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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 Bicycles for Around the World Bike Tour
OR

How to Avoid a Broken Touring Bike in the middle of nowhere

(see also Custom Touring Bicycle and Bike Upgrade Buyers Guide.)

- Introduction
- What I originally thought about Touring Bicycles
- I started Out With an Inferior Touring Bike
- Please do not Repeat my Touring Bike Mistakes
- What Living on a Bicycle has Taught Me About Touring Bikes
- Good Bike Touring Equipment is hard to find in the USA

- Custom Touring Bicycle and Bike Upgrade Buyers Guide

see more touring bikes info from DownTheRoad.org here


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

 

Introduction

No other piece of equipment can make or break a bicycle touring holiday or vacation like the bike you ride.  When your touring bicycle is engineered correctly and working well you forget it's there and concentrate on more important things like scenery, emotional highs, and absorbing the culture.  When your touring bike is made poorly, has low quality components, or just is not the correct tool for the job, you will become overly preoccupied with what you are riding.  A non-touring bike will cause hours of body pains and physical injuries because it was not designed to carry a load of camping and traveling gear.  Just like all motor vehicles are not designed to carry heavy loads safely, few bicycles are made to haul loaded panniers.  An inadequate bike will break down often and consume your vacation time.  I have ridden both well and poorly designed bikes and greatly prefer my bike to be forgotten and my tour to be what is important.  After all, bicycle touring is not about the bike.

Below is the decision making process I went through when I bought my traveling machine.  I learned many things about touring bicycles the hard way and hopefully you can benefit from my experiences below.


What I originally thought about Touring Bicycles

Before I left on my multi year around-the-world bike tour I had to decide what type of touring bike would withstand hardships in distant underdeveloped countries.  I had done some extended bike touring before and learned several key lessons the hard way by making mistakes in touring bikes and equipment choices.  I did not want to repeat these same mistakes on my dream trip.  I knew from experience that my touring bike absolutely had to have Frame with Bicycle Touring Specific Geometry but I had to learn in the field the rest.

The main problem with sorting out all of the information about touring bikes and equipment is that the sport of bicycle touring is not yet in the mainstream in the USA.  There is no good single place to find all of the information about the best equipment.  Bits and pieces have to be gathered from all over.  I researched for months on the internet and countess bike shops looking for touring specific frames  These two restrictions greatly narrowed my choices.  I quickly learned that only a handful of major manufactures still make bicycles specifically for touring and none of these mainstream bike makers produced touring bicycles. I was looking for a bike that was built from the ground up for traveling self-contained on a bicycle.


I started Out With  an Inferior Touring Bikes on my Around the World Bicycle Tour

Before I departed on this trip of a lifetime, I was faced with choosing and buying new or used touring bikes. I had to settle on the best bikes I could find.  I had a custom steel bike made. It seemed sturdy, comfortable, and up to the job at first.  Of course, anything brand new and expensive seems great when you first get it. Internet discussion boards and newsgroups are full of cyclists singing the praises of their new bike or other expensive pieces of gear.  It takes a several months for a touring bike to reveal its downfalls.  Physical and mechanical problems related to touring bikes crop up after touring cyclists are already on the road and passed the point of no return.


Please do not Repeat my Touring Bike Mistakes.

The main goal in my writing these pages is to encourage people to learn from my bike and gear choice mistakes. The sport of bicycle touring will never reach its full potential in the USA if American cyclists experience the same equipment frustrations as I did during my first two years on the road.  I learned that substandard equipment will develop problems that will ruin a well planned trip.  This is just as true for a short weekend tour, a trans-continental ride across the USA, or an extended multi year voyage.  When your bike has mechanical trouble or is uncomfortable to ride and you develop physical problems, the fun is removed from this wonderful sport.  Less than ideal bikes seem to plot against you while you are on tour.  They fail at the worst possible time and leave you stranded far from help.

My first bike was very heavy, rusted easily and flexed excessively when I stood on the pedals.  The flex was so extreme that the bike would actually shift gears because of the realignment of the rear derailleur.  My bike also developed an annoying clicking sound due to a poorly made bottom bracket shell.  The worst problem was long term.  After riding through the humid jungles of southern Mexico and Central America I noticed rust attacking my frame.  The rust found every scratch in the paint but really zeroed in on the inside of the tubes.  Rust never sleeps and it was literally consuming my touring bicycle frame set from the inside out!  Even though I was constantly applying touch up paint and regularly sprayed rust proof products inside the tubes, the rust would always begin again in time.  Touring bikes are ridden in foul weather and not kept in a house.  Touring bikes are more prone to rust than the average road or mountain bike because of the 24/7 outdoor use.  It became obvious that this bike would not last the entire trip.

My bike had regular unnecessary breakdowns and the physical ailments had to be endured for two years.  Loaded self contained bicycle touring requires a very specific and well thought-out bike.  Unfortunately it was not until after I left that I learned that I did not have the correct tool for the job.

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 a 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 the bike. 

What Living on a Bicycle has Taught Me About Touring Bikes.

After several years on the road I slowly learned the ins and outs of touring bikes.  It took this extended real life experience of actually living and traveling on a bicycle to educate me on what works and what does not.  It was easy to point out the flaws in my old bike because I had a sore back, butt, and unforgettable breakdowns to remind me.  Some of the most important things to look for in touring bicycles are:  Touring specific geometry, long haul saddles and women's specific saddles, high quality tires, heavy duty racks, and wheels and hubs that are up to carrying heavy loads.


Good Bike Touring Equipment is hard to find in the USA.

The most enlightening lesson I learned out on the road was that good touring equipment is hard to find in the USA.  Once on the road we met many cyclists from Europe and realized that their equipment was different and better than what I could readily find in the USA.  Bicycle touring is a very common and popular recreational activity in Europe.  Hopefully that will change.  Because bicycle touring is popular in Europe it is logical that equipment manufactured there is highly evolved and reflects the European taste and insistence for high quality products.  For example, in the USA: fenders, kickstands, and racks are considered equipment for kids' bikes or department store models.  Europeans use bicycles as transportation to work and travel.  The fenders, kickstands, and racks available in Europe are far better than the best regularly available in the USA.

I have spent the last several years combing North American bike parts catalogs and online retailers for the touring bicycle components that make the best durable, comfortable, and affordable bicycle travel machine available.  I have compiled this information in my Custom Touring Bicycle and Bike Upgrade Buyers Guide.


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.

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.

26 Inch Mountain Bike Wheels

eXTReMe Tracker

 

Bicycle Touring
Tips & Advice

- Bike Stuff
- Camping

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
Bike Maps
Preventing Flat Tires

Bike Computer
Cargo Trailers
Kick Stands
Pedals
Handelbars/Grips
Headsets
Commuting Bikes

Camp Shower/Toiletry Bag

Lights

Helmet
Bike Shoes
Bike Touring Shorts

Stealth/Free Camp

What I Have Learned On The Road

Dreaming of Endless Travel

Injustice of Poverty

Much MORE Gear Here!

Sponsors (how?)


Cycle Touring Racks

Tents and ground cloths
Sleeping Bags
Camping Mattress Pads


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