Bicycle Touring Articles:
Bicycle tours begin with the right bicycle touring frame. Consider geometry, compatibility, fit, function, and material to pick right bicycle touring frame.
In another article I suggest using any bicycle for bicycle touring. You don't need a special bike to tour on; however, if you really want to limit the hassle of the “daily workaround” there are criteria that makes a bicycle frame a good bicycle touring frame.
I am a big believer in buying used bicycles. The last time I bought a new bicycle was in 1991 while working as a mechanic/sales person at a Cannondale shop. I sold the bike to myself. Since then I have been buying used bicycles on ebay, craigslist, and at garage sales.
Dynamo chargers don't have reside in the hub. Let's look at some new designs of bicycle dynamo chargers that mount on the bicycle. All of the dynamo chargers in this review are not hub dynamo chargers. I am not against using a hub dynamo charger. I love my current set of wheels and am not open to any changes to accommodate any hub dynamo chargers. So what are the new developments in non hub dynamo chargers.
The proper bicycle touring toolkit depends on a number of factors. Am I riding in a group? What type of terrain am I covering? Will there be bicycle shops nearby? A group of bicycle tourists can spread out an extensive bicycle touring toolkit across their panniers quite easily. Credit card bicycle tourists on established routes can get away with a spartan bicycle touring toolkit. Solo remote adventure cyclists may need to carry more or are able to get by with less than a fully operational bicycle. What do you use?
On October of 2013 I stumbled upon and posted Newton Kansas Bicycle Shop for Bicycle Tourists. Let's look at what these guys have been doing.
I am in need of Thermarest mattress repair. My prolite has sprung a leak. I searched around and found several guides on how to affect the repair myself but also saw that I could send the mattress back to Thermarest for repair. I have never had a Thermarest leak before and am a big believer in the Prolite model and the Thermarest brand. I promote the Thermarest brand throughout this site. This was a good opportunity to see if a company I go out of my way to use and promote would get behind me the customer.
Bicycle touring equipment distribution or how I place my gear across my bike to ensure that I have a balanced center of gravity, oft used items are easily available, and items that are used together are grouped together.
I've got three boxes of bicycle touring equipment and I need to start deciding what will go on my next adventure. This is a painstaking process of packing up, test riding, unpacking, repacking, more test riding, until I am comfortable with my bicycle touring equipment distribution.
My bicycle touring stretching warmup begins in my sleeping bag, progresses as I break camp and extends into my first ten to fifteen minutes on the bike. I follow up a good thorough stretch by hitting a low gear and spinning my legs for another ten minutes. I don't waste any time as every stretch is geared toward getting on the road. It makes getting started on a rainy or chilly mornings a little easier.
Shimano XT Thumb Shifters are perhaps the finest bicycle component ever engineered. For the bicycle tourist riding a mountain bike style bar Shimano XT Thumb Shifters offer the perfect blend of functionality, reliability, adaptability, and ease of use.
I see a lot of questions on different sites with people asking 'What is the best touring bicycle?' or 'Can I use this bicycle to tour on?' The best touring bicycle exists only as an idea. I tour on a bicycle that is NOT the “best touring bicycle”. A good deal of experienced bicycle tourers might think of it as a poor choice. In my eyes the best touring bicycle is more about you the bicycle tourist and not the bicycle. So what is the best touring bicycle? You may already own it.
How do you capture edit and begin publishing outdoor adventures? Things are changing so quickly that I often lock into a 'mobile publishing solution' on one day and abandon the idea the next day. I'm certain that I want to be capturing media and publishing to my site, maybe write a book, and/or create a film. How will I capture, store, and power the assets while on the road? How will you be publishing outdoor adventures?
I'm not flying in the wind on this subject. I have done this before. At least I have tried to do it. I met with some success and a great amount of failure. I have a positive mindset and some 'working knowledge' this time around. I know exactly what I failed to consider last time. Publishing outdoor adventures is combination of your publishing device, power, connectivity, capture, software, media storage and how you manage them together.
How do you backup media off the grid? Storage solutions are changing almost as rapidly as the devices that use them. You are out in the woods snapping photos, shooting video, and recording time-lapses. How do you make sure you have them backed up on a storage device? Many devices record to different mediums so saving them to one or two secure backup sources needs to be thoroughly thought out.
I give you the Kamp-Rite Midget Bushtrekka Bicycle Camper Trailer with Oversize Tent Cot complete in its lunacy and available for purchase at Amazon.com. This is the worst bicycle touring product ever conceived because of its weight, complexity, and inability to solve any problems.
Utilizing iOS or Android for mobile publishing helps to keep my tour kit light and powerful. Having almost the power of a laptop in device that is comparable in size to a cassette tape is one of the biggest ways bicycle touring has changed for me over the years.
Connectivity off the grid is hard to maintain. If you think your device will stay connected while bicycle touring, hiking, or camping in the most scenic, tranquil, important, and distant reaches you are mistaken. If you venture far enough away from it all you will drop connectivity during your adventure. This is not a problem it is a 'feature' of adventuring.
Charging electronics off the grid is as much about your approach as it is about the equipment. I desire to find myself in unpopulated areas where charging electronics via a wall outlet is impossible. I need generate my own power for charging electronics off the grid. I accept this. The best method for charging electronics off the grid right now are solar chargers, cache batteries, and dynamos.
The perfect bicycle touring camera doesn't exist. We all have different tastes, needs, and mediums we publish in. I have learned a great deal since my first tour and cameras have changed quite a bit in size, function, and capability. What hasn't changed is that you still need to carry, power, protect, capture, store, and output your media. I cannot tell you what the perfect bicycle touring camera is for your tour. I can outline the criteria I am using in selecting the bicycle touring camera set up I will use.
I wrote this list for me but have decided to share it with everyone. We may not be in full agreement on all of these but I bet that more than a few will make you wax poetic on bicycle touring or possibly give you the itch to get back on the road. I write them as I get excited for my upcoming tour, and read them when my planning hits a brick wall. I give you bicycle touring motivation: 50 reasons to Bicycle Tour.
Bicycle touring equipment that I need on a bicycle tour. I have crossed the United States three times and have learned more than a few lessons. Sometimes I skimp and get stuff from a thrift store and then there are times when I bite the bullet and buy direct from retail/adventure stores. If you are going on a bicycle tour you need this equipment!
My favorite outdoor outfitter is by far Goodwill Thrift Stores with The Salvation Army coming in at close second. I'm lucky as I live in NYC and have 2 very active Goodwill and 1 Salvation Army Thrift stores in between my home and work. I find so much high quality thrift store adventure gear that I can be picky about what I decide to add to my kit. Let's look at what I found over the past month in three visits.
Exposure is a killer. You are rarely aware of it until it ups the stress level and smacks you in the face. It is where there is no hiding from Mother Nature and Exposure. The funny part is she usually appears at that point in the trip that you have sought out the most. The killer mountain view overlooking the valley, the desert landscape out of Lawrence of Arabia, or maybe the ridge you just climbed. Just when you get to that place where you want to take it all in, pop out the camera and start snapping photos, mother nature and exposure enter into the picture when you are the most vulnerable. You hear about it all the time but what exactly is exposure?
Ok so the team behind the 'Ride The Divide' movie [also on Netflix] kicks off a dream of a scenario where they buy a couple round the world tickets and fly to several destination and ride around parts unknown discovering culture, human nature, and deep crevasses within their souls. Right off the bat this movie grabbed me, shook me around the room, and spiked me on my head [without a helmet]. Cut to a rustic mountain cabin where a group of adventurers start discussing a trip that all of us dream of taking over a scotch slushie. Throughout 'Reveal The Path' the dichotomy between adventure and a profound thoughtfulness can be felt.
A Newton Kansas bicycle shop has opened with supporting bicycle tourist along the transam as one of their main goals.I tweeted this. I posted it at Reddit. I posted it at CGOAB. I have told all of my touring friends. I keep watching the video and hoping that people embrace this and DO NOT abuse the privilege. Newton Bicycle Shop receives the highest honor I can give at this time. BicycleHobo.com designates this shop as an 'ALL STAR BICYCLE TOURIST.' Watch the video and disagree.
Ok…so I'm not on tour. How do I keep my bicycle touring chops sharp and in touch. Where do I read about the latest gear and get feedback on what works and what doesn't? Where do I spend the hours, minutes, and seconds I should be riding online reading about bicycle touring?
NOTE: I would love any suggestions of sites to add to this short list. These are not ranked in order. These are my bicycle touring online destinations:
Sell everything you own on ebay before you leave on your next adventure. The first step in a successful tour is getting rid of all my 'crap'. Fortunately I have done this before and have made the mental note of not accumulating too much 'crap'. Storage is a dirty word in my book and there is no such thing as sentimental value. Downsize the crap, lose the clutter, simplify your life, cut your fixed costs that need to be maintained while adventuring and spend the money on better gear.
I purchased the REI Minimalist Bivy Sack in Boulder Colorado mid tour on my last cross country ride. It was one of those sales at REI and my sleeping bag needed replacing badly. I picked up a cheap summer bag and noticed the bivy marked down from $89 to $59. I don't know why it was marked down. I gave it a quick once over and it seemed to be in perfect condition. MINE!
In the same way “Riding North – The Movie” celebrates Canada's North West Territories through media, attitude, and song; Tailwind Prairie Harvest dials down and celebrates the people, produce, and countryside of Manitoba, Canada. These guys are bicycle tourists and storytellers and this program brought more than a couple smiles to my face and deserves a watch.
icycles Prohibited signs used to rub me the wrong way but they exist for very good reasons. As per 'Me' I had to learn this the hard way. I have no excuse to offer here, I just wanted to share my experience and own up to something stupid I did.
I saw mpowerd.com's Luci solar powered light on a gadget site and instantly made the purchase. Small pack size and internal solar power would make for the perfect tent light. After purchasing I saw someone had commented on LuminAid's entry into the same market and I also had to have it….ok…here it is: Luci vs Luminaid.
The Eureka Backcountry 1 is a freestanding, 1 person, double wall, tent that assembles in minutes, and boasts a roomy interior. When I say freestanding I do mean “truly freestanding”. You can completely erect this tent without using any stakes or guidelines.
Cheap bikepacking feedbags can be yours for less than $17. A bunch of new companies are changing how we carry gear when bicycle touring. I am a huge fan of some of these methods and look forward to incorporating them into my bicycle touring set up.
Thermarest Old School vs New School was a difficult decision for me. I spend a good deal of time lusting after new equipment online. When I saw that Cascade Designs, maker of Thermarest sleeping pads, modified their Neo Air line, trimming the corners, to fit into a mummy shaped bivy, I penciled it in as a goto piece of gear for my next trip; however, I'm not so sure anymore.
Sometimes the trip of a lifetime can seem like a series of bad decisions. When either 'the Rider' or 'the Equipment' cannot outperform the challenge your bicycle tour becomes a nightmare.
I'm sitting here planning my upcoming tour and all of my thinking reflects perfect conditions and equipment that works but I know that all kinds of things are going to go wrong: equipment failure, getting lost, body fatigue, injury, wildlife issues, and issues with humans. Limiting these disasters keep you sharp and go a long way in preventing when your bicycle tour becomes a nightmare.
How much does it cost to bicycle tour? On all the 'Bicycle Touring' sites I visit there is always a question about the costs associated with bicycle touring. What is the cost? What is your daily budget? How do you get the time?
Lately I am seeing a lot of questions that revolve around sites like 'kickstarter' where people are actually attempting to have others 'fund' their tour. This post is not about that. I am simply breaking down the costs of touring into three verticals that I can then plan around and price out.
How much does it cost to bicycle tour?
I can remember my Mom talking smack about instant mashed potatoes years ago. I believe the word she used was BARF! She hipped me to these being much improved before my last tour.
Behold the Sardine — delicious, nutritious, easy to carry, non perishable, cheap, available everywhere, comes in a variety of flavorings [hot sauce, mustard, tomato, etc.] or useful oils [vegetable, soy, olive, etc.]
Open a can and dump it on top of some ramen or minute rice, toss in a can of vegetables and enjoy some roadside gourmet for a couple bucks. I tend to stick to the ones packed in oil for the fat calories. They are delicious by themselves.
When I tell people I am planning a bicycle tour that could take 'years' the first reaction is usually: 'How can you afford to do this?'
So I’m surfing around on reddit and I keep seeing posts by user tiredofitdotca who is providing a good deal of helpful info. I visit his website TiredOfI.T! and I read perhaps the best breakdown of a dynohub to laptop charging set up, usage, and experience that exists online. I also see that he has written a book.
I wanted to add to my review below as I missed something about this movie when watching it the first couple times. This is not only a movie about bicycle touring. It is a celebration of Canada. The soundtrack really grew on me and after looking up the individual artists involved I came to look at the movie in a different light. Regardless it is a great job and well worth the price of download.
This past summer I headed up into the wilds of Upstate NY for a weeklong fishing trip / bachelor party. While cycling wasn’t on the menu, I was there to send off a long time cycling buddy who has ridden across the country with me twice. I picked up a $98.00 cheap inflatable kayak to make sure that everyone had a spot in a boat. I was very impressed with the kayak and have been looking for a way to incorporate one into my adventure gear.
When people ask me “why I bicycle tour?” I often cannot articulate a satisfactory answer. If you are a bicycle tourist or endurance athlete: marathons, triathalons, rock climber, whatever…perhaps you can understand this.
My first tour was on a super stiff aluminum frame with an equally stiff aluminum fork using worn out bar tape on set of Michelin Highlight Super Comp 700c x 20mm tires. I didn’t wear gloves. It destroyed my hands inside of eight days. I still feel the effects 14 years later. Pay particular attention to the equipment that interfaces your body to your bicycle. Hands, feet, and your butt all make contact with the bike and need to be protected to have a successful tour.
This campsite in the photo was a welcome one. I had just climbed up and out of the desert from Phoenix and into the mountains near Payson, Arizona. The day started in a beautiful ‘cactus forest’ desert at an elevation of 1,140 feet and ended in a much cooler piney mountain landscape at 5000 feet. Located at the base of the Mongolian Rim and well inside the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. Free Dispersed Camping near Pine, Arizona.
On my last tour I employed a Brunton Explorer foldable compact solar panel charger and back up battery to keep my smartphone, camera, and hardrive charged. I was able to stay powered up throughout my trip and never once was without power for my media kit. The downfall was that T-Mobile seemingly had no service from Phoenix, AZ until I neared Denver, CO, perhaps the best part of my trip. I was able to capture media but had to rely on wifi to publish in many places throughout my trip.
Perhaps you know what I’m talking about. You spend years dreaming about your next tour and finally a window opens up. You spend hours at the computer accessing the best routes. You identify all of the areas where you will be away from services. You work on the bike nonstop to get it perfect. You are constantly playing with your gear set up, buying new gear, selling old gear, and then adjusting how you place it on the bike. This goes on for months. Once you are all set you dive into making all of the travel arrangements to get to your launch point. You pack everything you will need for the upcoming trek in a cardboard box and ship it or bring it on a plane with you. Finally it’s day one of your tour. Finally after months or years of prep you are on your way, but the bike ride is only a small slice of how a tour comes off.
I have been on three tours and each time I return home with a list of items I will not be taking on my next trip. My last trip was a little over a year ago and I am reviewing in preparation for an upcoming trip. Not unlike my previous preparatory stages I am trying to lose some equipment. I will be shedding the racks and pannier bags on my upcoming trip. I have seen a lot of upstart companies that produce a new type of bicycle bag. No racks are needed and they offer a more streamlined form factor. They refer to these bags as “Bikepacking” bags. The BicycleHobo is making the conversion to a bikepacker.
I am the proud owner of a 1994 specialized s-works m2. This thing is a stumpjumper on steroids. I can remember when Mountain Bike Action had this plastered on the cover with a full two photo spread inside. I lusted after it then and I jumped at the chance to grab this off Ebay for $800. History of the 1994 specialized s-works m2
In 1990’s Specialized looked at the work Rock Shox was doing and reached out to them to build a the Specialized Future Shock. This is a ‘Specialized’ branded version of the Mag 21 SL that would eventually be mated to a Metal Matrix compound frame called M2. I can remember staring at this bicycle fork for hours on end in all of the MTB magazines. It was so special that our local Specialized Bike Shop didn’t get a window model. Travel is up to 2.5″ and has negative springs with with carbon fiber stanchions, alloy steerer, alloy drop outs and titanium hardware ($650 retail). This is not your average touring fork, in fact many may think this is a foolish choice. The Specialized Future Shock is perhaps one of the nicest looking forks ever created.
Every since I was a young boy I have slept with the covers pulled up and over my head. Completely covered by the blanket. When I am unable to do this I often position a pillow so it covers the top of my head all the way to the tip of my nose so that just my nose and mouth are exposed. I have no explanation for this and have been derided by every single girlfriend who was witness to this behavior. Sleeping in a bivy sack comes quite naturally to me.
Stealth camping is finding a free, usually illegal, always inconspicuous campsite, spending the night and leaving without being noticed. Questions on forums abound on the practice of finding a free camping spot. It’s usually called stealth, ninja, hobo, guerrilla, urban, vagabond, whatever camping. People talk about it’s morality, legality, practise, and execution. I have successfully stealth camped 100’s of times in many different conditions. I’m fairly adept at it because I am usually very prepared with equipment on a bike trip. There are people who make a life out of stealth camping and spend every night for years this way.
This is how I wash up after a day of bicycle touring at a stealth campsite. This should give you 12 complete ‘sponge’ baths when away from facilities or in the wild. It’s basically a reusable baby wipe, cleaning solution, and a shaker for getting everything sudsy.