Hitting the (dirt) road? Gear Editor MATTHEW STERNE did just that with his friends, and took two specially made gravel bicycles as well as lightweight bags that are compatible with most bikes
LEZYNE XL CADDY SEATPOST TUBBY BAG R1 095, twowheelstrading.co.za This easily attachable saddle bag (42x17x14cm) is designed to carry lightweight items such as clothes. It has a 7,5L carrying capacity with a maximum load of 5kg, and external drawstrings for holding extra gear.
LEZYNE BAR CADDY TUBBY BAG R765, twowheelstrading.co.za
This water-resistant handlebar bag (8x6x11,5cm) holds 7L and has roll-type enclosures on both ends for easy access (it’s where I kept my phone). The velcro mounting system is intuitive and there are external drawstrings for additional storage.
R17 500, momsenbikes.com
On a bikepacking trip in the Overberg (see page 24) the Momsen bikes comfortably outstripped the classic mountain bikes. The reason? These are gravel bikes, made for long-distance gravel riding (they look like a road and mountain bike combined). The GP300 is compatible with a variety of tyres, from thin road tyres to thicker mountain-bike ones. It has 11 gear ratios and no suspension on its fork. The SRAM Apex drivetrain is cost-effective but doesn’t seem to compromise on performance. An impressive bicycle, weighing 10,2kg, the GP300 is the budget friendly alloy version of the R355 Carbon (see overleaf). TOPTUBE BAG DUAL COMPARTMENT
This long bag (45x6x13cm) fits under the top frame bar and has dual compartments with an adjustable divider. A strap down the middle makes it tricky to insert large items, although there is enough space for two large water bottles and some snacks. The long velcro straps ensure the bag sits well on the bike.
XCOWL BIKEPACKING FRAME BAG
R1 090, bikepacking.africa This frame bag is big (43x30x7cm) and useful for carrying heavier items and toiletries. Made from waterresistant materials, the bag is durable and has strong nylon straps to secure it. BURRA BURRA STABILIZER SEATPACK 20
R2 400, specialized.com
This is the largest bag (55x19x10cm) in the Specialized line and one of the biggest I tested – the 20L compartment is impressively deep. It connects to the saddle pole with an aluminium stabilizer arm that minimises swaying and is made of a polyurethane-coated nylon with reflective accents to increase your visibility. MOMSEN R355 CARBON R47 995, momsenbikes.com
The R355 Carbon (named after the longest gravel road in South Africa, which runs for 257km between Ceres and Calvinia) has a full carbon frame and weighs 8,5kg. The result is that it can really move on gravel. It has all the latest mountain-bike tech and drop handlebars for extra comfort. Like the GP300 (previous page), it has 11 gear ratios and is compatible with different tyres but also has improved features. It has a better-performing drivetrain, hydraulic brakes instead of mechanical, and is able to convert to a tubeless wheel set which helps avoid punctures. The cherry on top? The seatpost is also made of carbon, which absorbs vibration to make those bumpy rides that little bit smoother.
KNOG PWR TRAIL 1000 R1 899, adventureinc.co.za
Light up your trail or charge your phone with this high-powered bike light from Knog. With a brightness of 1 000 lumens, it also doubles as a powerbank with 5 000 mAh of juice. The light can run for two hours at its brightest or up to 300 hours on Eco Flash mode, and can be programmed with the ModeMaker app. XCOWL HANDLEBAR BAG
R1 090, bikepacking.africa This thick handlebar bag is made by bikepacking enthusiasts in South Africa and best fits mountain-bike handlebars wider than 75cm. It has two small, zippered compartments for easy-to-reach valuables and snacks, as well as a larger 10L container for a small tent or sleeping bag.