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The story of how I saved money, quit my job, sold my possessions, and set off to endlessly travel by bike around the world. My Plan

My 3 Books
I write, self publish and sell books about touring

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Places I have been
(
How can I afford this?)

India and Neighbors
May 2010 to present

Alaska / Canada / USA
May 2008 to April 2010

New Zealand
Sept 2007 to May 2008

Australia
Sept 2006 to Sept 2007

SE Asia / China
Nov 2004 to Sept 2006

South America
June 2003 to June 2004

AZ, Mexico, and Central America
March 2002 to April 2003

How I started
The 5 years before I left


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 Written on the road as I travel around the world on my bicycle


*Help Support this Web Site and Continue My Travels.


Equipment Pages Index

Introduction
How Much to Bring and Weight
Some Advice About Advice
A Note to Perspective Sponsors and Gear Suppliers
(See more about Sponsorship)

START HERE for Touring Bikes and Commuting Bicycles
Custom Touring Bicycles and Bike Upgrade Buyers Guide
Bicycle Touring Frames 
The Steel Repair Myth.
Steel and Aluminum Derailleur Hanger Repair.
Bicycle Touring Wheels
Phil Wood: The Best Bicycle Hubs

Panniers / Bike Bags
Cargo Trailers Vs Panniers
Tires for Bike Tours..
Bicycle Touring Saddles.
Women's Specific Bike Touring Saddles
Brooks Leather Touring Bicycle Saddle Care and Conditioning
Bike Computer
Touring Handlebars, Bar Ends, Adjustable Stems, and Padded Grips.
Kickstands
Sealed Cartridge Headsets

How to prevent flat tires
Bike Route Trails and Maps

Camping
Buying Camping Equipment
Tent and Ground Cloth
Sleeping Bag
Sleeping Pad
Camp Stove
Pots and Pans
Water Filter
First Aide Kits
Solar Power for Camp

Clothing
Bike Touring Shorts

Electrical
Short-wave Radio
Computer
Internet
mp3
Bicycle touring lights

Books
Packing list
Pictures of Equipment Failures
Shopping


See My Videos Here



(see all 3 book)

Buying the Best Touring Bicycle or Commuting Bikes.
and
How to Buy Used or New Custom Touring Bicycles and Bike Upgrade Buyers Guide.

 

Commuting and touring bikes are combined in this article because they serve a similar human powered utilitarian purpose.  These useful bicycles 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 30+ 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.

Traveling by 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 process.

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 purchases.

see more touring bikes info from DownTheRoad.org here


I currently have a few sponsors.  I personally use their gear and have no problem recommending them. I hope you find the information here helpful and always welcome your feedback.


DSC00002.JPG (527471 bytes)
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 Guide

see also Camping and Electric Equipment Index


Touring Bicycles: an Overview Choosing and buying the right cycle for the job.

see also
Best Touring Bike Frames, Custom Framesets and Touring Bicycle Frame Geometry.

The Steel Frame Repair Myth
Steel and Aluminum Derailleur Hanger Repair
Suspension for touring bicycles
Women's specific touring bicycle frames
Frame color, paint jobs and rust prevention

Best Buys in Sturdy Touring Bicycles for Entry Leveland Beyond.
Great Deals on Surly Bikes at REI.com
Commuting Bicycles and Utility Bikes
All Types of Transportation Bicycles


Panniers or Bike Bags  Cheap will not keep your gear dry and real cheap will fall off your bike every time you hit a bump.  This is not just a luggage issue; it's a big safety concern.

see also
Handlebar Bags, Map Cases, Camera Inserts

Cargo Trailers Vs Panniers
Bicycle Commuting bags
more about my experience with Ortlieb
Bicycle touring Sponsorship
REI Warehouse Outlet Store Buy on sale Waterproof Ortlieb Panniers and Bags
REI.com
Ortlieb at REI
Always the BEST prices on panniers and accessories
  Ortlieb at CycloCamping


Front and Rear Bicycle Touring Racks  The forgotten workhorse that holds all that gear you stuffed in your panniers or tied to the top of your load.

see also Tubus professional bike racks
Suspension racks for touring bicycles


Strong Bicycle Touring Specific Wheels  The most common mechanical problem for cyclists on tour is broken spokes.

see also
Phil Wood: The Best Bicycle Hubs with Maintenance Free Sealed Cartridge Bearings
Touring Bike Wheels: 26 inch or 700c?


Bicycle Touring Saddles  The #1 physical problem on tour is a sore butt.  Find out what every insider knows about saddles.

see also
Women's Specific Bike Touring Saddles
Brooks Leather Touring Bicycle Saddle Care and Conditioning


Highest Quality Long Distance Bicycle Touring Tires  A frequent mechanical headache is a flat tire.  I have not figured out how to completely prevent punctures but I can help you reduce them.

see also
How to Prevent Flat Tires
Off Road and Dirt Trail Bicycle Touring Tires.
Studded tires for ice and snow riding.

Just bike tour tires


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.

see also
Three levels of tools to carry on a bicycle tour:
#1 Day Rider
#2 Intermediate Bike Touring
#3 Advanced Bike Travel


Handlebars, Grips and Padded Bar Tape  Upright mountain bike style with bar ends or road drops with multiple aerodynamic hand positions.  Are you comfortable?


Maps Maps designed specifically for bicycle touring are a cyclist's dream come true. Adventure Cycling bike maps thoroughly cover the best bike routes North America has to offer.


Headsets Can you ride no handed?  Maybe you have pitted bearings.


PedalsThe connection between the human engine and the machine.

see also
Shoes For Bicycle Touring, Travel, and Camping


Bicycle Touring Lighting Systems Bike 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?


Bike Computer My never-ending quest for the unbreakable bike computer.


Portable Solar Panels How to charge your cell phone and other electronics when you are traveling in places with no electricity.


Kickstands Your loaded touring rig can not stand up by itself.


Fenders or Mud Guards "What is that smell?  I hope that was just water we rode through."


Sponsors for Camping and Bike Gear  I am tough on my gear and very, very picky. These sponsors have lived up to my high standards.


Coming Soon!

Gear Shifters:  The road is seldom flat.

Drive Train: Crankset, Chainrings, Chain and Cassette Cogs  Do you have the lowest gear available?

Water Bottles and Cages:  I used to break cages until I found what lasts.

Brakes and Levers:  "Llama up - STOPPING!"  How to avoid a face full of fur.

Bicycle Fit:  The first rule in bike buying is that bicycles need to fit the rider correctly.

Bungie cords, straps and rear rack top bags

Bicycle Touring on a Mountain Bike.

Buying a Touring bike Online

My tour bike buying story (2 parts)

Adjustable and Suspension Stems and Seat Post

Presta Vs Schrader valves

Bicycle Frame Materials: Chromoly Steel, Aluminum, Titanium, Carbon Fiber, Other?

Bells, Horns, Mirrors and other safety equipment:  Learn a whole new language

Rims and Spokes

Packing a Computer and electrical gear

Miscellaneous

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Buying New or Used Touring Bicycles For Sale for Self Contained Unsupported Loaded Bike Tours.

Touring Bicycle for Self Contained Unsupported Loaded Bike Tour used for sale.

see more touring bikes here

 

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Bicycle Touring
Tips & Advice 
(see all Equipment Pages)

Touring Bicycles
Panniers
Racks
Saddles
Tires
Lights

Fenders
Tools and Spares

Tents
Sleeping Bags
Camping Mattress
Camp Stove
Water Filter
Pots and Pans
First Aide Kits
Solar Power for Camp

Bike Maps
Preventing Flat Tires

Bike Computer
Cargo Trailers
Kick Stands
Pedals
Handelbars/Grips

Helmet
Bike Shoes
Bike Touring Shorts

Much MORE Gear Here!

Sponsors (how?)


Cycle Touring Racks

Tents and ground cloths
Sleeping Bags
Camping Mattress Pads


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