For Australian Cyclists travelling and touring OS
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I'm heading to the USA and Japan for my first multi-month tour at the start of June. The planning has been going very well and I’m getting very excited about going.
I was always intending on taking my custom expedition bike with its belt drive, Rohloff hub and disk brakes. It’s a no brainer really; this bike is awesome and has proven itself on short tours. I bought the bike after reading GJ Coop’s journals on CGOAB, with the thought of riding the GDMBR first up, but also using it for potential trips on the Mawson Trail in South Australia, in Morocco some day, the Munda Biddi in Western Australia and around the Northern Territory where I live. It’s perfect for that. But…
In the past few weeks I’ve built my first set of wheels. These were for my everyday/commuting bike – An ’83 Nishiki Olympic 12, which originally had 27” wheels. Once the wheels were built (700C), I fitted a 9sp cassette, bar end shifters, a shorter stem for a better fit, and SKS Longboard fenders. And now I’m in love. This bike is sweet. It’s so comfortable and efficient. It’s very stable with its old school long wheel base and will be used for randonneuring. It didn’t take long to start thinking “Hey, imagine riding in the Sierra Cascades on this thing instead of that sturdy, utilitarian, tough as nails, lumbering expedition bike”.
My plans for the USA changed during the planning process. I’m not going to the GDMBR anymore but will be riding the Sierra Cascades and Olympia peninsula instead, so there’s no real need for a hardcore expedition bike. But this Nishiki has calliper brakes – they’re really good without a load at least, but nothing compared to the disks on the expeditioner. It would need to be fitted with a triple on the front too, and so I have to worry about chains and lube and changing front and rear chainrings/cogs – none of which matter with the belt/Rohloff.
It doesn’t have midfork eyelets either. I’ve fitted a front rack with the Tubus LM-1 fork adapter and it looks good, but theoretically I can imagine them slipping down the fork with road bumps and weight on them, especially with these tapered forks. I’ve carried a load on them once and it was the most stable front load I’ve ever carried – I could ride no handed, something I can barely do without a load. I’ll load it up front and rear later this week and take it for a spin, but I reckon it’ll ride solidly.
So, do I forget the idea and stick with the original plan? The original plan will work, it will be reliable. But the old bike just feels more alive when I ride it! It seems more comfortable, but I haven’t ridden it for more than 1.5hrs or so (per ride). Its brakes aren't as good and I'm going into the mountains carrying a load. It needs more maintenance. And what's the point of having such a flash expedition bike if I'm not going to use it for things like this? (The simple answer is; the expedition bike is for the dirt; this is not a dirt tour. I'll go on a dirt tour later, so it's not a wasted bike).
Stupid post script: sorry for the long and self indulgent post. Once again, I’m over thinking things, but I reckon lots of us a guilty of that at times (I'm looking at you elStado). This question has also been posted on the CGOAB forum.
Take the bike that's going to be best going up hills if you are doing a lot of them. And the disc brakes is going to be a lot better for the hills. I'm not good with technical stuff but if caliper breaks are the ones that put strain on your hands when braking, its a no brainer. Take the exped. If they are v-brakes. its not so bad.
After that , you will know better once you've taken your fully loaded bike out for some long rides. Make sure you are carrying about 15-20kgs of weight I think. 10kg is nice but i wonder if that's possible on your tour given all the cold weather clothing you will need.
If the exped has adequate comfort, i'd take that one. When you are on the road, its not a huge deal if your bike isn't a speedster. My bet is that it would be more reliable.
If the choice is between a road bike and an expedition bike, it could come down to whether on the road bike you'd be fine about carrying less gear because it won't be able to support the weight that you can carry with the exped. If you carry less gear you will be sacrificing camping comforts and the like for speed.
function over form
With a triple chainset on the front and a wider range cassette, the gear range should be the same as the exped bike, at least in the lower ranges, so climbing should be the same. As far as descending goes, I've been thinking a bit about the brake situation, and really, there's no reason why these brakes shouldn't pull me up any worse than cantilever brakes on an LHT or Thorn. They're the long reach Tektros with Kool Stop Salmon pads on brand new Velocity Dyad rims; I couldn't improve them without brazing cantis, and I'm not sure if the improvement would be significant.
The braking capacity leads into the issue of load - because I'm not going anywhere that remote (GDMBR) I don't need to carry the heavy stuff of food and water; that's what the exped bike is for and would certainly be the bike to take if that were my plan. Otherwise, the load will be the standard tent/sleeping gear/clothes/cooking/sundries - I'd like to think less than 15kg worth at least. I weigh 60kg anyway, so it's not like it's that much weight. Thor Hushovd seems to pull himself up easily enough bombing down mountains with dual pivot calliper brakes, carrying about the same weight.
We need dog food. Lucky that. After work tomorrow I'll go and buy a slab of tins and a couple of bags of bickies - 20kg+ worth - and go for a ride looking for inclines (there are no hills around here!). I'll test for shimmy, wobbliness, braking etc and see how I go...
Well I loaded up the Nishiki with a 28kg load (way more than my touring load) and took it for a spin last night.
It was great! It wobbled a bit, but only like a loaded bike does with loose heavy items in the panniers - it didn't seem to flex no matter how hard I tried to make it, and it settled very quickly. My Bike Friday NWT flexes more when loaded.
I'm ruling out my concern with the brakes as an issue - these caliper brakes stop the bike very well. Disk brakes might stop it a bit better and might have more of an advantage in the rain, but the calipers are better than fine.
All up, I'm pretty confident in this bike as a tourer. It feels efficient, solid and comfortable. I'll take the exped bike on the same ride with the same load next week, just to try and figure out whether it's all in my mind or whether there actually is an efficiency difference.
Good idea to take both bikes on the same route.
Caliper brakes are hard on your hands if you are doing a lot of braking. I've got v brakes now and they are much better than the caliper brakes i had on my old bike. You also don't get the same braking power. I guess you'd notice this if you were doing a lot of descents and especially steep or long descents.
Hey! Nothing wrong with making a well thought out and considered choice.
I say that, providing the Nishi can handle the load and won't break, you should go with what feels right and what you will enjoy riding. That IS the point of cycle touring after all, right?
Check out my practical cycling and cycle touring website: VELOPHILE AUSTRALIA
8 posts • Page 1 of 1
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