Our Reader’s Rig of the week comes from Willie Hatfield of Bike Friday, who shares his personal All-Packa folding bike. Find Willie’s story of designing and building an equally capable and packable rig for travels off the beaten path here…

Words and photos by Willie Hatfield

Hello, I’m Willie. I grew up mountain biking the Ice Age Trail in the Kettle Moraine of Wisconsin. While pursuing my engineering degree, my racing experience with a fixed-gear, human-powered submarine left me with a passion for unusual applications of human-scale innovation and performance. In 2012, a bike tour took me through Eugene, Oregon, and led me to my first role at Bike Friday, cutting parts in the production shop. I’d never made a frame before, but they still challenged me to make my first frame in 30 days. That was an intense month, but in the end, I was riding my very own bike! I’ve been hooked on building bikes ever since.

Bike Friday All-Packa

I’ve lived car-free for the last 12 years, so most of my cycling is close to home. I feel a wonder in exploration—as much in the discovery of a secret neighborhood cut-through as a new mountain range. My passion for bikepacking and living car free means that getting to the start of any ride is always going to be a bit of an adventure, so I include it in the adventure! Most long weekends, you can find me folding up a Bike Friday, boarding a train or bus, and expanding my mental map and connection with my bio-region. During one of our recent testing trips to Eastern Oregon, the All-Packa’s folding capability allowed me to reach my destination via bus even after my Amtrak train had been canceled the day before. 

The hunger for performance and oddball innovation that landed me at Bike Friday is the same energy that fueled my development of the All-Packa. In 2020, I started dreaming of the ultimate bikerafting bike. I quickly realized that Bike Friday might be able to provide something more broadly useful to bikepackers. When I looked at the bikepacking market, I saw incredible variation in people’s rigs and also the assumption that a bike that was easy to travel with would be an awful bike to ride.

  • Bike Friday All-Packa
  • Bike Friday All-Packa
  • Bike Friday All-Packa
  • Bike Friday All-Packa
  • Bike Friday All-Packa

It was time to see if I could adapt a road-touring platform for the very different application of bikepacking. In two years, I took the design as far as I could with vital feedback from hundreds of riders around the world. The All-Packa’s original design was a huge hit and received one of BIKEPACKING.com’s “Bike of The Year” awards in 2022. By December, I’d heard back from enough riders that, along with their enthusiasm, I had a wish list of improvements, with increased tire clearance as the clear number one. But I was stuck. All our tooling was set up for QR hubs, and Boost/Super Boost hubs only came in thru-axle. And the fork couldn’t get much longer and still fit in the suitcase. And the stays of the rear end required a radical reshaping with tools that didn’t exist yet. And chainrings for wider chainlines didn’t come in the larger sizes that our small wheels require. And further, there was literally one tubeless 20 x 2.8″ tire model on the market, and it was probably going to be canceled due to pandemic supply chain whiplash.

Bike Friday All-Packa
  • Bike Friday All-Packa
  • Bike Friday All-Packa

I let my subconscious mull on these challenges while I planned my Good Night 2022 ride. I was taking the train back to Wisconsin, and I was sure to need wider tires for the snow. Snow bikes… Pugsley… asymmetry… fat bikes had solved the wider chainline issue already in the pre-thru-axle days! Everything in bikes really already has been done—we bike designers just have to synthesize and adapt to new challenges! I banged out the frame in two nights and boarded the train, suitcase in tow.

  • Frame/Fork: 2024 All-Packa, extralight custom butted tubing
  • Rims: Alienation Vandal
  • Hubs: Koozer XM490
  • Tires: Odyssey Super Circuit 2.4” (tubeless)
  • Handlebars: Bike Friday Packalope Bar 730mm
  • Headset: FSA Equipe 1 1/8″
  • Crankset: Ultegra 6600 with 48t narrow-wide chainring spaced way out
  • Pedals: Wellgo Magnesium MG-8 SPD
  • Cassette: 12 Speed 10-44 XPLR XG-1251
  • Derailleur(s): SRAM RIVAL AXS XPLR
  • Brakes: Shimano MT-200 hydraulic (160mm)
  • Shifter(s): SRAM Eagle AXS
  • Saddle: Generic
  • Seatpost: Elita One 27.2
  • Stem: Uno Advanced 60mm
  • Front bags: Salsa Anything Cages and bags on right fork and fork crown/headset spacer braze-on
  • Frame bags: Prototype Take A Trip frame bag, prototype Bike Friday Bermuda Bag
  • Rear bags: Salsa Anything Cage and bag on seat mast, Rockgeist Foxglove
  • Other accessories: Problem Solver Bow-Ties for downtube and left fork

Building a test rig is a funny process. It’s not like building a regular custom bike or even a regular prototype. You want to test as much as possible without confounding your results. Some of what I was testing:

1) I did a shoddy job with the welding, and used minimal brazing fillets to accelerate the fatigue testing. 2) I externally butted all the tubing well past what was optimal for my weight to see where I’d first reach the yield stresses. Or tear out the water bottle bosses. I even used lower strength steels where it wouldn’t lead to catastrophic failure. 3) New housing routing to see if the cables would pinch when packing. 4) Internal dropper post routing. 5) Lower BB height to check pedal strike. 6) S-Bend stays with a whooping 9mm of hub offset. 7) Component-wise, I generally wanted to test budget parts to see if there were any diamonds in the rough. I also had little personal experience with electronic groupsets, and we’d had several people ask about XPLR.

bike Friday photo made 2023
  • Bike Friday All-Packa
  • Bike Friday All-Packa

Real-world testing is a cornerstone of Bike Friday’s development process. I said goodnight to 2022 from the Kettle Moraine. I’ve gotten thoroughly muddy with 2.8s and a dropper on the local trails. I even threw a 451x47mm wheelset on there and raced an Oregon Triple Crown gravel race. And, of course, I’ve gone on bikepacking trips—as many as my busy factory job and old house have allowed. Two trip highlights this year were the Oregon Outback last summer and the Red Meadows Loop in Montana last fall. 

On the Outback, I got to ride with my two friends, one on an All-City Nature Boy and the other on a Canyon Grizl. We rode hard together, and there was a lot of good-natured comparison between our bikes. Width was more important than diameter. Through the rougher stuff, my 2.4″ tires were actually faster than their 2″ tires. I eventually went on to the Oregon Country Fair, riding up the Barlow Trail past Wy’East to Portland. Our 450 miles in five days might not set any records, but I don’t feel that my bike held me back in the least, and it made the bus rides to and from the trip so easy!

  • Bike Friday All-Packa
  • Bike Friday All-Packa
  • Bike Friday All-Packa

Montana was something special. Joe Cruz of BIKEPACKING.com, Ally Mabry of Adventure Cycling, and her partner Joel of the Montana Woods had hatched a plan to ride our 406 BSD wheels in the 406 area code, creating the largest gathering of All-Packas ever. But that wasn’t why it was special. And it also wasn’t because of the perfect October weather. I will cherish that ride forever because my riding companions and I started the ride as near strangers and ended as friends. So much of my riding has been solo, and I’m grateful for the All-Packa bringing me into the company of such excellent and admirable riders.

bike Friday photo made 2023

We developed our own bikepacking bars in-house because the wide, flared or alt-bars that are so great while riding are very challenging to pack down. The Packalope bars have multiple hand positions and a few unique features, the greatest one being their ability to split in half for easier transport and travel. The Packalope’s segmented design allows for more material in high-stress areas, resulting in bars that are half the average weight without compromising safety. Bike Friday has decades of experience manufacturing variations of packable bars, and the current system is highly robust.

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