What is ultralight bike touring? Why bother? Heading ou for a day ride with bare essentials in jersey pockets is great fun. Adding a shuttle for luggage adds considerably to the organizing tasks and requires recruiting additional people. With the advent of lightweight bags, self-supported touring, motel to motel, has become practical on lightweight bicycles. Here is background and our experience for ultralight.
Road bike tourists have used panniers for many years. This requires attaching metal frames, "racks", to bicycles. In most cases, bicycles must be built with rack attachments.
Mountain bikers longed to enjoy remote terrain and scenery but few bikes had the required attachments for panniers. Besides, some terrain now being ridden is not suitable for panniers. A cottage industry of bag makers arose to meet this need along with new terminology, bikepacking.
Finding every possible space on a bike frame for storage, bag makers now offer lots of options. Randonneuring is long-distance unsupported endurance cycling. This style of riding is non-competitive in nature, and self-sufficiency is paramount. When riders participate in randonneuring events, they are part of a long tradition that goes back to the beginning of the sport of cycling in France and Italy. Randonneurs often use front bags attached to a frame or the bars. Bags are designed to allow easy access while riding or while standing over the bike. Placing weight to the front is thought by some to disadvantage bike handling, however, some find front loading, up to a point, makes bikes more stable. Below, is a rendonneur bag on a rack that is s attached to the fork.
We enjoy long distance self-supported touring carrying a minimal load. With a bike that is lightly loaded, we enjoy the ride and we're only a little slower than when out for a day ride. With a wide range of available bags, by not camping and by not cooking, we can carry minimal equipment. The below photos are from a 3-day WAMXC trip in 2017. We continue to learn.