Tag Archives: bicycle touring

SKS Bicycle Accessories. Gearing up your touring bike.

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We’re going to start a series of threads discussing all the accessories you can think of when it comes to touring bikes.  We welcome comments if you’ve owned, seen, or use any of the accessories we mention.  If you have other recommendations, post them in the comments.

Fenders

Fenders are nearly essential accessories for your touring bike.  They will protect your gear from water and mud, and also keep your components and backside clean.  There are a couple of types of fenders, so let’s take a quick look at them.

Full-length:  These fenders typically wrap around most of the tire, leaving about 6 inches of ground clearance on the rear wheel, with less coverage up front.

Clip-on: These usually clip on to the seat post and are completely useless, don’t buy them unless you are in the unfortunate situation where you don’t have fork or brake clearance for full-length fenders.

Mudflaps: These are really just extensions for short fenders and give a little extra protection.

SKS Fenders

SKS Fenders

I ride with SKS fenders on my Surly because they are well-designed, cheap, and rugged.  I’ve installed the P50 model because they are designed for the 700cc tires and can accommodate tires up to 700 x 45!  Here is a sizing chart.  They retail for about 30-40 US dollars.  Lots of support posts and sturdy, easy install.  No Problems.  Made of a aluminum wrapped in a tough plastic that makes them strong and flexible (called Chromoplastic I think).  Adjustable supports too.

color section rim tire
P35 silver 35 mm 28 700×20-28
black
P45 silver 45 mm 28 700×28-37
black
P50 silver 50 mm 28 700×38-45
black
P55 silver 55 mm 26 26×1.6-26×2.30
black
P65 silver 60 mm 26 26×1.6-2.30
black (suitable for Big Apple)

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!


Choosing a touring bicycle; Kona Sutra

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REI.com for Cycling

Choosing a touring bicycle; Kona Sutra 2009.

Now that I’m back from Hong Kong, even though I didn’t actually get to go, I’ve got another touring bike for you all.

Next up is the Sutra from Kona.  Please comment if you have ever ridden, owned, or know anyone who owns this bike.  Email photos of your setup to me at recklesscognition @ gmail.com and have them posted on this site.

2009 Kona Sutra

2009 Kona Sutra

Before we begin….Check out the links on the left side of the page.  Go to the “About Me” page to the left and read about what this journey is all about.  If you are into it, support my journey by helping others and adding to the donations I will deliver to the Mercy Corps organization. Donate, Sponsor, or Pledge on a per-km/mile basis, anything will help.  Learn more by here…Bike Journey

Let’s have a look at the Long Haul Trucker’s spec sheet.

Frame- CroMoly steel.

Chainstay Length- 440mm or 17.3 inches

Brakes- Avid BB7 Road Disc

Tires- Continental Contact 700x32C

Hubs- Shimano Disc 36 spokes

Components-Mostly entry-level Shimano Deore components with an XT rear derailleur.

Price- $1200

First off, the 2009 paint job is much improved over the drag colors on previous model years.  I love colorful frames. The Kona sutra is a dedicated touring bike and comes with front and rear racks for your heavy loads.  Although our initial review stated the bike only had 32 spoke wheels, further review and helpful comments from our visitors have led us to the conclusion that there are actually 36 spokes. Thanks for the input! Expect this bike to be heavy, disc brakes, racks, fenders, etc are really gonna load this bike down.  Even though it is heavy, from what I’ve heard, the frame is super rigid and actually handles the weight well. There has been a set of complaints about rear-wheel spoke breaking being quite frequent.

There are also disc brakes on the bike, which are good for poor weather, but not necessarily good for bike tours.  Looking past the brakes and spokes, there is a bit of an issue here with foot clearance.  Just looking at the photo of this bike with racks hints at a possible problem.  They look mighty close to the pedals, especially that front rack mounted at such an angle.  There have been numerous issues with lack of foot clearance with the Sutra.  If you’ve experience otherwise, please let me know.

How are ratings calculated?

Overall Rating:

Kona Sutra:

Value:  3.6/5

Quality: 4.2/5

Compliance: 4/5

Overall: 11.8/15

Let’s look at the ratings a little more in detail.

Value:  This bike retails for about $1,200. This price is too high for the package.  You’re getting basic components, and a steel frame.  Sure, you’re getting two racks, but is that worth $300?

Quality: I don’t think there are any problems specific to this bike frame, but the wheels have caused problems to numerous customers.

Compliance: Disc brakes and a short chainstay (lack of foot clearance) are the main issues here.

I didn’t think think bike would score so low but looking at it closely I think the rating is justified.  I’d love to hear otherwise, so let me know if you’ve owned this one before.

We’ll be compiling all of the ratings on a new page, look for it to be complete shortly.  Check it out here.

Shimano Bicycle Components. Too many names! Part II

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Before we begin….Check out the “About Me” page to the left and read about what this journey is all about.  If you are into it, support my journey by helping others and adding to the donations we will deliver to the Mercy Corps organization. Donate, sponsor, or Pledge on a per-km/mile basis, anything will help.

In this post we’re going to delve into Shimano components. We’ve recently reviewed the mountain component sets, and here are the road sets.

Road- These components are designed for road use which means they are usually lighter and more durable.  They are able to take repetition and speed and continue functioning at peak performance.

Entry-level Road Component Group:

Sora. The Sora component group is comparable to the mountain bike Deore set . This group of components is considered to be low entry-level.  This package of components would be found on most of the cheaper stock bikes you see at your bike shop.  It is designed for recreational riders and should not seriously be considered as an option for your long-haul tour.  Most of the components in this package are made of aluminum and could not be expected to hold on long enough for a serious rider or tour.  Expect an unreliable crankset.  While these components may be acceptable for some riders, for a touring bicycle, they won’t do.

Shimano Sora Component Package

Shimano Sora Component Package

Shimano Tiagra- This is the next step up on the Shimano component ladder.  Comparable to the mountain version called Shimano XT, this package features hyperglide (HG) sprockets for slick usage.  It is designed for cross-country riding and trekking.  It is still consider to be an entry-level component set, but more acceptable for touring than the Sora components.  There is a slight weight improvement when upgrading from Sora to Tiagra.  Consider this as ‘decent’ or ‘somewhat acceptable’ for your long-haul tour.

Shimano Tiagra Component Package

Shimano Tiagra Component Package

Mid-level Mountain Component Group:

105–  The 105 component package is where casual riders make the jump into the realm of serious bikers.  Superior performance without serious money.  That describes the 105 line very well.  It is like getting a present without wrapping paper.  The components aren’t super light, but they are smooth and reliable.  Sounds good enough for me.  This is where you should start for a serious long-haul journey.  Anything less than this and you are risking failure.  Sure, if you are doing city commuting, the Tiagra components are fine, and if you are teaching your kids to ride a bike, the Sora will do.  But for touring, this is the starting point.

Shimano Deore XT Component Package

Shimano Deore XT Component Package

High-level Mountain Component Group:

Ultegra- This is getting to the top of the line.  Designed for hardcore professional racers, the Ultegra components are lightweight, well crafted, and designed. You’re going to get better craftmanship and a pretty much universal weight reduction on most of the components in this set. This package is something to consider if you are really looking to ensure a couple of thousand of miles on your bike with absolutely no problems.

Shimano Ultegra Component Set

Shimano Ultegra Component Package

There’s still more with Shimano….

Dura-ace- This is the serious stuff people…titanium, super light-weight, nickle-plating, etching, you name it, it’s here.  If you’ve got the money, go for it, if not, stick with the 105 or Ultegra.

Comparing the weight of the front derailleur of a 105 or a Dura-ace….232g vs. 180g…

Shimano Dura-ace Component Package

Shimano Dura-ace Component Package

Shimano Bicycle Components. Too many names!

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Before we begin….Check out the “About Me” page to the left and read about what this journey is all about.  If you are into it, support my journey by helping others and adding to the donations we will deliver to the Mercy Corps organization. Donate, sponsor, or Pledge on a per-km/mile basis, anything will help.  Thanks.

In this post we’re going to delve into Shimano components.  Why Shimano?  Well, this are probably the most popular kind of bicycle component on the market, available in just about every bike shop you can find.  High (and low) quality, well-price, and accessbile, sounds great.  BUT, knowing what kind of Shimano components to buy can be complicated.  Shimano has sets of components with names and we’re going to try and simplify it all right here and now.  We’ll divide the components into MOUNTAIN and ROAD.

Mountain- These components are designed for mountain use which means they are usually heavier and stronger.  They are able to take abuse and continue functioning at peak performance.

Entry-level Mountain Component Group:

Deore. This group of components is considered to be entry-level.  This package of components would be found on most of the cheaper stock bikes you see at your bike shop.  It is designed for recreational riders and should not seriously be considered as an option for your long-haul tour.  Most of the components in this package are made of aluminum.

Shimano Deore Component Package

Shimano Deore Component Package

Shimano Deore LX- This is the next step up on the Shimano component ladder.  This package is designed for cross-country riding and trekking.  It is still consider to be an entry-level component set.  The weight on this set is less than the regular Deore, and the crankset is improved.  Consider this as ‘decent’ or ‘somewhat acceptable’ for your long-haul tour.

Shimano Deore LX Component Package

Shimano Deore LX Component Package

Mid-level Mountain Component Group:

Deore XT–  The XT component package starts to offer some higher quality products to riders.  You get an imporved rear derailleur, better quality parts in the crankset, and more weight reduction in some of the parts.  Shimano says that this is the line to go with if you want superior performance without serious money.  This is true.

Shimano Deore XT Component Package

Shimano Deore XT Component Package

High-level Mountain Component Group:

SLX- This is the top of the line.  Designed for hardcore professional racers, the SLX components are very lightweight, extremely well crafted and designed, and expensive.  Almost not even worth considering these options unless they happen to be on sale and you just won the lottery.  We will put up some price comparisons shortly, so look for them by the end of the weekend.  I think it’d be safe to stick around the LX and XT level components for your bicycle tour, but it’s up to you.

Shimano SLX Component Package

Shimano SLX Component Package

The Shimano road component packages and price comparisons are coming up soon, stay tuned and donate or pledge towards the Set Sail the Prairie on a Surly cause.  Your dollars go to the Mercy Corps who is currently working in countries along the route.  Cheers.

Bicycle Components. What you can upgrade.

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Knowing exactly what kind of components you get on a bike is extremely important when deciding on which touring bicycle to purchase.

Let’s look at the types of bike components first, then we will discuss the different options with Shimano.

Some of the components that you can upgrade on your touring bike are (there are others):

Rear Derailleur- This helps when moving the chain between rear sprockets.  It takes up the slack in the chain when moving to a smaller sprocket at the rear or a smaller chainring by the front derailleur. Est. Price for a Shimano Ultegra Rear Derailleur is about $100.  Here’s a picture.

Shimano 6600 Ultegra Rear Derailleur

Shimano 6600 Ultegra Rear Derailleur

Front Derailleur- The front derailleur moves the chain from side to side between the front chainrings. Estimated price for a Shimano Ultegra front derailleur is about $70.00.

Shimano Ultegra Front Derailleur

Shimano Ultegra Front Derailleur

Crankset- The crankset is where the rider is connected to the bicycle.  It is the component of a bicycle that converts the motion of of a biker into the rotational motion needed to move the chain.  This is what the pedal is connected to.  The estimated price for a Shimano Ultegra crankset is about $250.00.

Shimano Ultegra Crankset

Shimano Ultegra Crankset

Bottom Bracket- The bottom bracket allows the crankset to move freely.  The estimated price of a Shimano Ultegra bottom bracket is about $40.00.

Shimano Ultegra Bottom Bracket

Shimano Ultegra Bottom Bracket

Cassette- The cassette is the cluster of gear cogs or sprockets attached to the hub of the rear wheel.  Power is transferred from the biker, to the crankset, to the chain, and to the cassette.  This is where the gears come from.  Typical cassettes have 9 cogs, which when combined with 3 chainrings, gives a rider 27 gears.

Shimano Ultegra Cassette

Shimano Ultegra Cassette

Bicycle geometry. A brief look into how it effects your ride.

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Bicycle geometry.  A brief look into how it effects your ride.

Ok, since I started blabbering about and ripping on the Jamis Aurora, I felt I needed to explain the geometry of a bike a little more in detail.  So after some work in Photoshop, I’ve got a graphic and some more information to help in a touring bicycle search.

Definitions first…

Head-tube angle- the angle between the floor behind the front wheel and the steering axis.

Trail- the distance between the front wheel’s center on contact point and the point where the extending steering axis line reaches the ground.

Fork Offset (rake)- the distance that the hub preceeds or follows the steering axis.

Let’s look at the graphic to put it all together.

Bicycle Geometry

Bicycle Geometry

The shaded green thing is the fork.  Remember, the bigger the trail, the more stability.  Small variations in any of these angles can have a serious impact on your ride.  Larger trail figures will give you more stability, but steering precision is compromised.  Longer wheelbases make turning more difficult than shorter wheelbases.  Your touring bike will have a long wheelbases, so don’t expect precise turning.  Your ideal touring bike should also come with a low bottom bracket, which keeps your weight closer to the ground, making it take less effort to move your body from side to side.

Plug all your specs into this website calculator…check the ACTUAL TRAIL CALCULATOR

http://www.wisil.recumbents.com/wisil/trail.asp

Unless I hear otherwise, use 12.25 as the tire radius, that is for a 700 c tire.

Touring bike options; Option 1

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So we’ve discussed the basic options when it comes to bicycles, the differences between racing, mountain, and touring bikes, as well as some of the components to look for when gearing up for a long tour.  We’re going to put that all together with a compiled list of recommended touring bikes.  Look through the list, compare, visit websites, and make a decision.  Here’s the list, starting at the bottom with
NUMBER 10… Novara Safari from REI.  http://www.rei.com/product/730480

Novara Safari Bike from REI.com

Novara Safari Bike from REI.com

Frame- USix aluminum, but forks are cromoly.

Chainstay Length- 16.9 inches

Brakes- Disc

Tires- 26″

Weight- 31.8 pounds

Price- $ 669.99

Ok, so there is really only one reason I put this bike on the list, PRICE.  Wow, reduced recently at REI to under 700 dollars makes this a great option for a first time tourer.  There are a lot of things wrong with this bike, but I no doubt am sure it will ride.  Comes equipped with a rear rack and stock shimano components.  Tires are small, chainstay is short, and I don’t like the aluminum frame.  But, if you are going local, on shorter trips with less weight, this bike could work for you.  From what I’ve heard from an owner, the bike is quite reliable and has had no major problems in 2 years with over 1,000 miles.

Choosing a touring bicycle; Some things to consider…Part I

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Choosing a touring bicycle can be exciting and stressful, so knowing what you want before you head out to your local bike shop is very important.  There are a number of special features that make touring bikes differ from road and mountain bikes.  Over the next series of posts, we will look over some of these differences, hoping to equip you with the knowledge you need to decide what type of bike to take on your tour.

First things first. What are some of the major differences between road, mountain, and touring bikes?  Typically, touring bikes are more similar to road bikes than they are to mountain bikes for a few key reasons.

Road Racing- fast, lightweight, typically frame made of lightweight composite materials, with wheels spaced closely to each other for optimal handling and control.  The seat and handlebars are put in a position to keep the rider ‘hunched’ over in a more aerodynamic position.

Touring- strong, typically frame made of steel for its strength a repair ability in remote locations, with wheels spaced far apart in order to accommodate front and rear loads that require foot clearance (check for chainstay lengths around 18 inches or about 460mm).  The seat and handlebars are put in a position that allows for greater comfort on extended rides, more upright than road racers.  The key to a touring bike is its ability to haul heavy loads on it’s front/rear racks.

Mountain- strong, typically made to ride off-road, frame made of strong composite materials, with front, and now more frequently, front/rear suspension.  Large, wide tires.  There are four types of mountain bikes;

Fully rigid-  Fixed rear with no suspension

Hardtail-  Front suspension with a fixed rear

Softtail- Small amount of rear suspension with full front suspension

Dual/Full- Front and rear full suspension.

There are many other types of bikes, but since we are focusing on touring, we’ll only look at these three when choosing the right bike. It is possible to equip any of these bikes for touring and often people will turn their old bikes into a touring bike with varying degrees of success.

In our next post we will look at the specifics of touring bikes, including key measurements, components, and manufacturers.

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