Category Archives: bicycle touring

Everyone on the blog that falls under the umbrella of bicycle touring. Bikes, components, accessories, planning, and more.

Methods for Attaching Water Bottle Cages without screws and bosses

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Attaching addition water bottle cages to our bikes without screws or bosses  is something bicycle tourers do often. There is often a need to increase the bike’s water carrying ability in order to increase our biking range.   Cyclists also add water bottle cages to carry camping fuel and endurance gels/powders.  Since so many of us doing it, it is a bit of a surprise that there isn’t a ton of information on the methods of attaching extra water bottle cages to your touring bicycle.   It’s often difficult to find hardware for these upgrades as well.  We’ll take a look at some of the different options for adding water bottle cages once you’ve run out of cage bosses.   At the bottom of this post I’ll include some useful links that will further help you out in your next bicycle upgrade.

Remember, there’s always an option:

My Surly long haul trucker with surly nice racks and water cages

My Surly long haul trucker with surly nice racks and water cages

First we’ll look at some of the companies offering mounting cages for water bottles without bosses.

Minoura Advance Pro Goods (Japanese)

Profile Design (Numerous hydration solutions for cyclists)

Nashbar

Topeak (Huge range of cycling products, check out their Modula Cage XL, it holds 1.5 L bottles!)

Handlebar Water Bottle mounts

These additional water bottle cages are useful for those bicyclists who have extra space on their handlebars for some water bottle cages.  For me, I have limited space because of my cycling computer, topeak handlebar bag, and mirror.  The only really useful option for adding water bottle cages to my handlebars is a single bar-wrap type mount which I can place on the bar.  Below are some options for adding water bottles to your handlebars.

This is the Minoura Bottle Cage Holder BH-95x.  This is my recommendation for mounting a single bottle on your handlebar.  This product is inexpensive, effective, and respected.

Minoura Bottle Cage Holder BH-95X

Minoura also offers a couple of other models for mounting cages to your handlebars.  There is the BH-60 one-bottle model and the BH-2B

Minoura BH-2b waterbottle cage adapter

Minoura BH-2b waterbottle cage adapter

model which allows you to mount 2 water bottles to the center of your handlebar.  If you don’t have a handlebar bag up there, this would be a great bicycle upgrade.

Nashbar offers a simple handlebar mount for 25.4mm handlebars only.

Nashbar Handlebar Mounting Adapter

Nashbar Handlebar Mounting Adapter

This is the Electra Cup Holder and this is more of a novelty than anything else.  It is way too expensive and isn’t actually a water bottle holder, it is a tapered cup holder.  I just thought I’d put it on here in case anyone was looking for a way to hold a coffee cup on their bicycles.

Electra Cup Holder

Our next handlebar mounting option comes from Profile Design and is called the AeroDrink Bracket.  This is a cool mounting option for Century and Airstryke handlebars.  It fits other models with adapters.  This bracket basically spans the bar gap and connects to both ends.  It fits bars up to 120mm wide.  The interesting thing about this bracket is that is can glue or screw onto the bars.  Versatile and not that expensive at around 12 dollars.

Profile AeroDrink Bracket

Seatpost water bottle mounts

A aerodynamic option of water bottle mounting is available with seatpost mounted cages.  These cages mount on the rear part of either the seatpost or the saddle rails and usually hold two extra water bottles.

The Profile RM System 1 mounts to the rails of your saddle (seat) and connects two bottle cages behind your seat.  Make sure you have enough clearance from your loaded rack in the back to make this work.  This model is 15.00 more expensive than the Profile RM 2.

Profile Designs Saddle Rail Cage

Profile Designs Saddle Rail Cage

Profile RM System 2 is very similar to system 1 except this mounts to the actual seat post.    There are a couple of problems that may arise using this mount.  It could mount too close to your actual seat, block the bottles.  It could also not tilt upward enough and interfere with your load.  Not saying it happens all the time, but it can.

Profile Designs Seatpost water bottle cages

Profile Designs Seatpost water bottle cages

A nice company called Tacx also produces saddle clamp bottle cages.  This attachement hooks up and has 3 different positioning options for your cages.  You can do one in the middle, or two on the outer holes, whatever you choose.  Retails for around 15 dollars.

Tacx saddle water bottle cages

Tacx saddle water bottle cages

Minoura also offers to seat post models, a one-version, and a two-bottle version.  They have similar setups to the other cages so I’m not going to go into that now.  Here are photos of the two-bottle version.

Minoura seat post bracket

Minoura seat post bracket

Minoura seat post bottles

Minoura seat post bottles

Frame water bottle mounts

If you’ve run out of mounting bosses on your bike frame, your also probably running out of space.  My Surly Long Haul Trucker comes with three water-bottle mounting options on the frame, and with those filled, I have a little space on the top tube, the down tube, and the seat tube.  With this in mind, companies produce strap-on cages so we can mount more bottles on our frame in those hard-to-get to places.  Just remember that mounting cages is good not only for water, but is useful for carrying camping fuel and those heavy jugs of energy gel that proves very useful on bicycle tours.

Here are some options for mounting a water bottle cage without screws or bosses:

Elite VIP Bottle Cage Clamps allow you to connect your water bottle cages just about anywhere on your bicycle.  They work up to a 50mm diameter and come with rubber pads to eliminate scratching.  They also come with tension-tightening screws which makes these a winner for you ultimate bicyclists taking your tour on road and off.

Elite VIP Bottle Cage Clamps

Elite VIP Bottle Cage Clamps

There is a German company called Rixen and Kaul that produces the KLICKfix water bottle cage adapters.  These are some serious looking adapters and coming from German (producers of Continental tires and Ortlieb Panniers), I’d trust their quality.  There are three models I deem useful:

BottleFix is a basic model that clamps on right to the bike.  It is adjustable with an allen key before mounting the bottle.  This model with work on handlebars, frames, seat posts, and anything else between 15mm-60mm.

Bottlefix water bottle mounting system

Bottlefix water bottle mounting system

Rixen and Kaul also offer the KLICKfix model, which is a quick-release version of the BottleFix.  You can connect any regular water bottle cage to the quick-release adapter and then clip that adapter into the mounting system.  Simply install and you can clip-in and out the cage.  I’m still not entirely sure what the advantage of this system.  I guess it simply allows you to completely take off the cage if you needed to for some reason.

KlickFix Water Bottle Adapter

KlickFix Water Bottle Adapter

Here is a link to the mounting instruction manual if you want to know more about the system.

Other water bottle mounting options

For mounting to random objects on your bicycle, there are a number of universal water bottle mounting adapters available.

Minoura offers the QB-90 model, seen here, for less than 10 dollars.

QB-90 Minoura Water bottle adapter

QB-90 Minoura Water bottle adapter

Elite VIP Bottle Cage Clamps allow you to connect your water bottle cages just about anywhere on your bicycle.  They work up to a 50mm diameter and come with rubber pads to eliminate scratching.  They also come with tension-tightening screws which makes these a winner for you ultimate bicyclists taking your tour on road and off.

Elite VIP Bottle Cage Clamps

Elite VIP Bottle Cage Clamps

You could also try the following:

  • Wear a hydration pack (such as CamelBak).  These can lead to back strain, but may be necessary.  I use one.
  • Use a hip pack to hold your bottles.  These inhibit movement.
  • Carry water bags in your panniers.  I use Platypus brand and love them.  BPA free and inexpensive! They offer a number of models, some have drink valves, others are just roll-up bags that have caps on them.  I use the model shown below because I don’t need a drinking valve.  They offer a PlatyPreserve wine storage option as well, in case you need to preserve your fine wines along your tour.  Check them out here.
  • Platypus 1 Liter Water Bottle

You could also drill your own holes and install water bottle bosses.  We’ll get into that at a later date.  I’m sure there are many more options, but this is a good start.

Here are a good link with some other nifty ideas for products not so easy to find:

http://www.nordicgroup.us/cageboss/
If you’ve got the time, head over to the official website for the upcoming Long Haul for Hunger.

The Long Haul for Hunger Bicycle Tour

The Long Haul for Hunger Bicycle Tour

Bianchi Valle Review for 2009

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I was searching around for some new touring bike models, looking for upgraded 2009 bicycles, and generally anything else I could get my hands on, and I stumbled across the Bianchi Valle.  Bianchi also offers their ‘specialized’ touring bike the Volpe, a pretty nice touring bike with good features and a mid-range price tag.  But when I looked through the specs for the two bikes, I found the Valle to be a decent option for shorter-range tours.  It offers the same frame as the Volpe, CroMo steel frame and fork, and also has braze-ons to mount fenders and racks.  Actually, the Valle comes with front and rear fenders.  Another interesting difference between the two bikes is the Valle’s power-generating front dynamo hub.  Both bikes have 32 spoke rims which aren’t going to be too reliable with extremely heavy loads, which is why this bike is a decent possibility for shorter tours or commuters.

Bianchi Valle

I don’t like the flat handlebars on the Valle, the drop bars on the Volpe are much more my style.  I prefer the drop bars with the bar-end shifters.  The short chainstay length of 425mm might cause a bit of a problem when loading racks and panniers on the rear of the bike, if you’ve had any experience with doing that on this bike let us know.  I know the Surly Nice Rack offers enough clearance for this frame size with a properly adjusted rear Ortlieb pannier, I checked the pannier/rack combo on a lot of different bikes before I bought my racks.

I think this bike is worth checking out if you are in the market for a commuter or a short haul bike.  It’s another bike to add to your comparison list before making the big purchase.

Don’t forget to visit http://www.theultimatetrek.com to learn more about the upcoming Long Haul for Hunger Bicycling Trek.  Over 8,500 miles across 2 continents.  We’re recruiting riders and would love to have you join for all or part of the ride.

Tubus Racks. A Review.

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REI.com

I think it is easy enough to search around for bike racks if you know their names, so we’re just going to introduce a large variety of models, their prices, quality, and load capacity. We’re also only going to look at the strongest and best designed (for touring) models each manufacturer offers. If you have reason to differ in opinion, feel free to let me know via comment. Choose your racks by yourself based on your own research or by our mini bike rating.


Tubus

Logo Rear Rack:

Width ? / Length ? (We’re working on this)

Weight: 25.7 ounces

Capacity: 40kgs or 88 pounds

Strength: Cro-Moly Steel

Est. Price: $120.00

Tubus Logo Rear Rack

Tubus Logo Rear Rack

10 year warranty.

Tubus Tara Front Rack:

Weight: 470 grams or 17 ounces

Capacity: 15kg or 35 pounds

Strength: Cro-Moly Steel

Est. Price: $90.00

Tubus Tara Front Rack

Tubus Tara Front Rack

Tubus racks are very well-known and respected in the bike touring community.  The two racks in this post are the most popular models made my Tubus.  The Tubus models are a little more expensive than the Jandd models we reviewed last week, but as you can see in the stat sheets, the weight of the Tubus racks in much less than the Jandd racks, and the carrying capacity is much higher.  You get what you pay for.  You will not be disappointed by these racks.  The front rack is famous for its ability to get the load low and help you maintain balance on your bike.

Eurasian Cycling Trek for World Hunger 09′

Surly Long Haul Trucker Update Review

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*UPDATED*

a Surly Long Haul Trucker Review

A while back I posted a series of touring bike reviews that look mostly at touring specs, bike design, function, and price.  By far my most popular post was the review on the Surly Long Haul Trucker.  So I’ve decided to do a follow up review to have a deeper look into the bike.

REI.com for Cycling

Ortlieb Panniers are on a big SALE NOW (October)!  Get them while they’re available by clicking above, thanks for supporting!

Here is a link to my first review of the Long Haul Trucker.

The Basics

Frame- 100% Surly 4130 CroMoly steel.

Chainstay Length- 18.1 inches

Brakes- Tektro Oryx cantilever

Tires- 26×1.5” on 42-54cm frames and 700c x37mm on 56-62cm frames

Hubs- Shimano XT, 36h

Components- The Surly Long Haul Trucker has a mix of components.  Shimano Tiagra front derailleur, Shimano XT rear, Deore Cassette, SRAM chain, and a Sugino 😄 600 (48-36-26t).

Price- $850 Complete, $419 Framset


120x60 REI Outlet

Now I’ll delve into the bike a little bit and talk about some first-hand experience with the bike.

Frame

Strength and Feel:

The steel frame of the Surly Long Haul Trucker (LHT) is very strong and comfortable.  What you will notice when riding the bike is significant shock absorption from the frame.  As you probably know, this is not a mountain bike and there aren’t any shocks to cushion road blows.  Fully loaded, or as a heavy rider, you will notice a bit of give in the frame. I weight 70kgs (155 lbs) and don’t notice it much, but have had larger friends tell me they get a bit of give in the frame under stress.  Not really an issue to most though and I like it.

Quality:

I’ve inspected 7 Surly LHTs to compare their build quality and have come to the following conclusions.  What you will probably end up with, whether you buy a complete LHT or just the frameset, is a very well constructed bike.  The TIG welds are very smooth and consitent throughout the frame.  You will see there is a lot of clearance for big tires and fenders on the front and rear.  You will find a ton of braze-ons (little frame holes that allow connections to parts like fenders, racks, and brakes), here is a list of them all;

  • Upper bosses and dropout eyelets for racks front and rear
  • Fender eyelets
  • Chainstay spare spoke holder
  • Pump peg
  • Downtube shifter bosses
  • 3 sets of bottle cage bosses
  • rear housing stop for canti brakes;
  • housing stops for brakes and derailers

That is certainly a lot of options.  Here are a couple of issues that have come up with these brazeons.

  • The 3rd bottle cage mounts a little too close to the front wheel if you’re using fenders and there is a lack of clearance on turns because of this.  I’ve had to single secure the bottle cage lower towards the bottom bracket.
  • This design problem is also evident on turns while riding with SKS fenders.  My toes get clipped by the fenders on turns and that is annoying.  I am in the process of moving the fender around and shortening the supports because they, not the fender, are hitting my shoes.
  • The extra set of fender eyelets are a life-saver.  I’ve got Surly Nice Racks on my front and rear and their connection to the braze-ons slightly inhibits the natural resting position of a fender attached to the same hole.  This causes SKS fenders to pop in and out of their quick release cages and mess up the front tire.  With the extra set of braze-ons located just a bit higher up on the fork, I was able to re-attach the fenders to those new braze-ons and eliminate the problem.


REI.com Camping Gear

The paint job is mostly top-notch, with the exception of a couple of areas around the bottom bracket and chainstay that got a bit too much paint.  Everything was covered though and none of the brazeons or holes were clogged.  Logo stickers are easily removed with a hair dryer and show no sign of earlier presence.

Design:

The Surly LHT is designed specifically for touring and it is pretty evident in frame and feel.  The relaxed head angle keeps you in a more upright position that a road bike, and a more downward position than a mountain bike.  That sounds just peachy, doesn’t it?  Well, it is.  Even with the stock handlebars, which I will probably replace  because of my wrist problems, you get 3 nice positions for riding (upright, semi-race, and race).  These aren’t the proper terms, but imagine they are and they will make sense.  The other nice part of the design is the long chainstay.  I’m just going to explain this as basically being the distance between your foot and the back hub or cassette.  This translates into how much clearance your foot is going to have on your rear panniers.  I have size 13.5 feet and ride with clipless pedals and have no problem clearing my Ortlieb rear panniers (which by the way are on sale at REI right now, so check them out below).

REI.com for Cycling

Ortlieb Panniers are on SALE NOW! Get them while they’re available by clicking above, thanks for supporting!

So this chainstay length of 18.1 inches translates into foot clearance, speed, and confidence.  Why speed and confidence?  Think about it…if you are constantly worried your heels are going to clip your rear panniers, are you gonna pedal your heart out up those hills, or are you gonna hold off for fear of getting stuck and unclipping your cleats?  More confidence will help you go faster and be more relaxed.  Look at the chainstays for other similar sized bikes:

Surly LHT:  18.1 inches

Trek 520: 17.7 inches

Cannondale Touring:18 inches

Fuji Tourer:  17.34 inches

Raleigh Sojourn:18.1 inches

And for comparison….the Trek 3700 Mtn. Bike has a chainstay of 16.9 inches.

Components

Brakes:

The Surly LHT comes with Tektro Oryx cantilever brakes.  I’m not too happy with the pads on these brakes and have already replaced them.  The originals were making horrible streaks on my rims and the new ones show no sign on the streaks.  I also find them a bit difficult to use from the handlebars, so I am in the process of replacing the mounts and bars with something with more like 5 riding positions.

Shimano Components:

The Surly LHT comes with a series of Shimano components. The Shimano Tiagra front derailleur, Shimano XT rear derailleur, and a Deore cassette.

None of these components are horrible and none of them have given me any problems thus far.

Other components:

The Surly LHT comes with a SRAM chain, and a Sugino 😄 600 (48-36-26t).  I have replaced the chain with a Shimano and use the SRAM for a replacement.  I made the move after reading a lot of reviews on the SRAM chain.   I found the shifting much smoother with the new chain.  The Sugino 😄 is a very good model for the price of about 75 dollars.  This crankset isn’t going to fail on you and unless you are willing to replace it with a top of the line Shimano or Campy crankset, don’t even think about an upgrade.  Many people are actually upgrading to the Sugino 😄 600.

Others

Ride:

I like the ride of the Surly.  A lot of people say the bike is heavy and slow, but it is a couple of pounds lighter than my last mountain bike and is definitely faster.  Of course this isn’t a racing bike, but what I’m trying to get across is that this isn’t such a slow bike as you get the impression it is on the web.  You’ll hear a lot of talk about how heavy and slow it is, but I don’t find it all that true.  I can easily get the bike up to 45kmp/h.

Saddle (seat):

The saddle on the Surly LHT is a Velo Gel.  It isn’t all that comfortable and just about everyone (95%) of the LHT owners I’ve talked to and read about, have swapped out the saddle.  I personally don’t mind it and have been on a 500 mile tour with it, no problems.  I ride with padded pants, that may help.  I will upgrade the saddle before my Korea to Portugal ride though, I want something a little wider and easier on my sensitive parts.

Tires:

I like the feel of the tires and have had no flats, punctures, or pinches in 750 miles thusfar.  500 of those miles were loaded front and rear.  That’s a decent record.  I will upgrade the tires to a little bit wider and thicker when the time calls.

120x60 REI Outlet

Types of Bicycle Pedals

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There are numerous options for bicycle owners when choosing bicycle pedals.  Not only are there a lot of brands to choose from, there are several different types of pedals to choose from.  We’re going to run through the basic pedal types here, and will follow up with brands and recommendations in the next post.

Before we begin, don’t forget to read about my journey from South Korea to Portugal on my Surly Long Haul Trucker.  Click on the green logo to the left to learn more.  Please support! Thanks.

Bicycle Pedal Types

Platform

Shimano Platform Pedals

Shimano Platform Pedals

Platform pedals are probably the type of pedal most bike riders had on their first bicycles.  They are big and flat, often with traction pins for added grip.  Often found on mountain bikes and BMX bikes, platform pedals are available in cheap plastic models and expensive lightweight materials.  You’ll find plastic models on cheaper bikes in the $0-$300 range.  A little higher up on the price/quality scale are are the plastic core/metal cage variety, which give you better traction and a little higher build quality.  Next up on the line are the all-metal platforms which are found on the higher-end bikes.  With higher prices comes higher grade materials and weight savings.

Advantages:

  • Inexpensive models available (easy to replace)
  • Easy access (getting in and out)
  • No need for special gear (cleated shoes)
  • Less accident prone if you get into a wreck

Disadvantages:

  • Shin scrapes in wet weather (we’ve all done that)
  • Inefficiency.  You’re going to lose a lot of power on the up stroke because your not connected to the pedal.  I never used clipless pedals before but have recently changed over from platforms and am amazed at the speed increase I have.  It takes some time to get used to the up effort, but it’s all good.

Toe-clip

Toe-clip Pedals

Toe-clip Pedals

Toe-clip pedals are the least favorite pedals of mine.  I haven’t had a lot of success with them, got them caught on a tree root once, broke a couple of buckles, and had some malfunctions.  They’re hard to keep adjusted just right, either too tight or too loose.

Advantages:

  • Increased pedaling efficiency
  • No need for special gear (cleated shoes)

Disadvantages:

  • Difficult to get in and out of.  You have to loosen the straps to get out sometimes if you have the straps tightened for maximum efficiency.
  • Extra parts.  I’ve had a lot of problems with the straps getting torn, ripped, and frayed.  The buckle can malfunction, and if it does, the pedals are horrible to ride on.
  • Clipping danger.  There is a danger that you could catch the toe-clip on something and totally ruin your day.  I’ve done this before on a tree root and went right over the bars and down a ravine.
  • Too many parts.

Clipless

Shimano Clipless Pedal

Shimano Clipless Pedal

Clipless pedals are actually pedals with clips, so the name is a bit confusing. It actually refers to the lack of toe clips on the pedals.  Clipless pedals require special shoes with cleats in their soles that click into the pedals.  They keep the rider connected directly to the pedal and are used by a large number of riders.  There are what you’ll find on most touring bicycles.  I currently ride on clipless pedals and love them.  My avg. speed is up and I feel I have more control over the bike with them.

Advantages:

  • Superior pedaling efficiency
  • Clearance on turns (touring bikes have low bottom brackets, pedals can clip the ground on turns)
  • Inexpensive.
  • Simple, very few parts.
  • Easy clip-ins and clip-outs.

Disadvantages:

  • Requires special shoes.
  • Some models tend to get clogged up with mud.  Others, like egg beaters, don’t.

My Surly Long Haul Trucker

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I’m happy to announce that my Surly Long Haul Trucker has finally arrived from home.  If you don’t know already, I have been living in Seoul, South Korea for the last three years.  It is quite difficult to get touring bikes here as the population is generally obsessed with mountain biking.   Nonetheless, I got my Surly LHT here and am going to put up some posts here to keep you all up to date.

My model is a 58cm olive frame.  I got the bike completely packaged by Surly with a couple of upgrades (the crankset) and some accessories.  If you don’t yet know about Surly, click here to head over to their website, and then go check out the review here on this blog.  Here is a look at the stock bike…

Blue Surly long haul trucker

Blue Surly long haul trucker

And now here’s the first look at my 58cm olive Surly Long Haul Trucker…not gonna see the whole bike until I cover all the parts first.

My Surly Long Haul Trucker

My Surly Long Haul Trucker

Day One:  5KM.  Used the Surly today to/from work to get a feel for it.  Though I don’t have clipless shoes yet, I had to get a ride in.  First impressions are great.  Super smooth ride, took bumps and holes with ease.  Saddle is comfortable thus far and the 58cm seems to fit me perfectly.  I am almost 6 feet tall and am happy with the adjustable seat post.  Also was surprised by the weight of the bike.  I was under the impression that this was gonna be a load of a bike, but it is actually lighter than my last mountain bike I had.  No problem carrying it up 5 flights of stairs.  More to come tomorrow…

Korean Bike Touring Club Formation

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Korean Bike Touring Club

Korean Bike Touring Club

Do you own a bicycle?  Do you ride for fun?  Are you a serious biker?  Do you live in South Korea?  Well, this is the first post for the newly formed Korean Bike Touring Club (KBTC), and we’re invited any interested bikers to join our group mailing list.

What we’re trying to offer to those who join the club:

  • A place to gain information about bicycle riding and touring in South Korea
  • A place to obtain maps and routes for bike tours in South Korea
  • A place to meet fellow riders and discuss your hobby
  • A place to learn more about bicycle touring
  • A place to organize group rides around South Korea

Please click the link below to join the group mailing list and stay up-to-date with the group.  We’d like to start a weekly one-day ride group that goes out for rides together on the weekend as well as a group that does extended tours during long weekends or long holidays.

To join, simply click on the link below and send a blank message.  That’s it! We’ll be in touch shortly after receiving your email.

Join Us!