Today we talk about cycling, our bikes and the equipment with which we make this trip. Indeed, we often meet people who ask us questions about the material used, the necessary investment, the reliability of the material … or simply WHY?
Cyclotourism is a branch of itinerant nomadism and is not so different from trekking. Although not so famous to the general public it is an old practice. In these disciplines we are looking for a mix of discoveries, encounters, sports performances / overtaking oneself and surprises. Practiced with friends also promises good moments of complicity!
Our great daddy! Not an hazard… 🙂
However, it can be distinguished from its cousin by a higher investment and a need to adapt the equipment to the type of practice (roads, paths, mountains). We are now talking about cycling and bikepacking. The first discipline encompasses the second but differentiates itself by a more traditional practice on the road. World tour cyclotourists generally take in their packages what to face in all situations, such as camels in the desert. Thanks to their large volume of luggage they can afford it and they are right.
The bikepacking is quite recent in the cycle tourism landscape. As for the mountain hiker it comes from a desire for fresh air and small technical trails much less accessible. This has been made possible with the advent of MTB on the one hand, and more recently on technical progress and the craze for minimalism. It is thus possible to bring its package for mountain bike outings in autonomy over several days. The bikepacking equipment remains relatively expensive but we see some big brands showing interest, such as DECATHLON. Some may see it as a fad, and it is clear that this discipline benefits greatly from our consumer society.
On the top left a mountain bike equipped for bikepacking. Bottom left and right our vision « has the tear » of practice in 2014 with friends. At the time, we did not even know this term.
As we are not maniacs or obsessed with technic, and we did not want to break the piggy bank, we chose to leave with half new equipment, half recovery and a mixture of luggage from these two disciplines. Our bikes are rigid mountain bikes (without suspensions) which have been perfect so far for the road as for the tracks and paths. After three months of travel, we can tell you what’s going, what’s going wrong and what we would do differently if it was to do again. The goal is to show you that the investment is not necessarily huge and that there are dozens of possible configurations, so you should not be afraid to start your turn 🙂
We give you below a synthetic then technical presentation (for the curious) of our configurations.
I left on the ideal of a minimalist investment. My velo is a Rockrider 600 decathlon from 1997. It is a good quality steel and is a good base. The original bike was bought on Leboncoin for 150e in 2016. It was original at the beginning of the journey. He was a little near original at the beginning of his journey.
RR600 frame in high-grade chromoly steel.
Original wheels, I had to change the front wheel after a month and a half for 60e (hubs included)
Schwalbe Land Cruiser tires (versatile, VTC) Only 40e pair is really the best! They were not even new, must have 10000km but still do the job while they were well manhandled!
The saddle is an extremely important element and one should not skimp on the quality. For me it’s a Brooks leather that takes the shape of the buttocks, the comfort becomes optimal after 500km traveled. Value 100e but obtained at half price thanks to our partner Cyclable in Rennes.
Derailleurs av and ar Shimano Deore LX. Original equipment on the bike bought used (20 years already). They show signs of weakness over time and become easily clogged with dust. Frequent cleaning required.
Original VBrake brakes, the skates were worn down to the bone after 2 and a half months, a new pair only costs 7e.
The handles are ergonomic with support for the palm and small « horns » to practice as a dancer or just relieve the wrists from time to time. Value: around 40e
Two water bottle holders that come on the fork thanks to a velcro system. Not very reliable so I stuck on double-sided tape. 20e
Chain and new gables before departure: 20th
Zefal r70 luggage rack is not the easiest to assemble but it does not move a hair since the start. 60e
Freewheel changed just before Thailand because blocked, for 5e
Crankset changed in Myanmar as teeth broke, for 15e
2 cans of 1 liter each, 10e
I wanted to restart the weight on the bike so I invested in the following saddlebags:
⁃ Apidura saddlebags for handlebars. Excellent product, the seal is not complete but the clothes are in a plastic. 100e used
⁃ Ortlieb Frame Pack 6l. Put yourself in the middle of the frame, perfect also for putting small heavy things. 100e nine.
⁃ Vaude 12.5L front bags each used for me in the back to make a little luggage! Great because I do not feel like shooting a shot. 100e nine, had 50e thanks to our bike partner. Over time the bindings have seized and the rivets open, it still works but the wear has been abnormally fast …
My investment before departure is therefore just 420e (luggage included) because I already had this bike that I used to go to work. Since the beginning I had to change things and repair for about 150e. A rather small investment compared to what I should have done to buy a new specialized bike.
Rather satisfied with the weight distribution between front and back. For the luggage I would not change anything except maybe replace the saddlebags with a saddle bag if I decided to go even lighter. I regret not having changed the pedals, the two wheels and possibly the transmission before the departure, because they are parts that had already aged well. I would have done a better job at decathlon and would not have wasted time in every country where I had to fix something.
I built my bike on the basis of a brand new SURLY frame. It is a specific mountain bike touring frame, it is characterized by a rather comfortable geometry and has many mounting holes for luggage rack and others. For the history, it comes from Quebec. My roommate holding a bike shop, I quickly saw a sign of fate … The rest of the bike parts are mostly second hand. Thanks to sites like leboncoin and troc bike it is possible to find happiness for a price well below, with a little patience!
Count approximately 800 to 1000 € for this type of configuration.
SURLY TROLL frame size L (18 « ) from 2017 in chromoly double butted steel, with wheels of 26 » original but also 27.5 « It is a versatile frame, suitable for practice on road or on any terrain Its peculiarity is to have a raised geometry, planned to receive a suspended fork. New with discount env 300E.
Rear luggage rack TOPEAK SUPERTOURIST new 40E.
SPECIALIZED PIZZA RACK front luggage rack 50E.
ITALIA TREK GEL 70E saddle new. So I do not know what to say, having systematically ass pain beyond 3 days of bicycles in spite of 3 months of tanage of the buttocks. It is a saddle that has a very good reputation. She’s probably not suited for me. The choice of a saddle is as for shoes: you have to try and be wrong.
I had high-end wheels SHIMANO XT and hub XT used env 250E
Transmission SHIMAMO XT and XTR, env 200E.
Mechanical disc brakes and AVID levers env 100E.
New SCHWALBE MARATHON WORLD tires at 30E.
You will note the very rough estimate of prices, I do not have all that in mind. However the order of magnitude is good.
In terms of luggage, I opted for a mix between classic ORTLIEB cycle bags, a DECATHLON waterproof bag at the front containing light bulky items, and a MISS GRAPPE frame bag for tooling. It gives me a big volume at a lower cost. About 250 €.
For this type of trip, mainly on the road, it suits me well. Tending to minimalism, I will probably exchange my bags for something less bulky.
I am very satisfied with my setup. This trip, however, helped identify areas for improvement. I am thinking in particular of the cockpit, the saddle, and the luggage.
The final word
Cyclotourism therefore requires an initial investment adaptable but you can enjoy many times in the future! We invite you to try for yourself on a weekend near you, then on a week during a vacation … you will see your environment in a new eye;)