Tag Archives: bicycle

Touring Bicycle Modifications and Additions Part 1

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There are hundreds of modifications and additions available to bicycle owners to make in preparation for a long bicycle tour.  There are a lot of special things you need to think about before embarking on your first, next, or possibly final bike tour.  Even if you are only considering modifying your existing bike to commute to work, there are a lot of options for making your ride more efficient and more comfortable.  In this post, we’ll look at some of the better additions and modifications that are available while checking out my Surly Long Haul Trucker additions.

Consider your purpose

There are many types of cyclists on the road today.  There are your road racers, mountain bikers, tourers, and commuters.  This is a bicycle touring blog, so we’re going to spend our time considering a bicycle tour and what kind of bicycle it requires.

You should ask yourself some questions before equipping your bike with upgrades and accessories.

  • Will I do self-supported touring?
  • Will I do overnight touring?
  • Will I have a riding partner?
  • Will I encounter extreme weather conditions?

Self-supported touring is a type of tour that requires riders to carry all of their equipment on their bicycles.  This is a contrasting style to credit-card touring, where riders carry minimal equipment and rely on their credit card or cash to buy things along the way.  Self-supporting bicycle tourists carry camping equipment and food in addition to clothing and repair tools.  Credit-card bicycle tourists carry clothing and repairs tools and purchase food along the way and usually stay in hotels during overnight trips.  These two scenarios present drastically different requirements for your bicycle.

Overnight touring is usually when bicycle commuters turn into bicycle tourers.  Whether you are on a self-supporting tour or a credit-card tour, an overnight tour requires carrying more equipment.

Riding partners are great for a number of reasons.  Safety comes to mind first.  Having another rider a long increases the chance that people will leave you alone and it gives you an immediate line of assistance if you have an accident and are injured.  Riding partners can also help share the load.  If you are on a self-supported tour, each rider could carry half of the common gear.  Some good examples of this are camping equipment and food.  Having one rider carry the tent and another carry the camping equipment greatly reduces the load.  You also save weight on tools and replacement gear and can also share that load between the multiple bicycles. One last thing to consider is motivation.  Having a good riding partner who is able to keep your spirits high, motivate you up a big hill, and lend an ear during a rainy night in a leaky tent will certainly make your bicycle tour more enjoyable.

Bicycle touring requires riders to spend a large part of the day on their bike exposed to the elements.  Especially if you are on a long trip with some timeline, riding through extreme weather is something you’re probably going to have to prepare for.  Depending on your trip, it might be monsoon rains (Southeast Asia, India,etc), snow and ice (Russia, Canada, etc), wind (everywhere), heat (deserts).  Knowing the conditions you will face greatly alters the equipment you need to bring on your tour.

Consider your budget

A rider’s budget effects just about every aspect of a bicycle tour and starts with the bicycle.  I’ve written a number of reviews for touring bicycles in the past so I’ll just take a quick snapshot here to give you an idea of what kind of bicycle you can afford.

Inexpensive (Good for short tours and commuting)

This is the Novara Safari Touring Bike.  Pictured below is the 2009 model.  This is visually appealing and inexpensive.  The price tag is 849.00 at REI.com.  Click on the picture to learn more.  I would recommend this bike for commuting, credit-card tours, and shorter self-supported tours.  It is a nice bike but there are a couple of things I don’t like on this bike if it is used for a long self-supported tour.  There are very good components on this bike so I’d check it out if you’re in the market.

Novara Safari Touring Bike - 2009

Economical, Versatile, Reliable (These models will go anywhere and have a small price tag)

This is the Surly Long Haul Trucker. Pictured below is the Surly LHT 2009 model in truckaccino color.  This is a simpler bike that is designed specifically for bicycle touring.  Surly bikes have a pretty impressive following in the bicycle touring world, considered a great value for all types of tours as well as commuting. The reasons people love these bikes is because they are extremely durable and are very easily upgraded.  There are four total braze-ons on the front and rear of the bike, these are screw holes used to secure racks, fenders, and other accessories.  There are 3 sets of water bottle bosses on the frame, allowing owners to attach three water bottle cages to the bike.  The frame also accomodates huge tires, check out these stats:

700c: w/o fenders: 45mm; w/fenders:42mm
26″:
2.1″ with or without fenders

The ability to fit tires is a great option for bicycle touring because you can fit snow tires, MTB tires, or road tires on the bike.  This model can be bought for around 1,095.00.

Surly Long Haul Trucker

Surly Long Haul Trucker

This is the Raleigh Sojourn.  This is another one of my favorite touring bicycles. The Raleigh Sojourn is very visually appealing with creme tones and brown accents. This bike is recommended for all types of tour including commuting.  I personally would be a little wary of the disc brakes if I was out in the middle of central Asia or some other remote region, in case they fail you will have a hard time fixing them.  The Surly comes with canti brakes which are found just about anywhere.  You can see in the picture, the Raleigh Sojourn comes with a set of fenders, a rear rack, and a frame-mounted mini-pump.  This model sells for $1,099.00.

Raliegh Sojourn Touring Bike

Raliegh Sojourn Touring Bike

Expensive

This is the Koga Miyata World Traveler. This is one of my favorite high-end touring bikes.  If you’ve got some cash to throw around, I’d go with this model. Nice components, a ton of accessories, and high-quality materials.

Koga-Miyata World Traveler touring bike

Koga-Miyata World Traveler touring bike

Don’t forget you’re going to need to buy other things for your tour, like bags, clothes, and camping equipment.  Keep this in mind when choosing a touring bicycle.

Consider your options

Now that you know what kind of bicycle tour you’re going to embark on, whether or not you’re riding with a partner, and what bike your going to use, we can look at some additions and modifications you can make to get tour ready.

Water

Clean, drinkable water is the most important thing to have with you on tour.  If you’re doing a credit-card tour you don’t really have to worry about carry more than a bottle or two of water as you can stop by the 7-11 convenience store and pick up extra liquids just about anytime you desire.  When your bicycle tour gets long and more self-sufficient, you’re water carrying needs increase quickly.  The farther from civilization you get, the more water you need to carry on board in case you can’t find it.  As a rule of thumb, you need about 1 liter of water per riding hour, and 2 liters per person for cooking dinner and breakfast at camp.  Think about a typical 8 hour day, that is 10 liters of water!  For an example, the Surly Long Haul Trucker has three water bottle bosses, allowing you to mount about 75 ounces of water, or 3 liters.  Here are a couple of ways to upgrade your bike to hold more water:

Racks

Bicycle racks attach to the front fork and rear frame and give riders the option to carry gear in a number of ways.  Some racks come with top platforms which are ideal for loading tents, sleeping bags, pads, and cooking gear.  Simply put it on the platform and strap down with a strong bungee cord.  The sides of the racks are ideal for securing bicycle luggage, called panniers, that hold clothes, repair gear, and other smaller objects.  There are a handful of rack manufacturers, I recommend the Surly Nice Racks, as well as the following companies:

Topeak (Check out the Super Tourist Rear Rack)

Jandd (Check out the Expedition Rear Rack and the Extreme Front Rack

Tubus (Check out the Tara and Logo Rear Rack

Topeak doesn’t offer front racks so consider pairing its rear rack with a Surly Nice Front Rack like my riding partner Derek.

Baggage

Panniers are the bicycle touring version of luggage.  These bags clip onto the front and rear rack of the bike and give you added storage space.   There are a lot of different brands out there, so I’m just going to say remember to consider your weather when buying bags.  Expecting a lot of rain? Get waterproof panniers.  A little rain?  Panniers with rain covers.  I’ve written a post about the types of bicycle panniers on the market, click here to go there.

That’s all for now, part 2 will be posted tomorrow, so come back and check it out.  In the meantime, please learn more about the Long Haul for Hunger, an 8500 mile bike ride on Surly Long Haul Truckers from South Korea to Portugal.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bicycle

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I came across this interesting idea this morning.  Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies has made a Hydrogen powered bicycle capable of doing 25km/h and more than 300 kilometers on a single fuel run.

Hydrogen fuel cell bicycle

Hydrogen fuel cell bicycle

From the company’s website:

“The fuel cell systems in these light electric vehicle applications are much smaller than for automobiles or motorcycles, requiring less hydrogen, with readily available hydrogen storage technologies – making the proposition easy and attractive. The fuel cell bicycles have a top speed of 25 km/h, and can travel 300 km on a hydrogen refill. With many more fuel cell vehicles on the road, visibility is increased, meaning that the investment in public outreach and education is more efficient. Also, while providing mobility, the systems on the bicycles are also small portable power systems able to run radios, computers, lights, power tools, medical equipment, even generate heat. The possibilities are endless and the start of a critical mass can spark wider deployment of higher power applications including fuel cell powered automobiles.”

This got me thinking that as great of an idea as getting more people on bicycles is, isn’t it such a great idea because they aren’t using any energy but their own?  Hydrogen doesn’t pollute, so that’s a plus.  But I don’t see what benefits consumers really get from this bike.  25km/h, that is 15 miles and hour, and I can do that on my touring bike fully loaded to the gills with gear with a headwind.  I’d say that 90% of people don’t ride with that much gear anyway and could go faster than this bike. The website says it will be useful for police officers, couriers, and the like, but I just don’t see it.  Hydrogen cars are a good solution, but just because a hydrogen bike is cheaper doesn’t mean millions of people in developing countries or elsewhere are going to buy these up.

There are more companies producing hydrogen bicycles and they talk about the same things.  Hydrogen bicycles claim to be energy savers, when compared to people driving cars, but not when compared to people riding bikes.  They are also being touted as having much faster refueling times than electric bikes because they lessen the time from 3 hours to about 30 minutes.  Who wants to wait at a gas station for 30 minutes?  I’m sure they got to have faster options, or at least I’d hope so.

You can find the whole story on http://www.horizonfuelcell.com/mobility.htm

A real solution is the Fuel Cell Hydrogen Powered Motorcycle from a company called Intelligent Energy.  This thing looks really cool and useful.  If you’ve ever been to a developing country you really can feel the impact of motorcycles and scooters on the environment.  Imagine rolling this out to millions of people.

Intelligent Energy Fuel Cell Motocycle

Intelligent Energy Fuel Cell Motocycle

Performance Data

  • Acceleration 0 – 20 mph in 4.3s (32kph)
  • 0 – 30 mph in 7.3s (48 kph)
  • 0 – 50 mph in 12.1s (80kph)
  • Top speed 50 mph (80kph)
  • (note: ENV has been tested to 50mph – however, with further refinements and redevelopments, this top speed is expected to be exceeded)
  • Range At least 100 miles (160km)
  • Physical
    Bike mass 80 kg (Total mass including CORE)

Fuel

  • Hydrogen 99.9% purity
  • Oxygen Taken from air
  • Hydrogen refuel time less than 5 minutes

Check this out http://www.webbikeworld.com/Motorcycle-news/fuel-cell-motorcycle/

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.

Surly Long Haul Trucker Complete 2008 Overview video

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I’ve posted a 3 minute video clip on YouTube looking at the 2008 Surly Long Haul Trucker complete, that’s the model you can buy from bike shops which is designed by Surly.  The video looks at the frame, components, and some accessories.  I’ll be posting a new video tonight looking at optional upgrades and accessories needed for bicycle touring.  This is my 2nd video so I apologize for the poor quality, I’m working on improving my skills.

New Cannondale Touring Bikes for 2009

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I was over at my local Cannondale dealer the other day having a chat about the new models rolling out for 2009 and happened to come across the European catalog for Cannondale.  Wow, you guys over there get the good stuff.  For us folks in the US, we have new Touring 1 and Touring 2 models for 2009.  In Europe, you get new models for the Cannondale Touring Ultra, Touring Rohloff, and Touring Classic.

touring-rohloff

This is the Rohloff version, see the shock on the stem?  Cool, it’s a new Cannondale Headshok, has anyone see one of these things before?  Post up here if you have, love to hear about the bike.

Training for the bike tour

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Tomorrow is a big day on the bike trek’s calendar.  It reads…..”3 months to go, start training fat ass.”  I have a two-part training program; on-bike and off-bike.

The on-bike training is broken up into 3 parts, progressing in difficulty as the tour nears.

Month One- 30 mile rides every other day, fully-loaded.

Month Two- 50 mile rides every other day, weekend overnights.

Month Three- 50 mile weekday rides, 200 mile weekend overnights.

Man, that sounds nauseating.

The off the bike stuff revolves around the gym.  I was really surprised when I google’d this topic.  No clear answers came up anywhere.  Seemed like 1/2 the internet was for weight training, 1/2 was against it.  Then a whole new door of information was opened.  I learned about cycling power and wattage.  As if there wasn’t already enough crap for me to think about.  Keeping it short, that is the amount of power you create with your legs.  I read that during the 7th hour of a Tour-de-France stage, Lance Armstrong produced an average of 400 watts of power, damn.  The average man produces about 100-150 on a good day.  Top-performing racers don’t rely on strength training to increase performance cause they’re already set up.  I’m just getting back into the saddle and need to get myself on track quickly.  So I’m going to combine some yoga and weighlifting 3 days a week in 3 parts focusing on a few basic exercises:

Squat, Leg Press, Hammy Curls, Dead Lift, Bent-over rows, Push-ups, Sit-ups.

Month One- Foundation stage.  Getting back into the groove of lifting weights.  Lower weights 10 reps.

Month Two- Strength stage.  Add power to my foundation.  Heavy weight 5 reps.

Month Three- Transition.  Prepare muscles for cycling.  Moderate weight, rapid action.