Author Topic: Beginners - trip through Latin America  (Read 4775 times)

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Offline azitiz

Beginners - trip through Latin America
« on: August 03, 2006, 01:21:17 pm »

Greetings! My wife and I, both riders of bicycles, but in no way cyclists (yet...), have decided to embark upon an insane journey through Mexico, Central America, South America, and then on to Western Europe.  We have been reading many books, but have always counted on personal advice from forums and individuals as well.  So, with that in mind, if anyone out there has any information to share on any of the following questions we would be very happy  thanks in advance! alexander and Christina

We are in this for the adventure, not the sport so to speak&.more interested in what and who we see than in deadlines.

1) The Bike: There obviously lots of debate, and many who just say it doesnt really matter, but what do you all think?  Weve been back and forth between a Touring bike, a Mountain Bike, or a Hybrid of some sort.  The most important questions as it pertains to us (after of course comfort and ease in fixing and cost...we don't have tons of dough) is the availability of parts in some of the areas we will travel.  I have head some say certain size wheels/tires/tubes are not easily available in Latin America?  What about other common parts?  This question is the same for Europe&we want to take the same bikes weve been riding in Latin America over to Europe without having to worry about not finding the right size parts&.

2) Tires: can people carry separate tires with them and to change over depending on terrain.  For example if the first few weeks are on smooth paved roads, but the next are on crappy ones, is it possible to change tires from slicks to knobbies or is this a giant pain in the butt?  Have any of you ridden in Central/South America and know the road conditions&Im assuming theyre pretty rough in many parts.

3) Water Purification and Stoves: tablets seem like the best, non-iodine perhaps the best for my wife?  Any good experiences with different types?  Multi-fuel I assume for the stove&any favorite brands that will have gas available throughout Latin America and Europe?

4) Any rough (I know, I know, so much depends on various factors, but&) ranges of how long it could take to get from US Border of Mexico to Southern Chile?

5) Any other tips for Latin America  tips for touring? Roads? Bugs? Border issues? Etc.

Thanks so much to everyone who has anything to say on any of this!

Offline RussellSeaton

Beginners - trip through Latin America
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2006, 02:30:04 pm »
"have decided to embark upon an insane journey through Mexico, Central America, South America, and then on to Western Europe.

We are in this for the adventure, not the sport so to speak&.more interested in what and who we see than in deadlines."

Since you are not on any deadline, it might be very advisable to take several short trips to Mexico and South America via bicycle to learn.  Adventure Cycling has run many articles about riding in South America in the past year.  Get copies of the old magazines.  A few years ago Adventure Cycling had a series of articles by a couple who rode from Alaska to Chile on Salsa mountain bikes.  They carried a full size tire pump with them.  Odd how you recall certain details.  Adventure Cycling also has a series of articles by a woman who toured most of the world for a few years with her husband and two kids.  These were published in the past few years.  I recall there being many useful ideas about how to prepare for a long adventure in these articles.  Not gear advice, which is really immaterial, but how to plan and what to consider.

Contact Adventure Cycling about the articles and issues mentioned above and get them.

Mountain bikes are somewhat ubiquitous world wide.  Tires and tubes of 26" are available most anywhere.  And in the vast majority of the world there is overnight or 2-3 day shipping from the USA for anything you cannot find locally.  If you have the time and money to tour half the world for months or years, you have the time and money to do this if needed.  And bikes are tough and reliable so its highly unlikely you would ever have to do this.  And if you are in the middle of nowhere, you can alwyas find local transport to get you to a big city.  Might take time and effort, but its part of the adventure.

As for bike specifics, look up on the internet the websites of the people who have toured the world.  Should be pictures and ideas of what is the common type of bike and equipment.  Things like rigid forks, racks on the bike instead of trailers, or the other way around.

As for tires, a minimal tread tire for South American would work.  Carry a spare or two, kevlar bead so it folds.  You will be riding on roads that are used by vehicles.  So they will be hard packed.  Knobbies are useful for mud and loose soil.  Rural roads can be muddy of course, but its still hard packed underneath so minimal tread tires will work fine.  And if its too muddy for that, then find an alternative route or push the bike.  When you get to Europe and go to only paved roads, then put on skinnier smooth tires.

In your questions you ask about the difficulty in switching from knobbies to slicks and whether spare tires can be carried.  These are very basic questions you should not even have to ask.  I really think you need to learn about bicycle touring first with easy rides and tours here in the US before embarking on a tough adventure.  Experience is a good teacher.  Best to get the experience where it won't hurt you.

Offline biker_james

Beginners - trip through Latin America
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2006, 08:55:47 am »
I have to agree, you need to do some "beginner trips" closer to home, before heading off. I'm not sure of your background, or what you expect the trip to be like, but you need some idea of what happens when YOU go touring, because I think every has their own touring style, which develops by touring. You probably also need to learn about maintaining and repairing your own bikes, as a shop won't be handy when you need it.

I would probably go the MTB route, because parts are easier to get, the wider tires you can run will help on bad roads, and they should be able to take the abuse. You will have to shop to find one ideal for touring, but they are out there. I've read that 26" tires are pretty common everywhere, while 700c are not.

A couple places to get more info, if you haven't been there yet would be, or, as well as this site. Another site that could help is Travel To the Horizon,