Words and photos by Josh Meissner (@joshm.de)
I‘m Josh Meissner from Berlin. I have an engineering background and work at a fast-paced hardware startup. For the past two years my obsession has been photography, which often goes hand in hand with cycling. I enjoy solo overnighters and short trips through the sandy pine forests surrounding Germany’s capital. My goal is rarely long distance or speed, indeed you’re more likely to find me savouring a lengthy breakfast by a lake. This is my escape, a routine where I can go slow, smell the flowers, pick berries, admire the nature and take photos in solitude. While my pack list generally tends toward functional minimalism, I‘m rarely travelling without a fully-fledged coffee brewing setup and a minimum of three different toppings for my morning porridge. Priorities, I guess.
My All-City Space Horse Disc is my one bike to rule them all. Two years ago, it was one of the first All-City frames to land in Berlin at The Gentle Jaunt. Guided by the knowledge and infinite patience of the staff at the shop, I assembled a bike that manages to fulfill all roles from everyday supercommuter to indefinite all-road touring rig, and everything in between. As a passionate underbiker and chronic seeker of Type 2 Fun, the build reflects my need for sturdy, stupidly reliable components that won’t break the bank when they need replacing.
I currently have the WTB Venture 650B tires set up tubeless for dirt, gravel, and singletrack bikepacking, although the semi-slick Byways remain my choice for commuting and general light-duty. The drivetrain consists of a standard square-taper Sugino crank with a Hope 40T narrow-wide chainring and a Sunrace 11-42 cassette in the back. The reliable shifting is provided by a Shimano M8000 XT clutch derailleur and the shockingly ergonomic Gevenalle GX shifters. This gearing is a little steep when climbing loaded, but with 47mm tires I tend to find myself traction-limited before gearing becomes an issue, at least off-road. A Shutter Precision dynamo hub powers the inexpensive yet incredibly capable B&M lights. The unassuming Soma Lucas mini front rack may be the secret most valuable part of the bike – for a weight penalty of half a kilogram it supports the Wald 137 basket or a heavy front roll and additionally forms a protective cage around the headlight.
My first few clumsy trips revealed a lot of pain points in my setup and taught me about the actual essentials versus what I thought I needed. Accordingly, my pack list has slimmed down since then. Obviously camera gear is a personal priority and this informs my bag choice. My primary concerns are padding, security from unwanted ejection (been there, done that) and also ease of access. I‘ve found the thoughtfully designed and versatile gear by Outershell Adventure to meet my specifications perfectly. I appreciate the robust over-engineering inherent to their gear – having that peace of mind means I can turn my attention fully outwards and experience the moment.
The Outershell basket bag and stem bag see use literally every day in the city. I always carry a camera of some sort, and a mirrorless with a pancake lens slips right into the stem bag as a lean EDC, with other essentials and groceries in the basket bag. For casual nights out, I simply strap drybags with my sleep system under the basket, no cages needed. This is where the volume-saving benefits of ultralight gear really kick in: I can comfortably fit my (for one person truly cavernous) Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo tent, Cumulus quilt, and Thermarest NeoAir, plus a synthetic insulating jacket and an inflatable pillow all in just two smallish drybags. All that’s left to do at this point is load up with food and drinks for instant Friday night getaways.
Travelling internationally, as seen here on the North Sea coast of Scotland, I lose the basket to make way for the ultralight, extendable Outershell Harness system and move the drybags down to the fork-mounted cages. The Peak Design camera sling bag stacks neatly on the flat top of of the oval dry bag. Stabilized by the harness and with an additional Voile strap completely cementing the entire package to the supporting rack, I have nearly instant one-handed access to a prime-lens-equipped mirrorless camera (and another lens) and full confidence my camera gear won’t bounce off the trail. Oh, and snacks for days in the Outershell handlebar bag up front.
- Frame/Fork All-City Space Horse Disc
- Wheels Hunt 650B Adventure Sport
- Tires WTB Venture 47mm
- Handlebars Easton EA70 AX 44cm
- Headset FSA Orbit
- Crankset Sugino XD2
- Cassette Sunrace 11-42
- Derailleur Shimano M8000-SGS
- Brakes TRP HyRd semi-hydraulic disc brakes
- Shifters Gevenalle GX
- Saddle Fabric Line
- Seatpost Thomson
- Stem Thomson X4
- Front bags Outershell Drawcord Handlebar Bag, Outershell Oval Dry Bag, Peak Design Sling 5L
- Frame bag Outershell Half Framebag
- Rear bag Outershell Dropper Seatpack
- Accessory bags Gramm Tourpacking Top Tube Bag, Outershell Stem Caddy x2
- Other accessories Soma Lucas mini front rack, Wald 137 basket, fork-mounted dry bags
This year, I downsized to the 10L Outershell Dropper Seatpost bag – no dropper post in sight, but I appreciate the improved bike handling when pedalling out of the saddle. Between the three drybags up front, I actually have a surplus of waterproof volume, so I don’t really miss the drybag of the Revelate Terrapin I was running previously. The cherry on top (tube) is a slim bag made by Kristin of Gramm Tourpacking – a world class custom bag maker right here in Berlin.
I’m always interested in trading knowledge on ultralight equipment, gear hacks and porridge recipes, so do get in touch! And if you’re in the Berlin area, join us for a #coffeeoutside!
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