Sunday, April 2, 2006

Some thoughts on Bikes and Bits.

Coming from a chrome molly tube touring bike background to the idea of actually doing a tour on a “mountainbike” was hard. I mean surely they were and invention of the devil rather like the transistor-radio :-)!
I’ve had to rejig my whole outlook. Time and miles will tell me how correct some of my alterations have been.

Tyres

Argh yes funny things that keep the rim off the road. My giants original Hutchinson tyres are great balloon like 2 inch plus things with a protuberance of knobs. They will be great for the gravel and sand but not for anything else. they are like pedalling thru mud even on the best cycle path. Slicks have improved markedly and also we’ve seen a development of “expedition” tyres which have a slick centre and knobs on the edges. I’ve tried the following 26’ slick tyres over the past 10 years mainly for commuting.
“Specialised” make some nice Armadillo tyres mine eventually failed when the side walls weathered. I felt they were very strong but lacked “feel”. The only puncture I ever-had was thru fitting the tyre wrongly. Came in 1.5” * 26” I note they now come in 2”. It has a “puncture protection system”
My current favourite is the Geax Evolution it has a wonderful easy roll to it and large knobs on the side. Not expensive and in a good wide 2” size. see http://www.geax.com/prodgeax/specialty/Evolution.htm
Schwalbe make good touring tyres “Marathon” which I use on my touring road bikes. I find them hard to get so have not pursued them for the mtb.
Serfas Drifter is another good tyre but the inverted tread pattern drags a bit on the bitumen.
And last but definitely not least. Continental. They make good touring tyres. I love the Gatorskin and contact range on road-bikes. I intend to try the “TravelContact” http://www.conti-online.com/generator/www/de/en/continental/bicycle/themes/tires/city/travelcontact/travelcontact_en.html of which I have had very good reports.

Tubes
I’m going to get some nice tuff ones. Have yet to decide on a brand.
Gears
I changed the standard gears from 11-36 to 13-30 so I can have close gears in the range I will be touring in and still have enough low down. I don’t like the feeling of being in a gear that’s wrong to high or too low.

Saddle bag

Here I went for a bag that can take a jacket so I don’t have to carry anything on me. I’n this case a carradice that mounts on the seat post. Time will tell if it’s too big.

Saddle
I was going to put one of my old faithful brookes saddles on but.. So for the standard saddle has stayed.


I still look at the front suspension with marvel as it soaks up the shocks. I’ve been tempted to look at a suspension seat post but.. Good ones cost 3 arms and 2 legs in Australia. So we will see.

Butterfly Bars
Having been dragged up on old touring bikes with dropped handlebars I love the opting of several hand positions and body positions. I find these useful when suddenly the wind picks up or when the climb turns into a long slow grind. Mountain-bikes tend to have one position or maybe two if you use bar ends. The way to overcome this is to fit Butterfly bars or European "trekking" bars. See photo (taken in shed with other toys) see

http://www.australiancyclist.com.aushowarticle.php?s=9&a=1611

These are available from

http://www.onecer.net/abbotsfordcycles/trekking-bars.html

They delivered promptly.
I had to fit a new head stem to allow clearance for the brake hoses and changers.
Padded well they work but allow some time for rejigging your riding position a bit.

I hope these comments are useful.

/dlh.