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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


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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)

 

Equipment and gear sponsors for bicycle touring, traveling and bike tour

Sponsors - Economizing/The Fugal Traveler - Stealth/Free CampingBudgeting - Charity or Cause - Receiving Donations - Health Insurance - Dreaming of Travel - Leaving It All Behind - Videos About bike tour Finances - How I pay for long term bicycle touring main finance page

I did not have any sponsors when I started my Round the World trip in 2002. Like many travelers about to set off on a big trip, I thought that bicycle and camping gear companies would be leaping at the chance to sponsor me. After all, I planned on a seven-year trip through some exotic and challenging places.  I was shocked when the twenty-five or so companies I wrote and called turned me down. Were they crazy?  I bought my bike and gear at full retail price and left, still scratching my head.  It wasn't until I'd been on the road for two years and my website was receiving substantial traffic that I started getting contacted by prospective sponsors. The mystery of sponsorships and bicycle touring is intriguing and I have not totally figured it out, but I keep trying different things.

Currently, I have a few sponsors for my bicycle tour.  My arrangements with these businesses are win-win for both parties: I get free gear and they get exposure and direct sales from my website.  My sponsors have earned back the cost of their investments and commissions several times over through the sales they make through my website.

Sometimes I write to manufacturers of equipment I use and get zero response. Laptop computers are high on my list. I push a computer to its limits, know a lot about traveling with one and I think I could probably sell them from my website.  They never answer my emails.  I've had a touring bike sponsor in the past where I bought the bikes at manufacturers' cost (a pro deal, in bike shop talk) and sold them on commission.   I ended this relationship once I discovered problems with a poorly designed headset and felt I couldn't ethically promote these bikes.  I have a pretty good track record of selling bikes off my site, and there are a few companies that I think would be a good match. But it's hard to convince them.  As you can see, I'm still learning how to find good sponsors and business partners. Below is a summary of some of the things I've learned.

Prospective sponsors always ask these two questions: 

1)How much traffic do you get on your web site?

2)How long will you be traveling? 

They seldom ask how difficult a trip will be or through which exotic places I will travel.  I could be riding in circles around my neighborhood as far as they care, as long as my website generates enough traffic to promote their products.  Sponsors also do not want to invest in a bike trip if it is short-term.  They know that it takes a lot of time for these relationships to be profitable. If the trip ends quickly, the website traffic and exposure disappear with it.  When dealing with businesses, always remember that they are primarily interested in turning a profit.  Instead of concentrating on what they can do for your trip, think about what your tour can do for them.  Offering to put their corporate logo on your jersey or bike is not going to cut it.  They need far more eyeballs than that to make a profit.

I am picky about my gear so there are only a few companies with which I can potentially work.  I do not carry much, so what I do have in my panniers is critical for the trip's success.  My own personal rule is to only accept sponsorship for gear that I would buy anyway.  Other cyclists and travelers are relying on my experience so I can't endorse equipment that I don't like.  I do not think these standards are uncommon in the cycle touring world.  Touring cyclists are a notoriously picky bunch, for very good reason. Our safety depends on having good gear.  For me, this is especially true for touring bicycles because there are only five or so mass-produced bikes I would feel comfortable taking off the shelf and riding through the developing world or remote wilderness stretches.

Real sponsorship is not common in the bicycle touring world.

Bike touring sponsorship should not be confused with affiliate programs.  Anyone with an accepted website (not porn, hate or illegal) can go to an equipment company's website and sign up for their affiliate program if they have one. Normally, you can earn about 5% of sales originating from your website.  Anyone with decent computer skills can make an account, create the ads, copy the code and insert it on their website.  This isn't a sponsorship. It's an affiliate commission program.  With a few exceptions, most of the gear sold on DownTheRoad.org is through various affiliate programs.

Discounts are not sponsorships.  If a company is making a profit on the items you buy then they are not sponsoring you. They are giving you a discount.  This might explain why so many cycle touring and extreme sports websites appear to have such impressive sponsor pages filled with corporate logos linking to the manufacturers.  Sometimes I think there are people out there more interested in "looking sponsored" than anything else and the slightest discount warrants a banner and a glowing review on their website.  I have seen these reviews appear even before the bicycle tour starts or just a few months into a trip.  I believe that no piece of bicycle touring equipment can be put through its paces until 9 - 12 months of continuous travel are completed.

This last one probably goes without saying. Warranty replacements are not sponsored gear.  Any reputable company will replace gear with manufacturer's defects.  I have worked in many bike shops in the past and have come to believe that if a customer contacts a gear company regarding a new-ish broken piece of gear, the company will usually replace it with few questions asked.  While this is a good business practice and shows a dedication to customer satisfaction, it is not an equipment sponsorship.

My current sponsors

Ortlieb has been working with me for years supplying over a dozen items including all my panniers (saddle bags), handlebar bags and more.  I would definitely be buying all these Ortlieb bags even if it were not for their generosity.  This was my favorite brand of pannier long before their sponsorship. 

Big Agnes supplies me regularly with new tents, sleeping bags and sleeping pads.  I used several different brands of camping gear before settling on Big Agnes.  They use me as a field tester to work with their design engineers.  I guess I make a decent tester as I've camped out at least a thousand nights in the last four years. I've ridden out lots of intense storms while camping and the equipment definitely gets thoroughly tested.  Their sponsorship saves me a lot of money on gear I would have to regularly buy.

Tubus Bicycle Touring Racks and Luggage Carrier Systems   I used Tubus Racks for the first seven years of the trip. They never broke.  Tubus sent me a stainless steel set just so I would have the latest and greatest to show the world but I'm sure I could have used the original set for another twenty-plus years.

Phil Wood gave me four hubs several years ago. I have yet to wear these out so no replacement has been necessary.  They are a great company to work with.

Sponsors - Economizing/The Fugal Traveler - Stealth/Free CampingBudgeting - Charity or Cause - Receiving Donations - Health Insurance - Dreaming of Travel - Leaving It All Behind - Videos About bike tour Finances - How I pay for long term bicycle touring main finance page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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First Aide Kits
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Preventing Flat Tires

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Stealth/Free Camp

What I Have Learned On The Road

Dreaming of Endless Travel

Injustice of Poverty

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Sponsors (how?)


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