Summer hydration. The ridiculous and the practical.

I have read that you should drink around 500ml (16oz in American) of water per hour, when riding a bicycle. From my experience this is hugely temperature-dependant, and probably only accurate for riding with moderate vigour between 25c-30c (77f-86f). Touring in Iceland two years ago I made it through an entire day of riding (in the rain, at around 3c/37f) on 1.6l (54oz)of water. I wouldn’t recommend this, but we didn’t find any fresh water that day. I am currently in Arizona, it is summer and the temperature on my commute to work is between 35-45c (95f-113f). My hydration needs are about double the above recommendation, and I seem to need more than 500ml for a 30-40 minute ride.

Last year—riding the Sunset Limited—I carried 5.5l (186oz) of water each day, to make sure I would not run out during the ride. Temperatures on that ride averaged in the upper 20s, maxing around 36c. To carry this amount of water, I had a 2l Platypus Hoser reservoir in a (Revelate medium Tangle) frame bag, a 1l collapsible bottle up front, one conventional bidon and two Nalgene 1l (34oz) bottles.

On my new Surly Midnight Special I am now rocking a Cranktank4 which holds 4l (135oz) directly above the bottom bracket, and a 1l Nalgene below the bottom bracket, so I have 5l (169oz) sitting in the centre of the bike.

Surly Midnight Special with the Cranktank4 and a Velo Orange Mojave cage.

I have been testing the Cranktank4 commuting (since it is still too hot for a long ride). The tank is really well designed and made. The insulated hose is strapped to the frame with a piece of Velcro, and has a quick-disconnect at the lid. The tank itself is held on with two Velcro straps, which is both easy and fast to put on and take off for filling (and yes, you can add water to it without taking it off the bike). Drinking from a hydration hose whilst riding is much easier than using a bidon: I find that I often need multiple tiny sips to avoid a weird feeling of breathlessness which seems to be some inefficient stupidity on my part, where I can’t time swallowing and breathing correctly, which often results in inhaling water or burping. Drinking from a hose helps because I can keep the valve in my mouth for a few breaths, taking smaller sips than I instinctively want to take when holding a bidon and turning to the side to take in water.

How does weight come into things when carrying 4kg (141 of the other kind of ounce) of water, you ask?

Well, apart from the logistical difficulty of fitting 4+ litres of water on a bicycle, using a single reservoir is actually pretty efficient, weight-wise. As I have previously noted, the Velo Orange Mojave cage weighs around 150g (5.3oz), a Nalgene is around 170g (6oz), so carrying 4l would weigh about 5.3kg (187oz), and be hard to fit on my frame as I don’t have triple-bosses on my forks. My Cranktank4 (without its hose) weighs 407g (14.4oz), so 4l weighs 4.4kg (155oz) which is a significant weight saving.

The Cranktank4 with its lid and Velcro straps weighs 407g.

Now, just to clarify how practical the Cranktank is, I have fitted 4.13l (140oz of the previous kind of ounce) capacity to my singlespeed rat-rod commuter in a manner that Bicyclepubes and a few others would approve of.

4.13l fitted to a normal bicycle in a normal manner (with some zipties).

Now you want to know how much this pile of crap weighs, right? The 4 conventional bidons and 3 Polar bottles alone weigh 750g (26.5oz of the weighty kind)!

To do this in a more clean and less-ziptied manner, a Specialized Purist bidon and a KingCage stainless cage weigh 128g (4.5oz), so if you could find the space on a bike to fit 8 conventional bottles and cages, this would weigh about 4.5kg (159oz).

A Specialized Purista bottle and a KingCage stainless bottle cage weigh 128g.

Carrying 4l of water on your bicycle with the best conventional bottles and cages would weigh about 100g (3.5oz) more than the Cranktank4, and your bicycle would have no space at all to carry anything else, so bikepacking would be difficult without a full sized hiking backpack, which I most certainly would not recommend cycling with, as it would probably cause you permanent injuries after more than a couple of miles.

One final note: I am not sponsored by Adventure Hydration, I am just incredibly excited by the Cranktank4, as it fulfils a task better than any other solution I have seen. With two largely-unused degrees in industrial design, I find it hard to fault the product, hence the praise.

Saving grams to justify grams.

In finalising the build of my new bike I had overlooked one component, the seat collar. I feel this is a part that is easy to overlook, and often one just goes with the stock collar that comes with a frameset – I mean – why not?

This is a Surly, and Surly hardware is overbuilt. The seat collar is made of stainless steel. Big deal, I hear you say.

But it weighs 50g (1.8oz in American), and it is black. I have chosen a silver Hope headset, silver Velocity Blunt SS rims, silver Hope Pro4 hubs, silver DT Swiss nipples and silver DT Swiss Revolution spokes. So I ordered a silver Hope seat collar (They only had one in stock, in 30mm).

Not only does it look infinitely better in my complete build, but I saved a whopping 27g (0.95oz) which, in a weightweenie environment, is a huge amount for a single component. On a Surly however it merely helps justify necessities like the Velo Orange Mojave bottle cage, which enables me to carry that extra 1l (34oz of the other kind) of water in a Nalgene bottle, and it weighs a svelte *cough*…

157g (5.5oz). Now that I commit this to blog, I think I should weigh each of the three Mojave I have and see if one weighs less than the other. Or maybe I should “add” some drillium.

It weighs a fart.

I will often say that something weighs a fart, or that the difference in weight between two things is a fart. This is usually seen as being humorous, and yes it is. Toilet humour is always funny. Best of all, farts do have a weight, and one which substantiates my description of something that weighs very little.

A good example of a fart between two weights is the difference between a decent stainless steel M5 bolt and a titanium M5 bolt. These should have similar structural integrity, but one weighs a fart, and there is a fart between their weights (I apologise for the fact that they are not the same length, and that one has a captive washer. Maybe that compensates for the length).

As you can see, by replacing 13 M5 bolts on my Midnight Special I will save a whopping 19.5g (0.7oz in American), and introduce the possibility for galvanic corrosion and maybe some other risks which I shall not consider.

But how much does a fart actually weigh, I hear you asking… Well, approximately 0.05g (0.001763698oz). We also expel an average of 1.3g (0.05oz) of fart per 24h (1000 beats in Swatch internet time) period, just by being real live human beings who eat things.

There is an academic paper on the subject, and several threads I cross-referenced here and here which all point towards the same averaging of about 0.04g for an average of 100ml fart volume, and around 14 farts per day but apparently averaging 500ml to 1500ml overall volume in 24h, hence my averaging to 0.05g and 1000ml volume, for simplicity of visualisation.

One final note: the titanium M5 bolt in the picture weighs 32 farts.

Downtube cable-stops…

I have officially removed front derailleurs from (not all of) my bikes, and been blissfully riding 1×10 drivetrains on my road and gravel bikes for over a year. Yes, I have stuck with 10 speed because it is what I have on (almost) all my bikes, and it keeps things simple.

Converting a light-weight ’90s Columbus steel road bike to a 1x drivetrain leaves a disused cable stop on one side of the downtube or—if you take that off—a sharp and unsightly boss. The only commercial solution I am aware of is Problem Solvers’ dummy cover which is pretty decent in theory, but it is not an exact cosmetic match to the Shimano cable stops and—most importantly—it weighs enough that I cannot justify putting it on my bike.

Today I am in the process of building my new gravel bike: a Surly Midnight Special. This is a decent but not light-weight double butted chromoly NATCH steel frame: it’s a Surly, and Surly has never known for their featherweight frames.

This is what I recommend you do (in picture form):

I used a hacksaw and two files to shape it, then moved to 240 grit sandpaper, then green Scotch-Brite followed by some polishing compound (the stuff you use to polish the surface of a car’s paint) on a scrap of denim.

As you can see, the Problem Solvers stop weighs a terrifying 15.3g (0.5oz in American), whereas my modified stop comes in at a pleasing 3.5g (0.1oz), and both stops together weigh less than one of the commercial solution to the problem.

You may think that this kind of Weight Weenus behaviour is completely unnecessary, but I think you will find that many of us will fight to save a few grams here and there so that we can justify carrying a flask or riding a Brooks saddle.