Sunday, November 3, 2013

I am a big fan of Schwalbe Marathon tyres. I have used them on regular bikes as well as more recently on the two folding bikes I own. I have always found them worth their premium price.
The main reason why I really think they are the best tyres I have owned so far is duration but even more importantly, puncture protection.
I have often heard bicycle mechanics praising them for the same qualities but my praise comes from direct experience. On my Dahon folder that I mostly use on city rides I haven't got a puncture in 3 years which I think is a testament to the quality of these tyres.
During a 1350 kilometres tour on my Brompton the tyres held on really well even when carrying the load of extra luggage. Over sixteen days I have found myself a few times needing to cycle on dirty side lanes with lots of debris and only on a particularly bad section, I had to ride for over three hours did I experience one puncture. On repairing the tyre I found out that a sharp and thin metal staple had somehow managed to get straight into the tyre. After inspection of the tyre at the end of that day I thought it was still remarkable that no other objects had managed to get into the tyre despite the weight I was carrying.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I decided to buy this tent as it was extremely light, very compact and had very good reviews both on the web and from outdoor magazines here in the UK.
I have used the  Zephyros 1 Lite Tent on my most recent tour on the US Pacific Coast and found it to be an ideal tent for any cycling tour where weight reduction and a small packing size is important.
Traveling with a Brompton bicycle I needed a tent that would  fit in my rucksack or T Bag, and this seemed the best option for my budget.

Setting it up is very straight forward and really fast after a few times practice. The flysheet and inner tent are attached meaning that the tent is erected in one simple step after the single pole is inserted. On setup,  the flysheet covers the inner tent, meaning that it can be pitched under the rain without getting the inner part wet. I often encountered cold temperatures, fog and some light rain during my trip and the tent functioned really well in keeping me dry. Condensation was not excessive and could be reduced if you use it in warmer seasons when the flysheet door can be kept slightly unzipped, improving the air circulation. Having to keep warm at night meant that I didn't have this option, still the vents on the inner tent functioned really well to disperse excessive condensation and in certain conditions I found myself waking up in the morning to a completely dry flysheet.
The size of the packed tent as I said was an important feature to me and it proved a fantastic compact tent that easily fit in my Brompton T bag during the tour.

The tent being compact means that one has to make some compromises in space. The Zephyros 1 Lite Tent has a rather small inner tent footprints. I am 1.80cm ( 5ft.10 ) tall and sitting in the middle of the tent at its highest point, my head almost touches the top of the inner tent. The vestibule is spacious enough to store my backpack, shoes and even an extra bag should I need to. If one uses a tent not only to sleep in but also to spend time and relax during the day,  a more spacious option would be recommended.

To conclude on a tour where weight and luggage space is at a premium I highly recommend a compact tent like this model and despite the light components of this tent, often the sign of a hefty price, I found the cost to still be affordable too and it will serve me on many more trips in the future.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

I thought it would be hard to replicate the first cycling trip to California that i took in 2003 but this tour proved I was wrong. For the first time using a Brompton folder bike I was once more astonished by the beauty of the Pacific Coast on a ride that would take me from Portland Oregon, to San Francisco.  I will never forget those days spent cycling with good friends met on the road or at the campsites, staring at the vast oceans and at the majesty of those redwood trees.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

One of the best things about a cycling trip is the ability to take pictures and nowadays with technology becoming more and more compact and easy to use taking videos too. Searching the web for a solution I found several options but most of them meant fitting an attachment to the handlebar or to a helmet.
I liked a lower view while taking a video or a ride and thought I would test something much more simple.
I found that using a belt with some kind of elastic rope and a plastic stopper works a treat! Tied to the waist and with very slight adjustment to get the right frame one can get a perfect video with handlebar view but not only this. You can move the phone to your side for a roadside view or to the back to get a rear view of your ride.
Seems much more than any of the commercial solutions can offer!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Having tested a Brooks B17 saddle during a long distance tour on a Brompton folding bike, here are my thoughts. I had read how uncomfortable they could be for the first few weeks if not months and as I started my tour mostly wearing thin cargo trousers rather than the usual cycling shorts with padding, I was prepared for the worse;
I can say that despite finding it pretty firm during the first couple of days, it soon became clear to me that this on the contrary was the most comfortable saddle I have ever ridden on. Having used all kinds of saddles on racing bikes and mountain bikes in the past, I found out that it is often the hardest ones with less padding that in the end offer a better support and comfort.
This saddle also simplifies the rucksack set up I used and detailed on this blog, through the two metal buckles ( one clearly visible on the picture above ) that allow leather straps to hold the top part of the sack into place.
The vain note of the B17 being so stylish and somehow a hand crafted work of art is still there but most importantly now it is supported by the fact that it is a perfect marriage of look and comfort.

Friday, August 30, 2013

This is the pump that comes attached to the Brompton frame. I tested it yesterday while learning how to repair a puncture, remove the rear wheel and so on.  Despite the small size the pump seems to be more than capable of inflating the tyres to a hard pressure without too much effort. Seems to be the best compact pump I have used so far and clipping to the frame means it is always ready for use.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

First few rides on the Brompton in London have proved that this little bike has lots of character and really rides well. One has to get used to the fast responsiveness of steering and the fact that the small wheels are more susceptible to uneven road surfaces but those are very quick adjustments and soon become natural.
I am far from an expert when it gets to mechanics but the minimum I need to be able to do before I start thinking about a tour, is to be able to fix a tyre puncture!
Before I purchased one, I read some pretty daunting articles on the difficulties of removing the rear wheel on a Brompton and the effort it takes to remove a Marathon Schwalbe tyre from the small wheel rims.
Yesterday armed with the best of patience and the whole day to overcome these obstacles I thought it would be time to test this for myself from the comfort of home in order to be prepared to do it on the road should I need it.
I am really happy to report that I was actually surprised finding out how easy all those tasks were! I followed the Brompton Technical videos showing step by step what you need to do; despite being the first time and not being exactly a mechanic wizard, I was quickly able to remove the front wheel, remove the rear wheel,  removing and resetting a tyre and adjust the gearing.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Finally my new touring machine has arrived! After about 5 weeks since ordering it I was somehow more excited than when I got my new car months back...The reason I bought it, is mostly to get me back to what I really loved doing in past holidays, bicycle touring. It might not look exactly like the touring bike one would expect but too often I put off bike touring mostly due to the hassle it entails if you want to carry a bicycle on a plane. Having recently seen that quite a growing number of tourers have successfully used the Brompton to travel to the most unusual places and knowing how reliable this folder can be, I couldn't resist the temptation, hoping it will inspire many more journeys to come. This blog will be the chronicle of such adventures!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Alastair Humphreys is an english adventurer whose blog is full of inspiration and good advice gained from the experience of a four year long around the world bicycle trip.

Monday, August 12, 2013
An inspiring blog with great pictures and videos of bike trips and some good information on touring with Brompton bikes.

Sunday, August 11, 2013
The ultimate database and since 2000 a great online journal resource for cycle tourists. If you want to cycle in a particular place around the world and are planning your route, chances are that you will find someone who has cycled it before here!

Saturday, August 10, 2013
If you are thinking of saving some weight on your packing list go no further than this blog! You will find plenty of advice from a very experienced cycle tourist who has perfected the art of lightening the loads for your tours.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Years ago my only gadget I would take along on trips was a trusted digital camera but those days have long gone! While bike touring nowadays I like using phones or tablets as my main resource for directions, entertainment, taking pictures, videos, etc. Not to say the usefulness of being able to link to the internet wherever there is a wifi connection keep in touch with friends, upload pictures, blog and search for a good place to stay, eat or visit.
As one of the joys of cycling trips is the freedom to pitch a tent wherever you are it becomes necessary to be able to have some power to recharge your gadgets so will look forward to start using my newly arrived Anker Astro E4 which should be able to give about 5 full charges to my mobile phone!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Searching for a perfect folder for touring my first attempt was the Dahon Speed TR. I purchased this bicycle in 2010 and even though I wanted to like it and wanted it to be the easy solution to traveling by bike again it turned out to be not as successful.
The positive of a very comfortable ride, gear options and already fitted racks that can take standard panniers were hindered by the fact that the handlebar stem folding system turned out to be very unreliable. After about one year of not a lot of use the steering started to feel strangely hard and a visit to a bike shop in London confirmed that parts inside the steering wheel were damaged. Believing it might just be bad luck I visited several shops in the last two years trying to figure out how to permanently fix this but instead realised that this is a well known limit affecting several Dahon bikes and not uncommon at all. They never encouraged to change the parts as it seems the mechanics itself of the handlebar folding system are not well thought through and I would probably experience the same in the future. This means that every few months when I feel the handlebar developing some slack or getting hard I bring it to my local shop and they just botch fix it and this usually keeps me going for a few months. Recently I was told by a mechanic that the best thing I can do is never fold it, hardly a good sign of a functioning folding bike but I must say now that I just use it as a standard bike the handlebar is working ok.
This unreliability of course meant that in four years I have never contemplated touring on it.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Weeks of preparation and anticipation have finally ended. Since I bought my Brompton in September of last year, I have been looking forward to taking the bicycle for a self-supported bicycle tour. I've watched hours of youtube videos and carefully prepared, because I have not ever cycle toured before. While I have camped and hiked and love to travel, this is my first swing at cycle touring.

Read full article here


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