Saturday 26 January 2008

Bike and Gear

I cycled solo across Tibet in 2006 on this bike and this photo was taken at Everest base camp at 5250m. Both bike and body survived a gruelling ride of +3000kms, 20 mountain passes over 4500m and 65 days on the saddle. This is the bike I'll be riding down the Andes as it's proved to be a tough workhorse (in fact the Tibetans called it jota = ' iron horse').

On all my previous rides I've towed the BOB Yak trailer but for this trip I've decided to go with the traditional touring style of front and rear panniers for various reasons.
#1 The generous volume of the BOB encourages me to load up more gear than necessary.
#2 With suspension forks and no weight on the front wheel, the bike tends to shift sideways, particularly on rough descents. This happens when pushing with the BOB too.
#3 The BOB doesn't like the soft sand of desert areas (although Tibet was OK).
#4 Lastly it's a real hassle transporting the BOB, especially by air.

On my rides in Tibet and the deserts of outback Australia I've tried and tested a lot of gear. Here are the specifications and details of the bike as well as an inventory of the equipment I'll be taking with me down the Andes. This is probably only interesting for cycling enthusiasts and gear freaks.

Frame: Custom-built chromoly frame. Reynolds 631 tubing.
Built by Tim Stredwick at Mountain River, Tasmania. Tim also assembled the complete bike.

Gears: Rohloff 14-speed internal gearing

Wheels: Velocity cliffhanger rims (built in Queensland)

Tyres: Schwalbe Marathon XR folding tyres 2.0 & 2.5 (The ultimate tyre for rough road touring) + 1 spare

Front Suspension Forks: Rockshox Recon 351 spring coil

Racks:rear-Tubus 'Cargo'/ front-Old Man Mountain 'Cold Springs' Handlebar bag- Serratus (Canada)

Pedals: Shimano SPD540 Brakes: Shimano Deore

Cranks: Sugino XD600 Chainring: Specialties AT 38t

Saddle: Terry Liberator Gel (Bolivar would be proud!)

Miscellaneous: Aireal headset. Ritchey seat post & stem. Pro Bike trekker bars handlebar tape. Echowell W2 wireless bike computer. Zefal pump & water bottles. Various tools and spares.

Panniers:Ortlieb Classic Packer(rear) Classic Back Roller(front)

Tent: Macpac Minaret (military green - good camouflage).
Thanks Rob!

Clothing: Various thermal clothing, wet weather gear, cycling pants & tops, down jacket, fleece pants & hat, gloves. (Macpac, Kathmandu & Mountain Designs)

Sleeping Bag: Macpac Latitude 700LP

Backpack: Macpac Torre (collapsible, folded on front rack - for trekking)

Stove: MSR Whisperlite

GPS: Garmin GPSMap60C

Cameras Panasonic Lumix TZ3

This is a self-supporting trip without official sponsors. I haven't used any sponsors in my earlier expeditions either as I like to personally choose the gear that can handle the tough conditions. If the gear is reliable, it will speak for itself. After many years of travelling in harsh and remote areas I go for the brands and products which I've used and have stood the test of time and grime.

There is however one exception to sponsorship. Velocity Wheels in Queensland kindly provided me with a new set of rims recently. I was extremely pleased with the Cliffhangers which got me across Tibet and through the outback with over 50 kgs on the rear wheel.
NB Postscript: Unfortunately both Velocity rims cracked along the braking surfaces (In Peru 2008). There seems to be some design or material weakness in these rims and I would avoid using them on long expeditions. Judy's Velocity Aeroheat rear rim also cracked (Argentina 2009) and other friends have had the same problem. Same rims, same problem! Make up your own mind on this.

Tim Stredwick (Velosmith) has been very helpful in giving on-the road advice and good back-up service on my return home to Tasmania. See link

Two companies sold me gear at wholesale prices - Macpac (sleeping bag) & Old Man Mountain (front rack). I'm grateful for their generosity.
Postscript: Very happy with the OMM racks- sturdy and rigid!

I can recommend Wayne at The Touring Store for Ortlieb panniers and Tubus racks. Great service, cheap prices and prompt delivery. See link

A local Hobart cycling shop Cyclingo has given me generous discounts on bike parts & accessories. See link

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