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What tools to take on private supported cross US tour?

Old 03-13-22, 11:11 AM
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Jsosborn
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What tools to take on private supported cross US tour?

Four family members are planning a half cross US ride this June and July from NYC to around Minneapolis, and finishing it in 2023. We've always toured unsupported, but for this trip, we want to take my 4Runner, with a 4 bike Thule hitch rack and a Thule XL XT roof rack. The plan is to drop the riders at the start of the day and have a driver drop the car at the planned endpoint and ride back to meet the others halfway, before continuing on to the truck together. We'll still be staying in hotels, and eating mostly in restaurants, but even a cooler seems like a luxury. It's close enough for a couple of 60 somethings to call it riding across the country with a straight face.

BUT. What tools to bring? When self-contained, I torture myself over whether to bring a spare chain. Now I'm thinking a bike stand, a socket set, spare chains, cassettes, brake pads, and maybe chainrings? Spare pedals? Cleaning gear? A battery-powered Ryobi pump? Spare tires? It seems very indulgent, but there's no need to go overboard.

What would you bring on a 5-week trip if you had a few cubic feet to spare and a pretty generous budget? Any advice from folks who've done it? All input is welcome, thanks.
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Old 03-13-22, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Jsosborn View Post
...What would you bring on a 5-week trip if you had a few cubic feet to spare and a pretty generous budget? Any advice from folks who've done it? All input is welcome, thanks.

jinkies! take the repair stand and your entire toolbox.......at least any tool you'd conceivably need (short of full welding kit) to repair any of your bicycles. take spare cables and brake pads and a rotor or two....and nuts and bolts and lubricant and a couple chains and a cassette, tubes and tires. if you have the space take a few spare wheels.

space and weight aren't a problem. might save your driver half a day with a broken whatsit to the nearest town with a bike shop when you could have everything on hand.
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Old 03-13-22, 12:57 PM
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Most importantly make sure your bike is tuned up and everything is running well. Replace any parts that might need replacing a good period of time in advance so you can ride the bike and make sure everything is good to go before you leave. Don't replace stuff with a week to go or less give yourself plenty of time to tune and test and bring back in as needed. Let you local mechanic know what you are up to, how long you are out and such and that way they can make useful suggestions on what you should replace and what is going to be fine.

Take tools you know how to use well. Don't just take some tools because some guy here or on the yootoobs or somewhere said yeah take it and you don't know what you are doing and worse in an emergency. You don't have to be a mechanic to go on tour and especially if you have a support vehicle and are doing more of a credit card tour (which is not a bad thing and I am not knocking it whatsoever) If you are taking a car you could take all manner of stuff and just leave it in the car but you don't need to go overboard. If you are running any more exotic parts like say Campagnolo you might take some spare parts but if pretty common stuff you probably won't need it. If you are using cleated pedals bring some cleats and bolts just in case.

At the bare minimum I would take a good multi tool that is easy to work with or a set of good hex wrenches (allen keys) and any other wrenches you may need say for a fender nut or something on your rack or something like that and probably a JIS/cross tip screw driver if needed (many multi tools have them). Maybe a spoke wrench either a multi use one or if everyone is using similar nipples getting a nicer quality one for that size (again assuming you know how to true a wheel). I would more important carry some zip ties, a spare derailleur hanger or emergency hanger and maybe some extra bolts (that you know you could need not just random but ones that will fit the threaded braze ons or your stem... maybe even with a little bit of blue thread locking compound on them) You don't need to go crazy, it doesn't sound like you are going to far out in the middle of nowhere and will be near civilization or a car at some point. I would certainly take tubes, a good useable frame pump (Topeak Road Morph G is a favorite of mine), a presta adaptor, a patch kit or two (maybe glued and glueless) and some tire levers you like using. Tire boots are not needed just use a dolla dolla bill y'all or a Clif Bar wrapper or similar.

In the car I would have a full set of good hex wrenches and any tools you may need for your car racks. A bottle of your favorite or currently chosen chain lubricant (I do like wax lube personally but everyone has their own opinion, just make sure it is lubricant and not a water displacement chemical), some rags, maybe some degreaser of some sort (like say Rock n' Roll Miracle Red because it has a whole lot of uses) I might also take a repair stand (because again you have a car why not) and a full size floor pump.

You may want a chain tool or some other tools but if you have done the work initially you probably won't need a bunch of that stuff.

Calvin and Truman did a good video on this though they maybe carrying a bit more gear than most would need it kind of says hey you don't really need some of that stuff but of course they are mechanics so they went overboard on a lot of stuff:
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Old 03-13-22, 03:03 PM
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Do not bring any tools you do not know how to use. Possible exception is a spoke wrench.

There are very few tools that I would bring in a vehicle that I would not bring if I had no support vehicle. The only ones I can think of is bottom bracket tools and a chain whip, cable cutter, these I would not bring if I did not have a vehicle. Without a vehicle, I bring a fairly complete set of tools, but I used to work as a bike mechanic, built up my touring bikes myself. So it is second nature for me to bring a good tool kit for a five week tour. I even bring a cassette tool when I tour on a derailleur bike.

Before you leave home, check your chains to see which to replace before you start. Zinn thinks very highly of the Pedros chain checker, and his article convinced me to buy one of the Pedros ones.
https://www.velonews.com/gear/measur...ar-accurately/

Park makes a similar one, note how you put pressure on some of the chain links when you use to to make sure you get an accurate reading in this Park video. At 1:00 in the video explains where to keep pressure on the chain, that is a key to accuracy.

I find the cheaper chain checkers to be worthless, I gave my old ones to charity.

I would not bring a bike stand, but I would consider getting a receiver hitch rack for the rear of the vehicle. You could put a couple bikes back there, fewer on top. And that receiver hitch is also your repair stand if you need one. Maybe the inconvenience of it blocking the rear might put you off, that is one consideration. Such a rack in the way when loading and unloading is certainly a consideration. But I am biased, I do not have a roof rack. Do you need a small ladder to load bikes on that roof rack?

Bring one or two spare brake cables and shifter cables, and a good cable cutter. Maybe some ferrules, cable ends.

Presumably you do not know the spoke lengths for spare spokes if you needed one. Get one or two Fiber Fix emergency spokes instead. That would need a spoke wrench too. Odds are you will not need one but they are quite cheap and can make a bike road worthy until you can get the wheel to a bike shop.

Should I assume you have no standardization in your bikes, I assume four bikes. Four bikes means four different chain specifications, four different cassette specifications, etc.? Assuming that some day the chains and cassettes might get used anyway, even if not used on the trip, sure bring them. I would bring at least one reusable spare quick link for each bike too.

Bring some medical type disposable gloves for working on bikes. Each person should have a spare pair of such gloves with their spare tube.

Assortment of zip ties.

Nice assortment of M5 stainless nuts and bolts and washers. Maybe a spare seatpost bolt or two, but for most bikes the stem cap bolt can be used instead.

Tube of Phil grease.

Do not forget to bring the tool kit for repairing riders - a good first aid kit, some large gauze pads and wrap in case of road rash.

USB charger you can plug into the 12v socket in the vehicle if the vehicle does not have such charging ports.

I just use a floor pump, not an electric pump.
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Old 03-13-22, 03:08 PM
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Is beer a tool??😄😄😄
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Old 03-13-22, 03:23 PM
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My last five week bike tour was 3 years ago, pre-covid. I brought my S&S coupled bike with Rohloff hub, so that bike does not compare to the types of bikes you might need to work on. But to pack my bike for shipment, I have to completely disassemble it, remove crank arms, fork, etc. The photo is my tool kit that I brought, but the spares are not in that photo. While this is not directly applicable, it might give you an idea on what a former bike mechanic would bring on a five week trip when they do not have a vehicle for support.



Spares, not pictured, were two inner tubes, self adhesive patch kit, medical gloves, one set of brake pads (one set for one wheel, not two), small bottle of thread locker, nuts & bolts & washers, spare shifter and spare brake cable, chain lube, some spare chain links and quick links. Some Emory boards in case I need to file something down. Tire lever. Roll of electrical tape. Spokes of correct length (I built the wheels, I knew what spoke lengths I needed). Zip ties.

Attached to the frame was a Lezyne Micro Floor Drive HV pump with gauge, not pictured.

I am not counting anything electric here, that was with my electrics kit.

In my previous post I mentioned that in the vehicle that bottom bracket tools, chain whip, cable cutter would also be packed.


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Old 03-13-22, 04:33 PM
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With support vehicle..... bring the kitchen sink.
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Old 03-13-22, 05:33 PM
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I'd take the small tool box I normally keep my bike tools in, a floor pump and some supplies like rags and oil. If I had a portable stand I'd take it, but I would not take the one I have. It would get in the way more than it would be helpful. Nor would I buy one for the trip, but you did mention an unlimited budget.... Everything you take with is going to get in the way probably every day, and think of the instance when a couple or more are going to need or want a SAG ride, or use the vehicle for a sight-seeing break.

Good comment above about maintaining the bike before the trip, rather than during it. Check shift cables and chains carefully. If any of the bikes are older, check bottom bracket, headset and hubs carefully too. I rode my 15 year old bike 4500 miles XC one year and replaced the bottom bracket and freehub body prophylactically, because they already had over 50K miles on them.

A XC ride isn't much more than 4 to 500 hours of cycling. Parts that are in good shape shouldn't fail with that kind of wear. Especially with light loads.
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Old 03-13-22, 05:43 PM
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How much space do you have in the support vehicle? What tools do you usually use to maintain and repair the bikes? You might as well have all the various pullers and so on to disassemble everyting on your bike if you own them. It likely all fits in a not so large tool box. If you have room a work stand is nice. A good floor pump is well worth having. With tubeless tires it might be worth taking one with a chamber for seating them.

With a support vehicle you have room for a bit more in the way of spares. Maybe take a couple extra tires in addition to extra tubes. Again you do have the option of driving somewhere to get stuff so spares are a bit less critical. Because of that I wouldn't go crazy taking all kinds of stuff you aren't likely to need.

All that said, I don't think I'd buy a bunch of tools beyond pretty basic stuff, if I didn't already own them. Most everything I have I bought when needed, I'd continue that practice for a trip with the exception of a pretty basic set of tools for basic common road side repairs.
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Old 03-13-22, 06:35 PM
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Old 03-13-22, 08:38 PM
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Thanks all

Thanks for all the input. I service my own bikes, as do the others with me. I’ve got all the usual spares and the tools to replace them. Each bike has a spare chain, cassette, tire, tubes, brake pads, and pedals. I’m probably bringing my portable bike stand as it packs small. We’re using a 4 bike hitch rack, and the roof rack is just for clothing and personal effects. That leaves tools, drinks and food in the back so access is simpler.
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Old 03-14-22, 04:23 AM
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You are bringing a spare pair of pedals for each bike? I can see one pair, platform on one side and SPD cleat on the other side if anyone uses SPD cleats.

Two friends of mine went on a two week fully supported bike trip to asia a year before covid. One lost a shoe cleat, rode without one cleat for over a week until he got home. Instead of bringing a spare cleat, I think a better option is to make sure they are all tight before start of trip if any of you use cleated shoes, and use a good thread locker.

This is what I bought the last time I bought some.
https://www.truevalue.com/6-ml-remov...hread-locker-1

Cleats do loosen over time, I have several pair of shoes, check them all each spring. One of the spare bolts is a cleat bolt.
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Old 03-14-22, 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Jsosborn View Post
Thanks for all the input. I service my own bikes, as do the others with me. I’ve got all the usual spares and the tools to replace them. Each bike has a spare chain, cassette, tire, tubes, brake pads, and pedals. I’m probably bringing my portable bike stand as it packs small. We’re using a 4 bike hitch rack, and the roof rack is just for clothing and personal effects. That leaves tools, drinks and food in the back so access is simpler.
That is more spares than I'd take, but no harm if you have the space and already have the parts. I've had a chain last for a full coast to coast tour and then some. Mine have generally lasted the equivalent of more than two coast to coast trips. I'd never expect a cassette to fail catestrophically or wear out mid trip. Same for pedals. Only once ever had a pedal issue and that was a little looseness in the bearing that I could limp along with. The shop I was near didn't have the tool to work on it so I bought new ones rather that put up with the slight wobblle.. Later I rebuilt them and reassembled them. They are still going strong. They were from the original 1990 vintage SPD model and now have a huge amount of mileage on them including tons of muddy single track from service on my MTB and at least one coast to coast tour from their time on my touring bike. I think they were repacked with new grease twice I don't know the mileage on them, but it is considerable. I have had cheap pedals fail early, but good pedals seem to last forever.

If your experience is that you need to replace that stuff more frequently then by all means carry it all. Personally I probably wouldn't or would share the spare inventory carry fewer spares to be shared among the group. After all you can buy stuff on the road or have it shipped to you. I know that our group of three never needed a chain, pedal, or cassette during the tour. In fact those all lasted for a lot of future riding and some more tours. In any case when/if they did fail they didn't do so catestrophically.

By all means carry a tire or tires, plenty of tubes, and brake pads. Oh, and some spokes. If your bike has a replaceable deraileur hanger it might be worth getting one and carrying that.

Having someone at home who knows what and where stuff is can be a help. That applies to gear other than the bike. You may find that you want have stuff sent from home that you wish you had taken via general delivery or want to send stuff home that you are either done with or find you don't need. With a support vehicle sending things home is less of an issue, but even then you may find you get snowed under a bit with too much stuff. Simplifying by sending home gear you won't need again could be worth doing at some point.

In any case you have to draw the line somewhere. If you are carrying a cassette, then what about other stuff that is just as likely to fail. Derailleurs? Brifters? If those then maybe bottom bracket, crank, hubs, rims and on and on. I am not seriously suggesting carrying those, but my point is that there is always something that can break that you won't have. The odds are very good that you won't need any of them and if you do you will definitely be able to get by some how especially since you have a support vehicle to run to the closest source for the needed parts.

I don't know how compatible your family's bikes are for parts sharing but sharing should limit the need to carry all the parts for each bike. If you want to take something extra that would really be helpful, have the space, and if there is compatibility across the group, a set of spare wheels would be a nice thing to have. It would allow you to delay some repairs and constitute spare tubes, tires, rims, spokes, hubs, skewers, and cassette.
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Old 03-14-22, 06:46 AM
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Bring

1. A spare bike

2. Spare cleats and mounting hardware

3. Floor pump

4. Spare tubes and tires

5. Basic bike tools as listed in above posts

6. An ARB fridge/freezer for ice cream or beer.
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Old 03-14-22, 08:27 AM
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The cassette and chain on my bike don't last a year. Due to a bad knee, I'm riding a low power pedal assist Specialized Vado 5.0 SL EQ, and it eats the 12 speed cassettes and chains like I go through Fig Newtons. I clean and lube them religiously, but I still get them phantom shifting, and definitely longer in only 600-800 miles. I was shocked the first time it happened. (Please don't switch into the "eBiKeS aRe StOoPiD" mode now. I've heard it thanks.)
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Old 03-14-22, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Cleats do loosen over time, I have several pair of shoes, check them all each spring. One of the spare bolts is a cleat bolt.
I have not found that to be the case for me. I never bother with any thread locker on the bolts and they never come loose, Maybe I tighten them tighter or less tight or the shoes are different or something. Or maybe I abuse the cleats enough that I wear them out before they get loose. Still no reason not to use loctite or carry a spare bolt.

On another note, parts that will be eventually needed were mentioned somewhere in the thread. Comments on cassettes and other drive train parts seem to imply they will be needed eventually any way. That may be true for some. I find for me rings and cogs last a very long time and since I own a few different bikes I have seldom ever replaced them. Even on bikes with a ton of miles I have typically had more than one wheelset so even on a bike that might have 100,000 miles I may not have bought a replacement cassette other than as part of a wheelset or as a change in setups or ratios. This may sound crazy, but despite have done a lot of tours quite a few of which were multiweek or multimonth and a lot or other kinds of riding I don't remember ever replacing a cassette because it was broken or worn out. I have bent broken or stripped out threads on the cranks on mountain bikes, but not on any road or road touring bikes though. Similarly my mountain bikes, which I uded to really thrash in my younger days, have gone through headsets and seat posts now and then while I never needed to replace one on a bike used on pavement.

Basically I have found that most stuff on my road oriented bikes lasts a very long time. Tires, tubes, and brake pads are consumables though. You are likely to need all of those on a coast to coast trip unless maybe on the shorter flatter ST route. I get as much as 10k miles on a chain and they don't fail too suddenly so carrying a few links is fine when going without a support vehicle, but with one I guess why not carry one of each type needed.

Some of this may depend on how fresh the components you start with are. I stopped starting with fresh stuff at some point when i realized that I never went back and used the half worn tires, brake shoes, chains, and what not. Now I just figure on replacing stuff along the way as needed. Even for a coast to coast trip I might start with tires with only half of their life left. So far I have not regretted it.
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Old 03-14-22, 08:55 AM
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Excellent advice! I'm actually bringing a Brompton M6L as a spare. People have ridden them across the US, but mostly I'm bringing it because a 5th bike better pack small.
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Old 03-14-22, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
jinkies! take the repair stand and your entire toolbox.......at least any tool you'd conceivably need (short of full welding kit) to repair any of your bicycles. take spare cables and brake pads and a rotor or two....and nuts and bolts and lubricant and a couple chains and a cassette, tubes and tires. if you have the space take a few spare wheels…
…and then take it out of the truck at the end of the trip unused.

Honestly, for a 5 week tour you probably won’t need much more than chain lube and a patch kit. That doesn’t stop me from carrying tools but I’ve never needed a new chain, cables, rotors, or even nuts and bolts. If you do really need something, there are these things called “stores” that have what you need.
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Old 03-14-22, 09:18 AM
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My vote is on the light end of the scale -- a couple spare cables, at least one set of brake pads per species used, two tubes per bike, one spare tire per size used, a multi-tool per bike (in case the last person has to fix something). For everything else there's a bike shop within a day's drive.

One thing I haven't see mentioned is a 6-outlet power strip, so everybody can plug into the one available outlet in the motel room and charge up all the phones, GPSs, e-readers, and all the other things that Absolutely Must Be Taken.
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Old 03-14-22, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
…and then take it out of the truck at the end of the trip unused.

Honestly, for a 5 week tour you probably won’t need much more than chain lube and a patch kit. That doesn’t stop me from carrying tools but I’ve never needed a new chain, cables, rotors, or even nuts and bolts. If you do really need something, there are these things called “stores” that have what you need.
Oh wow! I misread the original post. I thought it was a full coast to coasr. I was thinking like Trans America or NT. Yeah, 2000 miles you don't need much.
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Old 03-14-22, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Jsosborn View Post
Excellent advice! I'm actually bringing a Brompton M6L as a spare. People have ridden them across the US, but mostly I'm bringing it because a 5th bike better pack small.
I'd either just take spare wheels or a bike that has parts that interchange with the other bikes, but that is just me. I wouldn't even consider my folder.
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Old 03-14-22, 10:56 AM
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If it were me, in addition to flat repair, I would bring tools to deal with loose/dry bearings and broken spoke (chain whip and cassette tool). Beyond that, anything major you can take the broken bike to a shop or purchase parts/tools on the road.
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Old 03-14-22, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
... Comments on cassettes and other drive train parts seem to imply they will be needed eventually any way. That may be true for some. I find for me rings and cogs last a very long time and since I own a few different bikes I have seldom ever replaced them. Even on bikes with a ton of miles I have typically had more than one wheelset so even on a bike that might have 100,000 miles I may not have bought a replacement cassette other than as part of a wheelset or as a change in setups or ratios. This may sound crazy, but despite have done a lot of tours quite a few of which were multiweek or multimonth and a lot or other kinds of riding I don't remember ever replacing a cassette because it was broken or worn out. ....
I am impressed at your chain and cassette life.

I do not keep track of how many miles I get out of a chain or cassette, but I know that I typically wear out the middle two sprockets on a cassette before the other sprockets. I seem to get very long chainring life compared to some others. But most of my bikes have triples, so I spread the wear over more rings than those with doubles or singles.

I think I discard one chain a year on average, but that varies a lot. Last year none, the year before, three.

But in a typical year I am regularly riding four different bikes, plus fewer miles on two or three others. I would go nuts if I tried to keep track of how many miles I put on each chain or each cassette. But some people do that, I suspect they only own one bike.

I consider myself lucky if I get three chains to one cassette. But I say that based not on usage on each bike, but on how many I have to buy.
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Old 03-14-22, 01:26 PM
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For a 2000 mile trip and ample sag space, I might consider a spare bike with some interchangeable parts e.g. wheels, pedals, saddle with the other bikes - or usable by itself.
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