Tag Archives: bicycle

The Road Ahead- Part Two

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This is the second in a series of posts regarding the upcoming Eurasian Cycling Trek for World Hunger I am about to embark on.  In case you don’t know about it, head over to www.theultimatetrek.com and read up!

This series is going to look at the road ahead, checking distances, weather patterns, border crossings, visas, and more.  In this post we’re headed to then 2nd stop on the trek; China.

Map of China

Distance- 2,100+ Miles (~3,400km) from Tianjin to the Kazakhstan border, probably in Khorgos.

Terrain- Extremely varied.  City, mountain, desert, highway.

Est. Time- 1 month

Route- Two routes under consideration, depending on the severity of this year’s winter season.

The first route is the northern route, arriving in Tianjin and heading up to Beijing to re-supply before heading west through Huhehaote.  Then onward to Yinchuan before heading into the vast expanse of western China.  At the Lanzhou intersection, head north towards Wulumuqi before reaching the Kazakhstan border.

The second route has me arriving in Qingdao and staying south going through Zhengzhou and Xi’an before meeting up in Lanzhou with the previous route.

Visa- I have read that I can manage to get a multiple-entry Chinese visa good for 30 days, though it is possible to write immigration and get up to 90 days with proper authorization.  We’ll see if that works.

Don’t forget to check out the website, and if you can spare a few coins for charity, donate to the Mercy Corps in the trek’s name.  Thank you. www.theultimatetrek.com

The Road Ahead- Part One

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This is the first of a series of posts regarding the upcoming Eurasian Cycling Trek for World Hunger I am about to embark on.  In case you don’t know about it, head over to www.theultimatetrek.com and read up!

This series is going to look at the road ahead, checking distances, weather patterns, border crossings, visas, and more.  First up on the trek is Korea.

Map of Korea

Distance- 25 miles from Dongdaemun, Seoul to Incheon Sea Port.

Terrain-  High-grade paved road

Est. Time- 2 hours

Route-  Depart Dongdaemun, Seoul and head south to the Hangang river, follow it to Yeouido Island, cross, and continue along Highway 88 to Incheon.  Exit highway and follow local roads to the sea port.  Board the ferry to China.

Don’t forget to check out the website, and if you can spare a few coins for charity, donate to the Mercy Corps in the trek’s name.  Thank you.

Ortlieb Bike Packer Plus Panniers Review.

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I ride my Surly long haul trucker with Ortlieb bike packer plus rear panniers.  They are larger than my frontroller panniers, measuring about 1,000 cubic inches bigger.  This model is very sturdy and gets great reviews across the board.

Why REI ads? Great customer service and great prices, really, I shop there!
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I’ve been busy preparing my new website, www.theultimatetrek.com, to go live.  It finally has, so now I’m back to the blog.  Have a look at the new website, it looks at my upcoming trek from South Korea to Portugal on my Surly long haul trucker bike.

Ortlieb Bike Packer Plus

Durability: 

Price:

Weather:

Organization:

Compatibility:

Total:

The Bike packer plus panniers get a higher rating than the frontrollers based on two main criteria; size and compatibility.  The bike packers have more straps and are more easily adjusted to fit your rack than the frontrollers.  The bike packers also measure in with 2,441 cubic inches of space, a lot more than the frontrollers.  Now compared to other panniers, this combination is quite small, with only roughly 4,000 cubic inches of storage.  I find it just enough, mounting my camping gear on the tops of the front and rear racks gives me plenty of space.

Bike packer plus ortlieb pannier

Bike packer plus ortlieb pannier

There is plenty of heel clearance on my 58cm surly long haul trucker.

Ortlieb Bike Packer Plus Panniers - Pair

Let’s look at the Bike Packer Plus specs:

Ortlieb.  Obviously they are waterproof, and they are also well-made.  They can carry 2,441 c inches combined.  That is about as much as a large-sized backpacking pack.  The thing I like the most about the Ortlieb bike packer plus panniers, and the Ortliebs in general, is the mounting system.  It’s great.  Super easy to use, adjust, and replace if necessary.  The Bike Packers dont even require a hex-screwdriver, they simply click in and out for easy adjustment.

*  Clips are quick-release.  Simply lift the cord and they come open, let it go and it closes.

*  Bottom clips move around to tightly secure the pannier to the rack and stop it from jiggling.

*  There is an exterior pocket with ventilation

*  There is an internal pocket for a little added organization, but basically these are top-loaders.

Ortlieb Frontroller bicycle panniers review

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This is the first bicycle pannier review, there will be many more pannier review posts to come.

Why REI ads? Great customer service and great prices, really, I shop there!
REI.com

I apologize for the recent lack of updates, I’ve been busy preparing my new website, www.theultimatetrek.com, to go live.  It finally has, so now I’m back to the blog.  Have a look at the new website if you’ve got the time.

So let’s get started with out look at Ortlieb panniers.

Durability:

Price:

Weather:

Organization:

Compatibility:

Total:

.8

First up are the front panniers.  These panniers are typically smaller than rear panniers and are very important in effecting your bike’s handling.  You’re going to want to keep these panniers evenly loaded and low to the ground.  The lower the bag, the more stable the bike.  Don’t overload the front panniers or you might go head-over-bars on downhills.

Ortlieb Front Roller Panniers Ortlieb Front Roller Panniers


Let’s look at some specifics on the frontrollers from Ortlieb.  Obviously they are waterproof, and they are also well-made.  They measure 11.8 x 9.8 x 5.8 and can carry 1525.6 c inches combined.  That is about as much as a medium-sized backpacking pack.  The thing I like the most about the Ortlieb frontrollers, and the Ortliebs in general, is the mounting system.  It’s great.  Super easy to use, adjust, and replace if necessary.  I freaked out when I first went to install the panniers because the clips didn’t even come close to lining up with my Surly Nice Racks.  Upon further inspection I learned all about the great clip system. It’s very simple.

*  Clips are fully-adjustable left to right.  So this means you can make them wider or narrower depending on your rack.

*  Clips are quick-release.  Simply lift the cord and they come open, let it go and it closes.

*  Bottom clips move around to tightly secure the pannier to the rack and stop it from jiggling.

*  There are no ventilation options on these panniers, so do not keep wet things in here long.

Surly Nice Racks.

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REI.com for Cycling

Surly Nice Racks (Front and Rear)

A look at the bike manufacturer’s brand pack racks.  http://www.surlybikes.com

It’s time to move onto racks.   Before we get into our full rack reviews (coming next), I’m going to spotlight my own, the Surly Nice Racks.  Don’t forget to stop by the bike ride page to learn more about my charity ride from South Korea to Portugal on my Surly Long Haul Trucker bike.  Donations and sponsors much appreciated!

Surly Nice Racks

Surly Nice Racks

Front Rack:

  • The Surly Nice Racks are made from Cro-moly steel for ease of repair.
  • Front rack is designed to be loaded high and low.  Low mounted racks provide more stability, and higher mounted racks provide clearance on rocky or bad roads.
  • Cargo rack on top for gear like your tent, stove, camera, etc. Extra storage!
  • Front rack mounts to mid-blade fork eyelets that is on the Long Haul Trucker and other touring bikes.  Mounting gear for bikes without this eyelet is included.

Rear Rack

  • Height-adjustable like the front rack
  • Lots of room
  • Numerous mounts for extra stability
  • Powder coated available in black and silver.

Disadvantages:

  • Not really compatible with disc brakes
  • The Surly Front racks tend to be more expensive (but they offer more storage options that competitors)

The average retail price for these racks are about $125.00.  I picked up both of my racks for 250,000 won in Korea, which is a little more than $250.00.  That price included installation.

If you are installing on your own, here’s the link to the instruction manual.

What makes them different?

  • The Surly Nice Racks allow you to load gear all over the bike.  A lot of other models of racks do not have front racks that allow top-loading.  The other manufacturers usually offer low-load racks that keep weight low.  These are use to ensure greater stability, but if you are on a seriously long ride, you need that extra space on top of the front wheel for storage.  Look at the comparison between the Tubus Tara and the Surly Nice Rack.  Granted, these are just some options.
Tubus Tara Front Rack

Tubus Tara Front Rack

Surly Nice Front Rack

Surly Nice Front Rack

See how the Tubus Tara rack has a single bar over the top of the tire?  The Surly has a full rack which can hold lightweight goods (sleeping bag, mat, clothes) that won’t weigh down the front-end and effect steering, but will free up space on other areas of the bike.  Even if you don’t like the Surly racks, look for a rack with over-the-tire space if you are going on a long tour.

Find products with Free Shipping at REI

Have a look at the racks mounted to my Surly Long Haul Trucker!

Surly Front Rack Full

Surly Front Rack Full

Mid-fork Mounting Bracket

Mid-blade Mounting Bracket

Front-fork Connection (with SKS Fender Mount)

Front-fork Connection (with SKS Fender Mount)

Top view

Top view

If you want to read more about Surly gear, and my Surly Long Haul Trucker, head over to the My Bike
pages.

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.

My Surly Long Haul Trucker

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I’m back from Hong Kong, actually I didn’t make it, the flight was cancelled and I refunded my ticket.  I was quite disappointed but when I came home I had a message saying my Surly Long Haul Trucker has arrived from home.  I’ll be picking it up after the holiday and will get some pictures up shortly.  This reminds me, if you have a touring bike yourself, get some pictures and send them my way with the info about your bike.  I’d love to put up some posts with other people’s rigs, reviews, and pics.  Email at recklesscognition@gmail.com.  Who is going to be the first to email??