Allison’s Bike & Gear
- Surly Long Haul Trucker 50cm frame, 26″ Tires – I chose this bike after a ton of research and deliberation. The steel frame and reliable stock components are what sold me on it, and so far I have been very satisfied with the bike’s performance on tours and for commuting around town. It epitomizes a versatile touring bike. I will update this as we continue on through our journey and let you know how this bike performs under the stress of six months of international travel!
- Old Man Mountain Sherpa Rear Rack – This company is based out of Santa Barbara, CA, a city that is near and dear to our hearts. Reliable and handmade in the USA, these racks were made for the long haul.
- Tubus Tara Front Rack – Recommended for my bike by Wayne at TheTouringStore.com (an awesome place to find panniers, racks and excellent customer service).
- Brooks B-17 Standard S Saddle – Many people will say that these saddles take months and loads of miles to break in, but thus far I have been one of the lucky few whose tooshies fall in love with this saddle on the first ride. Literally got on, rode and have had no pain or soreness. Highly recommended! I will say the shorter size on the “S” type saddle made a tremendous difference on the fit. Devin has the longer seat and WOW is there a difference! Ladies, buy the shorter one. You won’t regret it.
- Ortleib Classic Roller Panniers – After hearing so many highly positive reviews about these waterproof panniers, we both bought the Rollers for our front and rear. Devin got a tear in one of his on a tour and after contacting Ortleib, they kindly sent him a replacement. So good customer service and so far good product. It would be nice if they had more pockets for organization but we can keep it simple.
- Ortleib Ultimate6 Classic Handlebar Bar
This is by far the most used and frequently accessed pannier in our possession. If you are considering touring, I would highy recommend invested in a handle-bar bag for the convenience of easy access to everything from snacks to sunscreen to money and chapstick.
Devin’s Bike & Gear
- 2013 Novara Safari
- Brooks B-17 Standard Saddle
- Old Man Mountain Pioneer Rear Rack
- Old Man Mountain Sherpa Front Rack
- Ortleib Classic Roller Panniers (front and rear)
- Ortleib Ultimate6 Classic Handlebar Bag
- Schwalbe Marathon Mondial tires
Building my bike was such a new and fun project for me. I started off with buying the Safari Novara assuming I would have to make a few changes and upgrades to my bike, I had no idea what world I was diving into!
I am using Old Man Mountain rear and front racks. Allison was so kind enough to buy me these racks for my birthday:) These racks are lightweight and very durable. One attribute about them which takes a little getting used to, is that one of the attachment positions is held together by the Quick-Release on the tire.
The Dynamo Hub
Allison and I decided it would be beneficial to go ahead and invest into “dynamo hub” technology. We will be using electronics like cameras, mp3s, tablets, and lights and there might be days when we will not have power sources to recharge them. A dynamo hub seemed like a safe and practical choice. After doing some research the Shutter Precision PV-8 not only competes with efficiency of the top companies, but SP completely blows out their competition with pricing.
During my research I came across a blog (http://www.tourintune.com/hub-dynamo-systems-for-bicycle-touring-part-1/) by “Lars” talking about how much he loved his SP PV-8, and how he built his first set of wheels with the dynamo hub for his tour in Central America. He showed me building a wheel is not impossible for the average Joe, you just need the proper resources. He recommended the book Wheelbuilding by Roger Musson. I highly recommend this book as well. It is in the form of an E-book so its an instant download! He explains how there is no secret to wheel building, just patience, time, and routine. This was such a relief to find because my bike is equipped with 700c tires, and from the research I’ve found, 700c tire supplies are not too common in South America, meaning if my tire broke or I ran out of spokes…it would be a expensive fix to ship in supplies. Plus, I found a hand-built wheel is way more durable than a factory-made wheel. This is for a couple reasons: there is a lot more time and concentration put into the wheel, and the “tension” in the spokes are even and true. Where in a factory wheel, it might be true, but the tension is very lop sided, compromising the strength and durability. I did not have the money to have someone build my wheels for me so I dove into the wheel building world! I went with Velocity Dyad Rims because of their reviews on their durability and strength. I chose DT Swiss Competition double butted spokes because it is what the author of my book recommended. And I chose a Shimano Deore Xt back hub because of its general amazing reviews on durability and how well it keeps dirt out of the interior, leaving me with no stress on maintenance.
The Power Converter
The revolution was my top choice for a couple reasons. It claims to be completely water-proof ( a HUGE plus). The blogger I mentioned earlier, Lars, blogged about how much he liked the Revolution compared to the popular The Plug II+. It does not have an internal battery bank allowing it to last longer than most converters. “Simple” installation. I say “simple” because Sinewave released gold-plated quick-releases for the Revolution. This allows you to remove the converter from your bike but leaving the wires zip-tied to the frame. This “Upgrade” however requires you to personally cut the Revolution from the rest of the wiring and solder on the gold plated joints. Not a problem for most, but I have never touched and soldering iron in my life. This was one of the most nerve wrecking experiences I’ve ever had. Cutting a $130 piece of wiring without having the confidence of what I was doing made me sweat BULLETS! However, I wiped my forehead, and continued on. With the help of many You-Tube soldering 101 videos I succeeded 🙂