For Australian Cyclists travelling and touring OS
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I’m looking for a bike that would be able to switch between touring roads (e.g Europe) and more off road (e.g west Asia etc). Obviously there would need to be tweaking on any bike to make it adaptable to different terrain, but I was wondering what the best brands would be for this? I have my eye on the Fuji Touring bike, which gets great reviews, but I can’t seem to find any info on whether or not it would be good off road. Any advice on brands or just general advice is welcome!
Maybe a Thorn Nomad Raven (Rohloff 14 sp internal gear hub) fitted with suspension forks.... or a Thorn Ripio derailleur touring MTB. You'll need to order them from the UK though.
Using suspension vs rigid forks becomes a bit of an issue regarding loading a front rack though.
My Thorn Nomad
Ah thanks. I had a bit of a look at the Throrn, but it seems very hard to find anywhere that sells it online! Another bike I've recently been poking my nose into is the Vivente World Randonneur
It comes well equipped with racks and mud guards etc. Seems like a lot of people take this one all over the globe. Also, made in Australia. Bonus!
The Thorn is the house brand of StJohn Street Cycles in the UK, so only sold by them. Vivente World Randonneur is a great touring bike, but I would be wary of the sort of 'off road' riding you do. It's not a MTB, has 700c tyres and only takes a moderate tyre width (~40mm). This may be OK for you. Both the Thorns I mentioned can take 2" wide (52mm) tyres.
The VWR is a fantastic bike and may potentially be suitable, however as IP mentioned it is more designed for on-road touring with the occasional rough patch. I've ridden it through soft gravel and grass with a full load and it handles fine with the stock 35mm tyres however this was only for a few hundred metres. I would not want to be doing this for any more than a short stint. I also recall some other forum members who own a VWR (cavebear2 maybe?) who did a tour around outback WA somewhere along extended stretches of corrugated, dusty roads with few issues. It's a pretty tough bike and with wider tyres should be fairly capable to handle rough roads, just don't expect it to be a MTB.
I own a VWR, just bought the latest STI model a few weeks ago. There's a review of it in my blog (see link in my sig) and discussion of it here: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=50053 (look on the first page and there's a link to cavebear2's tour I mentioned before).
Also note that the VWR is NOT made in Australia, it's made in Taiwan to Vivente/Gemini's exact specification. It is however designed, tested, backed and sold by an Australian company.
Check out my practical cycling and cycle touring website: VELOPHILE AUSTRALIA
Another more affordable bike is the Surly Long Haul Trucker (LHT). It is not as nicely put together as the Vivente World Radonneur but it has a bit more flexibility in the component fit-out. You can choose drop-bar or flat, 700C or 26" wheels and they laud the "Fatties Fit Fine" priniciple taking up to 2.125" tyres I think, so off road riding is a good bit more viable.
Regarding 700C availability, it is not so much the wheels that are the problem, though they will be hard to find. However you are more likely to wear out your tyres on a world expedition and, apart from USA, Canada, Europe and Australasia, 700C tyres are almost unheard of. 26" tyres are generally available in most countries (and readily available in the developed world as well). Don't know why, but that is the way it is.
1. Where are you going in west Asia exactly? Do you mean Turkey or Iran? Are you sure the riding is off road?
Talk to the guys at thorntree.lonelyplanet.com there's lots people there who've cycled all over the world. They will be able to give you pretty good advice on bikes. Of course it doesn't matter hugely in the end. So long as it holds together and is fairly comfortable. But if you've got the money, by all means get the best thing you can afford. I think there are quite a lot of good brands. The Trailblazer book by Stephen Lord on cycle touring has a good discussion about bikes in the front of it. Its a book worth buying as well.
I've got a mountain bike. I'd take it anywhere. But i don't have so much money so i have to take what i can afford and put up with stuff. Someone i met on the road leaving from australia got a bike sent over from uk all in pieces and put it together himself. it had the rolhoff hubs and so on and so forth. He was going away for 8 years in his mind. So far he's been away for about 3 i think, two at least. I think the bikes holding up.
If i had they money and intended on doing a lot of touring over all sorts of roads, i would consider it worth my while buying one of the more expensive name brands bikes such as thorn. People always manage to get around the problem of not being able to get parts locally. Whatever part it is. Let's say its tyres. If you need a new one, you get someone to send it to you. Otherwise you go with whatever you find locally or you take a spare one along with you if you intend doing a very long tour.
Reading this story is what answered my 700C vs 26" question. If Ben had've been on a 700C bike, he would have been stuck for a fair while.
I got my bike from Saint Kilda Cycles. It was a demo model expedition bike with all the fruit that I picked up for a good price. It'd be great for a trip like Ben's in Morocco, and it's been great for me on a short trip to Southern WA on paved roads, fitted with Schwalbe Marathon Supremes. Interestingly though, I'm considering leaving this bike at home for my next trip, which is my first multi month tour, mostly on paved roads in the USA. The main reason is that I prefer riding my commuting bike; the touring bike just doesn't feel as nice.
The Saint Kilda Cycles bike is a based on a Charge Duster frame. The owner of the shop is a frame builder and can build a frame from scratch, but it is often easier to modify an existing frameset with the necessary braze ons for racks/Rohloff/bidons. I've been slowly putting together a similar bike but for much less money based on a used On One Inbred frame that I picked up on this forum (they're excellent value new). I've also picked up the running gear and wheels through here, but bought a new Surly Troll fork which has midfork braze ons and is disk or cantilever brake compatible. The biggest advantage of the On One Inbred is that the rear disk caliper is positioned inside the rear triangle, making it much easier to fit a rear rack. The Surly Troll fork is better suited to racks as well, with the outer surface of the braze ons further outboard, meaning that you need less spacers to fit the rack. (My expedition bike requires about a 30mm spacer on both the front and rear rack - this is a weak point and worries me a bit, but I've tested it on rough ground with heavy loads and it's held up. I'd be sure to carry extra bolts with me on tour though, and I think that the On One and Surly options would be inherently stronger).
To summarize, I would suggest a bike built around a 26" mountain bike frame, or the Surly LHT or similar, would provide you with a reliable bike for both on and offroad conditions.
To add to Petes summary;
Both the Surly Ogre and Troll have received some good feedback as tourers with good off road capabilities.
They both have fantastic abilities to take any sort of drive train and most types of pannier racks as well as being capable
of utilising either/both v-brakes/disks. Both are designed to be used with or without front suspension.
I'm currently tempted by building up one of these bikes myself.
Surly Ogre, Carry Freedom Y-frame Trailer, Extrawheel trailer.
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