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Old 04-18-17, 03:06 PM   #26
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You can fit a 26" wheel on a 700c bike. The geometry will be terrible, but usable. To get home, or to get to a major city. Disc brakes are a must.

As for disc brake availability, I can't imagine it's too bad. Mountain bikes and downhill bikes and such are very popular in most of South America, and rotor sizes haven't changed too much. The first disc brake bikes were popularized a couple of decades ago.

In the worst possible scenario, you can hobble to the next major shop with one brake.
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Old 04-18-17, 06:59 PM   #27
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I have a 2x10 speed Tiagra 4600 700c bike that could probably fit up to a 700x45 tire. My hybrids 26 inch wheel with an 8 speed cassette fits fine on that bike, even shifts reasonably well through all 8 gears and I'm sure with a little DER tweaking it could improve (4600 10 speed brifters and DER have close enough pull ratios to the Shimano compatible MTN 8-9 speed stuff). My 26x2.1 Smart Sam tire is pushing it and rubs ever so slightly but it would work if I had to and anything under 2.1 would fine. I put it on only as a test and a spin around the block just to see if it would work. I never tried the 700c wheel fit on the my 26 hybrid, no need for me. Keep in mind that a 26 tire will end up sitting further behind the BB or lower in your fork, both are curved/arced areas and have more clearance at those positions possibly allowing a wider 26 tire to fit where an equal width 700c might not.

To stay on topic.. None of what I specifically have or tried on my stuff really helps anyone else other than the idea. In an "emergency" when parts are limited, it is good to know what options you have.

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Old 04-18-17, 07:36 PM   #28
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If I were going I'ld probably bring a spare tire. Probably a foldable.
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Old 04-18-17, 08:36 PM   #29
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I'm with the folks that advocate carrying a spare tire. In the last decade I used mine twice. Even if you are on populated routes, it takes time to find a bike shop that has a tire that will work. You could waste from a few hours to a few days, especially if you have to hitch a ride. In the pre-cell phone days, I was assisted by a UPS driver who directed me to a bike shop just a few miles away, but off my intended route. They actually stocked the same tires I was using. I've also been on tours and got into situations where help would be days away, and wondered why the hell I decided not to carry a spare on this particular trip. The more unknowns, the more likely I am to carry a spare.

Folding tires do not take up much room, and they can be relatively lightweight. 28mm on the right, 32mm on the left. I'm not sure I'd carry spares for the larger size tires.


This is one of those times. The tire under the bungees is heading for a trash bin.
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Old 04-18-17, 08:40 PM   #30
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You can fit a 26" wheel on a 700c bike. The geometry will be terrible, but usable. To get home, or to get to a major city. Disc brakes are a must.
I guess I am just of the opinion that if I'm going on a months long tour to such a place, carrying a spare is much easier than trying to rig up any of that!

Also kinda befuddled at the prevalence of disc brakes in such a place, but not 700c tires
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Old 04-18-17, 09:00 PM   #31
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I guess I am just of the opinion that if I'm going on a months long tour to such a place, carrying a spare is much easier than trying to rig up any of that!

Also kinda befuddled at the prevalence of disc brakes in such a place, but not 700c tires
I'm not talking about tires, i'm talking about wheel failure. You can't carry a spare wheel.

As for the disc brakes, two words: mountain bikes. They appeared on mountain bikes years and years before road or touring bikes. The technology crossed over from dirtbikes.
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Old 04-18-17, 09:19 PM   #32
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I made a point to look in bike shops in central America Colombia and Peru. Not for 700, but for 29er tires. Would a bus ride to the capital bother you? 12 hours over night perhaps? They are not impossible to get, (700), just hard. Touring means riding your bike from one side of the county to the other, no? Well, the villages you will spend most of your time in have 26 inch mt bike tires and rim brakes for sale, all the villages have 26 inch tires and rim brakes for sale.

Let use Guatemala for an example. In gringoopolis, Antigua, there is a bike shop with four 700 and a single 29er tire for sale. Old Town Outfitters. Old Town Outfitters: Antigua Bicycle Co-op!! In Guatemala city the fancy bike shop near the small Eiffel tower has only 26 inch bikes and tires. Eagle claw brake pads are under $5. Disc brake pads are nearly $50. They do not have BB7 pads.

In Oaxaca they have a few 700s to choose from. In Chiapas, no. The rest of Guatemala, no. El Salvador, I did not see any. Honduras, 26 inch mt bike with rim brakes. Nicaragua, (beautifull), I saw nothing but 26 and rim brakes. Cycle to puerto Cabezas. How does a 24 hour bus ride, on dusy roads, to Managua for a new tire souond. Costa Rica and Panama, I did not really look, maybe you could find one; maybe.

Colombia has a pencil thin tires, road race bike set, not much good to a tourist. In the unsafe to cycle, Lima, there might be something to choose from, maybe. The beautiful Andes of Peru, 26 26 and 26, no disc. Obviously I have not been to every bike shop or every city. After searching for 29er tires far and wide, I bought a Ritchey Dahone Flow 26er. A 700 40 will not fit the rear of it. When I get home I might try a 700 on my old Mongoose. Thanks for the idea.

ASk your self a couple of questions.
How good is your Spanish. Can you order a bike part in Spanish, and explain the address? As mentioned above, a few days in a little village could be a good thing.
Do you mind a long bus ride to a city of a millions of people to get the part you need.
I must ask myself. Does wearing sensible shoes, riding a bike with common parts cheat me out of enjoyment I could have on a full suspension 29+ bike?
Can you walk past 5 bike shops, with stacks of 26 inch tires, looking for the tire you want, and not get it?



I choose a bike with common parts, I do not carry a box of spare parts. A tube and spare brake pads only.
When you get to Peru bad drivers will make you want to take gravel roads. Narrow roads and no speed traps, get it.

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Old 04-19-17, 01:52 AM   #33
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I think people think way too much about "What if?". Get a spare tire, tubes, and brake pads and just go.
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Old 04-19-17, 06:34 AM   #34
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I made a point to look in bike shops in central America Colombia and Peru. Not for 700, but for 29er tires. Would a bus ride to the capital bother you? 12 hours over night perhaps? They are not impossible to get, (700), just hard. Touring means riding your bike from one side of the county to the other, no? Well, the villages you will spend most of your time in have 26 inch mt bike tires and rim brakes for sale, all the villages have 26 inch tires and rim brakes for sale.

Let use Guatemala for an example. In gringoopolis, Antigua, there is a bike shop with four 700 and a single 29er tire for sale. Old Town Outfitters. Old Town Outfitters: Antigua Bicycle Co-op!! In Guatemala city the fancy bike shop near the small Eiffel tower has only 26 inch bikes and tires. Eagle claw brake pads are under $5. Disc brake pads are nearly $50. They do not have BB7 pads.

In Oaxaca they have a few 700s to choose from. In Chiapas, no. The rest of Guatemala, no. El Salvador, I did not see any. Honduras, 26 inch mt bike with rim brakes. Nicaragua, (beautifull), I saw nothing but 26 and rim brakes. Cycle to puerto Cabezas. How does a 24 hour bus ride, on dusy roads, to Managua for a new tire souond. Costa Rica and Panama, I did not really look, maybe you could find one; maybe.

Colombia has a pencil thin tires, road race bike set, not much good to a tourist. In the unsafe to cycle, Lima, there might be something to choose from, maybe. The beautiful Andes of Peru, 26 26 and 26, no disc. Obviously I have not been to every bike shop or every city. After searching for 29er tires far and wide, I bought a Ritchey Dahone Flow 26er. A 700 40 will not fit the rear of it. When I get home I might try a 700 on my old Mongoose. Thanks for the idea.

ASk your self a couple of questions.
How good is your Spanish. Can you order a bike part in Spanish, and explain the address? As mentioned above, a few days in a little village could be a good thing.
Do you mind a long bus ride to a city of a millions of people to get the part you need.
I must ask myself. Does wearing sensible shoes, riding a bike with common parts cheat me out of enjoyment I could have on a full suspension 29+ bike?
Can you walk past 5 bike shops, with stacks of 26 inch tires, looking for the tire you want, and not get it?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZVcRGB1KdQ

I choose a bike with common parts, I do not carry a box of spare parts. A tube and spare brake pads only.
When you get to Peru bad drivers will make you want to take gravel roads. Narrow roads and no speed traps, get it.
thanks Chris, all good points and glad to see someone else brought up the communication issues.

On that note, twice in my trip my language skills were a factor in finding bike stores to get disc brake help for my travelling companion, so I know what you mean.

on the disc brake note, I would say that from my experience with Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa and some other larger towns, disc brake stuff is pretty easy to find simply due to pretty much all newly sold mtn bikes having them--in our case, the stores had BB7 useable pads.

I do think that this change is probably pretty universal, although of course in small places its always going to be easier to just find reg rim pads, but its so easy to carry spare pads, either rim or disc for that matter.

I rode a bit under 3000km and didnt have to touch my already used pads on my BB7 discs, but we hardly had any rain and I use my brakes sparingly and when I do, I use them hard and for short bursts.

My trip certainly did confirm to me that going with discs now isnt a real problem, although I didnt have to search for a rim or whatever, but given what I saw, it would have been doable, although probably a bus ride would have been involved.

re 700, my take on it was as you said, that narrow road tires are around, but as I mentioned, a 23mm Gatorskin isnt going to help you much on your loaded touring bike.

Shout out for a store called Cycle Works in Guatemala City, top notch store, sells all kinds of bikes, road, mtn, hybrids, and they have a proper shop and they know their stuff. I even saw a Schwalbe tire hanging from the ceiling but as I was doing translation duty/verify the work duty, I don't know what size it was.
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Old 04-19-17, 06:51 AM   #35
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I think people think way too much about "What if?". Get a spare tire, tubes, and brake pads and just go.
part of that comes with age (sometimes) and or simply how you look at things and relate it to life experiences.

Life is full of calculated risks, look at the OP here talking about wanting to ride around South America, there are risks, plain and simple. What you need to do is to do as much as you can to control or reduce the various risks, use common sense and whatnot.
Or you dont, and either you go blithely through things not realizing how much you are increasing a given risk and get away with it, or sometimes stuff happens.

Depending on the "stuff", it can be a problem like getting hit by a passing bus because you dont use a mirror or you are oblivious to dangerous situational moments and suddenly you are dealing with the hospital system of another country---or you have a mechanical failure because your bike isnt in good shape or whatever and you have an adventure sorting it out (but not the end of the world, or a pain in the ass,or whatever)

specifically talking about tires here, 700 vs 26--One rider could ride a 700 bike through South America, and some have, on really good strong wheels, good tires, and if you are good in not riding over stuff and cutting a tire, then all is fine.

Another rider could have "whatever" tire size or model and be more oblivious about not noticing stuff; never checking/cleaning tires after all the realistic times we have to ride through glass and crap because a bus/truck is passing 5 inches from you; or a rider has so so riding skills and often rubs the rear tire up against sharp objects because they dont visualize well how the rear of their bike is tracking-increasing the risk of sidewall cuts.......

and on and on....just to say that there are many variables going on here re risk and the chances of crap happening.

and as Ive said before, given that on trips like this, there are times that circumstances mean that you need to carry extra food, extra water, and you just live with it.
It doesnt take away from your enjoyment, yes its heavier and you go slower, but its just part of the deal.
So for me, carrying a spare tire wasnt a big deal.

in the end, you do what you want, and you learn from the experience, or you dont.

or you read internet forums and journals to get ideas/thoughts to help you form ideas of how you want to bike travel, and you go from there.

I personally took a spare tire, being more comfortable with that.
I was also comfortable knowing that I could change out my own brake pads, realign my calipers if I had to, straighten out a disc, or deal with any derailleur problem within reason, filter my own water, talk my way into or out of most situations....and on and on.
Its all about being comfortable with given situations and assessing the possibilities of stuff happening and being prepared to deal with things in whatever way, whether mechanical or otherwise.
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Old 04-19-17, 09:55 AM   #36
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In relation to the 700/26 swap potential. I don't think anyone was suggesting not carrying a spare tire or the potential to swap between 26 and 700 on the fly was an alternative to carrying a spare tire. It is not an either/or. It is knowing that if XXX happens, you can potentially do YYY. Maybe you limp into town with a broken 700c hub, if the only thing around is a used 26 MTB wheel/tire, it just might work as a temp solution. The more you know, the better off you are and knowledge doesn't add weight to your rig.

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Old 04-19-17, 12:37 PM   #37
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on the disc brake note, I would say that from my experience with Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa and some other larger towns, disc brake stuff is pretty easy to find simply due to pretty much all newly sold mtn bikes having them--in our case, the stores had BB7 useable pads.
I noticed that they do not have centerlock rotors.
I noticed that they do have 6 bolt rotors.
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Old 04-19-17, 02:21 PM   #38
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I noticed that they do not have centerlock rotors.
I noticed that they do have 6 bolt rotors.
I had to look that up to know what centerlock rotors vs 6 bolt are. In my ignorance, didnt even know there was diff ways that rotors attached to hubs, thought there might only be diff bolt numbers of patterns....

certainly is another example of having always to keep up on newer/diff technology, at least to be aware of what you have and how this relates to what is more common to find, especially in places more far off.

ps, Gringopolis did make me chuckle. When I was riding by that area, just decided to not bother going to a touristy place/Antigua just for the sake of it, don't really regret it.
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Old 04-19-17, 02:59 PM   #39
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I toured Europe for three months and brought more equipment than I needed, but I don't think it was dumb anyway. I had spare spokes and a freewheel removal tool in case my rear wheel needed rebuilding, which of course it didn't. I might not have brought those things if I didn't have the skill to build wheels.

If I were touring South America, I would ride 26" wheels and would bring a spare tire, spokes, spoke wrench, master link, a couple of spare tubes, a patch kit, a pump, brake pads, spare cables, and a cassette tool. This is not a complete list.
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Old 04-19-17, 05:42 PM   #40
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If I were touring South America, I would ride 26" wheels and would bring a spare tire, spokes, spoke wrench, master link, a couple of spare tubes, a patch kit, a pump, brake pads, spare cables, and a cassette tool. This is not a complete list.
That list of spares is what I bring on most tours, even in USA. Pacific Coast, I left my spare tire home since I assumed that route would have enough bike tourists that all bike shops would have a useable tire. But my other tours included a spare tire, especially when I was using a reasonably narrow 26X1.5 (559X40) tire which most stores do not stock.
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Old 04-20-17, 03:12 PM   #41
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Thanks guys for all the input. I've gone to a few stores to check out the options and after test driving, I've fallen in love with the Kona Sutra. Haven't gotten it yet, doing research on it but it looks like a very solid choice. It has 700c wheels and disc brakes but whatever, if I can't resupply locally I'll have someone send it from home. I'll take some spares to begin with and I'll figure it out somehow. Besides, I read a few accounts of guys who biked halfway across the globe without any breakage save some flat tires. I'm worrying too much.
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Old 04-20-17, 05:11 PM   #42
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the sutra is a good bike, nice looking too. If and when you get one, the most important thing will be to have the wheels gone over by someone who really knows their wheels.
I would strongly suggest also going with the widest tire you can (ish) as the lower pressures will make life a lot easier on the wheelset.

and of course, not loading the living daylights out of it and bashing into potholes with it....
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Old 04-20-17, 06:08 PM   #43
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the most important thing will be to have the wheels gone over by someone who really knows their wheels.
What do you mean have their wheels gone over? It's a new bike. You mean to look for factory defects?

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I would strongly suggest also going with the widest tire you can (ish) as the lower pressures will make life a lot easier on the wheelset.
It comes with a wide tire by default, but I was thinking I'd switch it to thinner road tires and put the thicker ones on it when I'm going off-road. Bad idea?
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Old 04-20-17, 06:31 PM   #44
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What do you mean have their wheels gone over? It's a new bike. You mean to look for factory defects?

It comes with a wide tire by default, but I was thinking I'd switch it to thinner road tires and put the thicker ones on it when I'm going off-road. Bad idea?
what makes a given wheelset strong are a number of factors, the spokes, the rim, and a new bike has wheels made generally by a machine , that may be or may not be well done tension wise etc. After riding the bike for a while, it works the spokes and so before your trip, not a few days, but a number of weeks or whatever, you want a good mechanic who builds wheels and knows wheels, to go over the tensions and possibly tighten things up a bit.
This will mean that the wheel is as strong as it can be, given the various parts factors.
How you treat the wheel re weight on it, tires, tire pressures, how you ride into and over bumpy stuff, holes etc etc etc will be a big big factor too, but making sure by a real person who knows touring wheel that the spoke tensions are good will always go a long way to hopefully reducing wheel problems down the road.

I dont remember what tires the sutra comes with, but again, my opinion is that wider is better for rough roads. But then one persons wider is another persons narrow, but thats a whole other topic, and you can get into that topic and tire choice when and if you do this trip.
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Old 04-21-17, 01:29 AM   #45
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what makes a given wheelset strong are a number of factors, the spokes, the rim, and a new bike has wheels made generally by a machine , that may be or may not be well done tension wise etc. After riding the bike for a while, it works the spokes and so before your trip, not a few days, but a number of weeks or whatever, you want a good mechanic who builds wheels and knows wheels, to go over the tensions and possibly tighten things up a bit.
This will mean that the wheel is as strong as it can be, given the various parts factors.
How you treat the wheel re weight on it, tires, tire pressures, how you ride into and over bumpy stuff, holes etc etc etc will be a big big factor too, but making sure by a real person who knows touring wheel that the spoke tensions are good will always go a long way to hopefully reducing wheel problems down the road.

I dont remember what tires the sutra comes with, but again, my opinion is that wider is better for rough roads. But then one persons wider is another persons narrow, but thats a whole other topic, and you can get into that topic and tire choice when and if you do this trip.
The default tire is a Clement x'plore M50, it is 40mm, it's a kind of hybrid tire with a pattern meant for roads in the middle with a more MTB pattern on the sides. I don't know too much about these things.

I've been in South America a few times before, and the road quality isn't as bad as you might think in many places. Even the poorest places (like in Bolivia) have a network of tarmac roads but when you go to remote places or into natural parks, there are dirt roads.

I suppose I'll ask them to check the spokes. I really want to learn how to do that kind of stuff myself, know the bike inside and out and be able to disassemble and assemble and tune the whole thing so that I can keep it properly maintained, solve problems and replace parts in the middle of nowhere. Also to disassemble the bike and put it into a normal suitcase and then assemble it locally again.

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Old 04-21-17, 05:28 AM   #46
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As you have the interest in learning bike mechanics, which for touring is a very good thing, to know your bike well mechanically, I would suggest starting right away doing work on a bike and learning.
It's like anything, we learn bit by bit and always learn new things. Same with Spanish, get going on that as well.
Good luck and have fun.
Look into a bike co-op for getting hands on experience, some teaching and access to tools to really start to get your hands dirty.
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Old 04-21-17, 08:00 AM   #47
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As you have the interest in learning bike mechanics, which for touring is a very good thing, to know your bike well mechanically, I would suggest starting right away doing work on a bike and learning.
It's like anything, we learn bit by bit and always learn new things. Same with Spanish, get going on that as well.
Good luck and have fun.
Look into a bike co-op for getting hands on experience, some teaching and access to tools to really start to get your hands dirty.
Seconded. It's a lovely experience. Find someone who knows more than you and let them teach you, at a bike shop, co-op, etc. You can figure out how to do the vast majority of roadside repairs in a matter of a day or two.
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Old 04-21-17, 08:43 AM   #48
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Originally Posted by roseml View Post
I've been in South America a few times before, and the road quality isn't as bad as you might think in many places. Even the poorest places (like in Bolivia) have a network of tarmac roads but when you go to remote places or into natural parks, there are dirt roads.
You're right, I found the road quality where I biked in South America (Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, & a bit of Colombia) to be pretty good. There are a lot of misconceptions, in general, about South America.
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Old 04-21-17, 11:15 AM   #49
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I really want to learn how to do that kind of stuff myself, know the bike inside and out and be able to disassemble and assemble and tune the whole thing so that I can keep it properly maintained, solve problems and replace parts in the middle of nowhere....
A lot of this stuff like changing cables, adjusting brakes, adjusting gear cables, changing a chain is pretty simple. When you buy the bike, make sure you get a couple of each length of spoke that you will have on the bike, and the nipples that go with them.

You should learn how to true up a wheel and replace a spoke, which includes on the back on the drive side. But, you do not want to learn how to true up a wheel on your new bike, find a bike in the trash bin to learn wheel stuff.

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Also to disassemble the bike and put it into a normal suitcase and then assemble it locally again.
Are you getting an S&S coupled bike?

Each model and each size has their own idiosyncrasies when packing a bike in an S&S case. I have to pull both crank arms off of mine, but most other people do not. This is a time consuming process, don't expect it to go fast. Make it clear to the store that you may need some instruction on this when you buy the bike.
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Old 04-21-17, 01:05 PM   #50
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A lot of this stuff like changing cables, adjusting brakes, adjusting gear cables, changing a chain is pretty simple. When you buy the bike, make sure you get a couple of each length of spoke that you will have on the bike, and the nipples that go with them.

You should learn how to true up a wheel and replace a spoke, which includes on the back on the drive side. But, you do not want to learn how to true up a wheel on your new bike, find a bike in the trash bin to learn wheel stuff.
I have some old bike wheels lying around for practice in repairing them. I do want to practice taking the bike apart completely bare and putting it back together in a controlled environment at home until it becomes an easy process and I know completely how everything works.

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Are you getting an S&S coupled bike?
Wasn't planning to. Not sure if it's even possible with a Kona Sutra, but I'm pretty sure I can do without S&S coupling. I've seen people doing it before. They strip their frame bare, take the front fork off it, everything, so that the frame and everything can fit into a large suitcase. I know it would take hours to put it back together, I don't mind. I'm not sure if I'm going to do it yet, instead of just using a normal bike suitcase that it can go into pretty much intact, just deflate the tires and put it in. I just want it to be an option when airports don't have bike cases available and I can think of some other circumstances where I need to transport my bike in a suitcase. I'd get some type of hard case for my bike, but the thing is that the airports that I will be using are many thousands of miles apart so I can't take it with me.

Last edited by roseml; 04-21-17 at 01:10 PM.
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