Retaining mobility when a disaster on a grand scale strikes your town can be as, or even more important, than plans to stock up supplies and bunker down at home. When things are good, getting in, out, and around town is as easy as jumping in your transportation mode of choice — be it a car, truck, motorcycle, or even subway or bus — and simply going from point A to point B. But when roads are clogged, fuel is scarce, and the city's infrastructure is in disarray, moving about could get mighty tricky.

The most reliable mode of transportation is your feet. You can use them to traverse a multitude of terrain, and they require no additional forms of fuel other than what you already need to sustain your life. If your vehicle is rendered useless or the streets around you become impassable for some disastrous reason, you can probably still hike yourself out if need be. But relying on your feet to get you and your gear across long distances is a surefire way to turn them into hamburger meat. Because we like our feet the way there are, let's explore another human-powered alternative.

The bicycle runs on the same power as your feet, meaning that you don't need additional fuel to power it. Bicycles allow you to travel great distances more efficiently and allow you to be on the move quicker with heavier loads, while using less energy and having less impact on your body than if you were to go on foot. If there is a need to keep a low profile, which might often be the case, bicycles are a lot quieter than most motorized vehicles.

When properly equipped, the right bicycle can take you and your heavy survival gear, or possibly another passenger, over a number of types of terrain. If shit hits the fan while you are at work, a prepositioned bike could get you home faster than waiting for the roads to clear up. On the other hand, if you're bugging in and waiting it out in your prepared fortress, bicycles are a great way to scout the area rapidly and quietly while having a viable way to bring supplies back to home base. With basic tools and a couple of spares, your bike can always bring you and your gear to safety.

Although there are some really nice bicycles out there, you don't need to break the bank in order to get a two-wheeled escape plan going. There are plenty of used bikes you can pick up on the cheap from Goodwill, yard sales, Craigslist, pawn shops, and the like on which to base your silent escape rig. One of our staff members actually picked up a bike for $50 at a yard sale. He rigged his own carriers out of milk crates, scrap metal, and used backpacks to complete his get-out-of-town bike for less than $100. If you do pick up a used bike, make sure that it is inspected and serviced for safety at your local bike shop.

Like everything in life, what bike you get and how you set it up is all about what your individual needs are. Let's take a look at a couple of differently outfitted bikes and their accessories to get an idea of how you can configure a bike to best suit your needs.

The All-Terrain Scout

This setup is based on the Cogburn CB4 bike. With its oversized 3.8-inch-wide tires, the CB4 is an all-terrain fat bike capable of taking on some seriously rough roads and torn-up asphalt. Built to fulfill an all-terrain scout role, we wanted a bike that could zip around city-center all the way to the outskirts of town regardless of road conditions. It is capable of carrying back foraged food and supplies with its bags and single pannier as well as providing the rider with some defense and hunting capabilities with its mounted rifle.

It's equipped with disc brakes, wide track handle bars for confident control even with heavier loads, and pre-threaded attachment points all over the place for racks and carriers. We took advantage of those attachment points and added a few carriers and accessories that would help this bike fill a scout role.

The All-Terrain Scout

  • Blackburn Barrier Universal Pannier

    Make & Model - Blackburn Barrier Universal Pannier
    Capacity - 17 L
    MSRP - $100
    URL - http://www.blackburndesign.com
    Notes - Blackburn's Barrier Universal Pannier features a waterproof roll-top design that makes it ideal to secure items that you need to bring back to basecamp. It features clear visibility panels on its sides, waterproof zipped exterior pocket, vertical compression straps, and lashing points. Its mounting fixtures can be custom fitted, making this pannier compatible with all standard racks. Its thick, tough skin and welded-seam construction are sure to give it a long, useful life on the road. When taken off the bike, the ends of the top clip together and form a convenient carry handle.

    Blackburn's Barrier Universal Pannier features a waterproof roll-top design that makes it ideal to secure items that you need to bring back to basecamp.

  • Blackburn Mountain Bottle Cage

    Make & Model - Blackburn Mountain Bottle Cage
    Weight - 2.4 oz
    Colorway - Black (shown), silver, red, green, blue
    MSRP - $5
    URL - http://www.blackburndesign.com
    Notes - These bottle cages mount easily on any bike frame that has predrilled holes to accept them and securely hold most standard sport bottles.

    The Blackburn Mountain Bottle Cage mounts easily on any bike frame that has predrilled holes to accept them and securely hold most standard sport bottles.

  • Cogburn CB4

    Make & Model - Cogburn CB4
    Front and Rear Shifters - Shimano Deore 2 x 10 Speed
    Front Derailleur - Shimano Deore 2 x 10 Speed
    Rear Derailleur - Shimano Deore Shadow Plus 10 Speed
    Crankset and Bottom Bracket - SRAM X5 GXP100, 175mm crank with sealed bearings, 22/36t gearing
    Chain - KMC 10-speed
    Derailleur Cable and Housing - Jagwire stainless shift cables and full-length housing
    Cassette - Shimano Deore – 10-speed, 11/36t gearing
    Wheels - Formula sealed-bearing hubs front and rear, S
    URL - http://y 82mm-wide Rolling Darryl rims, DT Swiss stainless steel spokes, built and finished by hand in the USA
    Tires and Tubes - S
    URL - http://y Nate 26x3.8-inch tires, S
    URL - http://y Light Fat inner tubes
    Front and Rear Brake set - Avid BB7 cable actuated disc brakes, 160mm stainless rotors, Avid FR5 levers
    Overall Length (Large frame, as featured) - 74 inches
    Weight - (Large frame, unloaded)
    MSRP - $2,200
    URL - http://www.cogburnoutdoors.com
    Notes - To sum it up, the CB4 is a man-powered all-terrain vehicle. Its high-riding fat tire and wheel combination coupled with its wide frame give the rider a very capable and sturdy platform to traverse all types of terrain. It comes covered in RealTree Xtra camouflage and is bead-blasted so that the bike maintains a non-glare, low-profile look. The two-wheel disc brakes stop the bike quickly and confidently, while the 2 x 10-speed shifters change gears up and down smoothly. Accessory mounting points are found all over its frame, which is a huge bonus when we built up this example. It even has mounting holes for three water bottle holders — not found on most bikes. The bike is lighter than it looks due to its frame being made of high-quality heat-treated, double-butted A6N-6000AL tubing.

    The CB4 is a man-powered all-terrain vehicle, its high-riding fat tire and wheel combination coupled with its wide frame give the rider a very capable and sturdy platform to traverse all types of terrain.

  • Cogburn Gear Carrier

    Make & Model - Cogburn Gear Carrier
    Weight - 1 lb, 15 oz.
    MSRP - $130
    URL - http://www.cogburnoutdoors.com
    Notes - Although the Gear Carrier is designed to hold a rifle, bow, or fishing rod, it is capable of carrying a wide range of gear, thanks to its included positionable Quick Fist clamps. Along with the two 2-inch and one 1-inch Quick Fist clamps it comes with, the rider can easily employ rope, paracord, or bungee cables to secure other items such as firewood or other foraged materials. We found that the 2-inch Quick Fist clamps were too narrow to help attach long guns such as a shotgun or AR-15. Adding your own larger-diameter Quick Fist clamps would remedy that. The carrier itself is sturdy and covered in a matte-black powdercoat as well as mounting holes that allow for a myriad of mounting possibilities.

    Although the Gear Carrier is designed to hold a rifle, bow, or fishing rod, it is capable of carrying a wide range of gear, thanks to its included positionable Quick Fist clamps.

  • NiteRider Mako Light System

    Make & Model - NiteRider Mako Light System
    Headlight Brightness - 150 lumens
    Headlight Modes - High, low, flashing
    Headlight Runtime - High
    TailLight Runtime - 100+ hours
    Battery Type - Headlight 2 x AA
    MSRP - $60
    URL - http://www.safarilandpatrolbikes.com
    Notes - The Mako Light System is perfect for those times when you need to be seen. It comes with a bright 150-lumen headlight that can keep you from riding at night into one of those pesky sinkholes and an LED taillight that can be seen up to 1 mile away. The headlight features side "gills" that light up red to make the rider more visible. The taillight emits light to its sides as well as to the rear for greater visibility as well. Multiple mounting options including a belt clip are included.

    The Mako Light System is perfect for those times on your bike when you need to be seen.

  • Novara Novara Rack Trunk

    Make & Model - Novara Novara Rack Trunk
    Capacity - 6.6 L
    Dimensions - 12.5 in L x 6.5 in W x 5 in H
    Weight - 12 oz
    MSRP - $43
    URL - http://www.rei.com/novara
    Notes - The Rack Trunk is a fairly standard, well-made bag that mounts on rear bike racks with four stout hook and loop straps. It is made of weather-resistant coated nylon, is padded, and the insulated main compartment protects contents and maintains shape. Its internal mesh pockets help keep everything in its place.

    The Novara Rack Trunk is a fairly standard, well-made bag that mounts on rear bike racks with four stout hook and loop straps and is made with weather-resistant nylon.

  • Salsa Cycles Alternator Rack Wide

    Make & Model - Salsa Cycles Alternator Rack Wide
    Maximum Load - 33 lbs
    Weight - 1 lb, 11 oz
    MSRP - $120
    URL - http://www.salsacycles.com
    Notes - The Alternator Rack Wide is made for fat bikes such as the CB4. Its oversized tubular 6061-T6 aluminum construction fits over the extra-wide frame of fat bikes and includes longer struts for improved range of fit.

    The Alternator Rack Wide is made for fat bikes such as the CB4. Its oversized tubular 6061-T6 aluminum construction fits over the extra-wide frame of fat bikes and includes longer struts for improved range of fit.

  • Topeak Compact Handlebar Bag

    Make & Model - Topeak Compact Handlebar Bag
    Capacity - 2 L
    Maximum Load - 11 lbs
    Dimensions - 8.7 in L x 5.1 in W x 7.1 in H
    Weight - 1 lb
    MSRP - $60
    URL - http://www.topeak.com
    Notes - This handlebar bag converts to a fanny pack and is attached to the bike's handlebars with a quick-release mount. It keeps your essentials close at hand and is detachable so you can take them with you, right on your hip. The wings of the bag fold out in fanny pack form and feature hidden zippered compartments. It also includes a rain cover for those wet days on the road. Be careful not to overload handlebar bags as excessive weight on the handlebars can affect the bike's handling.

    The Topeak Compact Handlebar Bag converts to a fanny pack and is attached to the bike's handlebars with a quick-release mount. It keeps your essentials close at hand and is detachable so you can take them with you.

The Pack-Mule

This alternative setup is focused on the transportation of gear and supplies. Think of it as a pickup truck or cargo van version of a bicycle, if you will. This bike is set up with multiple racks, bags, panniers, and even a trailer that allows it to carry large loads in the event you need to get out of your place. If you do find yourself in a position where you need to move someplace else — and depending on the overall situation, you will probably want to take as many supplies and equipment as you can with you.

We based this example on a non-current model TREK FX, which is considered a hybrid bike. Hybrids are great for long rides due to their more upright seating position. Like we mentioned earlier, many used road-worthy bikes can be outfitted in much the same way at a fraction of the cost of a brand-new bicycle.

The Pack-Mule

  • B.O.B. Ibex Plus

    Make & Model - B.O.B. Ibex Plus
    Maximum Load - 70 lbs
    Cargo Area (approx.) - 25 in L x 16 in W x 18 in H
    Weight - 17 lbs
    MSRP - $439
    URL - http://www.bobgear.com
    Notes - As you can see, the Ibex Plus adds a whole lot more hauling capabilities to your bike. The trailer easily attaches to the bicycle's rear wheel using a quick-release system. B.O.B. offers multiple trailer options, but the Ibex stands out because it is equipped with a coilover shock that allows for 3 inches of adjustable suspension, greatly improving on- and off-road handling. We spoke to some bicyclists who have taken the Ibex over dirt roads and moderately rough terrain without trouble. It is constructed of 4130 chromoly steel tubing which makes it sturdy and is designed with a low center of gravity that keeps the weight off the bicycle frame for improved handling. The 70-pound hauling capacity will undoubtedly come in handy if you need to clear out of your bug out locale. The Ibex Plus model, as seen here, comes with a BOB DrySak, with PVC-coated nylon fabric that is tear-resistant and completely waterproof.

    The Ibex Plus adds a whole lot more hauling capabilities to your bike. The trailer easily attaches to the bicycle's rear wheel using a quick-release system and there are multiple trailer options.

  • CatEye HL-EL135 Front / Omni 3 Rear Bike Light Set

    Make & Model - CatEye HL-EL135 Front / Omni 3 Rear Bike Light Set
    Headlight Brightness - 150 lumens
    Headlight Modes - High, flashing
    Headlight Runtime - High
    Tail Light Modes - Constant, flashing, rapid
    Tail Light Runtime - Constant
    Battery Type - Headlight 2 x AA, Taillight 2 x AAA
    MSRP - $30
    URL - http://www.cateye.com
    Notes - We're going to bet that not all riding in a disaster-stricken situation will be of the stealthy assortment, so a set of lights on your bike will come in handy. Riding in the dark is a risky proposition, especially if other vehicles might be on the road. This CatEye light set runs on common batteries and is plenty bright enough to see where you are going — and allows you to be seen so you aren't flattened like a pancake on the highway.

    Riding in the dark is a risky proposition, especially if other vehicles might be on the road. This CatEye light set runs on common batteries and is plenty bright enough to see where you are going, and allows you to be seen.

  • Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic

    Make & Model - Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic
    Colorway - Black (shown), red, gray, orange, blue, white
    Capacity - 40 L
    Cargo Area (approx.) - 16.5 in H x 12.6 in W x 6.7 in D
    Weight - 4 lbs, 3 oz
    MSRP - $180
    URL - http://www.ortliebusa.com
    Notes - Ortlieb's pair of rear panniers are made of PVC-coated polyester fabric and close with a fold-over configuration, making them completely dustproof and protected from water splash coming from all directions. These panniers are incredibly rugged, to say the least. We like how they feature a quick-release handle at the top that allows them to be easily removed from the bike's rack. They include a shoulder strap that turn these panniers into shoulder carry bags when you need to load or unload them away from the bike. Inner pockets and large reflectors round out this great pannier option.

    Ortlieb's pair of rear panniers are made of PVC-coated polyester fabric and close with a fold-over configuration, making them completely dustproof and protected from water splash coming from all directions.

  • Ortlieb Front-Roller Classic

    Make & Model - Ortlieb Front-Roller Classic
    Colorway - Yellow (shown), black, red, gray, orange, blue, white
    Capacity - 25 L
    Cargo Area (approx.) - 11.8 in H x 9.8 in W x 5.5 in D
    Weight - 3lb, 8 oz
    MSRP - $160
    URL - http://www.ortliebusa.com
    Notes - Almost identical to Ortlieb's rear panniers, also featured here, the fronts are just smaller and capable of carrying 25 liters of gear. Adding gear on the front of your bike allows you to carry more supplies, but be careful to keep the loads on either side relatively equal in weight to maintain balanced handing characteristics.

    Almost identical to Ortlieb's rear panniers, the fronts are just smaller and capable of carrying 25 liters of gear. Adding gear on the front of your bike allows you to carry more supplies, but be careful to keep the loads on either balanced.

  • Planet Bike PB Cage

    Make & Model - Planet Bike PB Cage
    Colorway - Silver (shown), various
    Weight - 2.3 oz
    MSRP - $5
    URL - http://www.planetbike.com
    Notes - This aluminum bottle cage is available in 10 different colors and holds any standard sport bottle in place during your long trip to safety.

    This aluminum bottle cage is available in 10 different colors and holds any standard sport bottle in place during your long trip to safety.

  • Racktime Top-It

    Make & Model - Racktime Top-It
    Maximum Load - 22 lbs
    Weight - 1 lb, 3.2 oz
    MSRP - $55
    URL - http://www.ortliebusa.com
    Notes - A front rack is a must if you want to increase the load capabilities of your bike. On it, you can install front panniers as we did here. It also provides you extra space to mount yet another a bag — or, as in our case, we left it open to add whatever item we scavenge when on the road. This rack, like the others, does require threaded holes in your frame for proper installation, so do consult the manufacturer's website for installation information.

    Check out the Racktime Top-It: a front rack is a must if you want to increase the load capabilities of your bike.

  • Safariland Bike Gear Bag

    Make & Model - Safariland Bike Gear Bag
    Capacity - 6.9 L
    Cargo Area (approx.) - 10 in L x 6 in W x 7 in D
    Weight - 1 lb, 10 oz
    MSRP - $65
    URL - http://www.safarilandpatrolbikes.com
    Notes - This bag was designed with input from both bicycle-mounted police officers and bike enthusiasts. It has a deceivingly spacious interior that encompasses a durable pocket for small items and a collapsible "false floor" for items you'd like to keep out of immediate sight. It is constructed from sturdy, water-resistant nylon materials, which are specifically blended to resist environmental changes. The top cover is equipped with exterior bungee drawstrings to quickly secure loose items. The top and sides each have zippered pockets for extra storage options.

    The Safariland Bike Gear Bag has a deceivingly spacious interior that encompasses a durable pocket for small items and a collapsible "false floor" for items you'd like to keep out of immediate sight.

  • Timbuk2 Goody Bento Box Top Tube Pack

    Make & Model - Timbuk2 Goody Bento Box Top Tube Pack
    Capacity - 1 L
    Dimensions - 6.7 in L x 3.9 in W x 2.8 in H
    Weight - 5 oz
    MSRP - $35
    URL - http://www.timbuk2.com
    Notes - This bag attaches to your bike's top tube with hook and loop straps. The top external smartphone pocket is clear and retains touchscreen functionality. If not using a phone, paper maps can be tucked in it for weather-resistant reference. The generous interior can hold up a liter worth of items that you need to have access to during your ride. Sunscreen, lip balm, bike repair gear, or a knife — you won't have to choose since it will fit them all.

    The Timbuk2 Goody Bento Box Top Tube Pack has a top external smartphone pocket that is clear and retains touchscreen functionality or can be used to view paper maps too.

  • Topeak Explorer MTX Rack

    Make & Model - Topeak Explorer MTX Rack
    Maximum Load - 55 lbs
    Weight - 1 lb, 6 oz
    MSRP - $45
    URL - http://www.topeak.com
    Notes - This rear rack is sturdy, easy to install, and a basic piece of kit for your bike if you intend on making it a mule. On it, you can mount a trunk type bag as well as panniers. To keep this piece light weight Topeak elected to make it out of 6061 T-6 hollow aluminum.

    This rear rack is sturdy, easy to install, and a basic piece of kit for your bike if you intend on making it a mule.

Must-Have Accessories

Along with safety equipment such as gloves and a helmet for your noggin, we recommend taking a look at aftermarket seats if you don't find yours comfortable to sit on for hours on end. Also, to keep your bicycle on the road, and you on the move, we highly recommend a few tools and accessories to keep packed on the bike.

Must-Have Accessories

  • Avenir Big Mouth Bike Bag – medium

    Make & Model - Avenir Big Mouth Bike Bag
    MSRP - $15
    URL - http://www.avenirusa.com

    Keep all your little tools, gadgets, and maybe even a power bar or two handy in this tiny little saddle pack from Avenir.

  • Camelbak Podium Chill 21 oz

    Make & Model - Camelbak Podium Chill 21 oz
    MSRP - $12
    URL - http://shop.camelbak.com

    The Camelback Podium Chill is the perfect water bottle for you when you're on the go and holds 21 oz for when you don't want to strap on your Camelback pack for a short ride.

  • crankbrothers Multi-17 Tool

    Make & Model - crankbrothers Multi-17 Tool
    MSRP - $27
    URL - http://www.crankbrothers.com

    Once you carry around the crankbrothers multi-17 tool you'll wonder why you didn't before, it's perfect to have with you on your bike ride for when the unexpected happens.

  • Lezyne Road Drive

    Make & Model - Lezyne Road Drive
    MSRP - $45
    URL - http://www.lezyne.com
    Notes - The Road Drive is a light weight hand pump that pumps up to 160 psi of pressure. Note that it is for use on Presta valves only. It comes with a mount that attaches to the same points as bottle cages.

    The Lezyne Road Drive is a light weight hand pump - so you can carry it around with you - that pumps up to 160 psi of pressure.

  • Novara Patch Kit

    Make & Model - Novara Patch Kit
    MSRP - $3
    URL - http://www.rei.com/novara

    Keep the Novara Patch Kit on you in case you pop a tire but still need to ride home!

  • Sigma Sport BC 5.12

    Make & Model - Sigma Sport BC 5.12
    MSRP - $25
    URL - http://www.sigmasport.com/us

    Not for everyone, but if you want to know exactly how far you've traveled, or you need help with navigation, the Sigma Sport BC 5.12 is for you.

  • Specialized Standard Tube

    Make & Model - Specialized Standard Tube
    MSRP - $13
    URL - http://www.specialized.com

    The Specialized Standard Tube is what you need to have on hand in the event that the damage to your tire cannot be repaired and you need to replace it instead.

Choosing a Bicycle

Bicycles come in all different flavors, as do their riders, intended terrain, carrying load, and distance to be ridden. Picking the right bicycle can be tricky — and writing about how to pick the right bicycle can be even trickier. This topic can quickly become a 100-page dissertation, but we only have the space inside this little box, so we'll make it brief.

We are speaking in generalities here so you have a cursory idea of what to look for in a bike, but the experts at your local bicycle shop will be able to nail down the specifics of what bike will best fit your needs. Remember that fit is of upmost importance, so getting a bike that is the correct size for you along with being fitted to the proper seat height and handle bar adjustments is critical for riding comfort and efficiency.

Road Bikes

road-bike

Good on pavement, road bikes are the sports cars of bicycles. They feature nimble handling, are built lighter, and are capable of greater speeds than other bikes when ridden on relatively smooth roads.

Hybrid Bikes

hybrid-bike

Hybrid bikes work well on everything from smooth pavement to gravel roads. They are generally built for comfort, ease of use, and sturdiness. Hybrids are heavier than typical road bikes, but feature heavier-duty wheels, wider tires, and a more comfortable upright-style seating position. Like mountain bikes, many hybrids offer front suspension options. We prefer this type of bike in urban settings to base a build around.

Mountain Bikes

mountain-bike

Good on dirt and rocky roads, as well as rough roads with uneven pavement. Mountain bikes can be looked at as the Jeeps of the bike world. Many of them feature suspensions, some on the front only, and some with shocks front and back. If you are planning to ride on both soft surfaces such as dirt as well as pavement, a front suspension-only, or “hardtail” bike, is what you'll want. The idea of having a suspension in front and back might sound appealing, but the shocks on a bike make pedaling inefficient on hard surfaces — reducing speed, making the bike heavier, and sometimes even compromising the number of gear attachment points. They are great for complete off-road riding, however, providing more rear-wheel traction.

Fat Bikes

fat-bike

Fat bikes hail from the snow banks of Alaska and the deserts of New Mexico. They are essentially mountain bikes built with wider frames so they can accommodate extremely wide rims and tires. These “fat” wheels allow fat bikes to traverse a large range of terrain effortlessly and feel very stable to ride.


Prepare Now:

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