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Information on bike touring gear and related in Colombia

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Information on bike touring gear and related in Colombia

Old 02-01-23, 04:36 PM
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Information on bike touring gear and related in Colombia

X-posted from my slowly-developing blog on CrazyGuy: page here

(There are obviously quite a few places in Colombia I haven't been and I may have missed some things in the big cities so if you have useful additions or corrections maybe add in replies below.)

I spent a few weeks in Bogotá before I started cycling trying to sort out a bunch of things and in the process visited a lot of outlets stocking bike and touring-related gear. This post may save you some time if you are cycling in Colombia, or give you a sense of what to expect when you get there.Here's one crucial discovery: contrary to the conventional wisdom among cycle tourers about 'developing countries' 26" gear is *less* available than 700CC and 29", especially if you want better quality/higher end equipment. Another important discovery: all the 26" tyre tubes I have found so far have Dunlop valves, which are a bit like Prestas but not quite. Again, this goes against the conventional wisdom that Schrader is often the most easily available. (And I know have a tube that I cannot use my pressure gauge on, and I have to change the head on my pump if I want to pump both tyres - quite a hassle).

Touring gear in general is not widely available, but there is an Ortlieb stockist based in Bogotá that ships nationally (see below) and there are some Shimano dealers including one in a fairly unlikely location. But I have not seen any touring-quality 26" tyres.

It also turns out that Colombia is *not* a country that many of the more well-known bike touring gear stores (like St John's Street Cycles) ship to. This is strange because many do ship to Chile, and Colombia has many DHL outlets. But it's useful to know if you think it will be easy to get touring gear shipped if you cannot find it.


Based on my experience at the time of writing, having been through Medellin as well, Bogotá easily has the most availability of almost anything you could want.

Good outlets for bike and camping gear:

14OchoMiles (Colombian stockists of Ortlieb – prices are quite competitive relative to the USA but they have a more limited range, https://14ochomiles.com/)
Suescalada (https://www.suescalada.com/)
GangasInc (on Instagram)
HomeCenter (https://www.homecenter.com.co/homecenter-co/)

There are also entire Specialized stores (https://www.specialized.com/co/es) and others. I could not find as much Shimano hear as I expected. (But see below re finding a Shimano stockist in an unlikely little town on the north coast)

Contrary to what has become the conventional wisdom: most shops did *not* stock 26” tyres or tubes. I think this is because Colombia has a huge cycling culture that is pushed by the wealthier class who like to keep up with foreign trends, so there are a lot of disc brake bikes and ones with bigger wheels.

Finding ‘white fuel’ for an MSR stove was impossible. I looked and asked at many outlets. In the end I opted for unleaded petrol and using 70%+ alcohol to prime the cup of the stove before opening the fuel – this definitely reduced the dirt and smog from the stove substantially so I would strongly recommend it. However, a number of stores sell MSR stoves, fuel bottles and some other gear (see above).

Finding tent seam sealer was similarly time-consuming and fruitless. In this case my lack of Spanish may have been part of the problem, but GearAid products certainly do not seem to be available in Colombia. For more general waterproofing, NikWax products are very limited – they do not seem to include the Tent WaterProofing and SolarProofing product recommended for the purpose. In the end I did two things:
1. After I ran out of GearAid seamsealer and couldn’t find a replacement I decided to try and mix my own (I’ll do a short blog on that separately…)
2. I bought the NikWax tent waterproofing spray and the GearAid PVC renewal product online and got them shipped to my AirBnB in Medellin

Things tend to be clustered: many hardware stores in one or two blocks, many bike shops in others, etc. This was as true in Bosconia as it was in Bogota except that in Bosconia it was two bike stores whereas in Bogota it might be 10 in just one area. This is true for lower end shops as well as higher end ones. E.g. in one part of Bogota there are a few high-end bike shops clustered over a few blocks: OchoMiles, Specialized and others whose names I forget. The OchoMiles stores have slightly different collections of products – lots of overlap but not entirely. If your Spanish is good enough it can be worth checking in advance if you’re in a hurry. Or you could order online.

Do the Ciclovia. In fact, do it every Sunday that you are in Bogota! I did it three times, each time trying to choose a new route. I did often find that I started too late and ran out of time, which somewhat defeats the purpose because then you have to find your way back on roads filled with traffic – or find a cycle lane, which is very possible but a little challenging if you don’t know the city. (Medellin also has a Ciclovia but unfortunately I wasn't able to do it the one Sunday I was there).

There are lots of bike shops and bike repair places, and given the range of bicycles in the city you should be able to get almost any problem fixed. On the day of the Ciclovia there are regular roadside mechanics with spares and doing repairs on the spot.


My experience is that there are many fewer stores outside of Bogota. For example, I found one Decathlon in Medellin and it was quite far from where I was. I did see a Specialized store. And there are enough wealthy cyclists in Medellin that you should be able to find top-end gear for road bikes and mountain bikes.

I was surprised to discover a great little newish store in Cienaga, 25km away from Santa Marta on the road to Baranquilla and Cartagena. 'La Feria: Bike and Coffee' stock quite a lot of Shimano parts and sell various other gear. (And offer a Nescafe machine coffee). They also offer bike service and repair. But they literally did not have a single thing for 26" wheels. Quite a lot of things for 700CC though, fitting the pattern mentioned earlier.

**[I may add more information here as I come across it]**
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Old 02-01-23, 06:09 PM
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For what is it worth - my experience with Colombia. In particular, I stopped in Pasto a few days and looked a fixing some derailleur related issues.
- I had started in Cartagena and went via Medellin and then Popayan/Pasto. I didn't need anything special to start and had two extra 26" foldable tires with me so was good for a while. Hence, I also didn't come through Bogota either.
- In Pasto the functions of selling bike related items and repairing bikes seems to be more separated than in North America. I did find some dedicated bike shops such as photo below - but they sold newer bikes. They had a few parts but not extensive. Basic repairs they even did for free since that wasn't their business. They did have references to people who could also do work.
- Eventually i had a derailleur replaced and had both part and repair done by a shop.
- Shops in Pasto had a liberal use of siesta time and were shut for several hours mid-day.

Further south, when I looked at some major cities such as:
- Cuenca, Ecuador (I went through Quito but didn't look @ bike shops)
- Trujillo, Peru
- Lima, Peru
- Arequipa, Peru
- Salta, Argentina
- Mendoza, Argentina
- Bariloche, Argentina
- Puerto Montt, Chile
I found at least one pretty good bike shop that had a selection of parts and seemed to also do service. Service I had done in Pasto, Cuenca, Lima, Arequipa and Bariloche was well done.

I was riding Marathon Plus and Marathon Supreme tires along the way. Both worked well - though for my load and some of the thorn/glass hazards I came across the Supreme tires had less reliability with their thin sidewalls. I didn't end up buying any Schwalbe tires in South America but remember seeing once or twice (in Lima I believe) and also not seeing them (e.g. in Mendoza). I did for other reasons fly back from Mendoza to the US and back for a short stopover and brought back with me some additional folding tires. Similarly, I was riding with 26" Presta tubes and while I found some tubes along the way - they weren't the most common.

I can understand the OP wanting a reliable tire - particularly if he continues further south - there will be some gaps like northern Peru with more limited options and some thorns.
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Old 02-01-23, 06:38 PM
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Thanks, that's helpful because I am hoping to go south (initial rough plan is Ecuador - Peru - Bolivia - Paraguay - Argentina - Chile) eventually.

Originally Posted by mev View Post
For what is it worth - my experience with Colombia. .
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