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  1. #1
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    Irishman in South Korea, needs help choosing a bike for a tour of asia

    Hello all,

    I have read through endless threads looking to narrow my search for a suitable bicycle that will be my trusty steed for however long i can enjoy cycling about South Korea, Japan, China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia... (jasus! my legs are feeling tired already! I probably won't even make it out of Korea!!!)
    I took a trip (loaded with advice and tips that I gathered my this site) up to Seoul today to the Fuji Bike store, and I had a look at the Fuji Touring bike. I was hoping that the guys in the shop would help me out and fit me to a specific bike size or at least point me in the right direction, but unfortunately they were as useful as tits on a bull, and all they seemed to know was the hefty price tag of the bike!
    So it seems (according to the staff in the Fuji Bike store in Seoul) that there are no 2nd hand (touring) bikes to be got in South Korea.
    This leaves me a little disappointed because the Fuji store said that they can order me a bike but it will take 6 months! So that's a no-go-option for me.

    I have a bunch of questions, so please bear with me if you will!

    I like the road bike style compared to the mountain bike style, but I have a feeling that the mountain bike style would be more suited for road conditions in Asia... please comment???

    I would not like to be restricted to good roads, so my guess is that the road/drop style handle bars would be unstable on gravel or dirt roads... please comment???

    26" or 700c:
    there doesn't seem to be alot of road bike styles that have 26" wheels???
    I've been looking on ebay at bikes and frames but most are 700c
    what are peoples experiences these days on sourcing 700c tires in Asia?

    Please help me choose a bike, I know that everyone has their own preferences etc but any specific help/guides on top of what i have already read would be great!

    i have been looking into buying a frame and building my own setup. are there any recommended frames that come with many eyelets and braze-ons for water-bottles, racks, fenders etc etc???

    I look forward to informative responses!

    Thank you for reading

    Collie

  2. #2
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    Hard to say what frame you should get. See if you can do a search for bike shops in Seoul and see what kinds of brands they carry. Or try putting the word out with other foreigners in the area if there is a good English-speaking bike shop nearby.

    That said, the most easily found tires in Asia are definitely 26", especially when you talk about touring sizes. There are some discrepancies (mainly China) but 26" is probably the way to go if you can get it. Otherwise, just stock up on 700C tubes and a few tires. You might be able to get bikes shipped pretty cheaply from some of the neighboring countries. I know here in Taiwan the bike market is absolutely insane for cheap prices, decent quality and choices, but it seems like 80% of the world's bikes are built here - or start off here if nothing else.

  3. #3
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    Most people recommend the Surly LHT frame. If you have a specific frame in mind, you can check their web site for international dealers. Here is the Surly dealer for Korea and the contact info

    Plush Bicycles (distributor)
    1F 666-25 Shinsa-Dong
    Kangnam-Gu, Seoul
    Tel: 82-2-3018-3960
    Fax: 82-2-3018-3961
    genewkim@plushbikes.com

  4. #4
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    hey man,
    thanks for the reply/info. greatly appreciated. I was actaully thinking of buying in Taiwan for a while, but I thought it was a bit too insane to fly there just to buy a bike.
    now you have me reconsidering! is it possible to get custom built frames/bikes, or even buy bikes at cheap prices retail there? the delivery/import duty/vat/tax costs to get a bike delivered to Korea is huge. it'd be just the same for me to fly to Taiwan and buy the bike and fly back to Korea!
    any suggestions/input?

  5. #5
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    Well, I would look into Plush Cycles first, as the prices may be reasonable enough that you wouldn't need to fly to Taiwan. If I was going to fly here, I would have everything all spec'd out ahead of time, fly in, do a week or two tour around the island to make the trip worthwhile, and make sure everything on the bike works okay, and then fly back out at the end.

    Custom built frames aren't really a big thing in Taiwan, they do mass manufacturing. And a custom built frame takes a significant amount of time. You can get cheap retail prices, and, if you know the right people (or speak great Chinese) you can find some excellent 'overstock' bike parts. But you can't be too choosy on stuff like that, you never know what you will get - though the discount is amazing.

    If the VAT is that high, I would definitely stick with the Korean market, as flights between here and Korea aren't that cheap.

  6. #6
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    hey,
    are there any companies that operate online? the flights from korea to taiwan are pretty cheap i think. anywhere from 100-200 us dollars depending on the time of year etc.

    all in all i just want (like everyone i suppose) to put my money into a "good" bike.
    The Korean market is horrible. it's all Korean brands and they only specialise in "image". If it looks pretty then it's for sale. there's no focus on quality w.r.t. touring bikes. no real touring market here. and when i mentioned steel, they laughed at me!

    i think my options are to either buy online from ebay or a bikestore or purchase a bike in another country.

    please give me any further info on Taiwan. I am very interested. just got a flight price for next week.$180 return.

  7. #7
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    Well, if you are in the right size, one company sells a fully loaded touring bike, with all the add-ons at a pretty reasonable price. The frame sizes are only 15" and 17" though.

    http://www.khsbicycles.com.tw/html/product/ta-50t.htm

    The bike comes in blue, is ChroMo steel, 36 spoke tires with a shimano dynamo hub on the front. Pretty much everything you see in the picture is provided.

    It's made for smaller Taiwanese, but it fits me perfectly. And the price is pretty good, about 20,000 NT$.

    Their supplier in Korea is

    http://www.azokeykorea.co.kr/

    but I can't check the website because it's windows only and I'm on a mac.

    I would have to contact a friend to be able to give you more information. Will take a few days. Let me know if you are really serious.

  8. #8
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    way too small for me man. but thanks anyway. i'm thinking of going with the surly lht at the moment.

    Quote Originally Posted by meteparozzi
    Well, if you are in the right size, one company sells a fully loaded touring bike, with all the add-ons at a pretty reasonable price. The frame sizes are only 15" and 17" though.

    http://www.khsbicycles.com.tw/html/product/ta-50t.htm

    The bike comes in blue, is ChroMo steel, 36 spoke tires with a shimano dynamo hub on the front. Pretty much everything you see in the picture is provided.

    It's made for smaller Taiwanese, but it fits me perfectly. And the price is pretty good, about 20,000 NT$.

    Their supplier in Korea is

    http://www.azokeykorea.co.kr/

    but I can't check the website because it's windows only and I'm on a mac.

    I would have to contact a friend to be able to give you more information. Will take a few days. Let me know if you are really serious.

  9. #9
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    I called Plush Bicycles. They quoted me W1,680,000 for the Surly LHT bike and W750,000 for the Surly LHT frame. Does that seem high?

  10. #10
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    this is an interesting link about the tax and duty rates of South Korea. I can declare the items are temporary imports then claim back the duty/taxes incurred when I leave the country, within 12 months. I wonder if it is as simple and straight forward as it is stated though! duty on a bike over $400 is 20% supposedly

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Collie
    I called Plush Bicycles. They quoted me W1,680,000 for the Surly LHT bike and W750,000 for the Surly LHT frame. Does that seem high?
    The price for the bike seems absolutely insane. But that may depend in large part on components - see what they are putting on it. The price for the frame isn't unreasonable, but I'm sure the charge for putting together the components you want will be pretty high. 750,000 W is about 800 U.S. which is double the price (if that's for the frame and fork) you would normally get through someone like

    Speedgoat LHT

    in the States. Not sure the prices in Ireland. However, international shipping costs from them would be 500 bucks just for shipping, plus the bike cost, so that's probably a no go. Ask them what components go on the bike for 1.6 mil W and see if you can't negotiate a bit.

  12. #12
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    i was looking at the the bike boutique website. Their delivery costs excluding any taxes/duties at Korean Customs are between 50 and 100 US$ for a frame set. that's pretty reasonable. but I'd prefer the 54cm/26"wheel LHT frame. 700 tyres are supposed to be hard to come by.

    man it's a chore, staring at the pc all day(week even!) looking for a bike.

    I've been keeping my eye on some older/cheaper tourers on ebay. but i like the added braze ons and eyelets on the LHT frame

  13. #13
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    Thorn Sherpa frame for 26" wheel: $750, delivery from UK to Korea: $200, UK VAT subtracted: $112
    That leaves it at approx $838 before the duty etc when it arrives in Korea.
    Touring on a "touring bike" sure can be pricey!

  14. #14
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    Well, if it comes down to it, you could probably just buy a cheaper mountain bike with reliable tires, solid front fork and a few other things and tack on a BOB. Many people find that to fit their needs nicely. Then you avoid worrying about braze-ons and the like. Not sure if you've ever done it that way, but that's how some do it.

  15. #15
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    yeah, but for some reason i'm not too keen on the bob trailer. extra hastle/weight.
    i think i will have to resign to the fact that i need to up my price limit if i want to buy anything while in korea. i'm sure if i was back home that i could pick up a 2nd hand bike no worries.
    some folks are saying that the surly lht's are manufactured in Taiwan. That got me thinking again!
    after pretty much reading online all day today, and looking at other peoples setups I'm kind of convincing myself to buy a Surly LHT, i like this guy's setup here. this is the thread. i was looking at his setup to try get some ideas to what components i should put onto a touring rig. my feeling is cheap and widely available components are the best option for field repairs etc. even though i'd love to have sti shifters etc, i don't think that they would a good call while touring. so i'd probably go with a mtb style handle bar or one like this or something else similar, with a few different hand positions and mountain bike style gear thumb shifters.

    if you know of any online stores based in Taiwan (or anywhere reasonably priced in Asia) that stock the Surly LHT I'd be very interested to get in touch with them, to organise a bike build

  16. #16
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    Yeah, the setup seemed pretty over the top. But different strokes for different folks. The handlebar is a euro-style trekking bar, and could probably be found somewhere in Korea or Taiwan.

    I haven't had any luck with purchasing online. I found the KHS bike online, went to a local bike shop and had them order it for me. That seems to be your best bet. Who better to find something in the country than a local. For online stuff, I can't help at all. Just gotta find a source / go-to guy / local.

  17. #17
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    Collie,
    Very soon the LHT's complete bike will be avaliable from Surly. You can have any color you want, as long as it's utility blue ! Good build kit at a great price. It might be worth buying one from the states and having it shipped. I've delt with Gene Spicer on two LHT purchases... www.spicercycles.com . Great guy and great prices as well...the prices won't be posted until it's avaliable. I'm not sure about shipping to Korea, but he would be very likely to charge the actual shipping cost! Here's the URL for the complete bike at surly.com http://www.surlybikes.com/lht_comp.html . You would still need racks and panniers, but it's a great start! Good luck and happy touring!

  18. #18
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    thanks meteparozzi and drb2003


    anyone have any info on Taiwan or know people there that might be clued into the local bike store scene? i want to know if Surly LHT's are sold there and if i can purchase the LHT frame/bike there or something similar trek 520 frame etc.

    i am thinking of taking a weeks vacation somewhere within the next 2 months, so i might as well check out taiwan and kill two birds... but it would be cool if the stores/factories had something along the lines of what i am looking for.

    i wonder could i essentially build a bike in taiwan? buy frame set and all components (and maybe even assembly)?

    i'm looking for the surly lht 54cm, for 26" wheels

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    안용하세요,

    Can you shop in Japan? There are many reasonably priced touring bikes available there for around $1100 USD. You're the right size for them, because most of them top out at around 54cm! To be honest, these machines put LHTs to shame.

    Check out this page:
    Bikes You Can't Buy

    A fat Japanese cycling magazine will have a big classified section in the back with ads for shops carrying these bikes.

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    just to be clear, I'm approx 6' 1" (or just under) so that's about 185cm (or just under). I've been told that I should ride a touring frame that is one size smaller than normal, so looking at different sizing charts and given the fact that I want a 26" wheel Surly LHT frame, my choice is limited to the max size available for the 26" wheel, namely the 54cm frame.

  21. #21
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    A 54cm LHT would be way too small for you. At 6' 1", you should be riding a 58 at least. A 54 will feel cramped, trust me. Don't worry about the standover clearance too much.

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    yeah that's what i thought initially, but alot of people currently touring have told me otherwise. I had a look at the fuji touring in Seoul, sat on it and it felt ok. didn't cycle it though. my friend is doing OZ right now and he is the same height as me, and he reckons that that size is suitable for touring. something about the upright position. i'm only going by what people are telling me.
    so you reckon 54 is a no go?
    i just got off the phone to a store in Taiwan. good news they are selling the surly lht frame and fork for 10,000 NT/TWD. that's about a third of the price here in Korea, about $285 compared to $750 in Korea.

  23. #23
    Senior Member eric von zipper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Collie
    just to be clear, I'm approx 6' 1" (or just under) so that's about 185cm (or just under). I've been told that I should ride a touring frame that is one size smaller than normal, so looking at different sizing charts and given the fact that I want a 26" wheel Surly LHT frame, my choice is limited to the max size available for the 26" wheel, namely the 54cm frame.
    Just as a reference, I'm 6' and my LHT is a 56cm. The 54 would be too small for me.
    Last edited by eric von zipper; 01-29-07 at 10:32 AM.
    Surly Cross Check, Thorn Sherpa

  24. #24
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    ok thanks guys, i'll have to rethink the frame again!

    can anyone point me in the right direction? my requirements are:

    frame for a 26" wheel

    Surly don't make frames bigger than 54cm for 26" wheel for some reason!

  25. #25
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    I just wanted to give an update for those touring bike riders in seoul, south korea. Our options here are extremely limited. Koreans are obsessed with mountain biking (no they dont ride them on the mountains, just on the sidewalks) and those who are into road bikes are willing to pay such high prices it is disheartening. That said, there is one shop that stocks touring bikes. It was mentioned earlier in this post, the place is called Plush Bicycles. It is located near Apgujeong, Seoul, South Korea. Take the subway to Gangnam-gu office, get out exit three, hang a u-turn and follow the sidewalk around to the left. Walk down the hill till you get to the Outback steakhouse (you're walking towards Apgujeong). Plush bikes in next door. The guys there all speak English, one of the guys was in LA for 10 years and is very helpful. They will order Surly bikes if they don't have your size, and so long as Surly has them in stock, they can get the bikes there in 3 weeks or so. If Surly doesnt have them, the shop will still order but it may take a month or 2 to get them in. They stock all Surly models like the cross-check and stuff. I paid 1,200,000w for my complete LHT, but they are now asking 1,550,000 for the complete 09' model which isnt available quite yet. They said they are coming in January. The exchange rate means the shop usually sells the bike for about 1,100USD. Visit their website at www.plushbikes.com.

    As for the other shops in Seoul, they stink. No one will order 1 single touring bike, even if you are lucky enough to find a shop that even knows what the touring bike is. There is a Trek, Fuji, Rocky Mountain, Cannondale, and Kona supplier here, all of whom will not order and do not stock touring bikes. One shot I had was for a Kona touring bike, but the shop had 1 and sold it and never planned on ordering another of the 09' model. That shop was in Sangbon, in east seoul, and their website is http://www.bikeland.co.kr/
    Last edited by recklesscogniti; 12-09-08 at 06:38 PM.

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