Touring Gear & Tips Year-End Roundup

December 2, 2016 - Josh Tack writes Touring Gear & Tips. For his December post, he shares some of his favorite products of 2016.

KTM Bike Industries

KTM has been producing bicycles since 1964, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that they finally brought them stateside. Their lineup includes just about any bike you could want: road bikes, mountain bikes, cyclocross bikes, fat bikes, e-bikes, and trekking bikes. Since they are just getting their footing into the U.S. market, they are still on the hunt for domestic retailers.

Through their ambassador program, I was able to jump on board their Canic CXA bike (shown above). While it’s aimed at cyclocross racing, I wouldn’t be afraid to call it an adventure bike. The aluminum frame and carbon fork are responsive enough for local cross events, but I’ve been spending 99% of my miles using this to explore fire roads around Montana. The disc brakes are always a nice addition to a gravel grinder, as is the internal cable routing. The biggest surprise was seeing rear rack eyelets available, making this a fun option for weekend getaways.

I urge you to check them out and talk to your shop if you’d like to see them stocked nearby.


COBI Smart Connected Biking System

Are your handlebars cluttered with gadgets such as lights, a bell, and a GPS or bike computer? The COBI “smart connected biking system,” along with your smartphone and the free COBI app, declutters your bars, maintaining everything you want at your fingertips, while also expanding your options. 

The COBI system attaches securely to your handlebars and is positioned directly in front of your stem. Using a universal mount or iPhone mount, clip your phone onto the COBI setup for viewing as a dashboard. Then, using the COBI app, pair your phone to the system via Bluetooth, enter your bike and personal information into the settings, install the swipe-free, screen-selecting toggle switch (for safety!), and start exploring the various functions.

With many features available, I’d highly recommend familiarizing yourself with them before hopping on the bike. At the most basic level, this acts as a bike computer that shows your location on a map, as well as speed, distance, elevation gain, and time elapsed. For safety, you can operate a digital bell that plays through a forward facing speaker. There’s also turn-by-turn navigation, incoming text alerts, and music you can play from your phone. Maybe best of all, you can charge your phone from the hub, so you’re not wasting all your phone’s battery life on the ride.

This unit is best suited to city commuters, and COBI has some great videos that showcase the product. I tested out the COBI Sport, retailing for $250. There are other models available that include all this, plus front and rear lights.


onXmaps

If you love exploring remote back roads out west, you might want to check out onXmaps Roam digital maps. Based right here in Missoula, MT, they’ve created a suite of digital maps that leave no trail uncovered. Aside from road, trail, and topographic information, there’s also excellent detail when it comes to land ownership, valuable information to have on hand if you plan on wild camping on public lands.

Covering the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific Northwest, and American Southwest, the Roam maps can be purchased as a microSD card that can be added to your GPS device, or you can buy their downloadable app and use your phone as a GPS unit. No matter which you choose, you’ll be getting one of the most complete public lands and open space maps available.


Garmin Edge Explore 1000

Hands down, my favorite cycling accessory has been, and remains, a Garmin GPS unit. Near the upper echelon of their Edge GPS series is the Explore 1000. With a 1.5 in. x 2.6 in. touch-screen display, it’s the largest display in their lineup, making it easy to glance down quickly to absorb the information you need, and get your eyes back on the road.

Using Garmin’s preloaded cycling specific base maps, you can create routes on the fly for on or off-road riding. Just specify your preferred distance, as well as other options such as surface type, and you’ll be given three route options to choose from. You can also download routes from Garmin Connect or upload your own files. The unit also comes preloaded with points of interest, so if you want to navigate to the nearest cafe, it will get you there.

Pairing the Explore 1000 with your phone will open up some additional options, including live-ride tracking, text or incoming call alerts, weather information, and incident detection, which uses Garmin’s accelerometer to recognize a crash and alert your emergency contact of your location.

Like previous Garmin Edge cycling units, this is quick and intuitive to set up and use. You can customize the screens to display the information you want, and hide the rest. I highly recommend downloading Garmin Express to your personal computer, and periodically checking for updates to ensure you have the latest maps installed.

Photo 3 courtesy of onXmaps

TOURING GEAR & TIPS is written by Joshua Tack of Adventure Cycling’s member services department. It appears once each month, highlighting technical aspects of bicycle touring and offering advice to help better prepare you for the journey ahead. Look for Josh’s “Fine Tuned” column in Adventure Cyclist magazine as well.

 

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