Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list here

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Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list here

Postby elStado » Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:12 pm

Hi all,

If you could build up a touring bike, starting with a pre-made frameset, using all new/current components readily available from your LBS/online retailer/ebay , what would it consist of?

I've been thinking about what would go into a good value & performing touring bike as I want to build one up myself later this year when I am done with University before heading off to Europe mid next year.

I'd like to know if there are some consistent choices for components that people looking to do a DIY build, such as myself, will be able to use as a guide.

Use the following template for simplicity:

Frame:
Forks:

Headset:
Stem:
Handlebars:
Bar-tape/grips:
Brake/gear lever:
Brake cable-set:

Seat-post:
Saddle:

Rims:
Rim tape:
Spokes:
Hubs:
Wheel skewer:
Tubes:
Tyres:
Front brake:
Rear brake:

Bottom-bracket:
Front derailleur:
Chainset:
Chain:
Pedals:
Rear derailleur:
Gear cassette:
Gear cable-set:

Front pannier rack:
Rear pannier rack:
Mudguards (pair):

Feel free to add the approximate cost for each item and the total approximate cost for the whole build if you would like.

I initially budgeted $2,000 for the bike including mudguards and front+rear pannier racks, but after doing up a mock build on Wiggle it is looking to cost around $3,000 all up, mostly using mid-range Shimano Ultegra 6700 components which seems pretty overkill to me. I'm still deliberating whether to order and build here, then take the bike over, or alternatively send the gear to my family in Germany and assemble/test there (costs about 20% extra to do this though due to taxes, even after shipping etc to Aus is factored in).

Hopefully this thread can serve as a valuable resource to others as well.

Cheers :D
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by BNA » Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:50 pm

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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby KenGS » Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:50 pm

elStado wrote:I initially budgeted $2,000 for the bike

I guess that rules out the Rohloff Speedhub
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby elStado » Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:59 pm

KenGS wrote:
elStado wrote:I initially budgeted $2,000 for the bike

I guess that rules out the Rohloff Speedhub


Sure does. I've almost been looking at getting a motorbike instead as it seems it will be not much more expensive, but get me further, faster and still have that open road experience.
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby mitzikatzi » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:15 pm

A Surly frame from Wiggle
surly-long-haul-trucker-road-frame-2011
surly-cross-check-cyclocross-frameset-2011
surly-troll-framset-2011
surly-karate-monkey-29er-hardtail-frameset

Surly Troll
Shimano Deore groupset
Mavic 317 rims laced to Shimano SLX hubs

or
Use a Tiagra groupset instead of Ultegra if you build a bike with a road bike groupset. Saving a liitle weight (couple hundred grams?) on a touring bike seems a little silly to me

That would have you in your price range.
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby elStado » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:51 pm

mitzikatzi wrote:Surly Troll
Shimano Deore groupset
Mavic 317 rims laced to Shimano SLX hubs

or
Use a Tiagra groupset instead of Ultegra if you build a bike with a road bike groupset. Saving a liitle weight (couple hundred grams?) on a touring bike seems a little silly to me

That would have you in your price range.


Good point. Is weight the only factor though? Surely a better groupset will last longer and be more efficient as well as being lighter in weight?

TBH was only speccing the Ultegra gruppo as that is the main/most popular gear available when I was looking on Wiggle (they don't actually sell Deore or Tiagra gear there).
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby mitzikatzi » Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:33 am

A regular commuter on another forum reported about 100 000km out of his Tiagra equipted Trek.

Light, Strong or Cheap. Pick any two. The higher end groupsets shift a little smoother the lower end ones still do the job. I suspect the current Tiagra groupset shifts better than older higher spec groupsets it may be a little heavier.

Higher end groupsets Dura Ace, Record, XTR, XX etc. Sometimes start to scarifice "Strong" because a racer is more worried about "light".

Your the one who wants to build a $2000 bike. Choices need to be made.

A Thorn Nomad with a Rohloff hub makes a very good tourer according to two forum members (search). It cost a little over $2000 :o
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby Uncle Just » Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:40 am

This exercise is always going to be subjective but here goes. I used the Surly LHT as the basis for a high spec build. Some parts such as derailleurs, bars, stem and seat I already had but everything else frame included using Tubus stainless racks came in at $2100. Those parts I had are high spec but other cheaper parts could have been easily substituted which would last just as well. I used XT for most parts but lashed out on XTR V brakes because well, they're very good and I like them. The wheels were handbuilt locally. I would think with a bit of research and going down a level or two in spec and without compromising the integrity of the build, you could bring down the cost to below $2K. There is a place where I could have sourced wheels from O/s for example at a saving of $300 delivered for Deore wheels with 36H rims.

So is it the best bang for the buck? Don't know, don't care. Works for me but if I continue touring I can already think of different approaches I may take. I value reliable and strong, but the LHT is a heavy frame and that is one area I'd choose to save weight and design for my needs with discs brakes. If one frame builder I've used before agrees with its suitability for touring, I'd go custom stainless steel. The Rohloff has appeal and seems to be gaining in popularity. So many choices.
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby elStado » Wed Jul 27, 2011 1:29 pm

True. I don't mind the heavier steel frame. I'm pretty fit and not heavy, so the extra couple of kg for a stronger, cheaper but slightly heavier frame isn't an issue. Mind you, I've been eyeing off those Van Nicholas Ti touring bikes and they seem pretty nice.

Apparently the Aussie RRP for a complete Surly LHT (minus pedals) is around $1,550 which isn't too bad considering the specs (mostly a value/performance mix of Shimano Tiagra, Deore and XT components). All I'd have to do would be replace the saddle with my newly purchased Imperial B17, add some pedals, chuck on some decent pannier racks and maybe replace the handle bars with flat or butterfly bars. As long as I shop around I should be able to do all that for around $2,000 in total and end up with a pretty nice touring bike.

My budget isn't fixed though, if there was a good reason to spend extra on something I have no issue spending a little extra as long as it represents good value.
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby Baalzamon » Wed Jul 27, 2011 2:23 pm

Perhaps a 26" wheelset would be an idea as well since they are more widely available for spares worldwide compared to 700c
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby elStado » Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:33 pm

Baalzamon wrote:Perhaps a 26" wheelset would be an idea as well since they are more widely available for spares worldwide compared to 700c


True. I've really been battling with the 26" vs 700c thing.

The 26" does seem like a more versatile choice, however it would be annoying not being able to mix & match accessories / use extra parts from the other 4x 700c bikes I already own. I also like the larger 700c wheels.

I also dont have immediate plans to tour outside of Aus and Europe, however it would be nice to have a "battle-ready" 26" touring bike I could use easily in other regions outside of Aus and Europe.
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby Uncle Just » Wed Jul 27, 2011 4:01 pm

That was my dilemma too, I had a majority of 700c bikes/parts and ordered an LHT to take 700s. The order was stuffed up and I got a 56cm frame that takes 26". Initially I was peeved but they gave me a pair of XTR pedals free for my troubles. :D I rather like the 26" wheels now as I seek out dirt and worse when I tour. Aesthetically/proportionally to me 700c wheels look better as the LHT frame I have needs an extra long head tube. Means if I fit DT shifters, it is also a long stretch to change gear.
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby Baalzamon » Wed Jul 27, 2011 4:26 pm

26" wheels are stronger than 700c wheels as well. Especially if you are running an internal hub they are even strong as well if they don't have to be dished. I was having the same issue as well, but I'm now loving the fact I have got 26" wheels and they can go anywhere pretty much except desert. mmm new bike for that one!
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby RonK » Wed Jul 27, 2011 4:43 pm

elStado wrote:If you could build up a touring bike, starting with a pre-made frameset, using all new/current components readily available from your LBS/online retailer/ebay , what would it consist of?

You ask a lot - it takes much time and effort to research components for a bike, and I'm not about to do it for you. However I will list the component specification from my last build (which took months to compile), and you can decide for yourself where to make savings.

The titanium frame and carbon fork are an obvious place to start. An alternative would be the Surly LHT from Wiggle, or one of the Thorn frames from SJS Cycles. For something more upmarket try Fatbirds or Planet-X.

Unless you are absolutely enamoured of STI and must have it, DuraAce Bar End shifters would be a better choice. If you don't like them on the bar ends, use Paul Thumbies to convert then to thumb shifters. And if you ditch the STI you can also ditch the less effective canti brakes and use long arm Tektro 857AL v-brakes for more powerful braking with clearance for fenders. You'll need Tektro RL520 levers to go with them.

Road drive trains are not particularly suited for loaded touring. When you are inevitably confronted with a decent climb you will want an 18" to 20" low gear. It's difficult to achieve this gearing with road components. 9-speed MTB components are a much better choice - you don't really need big gears on tour anyway, and 9-speed drivelines are much more robust and cheaper to maintain than 10-speed.

And be aware that you cannot mix STI with v-brakes or with an MTB front derailleur, and it is difficult to find a road front derailleur that works well with the smaller MTB chainrings. The DuraAce Bar End shifters are compatible with just about everything.

A good supplier for wheels is Pro Wheelbuilder. The cost of my wheels was $333 including shipping. Service was excellent and the wheels were well-built and true and have remained that way.

The gorgeous Honjo Hammered fenders are from Velo Orange, but el cheapo SKS Chromoplastics work almost as well, but are not as long so a little less effective.

We have discussed various options for pedals in another thread, so there is little point repeating it here.

Finally, since you are travelling to Europe to tour, I believe you would achieve far better "bang-for-buck" by buying over there. You could order a Thorn for pickup from SJS Cycles or if you are not going to the UK, perhaps order something from De Vakantiefietser (The Holiday Biker) in the Netherlands. Check out the idworx, Santos and Van Nicholas bikes. The idworx Off Rohler is really something.

  • Frameset: Sabbath Silk Route Titanium
  • Fork: Columbus Tusk Trekking Carbon
  • Saddle: Brooks B17 Titanium (Honey)
  • Bar Tape: Brooks Leather (Honey) with Fizik BarGel underwrap
  • Handlebar: Nitto Noodle Bar 44cm
  • Stem: Oval R700
  • Seat Post: Ritchey Pro Carbon (since upgraded to Sabbath Titanium)
  • Gear/Brake Levers: Shimano Ultegra 6510 STI 9 Sp
  • Chainset : Shimano LX T661 44-34-22 175mm
  • Cassette: Shimano XT M770 9 Speed 11-32
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT M771
  • Front Derailleur: Ultegra 6503 braze-on derailleur with adapter clamp - the XT derailleur in the picture was not compatible with STI
  • Chain: Shimano HG93 9 Speed
  • Pedals: Shimano PD-A600 SPD
  • Brakes: Avid Shorty Ultimate
  • Tyres: Schwalbe Marathon Supreme 622x32mm
  • Hubs: Shimano XT M770
  • Rims: Velocity Chukker 700c 36 spoke
  • Spokes: DT Swiss Champion 14 Gauge
  • Front Rack: Tubus Nova Lowrider SS
  • Rear Rack: Tubus Cosmo SS
  • Fenders: Honjo Hammered 45mm
  • Bottle Cages: Salsa Nickless(2), BBB Fuel Tank XL

Put it all together and it looks like this:Image
Last edited by RonK on Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:14 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby Uncle Just » Wed Jul 27, 2011 5:16 pm

I was waiting for your Ti masterpiece to emerge here and challenge the orthodoxy :lol: I like it. Would be interesting to ride it along Inkerman St Caulfield on a Saturday. They'd be much researching of the Torah I'm sure.

BTW how many $s for the build?
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby RonK » Wed Jul 27, 2011 5:31 pm

Uncle Just wrote:I was waiting for your Ti masterpiece to emerge here and challenge the orthodoxy :lol: I like it. Would be interesting to ride it along Inkerman St Caulfield on a Saturday. They'd be much researching of the Torah I'm sure.

BTW how many $s for the build?


Hehe - well I've never really added it all up (not sure if I want to know), but I reckon it was around $4k. Whatever, I'd be willing to sell it for that much so I can complete the construction of my current project - the Van Nicholas Pioneer. It's not so much that I need the money, but that I'm not game to tell my wife I have most of the components for yet another bike secreted in various locations around our apartment.

I've got a couple of Boxing Kangaroo pennants, and some bike speakers for my iPhone, so on Saturday I'm going to join the River Ride on the Sabbath flying the Boxing Kangaroo and playing Men at Work's "Down Under" full blast to celebrate Cadel's winning the TdF. That'll be heresy eh?
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby Uncle Just » Wed Jul 27, 2011 5:41 pm

4ks not too bad, thank whomever for the internet and a high Aussie dollar.

I'm sure if Ti was more affordable many would ride it too. Good on you, have nice ride on Saturday.

PS Looking forward to pics of the new build.
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby il padrone » Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:15 pm

elStado wrote:
KenGS wrote:
elStado wrote:I initially budgeted $2,000 for the bike

I guess that rules out the Rohloff Speedhub


Sure does. I've almost been looking at getting a motorbike instead as it seems it will be not much more expensive, but get me further, faster and still have that open road experience.

You must ride a really cheap motorbike :o :P

Rohloff from bike24 in Germany - $1120 delivered to my door, ordered Dec 2010. (a bit cheaper now with a stronger $A)

And it's much more fun than any moto.
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby elStado » Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:36 pm

il padrone wrote:You must ride a really cheap motorbike :o :P

Rohloff from bike24 in Germany - $1120 delivered to my door, ordered Dec 2010. (a bit cheaper now with a stronger $A)

And it's much more fun than any moto.


You can get pretty decent touring motorbike for around €1800-2500 (~$2300-3200 AUD) in Germany, plus a bit extra to cover registration and taxes.

E.g. BMW F650 ST €2200 BIN (~$2900 AUD).

I have got a full Australian licence and also a German passport, so I'll be eligible to get a European licence too. Costs around €40-50 from memory to get it.

But anyway I prefer to go at a slower pace and get the exercise, plus I think it would be more fun (and less hassle having to worry about the licences and registration etc to go through).

I also want to do the tour with my younger brother who is living over in Germany at the moment and is keen to do some cycle touring with me.
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby elStado » Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:54 pm

RonK wrote:You ask a lot - it takes much time and effort to research components for a bike, and I'm not about to do it for you. However I will list the component specification from my last build (which took months to compile), and you can decide for yourself where to make savings.


I'm not forcing anyone to do a spec list, Just thought it would be interesting/helpful/fun for people like me who you to do a build themselves, and for people like yourself who have done the research and a keen to share their knowledge (and have nothing better to do). :wink:

Thanks for comments and information by the way, very helpful.

Finally, since you are travelling to Europe to tour, I believe you would achieve far better "bang-for-buck" by buying over there. You could order a Thorn for pickup from SJS Cycles or if you are not going to the UK, perhaps order something from De Vakantiefietser (The Holiday Biker) in the Netherlands. Check out the idworx, Santos and Van Nicholas bikes. The idworx Off Rohler is really something.


Do you really think there'll be better value to buy there? I compared to a mock build and found it was a lot cheaper to send to Aus than send to Germany due to the taxes, even after shipping.

But to be honest I have been considering buying something over there, as it would be a bit of a hassle having to package and bring in all over and then still would have to find a way to get to Germany from London.

Hence why I have only been buying cycling clothes, pannier bags and recently a Brooks saddle so far, as I am still considering my options. I also plan to get some cleated pedals in the meantime as I can use them here and take them over with me with the other stuff .

I am also considering moving over there indefinitely, so would be good just to be able to take my regular belongings/clothes/shoes etc as luggage, rather than all specific cycling gear. And then by a buy a bike/components to set it up once I am over there and settled. Nothing is for sure though, and I just like to check my options/research in the meantime.

Put it all together and it looks like this:Image


Beautiful!
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby RonK » Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:40 pm

elStado wrote:Do you really think there'll be better value to buy there? I compared to a mock build and found it was a lot cheaper to send to Aus than send to Germany due to the taxes, even after shipping.


Well, my underlying assumption was that you would buy a complete bike in Europe, not a self-build, and you would bring it back to Oz after the tour and therefore be eligible for a refund on any VAT paid. And of course you would be paying in $AUD which are incredibly strong at the moment

BTW - did you check out the Off Rohler? If I was travelling to Europe to tour, this is one bike I'd be very tempted to buy. €3,695 from De Vakantiefietser - about $4,800 for an innovative Rohloff-equipped bike with a very impressive specification, less 19% VAT (around $900) if you export it within 3 months. That may simply mean a temporary exit outside the EU. Gerrit Gaastra, idworx founder, is a descendant of the family which founded Koga Miyata.
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby elStado » Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:02 pm

RonK wrote:BTW - did you check out the Off Rohler? If I was travelling to Europe to tour, this is one bike I'd be very tempted to buy. €3,695 from De Vakantiefietser - about $4,800 for an innovative Rohloff-equipped bike with a very impressive specification, less 19% VAT if you export it within 3 months. That may mean a temporary exit outside the EU. Gerrit Gaastra, idworx founder, is a descendant of the family which founded Koga Miyata.


Yes very nice bike.. but ouch.. that's a LOT of money to be spending on a pushbike. You would definitely want to get your tax back from that!

I am a full time student at the moment and pretty hard up for cash as it is, almost $5k for a bike is too much. Then think of the kind of locks/security you would need for it as well... You'd hate to have one of those stolen. I do have a bit of money saved up, but it will have to last me for a few months while I get myself established, spending that much on a bike will eat into my budget a bit too much. The longer I can avoid having to work, the better. :)

Maybe in a couple of years when I get my compensation payout from my accident I'll get something awesome like that.

In the meantime I just want something decent to do a bit of touring and also use it as an everyday commuter bike while I live over there. I'm looking for best value.
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby RonK » Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:40 am

RonK wrote:I am a full time student at the moment and pretty hard up for cash as it is, almost $5k for a bike is too much...

In the meantime I just want something decent to do a bit of touring and also use it as an everyday commuter bike while I live over there. I'm looking for best value.

Well, if you are intending to spend up to $3k as you mentioned in your OP, perhaps this might ring your bell, if it's the right size.
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby mlavis » Thu Jul 28, 2011 6:36 pm

Sweet Jebus! Your idea of a budget touring bike is pretty crazy- up to 3K!!?? So the other posters so far have been showing you the off the shelf options which are lovely (and pricey). I recently built up a budget touring bike for a 2 year expedition tour in SE asia, Central Asia, Middle East for about $750. I started with an old steel 90s mountain bike and replaced the components as i saw the need. Imagine how long you could live on the road with the $2,250 you save if you did the same! Sure, it is a bit of work and takes time but I think its totally worth it,
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby elStado » Sun Jul 31, 2011 11:58 pm

RonK wrote:Well, if you are intending to spend up to $3k as you mentioned in your OP, perhaps this might ring your bell, if it's the right size.


Extremely nice bike, however a little too expensive. In reality my budget is around AUD $2000 max for the build alone (ex. saddle, pedals and pannier racks).

However looking at what Mark has done has reminded my that you don't need top spend $$$ to get the best of the best just to do some cycle touring. Sure it might not be a 'perfect' touring bike, but as long as it get's you to where you want to go with minimal hassles what does it really matter if it is made of super expensive space age materials. Half the reason I want to cycle tour is because I wanted cheap and cheerful.

Ideally I'm happy with a mid-range, durable and versatile frame. Preferably low-key, in satin or matte black or some other basic colour that doesn't scream "steal me!". Something that I can get dirty, or accidentally drop, or leave alone while I go to do shopping and not worry about some punk messing with it. I think I might buy a used trekking bike when I get to Germany, give it a resto/cleanup/service, bung some stronger wheels on, put some decent quality pannier racks, pedals and saddle on it and leave it at that. I might not even both with the pedals and just use foot straps instead as we'll be hitting the pubs as much as we'll be riding and lets be honest here; no one looks good walking around the pub in touring/mtb cycling shoes.
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Re: Best DIY bang-for-buck touring bike? Put your spec list

Postby abrooks » Mon Aug 01, 2011 3:36 pm

I agree just use toe straps on peddles. Minimise weight by reducing the number of shoes, and when out cruising the middle of no where just ride in thongs or whatever.

Many good suggestions here. For me the following are completely non negotiable for a touring bike:

Saddle: brooks
Rack: blackburn front and rear.
Tyres: conti travel-contacts (schwarble marathons - the number of tourers i have come across who had had many punctures. waste of time and space). Rode through Mongolia, then the birdsville track and not a single puncture. All up the tyres lasted 6900km without a puncture. I just up graded to a new bike so had to retire them.
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