December 20, 2011
Once in a long while the Gods of Cycling just smile down on you and say, "We have made you suffer enough. We have made you ride to work through too many snowstorms and scheduled too many of your biking 'vacations' during record breaking heat waves. To make it up to you, we're going to give you a perfect 15-day bicycling tour through Baja, Mexico and, we're going to let you try out a Tout Terrain Silkroad while you're there." For a minute it seems too good to be true, but then you just decide to smile and go with it.
Tout Terrains are German-built, Swiss-designed bikes (think precision and quality!), and the Silkroad is their ultimate adventure-seeking machine. The frame of the bike is integrated into the rack in order to eliminate weak points. The whole frame is made from a very high quality steel that is, for a touring bike, impressively light! When boxed up for travel, the Tout Terrain weighed substantially less than my fiance's aluminum mountain bike -- which is not to say I gloated.
Can I just say one thing about Baja? The weather is lovely but it is hilly and sandy. Thank goodness for a 3-by-9 Shimano drivetrain that provided me with a wide range of gears that proved optimal in a wide variety of circumstances. In fact, almost everything about this bike was optimal, from the comfy upright handling, to the infallible disc breaks, to the little arrows on the handlebars reminding me which way to shift to make it easier. One awesome feature the bike also boasts is a generator hub that converts your pedal strokes into energy to charge electronic gadgets such as your smartphone or your GPS.
This is the kind of bike that can take you around the world. Load it up, bungee your entire life to it, and this bike will work for you. Yes, that $2,800 price tag is for real. But haven't you been exceptionally good this year?
Photos 1 and 4 by Josh Tack. Photo 2 and photo 3 by Tout Terrain (photo 3 is of the Silkroad's stainless steel belt).
TOURING GEAR AND TIPS guest post by Sarah Raz.
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Several years ago, I test rode a Tout Terrain Silkroad with a Rohloff hub and a bunch of other features. It was fabulous. It appeared to be bullet-proof and the design had numerous details that said "designed for touring" and "reliable under the worse of conditions." And it was great both on highway and a very sandy, dirt road. Were I to be taking off round the world, I would skimp for ages to afford one. But inexpensive it was not! But even the Rivendale Atlantis that I did buy and which is also a great bike, was relatively inexpensive.