it’s that all humanity’s previous ideas will be recycled. So ‘cycle touring’ was reborn as ‘bikepacking’, and a type of luggage evolved that didn’t need racks – you just strapped it directly to your bike. It was deceptively simple genius, and sparked what might be considered a new golden age of bicycle adventuring. But it wasn’t perfect. Bikepacking bags have a heartbreaking habit of buffing the paint off your frame, seat...

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