All about touring, whether you are a local or visiting from overseas.
15 posts • Page 1 of 1
While living and travelling these past five or so years in India, Nepal, Indonesia etc (now back in Oz), I met a few people in the midst of EurAsian or world cycle rides which has now led me to having the crazy fool idea of doing something similar with starting a Perth to London at some point next year. Having never really ridden before, I'll be spending a couple of months soon riding around the south west of WA on the Munda Biddi track as well as touring the roads to see if this 46 year old frame can cope with such an endeavor and whether my interest will wane after rain, hills, headwinds.....I have paddled the murray unsupported camping on its banks, treked in the Himalaya and other outdoor endeavours, but nothing as arduous as a trans Asian/European bike ride.
I've got a couple of questions if anyone can help.
1. Can anyone suggest a reasonable mountain bike for $1000 dollars that would be a suitable learner for a frew months while I get my legs, or will most any bike for around that price suit my immediate needs?
2. If I still have the crazy fool idea of a Perth to london after this first ride of a couple of months, would you think the bike I should then buy for the Perth-London trip be kept reasonably standard or simple so replacement parts are easily accessable on route should I need them? Or would you go for more expensive, hi-tech rohloff type components and trust in their reliability?
Even though some of the top gear manufactuers offer lifetime guarantees, I would rather not be stuck in the back waters of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan or any of the other 'stans for a month waiting for a replacement part to arrive from Europe.
Thanks for any thoughts or suggestions and I hope I haven't caused too much eye rolling with my first post.
No doubt you would get a better response if you posted in the cycle touring sub-forum. Perhaps the moderators can move it there for you. Review the existing threads and you will find the answers to many questions, some of which you don't even know you want to ask yet.
Few cycle tourists would consider the idea of a Perth-London tour foolish, crazy or even particularly unusual for that matter. You will find the tour journals of many who have already made the journey posted on crazyguyonabike.com. The journals contain a wealth of information about route and travel advice, bikes and gear. Start your research here.
The choice of bike will be dictated by your mechanical aptitude, but an expedition tourer is probably the best choice for such a trip. If you don't have the skills to maintain a derailleur transmission yourself, then a internally-geared hub i.e. a Rohloff is the way to go. Popular choices are bikes like the Surly Long Haul Trucker, Vivente World Randonneur, Tout Terrain Silkroad, Thorn Raven Nomad or Koga Miyata World Traveller.
I took up touring because I'd worn out my knees trekking in the Himalaya. I find cycle touring is much easier on my body, and I have a good few years on you. Otherwise, the gear and the knowledge you have acquired through trekking will be useful and quite relevant.
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...
What RonK said. I was halfway through posting already...
You might notice that you can tour on just about anything, but you'll probably also find a few common themes by perusing those CGOAB journals. My checklist for the bike would include:
- Steel frame
- 26" tyres (the link shows the blown tyre, the text explains that he was able to replace the tyre quickly in a very remote location)
- No suspension. I'd run 2" tyres for a comfortable ride. Suspension adds complexity on such a long ride. Sure, people have done it with suspended bikes, but it's not necessary in my book.
Optional (more debatable)
- Tubus racks
- Ortleib bags (I'm shifting to canvas Carradice bags, for no real reason. I still have Ortleibs on the back).
- Rohloff vs Derailleurs. For (almost) worry free travel, the Rohloff is excellent. I have one with a Gates Belt Drive on my expedition bike, and it has been excellent. It really is very pleasant not to fret about rain and mud and chainline and bashing things etc when you're on an expedition. That said, the bike lacks character in its ride quality. It might be the bike more than the drivetrain, and I'd still happily rely on it on a tough tour. Plenty of people have ridden in all sorts of places with derailleurs; they work well and are well proven, but they do require more care.
- Disk vs rim brakes. Disks work very well and seem to be much less effected by rain. They do require stiffer frame engineering, but that's not a big deal, and the disk can be vulnerable to bending, but a shifter can fix that pretty well. They're more complex too, but I've never heard of them failing. Cable actuated ones seem to be the go; they use regular brake cables, but again, I've never heard of hydraulic brake lines failing. Avid BB7s are a common unit. Pad replacement is essentially tool free and they're small and light to carry.
Linear-pull (V) brakes work very well as rim brakes. They're simpler, but rely on a reasonably well trued wheel and will wear the braking surface, unless you get some of those heavy and expensive but awesome ceramic rims (which require specific pads).
- Brooks saddle. I keep it simple with a B17 Imperial.
That's a good start.
How tall are you? There's a sweet Surly LHT for a great price for sale here in Melbourne. There's a link to it in the for sale section.
P.S. - This is not a crazy fool idea. This is an excellent idea. Do it.
Thanks for the advice, and I sure do see the reasoning behind being as mechanically proficient with the bike as I can be with the almost certain need for repair at some point during such a ride, as well as maintenance. I'm kind of leaning toward keeping things on the bike as simple as possible for those reasons. However, to think major repairs could be reduced or eliminated by going with top end components is definitely an attractive proposition.
I think the hippy trail has been done on a bike more than a few times, but I think I will probably leave Iran and Pakistan out of the route, preferring the China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan way.
Ah, I see, there does seem to be a more appropriate section for my questions, perhaps the mods will move this thread there. Sorry 'bout that.
crazyguyonabike is indeed full of journals and information on the type of touring I'm interested in - thanks for the "heads up". Great find.
I'll also have a look at the bikes you mention, RonK, the Surly I've heard of from others.
Appreciate the replies TTar and RonK, you've been a help.
The decision which way to go on simplicity versus hi tech is something I'll get more of an idea on after riding and learning, I guess. But I'm certainly keen to hear more of what direction others would choose to go would they be doing a similar ride.
Thanks again for taking the time.
Just saw your post, WestCoastPete.
Awesome is not a word I would use.
Unless they've improved them dramatically since the Bontrager ceramic rims I had on a MTB in the late '90s, I wouldn't touch them.
Yeah, they worked fine and didn't suffer from rim wear... right up until the point where you get a chip in the ceramic coating. Once that happens, it's there for ever. You can't wear it flat with another few thousand km of braking. You either get used to lumpy braking, or you throw the rims out and get some new ones... without that stupid bloody ceramic rubbish on them.
Pete is refering to Rigida Andra 30 CSS, the rims of choice for touring cyclists - they are indeed awesome.
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...
WestCoastPete - Ha! Those were one attractive set of sexy pink bins to pimp out his ride.
Your post explaining a few of the pros and cons of components was really helpful for me and addressed a couple things I needed to think about - but you new that.
The 26" inch tyres seem to be universally available which make sense to use and a steal frame could be welded anywhere from Perth to Kathmandu (I've actually seen some crazy welding there) should there be a break which also makes perfect sense to go with. Thanks.
I have heard of Rohloff hubs being a bit clickety or noisy, as well as reading of one or two similar to your link that had problems half way into a world ride. It would be disappointing to haver a failure that caused you to be way laid after spending good hard earned. But I've heard more good than bad about the Rohloff, particularly their service.
I'm 6"3 and 92kgs. Thanks for the pointer on the Surly, but i think I have a lot more research to do before buying anything.
Appreciate the helpful post, WestCoast, its helped.
I'll have a look at the rims mentioned .
I really gotta learn to type quicker.
These are indeed the rims I was talking about. GJ Coop used them on his bike and they looked pretty much perfect when I saw them at the end of his vast adventure. They are heavy though, and expensive. I'd have to mull it over a fair bit in my mind before I got them. Disk brakes make them unnecessary though.
And by the way Nosehair; I want to reiterate the sentiment that there are a lot more good stories about Rohloff than bad. They have failed in the past, but they truly usually don't. With a derailleur system, a failure might be a broken derailleur or a bent hanger; these can be fixed reasonably easily, or just bypassed. You'll need to factor in chain/cassette/chainring replacement during your trip too, and these things add up, but they can all be replaced individually if they break.
Get a cheap second-hand road bike (not a mountain bike) and start riding easy routes. Ride distance will increase naturally as you get used to it. Get in touch with a local riding group, join their rides and absorb their knowledge on bike gear and technique. Gradually get into riding some climbs. Do an introductory 200km brevet ride (ask your new bike friends what it's all about). If it feels comfortable doing the brevet, you are ready to pedal to London.
In the mean time, do a lot of reading on touring and equipment. Your choice of touring bike & equipment will be much wiser then.
Yeah, I'm with Pete, mostly.
The argument against disk brakes on long, remote journeys is twofold.
Disks mean that you have to use a somewhat weaker rear rack. The rack design requires a right angle extension to clear the disks. It's been reasonably well documented that the lower attachment is prone to failure if bumping over, err, bumpy roads and carrying heavy loads, like plenty of water, in your rear panniers.
Damage to the disks is possible and may or not be catastrophic. This is less a problem with the simple rim brakes.
Note that the ceramic part of the Rigida is an integrated coating, kinda like anodising, that permeates the rim, not a chippable coating painted on. Syd alerted me to those bulletproof rims after a whole lot of issues with other various types.
The idea with these sort of trips, in my opinion, is to try and eliminate thinking, much, about your transportation rig, ie, just have everything working reliably. When things happen, as they do, do yourself a favour and make things as easy to find replacements as you can. If you've smashed something you don't want to be waiting for some FedEx parcel in some remote village.
On the other hand you could ride just about anything, I rode out from my backdoor on a bike I just happened to have, you don't need perfection. I met Ina who had ridden your proposed route on a bike without gears, she liked simplicity, but reckoned it was actually a three speed: stop, go and stop.
It's lucky that the bike happened to be able to take fat tyres and I could go riding over any sort of terrain without too much concern, but I probably wouldn't choose front shocks second time around. I always found the goat tracks more interesting than bashing down some highway.
That ain't necessarily so.
A rear disc caliper can mount on the seat stay or on the chainstay.
If it's on the seat stay, the caliper sits above the rear dropout, which introduces the rack mounting problems you identify above.
If it's on the chain stay, the caliper sits inside the rear triangle, and doesn't interfere with rack mounts at all.
Putting the caliper on the chainstay also avoids loading the seatstay up with braking loads - many frame builders put an extra bracing member in at the rear dropout to strengthen this area. The chainstay is always the main structural member of the rear triangle (look at modern road frames with their pencil-thin seat stays - all the strength and stiffness is in the chainstay), so it's not difficult to build it strong/stiff enough to handle brake loads.
Damage to a rim is possible and may or may not be catastrophic. Potaeto, potahto.
Not saying that disc brakes are necessarily a good idea for a touring bike, just that one of your problems has been solved and the other is a matter of swings and roundabouts.
Yes, thanks tim for the correction, clarification.
And yes, you can smash a rim on any bike.
Anything can break.
I guess the point I was trying to make is that if you damage a rotor out somewhere remote, eg, an errant stick poking in there, well, it's often a specialised part.
Re disc brakes. Hydraulic brakes usually have narrower profile calipers that allow clearce for a standard rack to be fitted. Several friends of mine have touring bikes kitted ut this way.
Damage - I've never managed to break/bend a disc rotor in 10+ years of MTB trail riding. Touring is generally less incident prone in this regard.
But I do love the Rigida Andra CSS with the Swisstop blues for my riding. Over 17,000kms now; the rims look untouched and the pads (original) have a few thousand kms still in them
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
I take your points.
I guess I'm thinking of the OP's original question about going cross country through Asia and Eastern Europe and how to tackle that route a bike. OK it's only 14,000k or so but you can go through some difficult riding territory.
I've learned something about disc brakes in this thread, I guess, but at least part of my suggestion remains: there are some disc brakes that have a potential issue with rear racks. If you are getting a bike for the trip make sure you don't pick one where this would be an issue.
You've discounted the probability about disc brake rotors having an issue, I'd just make the point that if something does go wrong it's usually better to go with a simpler, more easily fixed, approach. For me I don't think there is such a compelling case to choose disc brakes over rim, particularly when you may well have to change pads enroute. I never thought that I would have my bike or trailer welded up on 5 separate occasions, a rim delaminating, 4 spokes pulling out of a hub, seat exploding, etc.
Being reasonably self sufficient, and that was a substantial part of the OPs original post, without discounting your experience of extensive travels on rough and remote roads , testing brakes, etc, there's a huge difference between tootling around the periphery of Australia for a few weeks on a tour close to bike shops and spending half a year, biking every day, over potentially crap roads with half a year's load, ie, clothes you may need in the future, spares and tools for self sufficiency aboard, food and water for a few days, ie, heavily overloaded, passing through countries where you can't speak the language and there isn't a bike shop with any spare you might need or expertise close at hand.
Me? I'd buy the bike for less than the grand then before I left I'd upgrade a few components myself, bottom bracket, wheels, etc, so at least I had some idea how to maintain the bike myself. I'd personally save the money that might be used on the Rolhof on a fund to help get out of some hotspot or some unanticipated situation.
Also bear in mind that on a long tour your thoughts may well change and I believe the bike should be similarly adaptable. You might start off heading down highways exclusively but that might change when you see more challenging, fun, high intensity, possibilities.
Go for reliability, and pack the likely to use spares.
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