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How I started
Equipment Pages Index
I get email almost everyday asking me about our touring bikes, bicycle panniers and other bicycle touring equipment. Selecting bicycle touring and camping equipment always involves difficult decisions. Before you leave you want to have everything perfect so you do not have to deal with breakdowns and general failures on the road.
After you have the bare necessities how much more to bring is really a personal question. It boils down to your personal taste and philosophy. Even determining what the bare necessities are is highly debatable. We carry much more than most bicycle tourist we have met. Our trip is also very different than most others. Most long distance bicycle tourist have a set amount of time to travel. Many of them are taking a few weeks to a year off from work or school for their adventure. The vast majority know when they are going home and usually already have their airline tickets with them. Because they have a set amount of time these bicycle tourist want to see as much as they can in their limited time. For this reason lightness and speed are very important to them.
We have a much different limitation for our trip. We can travel until our money runs out. (see FINANCES) We have no airline tickets and therefore no real schedule. When we want to fly we buy the tickets on the internet at that time. This shifts our emphasis from light and fast to asking ourselves "how can we travel on the least amount of daily money and still be comfortable enough to not burn out?" We are completely self contained for "free" camping in all types of weather. Not staying in hotels or campgrounds every night saves us the most money. Filtering water in developing countries and cooking our own food in expensive countries saves us a substantial amount of money as well. This requires a lot of gear. I have a saying that I often repeat to Cindie. "I would rather carry a pound than spend a dollar".
Bicycle touring is a classic noncompetitive sport yet many people involved in bicycle touring desperately need to satisfy their competitive nature. This competition is all to often played out in the equipment arena. The one who has the best set up must be the "smartest" and therefore wins. I believe that best set up is highly individualized to each bike tourist and does not take any cyclist long to figure out what is best for them. If you have taken a couple of multi-week trips you are already fairly experienced and this is all it takes to figure out what you like and do not like. This is not rocket science. Of course, your likes and dislikes will change as you mature through the years or branch out to more difficult routes our countries.
We receive frequent offers from equipment manufactures for sponsorship or review. Most of these offers we turn down because we refuse to use or promote anything we do not fully believe in. We do not carry much so what we carry is important to us. Over the years we have accepted free items to use and review on our web site. Some of these products have been excellent and others not adequate on an extended trip like ours. If you think we would prefer your product over something we currently use write us and we can discuss your offer. Please be aware that we are never under any obligation to give a positive review. If we like your product we will happily communicate this and sell it on www.downtheroad.org. If we do not like your product we will reflect this as well. It is a true test that only the most confident equipment manufactures should accept.
I have used several brands of bicycle panniers and
highly recommend Ortlieb.
See Why I switched to Ortlieb waterproof Panniers?
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