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  1. #1
    Senior Member Nigeyy's Avatar
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    What have you changed?

    I got back from a little mini tour a couple of weeks ago; just a ride from the Boston area to Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod. It struck me during and at the end of tour, I felt (at least for my needs and the kind of touring I do) that the equipment I have is.... well..... just about perfect. Everything worked flawlessly, and I just couldn't think of anything I felt I had to change.... I had zero doubts about my equipment!

    From the bike, the clothes, the tent, the panniers, the sleeping gear, the stove -even down to my little home made helmet mirror and the colour of my bike and tent -nothing was niggly. Everything was just right for me. However, aside from the tent, sleeping bag and coffee mug, I realized that over my touring career, everything else has been changed or added (biggest item I suppose is my bike -this is my 3rd touring bike).

    What are the big changes you've made to reach your point of absolute comfort for your touring? Or are you still refining?

    Next up: reaching for the touring stars -canned bread, a large knife and a hammock.

  2. #2
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Most of my adjustments have been replacing things with lighter and or more functional options or eliminating things. I can't think of any additions that did not replace something heavier. I think I am getting pretty dialed in by now, but I still am fine tuning and probably always will be.

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    My mattress is the main thing I've changed as I've progressed in touring. I started by sleeping on the ground and quickly discovered that was an idea that didn't work. Then moved to a cut down foam thing which was only marginally more comfortable than the bare ground. And now I've got a Thermarest.

  4. #4
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    I've realized that I need a different bike - one that has higher handlebars. I've raised mine up 4 inches, but they still need to go a couple inches higher, but I can't do it. Otherwise, I think we are good. I changed from paded bike shorts to unpadded wool shorts and can't imagine going back. Otherwise, I think I'm good - we've got everthing set the way we like it.
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

  5. #5
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    You still wrapping your bars in foam and bar tape Nancy?

    First thing I did was reduce the gear inches. Recently reduced them again to mtb range. Then raised the handle bars. Soon had them wrapped in foam pipe insulation and bar tape. Then spd pedals and a B-17.

    If the bike got any more comfortable, I could take a nap.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  6. #6
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    I've ditched the foam because it squashed too much. Now I have about 4 layers of tape on them - same idea! They are comfy, but need to come up a bit.
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

  7. #7
    Senior Member simplygib's Avatar
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    I started a tour last year with my primary goal being "spend the least amount of money as possible." It was a real learning experience. The $20 Walmart kiddie tent leaked. The twin sized air mattress was heavy, and eventually leaked too. The blue tarp "rain fly" was too heavy and bulky. The cotton T-shirts wouldn't dry out over night, got dirty easily and stretched out at the neck. The cheap Walmart platform pedals clicked the whole way and one barely held together. The cheap tires had bead problems and one bulged out so bad I thought it would burst. The insulated lunch container "panniers" were a pain to work with due to all the bungees needed to hold them in place.

    I learned my lesson. Since returning home I got a good quality one-man backpacker's tent, a thermarest, cycling shorts and jerseys, clipless pedals and shoes, a new seat, Ortlieb panniers, and Schwalbe Marathons. About the only thing I didn't replace was the bike itself. It's just an old Hard Rock but works great. The next tour starts in 18 days so we'll see if more tweaking is necessary.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Nigeyy's Avatar
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    That was a really interesting post! I bet you learned a lot. When I started out touring, I too wanted to spend the least. I think I certainly had less comfort and poorer equipment. I've only got 2 things left from my very first tour: tent and sleeping bag (not 3 as I posted originally as I now remember I got my coffee mug when I bought a stove!)

    The one thing I think I did get right first time was a Eureka 2 person Timberlite tent -it's been great, waterproof and it's well ventilated but packs very small and is light. The sleeping bag is a lightweight one I bought from Performance Bike many, many years ago, but to be honest for the touring I do, I don't think it's been that tested. Top 5 Biggest things I've changed/added and appreciated (in no particular order):

    1. the bike -having a purpose built tourer with the components I want. I built it up myself including the disc wheels. I'm very very happy with it. I've also toured on an old Raleigh Technium mtb which had great geometry but the bb area came unglued (read that right; it had a rear steel triangle mated to alu top and downtubes held in place by some epoxy glue of some kind) and an old Specialized Hard Rock mtb which I currently use for commuting and have used for touring as well. I love the Hard Rock too, but the Dawes Sardar just feels a little nicer.....

    2. the addition of an air mat on top of my closed cell foam pad. The foam pad was just too uncomfortable by itself! Even better is that it was $20 on sale from Campmor!

    3. adding a front rack that holds my tent -small price to pay for getting better weight distribution and just makes packing easier.

    4. my Kelly Take Off shifter mounts and DT shifters (and with apologies for beating a dead horse, I really don't mean to, but they truly have made a difference for me. I certainly don't want to start a shifter war here).

    5. Tyres -1.5 Schwalbe Marathons. Incredibly they feel like they have less rolling resistance than my Panaracer 1.25 Urban Maxxs. Not even had a.... no, I'm not going to say it, otherwise I'll get one.


    Quote Originally Posted by simplygib View Post
    I started a tour last year with my primary goal being "spend the least amount of money as possible." It was a real learning experience. The $20 Walmart kiddie tent leaked. The twin sized air mattress was heavy, and eventually leaked too. The blue tarp "rain fly" was too heavy and bulky. The cotton T-shirts wouldn't dry out over night, got dirty easily and stretched out at the neck. The cheap Walmart platform pedals clicked the whole way and one barely held together. The cheap tires had bead problems and one bulged out so bad I thought it would burst. The insulated lunch container "panniers" were a pain to work with due to all the bungees needed to hold them in place.

  9. #9
    Senior Member yeamac's Avatar
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    I have yet to tour, but thanks to this forum and all the helpful advice/comments found in these threads I hope to be pretty dialed in my first time out!

  10. #10
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    The only thing that I've changed is that I now tour on a recumbent.

  11. #11
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    Bring two pumps instead of one.

    Bring a few ultra-lightweight pieces of foam to sit on and for sleeping comfort.

    Ditched a cheap foam sleeping pad and use an inflatable one.

    Other than that, I'm really stoked on the setup I have.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Gotte's Avatar
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    The bike's pretty much the same - old 50's 531 British Eagle frame with vintage looking porteur bars, Brooks etc. It looks vintage, but is 21 geared, alloy everythinged, v-braked, so lighter and more effective than true vintage.
    The main thing I've changed is the gear I take. Two tops, two underwear, two shorts, one fleece, but actually more normal clothes. I never used to take normal clothes, just bike clothes, now I take a pair of jeans and a couple of T-shirts, so I can feel human when out for a drink. I also take a pair of crocks so I get a change of shoes, as well.
    I also changed the way I pack the bikes. I used to pretty well disassemble the entire bike, pad it, wrap it in cardboard, then bag it. It took an hour per bike to disassemble, then another hour to reassemble, and then the same the other end. Now I just turn the bars. take the pedals off, take the derailier off, and bag it in a clear plastic bag. So much easier.
    Next time, I don;t think I'm going to take a waterproof jacket, I might take a cape. I had rain a couple of days, and found my breathable jacket useless. I'm tempted to believe what I've read about breathable jackets, that is, in the rain they are not breathable, as the pores are covered with water.
    I imagine a cape would be a lot better, with all that air circulation going on underneath.
    I used rainlegs this time, and found them really effective, and gaitors which covered my shoes and lover legs, and which my friend found highly amusing, until his shoes started squelching, and mine didn;t.

  13. #13
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    i changed marathon plus to conti city contacts IMHO great move,other than than that nothing absolutely nothing ,i bought the very best i could from day one proberly best bit of kit exped down sleeping mat.if i could get my cloths sorted i would be a happy camper.

  14. #14
    Senior Member gregw's Avatar
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    After my 5100 mile cross country + tour, I have changed the following;

    -Lighter, but not much smaller tent.
    -Lighter and smaller cooking gear
    -replaced antiquated, old-school, outdated, worthless, cantilever brakes, with v-brakes. Probably the best improvement to my safety in touring. (and yes I know how to properly set-up canti's)
    -Brooks with springs, from Brooks without springs.
    -replaced traditional turn-down handlebars with treking bars, and then to even more traditional granny bars like the old 3-speed english bikes. Also, one of the best changes I have made.

  15. #15
    Senior Member
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    The sleeping pad. Went to one of those exped down mats at the prompt of someone on this forum. I'm spoiled for good.

  16. #16
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    I did a solo three day bikepacking expedition two weekends ago, and came back feeling that I really wouldn't change much. I still need to tweak the way I carry the sleeping bag under the seat, and I forgot a couple of pieces of gear (insect repellent and a head torch), but that was about it.

    I have finally gotten to the point where on most tours I discover I'm missing something, rather than bringing anything I don't use. But before that, every successive trip had less stuff than the previous one. On this trip, I didn't even bring pants!

    About the only thing I brought on this one that I didn't use was goretex gloves and a rain jacket - because it didn't rain.

    Steve

  17. #17
    Senior Member
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    Oh, yeah, the amusing thing is how I've come full circle. First two tours I ever did were with a backpack and no rack. The second one was such a pain in the back that I got panniers etc. Now, with Epic Designs framebag etc, I'm back to touring with...a backpack and no rack

  18. #18
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    Since I am going from supported touring to loaded touring I have added a new bike, replaced thermarest with exped airmat, 4 man tent to small 3 man tent, added cooking gear, cannondale panniers to orlieb and waterproof compression sack for sleeping bag and tent.

  19. #19
    Bicycle Lifestyle AsanaCycles's Avatar
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    for me, most tours, or multi day camping trips...
    each is different
    from time of year
    to terrain
    location
    amenities... if any

    so each time, every trip is different.

    I've even gone places, with intent of possibly moving there.
    therefor, the load i carried was fairly heavy... I mean, enough to live by, if i actually moved.

  20. #20
    Dumpster cyclist
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    I did quite a bit of touring this summer, and I feel like I've got a pretty good idea of how I want to hit the road next time. There are some things I know for sure I'm changing, and some I'd like to experiment with.

    The things I'm definitely changing or have already changed:
    -Waterproof panniers. My riding partner had Ortleibs and I wasn't jealous but once in a blue moon, but when I was, I REALLY was! I think I'll get roller classics.
    -Fenders. I like riding in downpours. hehe...
    -Front rack. I'm a huge fan of 90% of the weight on the back, but having just the tent up front was the perfect balance.
    -Phil bottom bracket. I think I trashed my Shimano riding in the rain.
    -Cartridge bearing headset. Having had fenders to begin with could have helped.
    -Any tires that aren't Panaracers.

    Things I want to try out:
    -Cartridge bearing hubs. I'm drooling over Phils and CKs at the moment.
    -Sprung saddle. Buying a Flyer next week.
    -Wider handlebars. I want to try out some Mustache bars, and maybe even North Roads!
    -Clipless sandals! I want some bad! I got a sock tan for the first time in my life this summer.

    Nancy, do you mind if I ask what brand/type of wool shorts you're using? That sounds absolutely divine. Do you not miss the padding?
    Last edited by Weasel9; 09-30-09 at 01:38 AM. Reason: Poor choice of words
    My latest feckless undertakings:
    http://www.erictomczak.webs.com

  21. #21
    Senior Member KLW2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregw View Post
    After my 5100 mile cross country + tour, I have changed the following;
    -replaced traditional turn-down handlebars with treking bars, and then to even more traditional granny bars like the old 3-speed english bikes. Also, one of the best changes I have made.
    Interesting about the old handlebars, just more comfortable in one hand position?
    Picture?

  22. #22
    Senior Member gregw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KLW2 View Post
    Interesting about the old handlebars, just more comfortable in one hand position?
    Picture?
    This bar set-up has taken me many thousand miles to refine. I know the whole story about all the possible hand positions on turn down bars, but my comfort zone on those bars came down to one. On the hoods so I could brake and shift without thinking or moving my hands. I also shift a lot, I see no reason to be in the wrong gear with STI shifters. (why I hate my old down-tube and bar-end shifters).

    Anyway, I had a similar problem with trekking bars, the shifter / braking hand position was not optimum.

    So, then I tried the granny bars (Nitto has their own name) and they are great, can't imagine changing again.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  23. #23
    Senior Member KLW2's Avatar
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    Very nice, I may give that a try....
    Thanks!

  24. #24
    Senior Member gregw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KLW2 View Post
    Very nice, I may give that a try....
    Thanks!
    Thanks, it's a little hard to see, but I've got some bar extensions on either side the handlebar bag. I use these to stretch-out on occasion and in a bad headwind, but really I don't use them often.

  25. #25
    Senior Member KLW2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregw View Post
    Thanks, it's a little hard to see, but I've got some bar extensions on either side the handlebar bag. I use these to stretch-out on occasion and in a bad headwind, but really I don't use them often.
    Saw that, I use them on my trekking bars as well...like that set up!

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