Esker Hayduke LVS Review: A Bikepacking Future Classic?

– All right, so the time has finally come to talk about this long bike. This is the Esker Hayduke LVS. While I would’ve loved to be outside talking about this bike in its natural environment, we’re in the middle of winter, so we’re stuck in my garage. And as you can see, it takes up quite a bit of space. So Logan and I have both had the opportunity to test this bike over the last handful of months. And in this video, we’re gonna dive into all of the details that you need to know. And yes, I

plan on standing up the whole time. I’ve got my support shoes on. Let’s get into it. (upbeat music) All right, so while the LVS certainly looks unique, there actually has been no real shortage of these longer or mid-tail bikes made over the years. Some of which have actually done a really good job of helping bikepackers travel very long distances. For starters, you may have heard of Jean Naud And if not, you may have seen Jean’s two-wheel drive long tail that he designed to help him cover 3,200 kilometers across the Sahara Desert back in 1986. Then

there was Jacob Thompson who dreamed up of the Chupacabra made by Spencer Wright of Traffic Cycles in 2007. Jacob set off riding the Spine, a journey from Alaska to Argentina

that spanned 34,110 kilometers over three and a half years with his trusty long tail fat bike. That same year, Surly launched the Big Dummy, their take on the long tail cargo bike. And more recently, Tim Krueger, founder of Esker Cycles, mentioned that the Salsa Blackborow was a big part of the LVS inspiration. He said he loves how the Blackborow rides, but he kind of wanted something

a little bit more built around standard mountain bike wheels and drive trains. But simply making say, a longer mid tail bike was not his end goal. And for Tim and the Esker crew, the LVS was a product of wanting a longer range, higher capacity mountain touring bike. And what came out of that was this thing with 600 millimeter chain stays. So this concept is certainly in line with Esker’s brands’ built for backcountry tagline. It’s also a very natural progression of the Hayduke, the regular Hayduke, Tim’s first bike that he made after becoming an independent product

developer. All right, so while there are plenty of differences from both the LVS and the regular Hayduke just looking at them, they actually are definitely cut from the same cloth. They both are built to haul gear. The LVS has a nearly identical 67.5 degree head tube angle and a degree slacker seat tube angle at 64 degrees. They both are boost spaced, have external cable routing, 73 millimeter threaded bottom brackets, clearance for 29 by 2.6 or 2.8 inches, built around 120 millimeter suspension fork and come with the versatile portage dropout system. So I ended up testing

a medium. I’m five nine and a half, and Esker mentions that the medium is said to fit riders from five six to six feet and comes with the exact same reach measurements as the ti and steel Haydukes at 450 millimeters, but with a little bit of a taller stack at 621 millimeters. And overall, I felt extremely dialed into this bike. The fit was great except one thing, but we’ll get into that in a moment. All right, so while the new LVS, it does not come in a steel option and there is no current plans of

that happening anytime soon, I think the double-butted titanium tube set certainly makes the bike leaner than it definitely looks, coming in at 30.6 pounds or 13.88 kilograms with the two Cedaero bags and a little bit of dirt on it, which to me is pretty light for all of this bike. The benefits of titanium don’t just stop at the weight, obviously. The material is corrosion-resistant and offers a very noticeable compliance. even more so with the longer wheel base on the LVS. So despite this not being the first bike of its kind, I do think that the

titanium makeup and chosen geometry certainly makes it very intriguing. However, it certainly is a higher priced material, thus a higher priced bike. All right, so before we get any further, I just wanna take a quick moment to let you all know that this video is supported in part by Old Man Mountain. Rather than trying to clamp to round or tapered forks, just hoping that your cages don’t slip or spin, well, the Old Man Mountain Axle Pack is a great alternative, making it impossible to move. Have a carbon fork without mounts or perhaps a suspension fork?

Perfect, maybe an older aluminum bike. They’ve got you covered. If you have a through axle fork, you can use their fit kits to mount their axle packs too. So to learn a little bit more about their newly launched product, you can hit this card in the top right corner, or you can also find a link in the description below. As Tim mentioned, well, they didn’t necessarily set out to build a long or mid tail bike. The design, however, was a result of seeking more cargo capacity and a specific ride quality. So the bike is made

to haul plenty of gear and take you deeper into the unknown with the help of extra space and mounts built into the bike. And we’ll definitely get into this soon, but both Logan and I found it to be a very fun and unique bike to pedal on day rides, gravel roads, and even some simple single track. So the bike’s overall length definitely took some getting used to, and I was not totally in love with it during I’d say my first few rides. It felt a little sluggish to start, and oftentimes I found the bike kind

of working against me. Over time, I definitely learned to accept this, as it was totally different from anything really, I’ve ever tested before. So when I talked to Logan about this, I figured he’d have the same feelings, but he didn’t. And he actually mentioned that it was faster than all of his hard tails. So after that kinda head scratching moment and hearing how different his experience was from mine, I had to go back out on a ride and kind of test it again and really kind of figure out what was going on. But I definitely

couldn’t get over that feeling. And in fact, I felt like this bike accelerated slower than any hard tail I’ve tested over the past 12 months. The Viral Derive, Esker Japhy, the Pipe Dream Sirius S6. And the only thing I could think of at the end of the day is, well, Logan’s a slightly bigger human than I. I come in at about 155 pounds with riding gear on and perhaps the extra weight of a six foot human gives the bike maybe a little bit more snap and acceleration. I don’t know, but perhaps the larger or taller

the human, the more proportional the bike feels as six foot seven TJ here, was throwing tail whips and doing wheelies on it. But after the first few pedal strokes, you really would never know that you’re on a bike with a gigantic 1,321 millimeter wheel base. And in fact, the larger and longer wheel base certainly makes trudging through semi-rocky terrain effortless, as it kind of spreads out the chatter from wheel to wheel, almost eliminating that kind of pinball effect that some rock gardens kind of create on hard tails. Well, I guess until you forget that rock

you passed like yesterday finally rears its head on your rear wheel, kind of killing all momentum that you had built up. Yeah, but these moments were definitely few and far between, especially after I kind of adjusted how I pedaled the bike, which in all honesty, was faster than I anticipated. So while I don’t love how slow it takes to get going, it’s similar to riding a regular hard tail once it does. Where this thing shines is descending. Hands down, this is the most stable hand-comfortable bike that I’ve ever ripped down a gravel road. The greater

mass and length definitely help the LVS kind of navigate rockier or off-road terrain more efficiently, offering a smoother ride and letting me keep my finger off the brake to let the bike confidently take me downhill. I’ll tell you, it is a strange feeling, but you definitely feel like you’re truly going slower than you actually are. So you kind of actually have to be a little bit careful in that regard. I also found the length to actually perform exceptionally well in mixed conditions with say a little bit of snow and dirt on the ground. It had

me kind of thinking of how great a fat bike like this would perform on the snow. One distinct characteristic that you will find with the LVS, no matter going up or down, is that it is very grounded and stable, which means that it does not have much in the way of playfulness. It’s definitely more of a rhino than a cheetah, I would say, but that’s not all that bad, as it definitely holds a line exceptionally well. And this was especially noticeable on stretches of sand or over rock gardens. Alright, so despite Tim mentioning that the

bike was not designed or intended for single track, yeah, we had to take it out on a few tests to see how it would perform, and it performed much better than expected. So momentum and mass is king or queen of the LVS, and this was obvious on single track as I was definitely slowed by, you know, tight switchbacks. But still, the length allowed me to be confident in slow maneuvers in turns and corners, allowing me to kind of track stand for days and quickly rebalance myself to get through that obstacle. And the length definitely gave

me some dangerous confidence on the downhills. I guess the only kind of hiccup is that you need to deliberately lean into higher speed corners or else your kind of balance will be off and you’ll quickly find yourself on the brake levers. And because of kind of the longer wheel base and lower bottom bracket, I definitely had to pay more attention and be careful with pedal strikes or even kind of bottoming out the bottom bracket. But there was always a little bit more clearance than I had anticipated. So despite my experiences on day rides, riding two

track and single track, the LVS is a true joy to bike pack with, and it’s really nice to use something for its intended purpose. And when packing this bike for a trip in Moab last year, I quickly realized that I had so many packing options. As someone who’s not say the tallest person, I always envy those who can ride a large or even extra large frame as it gives you much more storage options, a lot more flexibility. So when I sat in my garage and looked where I would pack things on the LVS, well, the

possibilities were endless really. The LVS comes with 26 mounts for accessory bags or racks, including four M6 bolts built into their seat stays for their MOLLE Rackwald system, something I really wish I tested but didn’t get the opportunity to. So MOLLE stands for modular lightweight load-carrying equipment. So this system is a versatile and customizable load-bearing system used by military personnel and law enforcement. And it consists of a webbing grid and straps on tactical gear and backpacks, allowing kind of users to attach and rearrange various kind of pouches and accessories based on their specific needs and

desires. So the MOLLE Rackwald offers basically the same idea built into a rear rack with the ability to carry a hundred pounds of whatever you want. Despite not using the system, Logan got his hands on a pre-production version. And yeah, as you can see, he made the most of it, loading really everything from dogs to four penners and much more. So the MOLLE Rackwald does come in at 300 extra USD. All right, so I found that a standard rear rack or in this case, the Old Man Mountain Elkhorn rack, did the job pretty well for

me. I was testing the new Tailfin fork packs on this trip. I tested ’em front and rear. And because of this, I didn’t necessarily need to use a seat pack or a handlebar bag. And paired with the two Cedaero frame bags supplied with the review bike, I had ample space for really everything. And if I were to say, take this bike on a longer journey, I could definitely strap the kitchen sink to it, like Jean and Jacob did with their rigs. The Cedaero frame bags, especially the rear one, is definitely a little wide. It kind

of is rubbed against the chain a bit, but I really love that extra space right back here. I just need to be a little bit more careful of kind of overpacking it. And if you really wanted to avoid a bag placed here, well, it’s an excellent spot for say a large jug of water or even a cargo cage. Riding the LVS loaded was a treat, as many bikes are. But the LVS certainly has an even more grounded sensation and handles gear better than most bikes, as it kind of balances the weight and doesn’t drastically change

how the bike rides from being unloaded to loaded. The one thing that definitely did hold me back was drops and ledges, especially when loaded. So trying to kind of lift that front end of the bike up ledges, even when it’s unloaded, is hard. So just imagine when you have weight up front. And the same goes for drops or jumps. You really need to make an effort to get this thing off the ground, both wheels off the ground, but I’m not saying it’s impossible. As you see here, TJ had some fun on this bike. Yeah, he’s

pretty talented. Finally, this bike’s geometry paired with the ride quality is certainly a recipe for all-day riding and definitely reduces fatigue, especially paired with the supple ride quality of titanium. So this LVS was a pre-production bike and it came with a bunch of different components on it from the listed build specs on their website. And one finding I had with all of this was that the mounts actually might work against you as the top bottle mount on the seat tube actually affects how much insert depth you have. And so in my case, this Crankbrothers Highline

3 Dropper post they sent with the bike did not work with my saddle height. The insertion depth was roughly 19.3 centimeters on the medium. Paired with the 150 millimeters of Dropper post travel, the combination could not accommodate my seat height of 90.5 centimeters from pedal spindle to top of saddle. The shortest length I could get was 92 centimeters. So obviously, every Dropper post has different lengths of insert depths, collar sizes, and real estate from the upper part of the stanchion to the seat rails. So this is definitely something to consider when buying. So the bike

I got also came with 130 millimeter fork and same with Logan’s, but the builds will be shipped with 120 millimeter forks. While I doubt it will change the feel of the bike too much, I needed to just be transparent here. Logan also mentioned that he threw on a proper axle to crown rigid fork, which he said made it faster with that steeper head tube angle and lower bottom bracket. And he mentioned that it felt maybe a little bit more like a gravel or mixed bike. So that’s definitely an option for this thing as well. So

I was calling the LVS an N+1 bike in the past, but after putting a little bit more time and thought into it, I think this bike does most things well. It won’t slay single track, but it can manage easy to moderate single track pretty darn well. And it’s actually really fun. The LVS can also be your gravel bike, if you can get over that slower acceleration that I found. It can also double as a commuter that hauls groceries, kiddos, or even tools to work days. But when we talk about bikepacking, the LVS might just be

best in class, offering massive amounts of cargo capacity that delivers unmatched stability. And if you are a smaller rider or tend to pack the kitchen sink, well, the LVS is worth even more consideration. And yes, it is a big bike. It wouldn’t actually fit on my Kuat bike rack, so I had to throw it in the back of a car. But Logan mentions that the extra large fits in a 1UP rack, so that’s worth mentioning. The Esker Hayduke LVS comes in at just under 5,000 USD for the full build with a variety of upgrade options

or just about 3,000 USD for just the frame without a fork. So what are your thoughts on the Esker Hayduke LVS? Let me know in the comments section below. As always, thank you all so much for watching this bike review. If you like what you saw in this video, please hit that subscribe button and notification bell, so that you can continue watching new videos. And if you wanna help support us a little bit more, you can do so by signing up for the Bikepacking Collective. The Bikepacking Collective offers a lot of awesome perks, including monthly

giveaways, industry discounts, and the twice yearly Bikepacking journal. So to learn a little bit more about the Bikepacking Collective, click on the card in the the top right corner. You can also find a link in the description below. As always, thank you all so much for watching and until next time, pedal further. (upbeat rock music)

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