This section contains advice on how to choose a bicycle and components appropriate for Riding Far and doing long-distance cycling in general and more specifically for doing self-supported, ultra-distance bikepacking races. This website is devoted to road cycling events, so only road bikes are considered, and the topic is organized into the following pages:
- Frames & Brakes
- Gear Shifting
- Gear Ratios
- Saddle, Shorts & Tires (part of the Rider Comfort section)
- Handlebars, Aerobars & Gloves (part of the Rider Comfort section)
- Shoes & Pedals (part of the Rider Comfort section)
If you’re looking for some custom-built wheels then take a look at the Ride Far Wheels that I offer.
Criteria for Choosing a Bike & Components
The equipment used doesn’t need to cost a lot of money; many people have completed bikepacking races on relatively basic bikes with simple, low-tech equipment, including some people who have done very well and had very few problems along the way; remember that The Rider is always the most important element.
The Factors That Determine Cycling Speed section of this website investigates which characteristics have real (instead of perceived) effects on cycling speed for long-distance cyclists and what the relative importance of these effects is. A major finding is that Weight is not a particularly important criterion because even a substantial weight saving of 1 kg will cause the average cycling speed over a complete route in a bikepacking race to decrease by less than 0.1 km/h. In addition, the importance of the Air Resistance of the Bike is small in comparison to the Air Resistance of the Cyclist, which is primarily affected by the Rider’s Position and choice of Clothing. Tire choice is one of the most important component choices due to the significant differences in Rolling Resistance.
Cycling speed is not the only measure of progress in bikepacking races in which the clock never stops, the Moving Percentage (i.e., the relative amount of time spent on vs. off the bike) is at least as important, so the effect that equipment choices have on that should also be considered.
In summary, as long as a component is not excessively heavy or unaerodynamic then after Rider Comfort, the next most important criteria to consider are reliability, functionality and repairability. Obviously, different people will have different preferences and will make different equipment choices based on perfectly valid reasons, so it should be kept in mind that there are no “wrong” equipment choices – if something works for someone then it doesn’t matter if other people do things differently.
The first page in this section covers Frames & Brakes.