Sometimes a bike is worth more than the sum of its parts. You know, that feeling of home that isn’t just about having your favourite bars and saddle in the right place. My Kona Unit began life as a $999 single speed complete – a heck of a good value, and a bike I never knew I’d come to love so much.
Ryan Wilson kicks off a series we’re launching during the pandemic, a shout out to our favorite small businesses in the cycling industry. Here are some of Ryan’s personal favorite products!
Small businesses are the foundation of the outdoor industry and many have been seriously impacted by the pandemic over the last couple of months. While money is understandably tight for a significant portion of people, if you do have the means and are dreaming up your next bike trip or local ride, I wanted to offer up a few suggestions for gear that I believe is worthy of investing in from some of my favorite small businesses in the industry.
This bike is the direct result of many experiences, beginning with my 44 Bikes touring bike and culminating with the Moots Baxter I spent a great deal of time on last year both fully-loaded and set up in what I could call expedition mode. After a lot of back and forth, I realized that I like 29+ bikes for bikepacking and yeah, titanium is really nice for desert riding. These mental musings came to the full realization after spending some time talking with Adam from Sklar Bikes this summer in Bozeman.
For fans of the Porcelain Rocket Mr Fusion, you’ll notice some key updates to this stable saddle pack platform. The support bar is now curved to match the line of the pack. Now, Mr. Fusion comes in a 12 or a 15 size. Mr. Fusion 12 is the same size as the old Mr. Fusion. The included drybag has a capacity of 8-12L. Mr. Fusion 15 is the new Mr. Fusion XL. The included drybag has a capacity of 10-15L. See Porcelain Rocket for clearance requirements. These are in stock now, although the XL is momentarily sold out… Head to Porcelain Rocket for more!
Porcelain Rocket has taken their Nigel handlebar bag and olivized it. Olivactivated? OD from OD? Whatever you call the process of making a solid product a little more fashionable by making it out of olive drab, that’s what they did and they call it OliveIt. These handlebar bags are amazing. They’re weatherproof, easy to swap from bike to bike, and make access while riding simple! These are in stock now at Porcelain rocket for $150 CAD. See some more specs below.
The Hunter Cycles hip pack is one of the best packs out right now and it just got better with a new, updated design. Now you can carry your rain jacket, knee pads, or even a burrito on the top of the pack thanks to this simple, functional addition.
These packs are made by Porcelain Rocket in Canada and are in stock now in Bonny Doon, California at the Hunter Cycles HQ.
Did you catch our Hunter Cycles shop visit? Be sure to do so!
Equipping an Amateur Bikepacker (and Professional Filmmaker) for the Peruvian Andes
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor
When most people think “I’d like to take on my first bikepacking trip,” they don’t think of going to the Peruvian Andes. Well, most people aren’t my friend Ben Johnson. Ben’s a filmmaker and a storyteller, and once an idea gets into his head, it’s hard to shake him of it.
Ben had long been following Ryan Wilson’s work here on the site, and lusted to pedal in the high mountains of Peru. With another film project taking Ben down to Lima, the flights were paid for, and the idea of this side trip and a passion project was sparked.
Lots of people ask Stephanie and me for advice about bike traveling and we’re happy to help. Ben came to us with an ambitious plan, a short timeline to get a bike built, and enthusiasm through the roof. He needed help.
I had recently transitioned away from full-time work to focus on creative projects: the right place and the right time to help Ben get set up for his adventure in the Andes. I’m happy to present the film here, and will get into the details of the bike build below.
Porcelain Rocket has redesigned the Nigel Handlebar Bag. This redesign aims to distill the design elements that made the original Nigel unique and practical, into a much simpler, sleeker package. The new Nigel is smaller, which will allow for use on a larger variety of bikes. However, at 4.5L, it is still larger than typical burrito-style bar bags. Its wide opening and one-handed bungee closure make for extremely easy access on the bike.
The whole thing has been made much sturdier, with Voilé Nano Straps main straps, a semi-rigid back plate, and a removable EVA foam “bed liner” in the base. Also included are die-cut foam spacers, so that people can space the bag out for clearance for their hands on the tops, or for cables/hoses.
By paring down the design Porcelain Rocket is now able to sell the Nigel for $150CAD / US$115. They’re in stock now at Porcelain Rocket.
Panniers can be an interesting pickle for bag designers. With so many racks out on the market, being flexible in terms of mounting is of the utmost importance. With their new Microwave Panniers, they have solved that problem, creating a cradle pannier which holds onto individual dry bags. The system itself is secure, adaptable, modular, and practical, as all panniers should be. Check out their mounting instructions, and rack fitment for answers to your questions before heading to Porcelain Rocket to check them out!
Why I Love the Porcelain Rocket Meanwhile Basket Bag
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor
Porcelain Rocket’s Meanwhile basket bag has a lot going for it. It’s lighter than their previous basket bag, fully waterproof rather than mostly water resistant, has tote handles for off-the-bike use, and costs less to produce. Hello, progress! I ordered one for my Wald 137 basket as soon as they became available. Yet, when I started using the bag, I wasn’t immediately taken with it.
… head on over to GSC’s Web Shop check them out!
One common theme you’ll see on traveling bikes ridden by contributors to the site is Porcelain Rocket‘s Mr. Fusion seat pack, and there’s a reason for that. With its 4130 chromoly mini-rack made by Hunter Cycles in Santa Cruz and a removable RF-welded dry bag, Mr. Fusion is the most solid bikepacking seat pack on the market, with literally zero lateral swing, and also the easiest to pack, since you stuff the bag off the bike.
New to the Porcelain Rocket lineup is Mr. Fusion Mini, a smaller version of the same bombproof design we love so much. Mr. Fusion Mini takes up less space between your saddle and rear wheel, has a smaller capacity of 4–9L, and retains all the features of the big Mr. Fusion including the 2:1 Trucker Hitch side straps and Double Back seat post attachment introduced in the most recent update.
Mr. Fusion Mini is in stock and ready to ship at Porcelain Rocket.
Things don’t always go as planned. That’s what I have to tell myself all the time. Last winter, Clayton from WTB and I planned on doing the Tahoe Rim Trail, the week of Interbike, not with any political agenda in mind, just that it worked for both of our schedules. It was the only week where neither of us had anything penned in our calendars.
While you can do the TRT on a rigid bike, you’ll probably have more fun on at least a hardtail. Clayton’s route includes a lot of singletrack on the eastern side of the lake and like everything up there, it can be rowdy at times. I planned on bringing my Stinner Frameworks, with a few component upgrades, which would make the long days and high elevation gain a bit easier. All I needed were some bags.
I’ve been using Porcelain Rocket bags for quite a while now and while my trusty frame bag fits my road or cross bikes, even my 44 UTE quite well, it wouldn’t cram into my hardtail. Around the time I was planning for this, Scott from Porcelain Rocket launched his sealed waterproof bags, with the first special color offering being “Prolly Gold,” or Coyote as the rest of the world calls it. I was honored and slightly amused at the playful nod to my obsession with various shades of tan, so I reached out to Scott, with the emphasis on the byline: nothing special, just want to buy a bag.
Words and photos by Morgan Taylor.
Where I last left you we were less than 50 miles from home as the crow flies, having ambitiously pedaled three days from our front door and ridden a remote high mountain pass with way too much gear. We were solidly in travel mode, no longer just camping in the front yard. It was early July and while that sounds like it should be summer, we wore our GoreTex more in the week we rode in Canada than we did for the two months that followed. You know, the Great White North, and all.
There was still some amount of comfort in what we were doing: while the scenery was changing more quickly than we had anticipated, we were still spending colorful money and freely using our overpriced cell phone data. The people we ran into still knew where we lived – or at least had heard of it – and could drive there in an easy day.
When I saw Scott from Porcelain Rocket selling these buffalo plaid (Canadian Camo) roll top shred packs on his Instagram, I had to buy one for Morgan, knowing he’d be making his way from Canada down to Los Angeles this summer. So… what’s he do with it the first day? Buys a gallon of ice cream.
Projects like this always pique my interest and tap into my Paypal account:
“Together with Vince at Ponderosa Cyclery in Omaha, I’m excited to announce the launch of a project that is near and dear to both of us, and has been in the works for a while. The Anylander Pannier is a bag system that has been born out of a fondness for the style and function of traditional panniers combined with the need for technology that can handle the rough and tumble lifestyle of a backroads tourist.
As a pack system, we’ve found that we really like the usefulness, versatility, and size of panniers, as opposed to the popular, rack-less “bikepacking” style bag systems. However, when riding the rocky, extremely rough backroads of Western Nebraska, many panniers available do a less than perfect job handling the demands that we put on them. While we have found the durability and simplicity of bikepacking bags to be advantageous in some situations, the extremely stripped down nature of rack-less bags, as well as the detailed “tetris-styled” pack plan necessary to use them cramps our relaxed, easy going, “bring-a-few-luxury-items-if-not-the-entire-kitchen-sink” touring lifestyle.”
The name of the game is innovation. Scott from Porcelain Rocket has been brainstorming ways to incorporate his saddle packs into a dropper post-friendly design for some time now. Working with collaborator Rick Hunter from Hunter Cycles, these two came up with a new system, which I’m assuming will be available shortly. It appears the pack is a bit smaller than the popular Mr. Fusion design, but since its a prototype currently, I’m sure they’ll be addressing that in the near future. For now, follow along at Porcelain Rocket’s Instagram.
As for the beer can, well…
Edit: Scott just posted a photo of the rail attachment on Flickr.