Ahh the wheels, the workhorse, the chariot or just plain and simple the bike. I’ve had two touring bikes in recent years, my vittorio from 2006-2010 and now I have had a new bike built for Africa.
2006-2010:Hand built Vittorio
My work horse in the period that I relearned about long distance cycling is a custom handbuilt Vittorio Randonneur. Its a good old fashion steel frame which is pretty much indestructable. This bike is ideal for travel in third world countries that have something resembling roads. In my opinion its a bit on the heavy side for off road work, though its a great workhorse. My only complaint with Vittorio is that it was a crappy paint job, the paint started flaking off after a year (which they where happy to redo under warranty), but all the same from time to time bits of the paint still flake off( seams that it’s not flexible enough).
Details for the bike spotters:
Frame : Chromoly steel lugged frame.
Wheels : 28″, Rear 48 spoke tandem wheel -fairly indestructable (later 32spoke with Rohloff, which I then passed onto my next bike). Front : shimano xt 36 spoke.
Racks : Front and rear are Vittorio self built racks. They are also fairly indestructable but rather on the heavy side.
Saddle: Brooks of course, a Flyer.
Tyres: Most of my continental tyres have given alot of problems so from now on I going to try out Schwalbe tyres.
Pretty much the rest of the parts are shimano Deore which gives a good price/quality/weight ratio. Though most of the components are a little old fashion, i.e. cantilever breaks, square drive cranks, shifters etc. This was a delibrate choice to make it easier to find parts in less developed countries.
Sold March 2011 to help fund my Africa trip:(
2010 onwards: Dr Jekyll is born.
Dr Jekyll the early days:
Dr Jekyll is a slighty too heavy commuter who is bored with riding to work every day, with his slighty too fat tyres, so one night he tried on a couple of panniers…..
Mr Hyde is born:
Once he’s wearing 10-25kg of panniers, water, food and spare parts, and gets his eyes on a bad road or track he comes to life. A beast is awoken, a beast that just wants to move faster and further without a care in the world. Now thats the bike I want to travel 25,000km through Africa with.
The details for the enthusiasts:
Handmade custom bike built by http://www.m-gineering.nl/
Frame: Reynolds 725 steel, with EBB for Rohloff and S+S for easy transport.
Wheels: 26″ Rigida sputnik, Rohloff 14 speed hub, Son hub dynamo, (32 spoke)
Tires: 26×2″ Schwalbe Marathon supreme for onroad, Marathon Extreme XR for offroad.
Seatpost: Ritchey Comp.
Saddle: Brooks Flyer of course (needs a liter of sweat to brake it in, but after that its like a pair of old shoes).
Handlebars: Nitto dream bar, modified with “M-gineering splitendz” to allow a Rohloff grip shifter on drop bars.
Headset: Stronglight, good old fashion roller bearings instead of expensive well marketed crap.
Stem: Ritchey AH.
Transmission: Rohloff speedhub (EX), blackspire chain ring, 42-16 (will be 42-17 or 40×17 for Africa).Wipperman connex chain.
Pedals: Wellgo platform pedals (means I can use my hiking boots/sandals on tour).
Cranks: Sugino 104×4, 170mm.
Brakes: Shimano LX V-brakes, Diacompe 287V & pauls crosstops.
Pump: Zefal hpx ( a full size pump, for the real work, no messing around with a little crappy pump that takes all day).
Kickstand: Esge (it works even when loaded, not sure I want the extra weight in Africa even though it is so handy…).