Breaking Chains and Not Burning Rubber

BREAKING CHAINS - Freedom: Cycle touring is the greatest way I have found to experience freedom. Whilst I celebrate mine I hope to help others gain and realise theirs, and protect ours, by fundraising for Amnesty International

NOT BURNING RUBBER - Environmental Awareness: Cycling is one of the most efficient and sustainable modes of transport. It's slow speed allows you to become more aware and connected with our surroundings, and therefore the pressures that they may be under. I intent to have a minimal negative impact on the environment whilst I travel, and will share my observations and experiences about my journey, environmental issues, and sustainable living here:

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Getting the bike and gear

This will be my third cycle tour and all have been on a different bike.

My first was on a brand-new Ridgeback Voyager touring bike which I brought especially for touring around Britain last year (2010). I had hoped to fly her over for the tour, but after reading god knows how many blogs and websites on cycle touring, or rather cycle trekking, I have excepted that I need what is called an "expedition" bike - which includes having 26" inch mountainbike wheels. "Heidi" (got to give them a name, and female ones are more fitting) has 700c road bike wheels. Bugger!

The second was on my brothers left behind mountainbike, a Jamis. Pretty basic mountainbike with alloy frame, V-brakes, and front suspension. Did the tour around the top of the South Island of NZ no problem. But the alloy frame and front suspension means she will be staying in NZ.

Soooo...that has meant a long and head scratching search for a new bike.

What is needed is:
- Steel frame: strong and flexible, and can possibly be welded in remote countries (alloy is hard to weld)
- 26inch wheels: stronger than 700c (28"), wider (for absorbing bumps),
and most importantly can get spares and replacement tyres easier in South America
- No disc brakes: far to fancy for my liking, plus requires more spares. So ideally V brakes but cantileavers will do fine.

There aren't really many new options. The Surly long haul trucker is the only one I have found, but at 400 pounds just for the frame it will remain a back up option.
Right so I have been looking for a good condition old (mid 90's) mountainbike with a steel frame.

Finally I found this Diamond Back on the internet. Great condition, kept in the garage so no rust, steel frame - yep, 26" wheels - ye, basic brakes - yee! was hoping for a slightly larger frame, but after a few discussions with my mate Kai, a fair few test rides, and a wee bit of seat adjusting, she should do nicely. Feels and looks strong as! So should be well up to the job of carrying me and 40kg of gear over the Andes a few times!

So for the last few weeks I have been taking her into some bike shops for advice on what to change and how. It turns out I will be pretty much stripping her down to the frame and replacing everything, including the handlebars.

Just got to come up with a name now!