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 3 Books
I write, self publish and sell
books about touring
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Places I have been
(How can I
India and Neighbors
May 2010 to present
/ Canada / USA
May 2008 to April 2010
Sept 2007 to May 2008
Sept 2006 to Sept 2007
SE Asia / China
Nov 2004 to Sept 2006
June 2003 to June 2004
AZ, Mexico, and
March 2002 to April 2003
How I started
The 5 years before I left
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Equipment Pages Index
How Much to Bring and Weight
Advice About Advice
A Note to Perspective Sponsors and Gear Suppliers
more about Sponsorship)
HERE for Touring Bikes and Commuting Bicycles
Custom Touring Bicycles and Bike Upgrade Buyers Guide
Bicycle Touring Frames
Steel Repair Myth.
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
Touring Handlebars, Bar Ends, Adjustable Stems, and Padded Grips.
Sealed Cartridge Headsets
How to prevent flat tires
Bike Route Trails and Maps
Buying Camping Equipment
Tent and Ground
Pots and Pans
Solar Power for Camp
Bike Touring Shorts
Bicycle touring lights
Pictures of Equipment Failures
all 3 book)
Tires are a hot topic in the bike touring world.
Many readers of DownTheRoad.org want to know where to buy the perfect high
quality tire that will never go flat. Others want to tell me about
their favorite bike tour tire they believe is "bulletproof" and will never
puncture. What I have learned from years of traveling on a bicycle is
that nothing is "bulletproof." Even brand new top quality touring specific
tires can get flats. If something on the road or trail is sharp
enough, it will cut through any tire. Because there is no perfect
flat-proof touring tire, you should expect to fix flats during your travels.
My advice is to always carry a good pump, patch kit, tubes, and tire levers
and get some practice patching punctures before you leave home.
Bicycle repair is best learned at home and not on the side of a busy road.
It is best to start out with the highest quality tires.
I had to learn this the hard way. Before my long bike tour in
South America I ordered tires at the last minute (mistake). The store only
had one of my preferred cycling tire in stock (these tires sell fast). I could not wait
for their back order system so I had to
substitute a cheaper city or urban tire. I used this lower quality
tire on the front of my bike knowing it would receive less wear but it still
performed miserably. I had numerous flats and punctures in my front
tire which turned into a continuous problem. This tire finally
shredded completely, only a few months into the trip, and at the worst
possible time. I was riding across the world's largest salt lake, the
Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. It took four days to cross this barren
expanse and there was absolutely no possibility for help when my tire gave
out completely. Fortunately, I had a spare folding
tire in the bottom of my pannier just for such emergencies. I rode on this spare for several
weeks through the remainder of Bolivia and northern Argentina until I found
a suitable replacement. I learned from this experience to never leave
home with substandard equipment.
My cheap city urban tire is rendered useless when the
sidewall ripped apart in Bolivia.
The world's largest salt lake and worst place to destroy a
tire. This is why I carry a spare.
I have had excellent experiences with two brands of bike
tires on tour. The Schwalbe and
Continental Touring tires have
lasted the longest (most kilometers or miles) with the least flats, slices,
These bike touring specific tires have tread patterns that can meet most
cycle touring needs. They can be purchased two sizes: 26 inch (MT
mountain bike) and 700c (road).
The only problem with the Schwalbe and
Continental Touring tires is they are hard to find in bike shops, especially when
you need them, while traveling on the road. Often the best traveling
tires I can find, without shopping online, are Vittoria Randonneur Touring.
These tires, in my opinion, are not as good as the ones mentioned above but
are usually better than other tires on the shelf in a retail store and provide pretty good
value for the money.
lightweight Kevlar folding spare tire will always occupy the bottom of one of my
bags. Bad luck usually strikes when you are the furthest from
civilization. My advice is to start out with the best long distance
touring tires and travel equipment and always be prepared for the worst
Tim's Favorite Recommended
Bicycle Travel and Touring Tire
Mondial (Cheaper - Wire Bead)
Mondial (Folding Bead Tire)
Tim) This is the tire I currently use and recommend. I have seen an
increasing number of them on the bikes of other travelers I meet. They are
very tough but expensive. I have to give Schwalbe credit for including a
Kevlar bead to make these tires lighter and the ability to be folded makes
them easy to carry as a spare or have them sent in the mail. It is
surprising how many bike tourist and traveling cyclists find themselves
needing tires mailed out to dark corners of the globe because they are picky
about there tires (like me) and can only stand to use tires found in local
bike shops until the package arrives. If you want a worry free trip, and do
not mind spending the money, then this may be your best choice.
Shop for Schwalbe Tires Here
Punctures become obsolete with the MARATHON PLUS!
The SmartGuard layer made from a flexible, special rubber offers particular
resistance to shards of glass and flints. Even a thumbtack cannot penetrate
this protective layer. The SmartGuard belt does not increase rolling
resistance. The MARATHON PLUS rolls as easily as a tire without protection.
Shop for Schwalbe Tires Here
Continental Travel/Contact Tires:
(from Tim) I waffle between the Travel Contact and the Schwalbe tires (above) as
my recommended favorite best bicycle touring tires for the kind of bike tour
I am on. Especially this year when a rock cut a four inch gash in the
sidewall on my Schwalbe Marathon Plus while riding on a dirt road in Nepal. Maybe
this was a fluke, any tire can have problems, but The long trusted
Continental Travel Contact is a very dependable tire and a good deal for the
price. In my experience they get the highest mileage compared to other bike
tour tires in the same weight category and possibly the highest miles of any
I have used. I especially like the slick smooth tread on top like a bald
road tire and the knobs on the edges do not touch the ground until you hit
the dirt. It seems to be the best of both worlds and reaches an optimal
compromise between pavement rolling efficiency and loose dirt handling and
stability. The square-ish profile seems to float on top of gravel and sand
better than other tires the same width. The only draw back is there is no
folding option so I recommend starting with two new Travel/contacts and, if
your trip is in the developing countries, more than six months long, or over
rough terrain then carrying a folding spare tire in the bottom of a
pannier sold below as insurance against a very bad day.
Continental Travel/Contact Tires
A compact, highly elastic rubber breaker makes the Touring
Plus extremely resistant. Stones, glass splitters and thorns have no chance.
The layer strength of the Breaker is adapted to the rolling movement of the
tire. Features and Information Touring Plus
* Security breaker makes tire extremely resistant to punctures
Randonneur Touring Tires
There are many great tires on this page but the Vittoria Randonneur line of
tires are the lowest price touring and commuting tires I would buy. Think of
them as economical: the best value for the maximum miles/kilometers. I used
these tires in Argentina and New Zealand and know they can handle long
distances on pavement or dirt, while carrying a heavy load. If your travel
budget is tight but you still want good quality tires, look no further. It
would be too good to be true if a tire in this price range was folding so I
suggest you start with two of these and carry a folding spare tire below if
needed. With the money you save buying these tires you will have a few more
days of cash to extend your adventures.
Vittoria Randonneur Touring Tires
Road and Dirt Trail Bicycle Touring Tires. -
Studded tires ice and snow riding
- Just bike tour tires -
Touring Bicycle and parts
- Equipment Index -
touring Sponsorship - All Equipment Index
Studded Mt. Bike Tires Sold Here
Tips & Advice
Tools and Spares
Pots and Pans
Preventing Flat Tires
Bike Touring Shorts
Have Learned On The Road
Injustice of Poverty
Much MORE Gear Here!
Cycle Touring Racks
Tents and ground