Personal setups » The Black Hornet


The Black Hornet, all loaded up and ready to roll.

The Black Hornet, all loaded up and ready to roll.

UPDATED (see end of post).

The bike is a Specialized Carve 29er, with a retrofitted Cannondale Lefty. It’s an excellent XC machine, and yet it handles beautifully with a full touring load.

Up front is a Mountain Designs dry bag, held to the bars by a Revelate Designs Sling. It holds a sleeping bag, bivvy bag, and hiker’s fly.

The frame bag is an original, made by a man who isn’t afraid of a sewing machine challenge, Dean Winchester. He worked from a pattern he found online, and used recycled materials — a couple of those ubiquitous nylon drawstring bags that are given away as promotional items. So one side of the frame bag comes from Griffith University, and the other side represents Brisbane’s CityCycle hire bikes.

The frame bag holds a 3L Camelbak bladder, and tools and a spare tube and pump. The hydration hose is held to the handlebar by a clip that I made out of Plastimake.

One of these items is home made.

One of these items is home made.

On the rear of the bike is a Carradice Super C saddlebag, held in place by a highly modified Carradice Bagman 2 Expedition support. The Super C holds clothes, a solar light for camp, Jetboil Zip stove, a sleeping pad, toiletries, and some food.

The Bagman support required a lot of modification to work with this bike. A secondary saddle clamp puts the mounting position of the saddlebag slightly higher and further back (so that the bag & support clears the rear tyre), and the support struts now attach to the mounting points just above the rear hub, rather than on the seat stays just near the seat-post collar. Thanks to another friend, Bruce Lanham for the MacGuyvering required to make the Bagman support work.

Three smaller bags are attached to the saddle rails and to the top tube. The top tube bag is a Birzman and it holds snacks & sunscreen, the ‘Roswell’ bag under the seat has some food and cutlery. The orange nylon shoe bag, attached to the Bagman rails, holds a pair of crocs (well, an off-brand equivalent!) for wearing around camp.

On a recent overnighter, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the bike climbs despite this load. The traction is brilliant, and even though with a standard 2×10 Shimano SLX setup the bottom gear isn’t especially low, I still managed to ride every metre of a 5km climb on a dirt road, which gained 700 metres of elevation and averaged around 12%. And I’m no powerhouse.

And here's a pic of me riding it.

And here’s a pic of me riding it.

I’m looking forward to a week on the Munda Biddi trail in Western Australia in September.

A couple of posts on my blog about the Munda Biddi experience:

And there will be an article in the special ‘travel’ edition of Australian Mountain Bike mag, coming out late November.

I’m mostly happy to report that everything in my set-up works well. The lone exception was the Carradice Bagman 2 Expedition, which broke halfway through my Munda Biddi trip. I can’t blame Carradice, or the design of the Bagman support, because I altered mine very substantially, to work on a bike with less than 20 cm clearance from the seat to the back tyre.

I’m going to buy a Thule Pack ‘n’ Pedal rack to support the Carradice SuperC bag before the next expedition.



Comments (1)

Gary (Sydney)June 30th, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Hey nice setup, I was going to do the Munda Biddi Trail this year but end up doing the Tasmania Trail instead but I plan to do it later on, would be really interested in what you think of it once done.
Are you planning on doing the whole track or only part? The reason we changed our mind was we could find out how to get to the trail head and then back to Perth at the end.
Are you going to camp or use the huts?

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