September 15th, 2016

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We’re pleased to announce that PUBLIC San Francisco in Hayes Valley will host author Nate Cavalieri to discuss the new Lonely Planet book Epic Bike Rides of the World.

Join us for drinks, snacks, and inspiration for your next epic journey. This event is free and open to the public, but please RSVP so we can prepare.

Where: PUBLIC San Francisco, 549 Hayes b/t Laguna and Octavia
When: 7-8pm, Thursday, Oct 20
What: Author Nate Cavalieri, who contributed to the North America’s Pacific Coast chapter, will share stories and photos of his favorite epic rides, including his own experiences riding the Tour de Afrique and China’s Wild West routes. And come meet other fellow dreamers and doers ready to plan their next adventure.

Please RSVP on Facebook. Also anyone who RSVPs using the Eventbrite ticket link and attends our October 20 event will be entered into a raffle to win a copy of Epic Bike Rides of the World.

Fall Foliage and the road in Vermont at Smugglers Notch.

Quiet roads and colourful leaves in Vermont in the book chapter Americas: The Covered Bridges of Vermont, © Naphat Photography / Getty Images

According to Lonely Planet, the world’s leading travel media company, Epic Bike Rides of the World will help readers “Discover 200 of the best places to ride a bicycle in this beautifully illustrated hardback. From easy-going, family-friendly rides and urban sightseeing routes to epic adventures off the beaten track, you don’t have to wear Lycra to see the world on two wheels. Inclusive, accessible and inspiring, the 200 rides feature 50 first-hand cycling stories and details of how to do the ride. Full-page photography, illustrations and maps add visual appeal. Destinations range from France, Spain and Italy, for the world’s great bike races, to the wilds of Mongolia and Patagonia.

The book is organized into regional chapters for rides in Africa, the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Oceania. Basic information about the best times of the year to plan a trip are included, as well as suggested places to starting places and routes.

Overview of Þingvellir National Park, Thingvallavatn.

Magical Thingvellir National Park in Iceland in book chapter Europe: Ring Rd, Iceland, © Gary Latham

At PUBLIC, we’re not just regular commuters and recreational cyclists. Our team has traveled by bike in diverse places such as Mongolia, Chile, Italy, Montana, and all over California. And we’ve also offered our own ideas in our blog post “A Beginner’s Guide: Top 5 Bike-Friendly Travel Destinations“.

We’re excited to meet fellow (aspiring) bike travelers and learn from Lonely Planet author Nate Cavalieri. Who knows…maybe we’ll plan a trip to Namaqualand to go flower viewing by bike.

Track through the blooming flowers in Namaqualand

Track through the blooming flowers in Namaqualand in the book chapter Africa: Tour d’Afrique, © Marie-Anne Aberson Meijers / Getty Images

September 7th, 2016

We’re excited to announce that we’re partnering with Sony’s Future Lab Program to help introduce the prototype Concept N to the Bay Area and beyond.

Our flagship PUBLIC store in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley will serve as a hands-on demo location between September 15-October 6 where visitors to our 549 Hayes St store can test out Sony’s new wearable technology Concept N. You can demo a Concept N prototype during our regular store hours.

You might also recognize our Slate Blue PUBLIC R16 flat-bar city road bike in the video above.

What is Concept N? It’s a neckband-style wearable device, designed by Sony’s Future Lab Program, that allows you to listen to high-quality sound, hands free, through an open-air speaker.

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Several of us at PUBLIC have had a chance to try Concept N. We’re particularly excited that you can hear clear voice-navigation to help you find your way around your city, easily use voice-recognition to find resources and places, and even take photos and video of your surroundings without taking your smartphone out of your pocket or bag.

The open-ear headphones, if you choose to use them, allow you to listen to music or news while still hearing what’s happening around you. The device feels very lightweight around your neck. If you wear collared shirts, it can also fit nicely under your collar too.

Right now, the prototype is only available in the Bay Area for a very select, limited number of participants who can provide feedback on how they use the device in their daily lives. Between September 15-October 6, you can demo Concept N at our Hayes Valley PUBLIC store at 549 Hayes.

If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can apply to participate in the early adopter program for Concept N.

After you apply to be considered for the program, The Future Lab Program will invite potential participants to several special events in San Francisco in late September and October.

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August 16th, 2016

The long Labor Day weekend is nearly upon us and that means you’ll have extra hours to slip in a longer bike ride and even crack open the pages of a good book. So why not combine the two? Here’s our round-up of the best bike-related books for all types of riders, readers and long weekends.

therider-PMFor the literary cyclist:

The Rider (1978) by Tim Krabbe

Holland author Tim Krabbe originally published this cult classic in the Netherlands, and the sports novel has sold more than 100,000 copies. It tells the first-person story of a nail-biting race in the Tour du Mont Aigoual, entering the protagonist’s head as his thoughts whirl as quickly as his legs. We have a window into how he sizes up fellow riders:

“Lebusque is really only a body. In fact, he’s not a good racer. People are made up of two parts: a mind and a body. Of the two, the mind, of course, is the rider.”

For the historical biker:

Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) (2011), by Sue Macy

More than just a fun way to get around, the bicycle paved the way for women’s rights. Learn how this incredible mode of transportation broke stereotypes, changed fashion and granted women more mobility—and with it, power.

For the pedaling doodler:

The Epiplectic Bicycle (1998), by Edward Gorey

With his clever storytelling and Edwardian drawing style, illustrator Edward Gorey has crafted a wild tale about a journey on a bicycle’s seat—and handlebars. The short, precious book is fit for both children and adults with childlike wonder.

For the spin-happy goofball:

French Revolutions (2001),  by Tim Moore

A true, hilarious telling of Moore’s crazed attempt to retrace the path of the Tour de France. The British humorist is determined, and he actually crosses his own finish line. Healthy doses of self-deprecation, biking history, and quirky French shop clerks give this travelogue plenty of personality.

For the mobile mechanic:

The Bike Deconstructed: A Grand Tour of the Modern Bicycle (2014), by Richard Hallett

Hallett disassembles the bike to examine its every part and show how each bolt and bracket contributes to the whole. Half history tour, half ode to mechanics, this book will become a favorite of the cyclist who believes the bike is so much more than the sum of its parts.

For the cycling cultural connoisseur:

Bike Snob: Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling (2010), by Eben Weiss

Biking is more popular than ever. To understand its many subcultures, from the urban sophisticates to the spandexed athletes, this amusing guide will help you navigate through the tribes—and maybe blush once Weiss has accurately pegged own your group.

August 8th, 2016

bike basket

A bike basket might sound like a frivolous addition to your bike. Think again. A bike basket can spell the difference between daily frustration and fun, and transform your wheels from merely good-looking to utilitarian to boot.

With a basket on your bike you can bring Fido along on your rides, take the weight and stress off your back and transport heavier items more easily.

There are lots of different types of bike baskets out there and a few factors you need to consider when choosing one. We break down the factors and offer a quick quiz at the end to help you identify your basket type.

To Wicker or to metal?

Bike baskets come in a variety of materials like wicker, metal or synthetic. Wicker and synthetic bike baskets are usually tightly woven so you can toss in small items and they won’t fall out. This is something to consider if you’re looking for a quick way to stash your wallet and keys on your ride. Metal bike baskets are typically able to accommodate more weight. Many times, they affix more permanently to your bike so you don’t have to worry about removing them when you go into a store and if you make an unexpected stop you’ll never be without a means of carrying any items you pick up. Metal baskets usually have a wider spacing between their bars so you can’t just throw in your keys or wallet as they might slip right through. Consider adding a liner to avoid this problem.

And I’m also going to bring…

Do you fancy having Fido along? Will you be lugging your laptop and lunch to and from the office? Or transporting bags of groceries? Asking yourself what you want to carry in your bike basket will quickly narrow down your options. A lightweight basket that attaches to your handlebar will be great for carrying lightweight items like your lunch, purse, wallet or a jacket. If you want to make your baskets really work for you because you’ll be carrying heavier items like a loaded backpack or even your puppy, consider a metal basket that directly attaches to your bike or a metal or wicker bike basket that attaches to your front or rear bike rack. Both options are solid in construction and able to accommodate heavier weights.

Business in Front. Party in Back.

Along the lines of how much you’re looking to carry in your bike basket is the question of where you want your weight to be distributed—in the front of your bike or the rear of your bike. Generally, your rear rack is a better place for heavier items, as most rear racks can accommodate between 20-50lbs. So if you’re looking for a bike basket you can really load up, consider one that mounts or attaches to your rear rack. A front basket will add weight to the front of your bike, but when carrying lighter items that weight will be negligible. Front bike baskets put items within arm’s reach, so if you’re stopping constantly to Instagram your awesome rides, having your phone always at the ready could be great. If you like the look of a front basket and still want to carry heavier items consider getting a bike basket that mounts to a front rack or metal basket that mounts to your front axle or fork.

What’s your bike basket type? Take this quiz to find out!

You’ll primarily be carrying this in your basket:

  1. Small dog
  2. Keys, wallet or purse
  3. Backpack/knapsack and laptop
  4. A quart of milk, bag of apples, veggies and bulk granola.

Your basket will mainly be used for:

  1. Cheery cruises around town, with no particular destination.
  2. Causal jaunts to meet up with friends.
  3. Daily commuting to and from work.
  4. Running errands and hitting your favorite weekend farmers market to stock up.

You mainly ride your bike to the:

  1. Park
  2. Café
  3. Office
  4. Grocery store

If you mainly answered A, we recommend a front basket, so your puppy is always in your sight. If your dog is tiny, consider the Nantucket Cisco Rectangular Bike Basket. If your dog is small, consider a rack mounted front basket like the PUBLIC Wooden Rack Basket or the Wald 151 Front Metal Basket.

If you mainly answered B, we recommend a lightweight front basket that attaches to your handlebars, with a tight weave so valuable items don’t slip through. Consider the PUBLIC Front Bike Basket,  Nantucket Lightship Front Basket or Nantucket Cisco Lidded Front Basket. All are built for holding lighter items and things like keys and won’t slip through the tight weaving.

If you mainly answered C, you’ll need a heartier basket so consider something that attaches to either your rear or front rack like the PUBLIC Woven Basket, PUBLIC Wooden Rack Basket or Basil Basket.

If you mainly answered D, you need a more substantial basket option for carrying all those weighty market goods. The Basil Basket and Wald 582 Folding Basket are good options as a bag of groceries will slip into either nicely. The PUBLIC Metal Basket is a popular option for grocery grabbing.

 

August 3rd, 2016

Shoka Bell

At PUBLIC, we love products that marry beautiful design with straight-forward functionality to make our lives easier on bicycles.

This is why we’re excited about the Shoka Bell – a bell that improves safety, navigation, security, and visibility. The Shoka team has designed an impressive, multi-functional bell that we think our PUBLIC customers will want.

In the words of our friends from Shoka, the Shoka Bell “combines a navigation system, front light, security alarm and bell into a single unit that can be mounted on a handlebar. Simply connect the bell to a smartphone via bluetooth and enter a destination, Shoka Bell will guide you to your destination with clear turn by turn directions and chooses the safest route every time.

“Shoka Bell features eight sounds, controlled by the intuitive joystick, for every bike ride. Honk for a car, a polite ding for pedestrians, or even record your own message. There is an automatic volume control that adjusts the ringtone volume to the surrounding noise so you can always be heard. Through the app custom ringtones can be created and even more sounds are available to download for free.”

Shoka light

As avid city riders, we know that one of the most important accessories is a bicycle bell for safety in communicating with others about your presence. Also many of us use our smartphones to help navigate our city streets when riding our bicycles around town.

A front light for nighttime visibility is essential. And if someone attempts to move your bike without your permission, wouldn’t you want to be alerted?

Shoka theft alert

The Shoka Bell offers so many feature benefits wrapped into one small handlebar mounted device.

The sample Shoka Bells have already received numerous innovation awards, but the team needs our help to support manufacturing, tooling, software development, and other key milestones.

We encourage you to take a close look at the Shoka Bell and consider supporting their Kickstarter campaign to fund Shoka’s initial production.

Shoka colours

August 2nd, 2016

international bike travel Shimanami_Kaido_Bikeway_Japan

Shimanami Kaito Bikeway. Image by redlegsfan21 via wikimedia.

International bike travel sounds intimidating, doesn’t it? It’s hard enough to get your passport renewed and pack everything for a regular trip abroad. Add to that the hassle of packing a bicycle and navigating a city you don’t know (where you don’t speak the language)… it’s enough to make a beginner cancel their flight.

But let’s say the idea still calls to you. You’re enticed by the notion of landscapes with rolling hills and foaming waters, dotted with ruins and small villages and new ways of life. You imagine sailing with the wind in your face and no windshield to obstruct your view, communing directly with the world! In that case, we’ve got some bike-friendly spots abroad in mind just for you.

We’ve rounded up our top five bike-friendly destinations for international bike travel. These places are great for those contemplating their first bike tour abroad or want to attempt international bike travel with their kids. The following locales are laid-back enough that you’ll be able to explore on two wheels and unwind on your vacation.


Danube Bike Path in Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary

international bike travel

Camp site at Passau, Germany. Image by Chris Bainbridge via wikimedia.

Perfect for families, this pleasantly paved biking trail snakes through Germany and Austria and lands in Budapest, Hungary. The well-trodden route is part of EuroVelo6, the famous French cycling route. It follows the Danube River from its source all the way to the Black Sea, but there’s no need to take the entire route. Tackle the stretch that seems appropriate for you and your cycling pack. You might choose just the secluded German section or the popular Austrian trail. In Austria, cyclists soak in the urban sophistication of Vienna and pedal alongside clear water. Then, between observing green valleys in the countryside, they snack on Austria’s delectable dumplings and sample wines in taverns.


The Shimanami Kaido in Japan

international bike travel

Shimanami Kaido bike route in Japan. Images via wikimedia here and here.

Clocking in at only 40 miles, this serene trail is set off from the main road and connects Hiroshima’s islands, giving riders vistas onto the Seto Inland Sea. Some travelers complete the trip in a day, but it also accommodates tranquil wandering with campsites and hotels. There are 14 bike rental shops, which means you can skip the cumbersome bike luggage and rent your two wheels.


Otago Peninsula in New Zealand

international bike travel

The Otago Peninsula. Image via wikimedia

Start from the Victorian and Edwardian college town of Dunedin and venture into the countryside. The second half of this trail is grueling—so you can skip it! Just stick with the easygoing first half. The trail swirls around the coastline, and you can stop at the acute right turn that signals the start of the steep hill. Go during the drier months, from September to May.


Friuli-Venezia Giulia in Italy

international bike travel

Image via wikimedia.

Smooth pedaling alongside vineyards and benign hills make this Italian route a family pleaser. In northeast Italy, you can rest in piazzas and drink its famed varietals of white wine. The last leg rewards your hard work with a view of the Istrian coast.


Galway City to Spiddal in Ireland

international bike travel

Lovely route in Galway. Image by C O’Flanagan.

A total of 25 miles—from the harbor city of Galway to the charming village of Spiddal—this trek presents one big climb in the beginning. After this, writes local cyclist Pat O’Donnell, “it’s plain sailing.” If you’re blessed with a clear day, you’ll see the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands. In Spiddal village, take a breather with a snack in the crafts center, and then turn back to Galway.

July 21st, 2016

goodnessknows + PUBLIC Giveaway

In celebration of Bike to Work Month last May, we partnered with goodnessknows® to give away a limited-edition goodnessknows® + PUBLIC bike based on our popular single-speed step-thru Cream PUBLIC C1.

Our customized goodnessknows® + PUBLIC bike exemplifies our brands’ shared passion for healthy, active living. In the past, goodnessknows® has partnered with Denver’s B-Cycle program for Bike to Work Day and raised money for local bike organizations for every mile biked by local residents.

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We’re pleased to announce Melissa C. (pictured above) as our winner. Melissa works in local government for a small city in the greater Los Angeles area. Her favorite place to bike ride is at the beach. She feels fortunate to live in a city that has approximately 70 miles of bike trails that her family can enjoy.

Melissa loves riding around and seeing other people enjoying being outside and getting some exercise. As she says, “I can’t wait to try out my new bike!”

July 19th, 2016

biking with your dog

Photos by Akshay Sawhney.

Bike lovers are often dog lovers. And why not? Both are a human’s best friend, lovers of the outdoors and game for adventuring. And when you pair bikes and dogs, well, magic happens. Magic in the form of extreme adorableness (see above for proof), but also in the form of the supremely enjoyable experience that can be had biking with your dog, exploring the world and exercising together. Added bonus? No more whimpering beside the doggie door at home while you go on solo rides.

We explore three different ways of biking with your dog: toting them in a bike basket, pulling them along in a dog trailer and having them jog alongside you. We encourage you to consider your canine’s personality, size and fitness level when picking one of the many ride-along or jogging options to find the one that suits your needs and your pet’s best. And please let us know in the comments your personal tips and tricks for riding with your pet.

biking with your dog basket

Photos by Akshay Sawhney.

BASKET PUP

For smaller dogs, front or rear baskets are a smart choice. Their tiny legs are no match for the big strides of your bicycle. But with a basket, they can enjoy the breeze and the sights alongside you.

Attach the basket to your rear rack, front rack or your handlebars. The smaller the dog, the better off you’ll be with a front basket, where you can keep an eye on your friend. Whatever you do, make sure that your dog’s leash hooks to your handlebars or bike. Many baskets are made with clip-on leashes, which is the best option. That way, your dog will be less likely to try to jump out and chase a cat.

Your options include:

  • Wicker (like this or this): An environmentally friendly and classic look, the wicker basket will give your dog ample breeze on toasty days.
  • Wire (like this or this): These workhorse baskets will hold a heavier dog, and they’re easier to clean if your dog brings a mess on the ride.
  • Fabric: Comfortable and often handy with extra pouches and pockets, the fabric basket is commonly waterproof. But they might sway more on the ride or buckle underneath a dog’s weight, making this a better option for tiny pets.
biking with your dog trailer

TRAILER BUDDY

For big dogs who want to sit back and enjoy the ride, trailers are a simple solution. They’re generally built for dogs that weigh more than 20-25 lbs. A few pointers:

  • Be careful to choose a trailer that will actually fit your dog’s shape: The weight ratings of dog trailers don’t always take into account all the shapes and sizes of a dog that weighs that amount. So, try it on for size first. Your dog should have enough room to move around and sit down.
  • Check that you can easily hitch and unhitch your trailer. Make sure the connection is secure so that your trailer doesn’t fly off mid-ride.
  • Practice biking around with your trailer while it’s empty, so you get accustomed to the longer load. On your first ride, you’ll want to reassure your dog by looking like you know what you’re doing.
  • Acclimate your dog to the trailer by having him sit in it at home well before you actually ride. Make sure your dog enjoys sitting in a trailer before you commit to biking with a scared pup.
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JOGGING DOG

  • This option can spell the most fun and exercise for your companion. If your dog is physically fit and big enough for his legs to keep up with your wheels, consider working your way up to this mutually beneficial hobby.
  • It might seem liberating to simply use a normal leash and hook it to a handlebar, but this could spell disaster. If your dog sees a squirrel, it might dart in an unpredictable direction, pulling you and your bike down with it.
  • Instead, shop for the proper supplies before you head out. Buy a non-tangling lead—there are even leashes made for this specific purpose, like WalkyDog and Springer, that keep your dog at a safe distance from your wheels. Also pick up a body harness and an extra leash for when you park your bike and explore by foot. For nighttime rides, invest in a reflective vest and blinking lights. Nice-to-haves include a backpack for your dog to carry its own water supply and treats, rain gear, and booties for rides on hot days.
  • Practice commands such as “slow,” “left,” “right” and “stop” before you even hop on your bike. Then, start out with short rides, making sure to keep your pet on the non-traffic side of your bike. Soon, you’ll be biking around town with your dog like a pro. For those dogs that are especially well trained, you could choose to bike alongside them without a leash at all.

If you love bikes and dogs, there’s no reason to separate the two. Experiment until you find the solution that’s right for your pet. Then, you’ll have a shared hobby that wears you both out for a good night’s rest.

July 14th, 2016

This July month PUBLIC is taking part in annual month-long summer activities in the Hamptons organized by online designer retailer REVOLVE. In partnership with activewear company Lorna Jane, we outfitted the REVOLVE mansion with customized PUBLIC bikes for their guests and party-goers to ride to the beach and around the Hamptons.

To celebrate summer fun, now through July 31, we’re giving away a PUBLIC bike with our partners Lorna Jane and REVOLVE. Enter to win.

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Check out all these stylish fashionistas wearing the latest designer outfits with our PUBLIC bikes. Below are a few of our favorites. Follow #REVOLVEInTheHamptons on Instagram to keep up with REVOLVE’s summer fun.

Camila Coelho – @camilacoelho

The best summer ride! 💜🚲 —— Com saudade dos passeios de bicicleta!

A photo posted by Camila Coelho (@camilacoelho) on

Jamie Chung – @jamiejchung

Beach day 🚴🏽 @revolve #revolveinthehamptons

A photo posted by Jamie Chung (@jamiejchung) on

Negin Mirsalehi – @negin_mirsalehi

Aimee Song – @songofstyle

Preferred transportation in the Hamptons 🚲 || @revolve @privacypls #revolveinthehamptons

A photo posted by Aimee Song (@songofstyle) on

Victoria Magrath – @inthefrow

Gala González – @galagonzalez

Days that start like this ❤️🇺🇸 | @majorelle_collection #revolveinthehamptons

A photo posted by Amlul.com (@galagonzalez) on

Sara Escudero – @collagevintage

The first to reach the beach wins 🚲☺️🍾 #Revolveinthehamptons @revolve

A photo posted by 💃🏻Sara (@collagevintage) on

Friends Ride 🚲 @revolve #Revolveinthehamptons @tuulavintage

A photo posted by 💃🏻Sara (@collagevintage) on

Dani Song – @songdani

woke up this am missing my hunnnays @camilacoelho @inthefrow 💃🏼🎉🌊💦 #revolveinthehamptons

A photo posted by Dani Song (@songdani) on

oh haiii herro! 😆✌🏼️🚴🏻 달려라 다니~

A video posted by Dani Song (@songdani) on

Louie Roe – @louiseroe

Getting into the Hamptons spirit! @revolve #revolveinthehamptons @loversfriendsla Photo cred @imalexharrison

A photo posted by Louise Roe (@louiseroe) on

Jessi Malay – @jessimalay

And I'm home… 😻 Hello HAMPTONS 👌🏽 #REVOLVEinTheHamptons #JMonTheRUN

A photo posted by Jessi Malay of mywhiteT (@jessimalay) on

Joyride 🌻 #REVOLVEinTheHamptons

A photo posted by Jessi Malay of mywhiteT (@jessimalay) on

Jasmine Sanders – @golden_barbie

Hello Hamptons! Home for the weekend!! | @revolve #REVOLVEintheHamptons #JasmineSanders #GoldenBarbie

A photo posted by Jasmine Sanders (@golden_barbie) on

Chriselle Lim – @chrisellelim

brb, headed to brunch with @revolve wearing @grlfrnd_denim #revolveinthehamptons

A photo posted by Chriselle Lim 🌟 임소정 (@chrisellelim) on

That smile when you just had the most memorable weekend with the most incredible people. #revolveinthehamptons

A photo posted by Chriselle Lim 🌟 임소정 (@chrisellelim) on

Riding around town 🚲🚲

A photo posted by Chriselle Lim 🌟 임소정 (@chrisellelim) on

Arielle Noa Charnas – @somethingnavy

Olivia Culpo – @oliviaculpo

Devin Brugman – @devinbrugman

It's a lifestyle @revolve #revolveinthehamptons #robelife

A photo posted by Devin Brugman (@devinbrugman) on

REVOLVE – @revolve

biker babes 😎 #revolveinthehamptons

A photo posted by REVOLVE (@revolve) on

Lorna Jane – @lornajaneactive

Essence – @essence

July 5th, 2016

bike camping 101
You love biking, and you love camping. But you’ve always been afraid to combine the two and actually go bike camping because it sounds so daunting: a heavy load on a long ride, gathering that gear list, and making sure that you definitely have all your supplies (so you don’t end up exclusively noshing on energy bars since the propane burner never made it into your pack).

Fear not. Bike camping is a lot simpler than it sounds because there are a variety of different levels of bike camping. There’s absolutely no need to jump right into multi-day bike camping, freeze dried food and purifying your own water. You can start out very simply, without a tent even (see credit-card bike touring, below). And once you’re ready to pitch a tent, you’ll just need to gather the lightest version of your camping supplies, get a rack for your bike, sturdy bike panniers and bike bungees to secure all supplies. Oh, and find just the right camping spot, of course!

bike camping 101

First step, even before assembling a packing list, is to decide what type of bike camping you’re after. Here’s a nice round-up of different types of bike camping/touring options from REI and some pros and cons to each:

  • Credit-card bike touring: Carry only your basic gear. Then, pay for things like hotels and meals along the way (hence, “credit card”). This method makes for a light ride and less stress about whether you remembered everything. Think of it as “glamping”: You tour in the luxury of warm showers. But you’ll pay more for a hotel than a campground on the dirt, and more for restaurant meals than a packed PB&J.
  • Self-supported bike camping: Pack and pedal everything yourself. Store all of your camping supplies and meals in panniers attached to your bike rack or a bike trailer behind you. This method is affordable and gives you the breezy feeling of self-reliance. But it also means you carry everything on your own muscle power.
  • Car bike camping: Have a friend bring up the rear with a van full of your camping gear! You can be free of your heavier supplies, and if you get caught in a downpour, you’ll have instant shelter. The challenges include: finding a friend who would agree to experience the views from a car instead of a bike, and not being able to offroad it with your bikes—or the car would be left behind.
  • Organized bike camping: In a paid bike camping tour, all the headaches are someone else’s problem. You get to meet new people, and in some cases, you don’t have to carry the camping supplies yourself. The accommodation and navigation are all taken care of. The downside? These tours can be expensive, and you don’t get to choose your own adventure.
bike camping

Once you’ve decided on your trip style, packing becomes simpler. If you choose to do a self-supported bike camping, you’d need the maximum gear. Here’s everything you’d need to make it happen from Bike Overnights and REI:

  • Sleeping bag
  • Camp pad
  • Pillow
  • Tent
  • Food
  • Toiletries
  • Map
  • Flashlight
  • Pocketknife
  • Matches
  • Raingear
  • Towel
  • Two pairs of biking clothes
  • Two pairs of non-sweaty clothes
  • Patch kit
  • Pump (like this one or this one)
  • Cycling multi-tools (like this one)
  • Sturdy Bike Rack (like this one or this one)
  • Bicycle Pannier Bag (like this pair)

That’s it! And even those items are optional: Not everyone would feel the need to bring a towel or multiple pairs of clothes, especially if you aren’t overnighting over numerous days. Some rugged adventurers can do without a camp pad or air mattress. And others might happily sleep in a camp hammock instead of a tent.

bike camping

Once you’ve narrowed down your checklist, pack all of your supplies in panniers, baskets, and/or a bike trailer. For some wild inspiration, check out these DIY bike trailers. You can also buy one that’s readymade. If you’d rather skip the expense of a trailer, just strap your tent to your rear rack. Organize your items into panniers by category, such as sleeping and cooking (and use other packing advice from this seasoned Canadian traveler).

Then, you’re ready to bike the world!