A How-to Primer – Bicycle Touring Professional

by touring-bicycle

Mud splattered up my black nylon rain pants as I pedaled down the rocky, moist highway from Huancane alongside the northern route of Lake Titicaca. My vibrant orange panniers from Arkel Overdesigns have been muddied and battered from a tough fall, however they’re the sort of baggage that may take a blow from a dashing truck and nonetheless look model new. Sadly, my beefy JANDD expedition racks have been bent out of form and I needed to safe them to my bike with a chunk of rope to stop them from falling off. As I slowly headed for La Paz, Boliva alongside the  notorious “contraband route” I spotted that this was “Expedition Biking” at it’s best!

Expedition Biking is just like conventional bicycle touring, with one elementary distinction – most of your biking takes place on roads which might be unpaved, unmarked, not on the maps, and sometimes in uninhabited zones. It’s a harmful and dangerous solution to journey. In the event you’re injured or killed, there’s a good likelihood no will even know! Naturally, with risks of this sort, you need gear that’s rugged, reliable, repairable and (do you have to lose something) replaceable.

Listed here are the a number of the gadgets you want in an effort to taken you very personal Expedition Biking journey:

The Bicycle

Clearly, Expedition Biking isn’t potential and not using a good, high quality bike. For this type of a visit, overlook about conventional highway bikes with 700 cc wheels. Stick to a mountain bike as a substitute! The very last thing you’ll want to occur in a again nation setting is to have a nasty spill and get your rims or body bent out of form. Mountain bike rims are beneficial as they’ve the thickness wanted to take care of virtually any unhealthy bump, fall, or crash. The body of your bike also needs to be designed to take some abuse. On this type of journey, you will beat the $h!t out of your bicycle and that signifies that you want a body a rims you could BEAT THE $h!t out of as properly.

Some conventional touring bike producers make frames that take 26 inch mountain bike wheels. However, for those who’re ever unsure, follow a mountain bike body.

When selecting a motorcycle, I don’t advocate buying a pre-packaged bicycle (i.e. one which’s already totally assembled). Due to the unpredictable nature of Expedition Biking, realizing your gear, the way it works, the way to restore it, and the way to preserve it could possibly imply the distinction between a joyous trip and a painful one.

For me, that meant buying a separate body manufactured from stable 4120 or Reynold’s metal tubing with sturdy drop outs and difficult welds. My bike body got here from Bike Nashbar and consists of Reynolds for the triangle and 4120 for the dropouts. Generally the body doesn’t include braze ons for the racks. I had a set welded on at Bilenky bicycle works in Philadelphia. Different wonderful metal mountain bike body makers that I like to recommend embrace Soma, Salsa, and Surly. I selected metal as a result of within the areas the place I’m touring, it’s inconceivable to search out anybody who can weld aluminum. Metal is available virtually wherever on the earth and it’s straightforward to repair. Keep it up!

When you’re at it, ally your self with a superb bike store and have them examine your bicycle correctly and provides it a as soon as over. If you take off on a visit like this, you will need to have the consultants examine your bike for potential issues that you just your self won’t be capable to see.

For elements, Shimano LX is the gold commonplace. It’s powerful, and in contrast to XT or XTR, that are manufactured from lighter supplies for racing, LX has the power and robustness to face up to put on and impacts. LX cassettes, chains, backside brackets, derailleurs, hubs, and brakes have to be a part of your bike. Selecting good elements, once more, makes an enormous distinction if you find yourself attempting to go up a mud hill with 100 kilos of meals, water, and kit in your bike. Don’t skimp on the elements!

To cut back the variety of mechanical issues you expertise, don’t use shocks in your entrance or rear forks. The baggage, when full, will take in nearly all of the shocks you obtain from using on tough roads.=.

For handlebars, I’ve turn out to be a giant fan of the moustache bar. Once I took my first journey in 2001, the straight bar with bar extensions solely provided me two hand positions, each of which resulted in injured nerves within my palms. The moustache bar gives a number of hand positions, which alleviates any extended stress on the palms. As well as, the moustache bar gives one different benefit for expedition touring, which is the usage of bar finish shifters. Bar finish shifters have the choice of index shifting and friction shifting. Ought to something occur to the index guides, a fast flip of the important thing permits friction shifting. Mis-shifts, because of the
put on and tear of the chain and cassette will occur, and in contrast to thumb shifters, the change to friction shifting will prevent many complications out within the wild.

Brake levers for V-brakes are the subsequent consideration. Nearly any highway brake lever ought to do the job when used on the moustache bar with V-brakes.

For treads, I swear by the GEAX twin terrain tires. These tires are manufactured from a kevlar compound and the GEAX Evolution tires have, for me at the least, lasted a number of thousand miles in South and Central America. They’re good for each on-road and off-road terrain, and they’re extraordinarily sturdy.

When you’ve assembled the foremost items on your bike, it’s time to place all of it collectively. I like to recommend assembling your bike by your self. This train of assembling your individual bike will familiarize you along with your elements, important instruments, and the way every little thing works. You will want that information when (not “if”) one thing breaks down if you are out on the highway.

The Luggage and Racks

There are two choices for carrying your gear – a trailer or panniers. Entering into which is best typically turns into a non secular battle, so, to place my opinion into the fray, I’ll state proper now that I’m a pannier man. I’m not a fan of massive, heavy gear, and a trailer counts as one more massive merchandise I’ve to lug round. So, for those who’re searching for the benefits of the trailer article, don’t look right here. I’m a fan of protecting every little thing collectively as one tidy unit… and subsequently I select to journey with panniers.

For racks, JANDD expedition racks have served me properly for the final seven years. They’re manufactured from plane aluminum they usually have mounting platforms on the highest for carrying further gadgets. That is extraordinarily vital when correctly balancing your bicycle, particularly in off-road terrain. Mount factors use generally obtainable screws, which is a lifesaver, as a result of for those who lose some, you may get a substitute in any again nation city or village.


After choosing out your bike, the second most vital gadgets you want for Expedition Journey are your baggage (or “panniers”). Think about your bicycle is a horse and also you’re going into the wild west. Clearly you don’t need to convey overly-priced Gucci baggage, or one thing snazzy, or something poorly made. You need to go together with baggage that may endure the next (all of which I’ve skilled):

Getting hit by a loaded logging truck at 30 miles an hour;
Flying off your bike at 35mph;
Slamming into the mud, gravel, mud, slime, cow manure, horse manure, lama manure, lake water, cactus spines, and so on.
Thrown into outdated creating world bus racks with a crate of useless chickens on high
Tossed right into a baggage compartment with rotting cow elements dripping on it.

On high of all this, your bike and baggage have to be slender sufficient to suit via doorways when nonetheless totally loaded, the baggage have to connect correctly to your racks, they usually have to be able to carrying numerous gear, meals and water. To deal with this process, I selected to make use of Akrel panniers for my Expedition Biking adventures.

To say that the Akrel baggage are overdesigned is an understatement. I’ve come to the opinion that these baggage have been designed for survival throughout a nuclear blast. That’s how powerful these baggage are. I’ve seen and experimented with different baggage, however none have EVER come as near kind, performance, and pound the $h!t out of em as Arkel Overdesigns. These baggage are really designed for punishment that solely a masochist may love. One of the best half is, everytime you’re on the town for various days to relaxation, recuperate, and restore, simply soak them in laundry detergent, rinse twise, they usually’ll look virtually new.


Expedition touring is lots like backwoods tenting, with the exception that you just’ve acquired a bicycle and restore gear. Right here’s the final listing of what I carry when touring with my bike. This listing is restricted to my wants and necessities, so your gear choice will range.


4 pairs of underwear
4 pairs of socks
2 undershirts
1 lengthy sleeve button up shirt
1 set of silk/polypropylene lengthy underwear
3 pairs of motorbike shorts, 2 brief, and 1 lengthy
2 bike shirts
1 pair of motorbike arm sleeves
1 brief sleeved collared shirt
1 pair of brief finger gloves
1 pair of lengthy finger gloves
1 pair of water proof pants
1 wind breaker, water-resistant and stuffable
1 stuffable interior liner chilly climate jacket, artificial
1 baseball cap hood mixture (Columbia designs hat) – seems like a Lawrence of Arabia hat
1 medium sized towel
1 face towel
1 bandanna
1 tie
1 pair of gown pants
1 formal gown shirt
1 pair of khaki pants (no denims!)
1 balaclava
1 pair of sandals
1 pair of trainers
1 wool sweater

Miscellaneous Objects

1 journal e-book, pen, pencil, coloured pencils, with pencil sharpener
1 pad of airplane paper and envelopes
1 compact movie/digital digital camera with reminiscence playing cards, laptop cable, batteries and charger
1 SLR/digital digital camera and movie
1 LED headlamp
1 again up flashlight
2 bins of matches, 3 candles
1 dagger/survival knife with sheath
1 machete
1 leatherman? instrument with sheath
4 bungee cords, 2 lengthy, 2 brief
first support equipment with spare medicines, together with the fundamentals of ciproflaxin, metrodizole, and mylanta, all of which you may get and not using a want for a prescription in latin america
1 compass
1 bug repellent spray
1 bug killer spray
MSR firefly fuel cannister range, and three fuel cans (get the fuel cans in Latin America, don? carry them on the airplane)
pot with utensils (mess equipment), and a fruit peeler
1 head web
spare pair of glasses with case
1 water filter, I exploit a Katadyn hiker professional
1 set of motorbike goggles
1 iodine water therapy set
1 cash belt or neck pouch
1 3/4 season 0 diploma sleeping bag (polarguard filler most well-liked) with compression stuff sack
1 z relaxation pad
1 tent (Eureka Zephyr II)
1 roll of bathroom paper
1 bathroom equipment (toothbrush, dental floss, paste, razor, shaving mirror with a porn star on the again, nail clippers, zit picker, tweezers, nostril hair clippers, and cleaning soap)
2 nalgene bottles with duct tape wrapped round them
36 lubed condoms with spermicide. Life are my favourite, with Trojans taking second. I really like the worth packs. Don’t purchase these along with your good friend within the tremendous market whereas choosing up 10 kilos of bananas that your mother needs to arrange for a picnic. That simply seems unhealthy on the money register.
1 deck of handwriting evaluation playing cards

Instruments and elements for the bicycle

1 combo hex and screw driver wrench equipment
1 multi instrument
1 pedal wrench
1 crescent wrench
1 piece of spare chain, 10 hyperlinks
1 set of spanner wrenches
4 spare brakes
1 spare interior tube
1 spare kevlar tread
1 patch equipment with further patches
1 lengthy kryptonite cable with separate mixture lock
spare rack elements and nuts
1 outdated toothbrush
1 bike pump with duct tape wrapped round it
1 helmet
1 purple blinker
1 bicycle laptop


1 small inner body backpack that can be utilized for journeys as much as 5-6 days (for facet journeys and expeditions)
1 courier day bag
1 camcorder with batteries, 10 tapes, charger, and cables to hook up with the TV
1 tripod
1 cellphone and charger
1 set of apply nunchakus
1 set of actual nunchakus. (***NOTE: I take into account private self protection extraordinarily vital when doing this form of exercise. Legal guidelines range per nation relating to a wide range of private protection weapons, so that you
both adjust to the legal guidelines, make do, improvise, or smuggle. I listed the machete as a part of my equipment, and that alone makes for a formidable protection weapon, in addition to a wonderful throughout instrument for excursions. I do know some individuals are squeamish about this, however for those who severely tackle what I do, then it’s one thing that you just MUST take into account. ***)
1 mp3 CD participant, headphones and batteries. I don’t use an ipod, or
another huge mp3 storage machine as a result of the circumstances I’m going via
will trash the onerous drive completely. A CD participant is way extra sturdy,
and in altering international locations and circumstances, versatile.
1 40 CD booklet
spanish-english dictionary
portugese-english dictionary
The Parts of Fashion, by Strunk and White
The Dream Dictionary
El libro de los formulation para ciencia y ingeneria
Zen and the Artwork of Motorbike Upkeep
Marte 2056
1 booklet on nunchaku approach, assault and protection principle
1 folder with notepads and paperwork

It seems like lots, however I’ve carried all the above for months, even a 12 months throughout my final expedition. And there may be nonetheless some further room for meals! Normally, I carry the next as my commonplace 2-3 day rations via the mountains or rain forest.


1 pound of rice
1 pound of lentils
5 baggage of noodles, or 1 massive bag
6 packets of powdered juice combine
salt and sugar
powdered milk
powdered sizzling chocolate, nestle, or nutritioncal drink combine
1 pound of oats
5-6 liters of water
vegetable boullion packets
sushi seaweed paper
1 small bottle of rice vinegar for sushi (Hey, I gotta have some

My Remaining Piece Of Recommendation: On a visit just like the one I’m taking, it’s important to be prepared for absolutely anything that may (and can) go fallacious.

David Nghiem lately launched a e-book about his quest on a bicycle via Latin America, which you should buy at Booklocker.com. Extra details about his journey might be discovered at Dave’s New Journey


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