13.5 kg Inspiration: The best bikepacking and cycling books

It's February and outside it's cold, icy, unbearable, at least that's how it feels. While I can "fortunately" still rely on my protective layer of extra winter fat, Jana struggles with the low temperatures and the desire to get on the bike seems to be a long way off.

But hey, don't worry! We still have a plan to distract us from the gloomy weather. Because last year, we got a taste for new destinations and adventures through our bikepacking trip on Vestkystruten. And what better way to do that than to daydream in the freezing cold with inspiring books about bikepacking and cycling?

We've collected a few of our favorite books and will feature them in this blog post. 13.5 kg full of inspiration that will make you pedal as soon as the sun shines again.

Cycling Through A Pandemic

"Cycling Through A Pandemic" is a 350-page hardcover book that features the stories and photographs of cyclists* around the world, who escaped the never-ending news cycle during the COVID-19 pandemic by escaping into the vastness and tranquility of nature on their bikes. These are the stories of women cyclists who took adventures during the pandemic.

This book is about people who were looking for a break from the corona crisis and the constant news. They take advantage of the gaps between lockdowns, or the easing of restrictions, to escape briefly into the vastness and tranquility of nature on their bikes. The stories and photographs in Cycling Through A Pandemic show how bicycling was a way for many people to cope and relax under the strain of the pandemic.

Be inspired by the amazing stories and dive into the world of bikepacking during a global crisis. You'll see how cycling can be not only a sport, but a means of coping and relaxation. "Cycling Through A Pandemic" is a must-read for those who are passionate about bikepacking and adventure, but also for those who are simply looking for inspiration to start their own adventures on a bike.

Format: 29 cm x 22,5 cm x 4,5 cm

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Orbit 360

Our friend Nils Laengner has published "Orbit 360", an inspiring 268-page hardcover coffee-table book that shows how diverse and adventurous bikepacking and gravel riding can be in Germany.

In the book, Nils accompanies various riders on the routes of the Orbit360 series. He shows what makes the rides special, from tense muscles on the mountain to the unbridled joy of a completed stage finish. The great photos show not only action shots, but also magical landscapes in which you almost disappear. The protagonists' accounts of their experiences are intended to encourage readers to dare their own adventures.

At the beginning of each chapter, the characteristic points of the route are presented. With the QR code at the beginning and end of the book, you can go directly to the Komoot Collection by Orbit360. There is also a chapter about bike essentials, which presents important bikepacking products for one-day and multi-day tours. With the information in the book, you can go on a big ride with confidence.

Format: 21.0 cm x 27.0 cm

Right Ride - One

"Right Ride" is an inspiring book that focuses on feeling rather than performance. It combines inspiration, motivation, photography and design with enthusiasm for entertaining (road) bike rides and intense stage tours in great areas that are not far from your doorstep. As a special highlight, we have also contributed two routes in this book that you can follow immediately by simply scanning them or starting them on your smartphone.

The book offers you destinations, landscapes, cafés, gastronomy, sights and accommodation for your perfect road bike tour. With over 4,200 km to follow, tips on cafés, restaurants and sights, and routes with QR codes to start directly, you'll always be motivated for your next adventure.

This deluxe edition of the book is bound in a high-quality linen cover and contains more than 165 photos as well as portraits of 20 athletes who take you on their favorite routes and show you where they relax, recharge and enjoy. 40 rides are waiting for you in Germany and Austria. Meanwhile, two more books from the series have already been published.

Format: 16 × 21 cm

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While the first three books presented were all self-published, the next books are all from the renowned design publishing house and are promising a captivating read for anyone who is passionate about travel, adventure and cycling. Those who are familiar with gestalten Verlag know that you can always expect high-quality photography and text here. With the next books to be featured, you can look forward to a breathtaking combination of inspiring stories, fantastic landscapes and unique snapshots.

Nordic Cycle: Bicycle Adventures in the North

You can experience a breathtaking bicycle journey through the Arctic landscapes with "Nordic Cycle: Bicycle Adventures in the North" by Gestalten. Co-authored with mountain biker Tobias Woggon, the book offers both practical instructions and stunning photographs and stories of bike trips in Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and the Nordic countries.

Experience the fabulous snowy landscapes where civilization seems to be non-existent and combine radical touring, camping and cooking with the best that local nature has to offer. Be inspired by this journey of discovery through the Nordic landscape and explore some of the most popular bike trails and terrains.

"Nordic Cycle" is an exploration of regions, people, and food on a mountain bike, with stunning photography and aerial views. Discover illustrated maps and routes, follow the path of Tobias Woggon on his adventure, and learn 16 recipes with step-by-step instructions that pay homage to regional cuisine in the Nordic countries.

Unfortunately, I have to mention that for us as vegans, there is not really something there. But it's actually about cycling and discovering the world, not about the recipes. Still, you can get inspired by the breathtaking landscapes and adventures.

Format: 26 cm × 21 cm × 2.5 cm

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Bikepacking - Exploring the roads less cycled

"Bikepacking - Exploring the roads less cycled" is the ultimate book for all cyclists who want to take their adventure on two wheels to the next level. It was voted one of the best cycling books in 2021 and, as already mentioned, is published by the renowned gestalten Verlag.

In this book, you will find an insight into the world's most famous cycling routes, which are a paradise for bikepackers. On a tour on two wheels, driven only by your own motivation, you can explore new terrain on little-traveled paths and let yourself be enveloped by a feeling of freedom.

The book's 288 pages are packed with practical tips and tricks that will help you plan your own expeditions. Whether you're already experienced or just an occasional weekend bike rider, authors Robert Klanten, Andrea Servert, and Stefan Amato have carefully compiled background information and inspiration to help you have an unforgettable reading experience.

With stunning photos, inspiring information, and great tips, this book will inspire you to get right on your bike for a multi-day tour. The illustrated maps and routes will help you plan your adventure, and you'll be thrilled by the stories and experiences you discover on every page.

Format: 22.5 × 29 cm

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One Year on a Bike - From Amsterdam to Singapore

"One Year on a Bike - From Amsterdam to Singapore" is an absolute dream for all adventure lovers on two wheels. Martijn decided to leave the comfort of his car and the stress of everyday life behind and go on an intercontinental bike trip. On his way from Amsterdam to Singapore, he left the routine behind and set out on a slow and unforgettable journey.

The book takes you on a journey through the eastern European fields with their yellow rape and the welcoming culture and community in Iran. "One Year on a Bike" is a colorful chronicle of what can happen when you leave your normal path and embark on extraordinary self-discovery and breathtaking landscapes. Martijn shares not only his equipment and knowledge, but also his passionate love of adventure that led him on this journey.

Spanning 368 pages of great images and profound entries that explore cultural experiences, the beauty of an ever-changing landscape, trusting strangers, and much more, "One Year on a Bike" is a visual adventure. It documents not only the good times, but also the challenges, inspirations and everything in between. A must for those seeking adventure!

Format: 24 cm × 32 cm

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Two Years On A Bike - From Vancouver to Patagonia

"Two Years on a Bike - From Vancouver to Patagonia" is the sequel to the just mentioned successful travel book "One Year on a Bike - From Amsterdam to Singapore". Martijn Doolaard once again got on his bike and embarked on another epic journey, this time taking him from Canada to Patagonia in Argentina. This book is a real treat for anyone inspired by impressive feats and planning their own bikepacking adventures.

In "Two Years on a Bike" Martijn shares his unforgettable experiences and authentic feelings with us. He describes his ups and downs, his friends and emotions, his lovers and heroes. The accompanying photos are breathtakingly beautiful and add an extra dimension to the story.

Martijn shows us what it means to travel by bike while being at home in the world. Through his minimalist life with only the most necessary things in his saddlebags, he explores the world in an exceptional way. The tips and tricks he learned on his journey can also be helpful for other adventurers.

With "Two Years on a Bike" you get a wonderful book that offers a perfect balance of visual beauty and experiential storytelling. It's a book that will take up a permanent place on your coffee table because it's just too beautiful to put away. The book itself is of high quality and when you turn the pages it feels more like a dive into Martijn's journey than a simple book.

Martijn has given us an unforgettable insight into his world with this book and allowed us to experience his memories, his thoughts and his incredible journey of two years on the bike. We can only thank him for sharing with us his unforgettable images, his reflections and two years of his life.

Format: 24 cm × 32 cm

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Grand Bikepacking Journeys: Riding Iconic Routes Around the World

"Grand Bikepacking Journeys - Riding Iconic Routes around the World is a comprehensive guide to the world's most iconic bike routes, which are a bikepacker's dream.

In this book, the follow-up to the successful (and aforementioned) "Bikepacking," suggests Stefan Amato must-ride routes around the world, such as the Iditarod in Alaska, the Trans-Pyrenees between France and Spain, or the Cross Cape Route in South Africa.

Stefan describes the history and geography of each route along with hidden treasures (no, not gold treasures) and provides practical tips for planning, equipping, and overcoming the unique challenges along the way.

And the best? Our friends Sabina and Robin aka Farawayistan from Sweden have already explored two of the routes and their photos are featured in the book: the Annapurna Circuit Trek and the Pamir Highway route.

At 272 pages, this book is a must-have for anyone ready for their next adventure.

Format: 22.5 cm × 29 cm

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We hope ...

... that our recommendations for bikepacking books have excited you as much as they have us! There are so many inspiring stories and adventures out there to be had by bike. Whether you're looking for new routes, practical tips, or just inspiration, these books have everything your bikepacking heart desires. So what are you waiting for? Put the winter blues aside and let yourself be infected by the fascination of bikepacking. See you next time!

Indoor training upgrade: from smart trainer to Tacx Neo Bike Smart

Jana and I recently decided to change or rather upgrade our indoor training and say goodbye to our previous smart trainer. In the past years, we trained with a Tacx Flux S Smart Trainer and an old road bike and were satisfied with it at first. But at some point, more and more problems arose.

Problems with our old smart trainer and road bike

Our smart trainer repeatedly had problems properly controlling certain training programs in ERG mode. This mostly occurred when a specific power output combined with a specific cadence was to be ridden. Also, the road bike fit both of us about equally well/badly. This didn't bother us much before, but after having our Gravel bikes fitted during bike fitting and realizing how much better it feels to be on a bike that fits perfectly, sharing a bike was no longer realistic.

At first, we gave Björn's Canyon Grail a try, but the seating position never really suited either of us and the constant back and forth with the settings was simply impractical. We knew it was time for a change. We decided to buy a Smart bike, and we can tell you it was the best decision we could have made.

female cyclist on an indoor trainer

In search of the right smart bike

But before we decided on a bike, we first had to see what the market had to offer. And wow, there are plenty of smart bikes on the market that are suitable for indoor cycling. Some of the most popular and frequently used models are the Wahoo Kickr Bike, the Tacx Neo Bike Smart, the Peloton Bike, the Wattbike Atom and the Stages Bike.

Smart Bike Comparison: Wahoo Kickr Bike vs. Tacx Neo Bike Smart

We mainly focused on the Wahoo Kickr Bike and the Tacx Neo Bike Smart and can say that both devices have their own advantages and disadvantages. The Wahoo Kickr Bike can adjust the incline angle of the entire bike to the currently ridden incline in real time. A really cool feature, but ... do you really need it? We didn't think so. Also, the app that helps adjust the bike is certainly a very cool thing. However, the higher price was an argument against it for us. We had set ourselves a budget, and it didn't fit in there.

Our decision for the Tacx Neo Bike Smart

We can now go more in-depth on the Tacx Neo Bike Smart (who actually came up with this name? Why not Smart Bike?), that we have been using it since October 2022.

The Tacx Neo Bike is quiet, precise and realistic. Exactly the qualities you expect from a smart bike.

Even at first glance, you will notice how flexible you can adjust the bike. You can adjust the pedals, the saddle, the handlebar and the crank length to suit your outdoor bike. The second thing you might notice is the display. The bike has a 4.5-inch screen that displays your data such as heart rate, cadence, power and the currently selected gear. If you like, you can charge your smartphone or tablet, or even both, with the two USB chargers built into the bike.

What's also exciting about the bike is that you don't necessarily need electricity to use it. You can power most of the bike's functions simply by pedaling. Plugging it in will give you the descent feature and power for the USB ports. If you use these two features regularly, we recommend that you leave the bike plugged in while you train.

This smart bike allows you to adjust the saddle (tilt angle and forward/backward) and the handlebars (up/down and forward/backward). The crank is very flexible. It can be adjusted from 170 mm to 175 mm, so you can find the perfect setting. This is also very convenient when you have multiple users at home.

The front of the bike has the bike console with the display and a small tray for your cell phone, food or other things. Inside the flywheel there are lights that light up when you pedal, for a little bit of disco feeling ...

On this bike, the shifters are on the handlebars, just like on a normal road bike. The brakes work, and you feel resistance on the flywheel when you pull on it. You won't feel a difference when shifting on this smart bike, but the bike's technology mimics the feel internally. The bike decelerates the motor for a fraction of a second, almost like an outdoor bike. The gear change is indicated to you on the bike's display. Unfortunately, the shifters don't feel as realistic as they do on a road bike (which has been improved on the second generation of the bike that just launched).

The dynamic moment of inertia function is worth mentioning in detail. It is difficult to simulate all parts of the ascent and descent on an indoor bike. However, this bike mimics riding uphill almost perfectly. The bike gives you a sense of acceleration as you go down the hill.

The Tacx Neo Bike Smart supports most training apps and is compatible with ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart to display your data and store it in your favorite training app.

Female cyclist training indoor on a smart bike looking at an iPad screen with the indoor cycling app Zwift running

Advantages of the Smart Bike over a Smart Trainer

One of the biggest advantages of the Smart-Bike over the Smart-Trainer is that we now no longer have to switch bikes, but can quickly and easily adjust the riding position to suit us with just two/three quick-release adjustments. Another advantage is that the Smart-Bike is much quieter than the Smart-Trainer. Since it has no chain and no "real" gears, there is less noise when riding, which should please both us and our neighbors. We live in a small, light-sounding apartment and the noise level was already a problem. The smart bike is also built a bit smaller and more space efficient than a bike smart trainer option, which is especially handy for us since we don't have a lot of room in our apartment. The ERG mode now works smoothly, and we have additional data in our evaluation, as the Smart-Bike also measures the power transmission and does so without additional watt measurement pedals.

All in all, the Smart Bike is a big step up from our old Smart Trainer, and we are excited about the new capabilities and benefits.

The Smart Bike offers many functions and options that we particularly like. A very simple one is the possibility, Zwift to use via the iPad, without additional mounts or the like, because the mount is integrated into the bike. Everything is simple and practical. Another feature we like is the Tacx Neo Bike Smart's "Road Feel" mode. This mode simulates on Zwift how it feels to ride over cobblestones or similar and you feel a slight vibration in the pedal and have to pedal significantly more watts on such a surface. We also really like the Gear Feel mode, which simulates the shifting of the chain, so that you have the feeling of shifting, although there is no real gear shift. This makes the riding experience very realistic. Another advantage of the smart bike is that you can completely customize it to your own needs. In just a few steps and in under a minute, we can adjust the bike's geometry settings to suit us. We also like the small fans that can adjust their strength in different strengths and, for example, depending on the speed ridden or heart rate. They provide a pleasant cooling during the workout and it's great that you don't always have to set up an additional device.


All in all we are very happy with the Smart-Bike, we got it in October 2022 and have noticed that we spend more time on Zwift than before, not only because it is so much more convenient than our "bike on Smart-Trainer" solution before, but because it is just so much fun and works so precisely. Since the smart bike is much quieter than our previous solution, we no longer feel guilty about riding the trainer for an hour at 7am before work. We also no longer get frustrated with the annoying back and forth with the bike's settings or problems with sensors not being recognized.

In the end, I can say that switching from a smart trainer to a smart bike was a great decision for us. We finally have the flexibility we needed and training has become much more enjoyable and effective.

If you're thinking of doing the same, remember that it's an expensive purchase, but if you have multiple cyclists in the household, it may be worth it. Also, if you live in an apartment and are worried about the noise of a regular roller, a smart bike can be a practical solution. And please keep in mind that there are older models of the Tacx Neo Bike Smart that may be less expensive and have the same functionality as the newer models.

We are happy that we decided to switch from a smart trainer to a smart bike, and highly recommend it if you are looking for a better training experience. It's an investment that has really paid off for us.

First time on an e-bike: Specialized Turbo Creo SL Evo

I remember one day Jana told her mother on the phone that I now had a new bike and her mother asked, "An e-bike?" At that moment, I looked at Jana indignantly, "Excuse me? Is she trying to insult me? Tz!" After all, I've only been riding my fixed gear bikes for 8 or even more years. Me ...? An e-bike? Never!

Friday night, once Jana's workday at the agency was over, we picked up the bikes at Concept Cycles Hamburg. The two Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVOs were already waiting for us, fully charged and ready for the sunrise ride on Saturday morning.

On Friday evening, after Jana's workday at the agency was over, we picked up the bikes at Concept Cycles Hamburg. The two Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVOs were already waiting for us, fully loaded and ready to go at sunrise on Saturday morning. Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVOs were already waiting for us, fully loaded and ready to go at sunrise on Saturday morning.

But before we tell you about the ride and our impressions of the bike, let's share a few details about the bike itself....

The Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO is based on the same frameset as the Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon e-road bike and is available in two different finishes: Satin Sage Green/Black and Gloss Navy/White Mountains. Our favorite is definitely the green bike, and luckily we had this one for testing.

At the heart of the Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO is the SL 1.1-E motor with maximum assistance of 240W, powered by the 320Wh battery in the down tube. Specialized specifies the full range at 120km, but it can be extended by another 60km with an optional range extender.

The Comp Carbon version of the bike is equipped with a 1×11 Shimano GRX 810 group and brakes; I already know this group from my Canyon Grail CF SL and like it very much. Specialized installed Praxis cranks on the bike.

Integrated into the head tube is the Future Shock 2.0 system, which is adjustable in the intensity of its damping via a knob on the stem and offers 20 mm of travel.

Specialized has also equipped the Turbo Creo SL EVO with an X-Fusion Manic dropper post with 50 mm travel.

Standard equipment includes 700 x 38 C Pathfinder Pro tires on DT Swiss R470 Boost wheels. The front axle is 110 mm wide and the rear axle 148 mm wide. The frame allows maximum tire widths of 700 x 42C or 650b x 50.

The Specialized Turbo Creo SL EVO IN THE WILD

The alarm clock rang at 6 a.m. Saturday morning, after coffee and a banana with peanut butter and pretzel sticks, we left home. Recently we had discovered Himmelmoor on another ride and wanted to return there.

Since we absolutely wanted to be there in time for sunrise (which we still have not managed, because sometimes we just dawdle), we have not changed the pedals as planned. (Never say: "Oh, it will be fine!!!).

So there we were, on the probably most simple flat pedals that Specialized has to offer, on the road. Perfect dream if you are on the road with clipless shoes. Well, for the next time we know that we have to finish it in the evening.

One thing we noticed right away on Friday evening: The Specialized Turbo Creo SL EVO is light for an e-bike. We could not find exact data on the weight, but carrying the bike to the 4th floor was no problem. That was our impression again on Saturday morning.

The assistance wasn't as spectacular on the road, but off the pavement, I think it was more noticeable, as you usually need a lot more power from your legs to match the speed on gravel. I can't say that it wasn't fun to zip around this way.

Arrived in the moor, we were rewarded with beautiful light and sunshine, first a quick snack, a few photos, and then move on. At this point, we already noticed that the bike attracts attention. And rightly so. It is a beautiful bike, and the most remarkable thing about it is that it does not scream e-bike at first glance. Until you notice or hear the engine. It is noticeable but not annoying. Since it was our first time on an e-bike, we can't compare it to other motors out there.

Jana, who rides a Specialized Diverge Base Carbon with Future Shock 1.5, was very impressed with the adjustability of the Future Shock 2.0 while riding; the suspension was noticeable on cobblestones and bumps and helped make the ride more enjoyable.

I was very impressed with the smooth and direct shifting. Maybe I should readjust mine on my Grail.

Of course, we were not spared a flat tire, but the tube replacement went quickly, thanks to the thru-axles. It is hard to judge whether this is a direct argument against the tires or whether Jana was simply unlucky. She has not yet had a puncture on her Diverge, which is also equipped with Pathfinder tires.

Now let's move on to the...


We are not quite sure what the purpose of the Specialized Turbo Creo SL EVO could be for us. For a moment, I thought that I could use the bike for bikepacking tours, but it lacks mounting points because, except for two bottle cages and mudguards, nothing can be mounted. I know this from my Canyon Grail CF SL, but the dropper post also takes away the possibility of a saddlebag. In addition, the range of 120km, so if I want to ride longer distances, I have to attach the extender and thus lose one of the two places for water bottles.

Jana already mentioned during the ride that the bike is fun for her, but it can never replace the feeling she gets when she rides a bike on her power. At least not while she is still fit enough to do so.