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  1. #1
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    Long-distance expedition touring: tools and spare parts?

    Hi bikers,

    What tools and spare parts do you folks bring along on long-distance bike tours in foreign countries (ie. backroads of China), where rough roads and the unavailability of replacement parts are givens? I'd love to see your packing/equipment lists. Also, on a number of websites, people have listed "adjustable spanners" as tools to bring - what is this tool? Is it an adjustable monkey wrench?

    Thanks,
    Kate

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    There are several philosophies on that issue. On my round-the-world trip I carried a spare freewheel, chain, cables, spokes, all bearings, two tires at all times, about 6 innertubes, and a derailer spring. Plus the tools to install all this stuff. I only needed the tires and tubes at an emergency, the other stuff I "cycled" when I replaced parts on a schedule I had set.
    My wife (before I ran into her) just carried a how-to book by Rob van der Plas, on how to fix a bike. She figured she could show it to someone or figure things out when the time came.....
    I even read a theory by a famous dutch cyclist (Frank van Rijn) that carrying spare parts makes you heavier, therefore more likely to experience trouble....... My goal was not to have any trouble, so I had 48 spoke wheels, and the best components I could find.

  3. #3
    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by racpat_rtw
    ...My wife (before I ran into her) just carried a how-to book by Rob van der Plas, on how to fix a bike. She figured she could show it to someone or figure things out when the time came.....
    Splendid advice!

    Opinions may abound on this topic, so you might have to pick and choose what you feel comfortable with. Here's my opinion:

    Seriously, having "all the tools" and "all the spare parts" would do me no good, without knowing how to fix a problem.

    I'd guess learn how to true your wheels in the event you broke a spoke. You shouldn't break ANY spokes though-NONE-you should be riding hand built wheels, built by a knowledgeable builder
    who understands your needs (weight+loaded weight+potential riding style). But...sticks, or small animals/children could jump into your wheel anyways, or curious locals could accidently knock your loaded rig over. An accident could occur during shipping as well.

    Parts needed to true a wheel include (but may not necessarily be limited to): A freewheel remover tool (like this), to effectiveley get to "drive side" spokes. Spare spokes (say 4 of each size-from the person who built your wheels). A descent spoke wrench.

    A new rear deraileur & brake cable, these can be trimmed if needed for fronts (borrow a cable cutter from a local-or roll up & tape the unused portion until cutters can be found).

    A spare set of "good" brake pads, especially usefull if traveling through country with massive climbs/descents.

    Spare cartridge bearings (examples include: pedals, & hubs), provided the parts are "user serviceable". Examples include (but are not limited to) Crank Brothers pedals, Chris King&Phil Wood hubs. Some might suggest a bottom bracket tool&spanner&spare bearings, I'd submit that perhaps this goes too far. None needed if minimal wear prior.

    Spare dropouts/deraileur hanger (provided its a steel frame), to be welded while on tour in case of failure (ie: from someone dropping your bikes).

    Spare nuts/bolts of all needed lengths (including a spare seatbinder bolt). You should try and have all the bolts on your bike (including racks/fenders) fit the same allen (hex) wrench size, or at most, 2 sizes (ok 3 if you include crankbolts). For allen wrenches, you shouldn't rellie on ones in "multi-tools". These are usually not long enough to provide descent torque when needed-never go "crazy" & brake bolts though. Get one each of "long" ones from a hardwear store (ie Caftsman, or comparable brand tools).

    A chain tool, as well as a spare master link, or "Quick link" perhaps a length of 6 links. No need to carry a spare chain, rings or cassette for a 3 month tour-provided drive train wear is minimal prior.

    Spare cleats&cleat bolts (if using clipless shoes), again not needed if minimal wear prior*. [*However I do a goodly bit of walking while on tour, and this can accelerate cleat wear-so for a 3 month trip-I'd bring spares. I can usaully get a year out of a set-but better safe.]

    I wouldn't bring spare "quick" release skewers. I'd swap them out for really good ones or even better, swap them out for the bolt on type.

    A small bottle of chain lube (if synthetic) for your chain+any moving parts (deraileur etc), or a large bottle (if wax) for the chain-as well as a small sythetic for the moving parts.

    2 innertubes, patches from 3 kits-with 2 tubes of patch glue. (3) Good tire levers.

    Pump (that I'm used to), but not too worn out.

    As far as a spare tire-I wouldn't bring one. I would however start with relatively fresh tires that I'm used to (particularly that I can easily mount&dissmount with tire levers).

    Various adhesive&tapes. Duct tape, electrical tape, super glue gel, mcnetts seem sealer (for my tent/rainwear-but also handy for panniers), thermarest patches (also can be used for my panniers).

    I don't have a need for a spanner, pliers, or cutter-if a need would arrise I'd improvise or borrow one.

    This may seem overwhealming, however everything fits into a small ziplock bag!

    I also submit that a new bike, or a bike properly maintained (by a knowledgeable professional, aware of the users intent), should have zero mechanical problems for a 2-3 month "rough" tour. Perhaps have it gone over very well at least a month before departure by your trusted mechanic-thus giving you enough time to take it for long (perhaps loaded) rides, making sure everything is nice&adjusted.

    The biggest concern I have, is damage in transit to my start (say from baggage)-and even that isn't too large of a worry for me-as I don't even box my bike for flight. I figure, that if something were to happen in transit-there would be some type of shop at my arrival city.

  4. #4
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    Good posts. Thank you

  5. #5
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    I usually have to bring more than usual since I have a Bike Friday. The wheels are 20 inches, and I can't assume that I'll ride in any country and find the parts I need.

    Koffee

  6. #6
    Two Tired Traveler
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    Quote Originally Posted by racpat_rtw
    I even read a theory by a famous dutch cyclist (Frank van Rijn) that carrying spare parts makes you heavier, therefore more likely to experience trouble.......
    So true! I just got back from a tour in Italy, mostly good roads, but I broke four spokes, probably because of all the weight I was carrying--90% of which was extra parts and tools that I never used. Two things I needed that I didn't bring:
    1)chain lube-I had to use olive oil, sunscreen, or anything greasy I could get my hands on
    2)you guessed it, spokes.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    I prefer proper allen keys to fold up ones.
    A leatherman tool with pliers is always useful. I use the small mini version.
    If you want to bring and adjustable spanner/wrench then make it a good one. Swedish-made Barcho ones have minimal play in the adjustable bit.
    Take the splined tools you need to removing cogs and bottom brackets. Even if you can't use them, a bike shop can.
    Using a threadless headset means that you dont need to carry two large thin headset wrenches.
    I usually carry some chain lube but if you dont you can always retrieve enough oil from a discarded can at a garage.

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