Bikepacking bike for Collin

Collin has been cobbling together bikepacking rigs for years. They've gotten the job done but could have been more cohesive. When you're relying on zip ties and p-clamps to keep your racks from falling off the frame, it's time to consider an upgrade.

Bikepacking bike with custom Rogue Panda framebags

For his new bike, Collin envisioned a steel frame and fork with room for wide 27.5-inch tires, a reliable 1x mountain bike drivetrain, cable-actuated disc brakes, and front and rear rack mounts.

Since I made Collin a hardtail before, I knew how he'd like the bike to handle. In this case, I'd have to adjust the geometry for a rigid fork and carrying loads.


If you're going to spend multiple long days in a row in the saddle, comfort is king. The first step was to design the frame to clear up to 27.5x2.8" tires. The wide tires can run at low pressures to reduce the body's pounding while riding off-road. The wide tires also help a loaded bike float over sandy tracks.

We pushed the chainstays to 445mm to add more comfort. The long chainstays will also provide heel clearance if Collin uses rear panniers.

BikeCAD design for Collin's bike

We chose a 68ยบ head tube angle and a fork with a 55mm offset. The extra fork offset keeps the trail in check, so when the bike is loaded with weight on the fork, it won't overwhelm the steering.

The shallow head tube angle combined with a 50mm stem and swept-back bars allowed me to increase the bike's front center. The larger front triangle provides more space for a full-frame bag, a nice feature for a smallish frame.

Paint scheme

Collin was kind enough to let me show off his new baby at the MADE bike show. He also let me go wild with the paint scheme.

I found a vintage children's towel with a cute space theme. The purple, yellow, and aqua color combination caught my eye. Plus, all the astronauts are wearing helmets, and the dog is just chillin' in space helmetless and happy.

Manzanita signature double arch seat stay bridge Unicrown fork with White Industries headset



Collin chose to run the Soma Dream Low Rise handlebars. They have a moderate back sweep to keep the hands at a comfy angle on long rides. The Ergon GA3 grips have a wide platform to improve hand comfort.

A stem's role is pretty simple. Collin went with the robust Industry Nine A318. It can be flipped to raise or lower the bars a small amount to dial in the fit.

Soma Dream low rise handlebars


Several mechanical disc brakes on the market are of varying price and quality. But hands down, the best brakes are the Paul Klampers. I recommend these brakes on all of my bikepacking bikes. They're a solid hunk of machined perfection with plenty of bite and modulation. Control them with the Paul Canti Levers, and you have no worries.

Collin opted for some Shimano 180mm 6-bolt rotors. The bolt-on rotors are a better option than Centerlock for traveling since you only need a T25 Torx wrench to remove them.


Shimano XT drivetrains have been used for decades on countless touring and bikepacking bikes. XT comes at a reasonable price point with most of the high-end features of the race-ready XTR group.

The latest 12-speed version of XT has been on the market for a few years and has proven itself as a reliable system. The 10-51-tooth cassette provides a massive gear range ideal for a 1x setup.

Collin added a White Industries crankset with a 30-tooth chainring to break up the complete XT build. The White Industries crank is the gold standard for toughness. Plus, it's made close to Manzanita headquarters in Petaluma, California.

White Industries crankset with XT 12 speed drivetrain Shimano XT drivetrain and snap ring dropouts

Seat post

All off-road bikes should have a dropper post. Lowering the saddle improves cornering capabilities on loose terrain. It also allows riders to use their legs to absorb large bumps without hanging off the back of the bike.

Collin chose the new Wolftooth dropper post. It's an excellent option for bikepacking since it can be rebuilt. Wolftooth is committed to providing inexpensive spare parts and the right for users to repair their gear.


The Reserve 37 27.5 rims and DT Swiss 350 hubs are a rugged and reliable combination. You can remove the freehub body on the DT Swiss hub without any tools. That's a handy feature if you need to replace a drive-side spoke in the middle of nowhere.

The Maxxis Rekon 2.6" tires are fast-rolling with decent traction on hardpack trails.


Rogue Panda made the custom bolt-on frame bag and top tube bag. Bolt-on bags offer more stability, and their integrated fit keeps the bike looking tidy.

The lower compartment in the frame bag fits the Apidura 3-liter water bladder. Carrying the water weight low and centered in the frame doesn't negatively impact how the bike handles.

Bikepacking bike with Rogue Panda custom bolt-on framebags.

Frame protection

Although the frame and top tube bags are bolted to raised water bottle bosses, the bags can still rub on the powder coat when they're packed with stuff. I applied some helicopter tape along the inside of the front triangle to reduce premature wear to the powder coat. You can barely make out the edge of it in some of the photos.

The other bit of frame protection is under the down tube. I designed a small, bolt-on plastic guard to reduce potential damage from flying rocks. The guard is 3d-printed nylon, a tough and inexpensive material. Collin will be able to install a large water bottle cage on top of the guard.

3d-printed down tube protector