Have read countless touring threads that deal with setting up a touring bike using exotic high end parts to reduce the 'what if' possibilities of a breakdown; others that promote ulta-light touring - which would put few demands on the equipment; and several outlining the difficulties of getting parts to service 700 series wheels outside North America.*
Having travelled a bit myself - I'm very aware that even in some rural areas of the Maritime Provinces (Nova Scotia and PEI in particular - you'd have a hard time finding a shop with double butted spokes in ANY size - for either 26"*OR 700 series wheels.*
Which is not to say they don't have bicycles there. And I found bicycles are also pretty common in Peru and Colombia - just not the same brands and components on the shelf here.
So I'm a little curious. I tend to 'go native' when traveling, skip the touristy stuff and mix with the natives. Has anyone taken that approach to bicycle touring? Maybe bought a mediocre bicycle at the destination and used minimal equipment to go touring? Yeah - it might take more mechanical skills but in the event of a parts issue - at least replacement parts wouldn't be an issue.
I'm thinking about this because when the bicycle trail was first opened across Canada - more than one person completed that on simple three speed Sturmey Archer. I've also seen groups of school kids completing the Cabot Trail on whatever they had available. Pretty much demonstrating that determination and motivation are far more important than equipment.
And after spending time in a bike shop, I'm pretty aware that lower end components are usually heavier, but can be very functional as well as more available. And much less of an issue if over-loaded isn't part of the plan. And most cycle tourist do tend to take too much on at least the first few tours. At least I did.
So - has anyone actually done any ultra-light or minimalist touring on anything like a Huffy? Or deliberately run straight gage spokes instead of double butted? Somethings like a good seat and reasonable pedals I'm not willing to compromise on - but aside from that - IMO the trip is far more important than the bike.
Friction and barend shifters are commonly selected for reliability and some riders would consider them 'downgrades'. So what other equipment 'downgrades' made your life easier?