The weekly Debrief highlights small but important bits of news, products, and things that caught our attention on the website, in the conversation, and elsewhere around the community. These include upcoming events and interesting items our readers shared in the comments. Check out this week’s findings below.
Bits & Bobs
New products that are worth highlighting but didn’t make the Dispatch…
Made in USA / $60 at BTCHN’ Bikes
BTCHN’ Bikes first non-metal product is a simple stem bag that’s handmade in Chico, California, like everything else they offer. It has a drawstring closure, several sections of daisy chain for Voile straps or velcro, and there are six color options up on their website.
£1,199+ at Cotic
Cotic reintroduced their Solaris at the end of 2022 and just posted a short video letting folks know frames have arrived. Watch it above and find details about the Solaris here.
Berm Cycles Ragnar
$2,550 at Berm Cycle
Singapore-based Berm Cycles just launched a new titanium drop-bar mountain bike called the Ragnar. It’s compatible with short-travel gravel suspension forks, has clearance for 27.5 x 2.8″ or 29 x 2.4″ tires, boost hub spacing, dropper post routing, post mount brakes, and it’s offered in three sizes. To celebrate the launch, Berm is offering free worldwide shipping on framesets for a limited time.
Fairweather Brompton Bag “Mini”
Made in Japan / $108 at Blue Lug
The new Fairweather Brompton Bag “Mini” is a small front bag made for Brompton folding bikes. Designed to be used as a basket, it attaches directly to the Brompton front carrier block, is made from a waterproof nylon fabric, and uses a roll-top closure for quick access. The bag provides up to 20L of storage and is handmade in Japan.
Limited Edition Escapade 853 made in the UK
Made in UK / £1,999 at Cotic
Cotic introduced the Escapade UK 853, a small-batch British production run of their gravel bike. This Escapade is built using Reynolds 853 tubing and is handmade and painted in the UK near Cotic HQ. The stock color is Cirrus—as shown—but for a small upcharge, they’re offering an a la carte choice from 10 frame colors.
Swift Industries Bungee Booster
Made in USA / $10 at Swift Industries
The new Swift Industries Bungee Booster is a simple shock cord accessory that’s compatible with any Swift bags with daisy chain webbing, including the Zeitgeist Pack and Catalyst Pack. It’s 66″ long, comes in reflective coyote and neon pink, and uses US-made shock cord which is then assembled in Seattle, Washington. Plus, for a limited time, Swift is giving a Bungee Booster away with any Zeitgeist or Catalyst purchase.
Three New Alpacka Rafts for 2024
Made in USA / $1,325+ at Alpacka Raft
Colorado-based Alpacka Raft just launched three new packraft models for 2024, including two new tandems and an updated single-person packraft. From left to right (above), the Tango ($1,900) is a two-person, kayak-style packraft that’s ideal for serene lakes, meandering rivers up to class II, and gentle coastal areas. The Rendezvous ($1,700) is an innovative packraft-style canoe that uses a unique design, integrating a central thwart instead of traditional seats to help make the packraft fast and stable when paddling or fishing on flat water. Lastly, the Refuge ($1,325) is Alpacka Raft’s ode to backcountry enthusiasts and wilderness travelers, weighing in at just 6.5 pounds and sporting a design that excels in all conditions.
Fifth Season SWITCHEL Sack
Made in USA / $125 at Fifth Season Canvas
Fifth Season Canvas in Vermont just launched a new basket bag/satchel they’re called the Switchel Sack. Woman-made in Middlebury, Vermont, the Switchel is a versatile tote-style bag with straps to secure it to a Wald 137 basket, metal D-rings for a shoulder strap, two button snaps to keep your contents inside, and a beefy 14oz canvas bottom. It’s made using hemp webbing, Johnson Woolen Mills wool pocket, 10 oz canvas top, 14 oz canvas bottom, brass snaps, and steel D-rings. There are currently three color options to choose from.
Exchanges and ideas that caught our attention in the site’s conversation section…
YouTube Channels are Dropping like Flies
Neil Beltchenko: I’ve followed Seth since he and Alexander did a Promaster van build-out, as my partner and I did the same about five years ago. While not all of his content resonates with me, from time to time, I watch a video and really love the overall production. From what I can tell, Berm Peak has the largest reach of any cycling-centric YouTube Channel, with over 2.5 million followers. But even channels Like Berm Peak, which has a handful of employees on staff, are adapting to help make ends meet. This video resonated with me as I think many of you know that YouTube ads don’t pay the bills, not by a long shot, and neither do web banner ads. You have likely seen ads placed within my video over the years. This year, you will see some new brands helping support us, which I’m super excited about. But what you don’t see is all of the brands that declined or didn’t even write back. As Seth mentions, the bike industry is in limbo, and brands are keeping a very tight budget despite the reach of our YouTube channel and website.
The point I’m getting at is that we, too, have a few alternatives where you can help support the channel and website, similar to The Berm Peak Substack. We launched the Bikepacking Collective back in 2018; Collective membership is $68 a year, or just over $5 a month, and it gets you two incredible print publications in the mail each year, discounts on gear from dozens of brands, countless giveaway opportunities, and supporting all things BIKEPACKING.com, which includes routes, inspiration, and behind-the-scenes stuff like server space, website development, and more. Another way to support us is if you like a video and want to let us know beyond a thumbs up, you can throw a tip our way by giving “thanks,” which is next to the like button under each video. We are also still in search of beverage and or apparel supporters for the year, so if you know of anyone, please let me know! I know this is pretty forward, but I honestly can’t imagine not creating content that inspires folks to go outside, pedal, and sleep next to their bikes. I live for this stuff, and I can assure you I’ll be working my butt off all year long. Love to you all. —Neil
Around the Community
News from around the bikepacking world…
Genosack: Driftless Skyquest
The Genosack crew spent a few days traversing the Driftless Area on their bikes, where they savored good meals, rolling hills, and sweet descents on primo gravel. The video above captures their ride around one of the United States’ hidden gems.
Primus Launches Service for a Reason Program
From today until March 31st, Primus is running its fourth “Service for a Reason” campaign, which encourages outdoor cooking enthusiasts to test their Primus stoves, troubleshoot issues, and take advantage of Primus’ free part replacement policy for qualifying parts. To learn more or to initiate a warranty claim and receive their free replacement parts, customers in the United States can go the US Service Your Stove Page. Customers in Canada can apply via this Canadian Service Your Stove Page.
The Magic Puna (Trailer)
Coming later this year, The Magic Puna is a film that follows Sònia Colomo and Eloi Miquel on a high-altitude bikepacking journey along the Ruta de los Seismiles in Argentina. Watch the short teaser above, and stay tuned for the full release this spring.
Events Starting Soon
What to watch this weekend and bikepacking events starting soon…
Huracan 300 Challenge
The Huracan 300 Challenge is the ultimate self-supported bikepacking race through Florida, boasting over 100 miles of singletrack and some of the state’s hardest and longest climbs. There are well over 100 riders registered for this year’s grand depart, which takes off just south of Ocala tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. local time. You can follow their progress live here.
Race around Rwanda
The Race around Rwanda (RaR) is an ultra endurance cycling event that will lead participants over a spectacular route around the beautiful Rwandan countryside. The event starts from Rwanda’s capital, Kigali City, on February 4th at 4 a.m. local time. There are more than 100 riders registered and you can follow their progress live here.
Some things we found around the ‘gram and elsewhere. This week, a handful of updates from the 2024 Tour Te Waipounamu in New Zealand…
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