New bike options..

Okay, so as option 1 for the ride is to adapt my existing bike, but as discussed here there are some problems with that; essentially all I would keep is the frame, and even that would probably be a sub-optimal solution.

So the alternative option is to buy something different (new or 2nd hand).  I chatted to Andy (Ronde Technician) a little about options on this front; they’re Condor re-sellers, and as such that’s where their expertise went to..

But a bit of googling came up with some viable alternatives..

For all of these, the focus is on something that is something that balances two competeing elements — strong enough to take panniers and stand up to the rigours of long distance riding whilst being comfortable and being sufficiently light that it is still a pleasure to ride (and 65miles/day is easy enough).  Of course there is a trade-off to be had here.  At one is the road racer, at the other is the true tourer, something like a Surly Long Haul Trucker (which is pretty much ALL you’ll hear about if you google touring bikes). For sake of comparison..

  • Surly Long Haul Trucker (£280 frameset on ebay – interestingly that’s being sold by the Edinburgh Bike Cooperative!)

Chat with Andy (Ronde)..

Andy in Ronde suggested lose pricing of..

  • frameset, £600
  • groupset*1, £400
  • wheels,*2, £200
  • Deda finishing kit, £200

*1 Groupset – need to balance (1) performance, (2) longetivity, and (3) ease of replacement. The last one means not SRAM, since suppliers are limited.  So Shimano or Campangelo; I’m good with either. I currently use Shimano and know their range, so we stuck with that.  Recommended the 105 over my current Tiagra, as thought a big jump in performance, but hardier than the upper models (Integra and Dura-Ace).  In terms of ratios, thinking compact at front (50-34) rather than my current standard (52-39) and wide at back (11-28) rather than my current (11-25).

*2 Wheels. Make sure they’re hand-built (so they can be easily repaired).  Consider getting a second set for back here, that are lighter and use a second cassette to make switching wheels easy.  Put Gatorskin tyres on, as wide as the wheel can take – e.g. 28C or 30C.

Concerns / more things to think about..

  1. Do I want to pay for brand new, or buy a frameset or even entire bike, second hand?
  2. Do I want to get something that’s an out-and-out tourer, like the Surly LHT, and accept that it’s a slower (but certainly hardier, and possibly more comfortable) ride?
  3. I guess for this question, I need to know how much stuff I’m taking, and whether it will fit onto an Audax equivalent?
  4. The Condor Fratello comes with carbon poggia forks; can they take / do they suit front panniers?  Reading reviews (e.g. here) suggests that when loaded (with only 15kg of weight) there is a some flex in the backend.

I guess my main concern, expressed in 2-4, is “Is an audax the right style of bike for a 2000 mile, unsupported, ride?” If I was motelling / crashing on people’s floors every night, then yes, undoubtedly; I could travel super-light, just use rear panniers, and this would be fine.  But (a) can I afford that for 60 days straight, and if not, then (b) how much weight (and volume) is the camping option going to add?  That basically determines what I get.  Looks like I’ve decided what the topic of  my next blog post will be..

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One thought on “New bike options..

  1. Today I learnt…

    1) In 2010 Vin Cox cycled around the world – 30 days quicker than Mark Beaumont – on a Genesis Croix de Fer, so I feel like I should add that to the list 🙂 It is listed on Genesis’ site at only £1150 for the full bike (that’s with Tiagra groupset though). Both Alpine bikes and TheBikeChain stock this, so I could pop into either, but see (5) and thus go to TheBikeChain.

    2) Vin rode it with a Shimano Alfine rear hub. Reading comparison reviews on MTB forums of Shimano Alfine vs Rohloff, it seems like the Rohloff gives a much wider range of gearing (530% rather than 320%) but at a much higher cost (£800 rather than £120).

    3) Also worth noting that he did that rocking only rear panniers (though the Genesis Croix de Fer does have fixtures for both) — I should check out if he camped or hotel’ed it, but I think from the photos that he camped.

    4) TheBikeChain (really close to me – up towards where Faye used to live) have an ex-demo Surly LHT frameset for sale for £375 (but also have it listed on ebay for £280). I should pop in there and check it out.

    5) The SPOT service (GPS global tracking and updating) – which is a simple way to let others know where you are – costs about $120 for the hardware and another $99 for a years subscription. Whilst it seemed like a nice idea, it’s one more thing I have to carry/charge and at that price I can probably get a Canadian/US sim-card with data for less, and benefit from being able to send texts/make calls.

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