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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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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

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The 5 years before I left


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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


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(see all 3 book)

Best touring bike wheel size: 26 inch or 700c wheels


The bikes below are sold online and shipped to your address.  Online bikes are a very good value but hard to find so I have rounded up my favorites.
Shop All Touring Bicycles Here

   
This is the type of bike I have done most of my traveling on.  Great for road and off road with an agile geometry and accepts wide or narrow tires.

REI brand Touring and Trekking Bikes

This is the bike I am buying next. I am tall and recently bought a mountain bike with 29er wheels and really like how it rides and would like to try this in my next touring bike.

Salsa Fargo
 

If comfort is your first priority check out these great bikes.  I have never toured this light but I know a ton of cyclist who like this style of bike.

Salsa Marrakes

 

The new breed of off road bike packing and snow bicycle. I have never owned a bike like this but I bet someday I do.

Fat Bikes

 

Seasonal - Surly bikes are not always available on line but they are a great deal. 


Surly LHT touring bicycle

 

see more touring bikes info from DownTheRoad.org here


The choice between touring bicycle wheels and tires with 26inch or 700c has surfaced in bicycle touring equipment during the past several years with the popularity of mountain bikes.  The decision between 700 cm and 26 inch will have to be made early in the custom frame or stock touring bicycle shopping process because brake mounts and frame geometry can not be easily changed.  In the past there were commuting hybrid bikes, like the Bridgestone XO-1, that could easily be converted to either wheel size and traveled on but these bikes are no longer made and I do not know of another touring bicycle that can be converted to take either size wheel being made in the present.

Before I get into the advantages and disadvantages of different sized wheels, let me make something clear.  I have owned and toured extensively on bikes with both sizes of wheels.  I have also met people traveling for years around the world, in every imaginable country, on both sizes of wheels.  In fact I've seen hard-core long distance (measured in years) touring cyclists on recumbents, mountain bikes, and fixies.  The bottom line is no matter what you pick as a cycle wheel size, it's not a deal killer and can be used for the bike trip of your dreams.  Both 700c and 26 inch can go to the hardest roads of the world and perform well. As with most options in the bicycle touring equipment and gear world, this decision largely comes down to personal preference.


 A few considerations to keep in mind.

- Given the same quality rims, spokes, and building techniques, a smaller wheel is stronger due to geometry.  The strength difference between the two sizes of wheels is relatively tiny.  With modern advancements in rims and spokes, both wheel sizes can be over built to be stronger than necessary.  The disadvantage of the larger 700c can be compensated for by selecting superior rims.  Conclusion: Either size wheel will work providing you use high quality components.
 
- A bigger wheel has a smoother ride because it does not get sucked into holes and depressions in the road as far.  Again, the actual difference in size is minimal so it's hard (but not impossible) to feel.  This difference can be somewhat overcome with wider 26 inch tires but is more a matter of ride quality preference rather than a performance gain or loss.  Conclusion: Either size will be comfortable enough for a long bicycle tour.
- 26 inch touring tires tend to come in wider sizes and lower pressure.  700c touring tires tend to be narrower and higher pressure.  This is less true than in the past because of the growing popularity of comfortable hybrid bikes.  Conclusion: What works best for you will depend on your touring style and priorities but either can do the job.
 
- Many 700c touring bikes do not have clearance for the widest tires.  This does not affect most bike tourists because a medium width tire or smaller is fine, and even preferred, for traveling on paved roads and occasional dirt sections.  With a 26 inch touring bike you can use any tire a mountain bike can, including super wide vibration eating and/or knobby tires.  Conclusion: Both wheels work for most conditions, but off pavement you may find a 26 inch wheel more flexible.
 
- There is one fact that may help in your decision process. The wheel size affects your gearing. Given the same number of teeth in your drive train, a 700c wheel will give you an overall higher gear and a 26 inch wheel will give you a lower gear. The aspect of wheel size is easily noticeable here because the size is felt in every revolution. I personally never wish for a larger gear but I am often grateful for the lowest gear possible.   Conclusion: If you are super strong and often wish your bike had a bigger gear, then 700c may be best but if you are average, like me, and wish you had a lower gear on steep hills then a 26 inch is your best bet.  Of course, either will work.
   

Why I prefer 26 inch wheels for my world tour

Tire Availability: The problem traveling internationally with 700c wheels is finding good replacement tires. In my early days of bicycle travel I had a cyclecross bike with 700c wheels.   I took a solo two year tour around the USA and Mexico and realized that finding wide 700c bike touring tires was difficult (without mail order) in the USA and nearly impossible in Mexico. Since then, I've met countless other touring cyclist around the world, especially in developing countries, who were desperately looking for wide 700c touring tires.  The only 700c tires available in the bike shops were what the local road racers used (if any) which is about as wide as a finger. (700c x 20 -25)  Even after long time-consuming searches they were forced to buy these narrow 700c racing tires that wear out fast, easily puncture, and are less stable with loaded panniers.

Rim Availability:  A similar scenario occurs when a rim is rendered useless, perhaps by a crash or just wearing out, and starts breaking spokes.  Even a brand new rim can be damaged by clumsy handling at the airport or a big crash.  Sturdy rims made for mountain biking are abundant throughout the world but 700c rims are only common for ultra light road racing bicycles.  A rim meant for a road bike will not last long under the weight of a loaded bicycle but the average mountain bike rim is fine for touring.

Inner Tube Availability:  The same problem of finding tubes in developing countries is true.  If bike shops don't carry the tires and rims, there is no reason to sell wide 700c tubes.

What I think makes the best touring bicycle wheel size

The decision between 700c and 26 inch is a tough one. There is a much bigger selection of 700c touring bicycles compared to the hard-to-find 26 inch models.  I believe that it comes down to the availability of tires, rims, and tubes in the place where you will be touring  If you are mostly riding on the paved road, sticking to the first world, or traveling for less than 6 months at a time you could pick either type of bike. If you're heading out into the less developed parts of the world, I recommend riding a touring bicycle with 26 inch wheels


Mail Order pre-built Bicycle wheels for loaded bicycle touring and long bike tours.

If you need a wheel fast here are my favorite mail order wheels that can be used for loaded bicycle touring

 

 

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What I Have Learned On The Road

Dreaming of Endless Travel

Injustice of Poverty

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