My Recommended Lightweight Bike Touring Setup

By Darren Alff

Today I’m going to show you a lightweight bike touring setup that you can use for local bike tours near your home; for cycling across an entire city, state, or country; or for cycling all the way around the world.

What you’re seeing in the video above is a Co-Motion Pangea touring bicycle equipped with front and rear fenders, three water bottles, a rear kickstand, two Ortlieb Bike-Packer waterproof panniers, and a waterproof Ortlieb handlebar bag.

The Best Lightweight Bike Touring Setup

To start, let’s take a look inside the handlebar bag. Handlebar bags are great because they allow you to access your important and most-used items in a quick and easy manner. Inside your handlebar bag you might carry a hat, a lightweight journal, a pair of sunglasses in a lightweight protective case, street maps, a smartphone (which you can use for navigation and entertainment) and your front and rear bike lights (which you’ll only place on your bicycle when you need them).

There’s a zippered pocket inside this particular handlebar bag and attached to this pocket is a small lanyard where you can attach a spare key for your bike lock. Inside the zippered pocket you might keep your passport, a pen, your wallet, a spork (to eat with) and a small folding knife.

On the outside of the handlebar bag are two small zippered pockets. On one side of the bag you might keep two plastic tire levers and a lightweight patch kit. In the pocket on the other side you can carry some lip balm, your multi-tool, a small lighter, and a spoke wrench.

On the back of the bicycle is a Voltaic 6 Watt solar panel, which you can use to keep your smartphone and bike lights charged up while you’re cycling on the road. The solar panel attaches to your rear rack with a bungee cord, and then the panniers mount to the rack after you’ve secured the solar panel in place.

Having a solar panel isn’t necessary and you could certainly save some weight from your bicycle by getting rid of it, but it definitely comes in handy if you plan to use your smartphone a lot, or if you think you might go for several days without having access to a power outlet.

In the pannier on your bicycle’s left side I recommend you carry an inflatable sleeping pad, a bike lock, a bicycle pump, a one-man tent, and a three-season sleeping bag. All of that goes inside one large pannier!

On the outside of that rear pannier there’s a small pocket where you carry some of your additional, but rarely used bike tools, such as chain lube, spare brake and/or derailleur cables, a lightweight pedal wrench, spare brake pads and handlebar tape (which can also be used for a plethora of other things).

Finally, inside your rear right pannier, you are going to carry all of your personal belongings. In addition to the clothes you’ll be wearing on your bicycle (which might consist of shoes, shorts and a jersey of some kind, you’ll also want to be packing a compact fleece jacket (to keep yourself warm both on and off the bicycle), a toiletry kit (consisting to a camp towel, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, soap, razor and shaving cream, etc), a half-roll of toilet paper, a couple extra pairs of socks, one or more spare bike tubes, a pair of gloves (which are optional, but are nice to have – especially in colder weather), an electricity converter (which you really only need if you’re traveling to a foreign country), a small lightweight camp stove and pot (which is also optional and certainly not required), a few spare shirts (to wear both on and off the bike), one or more pairs of underwear, some lightweight fleece pants to sleep in, a pair of pants to wear off the bike at night, a pair of waterproof rain pants, and a lightweight rain jacket.

It’s important to note that while the rear left pannier is filled to the top with camping equipment, the rear right pannier is really only about half-way full. This is extremely important, as you need to save space inside your panniers for food, drinks, and any other items you might pick up along the way. So make sure you save some space inside your panniers when you’re packing. You need to have at least 1/2 to 1/3 of your panniers empty and saved for food storage.

So, there you have it! This is a lightweight, affordable, bike touring set up that you can use for local bike tours, or or long-distance cycling adventures around the world.

To learn more about conducting your own incredible bike tours anywhere in the world, be sure to grab a copy of The Bicycle Touring Blueprint – which is the world’s best book about how to plan, prepare for, and execute the bike tour of your dreams.

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  1. Paul Fallows

    March 29, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    Hi Darren,
    Thanks for the video.

    Something I would take which I don’t think you mentioned and that takes almost no space at all is one of those small Military tin openers.Useful for opening the odd tin of food that one might get from a store for later if fresh food is not available.
    best regards,Paul

  2. Alexander Lopez

    April 1, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Is there a reason you prefer storing personal wares on the right side pannier?

    • Bicycle Touring Pro

      April 2, 2016 at 10:25 pm

      Yes. A couple reasons actually. 1. The gearing is on the right side of your bike, so if you lay your bicycle down on the ground, it should be paid on the left side – so as to not damage your gearing… and so as to not damage anything delicate on the right-hand side of your bike. 2. Also, because when I’m cycling in a country that drives on the right-hand side of the road, if I were to get clipped by a passing car, the things on the right side of my bike would be safe (maybe), while the bags on the left side could be destroyed. I talk about this more (and in better detail) inside “The Bicycle Touring Blueprint.”

  3. Pingback: My 2016 Bike Tour Packing List - Bicycle Touring Pro

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