As a kid, I was a Boyscout. I was a member of East Greenville Troop 108 and my friends and I in the Apache Patrol raised hell every month on our troop hikes and campouts. You see, our troop was a bit special in the fact that we had a very dedicated scoutmaster, Karl “Moose” Winsch and his assistant scoutmasters were equally dedicated. What made our troop special was we had a log cabin and several Adirondacks (aka lean-to’s) deep in the woods just outside of my home town of East Greenville, PA. And every month, we’d have some sort of thing planned for a weekend that started on a Friday evening and went through till Sunday morning. Some times, we’d be camping at the cabin, other times we’d be on the Appalachian Trail doing sections and camping out in early dome tents, setting up our camp and making our own meals. It was a heck of a good time and I eventually saw it through to get my Eagle. Funny thing is on each of these hikes we’d take, to pass the time and sometimes misery of heat and exhaustion compounded by carrying a lot of gear, I’d actually pretend I was on my bike. That’s right. I’d pretend I was on a bike. I thought to myself if I had my bike, man, these trails would be so much more fun! Fast forward to 2012 and my love of camping and bicycling always was there. Hiking? I like to hike but… if I have the choice of riding my mountain bike, all the better. Then came this “thing” called Bikepacking! It’s one of those things that you think: “Now how come I didn’t think of that!?!” And right from that first mountain bike, I was scheming to figure out how to make room on a bike to go camping. I made some early prototype bags and such for early fat bikes and the first show I did in Providence, Ri in 2012 I showed a bike with frame, fork, bars, handlebar bag and saddlebag that I had welded and sewed myself. That set up led many a client to my shop door to discuss bike packing setups and touring setups. Come to think of it, here’s a shot of that early setup! In 2015 or early 2016, I received an email from John Watson of the Radavist asking, no, TELLING me I was the guy to build a bikepacking rig for a cyclist named Ryan Wilson who was going to quit his job, put all his belongings into storage and bikepack throughout Peru. So in May of 2016 I built Ryan’s Marauder bikepacking frame and fork. He really wanted to make the most of his frame bag so the head tube was a bit on the long side to cram as much frame pack as he could in there. Shortly after that bike went out to California, I got another email from John which essentially said: “Put me on the list dude.” So I built John a Marauder Frame, and fork with a powder matched Pass and Stow rack. What was different about John’s build was it was really a mountain bike first. 50mm stem, shortish stays and suspension adjusted fork. Both bikes were 27.5+. John took that bike on its first trip Down Under and immediately dubbed it the Marauder UTE. That stuck and that’s what I’ve been calling the Marauder bikepacking builds ever since. But when I did see John’s bike built up, the hook was set and once again, I began to scheme how I could put my own bikepacking set up together. What you see below took a monumental amount of planning, design, fabrication, welding and sewing. When I started getting into the weeds, I realized what was out there that was stock, wasn’t quite what I wanted. So that meant making a lot of it myself. And I think I pulled it off! So without further ado, lets get to it and see what makes my Marauder Ti UTE tick! My Marauder Ti UTE is a mountain bike first. And I really love to mountain bike, so it had to be able to handle light trail duty. I had my 3rd Marauder Ti prototype sitting around which was built around a 130mm suspension fork, 50mm stem and 150mm dropper. The frame can take both 29″ wheels and 27.5+ wheels. HT was 69° and ST angle is 73°. Stays come in at a cool 16.45″ when slammed. 2.25″ of drop. 157mm Super Boost rear end too. Not quite 44WRD geo of my newer builds, but a sweet platform for a bikepacking rig. I realized after the fact that this same frame shares the same fork as my current pair of Marauder’s which have more modern geo which I call “44WRD”. AKA LONG top tube, Short stem, long wheelbase, more trail, short rear end. So that means with the fork I was able to build (you’ll read more about that below), I can swap out the fork and rack and use my bags on both of those bikes! Super stoked on the possibilities that lie ahead. But I digress. I started sewing as a kid and have always had a knack for seeing 3-dimensional objects in my head and being able to take them apart and reassemble them. Part of that is also being able to “see” 2d patterns and create 3d shapes out of them. I spent a lot of time as a kid cutting paper, folding it and making things to play with. What’s really cool about fabric is if you pattern it correctly, you can fold it and sew it together to create a 3d shape. And because I couldn’t quite find what I was after for bikepacking bags, I started with a set of small handlebar grab bags: I really wanted that black ops camo… John’s build sported it and I really dug it. No one seemed to make bags out of it anymore, so that meant sourcing VX50 from Rockywoods. Next were a pair of panniers. I really liked the hardware that Anylander was using so I sourced my own from Ortlieb and Arkel: The panniers are basically large rectangles, with front/back pockets and roll tops. There are internal stays to prevent them from sagging made from aluminum. The panniers also have an internal sleeve made out of flexible cutting boards of all things! They were the exact dimension as the bags ironically. Last was a frame bag which is similar to a Porcelain Rocket rolltop frame bag but different dimensions and a zippered outer pocket with a few more details that I wanted. You can see that here: The way I made everything was I made full-scale paper pattern mockups, and based the patterning in fabric from those mockups. I tried to pattern things so there were as little seams as possible which may not be best suited for production should I ever decide to take that step but the basic ideas are there and I’m quite pleased with how they came out. I spent a few rainy days in the spring and early summer sewing these up. I enjoyed this process thoroughly. With the basic Marauder Ti platform above and bags finished, I moved on to the fork. Nova Cycles recently developed a pair of fork legs that come real close to a 130mm sagged fork (505mm). I used these on my Ti fat bike and knew they could get me really close. 490mm axle to crown to be exact. I also altered the offset a lot because I knew I’d be making myself a front rack and panniers too. So 70mm of offset is where this one landed me. Additional features include 15x110mm Boost axle spacing, 44mm tapered steerer, traditional low rider mounts, Pass and Stow style rack mounts, Salsa Anything Mounts clocked at 4 and 7 towards the rider so you can run them WITH the rack or without it and internal routing for a potential future generator hub to power a light and Sinewave USB port for charging essentials. Here’s the fork in process: Drilling all those holes… And those welds! Flat black powder to keep things simple and stealth. Once that was finished, it was on to the rack. Having built quite a few bikes with front and rear racks of all sorts and built a few myself for clients, I really came to enjoy racks that are made up of several parts: Bed, legs and attachment struts for crown or fork legs. But up to this point, I’d only been making steel racks. This build called for something special: A titanium rack. Once the fork was done and wheels mounted, I could use a 29×2.5″ set up to make sure my measurements cleared. And I wanted something fairly simple so it was a 3 rail type rack. Along the way, I kind of had one of those bright ideas: make a common pair of “U” shaped extensions to turn the 3-rail into a 5 rail bed. So future clients can choose either or both. Design-wise, I wanted the legs to have a “knuckle” like look to the attachments but these could also serve as loop points for bungees or straps. They also serve as the attachment point for the rail extensions. Here’s the rack in process: Took about 3 hours to get all the parts together and fit. But of course, I woke up on a Sunday morning really early and knew that straight tube on the 3-rail needed some flair. So down into the shop first thing Sunday to add some curves! Much better: I actually made a set of dummy bends that had start/stop points for 0° and 90° so when I made all these bends for the bed, I knew the overall dimensions of the rack, but without a drawing (sometimes I work that way to keep things fluid and allow the design process to take shape organically), the small mock-ups allowed me to layout everything quickly and precisely. The legs attach simply using a water bottle boss. I also want to make accommodation for a light centered in front out of the way of the rack so I modified a rack tab made by Paragon Machine Works and a second one underneath for the crown attachment point. Here are the parts prepped for purge/welding: Jigged: And welded/assembled: Here’s a mock-up of the rail extension. Two small tabs to weld on and you can see how the long socket head cap screws just tie everything together: By this point, you have no idea just how excited I was getting. It took some discipline to walk away for the night. First thing Monday morning, and again… I had a hard time sleeping Sunday, it was out into the shop first thing to mock things up! And man, the scent of blood was in the air. I had to do some illustration for the 5th annual Rose Mountain Rumble. Got that knocked out and back down to the shop to make the final parts for the crown attachment point. This is similar to a mount made by Tubus and fender stay mounts by Honjo, just much bigger. Here’s the part: And the assembly all finished. Note I used a .375′”x.035″ wall thickness Ti tube and swaged the end, put a radius on it and slotted it. Light. Simple. Effective. Note that I haven’t brushed the rack yet. So what you’re seeing is straight from the torch. Part of making one rack for myself was also to problem solve flow rates and how fast/slow I could weld these small tubes. I sussed out the flow rates halfway through. I was surprised how much fun these 3 parts were to weld. Especially those little tabs! Upfront, the light tab can hold a variety of lights but I also wanted it to hold my Lupine Piko headlamp in case I did not want to put it on my helmet. Also, I don’t have a generator hub yet built so this will be a nice little workaround until that is built at a much later date. The rack also has internal routing ports for wiring. And now we get to the fun part: Lacing parts! Holy cow. If you thought I was excited before, then you may have guessed I’m about ready to explode by now. For several seasons, my fat bike would get ridden just about every day in the winter and then it would hang all Spring, Summer and Fall till it snowed again. I want to be on my mountain bike! So the drive train is shared along with a few other parts between these two builds. It’s great because now I can just swap parts at the end and beginning of each season. So my Sram Eagle 12 speed drivetrain was used: Since this is a mountain bike first, I definitely wanted a dropper. One show I had I9 anodize a Wolftooth Dropper for me, so that’s why it’s turquoise! Let’s back out and take a look at the cockpit. Jones Loop Bars (carbon), XTR M9000 brakes, Paul Boxcar 50mm stem, Cane Creek 110 Headset and my Yeti Lock-on Speed Grips! And of course, LET’S GET IN CLOSE: Here’s a detail of the light and the mounting point at the crown: I’m using a GoPro adapter and knob. I’m going to turn a stainless knob that’s a bit smaller and not as long. More custom or as Erik at Peacock Groove would say: “DEEP CUSTOM”. Stepping back, you’ll note most of the load is in the frame bag and panniers. Speaking with Ryan Wilson, some times on long climbs at altitude, you just gotta get off and walk or maybe there’s something you need to dismount and walk. It’s a lot easier to push a load that you can stand right beside and from what I’ve found, a a bit more predictable with the load up front offering you more control. Everyone has their preferences of course! I’ll also have a small tool roll under the saddle and I’ll be wearing my hip pack I made. Oh yeah, I sewed that too! Good grief… And for those wondering… that’s a patch my Dad gave me when he was in the Airforce during the Vietnam War. “Voodoo Medicine Man”. A cherished item has found a good home! I’ll also be sewing a small roll-top bag for the top of the rack. I haven’t decided if that will be where I store my water reservoir or if I’ll use some of the frame bag for that. Lynn and I will be having a gear sorting night here in the near future to see who’s going to carry what. I definitely have way more capacity! So I may step my chainring down from a 32 to a 30t. Pedals are 45 North Helva’s but I may swap them out for a pair of XT flats I have which are beauties. These have treated me well in snow, but those new XT’s are something else. I’ll initially run a set of 2.8″ WTB Rangers as that is what I had on hand. They actually measure out to be closer to 2.6″ FYI on this set of de-decaled Industry 9 Backcountry 360’s. Let’s take a look from head-on: And that about does it. All that’s left to do is sort gear and start planning a few short overnighters to suss out our gear and then start planning longer adventures! There’s SO many places I haven’t been and I’d like to see. Ever since I was a kid in Troop 108, I’ve been daydreaming about taking my bike camping. All that work and I’ve pulled it off. Only thing left to do is get out there and do it! I can’t wait!!