Tag Archives: bicycles

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.

Top Bicycle Rides of 2008

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I was visiting http://www.bicycling.com today and came across a cool article about the best bike rides of 2008.  The article was posted in a blog you can find here.  There is a lot of data, including GPS points and elevation information, for all of the rides.  They are from the US, so hopefully soon we can get some information up about international rides.

Bicycle Panniers. A look at the types of bike panniers on the market.

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Now that we’ve looked at some racks (more to come, don’t worry), we’re going to get into panniers.

REI.com

There are a lot of brands of panniers on the market today, each pannier famous in their own niche, whether it be their quality, waterproofing, reliability, or price.  What panniers are the best?  What panniers are waterproof? What panniers are cheapest?  We’re going to dive into the long list of pannier manufacturers and pick out some hot brands to consider when making your purchase.

Take the poll and comment on your selection. Sorry if your pannier isn’t listed, there are a lot of them.

Popular Bicycle Panniers on the Market:

Arkel:

  • Famous for the GT-54’s and matching GT-18’s.  Load up for the ultimate trek.
  • 3,300 cubic inch rear set—2,200 cubic inches up front.  Total 5,500 cubic inches of space.
  • Not waterproof
  • Waterproof inner liner included
  • GT-54s come with a integrated tent/tent pole holder
  • Price is a little higher than other models, you decide if it’s worth it to you.
  • Lots of pockets and zippers to organize stuff
  • Easy mount/dismount clips

Jandd:

  • Ridiculously large.
  • Upwards of 6,800 cubic inches on only the rear packs!
  • Not waterproof and require rain covers
  • Lots of zip-offs and options
  • Pockets
  • Looks complicated to mount

MEC:

  • Canadian company
  • Waterproof panniers available
  • Average sized, 1,100 cubic inches up front, between 2,800 and 3,400 on the rear.
  • Not too pretty.  Colors are not very inspiring.
  • They are very inexpensive.

Ortlieb:

  • Famous for the Front/Back roller series and matching Bike Packer series.  Load up for the ultimate trek.
  • 2,441 cubic inch rear set—-2,441 cubic inch front set. Total 4,882 cubic inches of space.
  • Very waterproof
  • Interior pocket and outside pockets with water draining slots on the Bike Packer rears.
  • Reasonable price
  • Not a lot of pockets
  • Super simple & easy mounting/dismounting

Vaude:

  • Offers a seriously impressive line of panniers.
  • Five lines in fact: Discover, Aqua, H20 Proof, Roadmaster, and Traveler
  • Lots of color options
  • Roadmaster series offers serious space in a stylish package with a rear rack that has a detachable top pack.
  • The H20 proof does exactly what you expect it to
  • Similar set-up to Ortlieb panniers, similar mounting system too.
  • Surprisingly low-priced

Ok, that was very tiring and I have to get back to work.  More posts on the way.  Don’t forget to check out www.theultimatetrek.com if you’ve got the time.

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.