Tag Archives: bicycling

Winter Training on my Surly Long Haul Trucker

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Derek and I headed down to the river today after a snowstorm to test out our Surly Long Haul Truckers in wintry weather.  With a nice mixture of snow, ice, and a thick layer of mush, the ride turned out to be just what we were looking for.  Some things we learned from the ride:

  1. SKS Fenders, or fenders in general, really make for a cleaner ride.  Derek doesn’t have fenders and was covered with mud after about 2 minutes on the bike.  I was perfectly clean, although my front Ortlieb panniers were covered in mud.
  2. Adding some extra inflation to your tires increases speeds while under heavy load.  I was rolling pretty heavy on the ride and my speed was down about 2km per hour.  I stopped and pumped up my tires with my Topeak Road Morph up to near max capacity.  I was rolling with the wind and got an extra 4km per hour out of my bike.
  3. A simple 3-layer clothing system seems to keep us warm.  I’m wearing a pair of synthetic moisture-wicking long underwear (tops and bottoms), a think wool jacket on top, and a Gore Wind-stopper Jacket on top of that.  For my legs, I’ve got the long underwear, a regular pair of boxer shorts, and wind-protective pants.  Add some wool socks, a pair of cycling gloves, and waterproof shoe covers, and that’s it.  We were riding in light rain, 34 degree weather, and a 20mph wind.  No problems.  I really think the addition of the Wind-stopper jacket has solved my problems.
  4. The Surly Long Haul Truckers are holding up nicely.  I have over 900km on my bike while Derek is still breaking his in.   I have had no problems thus far with any part of the bike. So far, all of my racks, panniers, and water cages are holding up just fine.

Cycling Booties (Shoes covers)

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I made a major step forward in staying warm today by purchasing some cycling booties.  That’s what I call them, I guess some people refer to them as shoe covers.   Not only do cycling booties keep your feet warm on a frigid day, some models are also waterproof.  Just wear your waterproof pants over the tops of the shoe covers and you’re one solid piece of waterproof protection.  Like most things, there are cheap inexpensive models, and more expensive ones.  The good thing about bicycling shoe covers is good waterproof models are available for a low price.  For 50 dollars or less you can secure a nice pair of waterproof shoe covers.

Check out the Sugoi Resistor Bike Booties at REI.
Sugoi Resistor Bike Booties
If the weather is cold but not cold enough to wear full shoe covers, you can also buy toe covers.   These slip over the toes and cover up the ventilation areas on the toe.  They cost less than 20 dollars usually.

Check out these Pearl Izumi toe covers
Pearl Izumi Calientoes Toe Warmers

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.

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.

Cycling Nutrition on a bicycle tour

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We haven’t spent any of the last couple of months posting about cycling nutrition and it’s finally time to start.  While we’ve been researching and testing different products and methods of staying energized on a tour, we’ve kept quiet on the blog, but we are just about ready to release some of our findings.  As you know it’s winter here in South Korea, so we’ve been freezing our boots off training for the upcoming Long Haul for Hunger, an 8,500 mile bicycle tour for charity.  I’ll never forget the first week of training and nutrition testing when we set our base levels for the test, refueling on water alone before, during, and after our rides.  Those 75-mile rides with four loaded panniers were more than painful and the last miles of each day were excruciating.

Over the next week or two we’ll be featuring a series of articles on cycling nutrition.  We encourage all of you to comment back on your own experiences with nutrition supplements, recipes, and anything else that might be helpful to our readers.  Remember to check out our 8,500 mile trek at www.theultimatetrek.com.  We are accepting entrants if you can ride all or part of the trek, drop us an email or comment.

long-haul-for-hunger-logo

The Long Haul for Hunger Route Map

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I’ve been fiddling around with a cool website called trimbleoutdoors and have gotten a route map up for our upcoming bike trek.  With all the twists and turns, the ride has changed from 7500 miles to about 8500, no biggie.  Anyway, here is our current idea for the Long Haul for Hunger route.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m about to embark on a ridiculous journey from South Korea to Portugal to raise money for charity.  Check it out at http://www.theultimatetrek.com

LHFH Map