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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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Continue My Travels

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

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

*Help Support this Web Site and Continue My Travels.

Equipment Pages Index

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.
Sealed Cartridge Headsets

How to prevent flat tires
Bike Route Trails and Maps

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

Bike Touring Shorts

Short-wave Radio
Bicycle touring lights

Packing list
Pictures of Equipment Failures

See My Videos Here

(see all 3 book)

Buying the Best Touring Bicycles for our Around the World Bike Tour

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
- We started Out With Inferior Touring Bikes
- 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.


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 is 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 concerned and 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 also 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 our traveling machines.  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 we left on our 7 year (now more) around the world bike tour I had to decide what type of touring bikes would withstand the hardships in distant underdeveloped countries.  I had done some extended bike touring before and learned several key lessons the hard way by making major mistakes in touring bikes and equipment choices.  I did not want to repeat these same mistakes on our dream trip of traveling the world on bicycles so I applied what I knew at that time to my bike shopping decision.  I knew from experience that our touring bikes absolutely had to have:

26 Inch Mountain Bike Wheels
Frames with Bicycle Touring Specific Geometry

I became frustrated trying to solve the problem of choosing the best equipment for an extended cycling trip.  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 that used a 26 inch wheel set.  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 with 26 inch wheels.  Touring bicycle manufactures like Trek and Cannondale are only producing touring bikes (meant for carrying panniers) with 700c wheels (road size wheels).  I found two small non traditional factories who produced 26 inch touring specific bikes but they seemed expensive and lacking all the details I believe essential in a functional, durable, and comfortable. touring bike.  I was looking for a bike that was built from the ground up for traveling self contained on a bicycle.

We started Out With Inferior Touring Bikes on Our Around the World Bicycle Tour

Before we departed on our 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.  Cindie bought a stock steel bike and I had a custom steel bike made.  Our bikes 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 revel its downfalls.  Physical and mechanical problems related to touring bikes crop up after touring cyclists are already on the road and past 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 Cindie and I did during our first two years on the road.  We 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 developed 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.  Cindie's bike was even worse.  Rust never sleeps and it was literally consuming our touring bicycle frame sets 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 Mt. bike because of the 24/7 outdoor use.  It became obvious that these bikes would not last the entire trip.

Cindie's bike did not fit her well and had an uncomfortable geometry which caused back, wrist, and hand pain that nearly ended our trip.  She was very unhappy but fortunately she never quit our tour but she came close. Both of our bikes 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 we left that we learned that we did not have the correct tool for the job.

DSC00002.JPG (527471 bytes)
Tim trying to repair a mysterious clicking sound originally thought to be the bottom bracket.  Tim's 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.

Tim working on 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 Tim to safely work on his bike.  He looks mad because equipment failures should not spoil an adventure of a lifetime.  Choose wisely.

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

After several years on the road Cindie and I slowly learned the ins and outs of touring bikes.  It took this extended real life experience of actually living and traveling on our bicycles to educate us on what works and what does not.  It was easy to point out the flaws in our old bikes because we had sore backs, butts, and unforgettable breakdowns to remind us.  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.  Cycle touring has always been far more popular in Europe than North America but 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.


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Bicycle Touring
Tips & Advice

- Bike Stuff
- Camping

Touring Bicycles

Tools and Spares

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
Commuting Bikes

Camp Shower/Toiletry Bag


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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