Author Topic: Any feedback will help.  (Read 2605 times)

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Offline SteveDennet

Any feedback will help.
« on: March 21, 2015, 12:07:01 pm »
I am planning my first major tour for this summer. Everyone on this site was very helpful with maps and routes so I figured I can get some advice on gear.I am riding my GT Nomad because I love that bike. I am planning on getting the Thule Pack N Pedal Pannier racks because I dig how they are universal for almost any bike.
Does anyone have these?
Can you use different pannier bags aside from Thule brand pannier bags?
What kind of repairs should I prepare for aside from getting flats?
What kind of tires would you recommend for long distance traveling?
What is a comfortable seat for long distances?
What kind of tent would be best?
Any sort of gear feedback would be very helpful. I have done a bunch of weekends but have never geared up for over a week of riding.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Any feedback will help.
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2015, 11:21:29 am »
I don't know about the Thule system, but the claim that it's universal seems overblown to me.  Most standard panniers, whether from Ortlieb, Arkel, REI, etc. will fit on any standard rack.  You might have to change racks if you go from a road bike (again, most any standard rack) to a suspended mountain bike, but that's the extent of the changes.

Flats are the major repair you'll need to deal with on the road.  Broken spokes might be second; start with wheels that are well built (correctly tensioned and stress-relieved spokes), and carry a FIberfix spare.  At least on roads in the US, you'll rarely be more than a day or two away from a bike shop, and you can limp/hitch that far for the rest.

Do a search for tires in this forum.  We all have favorites, from light racing tires to heavy tires that ride like iron.  How wide a tire can your bike handle?

Comfortable saddles depend on what's on top of them.  1/3 to over 1/2 of the touring cyclists I've seen ride Brooks B-17 saddles, like me.  Other people have an allergic reaction to the name or material.  Ride lots until you find one that's comfortable on your bottom, but remember that what's comfortable after a half mile test ride is rarely comfortable after 50 miles.  There's a certain amount of toughening of the hide that's required to ride long miles day after day.

What tent do you have?  It'll probably work.  Choose your poison, a heavy tent you can sit out a day long downpour or a lightweight poncho.  I'll only say that in mosquito territory, doors, netting, and enough space that body parts don't lie against the tent wall are good ideas -- the little buggers can bite right through waterproof fabric.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Any feedback will help.
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2015, 10:13:36 am »
Pat's advice is excellent. There is little I can add, but I'll try.

Panniers should be durable and waterproof. I don't need a lot of pockets, but some people like them. I prefer not to mess with rain covers, but some panniers need them. Pack so that you have some spare room for when you want to add extra fluid and food. You can get them anywhere from almost free (make them yourself from kitty-litter buckets) to very expensive. Make sure they have a good attachment system. I typically leave my panniers on the bike at all times, but if you like to bring them in at night, get ones that go on and off easily. Ortlieb and Arlel are the two high-quality (and high price) brands, but others will work too.

As Pat says, flats are the #1 repair item. A FiberFix will allow you to temporarily fix most broken spokes, but I also like to carry a hypercracker (Stein Mini Lock Ring Tool), a few spare spokes of each size, a few spare nipples and a spoke wrench. You should also carry the most common Allen wrenches (4, 5 and 6), primarily for adjusting brake cables as the pads wear, and for manipulating your seat post. I like to take a spare set of brake pads, especially for long trips where your pads might wear out. I also carry one spare cable of each type, although I have never used them. Start with fairly new tires, but if it's a very long trip, you might consider taking a spare tire. Some people do, some don't. Sometimes tire problems come on with very little warning.

Everybody has their favorite tire. I like Schwalbe Marathon, and am currently running the Marathon Mondial folding tire (not the wire bead version of this same tire). Many other tires are also perfectly fine. Selecting the right width is as important as selecting the right brand. If your tour is mostly on pavement, I like 35mm width.

Saddles are very personal. What one person loves, some other person hates. There is no substitute for many, many hours on the bike to know if you like a saddle or not. I use the B-17 Pat mentions, but not everybody likes it.

I like a two-person tent for extra roominess. A two-person tent usually weights about 50% more than a claustrophobic one-person tent. I like a floor, for bug protection and extra rain protection, but you can save a ton of weight by skipping it. Lightweight is usually better than heavy, but lightweight frequently means less durable and much more expensive.

Offline Patco

Re: Any feedback will help.
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2015, 07:02:27 pm »
When it comes to touring, there are very few truths with which everyone can agree, but lots of opinions. That said, Pat did provide advice regarding flats and tires that are likely common to most, and John expanded on the maintenance items you may wish to consider.

What follows are other thoughts you may find helpful as you plan your trip. These are just thoughts as you will decide what works best for you.

I ride on Continental Gator Hardshells, 28's. I tried Schwalbe but did not like the feel (felt like I was pedaling through molasses). 

I do not ride ultralight, but I do like to minimize weight while trying to stay comfortable (similar to backpacking), so I do not mind paying for weight-savings. Again, similar to backpacking, an ounce saved here and there can make a difference in the ride. Toward that end, at one time I traveled with the two person tent I used for backpacking. Now I have switched to a one person tent, Copper Spur by Big Agnes. With the footprint, it packs small and weighs less than three pounds. I am six feet tall and weigh 180 to 185, so compared to a two person tent it is not  terribly roomy, but it works for me and I enjoy not having the extra weight.

I also have a Big Agnes Lost Ranger sleeping bag, with a sleeve into which I use a neoair sleeping pad. Again, backpacking gear.

I generally carry four water bottles. I ran out of water on one of my earlier trips when my planned water stop had a sign that said the water was not potable. I did not enjoy the next twenty some miles without water. Hence, I travel with four, which is likely overkill but is helpful when I have had to dry camp.

I take three sets of bike clothes (wear one, pack two). When I first started touring I had two sets. For me, three works better.

Consider wet weather gear, depending on where your trip takes you. I have spent a full day riding in rain and having rain gear that kept me somewhat dry made the day less trying.

I do not take any cooking gear (I do not want the weight). I generally eat at restaurants, when available, and I do carry a number of bars for when restaurants may not be available. I also carry two Mountain House granola breakfasts. Add cold water and you have a meal that provides you with needed nutrition. Again, this is for those days when I may not find a restaurant. On one of my trips I stayed at a rest area that was miles from anywhere. Those bars and the granola breakfast made that doable.

I now carry a Kindle Paperwhite for reading. The battery last several weeks before I need to recharge.

I try to limit the amount of electronics I take. Again, weight. And frankly, the reason I like riding is for the solitude. I do have a cell phone and I take a Samsung Galaxy Tab that is not dependent on WiFi (I started with a 3G, now I use a 4G).

I vacillate between taking a foldable tire or not. The last two trips I have not taken a foldable tire but I do take a kevlar tire boot. Again, on one of my earlier trips the nut holding the rear rack failed, which led to the rack falling and shredding about six inches of the rear tire, exposing the tube. I was more than 50 miles from a bike shop that had my size tire. It was a challenging two days. So now I carry a tire boot or a foldable tire.

I carry four tubes. Yes, it is overkill but all overkill has a story behind it.

I only have one pair of shoes, and those are the shoes in which I travel. They are MTB shoes, with frog clips, so I can walk normally. I do take flip flops. My earlier tours were with pedal cages. I now like the frogs.

I take extra nuts and bolts used on the bike and the racks and I carry a couple of zip ties.

I now tour with front and rear fenders. When roads are wet and someone is following you, they will appreciate that you have fenders. Hell, your front and back will appreciate that you have fenders on wet roads.

I carry bike maps for each trip. I like maps. I mail home maps I no longer need.

Depending on where I am traveling, I will take TP and a latrine trowel (backpacking supplies) when I find myself camping somewhere that may not have facilities.

Okay, that is enough. Enjoy the ride.