All about touring, whether you are a local or visiting from overseas.
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I am going to be cycling round Australia at the end of the year, starting from Melbourne going anti-clockwise.
I am thinking of buying a bike when I arrive but I am struggling to find a bike that can take both front and rear panniers. I have been looking at some of the Dawes range but I am struggling to get any sensible answers.
I am only 5'1" (157cm) so I would be looking at a small bike. Any help appreciated or any recommendations for bike shops to contact.
If buying in Australia you could get the Vivente World Randonneur for loaded touring.
However as you're in the UK, you would be far better off getting a locally built touring bike. You'll have a wider range available and cheaper prices - even allowing for the cost of bringing the bike to Australia as luggage. Thorn would be a recommendation - perhaps their Sherpa, or the Raven Tour if you want to go for Rohloff hub gears. Thorn will kit the bikes out with whatever components you like - drop bars or flat, Brooks leather saddle or others, choice of rims, brakes, racks, mudguards etc.
Hi there, I recently finished a 28,000km from UK to NZ on a Thorn Sherpa and loved it. Had barely any probs at all the whole way - had to get the crank replaced but not until Oz (I'd already done over 20.000km!). So if you are looking for a good, strong and reliable best friend to carry you - I'd go for it. I still have mine now in Melbourne, cycle it everywhere and she's going great! If you want to see any pics and stuff, plenty on www.cyclingtotherugbyworldcup.com . Cheers, Jodie
Thank you for your kind help. I have contacted St Kilda Cycles about the Vivente World Randonneur.
Can anyone recommend a good camping store in Melbourne where I would be able to pick stove etc. that I can't bring on the plane.
If you haven't already spotted it, there is a discussion about the Vivente here.
You will find a number of camping gear stores clustered around Elizabeth and Little Bourke Streets right in the CBD near the Bourke Street Mall. Kathmandu sell mostly house branded products but are often a bit cheaper. If you want name brands visit Paddy Pallin and Bogong Equipment.
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...
The smallest Surly LHT would likely fit also, and you could find one at home to test. Be aware that most shops here won't keep your size and will have to order it in. I'd be keeping an eye on the weight of all these.
Along with the chain camping stores, in the CBD cluster off Elizabeth St there's also one called Backpacking light which I've found very helpful with a useful range of gear. Within 100m there's about 5 shops, so definitely the area to go.
The XS sized Vivente with 26" wheels should be right for your height, or maybe the next size up with 700 wheels. You sit right on the border between XS and S on the Vivente sizing chart. With a bit of luck St Kilda Cycles will stock both sizes that you could try before buying. There are other stockists in Melbourne. If they don't have your size I found delivery time to be quite fast for my Vivente. It was delivered to a country Victorian store and prepared within a week.
"I am thinking of buying a bike when I arrive"
Compared to the UK, I think the choice here is less diverse, less accessible and more expensive for off-the-shelf touring bikes. The market is smaller so unfortunately there is less on offer and the exchange rate is not in your favour. My suggestion would be to bring a good UK tourer with you. A Thorn, a Roberts or a Dawes for example.
A well spec'd Thorn Sherpa from St John St Cycles in Somerset was my choice when I did my research a few years ago. Their wide sizing range is a big plus. SJS packed it for me and, I brought it home on the plane as checked luggage. I saved a bit of weight/volume by buying pedals, saddle, racks, and a few other bits from local bike shops back here in Oz.
Sad but true, UK and European online retailers are also cheaper for parts than local retailers. That said, we have some great bike shops, if you don't mind paying a bit more you, will find whatever you need here.
Camping gear? Paddy Pallin and Mountain Designs have my vote, and have absorbed good deal of my money over the years. Or, if you can find a retailer which stocks them our local mob are great. Google 'Mont outdoor equipment.' Their Moondance 1 tent is ideal for cycle touring. I never leave home on a bike tour without it!
Thanks for all your help and responses.
I have contacted St Kilda's 3 times and had no response so they obviously don't want my money. I have decided to opt for the Vivente Randonneur, but don't want to risk arriving in Australia and not able to get an XS.
I contacted Noel directly and he is going to source an XS frame for me. Now all I have to figure out is how to get it to the UK.
An afterthought...did you consider a Bike Friday? Either the New World Tourist or the Llama models would be contenders for your tour. And much easier to transport to and from tours. They are sold in a range of ready made sizes, but also can be built-to-order.
My wife and I have New World Tourists. Great all round bikes, but especially for travel and touring.
I don't really understand this comment. Do you mean you need to figure out how to get the bike to the UK after you've finished your trip? That shouldn't be too much trouble. Or do you mean you wish to buy the bike in Australia, get it sent to you in the UK and then you'll bring it back out here for your trip?
If that's the case, you'd be much better off buying one in the UK I reckon...
Hi. If you're flying with qantus or british airways they will not charge extra to bring a bike. You just have to box it.
This is a better option.
My opinion is to buy the bike in the UK. It's cheaper. Spend a little bit more to get more durable components. Ride it around for a while/to from work to get used to it. Get someone to help you buy it who knows what they're doing. If you do not already know, ask the same person to show you how to do a minor service.
My opinion is the standard specifications on the Vivente World Randonneur will not last the length of a tour around Aust. You could upgrade, but again it will be cheaper in the UK.
Furthermore if you're leaving Melbourne at the end of the year that means you will probably get to the north in the hot, wet season. The climate will vary greatly over the period of the ride.
How long are you thinking of taking to ride around?
Umm..... as long as your total luggage weight (including bike) is less than 23kgs. Very easy to go over with a bike on a fully-loaded tour. Emirates have a 30kg weight limit.
Much better advised to leave Melbourne around April-May, then by the time you reach the tropics (4-6 weeks) the dry season has just begun. You have 5-6 months of good conditions to traverse the top end to western WA.
You might want to check that. I know that (at least on the way back if OP wants to take the bike back) it is very expensive to take a touring bike with Qantas. Maybe I am wrong though? (happy to edit my blog if so).
This is essentially what I decided to do with my newly purchased VWR rather than buy a buy over in Europe when I go there. Gives you time to break it in and get used to the bike.
How do you justify this? It's a pretty solid bike off the shelf. Some don't mind the saddle (I hated it), but components-wise it is very solid and made for long stints in harsh climates. Change the chain every few thousand KM and keep it as clean and oiled as possible and it should be fine. Of course a Rholoff IGH is an even better solution, but significantly more expensive. I'd like to upgrade my own VWR with an IGH system some time in the future once I go through the current gear on it. I've been very happy with my VWR.
Take it from me, I have lived 'up north' for a large portion of my life. The weather is very hot and humid for ~8 months of the year, and warm and humid for the other ~4 months.. in inland desert areas it isn't as humid, but temps are often 40+ degrees through the year, with sub-zero temps at night!
It's doable given the right preparation and gear, but be warned this is an unforgiving land where many others have met their end due to over ambition and poor preparation.
Riding up the north west coast would be pretty horrible IMO.. long, flat, road trains, hot, sticky, bugs etc.. I have read a few blogs where people have tried it and ended up buying a car and driving the rest or getting lifts for major sections as they couldn't handle it.
Check out my practical cycling and cycle touring website: VELOPHILE AUSTRALIA
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