UKH

Whats it like 2 pedal a fully loaded touring bike

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J1234 16 Jan 2021

I have done a little cycle touring but very light weight, stopping at B and Bs or Fiets Frienden, so really credit card touring, and want to take the next step. I have decided that what I am into is the touring more than the cycling part of things, so cycle touring as opposed to bike packing will be the way ahead for me.
Anyway something I have not got my head around is what is it like to pedal a touring bike, obviously very different to a lightweight road or MTB, but it must be OK.

Can anyone share any experience of this please?

The what's it like to pedal a belt drive Rohloff, will come in due course

 didntcomelast 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

No problem on the flat, slower going up slight gradients. Boy you notice it on a proper up hill, the really low gearing helps but it’s still a slog.  I ride a Raleigh Sojourn with Vaude panniers front and rear. It’s nothing like a lightly packed bikepacking rig but on that there’s no luxury. 

J1234 16 Jan 2021
In reply to didntcomelast:

Thank you,
I have come across a chap on the Internet who claims if you keep to a cadence (is that the correct phrase) of 60rpm or whatever, going up hill should be no harder, but this does not seem to be universally agreed. https://www.cyclingabout.com/hills-are-not-harder-than-cycling-on-the-flat/

Does the bike feel more planted, like say driving a solid car, or does it feel out of balance, or is this just a case of loading correctly.

 DaveHK 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

> Thank you,

>  if you keep to a cadence (is that the correct phrase) of 60rpm or whatever, going up hill should be no harder, 

You can make riding uphill loaded feel no harder but you will of course be going a whole lot slower!

It takes a wee bit of getting used to and you need to adjust expectations a little but touring is a great way to explore an area.

 bouldery bits 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

I errr... Think that cycling up hill is harder. This is what my non-scientific research tells me anyway. 

1
 DaveHK 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

> Does the bike feel more planted, like say driving a solid car, or does it feel out of balance, or is this just a case of loading correctly.

This depends on the bike and set up but if you get it right, yes. I toured the Pyrenees a few years back and coming down off passes with front and rear panniers was a hoot. It was like F1 downforce for the bike, huge grip and stability. I regularly passed serious roadies on the descents as if they were going backwards much to their amusement or disgust.

 Run_Ross_Run 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

It's not too bad even at lower speeds. 

I've done a couple of bikepacking trips on the adventure bike with all the gear for a week away, so about 6kgs, and you get used to it after a while. As the previous reply said, hills are a real killer though so gearing needs to be considered. Fine on a mtb but I was at my limit a few times on the steep bits on the drop bars 

 Ciro 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

I've never had a proper touring bike, but I did a bit of touring with rear panniers only on a road bike, and fairly heavy gear on the back (cheap, full weight tents, etc.)

Couple of observations: 

With tents and shit on the back wheel going up the passes in the lake District in granny gear it was hard to keep the front wheel on the ground, and a bit scary wheelying at such low speed.

Don't, whatever you do, take a full on descending position with your chest on the bars.... the back end tried to overtake the front at about 50mph, and I still don't know to this day how I kept the rubber side down. 

But in general as long as the weight was even across the axle the bike handled fine, and it was just a bit harder work.

 jalien 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

Initially it feels like trying to balance a fridge on a skateboard: more weight, less control, but just as easily overbalanced. You get used to it pretty quickly though, then it starts to feel like a tank: solid, a lot of momentum, and a (false) sense of protection. You learn to accept a steady pace, although on the flat you can get up to a reasonable speed. You'll get stronger quite quickly, and your pace will creep up. Don't be scared of taking hilly routes, just leave more time to tackle them as you can't sprint any sections

 andrew549 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

The main difference is much slower to accelerate, on the flat it doesn't make too much difference bit slower but not a huge amount. I find short uphills the main difference as instead of powering over them you tend to have to shift down and go steady up them. Big long uphills super low gearing and take it slow is what works for me.

Its fairly common on touring bike to find less than 1 to 1 gearing and still fairly common to find people using triples for the wide range of gearing.

 spenser 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

It will depend a bit on how much stuff you are carrying really and where you're carrying it, expect the steering to feel a bit heavier on the front, the back end can be more lively on descents and you can't lean over as much going round a sharp bend.

 mike123 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234: if you can, get hold of a steel steel touring bike at least to try , imho lots of advantages and very few disadvantages when fully loaded , not least strength. I ve done several reasonably long tours on mine and lots of shorter ones . I ditched front panniers on  the front some time  ago . I don't like the way the bike steers  , or more accurately doesn't steer . This is personal preference and lots of people disagree with me . This might be different with disc brakes , but my tourer doesn't have them .  I can get everything to be self sufficient on the back , but that's maybe because I've got plenty lite weight kit to choose from . Sleeping bag , tent , stove , pans etc. Limiting factor is food and water . I've got braise ons all over the bike for bolting stuff on .  Wouldn't be without a triple when loaded . I try to pigheadly not use the granny cog , so when the hill gets steep I have something to fall back on. Theres a good video on you tube of a  guy picking up a bike from the giant factory in china and cycling it back to Newcastle  ,( not sure if Itd been linked to on here ?)  he s got all the weight on the front and does 200 km a day .  I d never be unfaithful to my steel bike and hope it will outlast me  but if I win the lottery I think titanium might trump steel , certainly for fast short tours .  I cycled along with a Dutch chap in the Pyrenees who had a really beautiful custom  titanium tourer with every add onyou can imagine . I'll try to link to the brand. Very spendy . 

Edit : https://fireflybicycles.com/

Post edited at 12:20
 oliwarlow 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

Hi,

really just echoing what others have said. 

In terms of effort, of course going to be gearing related.  Something to consider is that a a fully laden touring bike is no fun to ride out of the saddle as it will get quite unstable if you tilt it over, so you want to make sure you have gears you can stay sitting down in as much as possible (I run a triple with a low gear of 28/36 so nice and easy when required!).  

As others have said it takes some getting used to, but a well balanced touring bike it actually really nice to ride.  If you are running front panniers the steering will be quite "heavy/stable" i.e. you will need to apply a little more pressure than you are used to make it turn.  This isn't  bad thing, just adds to that feel of stable cruising.  As per the comment above if you get out of the saddle and start trying to throw the bike around a bit things will get uncomfortable as you have a lot of weight/momentum to keep control of.

If you are carrying much more than a few days clothes i.e. not staying in b&bs etc then getting some weight on the front makes things easier.  As Ciro said it can be tricky to keep the wheels on the ground with too much weight on the back, you will also find it more sketchy going downhill (I have happily hit 47mph going downhill on my fully laden tourer and felt quite stable) .

I know you haven't asked for bike info, but be aware of the length of the chainstays of a bike you are considering.  If they are too short you may find it tricky to get the panniers on without clipping your heels on them, very annoying and will ruin your ride.  

Oli.

In reply to J1234:

I did my first bikepacking trip in Sept last year 6 days along the outer hebridies and back down the west coast of scotland. An amazing experience.

I was riding a quite light steel frame bike with rear panniers. I seemed to be very lightly loaded compared to a lot of others who commented enviously on the ferry crossings. 

Didn't weigh my kit but must have been under 10kg luggage on a 9kg bike. It seemed easy to chuck extra, non essential, items in the panniers because unlike a rucksac you don't feel the weight, until you get to the hills. Next trip I will try and strip further weight and get down to my backpacking load of 6 - 7kg. Don't have to carry much food or water as even in remote parts of scotland you will be going past a shop/garage every two or three hours. Thats all for road cycling obviously. Would need a heavier/sturdier set up if going off road at all.

Up hill is where you really notice the weight. I was suprised how much I felt it even on small shallow climbs., that I would normally power over without slowing down. Had to get used to dropping into low gear and twiddling. On steeper hills I really noticed it and had to adjust my riding style. If I tried to stand on the pedals and throw the bike around as I might do on a steep section, the rear end luggage and rack felt like it was wobbling around. Might not so much with a heavier, sturdier bike and rack. Didn't notice nearly so much difference on the downhills, where the bike handled fine.

J1234 16 Jan 2021
In reply to mike123:

Thank you. I have seen the video of the guy at the Giant factory, but he also speaks of cycling 200 miles a day, which is not my style, and TBH not something I aspire to, its about the journey and the people you meet on the way, for me, but different folks different strokes.

This bike looks rather good, https://www.koga.com/en/koga-signature , but from what I am understanding, getting bogged down in what bike could be a mistake, the main thing to do is just set off.

1
 Jim Lancs 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

It's handy to make comparisons with other forms of camping trips: A well loaded bike doesn't physically 'hurt' you like a fully loaded climbing expedition rucksac can 'hurt'!  Starting off from rest, riding on the flat and downhill are no more arduous than regular cycling, unlike backpacking trips with a rucksac where there is a impact on bits of your body every step of the way. So in comparison, cycle touring is 'easy'.

However, cycle-camping is more weight sensitive than say canoe camping - I've paddled  month long trips in the States with loads of several hundred pounds without really noticing (until the portages when you instantly transition to the misery of backpacking! )

So it's only the uphills on a cycling trip that really present a problem! This takes 'work' (horse power) and from school we remember that this is a combination of leg power and time. Of these, it's having 'enough time' that is the secret to loaded cycle touring.  And this 'time' comes through the combination of gradient and sufficiently low gears to sit there and sustain the effort required to reach the top. In the Alps and Pyrenees, that means hours!

Most 'touring' bikes on offer don't have sufficiently low gears. Classically, camping touring bikes not only had well distributed loads back and front, but had a bottom gear of 18 inches or so. They also had tightly spaced gears so the 'exact' one you wanted was to hand which is really important. Too big a jump will drive you insane after an hour skipping between 'too easy' and too hard. So more low gears are preferable to top end range. I don't bother wth anything over 95 inches as I'm happy to freewheel once we get up to 30mph.

So the Rohloff gives you lots of evenly spaced gears which is ideal, but I believe the manufacturer has limits on how low the bottom gear can be set, as the torque developed on a loaded bike can exceed their design specs. Ironically, old steel, rigid forked 9-speed mountain bikes are sometimes a better base for a loaded touring bike (with their 22-34-46 T chainsets) than many new, off-the-peg, specialist touring or back packing bikes.

 mike123 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234: couldn't agree more about the journey , a friend of mine has to do 100 miles a day come what may , not for me . For me part of the joy is packing up in a morning and not knowing where I'll end up . 

 mike123 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234: looks good . One of my neighbours recently picked up a Dawes galaxy from the ctc forums for a lockdown project . It was a bag of bits , but they were all there . The frame looked tired but as it was steel it was perfectly fine otherwise . He handsanded it , sprayed it with cans, bought transfers from the net , polished up all the bits etc ,the only new bits were a chain and a Brooke's saddle . It looks the business . I m  sure he said it stands him at less than £300 . Lots of time of course. 

Post edited at 12:55
 Timy2 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

Be aware of the extra weight that your bike now weighs.  On the 2nd day cycling route des Alpes I was leaning over to drink from water spout on cornet de rosaland when the front wheel twisted, bike shot forward and chain wheel sliced into my calf!  Be careful going down long steep hills with hairpins as the extra weight reduces your stopping distance. 

Lots of 1000 km plus tours on my Dawes Ultra Galaxy. Obviously, it helps if you choose flattish routes eg. along the Danube. But if super flat like Estonia, you always pedal and never freewheel.

Take less than you think. Distribute weight evenly. Allow longer to stop.

Accept that you are touring not racing so be cool when overtaken.

Accept that the first few days will be hard but that bike fitness will soon kick in.

Start early and stop to refuel often so plenty of miles can still be ridden.

Post edited at 13:17
 Marek 16 Jan 2021
In reply to Timy2:

> ... Be careful going down long steep hills with hairpins as the extra weight reduces your stopping distance. 

Err, that's good isn't it?

J1234 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

Thanks for all the advice.

A bike tour we have been fancying for awhile is the Rhine, apparently it is literally down hill pretty much all the way, another is up the Rhine as it not that much up hill, then links onto the Moselle, then the Meuse, then the Rhone.

The Rhine looks very do able and I think a good next step.

 Jim Lancs 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

When looking at 'almost flat' routes, there is one other thing to consider - The Wind.

A loaded touring bike has lots more windage than a road bike and headwinds are miserable. I would rather go 'up hill' along one of those river cycleways, than I would go into the prevailing wind. 

Eventually you will get to the top of any hill in a matter of hours, but some headwinds can go on for weeks and weeks.

 oliwarlow 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

You could certainly get yourself something pretty nice from Koga! But yes like you say best just get out riding

However, if you are going to drop a few k on a bike though then worth thinking about.

frame - steel still seems to be king for touring. Hard to justify anything else. The weight saving of Carbon and aluminium just can’t be justified for potential difficulty of repair. Other materials are possible but not common. As I mentioned before make sure is designed for the loads you intend on carrying both in strength and where it can be carried. 

gears - everyone seems to agree that having plenty of low gears is essential.  Lots of ways of achieving this, but be aware that the type of shifter you use is also important e.g. if you want drop handle bars then avoid shifters integrated with the brake levers as often you won’t be able to operate the “range” you want regardless of type of rear derailleur you are using.  Old fashioned friction shifters or mountain bike style shifters are better at coping with a touring type range of gears.

brakes - lots of debate on this. Obviously discs give best stopping power, but folk worry about difficulty of maintenance and spare parts in remote locations.  Becoming less of an issue these days and very easy to carry spare sets of disc pads.  Probably still wisest to go for cable operated however as hydraulic systems are harder to repair and get parts for.

wheels - everyone used to go 26inch as the theory was you can find them (and spare spokes) in whatever far flung place you end up in.  These days I don’t know if that is so much of an issue only second hand comments that folk have always managed to find the spokes they needed.

saddle - very personal, just be aware of how wrong this could go!

if you got a bike from someone like koga/Oxford all of the above should be covered as they are specialists.  Just be aware of some bikes that are marketed as touring bikes from brands who are not specialists in it.  Not necessarily bad, in fact often very good value, just be aware if the above when choosing.

oli.

J1234 16 Jan 2021
In reply to Jim Lancs:

Thanks that is good advice, we cycled up the coast from Rotterdam to Texel, then looped back (we used the train from near texel to Delft) down and the hardest day was back along the Rhine to Rotterdam in the teeth of a gale, but I suppose if we ever do a longer trip, we will not have the luxury of always taking into account prevailing winds. 
That canoeing sounds ace, I used to love looking at the Hilleberg brochure/ website for the canoe camping photos. Problem with coming to all this outside stuff is you keep hearing stuff and know you will not have time to do it all, but then as an old timer said to me at stanage once with a wistful sigh, your lucky you have it all to come, I have done most everything I can

 Dave Cundy 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

Bike touring is one of those things where you have to find your own balance/compromise between between ease of hill climbing (by carrying less kit) and camping comfort (by carrying more kit).

Personally, I'm happy with 8kg of kit in three bags on the frame centreline. I can manage long 10% hills (with the occasional rest) and have my own tent, stove and a spare set of clothes for the apres-cycle.

I did try with a heavy bar bag (5kg) but found the bike becoming directionally unstable at 40 mph on a hill.  I guess front panniers will exacerbate that, because the aerodynamic drag ahead of the bike centre-of-gravity creates directional instability.  If you must use front panniers, keep your speed down!

 Marek 16 Jan 2021
In reply to oliwarlow:

> frame - steel still seems to be king for touring. Hard to justify anything else. The weight saving of Carbon and aluminium just can’t be justified for potential difficulty of repair.

A bit of mythology that really. I asked around a couple of years ago to see how often tourers have resorted to getting their bike frames welding repaired out in the sticks. Answer: Pretty much nobody, ever. It's a nice idea, but not really a practical consideration. Having said that, yes, steel is a perfectly good material for touring bikes since weight (its only Achille's heal) is hardly an issue.

 DaveHK 16 Jan 2021
In reply to Dave Cundy: 

> I guess front panniers will exacerbate that, because the aerodynamic drag ahead of the bike centre-of-gravity creates directional instability.  If you must use front panniers, keep your speed down!

I found the opposite. I felt front lowrider panniers really stabilised the bike and made the handling more predictable and less twitchy. I felt confident going far faster with them on than just rear panniers as rear panniers alone made the steering feel very light.

However, similar or even significantly  less weight in a bar bag did make it feel less stable and more twitchy.

 oliwarlow 16 Jan 2021
In reply to Marek:

Yes it is rare. Did encounter some people stuck abroad with a crack in their carbon tandem though so does happen! Though like you say not often 

In reply to J1234:

Then theres the debate about how to carry your luggage. Rack & panniers? or bikepacking bags strapped all over the frame.

In  scotland in september there seemed to be quite a few novice bikepackers (including myself) and several of the framepacking ones said to me that they were thinking of trying a rack next time. This was my first experience and I had a rack.

Any bikepackers with experience of both like to comment?

 oliwarlow 16 Jan 2021
In reply to mountain.martin:

I’m sure some will only go one way or the other, but from experience it is a balance of what you want.

frame bags = lighter weight and keeps the ride feel of the bike similar to that without bags.  You can’t fit as much stuff and stuff is harder to access (you have to be smart with your packing to make sure what you want is accessible)

racks = heavier and will impact how the bike rides much more.  But you can pack way more stuff and get to it much easier.

I use both methods and love them both for what they offer 

In reply to oliwarlow:

Thanks, I can see that frame packing should work well if staying in B & B's. How practical is it to fit all gear if camping?

 DaveHK 16 Jan 2021
In reply to mountain.martin:

> Any bikepackers with experience of both like to comment?

I've done quite a bit of both and it's horses for courses. Anything that involves any riding more technical than a good gravel track is better done with bike packing kit. But it's fiddly and takes a lot of care and attention to pack and attach right.

For loaded (camping) road touring there really is no advantage to the bike packing approach unless your bike won't take a rack. You might save a wee bit of weight but panniers are much more straightforward to pack and attach and their shortcomings (sway, rattle and width) really don't apply on road.

I sometimes use a bit of a halfway house with a bike packing handle bar bag and a fairly large dry bag bungeed onto a rack at the rear.

 DaveHK 16 Jan 2021
In reply to mountain.martin:

> Thanks, I can see that frame packing should work well if staying in B & B's. How practical is it to fit all gear if camping?

You need to be willing to invest in at least some lightweight kit to get the most out of the bike packing approach.

Post edited at 15:30
 Jim Lancs 16 Jan 2021
In reply to Dave Cundy:

>  If you must use front panniers, keep your speed down!

No, the exact opposite is true. Front lowrider panniers damp the steering and the bike becomes more stable and docile the faster you go. Lots of long distance, fast tourers only used front panniers  because it damps the bike down and makes it more docile when you're dog tired.

But front panniers have windage, hence other long distance fast riders prefer saddle bags or rack top bags which are tucked in behind your arse out of the airflow, despite this raising the weight and concentrating it over the rear wheel.

However I do agree that handlebar bags can be a problem, but it's unnoticeable when you have loaded front panniers with it. 

 oliwarlow 16 Jan 2021
In reply to mountain.martin:

Depends on how light you are willing to go.  Perfectly feasible if you forgo the luxuries.  When I am camping with frame bags I combine with a backpack with my “bulky but light” items of sleeping bag/warm jacket.  A compromise having something on my back, but i don’t have a very small/light tent so that takes up all the space on the handle bars for now 

 Marek 16 Jan 2021
In reply to oliwarlow:

> Yes it is rare. Did encounter some people stuck abroad with a crack in their carbon tandem though so does happen! Though like you say not often 

My point was not that non-steel frame can be repaired, but more that you should not get a steel frame just because you think it can.

 Tobes 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

Nothing more to add that others haven't already said but you'll be surprised what you can add to the bike in terms of load and still manage distances and hills. We tend to do a bike tour each (normal) year. Northern Isles, Orkney and Shetland, Inner and outer Hebrides and so on. Rolling on/off the inter island ferries between Fetler, Yell, Unst - often not being charged, using the bods, often being the only ones there and even if you just have a passing interest in birdwatching take some binos! I also managed a few days fly fishing on South Uist hiring a rod and net locally (though had a reel and bag of bits with me from home).

More often we'll travel with sleeping bags, tent (split between two people) stove, proper coffee pot etc and all the other stuff in two panniers, a smallish back pack and a small bag on the front of the bike on fairly standard touring bikes (mines a Specialized Sirrus sport). Padded cycling shorts essential (!) but everything else is just the walking/climbing clothing - going for comfort not speed!

Hopefully we'll all have a chance later in the year to do a bike tour? 

J1234 16 Jan 2021
In reply to oliwarlow:

> .

> saddle - very personal, just be aware of how wrong this could go!

Saddles, I keep hearing of Brookes, but I am sure I read you need to ride them for a month or so as the beauty of them is they fit to you, that of course could be drivel.

A friend of mine has commented that the saddle should be tipped slightly forwards, and I will go back to him at some point to get him to expand upon this. Also my friend who is now in his 70s and was a keen racing cyclist suggested we would be better with flat bars, but I think thats a whole new can of worms

 mike123 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234: on  the theme of bike packing v panniers I seem to remember some time ago teasing a mate who had been in to alpkit and  spent lots on the all the bike packing kit that it was a fad and that panniers were always going to be better ( I honestly don't care and think it's horses for courses , your money your choice ) Anyway I read an article somewhere recently  That had the tag line  " has bike packing had its day , are panniers better " . I'll try to find it . I think to me it seems like a lot of faf getting all your kit into all those those bags . I like the simplicity of two panniers and a medium  ish   dry bag bunngeeed  across the pair of them .  On the subject of panniers : ortleib all the way . Not cheap but looked after will last for ever .

 mike123 16 Jan 2021
In reply to mike123: and crucially they keep your kit dry 

Post edited at 16:13
 Jim Lancs 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

Brookes saddles are like leather shoes and walking boots - they can fit perfectly from the word go, but sometimes they need wearing in so they can become moulded to a perfect fit.

You can of course get a more manufactured saddle to fit, but as they don't change shape as easily, finding one from the get-go that exactly mirrors your arse, can be rather more hit and miss. The Brookes leather is also really good in very hot weather, but doesn't like week after week of constant rain. Covering them at night does help in these conditions.

Flat bars are lots of long distance tourers choice, so all the arguments about hand positions and head winds and what have you, does seem less important than personal choice. What is not debatable is that it's much easier to source a wide variety of gear and brake levers for flat bars if you're putting a custom arrangement together, including a sensible option for Rohloff. You can also get good rear view mirrors which a lot of tourers like.  

But I've always had drops with bar end shifters - just make sure you go wide enough. Also 'cross levers these days work perfectly on drop bars in contrast to the suicide levers of old. Long descents 'on the tops' are now a stress free delight. 

 Toby_W 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

I’ve done a fair bit and in order to get out for the first time since my accident took my tourer to Lidl with panniers and bob trailer, it’s great, though you change through your gears like an hgv, no fast accelerations.  Handling depends on the bike, currently a thorn nomad, used to have an old galaxy.  That was wonderful when you put bags on the front stable and steady, I can only imagine having had a high clamp on rack with a light load how awful the handling must be on a bike packing setup.

Descending a big hill in Oz one time fully loaded was amazing, the low down weight makes cornering easier (almost like having a keel on a boat) and you can go very fast indeed.

Handling, again depends on the bike but a bit like a normal hard tail (same wheelbase) but with more road like ease.

good luck

Toby

 oliwarlow 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

Yes that is a whole can of worms.  Brooks (and brooks style of suspended leather) certainly get used a lot amongst tourers.  I have one and it works for me, used padded cycling shorts for the first few hundred miles to break it in, now I just go with normal shorts or leggings as the soft saddle combined with steel frame is forgiving enough for me.

an example of how personal set up is (you comment on saddle angle) I listened to a thing the other day with 4 super experienced endurance riders, 2 thought that a set up session with a professional bike fitter was essential, the other two admitted they had never had any kind of bike fit done!

o.

In reply to J1234:

> > 

> > 

> Saddles, I keep hearing of Brookes, but I am sure I read you need to ride them for a month or so as the beauty of them is they fit to you, that of course could be drivel.

I had my standard road saddle for two and a half long days but forgot to take any chamois creme. Was getting pretty uncomfortable, but got some nappy cream from a chemist in stornoway and was Ok for another two long days. 

 DaveHK 16 Jan 2021
In reply to mike123:

>Anyway I read an article somewhere recently  That had the tag line  " has bike packing had its day , are panniers better " . 

Bike packing kit is way better than traditional panniers for technical off-road riding but I think a lot of people bought it when they'd have been better off with a traditional pannier set up. Probably a combo of aggressive marketing and bad advice to blame.

 DaveHK 16 Jan 2021
In reply to Tobes:

> Padded cycling shorts essential (!) but everything else is just the walking/climbing clothing - going for comfort not speed!

​​​​​​This is a good point. I like nice light kit but you can and plenty of folk do go touring with whatever bike and kit they've got. I've seen plenty of people out there having a great time on wholly inappropriate bikes with whatever camping kit they've got and whatever bike luggage they could afford.

 Ceiriog Chris 16 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

Van Nicholas Review - Deveron Touring Bicycle - YouTube

A nice but expensive touring bike, Kevin is great as well 

 Will Hempstead 17 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234

I used to be really into bikes, had a really nice steel tourer etc. Anyway, eventually I ended up doing my longest tour, in Chile, on a crap second hand mountain bike with rack and panniers cobbled together and not really any cycling specific gear. And it was loads of fun! I think whats great about touring is its more forgiving vs say alpine climbing, you can throw whatever you can get your hands on together and still have a really enjoyable tour. Also reassuring knowing no ones gonna try and nick your rusty old bike. Hope you have a great time when you manage to make it out on the bike! 

In reply to J1234:

We've done the source of the Danube to Bratislava and another year followed the Danube downstream from Bratislava to Serbia and back into Hungary. Also, Prague to Copenhagen via Berlin mainly along the Elbe initially.  Recommend these. Having previously generally driven/ whizzed through the flat bits of Europe to get to the Alps, it's been fun exploring areas new areas.

Another whole thread could be devoted to transporting one's bike to and from airports and the options for packing. So far, Copenhagen ranks top and Stansted worst!

Post edited at 14:55
In reply to J1234:

Yes, saddles crucial. We met a Swiss couple a few years ago who had got as far as Turkey , heading to Cambodia, before the woman succumbed to saddle issues. They had returned home and got a tandem with recumbent for her before resuming in Istanbul!

Bars....A couple of continentals have commented to me that only Brits and Californians tour on drops. I have used flats but would advise bar ends to give more options on hand position.

 Phil1919 17 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

Still worth going as lightweight as you can. It feels better and is easier to keep organised.

 climb the peak 17 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

Fully loaded with tri bars going down a hill you feel like your piloting a fighter jet (with a bit of imagination)

 Tobes 17 Jan 2021
In reply to DaveHK:

> ​​​​​​This is a good point. I like nice light kit but you can and plenty of folk do go touring with whatever bike and kit they've got. I've seen plenty of people out there having a great time on wholly inappropriate bikes with whatever camping kit they've got and whatever bike luggage they could afford.

Well we don’t look like total punters (!) but the times we’ve got to a small inter island ferry that’s running late and the weather has turned I’ve had no issues putting on the over trousers and synthetic and having a brew from the flask - the credit card road bikers however not looking so impressed/impressive ; )

 elsewhere 17 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

Feels weird when rear brake is really powerful due to extra weight low down over the back wheel (full panniers).

 Pedro 17 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

 We did numerous tours on a steel tandem. Having rear panniers with a bag on top of the rack, front low rider panniers, plus a handle bar bag. This was pre discs so we had a drum brake on the back operated by a friction gear lever. When descending this could be left on at varying pressures which left the cantilever (rear) and V brake (front) cold for the bends. We had triple chain rings 52,42,32 and a block 14 to 28, starting it was like artic however when with solo tourers we always overtook them downhill ! MRS Pedro (AKA The Engine) said I was a very good fly screen, great fun.

 Dave Cundy 17 Jan 2021
In reply to Jim Lancs:

Oh, that's interesting.  My comment was based on an incident on a hill in Brittany.  I had a 5kg bar bag and was doing about 35/40 mph when the steering went very unstable.  I thought i was going to end up in s ditch or under the artic that was about to overtake me.

I used to work on aircraft where there are complex stability issues associated with aerodynamics, mass and moment of inertia, so I wonder if something similar is going on here.  Weight on the handlebars = bad, more weight lower down and further fwd = good.

 oliwarlow 18 Jan 2021
In reply to Dave Cundy:

I think the main factor it is to do with the gyroscopic effect the spinning wheels have in keeping the bike upright.  The closer the weight is to the hub the greater the leverage the gyroscopic forces have on the load to keep it upright (and feeling stable).  Aero will have an impact, but I suspect this is the main one.

that is just me thinking out loud though, perhaps someone knows for sure?

Post edited at 07:47
 Jim Lancs 18 Jan 2021
In reply to Dave Cundy:

I'm sure the dynamic stability of the front of a bicycle is quite complex. But the different length of the levers associated with bar bag vrs front lowriders must be something to do with it. The bar bag is well forward of the handlebars, which themselves are forward of the pivot axis of the forks by the length of the stem. I reckon the C of G of my barbag is at least 250mm forward.

In contrast, (as the axis of rotation of the font forks is inclined forwards as you go down), the C of G of my lowriders is only about 25mm forward. In addition, (in the side to side axis), each front panniers is exactly matched and opposite the other in the pair, whereas the front bar bag has no counterbalancing 'mate'.

 GrahamD 18 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

Not a touring bike, but on a fully loaded road bike I'd say the most noticeable difference is its stupidly unstable getting out the saddle so I stayed seated more than I normally would.  Oh, and the bike kept falling over whenever I tried to lean it up outside  a cafe.

J1234 18 Jan 2021
In reply to GrahamD:

Ah, now I do believe that Bike Rests and how they fit are something Bicycle tourers think much about.

 Jim Lancs 18 Jan 2021
In reply to GrahamD:

>  Oh, and the bike kept falling over whenever I tried to lean it up outside  a cafe.

You need a handbrake!  In the good old days before 'aero' brake levers, various manufacturers offered a little plastic wedge that could be popped into the front side of the brake lever to hold the front brake on when you lent it up against a support. This stopped the front wheel moving so any part of the bike could be resting against the support and it never moved.

These days your best bet is a short length of double sided velcro that you can wrap round the brake lever to hold the front brake on. The bike will then sit there safely, irrespective of how it is 'balanced'. 

 Jim Lancs 18 Jan 2021
In reply to GrahamD:

>  . . . but on a fully loaded road bike I'd say the most noticeable difference is its stupidly unstable getting out the saddle  . . . 

Well, technically it's more stable when loaded not less - it has greater mass and hence inertia and doesn't want to change from any given attitude.

When out of the saddle on a light roadbike, it's normal for the relatively much lighter roadbike to be rocked from side to side under the  larger mass of the rider. The rider's torso and head stay pretty much 'stationary' and their combined inertia gives something for the pedalling legs / bike combination to react against.

But the loaded bike doesn't want to be rocked! And if you do set it rocking over in one direction - it will now want to carry on going that way till you wrestle it back and start it heading over the other way!  So leave the bike be - let it do want it wants.  If you want to ride standing up you can, but leave the bike upright and move your body more as you go from pedal to pedal. 

 James Gilbert 18 Jan 2021
In reply to J1234:

A bit late to this thread, but one thing which I don't think has been mentioned yet is to be aware of the extra force needed to get the bike moving. If you're doing long stretches in the middle of nowhere it's not really an issue, but in towns (or somewhere scenic stopping to take photos all the time) it can put more strain on your legs than you might be used to.

For the first few days of a tour I try to start deliberately slowly to avoid knee problems. The advantage is that when you go back to an unloaded bike you can burn everyone off at the lights.

 Pedro 18 Jan 2021
In reply to Jim Lancs:

The other use for a hub brake operated by a bar end gear lever =  Parking break. 

Very useful !

 Jim Lancs 18 Jan 2021
In reply to Pedro:

But it's your front wheel you need to lock to stop it wandering off when leaning your bike up against a support. Surely your drag brake was on the back wheel?

 Pedro 19 Jan 2021
In reply to Jim Lancs:

Yes I see what your saying. I found if the back wheel was locked and you had panniers front and rear, once placed it never moved. I always had problem starting it !


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