Pioneers in bikepacking

A conversation with Apidura

Apidura is one of the leading providers of ultralight bikepacking products. Developing bicycle packs that don’t require cumbersome racks and can be easily attached to any bike, they are at the forefront of a growing trend in accessible adventure riding. Having recently partnered with Rapha on a new range of packs, we visited Apidura at their offices in north London and spoke to founder Tori Fahey about their home-grown approach to lightweight cycle touring.

How did the idea behind Apidura develop?

My background is in economics and public policy. I’m not a designer or a marketer; I just really enjoy travelling by bike. I’ve been cycle touring for 15 or 16 years, and in 2011, I took some time off to race in the Tour Divide [a 4,400km continent-crossing race from Canada to Mexico]. In that context, a rack and panniers to carry your possessions is not a reasonable option – they’re simply too heavy. That was my introduction to lightweight touring, and it opened my eyes to alternatives to the more traditional touring set up. A couple of friends and I decided to make some touring bags of our own, and a snowflake turned to a blizzard. We didn’t set out to start a brand; we simply wanted to kit out our bikes. A couple of years later, we started trading in the UK.

Approaching a business from this perspective, and making products that you want to use, really helps. I’d say 80% of our process is stripping back and taking our products down to the essentials, which is exactly aligned with the philosophy of bikepacking – removing all the noise and excess and things that don’t add value. Getting down to the simple basics.

Bikepacking is currently enjoying a huge amount of popularity. What do you think has changed?

One of the appeals of bikepacking is that it is much more accessible than traditional touring. You can be anybody; you don’t have to be a racer. Bicycles are a symbol of freedom and independence – and bikepacking is just an extension of that. You can discover your freedom and your independence. It’s like a self-help tool.

Besides a few guys offering custom bags (or off the shelf options with long lead times), making the kind of rackless luggage we offer was something you would have made yourself, and the prospect put a lot of people off. Now, when you see these rackless bags, even if you didn’t think bicycle touring appealed to you before, you can relate to them and think, “wow, I could put that on my bike, maybe I’ll try a little adventure”. Because you can fit these packs on any bike, and it is less burdensome, you can achieve anything from your daily commute to crossing a continent.

How did the collaboration with Rapha come about?

It started with a phone call. Alex Valdman, Rapha’s head of design, called me up and asked if we wanted to have coffee and get to know each other. It’s funny, because I didn’t see it coming, but I was relatively new to the UK, so I was just happy to meet some like-minded people in London. The conversation carried on from there.

There’s actually a really strong match between the two brands. Fundamentally, we both want very similar things – to get more people out on their bikes. For us to work with a brand like Rapha is really interesting. We have complementary, rather than competing, product lines so this collaboration has been an easy conversation. We’re both focused on the things we do well, and wanted to make something new together. We’re very excited.

How do you see the bikepacking scene growing?

It’s interesting to look back just five years or so and compare what bikepacking meant to what it means now. There’s been a proliferation of events, from multi-day challenges to 5,000km+ races, and I think this is what draws people’s interests. Not everyone can take part in these races, but even if it gets you thinking about the possibilities, it makes a difference. It changes people’s perspective of their own capabilities.

We’re working to contribute to the future of the sport through product innovation, and also through grass roots support of athletes and organisations who are actively shaping the community. These range from boundary-pushers to storytellers, who all play a critical role in defining and expanding the movement.

One of the reasons why bikepacking has staying power is its subjectivity. The word ‘adventure’ means different things to different people, so bikepacking can be interpreted in many different ways. I hope more and more people get out on their bikes, and Apidura exists to help people do just that.

See the packs

Easily attached to any bike, the Rapha + Apidura handlebar and saddle packs are lightweight, durable and designed to fit with the Brevet credo of ‘pack light, travel far’.