Words and photos by Maxwell Johnston (@mtjohnston8)
Howdy, my name is Maxwell, and I’m from Austin, Texas. During my childhood, bikes were used mostly as a means of getting around the neighborhood; you could always tell where everyone was by how many bikes were in the front yard.
In my adult life, riding bikes has played a much different role. I’m a recovering alcoholic, and cycling has been a huge component of my sobriety. I started out primarily mountain biking, then I began to explore the world of off-road drop-bar bikes, started riding longer days on gravel roads, then naturally over the last couple years I’ve tried to get out bikepacking as much as possible.
Bikepacking blends all of my favorite things in one: riding my bike, being outdoors, sleeping outside, researching the perfect gear, building routes, and experiencing life in a way most people never will. In my opinion, the best part about cycling is the feeling after a ride. All the little stuff that you worry about day-to-day just kind of fades away.
I had been riding drop-bar bikes off road for a little while before pulling the trigger on this bike. Coming from an aluminum frame, I knew I wanted something steel, and I had fallen in love with some of Crust’s designs. I was torn between the Bombora and the Nor’Easter, and I ended up choosing the Bombora due to its geometry. I’ve tried multiple bag configurations over the past year, and this is by far my favorite. The Rogue Panda frame bag just came in, so pardon its cleanliness. It should be covered in dirt soon.
- Frame/Fork Crust Bombora
- Rims Velocity Blunt SS
- Hubs SON Dynamo (front), Velocity Mountain Comp (rear)
- Tires Ultradynamico Rose (front), Ultradynamico Cava (rear)
- Handlebars Salsa Cowchipper
- Headset Cane Creek 40
- Crankset SRAM Rival
- Pedals Raceface Chester
- Cassette SRAM 11-42
- Derailleur SRAM Apex
- Brakes TRP Spyre
- Shifter(s) SRAM Apex
- Saddle Brooks C17
- Seatpost Zoom Standard Offset
- Stem Crust Removable Faceplate Stem (60mm)
- Front bags Bags by Bird Teardrop
- Frame bags Rogue Panda Double Decker
- Rear bags Bags by Bird Goldback
- Other accessories Widefoot Cargo Mount, Sinewave Beacon Light
My favorite parts of this bike are the front/rear bags and what they’ve added to my rides. I’m a big fan of the classic long flap bags, and in my opinion, these are the best-looking ones out there. On my day rides, I line the bags with cheap foam to carry my photography gear. I found this is a good way to train with a weighted bike while also being prepared to capture any scene the ride throws my way. Conversely, on my overnight trips, all the camping gear gets stuffed in the bags, and I carry a much more minimal camera/lens set up in a Swift Industries hip pack.
Follow along with Maxwell on Instagram @mtjohnston8.
Send Us Your Bikepacking Rig
Use the form below to submit your bikepacking rig. We’ll choose one per week to feature in a Reader’s Rig Dispatch and on Instagram. To enter, email us your best photo of the bike (preferably at a 90° angle), your Instagram username (optional), and a short description of you and your rig. If your bike is selected, we’ll need a total of five photos and a little bit more info.
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