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Old 05-27-09, 01:59 PM   #1
Niles H.
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Stranded and Waiting for Parts

Just found out about Jeff Kruys' problems in South America,

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p..._id=109478&v=M

The shipping costs are outrageous -- hundreds of dollars ($500 Canadian) for a 5.1kg package.

Kruys is not the only one. A number of other long-distance touring cyclists have gotten stuck somewhere waiting for parts to arrive.
The arrival sometimes does not go as planned, either. Delays, wrong addresses or drop-off points, loss, theft, etc. -- a variety of things can and do go wrong between ordering and receiving parts.

Sean Grady was stuck in Mexico. Victor Weinreber also got stuck waiting for parts to arrive. (Will try to provide links to these later -- if anyone else knows of any links or experiences along these lines, please feel free to post them.)

***

There must be some better approaches or strategies for preventing these things from happening.

Last edited by Niles H.; 05-27-09 at 05:46 PM.
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Old 05-27-09, 09:33 PM   #2
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I read about Victor's troubles in Mexico as well, here is the link to his post about it (the following post talks about it as well): http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p..._id=70736&v=8o

The good news is that the good people at BOB trailers took very good care of him.
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Old 05-28-09, 01:08 PM   #3
Niles H.
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Thanks for that link.

Here are some of Sean Grady's experiences:

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p...e_id=10760&v=0

i need to keep checking in at hotel cassitas on my package from the states. i have no idea when it will arrive. i've heard anything from three days to eight. i really hope its not eight. as much as i like this place, sitting still is not fun.

Sixteen days later,

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p...e_id=10760&v=0

i leave and sit down on the ledge outside the hotel to open it up. after getting through the series of three envelopes, i open the final one to look down and see the tools i need to install my new bearings, but not my bearings... i laughed. what else could i do. i called the bike shop, but chris, who was taking care of the transaction wasn't in yet....

i call surly and talk to nick. he jumped at the opportunity to help me, and assured me the part would be shipped as fast as possible to candice's mom....

the days went by...candice informed me that her mom had not recieved the package yet. her flight leaves on monday. i probably wont get it, but that is not the end....


April 14,

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p...e_id=10857&v=0

i'm dancing with myself. (see last update)

my bearings are in los angeles, at candice's brothers house. now i just need to find someone with a friend coming down, or who is making a trip up there. it shouldn't be too difficult....


***April 26,

on the road again!: finally!!

...just kidding. this is another mulegé update. the bearings should arrive here later this week. after failing to find someone coming down here, we opted to have her brother send it down postal service, which takes about ten days. that was last monday. which means i "should" be on the road by this weekend. as much as it seems like i am enjoying myself here to no end, i really, really, really do want to get moving again. it's going to be very hot by the time i get to the yucatan penninsula....


There's more at May 6 and May 14.
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Old 05-28-09, 01:30 PM   #4
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We ended up flying back to the USA from Honduras to pick up the parts we needed. We figured it would probably cost us about $100 in shipping to get the parts down there, and then God only knows how much in customs. We could buy a plane ticket to Miami for only $217, and I stayed with a friend for a couple days. I suspect that's the route we will take in the future when something else happens.
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Old 05-28-09, 01:36 PM   #5
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For that kind of money, I am sure you could find a machine shop in South America to fabricate whatever it is that broke.
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Old 05-28-09, 02:11 PM   #6
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We ended up flying back to the USA from Honduras to pick up the parts we needed. We figured it would probably cost us about $100 in shipping to get the parts down there, and then God only knows how much in customs. We could buy a plane ticket to Miami for only $217, and I stayed with a friend for a couple days. I suspect that's the route we will take in the future when something else happens.
Any ideas on how to prevent getting into these situations in the first place, and to have tours that are free (or at least freer, or as free as possible) from them?
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Old 05-29-09, 06:22 AM   #7
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Any ideas on how to prevent getting into these situations in the first place, and to have tours that are free (or at least freer, or as free as possible) from them?
I've seen dealing with these sorts of issues as part of the issues to deal with in extended touring. However, I have done a few things along the way:
= While cycling Australia, my frame cracked. I did the "fly back to pick up replacement" thing in that case.
= While cycling New Zealand, my (48-spoke) hub broke. I did the enjoy Napier for a week thing in that case.
= While cycling Thailand a different (48-spoke) hub broke. It was two weeks before I was to go home, so I did the enjoy southern Thailand and then visit Kuala Lumpur thing in that case
= I spent five days on the Alaska Highway waiting for replacement rim/wheel to be built and sent up on the bus
= Before cycling across Russia, I left behind a spare Trek 520 bike with friends a previous year. This way if something happened I was a (potentially long) train ride away.
= I've frequently had a preventative maintenance and replacement of components before setting off on longer gaps e.g. Russian far east or parts of the Australian outback

I'm still dreaming and scheming of an extended trip through Latin America and also through Africa. I'll bring reasonable stuff with me, and otherwise deal with things as they come up - either by going to larger cities or in worst case, shipping or flying back to pick up something.

Within populated areas of the developed world, typically not a big issue as one isn't very far away from further assistance or at minimum a post office that can accept "General Delivery" packages. In the latter case, I've also left behind packages with some key spare parts that friends/family can easily send if necessary.
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Old 05-29-09, 07:25 AM   #8
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Bring a whole new bike? Gawsh these stories are entertaining, not so entertaining for folks on the road though.

I remember reading a (non bike touring) incident where the Mercedes truck got stranded in the middle of Russia somewhere. They contacted Mercedes Benz via Satellite and they had the part flown into the GPS coordinates that were provided.
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Old 05-29-09, 08:57 AM   #9
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Other than picking quality reliable parts, servicing your bike regularly and carrying a reasonable supply of spare parts I can't see how you would avoid having bike or gear related problems. Even if you made perfect choices a car can run over you bike or a donkey step into your rear wheel breaking loads of spokes and crushing the rim, your seatpost & saddle could be stolen...etc...

If you are on a trip that is long enough something will happen, but since you can't know what there isn't a lot of point stressing about it until it happens and you have a specific problem to resolve.
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Old 05-29-09, 09:10 AM   #10
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Other than picking quality reliable parts, servicing your bike regularly and carrying a reasonable supply of spare parts I can't see how you would avoid having bike or gear related problems....
I agree, unless you've got support there are reasonable limits to the spare parts you can carry. And while it does happen, I don't think it's all that common.

The best thing you can do is figure out the shipping costs in advance, and have a contingency fund in the event of a major mechanical.
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Old 05-29-09, 05:53 PM   #11
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Bikes are machines, simple ones but still machines. Machines break. Carry a few spares, have a "what if " plan, go out and enjoy the ride. It's pretty much like the rest of life I think.
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Old 05-29-09, 06:53 PM   #12
Niles H.
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Victor Weinreber has mentioned something that I've also been thinking about -- something he called a MacGyver kit. He may be working on providing such a kit for sale.
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Old 05-29-09, 07:43 PM   #13
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Just tow a spare bike along behind you. Maybe you could rig it up as some kind of linear 2 wheeled trailer. Would give you more room to carry the battery powered microwave and the bear proof fence too.
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Old 05-30-09, 06:31 AM   #14
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We have had very few problems on tour related to parts. I think this is because:

1. We have been lucky. As someone else pointed out, if we'd had an accident we'd no doubt have been waiting for parts in some remote corner of the globe.
2. We bought very simple bikes. Steel frames. No disk breaks. No Rolhoff hubs. Nothing you can't find or fix almost anywhere.
3. We brought enough tools that we could fix a lot of problems ourselves and keep the bikes maintained.

The other side of it is that you always have a choice. Yes, you can fix your simple bike almost anywhere with local parts but maybe you don't want to. If you want the higher quality, you're always going to have to wait in the remote parts of the world. On a short tour, just get the cheap parts and keep going. On a longer one, you have the time
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