The Adventure Cycling blog covers bicycle-travel news, touring tips and gear, bicycle routes, organizational news, membership highlights, guided tours, and more. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for daily updates.
Photo by Adam Coppola
Respect is something everyone has to earn. As traveling cyclists, that can sometimes be harder to remember — but even during moments of frustration, we should always keep in mind that whenever we are out riding, we're ambassadors for current and future riders. One area where we may forget our duties as ambassadors is when we finish the day's ride and check into the comfort of a hotel or motel room.
While you can usually fit all of your touring gear in panniers, or a trailer, we see many people adding a small backpack into the mix. For some riders, this incorporates a hydration bladder that either replaces water bottles, or adds some hydration range between refill stops. For others, it can sometimes replace a set of panniers, if you're in between the need for two and four panniers. I like to haul a small pack along to keep some small items on hand for quick, off-the-bike excursions, such as my camera, wallet, some food, maps, and a book.
Changing handlebar styles can significantly change the character of your bike. Sometimes a change is needed for comfort, while other times you simply want to spice up your ride a bit. Here's a brief look at four of the most common handlebar styles that we see roll through the Adventure Cycling office -- might give you some ideas for any upcoming retrofits to your touring bike.
Contact points on the bicycle (handlebars, saddle, and pedals) are areas that can often lead to discomfort when riding long distances, or stringing multiple days together. To some extent there is a natural break-in period, for both your equipment and your body, and only way to work through this period is to put in the time and miles. I have had good luck with saddles in the past, but for the feet, I have always found myself drifting towards a quicker fix, as hot spots while riding has been an issue for me over the years.
Velocity DYAD rims are hard to beat for touring. They sit a little wider than most rims at 24mm, which helps prevent pinch flats when running wider tires, such as a 700x32 touring tire, and offers a sturdy and comfortable ride. The rims lack spoke eyelets, which on the surface can appear as a weak point, but the V-profile adds more than enough strength near spoke nipples to eliminate the need of eyelets. In fact, if you were to cut a cross-section of the rim, you would see a reassuring amount of material near the spoke holes.
While most often seen on mountain bikes, the Crank Brothers Candy pedals are an excellent option for touring. Building on their popular Egg Beater pedal, the company's Candy series has a small platform, measuring 3" wide by 2.5" long, to give you some additional pedal support while touring. They also make it easier to do short commutes in everyday shoes.
The following items are some of my favorite stuff from the show (please note that some of these products will not be available until 2011):
As the summer warms up, many touring cyclists escape to the high, often shady elevations of our Great Divide Mountain Bike Route to beat the heat. This off-road route offers riders plenty of unique challenges in regards to terrain, weather, and unexpected obstacles like downed trees. Other features include isolated camping sites and plenty of wildlife, including bears, especially along the northern half of the route.
A joy shared is a joy doubled" the saying goes, and it's true that bike touring with a partner can indeed be double the fun of a solo tour. A cycling buddy means there's always someone to celebrate milestones with, lend a hand when you get a flat tire, and chat with around the campsite in the evenings.
Panniers seem to be the most common option chosen by self-contained bicycle tourists for carrying their gear. I don't have a real strong preference for one pannier brand over another — but one rule I do follow is to always keep pannier rain covers on hand. And so should you (unless, of course, you have waterproof panniers, such as the Ortlieb Bike Packer or Axiom Typhoon).
Finding the right footwear for touring is like most things associated with bicycle travel: Your selection will change depending on the style of tour you have ahead of you, and over time you will settle into preferences that work best for you. To get started, here are some options that have worked well for me in the past.
When packing up for a tour, I tend to put a big focus on the essentials (tools, tent, sleeping bag, cookware, clothes, etc). Here are three items that may or may not be necessities, so they can be easy to neglect. But all of them are beneficial to have along.
Building a bike from the frame up can be exciting. It gives you the opportunity to fine tune the bike to your specific needs, and can give your bike some additional character to set it apart from others. The problem I often run into with building bikes from scratch is that the price can quickly get out of hand. To help maintain a reasonable budget for a custom build, it's important to spend money on key components, and hold back on more trivial parts. Here are some examples I have put into my own builds.
Locating a creak coming from your bike can be a tricky thing to do. While the noise almost always seems to be emanating from the bottom bracket, there are also a handful of additional suspects that are (fortunately) easier to fix.
Recently, the use of compression wear among athletes has been increasing rapidly. What was once a product focused towards providing support and improved blood flow for people with poor blood circulation, has now taken on a performance oriented design. 2XU, based out of Australia, is one the industry leaders in compression gear, and their compression socks, leggings, and tights are now permanently inked under the 'staples' section of my touring pack-list.
Kicking off this Friday will be the Tour Divide, a 2,745-mile self-supported mountain bike race from Banff, Canada, to Antelope Well, New Mexico, on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. While this event isn't what most people would consider touring, the requirement that all riders must transport their own supplies from Canada to the U.S.-Mexico border brings out some nice gear that can used by us mere mortals. The most visible of which is the frame bags that are used by many of the riders.
Traveling by bike is a blast! But sometimes you need a break from the long days in the saddle and want to do something away from your bicycle that is both fun and free.
Every so often, I get an email asking whether or not a person should move from a 700c road wheel to a 26" wheel for touring. My touring experience has predominantly been aboard 700c wheels, but there are some good reasons to give a 26" wheel some thought.
One of the first things I do before setting out on my bike, whether it's for a day ride or a full blown tour, I always check my tire pressure. Over time, your tubes naturally leak air, so it's always a good idea to have them topped off to help prevent pinch flats, and improve the tire's rolling efficiency. One piece of equipment that can take that process out of your routine is the Pump-Hub.
The New World Tourist is Bike Friday's loaded touring specific bike, which can handle racks and panniers or a trailer, depending on your preference. The small folding frame geometry lends itself well to touring in the sense that it provides a super low step over height, and can be adjusted to fit a wide variety of rider types.
While the most rewarding feature of bicycle computer is tracking the accumulation of miles over a long span of time, there are plenty of other good reasons to mount one to your bike. For extended tours on unfamiliar roads, they can help you orient yourself on your map, and give you some confidence that you didn't miss your last turn, and that it's only a few more miles up the road. Just about any bicycle computer will have average miles per hour, giving you a chance to calculate your estimated time of arrival.
It's easy to be lured into spending a lot of money on a shiny new touring bicycle but you don't need a big bank balance to start enjoying bike touring. In fact, I've done my last 1,000km on a $100 bike from the local second-hand shop.
Over the years, coffee has become somewhat of a theme in all of my tours, no matter where in the world they take place. While there are thousands of brands available, I thought it would be fun to bring out some bicycling oriented coffee companies, and accessories.
Handlebar tape is a very simple addition to any road or touring bike that can both increase the comfort of your ride, and add some personalized style to your bike. Any new bike will come stock with bar tape, so it's certainly not necessary to replace it right away, but when the time comes, here are some styles to consider.