Part 4 of the Beginners Guide to Bicycle Touring – What kind of ride you want to have

Now we get to some more meaty parts, you know where you are going, you know why and lastly you know what, at least you think you know what you want to get from it.  So what are you going to ride and what kind of ride do you want to have when your bags and gear come off and it’s just you and the cycle.

There are a few factors here, terrain, weather conditions, ease of repair i.e. just how far from civilization will you be.  For instance, if you have an aluminum/carbon bike like I do and you are in deep country China, the odds that you will run across a gentleman with an aluminum welder is slim if you need one.  Keep this all in mind when choosing your bike, because one day, it could definitely make a big difference!  Not sure how weather plays into it, but just know that it does.  Weather will play more so into the gear you take to clothe yourself and camp with, though, if you are extreme, you will need extreme gear for the bike as well.

What style bike, and with this I am not speaking to off-road, road, hybrid, beach cruiser, no, with this I am speaking to the actual frame style.  Recumbent, cargo, tandem, traditional and whatever else people throw together  The two main divergences from the standard or original design I have seen thus far on my trip are the recumbent,Pedaling for peace - recumbent bicycle rider bike touring

which is a seated bicycle, some of these even forgo the conventional pedals to allow for hand crank turning, which if you find yourself in a situation where you are unable to use your legs, no worries, hand crank.  Many people swear by the kick back version [recumbent], try it and see!  I have seen them in 2 and three wheel configurations, built for two and even with a sidecar!

The cargo bike, most commonly associated with the Xtracycle corporation [www.xtracycle.com], is a version of bike in super basic theory, the aft [back] section is extended, this allows for a vastly increased load size [400 pounds!] while providing a much lower center of gravity, in other words, you can carry a house and not break a sweat [exaggeration, but only kind of=].  These bikes come in various styles and from the people that use them, they consider them to be quite rad indeed.  The bicycle originated when it’s founder Mr Ross, had the hopes of easing the burden on peoples in third world countries.  He and his company continue to do so today.

A friend of mine is using his to carry his Paragliding kit, so he bikes to a place, flies for a while, plays music to pay for dinner, camps out, and then, off he goes to the next destination.  This would not be possible on your typical bicycle without a trailer.pedaling for peace - xtra cycle carrying hay

The terrain you will be travelling through will be one of the most important factors in choosing your steed [bike].  For instance, if you want to do an off road surf adventure, then you will have to have an off-road bike that can handle the trails you will be traversing you will most likely have to tow a trailer.  There are kits and people groovy enough with working metal to make surfboard holders that mount on the side of the bike, but for long distances I would not recommend this as wind could take you for a serious spill…

If you are thinking of doing a high speed run through European towns and all the roads seem generally well paved, then you will want a more “road style” bicycle.

You can also choose a Tri Cross bicycle [this is what I have done] and get the best of both worlds, though high-end performance in either world is obviously less than a bike that was designed specifically for the purpose.pedaling for peace - specialized tri cross bicycle

There are also bikes built for touring specifically and of course, 100 percent custom.

Once you know what the minimum requirements for the bicycle to traverse the area you will be traveling, now you can work with your local bicycle shop personnel or Bike Kitchen/Co-op [This is my highest recommended option as they will teach you hands on and it is great for the community so SUPPORT SUPPORT SUPPORT!], or buddy that is super knowledgeable, or you can wing it, or you can go on the internet for hours and days, you get my drift, unless you are experienced, I suggest working with someone who isn’t trying to sell you, just be aware that if you are in an establishment that does sell things, and they are nice enough to give you a lot of their time, respect that, either buy something, like all your gear, or give them a generous donation to their teaching the student off the street fund.  As I was saying, you can work with whomever and whatever source you choose to further determine which type of bike you want when you are NOT riding.  Does this make sense?

For instance, you know that for the roads you are travelling on you could use a road bike, BUT, you like to shred trails and the places where you will be have some great ones, CONUNDRUM, what do you do… WHAT DO YOU DO!?!?

  1. Your bicycle, what kind of ride do you want to have when your bags are on AND OFF!

Now we get to some more meaty parts, you know where you are going, you know why and lastly you know what, at least you think you know what you want to get from it.  So what are you going to ride and what kind of ride do you want to have when your bags and gear come off and it’s just you and the cycle.

There are a few factors here, terrain, weather conditions, ease of repair i.e. just how far from civilization will you be.  For instance, if you have an aluminum/carbon bike like I do and you are in deep country China, the odds that you will run across a gentleman with an aluminum welder is slim if you need one.  Keep this all in mind when choosing your bike, because one day, it could definitely make a big difference!  Not sure how weather plays into it, but just know that it does.  Weather will play more so into the gear you take to clothe yourself and camp with, though, if you are extreme, you will need extreme gear for the bike as well.

What style bike, and with this I am not speaking to off-road, road, hybrid, beach cruiser, no, with this I am speaking to the actual frame style.  Recumbent, cargo, tandem, traditional and whatever else people throw together  The two main divergences from the standard or original design I have seen thus far on my trip are the recumbent,

which is a seated bicycle, some of these even forgo the conventional pedals to allow for hand crank turning, which if you find yourself in a situation where you are unable to use your legs, no worries, hand crank.  Many people swear by the kick back version [recumbent], try it and see!  I have seen them in 2 and three wheel configurations, built for two and even with a sidecar!

The cargo bike, most commonly associated with the Xtracycle corporation [www.xtracycle.com], is a version of bike in super basic theory, the aft [back] section is extended, this allows for a vastly increased load size [400 pounds!] while providing a much lower center of gravity, in other words, you can carry a house and not break a sweat [exaggeration, but only kind of=].  These bikes come in various styles and from the people that use them, they consider them to be quite rad indeed.  The bicycle originated when it’s founder Mr Ross, had the hopes of easing the burden on peoples in third world countries.  He and his company continue to do so today.

A friend of mine is using his to carry his Paragliding kit, so he bikes to a place, flies for a while, plays music to pay for dinner, camps out, and then, off he goes to the next destination.  This would not be possible on your typical bicycle without a trailer.

The terrain you will be travelling through will be one of the most important factors in choosing your steed [bike].  For instance, if you want to do an off road surf adventure, then you will have to have an off-road bike that can handle the trails you will be traversing you will most likely have to tow a trailer.  There are kits and people groovy enough with working metal to make surfboard holders that mount on the side of the bike, but for long distances I would not recommend this as wind could take you for a serious spill…

If you are thinking of doing a high speed run through European towns and all the roads seem generally well paved, then you will want a more “road style” bicycle.

You can also choose a Tri Cross bicycle [this is what I have done] and get the best of both worlds, though high-end performance in either world is obviously less than a bike that was designed specifically for the purpose.

There are also bikes built for touring specifically and of course, 100 percent custom.

Once you know what the minimum requirements for the bicycle to traverse the area you will be traveling, now you can work with your local bicycle shop personnel or Bike Kitchen/Co-op [This is my highest recommended option as they will teach you hands on and it is great for the community so SUPPORT SUPPORT SUPPORT!], or buddy that is super knowledgeable, or you can wing it, or you can go on the internet for hours and days, you get my drift, unless you are experienced, I suggest working with someone who isn’t trying to sell you, just be aware that if you are in an establishment that does sell things, and they are nice enough to give you a lot of their time, respect that, either buy something, like all your gear, or give them a generous donation to their teaching the student off the street fund.  As I was saying, you can work with whomever and whatever source you choose to further determine which type of bike you want when you are NOT riding.  Does this make sense?

For instance, you know that for the roads you are travelling on you could use a road bike, BUT, you like to shred trails and the places where you will be have some great ones, CONUNDRUM, what do you do… WHAT DO YOU DO!?!?

Bam, after working with your local co-op personnel, you decide to take your mountain bike, take spare parts for the forks just in case and take the added burden of extra tires.  You will do the touring on slick tires to help decrease your rolling resistance and when you get to where you are going, you’ll switch the tires to knobbies and do some right proper riding!

There will of course be situations where you will not be able to so easily work to a ninja compromise, for instance, you have to take a mountain bike for the ride, but you will end up in cities that have paved streets and you want to rip through them on those teeny little tires on a bike that is weighed by the ounces and not the pounds.  Again, talk to your experts and if nothing can be found, go for plan B, this is fun, vis-a-vis there is always a plan B.  In this case plan B is renting a bike when you get there.

Never despair about your trip, that’s not why you take it, there is always a way, you just need to find it, the journey of learning begins when you decide to go, everything else is just icing on your enlightenment cake, ENJOY!

Bam, after working with your local co-op personnel, you decide to take your mountain bike, take spare parts for the forks just in case and take the added burden of extra tires.  You will do the touring on slick tires to help decrease your rolling resistance and when you get to where you are going, you’ll switch the tires to knobbies and do some right proper riding!

There will of course be situations where you will not be able to so easily work to a ninja compromise, for instance, you have to take a mountain bike for the ride, but you will end up in cities that have paved streets and you want to rip through them on those teeny little tires on a bike that is weighed by the ounces and not the pounds.  Again, talk to your experts and if nothing can be found, go for plan B, this is fun, vis-a-vis there is always a plan B.  In this case plan B is renting a bike when you get there.

Never despair about your trip, that’s not why you take it, there is always a way, you just need to find it, the journey of learning begins when you decide to go, everything else is just icing on your enlightenment cake, ENJOY!

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