Commuting and touring bikes are combined in this
because they serve a similar human powered utilitarian purpose. These
are the workhorses of the sport. Speed and looks are less important than
functionality, durability, and reliability. Commuting bicycles and touring bikes carry groceries
and laptop computers or camping gear and travel clothes. They have to be
reliable and adaptable in even the worst weather. The weight of the
commuter or touring
bicycle is secondary to these issues. Most importantly, on a bicycle tour
or daily commute the cyclist must be comfortable and not have mechanical
problems. Both of these types of cycles are difficult to find used or for
sale new but hopefully this guide will help.
I have spent 40+ years riding, racing, commuting, and
traveling by bicycle. During my recent years as a recreational bike tourist I have
researched what makes a good touring bicycle. The start of
your once-in-a-lifetime dream trip or the middle of the Bolivian wilderness is
no place to discover that a wrong bike or part was chosen months earlier. It
is always a long walk when pushing your loaded rig.
bicycle is not yet a mainstream sport in the USA and Canada so it's not easy to
get good answers to touring questions in local cycle shops. Instead bits and
pieces have to be gathered from other touring cyclists and far flung corners of
the internet. I believe that experience is still the best teacher and I
sit in this classroom everyday as I bicycle tour around the world.
The majority of touring bikes purchased off the
showroom floor may appear to be less expensive but after some time in the saddle
it is always necessary to replace parts and upgrade components. Because of
this, stock bikes often end up costing more than if they were custom built from
the start. I have concluded that most stock bicycles will always have
costly shortcomings and never satisfy individual needs.
The only way to build a personal dream touring
bike is buy a favorite frameset and hand pick every component that goes on it or
upgrade and modify a current bike. Of course, all of the choices involved
in building the ultimate touring bike are confusing which is why I have created
this technical portion of my web site. I don't claim to have all of the
answers. I do not want to suggest that my personal
opinion is fact. I really dislike it when others claim that their
preferences are best for everyone. On the equipment pages listed below, I
have written a general informative overview for each topic, presented options widely accepted in the bicycle touring community, and then explained my
personal feelings, preferences and experiences. Everyone likes something
different in their touring bike and I hope these pages help your decision making
I believe for this website to be useful to
readers, it is not enough to lay out all the option. I also want to point readers to
specific online stores where each component can be purchased at low prices.
Most of the online retailers I recommend pay me a small commission for sales they
receive through the links on my website. This commission is not passed
on to the buyer. Shopping through my links helps maintain these web pages
and continue my around the world bicycle tour. If you find this information useful or at least entertaining, please use either
the specific product links or general store gateway links to make your
I currently have a few
I personally use their gear and have no problem recommending them.
I hope you find the information here helpful and always welcome your feedback.
Trying to repair a mysterious clicking sound originally
thought to be the bottom bracket. My bike broke in
the worst place; a remote village in the central Mexican Mountains.
It turned out to be a poorly made bottom bracket shell / frame that gave
the bottom bracket enough room to creak as I pedaled.
Working on failing rim on a three day climb in the Andes Mountains in
southern Ecuador. Notice that there is a large cliff on the side
of the road and no shoulder for me to safely work on my bike.
Riding in the rain without fenders can make for a very
wet ride. Honduras was a very wet country for us. It is
difficult or impossible to find good quality fenders in the USA.
Standing on a loaded touring bike puts a lot of stress on the
frame and causes a lot of flexing of the rear triangle. My Chrome-Moly steel
frame set flexed so much that it actually shifted gears.
Custom Touring Bicycle Advice and Bike Tour Gear Tips and Buyer's
Tools and Spares
There are a lot of bicycle touring specific tools that need to be carried and
hopefully never needed. In my experience, they will be used more than expected
and just might save your tour.
Touring Lighting SystemsBike lights are
usually designed for commuters and night time training rides. But what about the
special needs of people touring by bicycle?Are you ready for those long dark tunnels?
never-ending quest for the unbreakable bike computer.
Portable Solar PanelsHow to charge
your cell phone and other electronics when you are traveling in
places with no electricity.
loaded touring rig can not stand up by itself.
My travel partners usually carry less than
me and use these bags on the front for quicker steering with a lighter load
Waterproof panniers with a unique roll-top closure. Symmetrical shape allows
more leg room. Not only ideal for use on long cycle tours; they are also
suitable for everyday use as a shopping bag or shoulder bag. Can be used with
the carrying system as a daypack.
Absolutely waterproof, special 3D welding
constructed bicycle panniers--for front rack mounting, small bag rear rack
mounting or children's bikes
3D welding is a special overlapping technique that uses
no thread or adhesives
Roll-over style closures keep water out and are able to
expand with your load
Attaches with the Ortlieb QLR-System: a strong, fast,
quick-releasing system that locks tightly into place; easy unlocked by
lifting up on the handle
QLR-hooks are replaceable and adjustable; will fit
racks with tube diameter of up to 10 mm; 14 mm hooks available separately;
will fit low-rider racks
Made of heavy-duty, double polyurethane coated
I am always thinking outside of the box but on my long trip
packing light was not an option for me so I used these traditional rear bags
on my front low rifer rack on a bike with smaller wheels.
Waterproof panniers with a unique roll-top closure and constructed of an
exclusive Cordura material that is completely watertight and welded. Utilizes
Ortlieb's QL 2 Mounting System. Its symmetrical shape allows more leg room.
Not only ideal for use on long cycle tours; they are also suitable for
everyday use as a shopping bag or shoulder bag. Can be used with the carrying
system as a daypack.
Made of durable Cordura(R) nylon with polyester; coated
with PVC for water resistance
With 3D welded seams, these panniers will keep your gear dry
on rainy rides. Constructed with welded seams for strength. Designed with an
easy access, roll-top closure. Replaceable, adjustable, quick-release
security catches mount panniers quickly and easily on racks--also removed
easily. Lifting on pannier carrying strap automatically releases the QL1
system security catches, while releasing the strap causes latches to lock in
place. Please note: This item is sold as a pair.
Constructed with welded seams for strength
Designed with an easy access, roll-top closure
Replaceable, adjustable, quick-release security catches
mount panniers quickly and easily on racks--also removed easily
Lifting on pannier carrying strap automatically
releases the QLR-system security catches, while releasing the strap causes
latches to lock in place
When I get a flat tire or need a quick
adjustment having these tools available in a waterproof seat bag, not buried
at the bottom of a pannier, is a great idea. If you are tired of
looking like you are having a travelers yard sale with all your gear dumped
on the side of the road just because you need a tube and lire levers put
them in a seat bag.
Waterproof and ultra light, the Ortlieb Micro Seat Bag with rolltop closure
secures on-the-bike essentials with watertight, low-profile design.
I have used these in the past. At first I
wasn't sure about the flap closure but ended up appreciating it. I would have no
problem using these again.
Features 3M Scotchlite™ reflectors to increase your visibility in poor
light. Made to mount on low-rider front racks or rear racks, these feature
snug-fitting lids that allow for higher load capacity. Outer mesh pockets
are spacious and feature zippers to hold contents secure. QL2 suspension
system holds bags secure and is easy to load and unload. Surrounding
compression straps allow size of panniers to be altered. These panniers are
the perfect size for your daily commute, or to strap on to children's bikes.