Thoughts on the kit we will be using.
Frame: Steel? Alloy? Carbon? Many suggest steel – repairable and available.
Size: 26″? 29″? MTB? Hard tail, Full Suss? Road? 700c?
Gears: Standard Derailleur Gears? Alfine? Rohloff? Someone suggested single speed!
Gosh! Everyone has an opinion.
A bit like life really, its all about compromise. Lighter = Faster. Heavier = more robust. Cheaper = Heavier, or less options. Rohloff = expensive but probably the best internal gear available. There is no ‘answer’, just where do you want to compromise.
My take: MTB gives us huge options in terms of tyre size and is built to take poor road surfaces. But maybe a bit heavier, and therefore a bit slower. I recon its not the speed that is important. 15mph followed by 3 days off cycling to get a wheel re-built is slower than 10mph with no mechanicals. Roads that are muddy, pot holed and are not really roads would make a road bike just look foolish.
Steel is great, but this bike needs to live a long time after this trip. The gears, I just wanted to “fit and forget”. We will be putting our bike onto buses, trains, boats and probably other forms of transport. Cow? Tractor? I hope not elephant. No hanging parts will be a huge advantage.
Brakes need to work, but no hydraulics to leak. Taking wheels out and accidently squeezing the levers and having to separate the pads is just a bit of a pain. Leaking fluid out there could be a disaster. Cable it is.
So: I want stuff that works. I don’t want to spend hours having to fettle.
- Bike: 29er MTB, Titanium Van Nicholas Zion‘s, with Rohloff gears and rear rack. Hard tail. Avid BB7 mechanical brakes. Rock Shox Reba front fork. Hope front hub. Mavic tubeless rims, although with tubes. Ergon bar ends, which will add that little bit of comfort. Indestructible and, hopefully, totally reliable. We will see. Not the fastest touring rig, but should cope with anything the roads throw at us.
- Panniers: Ortlieb rear panniers, with Ortlieb handle bar bag. Such good kit. Solid, waterproof and flexible.
- Saddle: I thought about this but have always been pleased with my Fizik Gobi. I hear so many good thinks about the Brookes range. But a leather saddle in the middle of monsoon weather? Nope, can’t be done. Fit and forget, again.