Traveling With A Crateworks Bike Box

Here, have a pile of weirdly specific instructional videos on how to ship an ordinary touring bike with a modified Crateworks box!

Preparing your Crateworks box to pack a bicycle into it.

Disassembling a bicycle to fit into a Crateworks box.

Packing the disassembled bike into the Crateworks box.

Getting your bike out of the Crateworks box and reassembling it.

Re-folding the Crateworks box and preparing it for shipping without the bike.

Powering Stuff On A Long Bike Tour

I’ve been doing long bike tours for over 15 years now, and for almost all of them I’ve carried a laptop so I can compute on the road, including pretty serious remote work as a software developer.

The metaphorical landscape has changed massively since I started doing this. All the tools have gotten way better. But one of the challenges I am constantly dealing with is: How the heck do you power and charge everything?

I’m always looking for ways to make my solution better, but I’ve hit on a nice one just now, and after going on a few trips to test it out, I figure I should pause here and document it, for my own obsessive reference.

Two full-power USB-C ports on one power socket.

These are the two main components:

To go with these, I have a set of cables:

USB-C is pretty adaptable, as long as you have the right bits and pieces...

  • A set of four short USB-C cables from CableCreation that support data and up to 60 watts of power.
  • A couple of adapters that turn any USB-C connector into a Micro-USB or Lightning connector.
  • Two 2-meter USB-C cables that support up to 100 watts of power. (One of them is the magsafe cable that comes with my laptop.)

Here’s what makes this setup so good:

The HyperJuice battery can charge itself and three other USB-C devices while it is recharging.

Charging three things and the battery! Noice!

For example, after a day of working in some remote place and draining the battery, you can plug the battery into the Anker 737 and it will charge at 100 watts. Then at the same time you can plug in three other things, like your phone and GPS and headphones, and charge those as you go. These gadgets will charge at full speed and the battery will charge as well.

So all you need is one power socket. That’s important when you’re traveling in weird places, and power sockets are often in high demand. Here’s another thing you can do:

If you're just using one port, it will deliver 100 watts. Both ports at once: 60 watts each.

In this configuration, both items charge at 60 watts.

Plug the other long cable into the Anker 737, and the battery park charges at 60 watts, while your laptop also charges at 60 watts. (Yes, this one adapter will put out 120 watts for you. I’ve done this a hundred times.) Now if you want, you can plug more things into your laptop and charge those as well. So with one socket you can charge your battery, your laptop, and six other devices, all at once. No swapping required.

My typical hotel room charging list is:

With this setup, I can plug all these in and just walk away.

Another thing you can do with this adapter is, if someone else is claiming the only power socket in a place, you can offer to use yours instead. Since it has two USB-C outlets, you both can plug into it and share the socket at full power.

I’ve done exactly that in a few very crowded cafes.

Also, I only ever need one international adapter.

And, in situations where the power socket is very far away, I can use the battery between the two cables, making one 4-meter (13-foot) long cable.

Just a little bit of velcro in the corner.

It's decently small, but the real advantage is, it's extremely light.

By putting velcro patches on my small items (external drive, media card reader) I can use the short cables to stick them on the back of my laptop while they’re connected, keeping them nicely out of the way.

Just long enough to get the drive out of the way.

Stays on pretty well!

Altogether it’s a great setup. It’s extremely flexible, charges lots of things, provides a ton of backup power (good for using the laptop all day at a campsite), and in situations where time is limited, I can store up the maximum amount of energy by charging the battery at 100 watts … or the laptop and battery at a combined 120 watts.

Valoria parts list

Valoria has evolved a bit since I first built her. This list is up-to-date as of January 2023.

PartCostLast Seen At
aMTBer 20T Chainring 64 BCD$‎40Amazon
Avid BB7 160mm MTB rotor disc brake #1$‎81Modern Bike
Avid BB7 160mm MTB rotor disc brake #2$‎81Modern Bike
Avid Speed Dial 7 Bicycle Brake Lever Set$‎28Modern Bike
Bacchetta 20” Carbon Johnson Fork$‎300Bacchetta
Bacchetta Compression Plug for Carbon Fork$12Bacchetta
Orbit X Crown Race 1-1/8in$7Bacchetta
Bacchetta Giro A20 frame kit, large, with Bella riser, 13” lower seat stays, 21” wide handlebar$‎800Zach Kaplan
Bacchetta Giro A20 rear wheel without tire, tube, or cassette$‎120Zach Kaplan
Bacchetta Recurve seat$‎275Zach Kaplan
Aluminum Handlebar Cup Holder$14Amazon
Busch & Müller 95cm headlight cable & 210cm taillight cable, with connectors on both ends$‎10Zach Kaplan
Busch & Müller Lumotec IQ-X Dynamo Headlight with coax connector$‎223Perennial Cycle
Busch & Müller TopLight Line Plus taillight$‎44Zach Kaplan
Busch & Müller Cycle Star Mirror 903 long curved Rod$‎37Amazon
Igaro D2 Pro R3 Dynamo USB Power Converter with coax connector$218Perennial Cycle
FSA Orbit MX 1-1/8″ headset$78Bacchetta
Jagwire Mountain Brake Inner Wire Slick Stainless, 1.5X2750mm #1$‎12Amazon
Jagwire Mountain Brake Inner Wire Slick Stainless, 1.5X2750mm #2$‎12Amazon
KMC 9-speed chain$‎65Zach Kaplan
Microshift FD-R439 Front Derailleur$‎26Modern Bike
Pinhead Bicycle Locking Skewer Set$‎43Amazon
Pitstop SS Tandem Shift Cable (3100mm) #1$‎9Amazon
Pitstop SS Tandem Shift Cable (3100mm) #2$9Amazon
Quad Lock Cycling – Handlebar/Stem Mount #1$‎30Quad Lock
Quad Lock Cycling – Handlebar/Stem Mount #2$‎30Quad Lock
Quad Lock Cycling – Handlebar/Stem Mount #3$30Quad Lock
Schwalbe Marathon Mondial Touring Bike Tire, 26 x 2.0in$‎90Schwalbe
Schwalbe Marathon Plus HS Wire Tire, 20 x 1.75in$‎50Schwalbe
Shimano Alivio FC-M4050 Crankset 170mm 40X30X22t$‎66eBay
Shimano HG400 CS-HG400-9 9 Speed Cassette, 12-36$‎41Modern Bike
Shimano PD-EH500 SPD & Flat Dual Sided Bike Pedals$‎77Amazon
SONdelux Disc hub, 32-hole$‎309Zach Kaplan
SON Junction Box with SON Hub Adapter$70Perennial Cycle
Splined to 6-bolt adaptor for SONdelux$‎25Zach Kaplan
SRAM X.7 9-Speed Rear Derailleur, Long Cage$‎59Walmart
SRAM X0 Bicycle Twist Shifter Set (9-Speed)$‎73Amazon
TerraCycle GlideFlex Stem, 1-1/8″ lower clamp, 1-1/8″ upper mast$‎135Zach Kaplan
TerraCycle Multi-Purpose Accessory Mount, 75 mm x 100 mm arms, 1-1/8″ clamps$‎38Zach Kaplan
TerraCycle Tab Mount For Euro Style Lights$‎9Zach Kaplan
TerraCycle Fastback NorBack Frame Pack$‎105TerraCycle
Tonyon four-segment anti-shear bicycle lock TY3869-20$‎30AliExpress
Topeak Road Morph G Bike Pump with Gauge$‎28Amazon
Topeak Fuel Tank with Charging Cable Hole (Large)$40Amazon
TRP Front Flat Mount Fork to Post Mount Caliper Adaptor for 160mm Rotors with two 17mm Bolts$12Modern Bike
Tubus Cargo Evo Classic Rear Bicycle Rack$‎104Amazon
Velocity Aeroheat/Dyad 20 x 1.5″ 32 Hole BMX Rim$‎73Modern Bike

Iceland Round 2 Gear And Bike Setup

For my own reference, here is the overwhelming amount of gear I packed for my second Iceland tour, and how I arranged it.

This is what everything looks like packed on the bike. It’s basically the same as my 2019 trip:

Here are the bags without the bicycle:

In the back: Two Ortlieb sport packer plus bags, each with an add-on net pocket and an add-on large roll-top pocket.

In the middle: Two ortlieb recumbent bags. The one on the left has three net bags attached to its underside in a row. The one on the right has a net bag, and then two small roll-top bags attached below, since it hangs over the drivetrain of the bike.

In the foreground: A Kelty Redwing backpack. On the loaded bike, this is placed sideways on top of the recumbent bags, where it fits nicely behind the seat, and is held down with two bungee cords.

All the gear I'm taking with me. Can you believe this all fits on a bike?

This is everything that’s packed onto the bike, including the bags shown above. As with the 2019 trip, the majority of the weight and space is claimed by the sleeping bag and the tent, shown on the far left.

In The Large Bags

These items went into the recumbent-style bags on the rear rack, or into the attached pockets:

In The Small Bags

These items went directly into the sport packer bags below the seat, or into the attached pockets:

The following mesh bags and their contents went into the sport packer bags as well:

The white bag: Assorted USB cables and adapters.

The green bag: Media cards and drives, and the cables for reading them.

The biggest change here is, I left out any kind of multi-port USBC hub doodad. I have wasted money on so many of them, and they all have problems. Some get very hot. Some of them have misshapen connectors. Most of them can’t read from an SD card and a Micro SD card at the same time. And almost all of them have annoying power problems and fail to reliably charge or stay connected to more than one USB device at once.

A pox on the lot of them!

The pink bag: Lens and laptop cleaning supplies.

  • Generic lens-cleaning wipes (For cleaning laptop and camera.)
  • Microfiber cloth (For cleaning/drying lenses.)
  • Extra microfiber cloth (In case the big one is soiled.)

A lightweight power brick with 3 USB-A and 1 45-watt USB-C.

This charger has one fewer USB ports than the one I took in 2019, but it’s a good amount lighter. Like the old one it allows me to charge the laptop and my other doodads at the same time, from one outlet — which in turn means I need only one international plug adapter when I’m traveling.

My Frankensteined portable speakers, and an iPod Nano to drive them.

I use the iPod Nano to play bedtime music. An iPod shuffle is not suitable for this purpose since it has no ability to stop playing! It will always repeat the current playlist forever or until it runs out of power! How silly.

Not that it matters, since all iPods have been discontinued and will soon die out, and we will all be locked into digital subscription services and completely abandon the whole idea of controlling what we listen to without it being mediated from one minute to the next by a jealous corporate overlord in the sky. (I’m not bitter.)

A good wind-resistant microphone for conference calls.

The above items attach to my headphones. The resulting setup works with the laptop and the iPhone lightning adapter, there’s no flaky Bluetooth involved, and it sounds far better than anything else I’ve tried. The strangest place I’ve used this so far is by the side of the road next to a geothermal power plant in the middle of Iceland.

The sport packer bags also hold two SenReal Mesh Makeup Organizer Pouches that contain camera-related gadgets:

In The Backpack

These items went into the Kelty Redwing backpack:

The toiletries bag. Basic stuff for a mixture of hotels and camping.

In Other Bags Or Directly Attached

The following items were attached directly to the bike:

These items went into the Allnice 1L PVC Bicycle Pouch just behind the seat:

These items went into the FastBack NorBack Frame Pack between the seat and the front wheel:

Also in the NorBack pack, my toolkit:

Replaced or Removed

These are items I brought in 2019 but have replaced with newer items for this trip:

These are items I brought in 2019 but decided to leave out entirely for this trip, with no replacements for them. They were just not useful enough.

Comparing Garmin GPS Trackers

I don’t know why it’s so hard to get all this information in one chart, including the relative physical sizes of the trackers, but here it is:

  Garmin 1030 PlusGarmin  1030Garmin ExploreGarmin 830Garmin 530Garmin 130 PlusGarmin  130
Price 599 499 249 399 299 199 169
Dimensions (mm)114x58x19114x58x19105x55x22  82x50x20 82x50x20 63x41x16 63x41x16
Weight (grams) 124 123  116  79.1  75.8 33 33 
Touchscreen YYYYNNN
Screen Size (Diagonal, in.)3.53.532.
Resolution282×470282×470240 x 400246 x 322246 x 322303×230303×230
Color Display YYYYYNN
Battery Life (Hours) ~24~20~12~20~20 ~12~15
Can Import Maps YYYYYNN
Has Base Maps YYYYYNN
Storage 32 GB16 GB + microSD16 GB + microSD16 GB16 GBn/an/a
Waypoints/favorites/locations 200200200200200?100
Routes 100 100 100 100 100 30 15
Activity History (Hours) 200 200 200 200 200 100 100 
Barometric Altimeter Y Y N Y Y Y Y
Accelerometer Y Y Y Y Y N N
Wireless Connectability ANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-fiANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-fiANT+, BluetoothANT+, Bluetooth, BLE, Wi-fiANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-fiANT+, BluetoothANT+, Bluetooth 
VIRB® Control Y Y N Y Y N  N
Calories Burned Calculation Y Y N Y Y Y  N
Interval Training Y Y N Y Y N N
Advanced Training Sessions Y Y N Y Y Y N
Estimation Of O2 Consumption Y Y N Y Y Y Y
Aerobic Training Y Y N Y Y N N
Virtual Partner Y Y N Y Y Y Y (On a path)
Virtual Racer™ Y Y N Y Y Y N
Time/Distance Alerts Y Y Y Y Y ? Y
Garmin Cycle Map (turn-by-turn, directions) Y Y N YYNN
Works With Power MetersYYNYYYY
Smart Trainer Control YYn/aYYYn/a

My own choice among these remains the same as it was several years ago. I went from the Edge 500 over to the Edge 130 and have stayed there.

  • It’s just as accurate of a time/location/distance recorder as all the others.
  • It weighs less than half of the 530.
  • It can be seen in all weather conditions, including pitch black.
  • It can be operated even while wearing thick gloves.
  • The battery lasts 15 hours.
  • The power consumption is so tiny I can fully charge it from the generator in my hub by riding for less than half an hour.

The only downside for me is that I can’t upload offline maps to it (though I can upload my own pre-made routes).