Sunday, May 13, 2012

Building your own Touring bike.

I have been asked many times what is the best touring bike. Where to buy a touring bike? And so on.
The answer is your bike is the best touring bike.
It doesn't has to be specific brand e.g. SURLY, KOGA MIYATA, RODRIGUEZ, DAWES, etc.
The most important is that your bike is comfortable to ride on, durable for long distance ride whether it is on or off road and it is equipped with accessories that are essential for bicycle touring.
My favourite is a folding bike. Because it is lighter, easy to pack, easy to maneuver in busy places and most important of all, its upright sitting position.
My Dahon Speed P8 is fully modified for bicycle touring. I choose P8 because it is a workhorse. Tough and cheap. Cost me about RM2K. And I modified it to be fully touring-ready.

P8 uses Schawalbe Big Apple tires. This is one of the best fat-tires because it is comfortable & puncture proof. I fixed the fenders to both front & rear wheel. Rack to both front and rear as well.
I changes the seat post to Kore I-Beam (with adapter) because it is lighter.Then I fixed my favourite saddle, At 800g, the BROOKS B17 FLYER. It is quite heavy but very comfortable especially for long distance ride.
The handlebar is fixed with bar ends, side mirror and handlebar bag. but for my future upgrade, I will install the butterfly bar and new sets of gear shifter, just like putting icing on the cake.
But this is my touring bike, my baby.
How to build you own touring bike?
Ok..let's build an affordable touring bike.

Let me start with the frame.
I have a frame, a chromoly, trekking, hard tail bike that cost about RM60. This frame was given by a friend to replace my SILVER BULLET which I was forced to gave away in Lato, India. Just go to any Bicycle Shop (not fancy/pro one) and ask for bike frame. They might have it and will sell to you at reasonable price.

A hybrid can be a nice touring bike. Same goes with MTB Hard Tail.

Try to find a frame with at least 2 sets of bottle cages eyelets, with eyelets for rear rack as well as fenders.
Touring bike is slightly different with 'normal' bike because they have longer wheelbase and their stays have larger clearance for bigger tires. Its geometry also allows you to sit more upright that will make you feel comfortable in the long run.

Chromoly will make a better touring bike than aluminiumm or carbon. Despite its heavier weight, it is more durable and allows for on-site repairs/weldings especially when you tour in country like India or China.

My favourite tires are Schwalbe Marathon because it is puncture-proof.
Invest in good tires with some puncture guard/protection because it's so cumbersome to exchnage tubes during a bike tour.

Get a good wheel like MAVIC with at least 32 spokes. Make sure that you get the right wheel set either for using with V-brake or disc-brake.

Invest in a good parts that will be last longer and lighter. I'm not talking about XTR or DURACE level. That are for professionals who were sponsored. I'm mean Shimano Deore, Alivio, etc
MTB crankset with granny gear is a must. A 12-34T cassette is favourable.
And I would prefer using the v-brake because they are easy to adjust/repair on site.

Straight or riser handlebar. My favourite it butterfly handlebar as they have more place to hold on. Fix the bar ends for both straight or riser handlebar. The handlebar shall be as per your shoulder width.
Get a good saddle that suits you. remember that saddle sore is not caused by what brand yr saddle is but caused by ill fitting. Your sitting position could be wrong that cause lots of uncecessary movement on the saddle, thus pain.

Make sure you measure yourself with the position of your saddle, its height. If you feel pain on the above of your knee cap, it means that your saddle is too low. And when you feel pain at the behind of your knee, it means your saddle i too high. And just & tweak it untill you find your best position.

My favourite accessories are handlebar mirror and fenders.
Mirror e.g. ZEFAL allows me to look at the incoming traffc from behind with ease. I always feel safer when I dont have to turn my body and risk imbalance.

The fenders allows me to ride through puddle of water without worrying it will dirty my clothes. I believe fenders are the most under-rated accessories in touring bike.

Aluminium rack with bigger diameter shall be the best option. Because we need a reliable and durable rack to carry our bags & stuff on tour.

And finally, use the dual-platform/SPD pedal. e.g. SHIMANO. It is so convenient to ride wearing my touring shoes with SPD cleats but sometimes I would ride my bike wearing sandals. This dual-platform will cater for both!


Anonymous said...

Insightful post. Am planning with a friend to turn our race bikes into hybrids and use them for touring. Idea just popped up in our heads last night :).

Anyway, mana nak cari beg yg gantung kiri kanan kat belakang tu?

- Roadie

Mat Touring said...

Cuba 'Bicycle Buy & Sell Malaysia'.
Dan bila convert road bike ke touring bike & pasang rack belakang, pastikan ada cukup clearance antara tumit kasut dengan pannier (bila sangkut atas rack) supaya tak berlaga bila kayuh nanti.

Anonymous said...

Terima kasih Bro Mat.

Saya tadi check kat local bike shop pasal conversion. Tukar shifter / brake levers dan flat handlebar boleh buat.

Cuma saya punya bike frame tak ada lubang screw kat seat/chain stays nak pasang rear rack utk sangkut pannier.

Anyway, thanks again for the input.

- Roadie

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Michael Morris said...

You're right! The best touring bike is your own, and you do not need a specific brand or a branded one to pursue your form of exercise. You just have to make sure that it is durable and a comfortable thing to ride on wherever you want to go.

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