Tag Archives: long haul trucker

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.

Platypus Wine bag for storing wine on your bicycle

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Think water storage is the bicycle tourists only concern?  Hah!  What about wine?  If you’re looking to keep spirits up you need the Platypus Wine Bag.

Platypus Wine Storage Bicycle bag

Platypus Wine Storage Bicycle bag

Whether you are a connoisseur, an enthusiast or a casual admirer of wine, one truth remains: the delicate taste of wine change upon exposure to oxygen. That means wine is best enjoyed within a few hours of being opened. If not properly preserved, wine can go bad in as little as 2 to 8 hours.

  • PlatyPreserve is the best way to protect the taste of an opened bottle of wine by completely eliminating the presence of oxygen. While alternative methods might have you pump air out of the bottle or inject gas into the bottle- PlatyPreserve has you transfer your un-finished wine into an air tight reservoir to truly protect the taste of your wine so it may be enjoyed several days or even weeks later.
    • Collapsible containers offer an easy, light-weight alternative to pack and enjoy wine wherever you go.
    • Select materials ensure superior leak protect and provide zero taste transfer to your wine.
  • The three environmental factors that damage wine are: oxygen, temperature, and ultraviolet light. The PlatyPreserve solves the first factor by isolating your wine from oxygen. You can deal with the other two factors by storing the PlatyPreserve in a cool dark place. Ideally the storage temperature should be held constant at 50 to 52 degrees F. Higher temperatures and bright sun or fluorescent lights can damage wine no matter what the container.

You can buy the platypus wine bags online at the following retailers:

Backcountrygear.com

Mountain Sports

Winter Training for the Long Haul for Hunger Bicycle Tour

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Seoul, South Korea- On a typical weekday morning, long before the sun has risen, we can be found by the Han River battling through the debilitating winds and freezing temperatures that can make even the most dedicated athletes call it a day. The rest of our time is spent thawing our toes and studying our maps.

With less than 50 days until we embark on the Long Haul for Hunger bicycle tour, Derek and I are stepping up our training programs, no matter how cold it is outside.  We look like aliens with all of our winter cycling clothing on.  Really loving my Gore Windstopper jacket at the moment.

Seoul Bicycle Training Weather

Seoul Bicycle Training Weather

Our current training program is in its 2nd phase and we’re transitioning to our final phase of preparation.  From now on we will spend 5 mornings a week on our bikes, I will be putting in 30 miles a day during the week, and doing a 50 mile ride once every weekend.  We want to get plenty of time in the saddle before getting to China.

So far our Surly LHT bikes have held up great in the city, we can only hope they do the same on the tour.  Stay tuned for more updates and check out our event website at http://www.theultimatetrek.com

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

Continental Top Contact Tires

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We’ve just bought some new bicycle tires for the ride and they seem just about perfect for our Long Haul for Hunger.  Our Surly Long Haul Truckers come equipped with Continental Contact tires, and they are just fine.  Nice rolling resistance, good traction, and able to handle our load.  Since our trek is over 8,500 miles, we need to pack some replacements with us.  We needed a reliable tire for touring that was foldable so we could fit it in our Ortlieb panniers.  Turns out the best-rated tire that folds is the Continental Top Contact.  It is a beautiful tire, hand-made in Germany, and super strong and very puncture-resistance.  We’ll update you all when we’ve got the tires installed and have given them a good ride.

Continental Top Contact bicycle tires

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

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