Tag Archives: bike touring

Choosing the right cycling shoes

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To clip, or not to clip?  Clip.  We’ve already written a post about cycling pedals, but I decided to go ahead and put up a post about shoes for the new year.  We’re going to look at the benefits of the different types of shoes you can buy for your ride and hopefully help you choose the correct cycling shoe for your ride.

Remember these things when choosing the right cycling shoes:

  • The stronger the sole, the more power is transferred to the pedal.
  • If you have wide feet, be careful choosing road style shoes, they often come narrowly designed.
  • Ensure a snug fit with a little room in the toes to move around in cold weather.
  • Ensure the fit at the ball of your foot, where you connect to the pedal, isn’t too tight or you will suffer from numbness in your toes.  You need a little up and down space to keep blood moving.
  • Ensure there is no slipping in the heel.  You need a nice heel cup and not a flat sole.

Cycling Gear is on Sale

Cycling Gear is on Sale

In general, there are three types of cycling shoes on the market.  There are a number of special variations, but we’ll focus on the main three.

  • BMX
  • Mountain
  • Road

Road shoes are what most people conjure up when thinking about the Tour de France and cycling.  These shoes are designed for riding and are often difficult to walk in.  Since they are specifically designed for cycling, they often have exposed cleats to ensure the sole is made of one strong piece of material.  As you’ll learn later, mountain shoes often have recessed cleats that cut into the sole and lessen it’s strength.  Road shoes are often of a much narrower design, more lightweight, and stronger than other shoes.  Have a look at the exposed cleats on this model and imagine walking around in them:

shoe

Road Cycling Shoes

Mountain cycling shoes are a little different than road shoes in that they usually have recessed cleats.  This makes the shoe much more comforable to walk in when not clipped into the bike.  Typically these shoes will have rubber/nylon soles on the outer rim of the sole to shed mud and pad your footsteps.  Because of this added sole, the weight of these shoes is generally higher than a road shoe, but not a ton.  You can check to see how good the shoes are at shedding mud and water by checking the gaps between the sole pieces.  It’s hard to explain further, but you’ll understand if you flip the shoe over and check the spacing.  Bigger spaces lead to better clearning ability.    I briefly mentioned earlier that having a recessed cleat can weaken the sole of a cycling shoe.  Basically there is a 2x3cm piece taken out of the sole to fit in the cleat.  Remember this is you are going for speed, it might make a difference for you and make it worthwhile to pick up road shoes and carry another pair of shoes for walking around.  For us bicycle tourers, a softer sole is worth saving on bringing an entire extra pair of shoes to walk around in.  Having two shoes in one is priceless on a long bike tour.  Looking at the picture below, you can see the recessed cleat, the extra rubber sole and mud-clearning gaps, and the heel cup.

Sidi Mountain shoes

Mountain Cycling Shoes

BMX shoes come in models with or without clips because BMX riders use platform pedals and don’t require clipping in at all times because it can become dangerous.  Imagine doing a nice backflip and having your foot stuck in the pedal.  That would suck.  Some riders do prefer the feeling of clipping in and so there are models of BMX shoes available with slips.  BMX shoes typically look like skate shoes because of their wide, flat soles .  Have a look at a typical BMX shoe below:

bmx

BMX Clipless Shoes

Once you’ve chosen the style of your cycling shoe, you’ve got to choose the quality.  Generally, there are three levels of quality when it comes to buying bike shoes.

  • Beginner
  • Economic
  • Performance

Beginner

Obviously, these shoes are of the lowest quality and lowest price of our three choices of cycling shoes.  The soles of these shoes are the flimsiest of the bunch, often made of rubber (heavy) or nylon (cheap).  The upper part of the shoe is made of nylon,synthetic  leather, suede, or mesh.

Economic

These are your mid-range cycling shoes, usually these can be bought for anywhere between 80-120 dollars.  A lot of Shimano, Forte, and Pearl Izumi models fit into this category.  These bike shoes typically come with some sort of composite sole made up of nylon or some carbon fiber.  The upper part of the shoe is made of leather, nylon, mesh, or other materials.  Most of these models will also come with a molded heal cup to position you for max power.

Performance

These are your expensive cycling shoes, usually ranging from 150-250 and higher.  If you are a serious road racer or cyclist, this is your target range.  These bike shoes come with carbon-fiber soles and high quality upper materials made of pure leather or microfibers for maximum breathability.  Some popular performance models include Sidi, Cannondale, Lake, Vittoria, and Adidas.

I hope this helps you choose the right cycling shoes.  Remember, if you’re on a tour and need extra space, get a multi-purpose biking shoe with a recessed cleat so you don’t have to carry an extra pair of shoes.

Don’t forget that one of the most important aspects of power transfer are the soles of your shoe.  A weak and flimsy sole isn’t going to transfer as much power at a solid piece of sole.  Because of this, cheaper shoes are going to be much flimsier than the more expensive models, mostly because of build materials.

REI January Super Clearance! Jan 9-19

Learn more about my upcoming 8,500mile bicycle trek from South Korea to Portugal at my new website.  Click on the logo.

the Long Haul for Hunger

New water bottle cages on my Surly LHT

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In my attempt to create the ugliest Surly long haul trucker ever, I have installed two hideous looking water bottles onto my front Surly Nice Rack.  You might ask yourself why, and if you do, you need to visit www.theultimatetrek.com to figure it out.  The Surly LHT complete comes with 3 frame mount spots for water bottle cages or pumps or whatever.  Due to the nature of my tour, I needed to carry much more water.  Not only will I ride with these 3 bottles, I will carry a water bladder backpack, a water bag in my pannier, as well as 4 rack mounted water bottles.  I will use 3 of the 4 rack mounted bottles for water, and the 4th for camping fuel.  Here are some photos of my rig.  Notice that they are attached with zip-ties and rubber padding to keep ’em secure.  I’ve angled them slightly upward and away from the rack platform to ensure they don’t interfere with anything I’m mounting on the racks.  They’ve made a 50 mile ride no problem, so I think they’ll make it.  I’m probably going to use velcro for extra protection to ensure they dont slip out.

Surly Long Haul Trucker

And the front view…

Surly Long Haul Trucker

One last look.

Surly Long Haul Trucker

Please head over to learn about the Long Haul for Hunger trek, over 7500 miles on my Surly LHT for charity.  We need your help!  www.theultimatetrek.com

Windstopper winter soft shell jacket

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Well it is officially winter in Seoul, South Korea.  On Friday we got down to -12C with winds over 30km/h!  I’m using my WINDSTOPPER WindstopperWindchill-Calculator to see how cold it felt, it reads -30C with wind.  Wow!  With this in mind I headed out this Saturday to gear up for winter riding.  I usually ride 30 milers down on the Han River here in Seoul and it can get really windy even on a good day.  As part III of my clothing system I needed a weather barrier.  I did a little research and came upon a brand called Windstopper.  It was created by the people that made Gore-Tex, a company called Gore.  Simple design with three layers to provide windproof fabric with moisture wicking ability.  The soft shell version offers mild water resistance and snow protection as well.

I took it out for a test ride and was very happy with it.  Coupled with the rest of my clothing system I was very warm and dry.  Check out www.windstopper.com or www.blackyak.co.kr.

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.

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.

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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.