Touring Stromer (the long version)

John ware

Active Member
After a 870 mile small group ride through the Canadian Rockies on my 40 year old vintage Trek with my Radical Design trailer this summer I came to a couple realizations.

IMG_6725.jpeg


  • I love long distance cycling touring
  • I love camping
  • I can survive some pretty demanding physical challenges
  • The trailer is a great touring tool
  • The trailer can be a real liability when the shoulder disappears or is crumbling and scattered with debris
  • and lastly, if I want to continuing long distance touring I should get a properly outfitted modern bike.
After investigating and pricing the latest purpose built heavy duty touring bikes I also realize that being in my 60's, it was going to take a very long time to recoup my investment in a $7-10k for custom world touring bike.

While thinking about my 500 mile ride across Iowa in 2016 on my ST2 with my trailer in tow, I started to come to the conclusion that the Stromer was way overbuilt and had many of the qualities of the world touring bikes. A super strong frame, large heavy duty rims and tires, disc brake, a reasonable amount of gearing and a modern geometry to name a few.

So I started to dream of what would happen if I got over some of the limitations of the Stromer and created an ebike/bike packing hybrid for long distance touring - thus this crazy concept was born. A makeover of my ST2 into a long distance road, rail to trail, and gravel road touring animal.

IMG_2521.jpeg


The main challenge was how to increase the balanced gear carrying capability and improve the tour ride qualities without permanently altering the ST2.

Here was the game plan...
  • Replace the original rear rack with something strong and solid including reconfiguring the fender attachment
  • Bite the bullet and do the suspension fork upgrade i’d been lusting after for a long time
  • Upgrade to a Jones HBar handlebar
  • Add the appropriate storage capability

Each part of the plan has had its own challenges which I can go into details later, but here is where I've ended up. I did an initial first ride and it went fantastic. Everything stayed on the bike and it rode smooth and steady. The test ride was with placeholder gear so the next challenge was to see if I could pare down my gear for sustained self-supported touring. I'm feeling comfortable that it can be done, with most of the bigger challenges resolved.

IMG_2522.jpeg

Initial test configuration


IMG_2500.jpeg

Salsa seat post rack adapter

IMG_2511.jpeg

Salsa seat tube bracket to Salsa bent stays to a Tubus Evo rack

IMG_7140.jpeg

Jones HBars and quick access day storage bags from Bedrock

IMG_6993 2.jpeg

A little handcrafted mods to attach fender using original mounting hole and screw


After the initial test I've modified the hanging of the handlebar bags and been working through getting 3L of hydration (bladder in the frame bag). I also added a second set of bottom clips on the Ortlieb panniers, an idea I borrowed from their gravel panniers design, which makes the bags rock solid. The panniers hang off the lower rail on the Tubus rack which lowers the center of gravity and provides greater stability. I’ve also continued to experiment with various top bags for the rear rack, but ultimately ended up with an Ortlieb Rack Pack (small 24L) as the final solution. Its a configuration I saw being used by a couple of Hungarian tourers who were passing through town this summer in year 2 of a 3 year around the world adventure. The arrangement provides quick access to a food storage area, and yet with my down sleeping bag and down sweater it remains pretty light on top of the rack.
IMG_7074.jpeg


IMG_7138.jpeg


A couple of final mods I'm still considering include perhaps a 2 legged kickstand and maybe a slightly larger low gear on the cassette for added climbing comfort with or without lower assist levels.

IMG_7135.jpeg

Current configuration on 3 day self contained touring test


I recently completed a test ride with my actual gear (about 97% finalized) and 2 days food supply to start to measure the impact of the mods and the gear weight on my range. My rides have mainly been in assist level 1 with some NO assist for several miles, and although the route was mostly flat city riding with a few small hills and only an occasional light headwind, initial results are suggesting a likely range of 60-80 mile per full charge. The ride I did in 2016 with the loaded trailer confirmed that an 80 mile day on a single charge was entirely doable, but this new rig represents a whole different wind profile so only time and more real world testing will tell.

So, where is all of this craziness leading you might ask? How about a west to east US crossing next summer using a combination of Rail to Trail segments as well as some gravel roads like the one below and some Adventure Cycling Northern Tier/Lewis and Clark routes.

IMG_2470.PNG


At least that's the dream for the moment.

IMG_7144.jpeg


As always, thoughts, questions and opinions are welcome.
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
After a 870 mile small group ride through the Canadian Rockies on my 40 year old vintage Trek with my Radical Design trailer this summer I came to a couple realizations.

As always, thoughts, questions and opinions are welcome.
Great report and planning!
2X10 setup on the ST2 is plenty gearing for most riding. I have realized that riding no-assist takes the joy out of ebikes and by riding in level 1, I not only cover more ground but have energy left to explore places (charge batteries meanwhile).

I think your current setup can be optimized to reduce some redundancy with some clever packing.
Have you thought about front loading panniers. It could reduce some of the clutter on your handlebar. old man mountain some interesting rigs that could be used.

Could you post some shots of the rear rack mod without panniers attached on them?
Also, Canadian Rockies is the most beautiful place I have been to. It is simply cycling heaven.
 

John ware

Active Member
Hi Ravi, here are a few photos of the rack sans panniers.

Regarding a front panniers option I looked at several possible solutions but I was concerned that some of them would put weight too far forward and higher up. The choice of the Bedrock pouches and the Salsa fork bags gave me both quick access to daily need items while keeping some of the gear lower and closer to the bike as well as allowing my gear to be nicely compartmentalized.

And you are right the Canadian Rockies are just mind blowingly beautiful.
IMG_7059.jpg
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DSCN3655.jpg
 

John ware

Active Member
Ravi, I think you're right about charging along the way. One is rarely more than a few miles from an outlet in this country. I think you just have to adjust your daily riding rhythm to be able to take advantage of them.

One interest trend I've been noting at State Campgrounds. Restrooms>sinks>mirrors>OUTLETS>vent windows.

IMG_7149.jpg
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
This is a very interesting and useful thread. You state early on that you looked at touring bikes. I've been doing the same and struggling with the price to use ratio (high price and the bike might see limited use). I was also thinking about the electric vs non-electric for touring and struggling with the trade-offs: electric adds the weight of the batteries and motor plus added vulnerability to failure and dependence on charging; non-electric makes the hill climbs a lot harder and reduces the daily range (speaking for myself an older, inexperienced cyclist). So I aspire to do some bike trips but haven't ever done any which leads to an internal struggle of how and where to start: buy a non-electric touring bike or upfit/retrofit an existing e-bike and start small?

This thread is really helpful in that sense because you're kind of paving the trail for some of us thinking about the latter option. Using my electrics seems a better option since I will get so much more use out of them overall (commuting and trekking) vs if I bought a non-electric touring bike. I look forward to reading more as you take additional trips and/or modify your ride and gear choices. I've already made a note in a spreadsheet about some of the gear choices you described. I was thinking that next season might be my jumping in point wherein I just schedule some simple over night trips maybe riding 50 miles in a day (my commute is 35 so I know I have the range for 50 on a single battery). And maybe after that experience I can work up to some 3-4 day rides where I will really need to think about the bike configuration and gear. So very helpful info here and thanks for posting.
 

smitty

Active Member
After a 870 mile small group ride through the Canadian Rockies on my 40 year old vintage Trek with my Radical Design trailer this summer I came to a couple realizations.

View attachment 19118

  • I love long distance cycling touring
  • I love camping
  • I can survive some pretty demanding physical challenges
  • The trailer is a great touring tool
  • The trailer can be a real liability when the shoulder disappears or is crumbling and scattered with debris
  • and lastly, if I want to continuing long distance touring I should get a properly outfitted modern bike.
After investigating and pricing the latest purpose built heavy duty touring bikes I also realize that being in my 60's, it was going to take a very long time to recoup my investment in a $7-10k for custom world touring bike.

While thinking about my 500 mile ride across Iowa in 2016 on my ST2 with my trailer in tow, I started to come to the conclusion that the Stromer was way overbuilt and had many of the qualities of the world touring bikes. A super strong frame, large heavy duty rims and tires, disc brake, a reasonable amount of gearing and a modern geometry to name a few.

So I started to dream of what would happen if I got over some of the limitations of the Stromer and created an ebike/bike packing hybrid for long distance touring - thus this crazy concept was born. A makeover of my ST2 into a long distance road, rail to trail, and gravel road touring animal.

View attachment 19119

The main challenge was how to increase the balanced gear carrying capability and improve the tour ride qualities without permanently altering the ST2.

Here was the game plan...
  • Replace the original rear rack with something strong and solid including reconfiguring the fender attachment
  • Bite the bullet and do the suspension fork upgrade i’d been lusting after for a long time
  • Upgrade to a Jones HBar handlebar
  • Add the appropriate storage capability

Each part of the plan has had its own challenges which I can go into details later, but here is where I've ended up. I did an initial first ride and it went fantastic. Everything stayed on the bike and it rode smooth and steady. The test ride was with placeholder gear so the next challenge was to see if I could pare down my gear for sustained self-supported touring. I'm feeling comfortable that it can be done, with most of the bigger challenges resolved.

View attachment 19120
Initial test configuration


View attachment 19121
Salsa seat post rack adapter

View attachment 19122
Salsa seat tube bracket to Salsa bent stays to a Tubus Evo rack

View attachment 19123
Jones HBars and quick access day storage bags from Bedrock

View attachment 19124
A little handcrafted mods to attach fender using original mounting hole and screw


After the initial test I've modified the hanging of the handlebar bags and been working through getting 3L of hydration (bladder in the frame bag). I also added a second set of bottom clips on the Ortlieb panniers, an idea I borrowed from their gravel panniers design, which makes the bags rock solid. The panniers hang off the lower rail on the Tubus rack which lowers the center of gravity and provides greater stability. I’ve also continued to experiment with various top bags for the rear rack, but ultimately ended up with an Ortlieb Rack Pack (small 24L) as the final solution. Its a configuration I saw being used by a couple of Hungarian tourers who were passing through town this summer in year 2 of a 3 year around the world adventure. The arrangement provides quick access to a food storage area, and yet with my down sleeping bag and down sweater it remains pretty light on top of the rack.
View attachment 19125

View attachment 19126

A couple of final mods I'm still considering include perhaps a 2 legged kickstand and maybe a slightly larger low gear on the cassette for added climbing comfort with or without lower assist levels.

View attachment 19127
Current configuration on 3 day self contained touring test


I recently completed a test ride with my actual gear (about 97% finalized) and 2 days food supply to start to measure the impact of the mods and the gear weight on my range. My rides have mainly been in assist level 1 with some NO assist for several miles, and although the route was mostly flat city riding with a few small hills and only an occasional light headwind, initial results are suggesting a likely range of 60-80 mile per full charge. The ride I did in 2016 with the loaded trailer confirmed that an 80 mile day on a single charge was entirely doable, but this new rig represents a whole different wind profile so only time and more real world testing will tell.

So, where is all of this craziness leading you might ask? How about a west to east US crossing next summer using a combination of Rail to Trail segments as well as some gravel roads like the one below and some Adventure Cycling Northern Tier/Lewis and Clark routes.

View attachment 19128

At least that's the dream for the moment.

View attachment 19129

As always, thoughts, questions and opinions are welcome.
Totally awesome...have been thinking some about this myself; lottos valuable info here...thank you so much
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
Agreed, great thread, I hope to see more on touring with these things. Over 50, did you see my little journey on then Erie Canal last month? First of many long trips on this thing, I hope, and it was a good lesson on touring with an ebike for me.
http://bicyclelife.topicwise.com/doc/2017trek
I just read through it and very interesting. Thanks for posting the link. Sounds like the type of trip I'd like to do but it does bring up a good point: I really need to work on my bike maintenance skills first. I can easily change a flat on a regular bike but an e-bike with a belt drive? No way. Broken spoke? I'd need a shop too.
 

Saratoga Dave

Well-Known Member
It was a great trip! I’m thinking about starting where I left off in Tonawanda next spring, heading up to Niagara Falls, and then out across Ontario towards Michigan someplace.

And you know for sure I will have one of these little beauties in my bag, along with the spoke wrench and other stuff to take care of this:

https://www.amazon.com/FiberFix-Emergency-Spoke-Replacement-Kit/dp/B001GSMQZC

I really lucked out finding Ray J that rainy day. He was even willing to drive 20 miles in each direction to come rescue someone he’d never met, but I was going to ride, walk or crawl every inch of this trip.
 

John ware

Active Member
@Over50 - It’s interesting you mention the dilemma of ebike vs non-ebike. I’ve actually toyed with the idea of specing out a standard rear wheel for my ST2 in case the ebike portion becomes problematic, I could order up a standard wheel and send the battery and motor wheel home. This might also be an option if after a month or so on the road everyday, my legs have become monsters and the electric assist is overkill. At that point, comparared to the touring gear weight, the remaining ebike frame wouldn’t be that much different from a heavy duty steel frame expedition bike.

“Ideas” are general free until you actually act on them, so just a thought for now. The concept does brings home the always present battle between the sheer joy of an e-asssisted ride verses the instinctive sense of accomplishment of pure human locomotion.

For now, the option of having both is pretty appealing and if I’m possessed with the need to prove my superhuman strength, there’s always the off button.
 
After a 870 mile small group ride through the Canadian Rockies on my 40 year old vintage Trek with my Radical Design trailer this summer I came to a couple realizations.

View attachment 19118

  • I love long distance cycling touring
  • I love camping
  • I can survive some pretty demanding physical challenges
  • The trailer is a great touring tool
  • The trailer can be a real liability when the shoulder disappears or is crumbling and scattered with debris
  • and lastly, if I want to continuing long distance touring I should get a properly outfitted modern bike.
After investigating and pricing the latest purpose built heavy duty touring bikes I also realize that being in my 60's, it was going to take a very long time to recoup my investment in a $7-10k for custom world touring bike.

While thinking about my 500 mile ride across Iowa in 2016 on my ST2 with my trailer in tow, I started to come to the conclusion that the Stromer was way overbuilt and had many of the qualities of the world touring bikes. A super strong frame, large heavy duty rims and tires, disc brake, a reasonable amount of gearing and a modern geometry to name a few.

So I started to dream of what would happen if I got over some of the limitations of the Stromer and created an ebike/bike packing hybrid for long distance touring - thus this crazy concept was born. A makeover of my ST2 into a long distance road, rail to trail, and gravel road touring animal.

View attachment 19119

The main challenge was how to increase the balanced gear carrying capability and improve the tour ride qualities without permanently altering the ST2.

Here was the game plan...
  • Replace the original rear rack with something strong and solid including reconfiguring the fender attachment
  • Bite the bullet and do the suspension fork upgrade i’d been lusting after for a long time
  • Upgrade to a Jones HBar handlebar
  • Add the appropriate storage capability

Each part of the plan has had its own challenges which I can go into details later, but here is where I've ended up. I did an initial first ride and it went fantastic. Everything stayed on the bike and it rode smooth and steady. The test ride was with placeholder gear so the next challenge was to see if I could pare down my gear for sustained self-supported touring. I'm feeling comfortable that it can be done, with most of the bigger challenges resolved.

View attachment 19120
Initial test configuration


View attachment 19121
Salsa seat post rack adapter

View attachment 19122
Salsa seat tube bracket to Salsa bent stays to a Tubus Evo rack

View attachment 19123
Jones HBars and quick access day storage bags from Bedrock

View attachment 19124
A little handcrafted mods to attach fender using original mounting hole and screw


After the initial test I've modified the hanging of the handlebar bags and been working through getting 3L of hydration (bladder in the frame bag). I also added a second set of bottom clips on the Ortlieb panniers, an idea I borrowed from their gravel panniers design, which makes the bags rock solid. The panniers hang off the lower rail on the Tubus rack which lowers the center of gravity and provides greater stability. I’ve also continued to experiment with various top bags for the rear rack, but ultimately ended up with an Ortlieb Rack Pack (small 24L) as the final solution. Its a configuration I saw being used by a couple of Hungarian tourers who were passing through town this summer in year 2 of a 3 year around the world adventure. The arrangement provides quick access to a food storage area, and yet with my down sleeping bag and down sweater it remains pretty light on top of the rack.
View attachment 19125

View attachment 19126

A couple of final mods I'm still considering include perhaps a 2 legged kickstand and maybe a slightly larger low gear on the cassette for added climbing comfort with or without lower assist levels.

View attachment 19127
Current configuration on 3 day self contained touring test


I recently completed a test ride with my actual gear (about 97% finalized) and 2 days food supply to start to measure the impact of the mods and the gear weight on my range. My rides have mainly been in assist level 1 with some NO assist for several miles, and although the route was mostly flat city riding with a few small hills and only an occasional light headwind, initial results are suggesting a likely range of 60-80 mile per full charge. The ride I did in 2016 with the loaded trailer confirmed that an 80 mile day on a single charge was entirely doable, but this new rig represents a whole different wind profile so only time and more real world testing will tell.

So, where is all of this craziness leading you might ask? How about a west to east US crossing next summer using a combination of Rail to Trail segments as well as some gravel roads like the one below and some Adventure Cycling Northern Tier/Lewis and Clark routes.

View attachment 19128

At least that's the dream for the moment.

View attachment 19129

As always, thoughts, questions and opinions are welcome.
Great to see this. Re: rear rack—you nailed it. Did the same thing with the Salsa seat post collar and a really solid Racktime rack. Your addition of a second clip on each bag to hold panniers tightly is excellent too — I need to do that for sure as once in a while an unexpected pothole at a higher speed can lead to a pannier’s single clip coming loose. I like the Jones H Bar idea—I have one on my Salsa Fargo and it gives you lots of options. The big issue for me with my ST1 Platinum on Long rail trails is battery life. Even with three batteries (adds a lot of weight and they are hard on my Ortlieb panniers), and being sure not to run them down under 10%, I can only count on a range of 70-75 miles. You seem to get much further on yours. I always stay in hostels or motels or campgrounds with power. Looks like you have a Brooks Cambium sear with Body Float.

Last but not least I found a weird tire tube last year in case I ran into a blown tube in a remote spot—instead of being round, it’s long with two ends. It would allow you to remove your old tube and insert and feed the new tube without removing the rear wheel. Haven’t had to do it but think it would work.
 

joathenine

New Member
So I know this is an old thread but I wanted to ask you about the Jones Loop H bar. I was considering picking up the 2.5" riser bars but I'm concerned about the cables not reaching far enough. Did you have to extend your cables? Also did you get the riser or standard bars?
 

John ware

Active Member
Yes, both the derailleur cables and housings needed lengthening which was fairly simple as well as the rear hydraulic brake which was less simple and required fishing a new rear brake line through the bike. Also you'll have to be inventive as to how you attach the headlight to the Jones bar, I used zip ties which have held up well. The brake inhibitor and assist selector wires were just barely long enough after pulling a little of the excess wire out from inside the frame. I had the shop I bought the bike from do the upgrade for me at the same time I upgraded to the front suspension fork. Considering the added expense and work I would still do it again, I love the more relaxed position the Jones HBars provide.
 

joathenine

New Member
John, thank you for your prompt response! Yes I was also concerned about the headlight. I thought it might work with the 2.5" riser bar. Did you mount it on the front loop? Not sure how much slack I have but the handlebars seem worth the hassles. I would definitely have my LBS do it for me.

Did you go with the 710 or 660 wide bar? My preference is the 660 but it's not in stock at the moment.
 

John ware

Active Member
Yes, I mounted the headlight to the front loop which just barely has enough wire, although I think it would be fairly easy to splice in additional wire if necessary. I have Jones HBars on several bikes including my Stromer, in each case I started with the 710 width bars, then I used a simple small pipe cutter to measure 3x's and trim once. Shortening the ends of the bar by just 3/4" makes a big difference getting the bike through doorways.
 

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joathenine

New Member
Amazing, thank you John. Looks like I'd be pushing my luck with the riser bars but I'm happy to see the headlight reaches the front loop. Appreciate the help! If I get the Jones bar I'll be sure to post it.
 

John ware

Active Member
Happy to help out. Just a thought, depending on whether you plan to use a front handlebar bag or not, with the SG2.5 riser version of the HBar you may very well be able to use the original Stromer headlight brackets and attach your light on the back loop at the stem. Without a bag and with the front loop raised up the light might still function fine and not be obstructed in any meaningful way by the front loop.
 
I used the Jones H-Bar 2.5 on my Fargo and really liked it. Gave me a much more comfortable/relaxed, upright, and less aggressive posture on that bike. I trimmed off the about the same amount off the ends of the handlebars, too. Makes a big difference. I have the Backroller Panniers and a small Ortlieb bag that I can lock to the rack which is waterproof and is great for transporting my camera gear.

Do you really travel with one battery? I have two 522wH and one 396wH batteries for my ST1Platinum. I don't have much faith in them as far as distance goes. I do ride a bit aggressively--like to cruise along about 18 mph, sometimes in the low 20's, and even without a headwind, on nearly level ground, and weighing 208 and carrying the batteries and minimal clothing plus tent plus sleeping bag and a bit of food and cookware (adding another 40 lbs. to my 60 lb. bike, I'm up around 300 lbs. I hear of people getting far more miles per charge, but I wind up getting 22-24 miles out of the 396wH and maybe 27-28 miles out of each 522wH battery if I run them down no lower than 10%. So only about 75 miles total from 3 batteries. Some of the trails I do--like the C+O between DC and Cumberland, MD, the Katy in MO, or the Greenbrier in VA, have very, very limited resources for recharging along the right of way, so you really have to plan ahead as much as possible. But to your point, there are many times when one can find power along a trail or just off of it--restrooms, or in a diner/restaurant when eating lunch or dinner.

I pulled a BOB trailer for a while--working well. It's relatively narrow and stable but I prefer to get by with less stuff and rely heavily on panniers. The BOB also can be a nightmare to back up and make tight turns. Stromer sells (sold) spell axle bolts with flanges to fit a BOB trailer perfectly. Not sure if they have anything similar for the ST2 series or not.

I am really tempted by the ST2 or ST2S--but only if I could get much better range with the uber-expensive batteries. Your frame bag idea is great--have one of those on my Fargo and it holds a surprising amount of stuff--keys, wallet, cords, tire patch stuff, wrenches, etc.

Happy to help out. Just a thought, depending on whether you plan to use a front handlebar bag or not, with the SG2.5 riser version of the HBar you may very well be able to use the original Stromer headlight brackets and attach your light on the back loop at the stem. Without a bag and with the front loop raised up the light might still function fine and not be obstructed in any meaningful way by the front loop.
 

John ware

Active Member
Like they always say "your milage may vary".

My 814wh battery on my ST2 is now just about to turn 4 years old and I've started to see some decline in my distances. The summer of 2016 when it was just a year old I rode across Iowa on RAGBRAI and I was able to move my 220lb self, my nearly 60lb bike and my 2 wheel trailer (about 60lbs when the tent and tarp were wet with dew) along with way too much stuff in it. It was 6 days of 60-80 miles a day of rolling hills in southern Iowa with plenty of July heat and I was able to complete each day on a single charge from the night before. On the 80 plus day I spend the first 50 miles in assist level one or assist totally off and in regen when going downhill or with any tailwind. I had plenty of riders on regular bikes passing me all day long. The only time I would use level 2 assist was the last few miles of the day if I knew I still had ample reserves to finish the day.

So, I think on a ST2 with a fairly fresh 814 battery and using very conservative application of assist, a 50-70 mile day with gear and without stopping to recharge is very doable as long as you're not trying to be speeding along at 20 mph in level 2 or 3. I also was running on a pair of narrower 2" Schwalbe Marathon Deluxe tires with 50-60psi that might have helped out a little.

I agree the frame bag is great, mine is a 4 liter Ortlieb. On the 20" ST2 the bag takes up the entire opening so I use it to carry a MSR water bladder with a drinking hose. On my Salsa I still have room for water bottles so it's great to carry tools, spare tube, pump, lock, click-stand and misc stuff.
 

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