Set up for touring.
With the prospect of about 5,000k touring around Europe coming up, the RangeRover of bikes has become a very attractive option.
Pros: Comfort rugged, safety, I know a lot about maintaining them now, electric – Czech roads are hilly and we’ll be passing through Switzerland
Cons: Electric, so charging every night is a major constraint, airlines won’t take batteries.
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The first con is easy – airbnb or friends every night. The second is easy too, it just involved biting the bullet and buying a new battery in Europe, then selling it at the end of the trip or shipping it home to be a not-particularly-useful spare at home. The pros so far outweigh the cons that we’ll just do it.
The other problem is lack of storage space. With FS bikes you can’t have take panniers, but luckily bikepackers have solved all the issues for us. A seat bag and handlebar bag and framebag will hold way more than each of us need, and since weight is not the issue for us that it would be for real bikepackers, we can go for the larger options every time.
Lot’s of research lead me to the Porcelain Rocket Mr Fusion XL or theSpecialized Burraburra 20 because both are stablisied and have the rep of not doing the tail sway that gives seat bags a bad name. Mine arrived without the seat strap that provides a large chunk of the stabilising, but the agents have been very good about chasing one down for me and have only taken two weeks to fail so far. I’ve found that I need 130.. of clear space on my seat post to hang this thing, and with the extra little triangle on the frame at the base, I only just manage, so unfortunately my short-legged partner Jill is going to have to make do with a regular Topeak Backloader which had better only be 1/3 as good as mine at the price. Somehow I feel it will be perfectly OK for our style of travelling, so watch out for a separate review.
I went for the Specialized because the PR is only occasionally in stock, very friendly but laid back, and I want to have service available if needed wherever I happen to be, in Europe next, so the Specialized it was, and even with string in place of the aforementioned strap, I like it a lot. I though I might have to sacrifice my Brooks Flyer saddle to let it sit up at a jaunty angle (and to keep it away from the wheel), but the Flyer has those little strap holders at the back which are perfectly placed to cinch it up nice and tight. I can fit all my weet weather gear plus might off-bike clothes in easily along with my bath bag and other bits and pieces.
Every review, every best 5 handlebar bags, everyone ends up going for the Salsa EXP Anything Cradle , except for aq few die hards, and someone has to keep the others in business, I suppose. TO be fair, they’re expensive and add teensy bit more weight to the whole system, but I needed to push the package further away from the bar because of the way the cables push outwards from the swept-back sweep of the Salsa Bend 23. I didn’t buy the bags as well, partly because I want to get my sister to make some to match the framebag whe is going to make, but mostly because I’m a cheapskate. The Salsa bags look fantastic, and I bet I end up getting a set.
Nothing standard was ever going to work, and even with the bottle removed there’s not a lot of space, but at this stage (21 April) I have a template that looks like it will hold the charger, all my tools, other cables and stuff as well as a change of clothes or my towel to pack it all in. Watch this space for progress.
Later: OK my good sister Sue, did the sewing and now I have a bag that will just manage to hold the charger, tools, pump, spare tube etc. 1.5kg.
Total weight of all bags fully packed – 7.4kg + 1.5kg for the lock. Total weight of bike, bags and me – 124kg. No wonder my battery drains so quickly.
Tyres (or tires, depending on where you were brought up)
Our bikes came with Schwalbe Rocket Rons, and I had replaced my rear one with a Racing Ralph which gave excellent traction in the mixed conditions we usually ride, but in pursuit of greater range and quiter travel I decided to change, after a lot of research, to Schwalbe G-One, the balloon version, 2.35″. I was seriously impressed with the silence and speed, although a lot of the efficiency would have come from the fact that I pumped them up to 2.5 bars, from the 1.8 on the knobbly ones, but I have changed back because they are the most puncture-prone pieces of rubber I have ever had.
This minute piece of glass ruined Jill’s day, and on another day a tiny thorn ruined mine.
The Rocket Rons will be more versatile anyway, and we won’t be so limited on the terrain. You have to try these things, don’t you. Anyone want to buy 4 hardly used tyres? (or tires)