Getting my touring bike right

When I embark on my cycling tour to Wales in May I’m going to need good legs and a good bike to get me round.

I have a bike which will do the job but its going to need some upgrades to take on the task.

My bike is my Kinesis Crosslight FiveT which I currently commute on. Its current spec is an old Shimano Ultegra 6700 10 speed groupset I had on another cross bike which has subsequently had the transmission replaced. I run a compact chainset with 46/34T Rotor QRings on and an 11-28T cassette. I find the 46 ring perfect for commuting. I can stay in the 46 up and down the Lickeys at both ends of my commute. It rides like a 1 x 10 speed. The 34 inner rarely gets used and is there as a kind of get-out-of-jail gear when I do super steep stuff locally or up in North Wales. I can generally get up anything at the moment on a 34/28 gear but that will need to be addressed if I’m going to be laden with racks and panniers. My wheels are Mavic Aksiums running 30c Schwalbe Delta Cruiser tyres. To be fair they’ve been pretty faultless. The whole bike is a number of years old now and I’d already pencilled in a service and some changes this spring. The rims are pretty worn now (going concave) and although the transmission is ok at the moment, after the winter commuting on it, it’ll need attention again probably. My only minor concern are the canti brakes. Not the most powerful and when I’m descending with a fully-laden bike I need to be confident they’ll work. I’ve recently replaced my brake pads with the BBB BBS-22HP ones I reviewed when I went to the Alps in 2016 and I think a set of these on new rims will be fine. They are very, very good and offer great stopping power in all weathers. They are working really well at the moment. I highly recommend them if you are in the market to change your pads.

IMG_20171126_183105.jpg
My workhorse. Its a great all round bike.

So all I’m looking at now is what I will need to make the bike a solid bike for Touring. I will be researching specific stuff when I need to. This is just an overview

Wheels
I need new or very nearly new wheels definitely. I’d be happy to stick to Mavic Aksiums but I’m going to have a look at perhaps building my own or alternative factory built sets that would offer similar strength but are lighter without breaking the bank. Research required.

Tyres
I think the Delta Cruisers I have are good.. They roll well. They have a high puncture resistance and the 30c width softens the bumps nicely. They can be a bit grippy uphill so I might try some 28c tyres though that fold as the wired Cruisers are a bit of a bitch to get on and off if I do puncture. I want to make life as easy as possible as I’ll be in the middle of nowhere for long chunks of the trip.

Brakes
The Shimano CX-70’s canti’s are among the best in class and I believe the BBS-22HP pads will definitely help and will perform even better on new rims. I think my brake choice is sorted, I will just have to cable them with new and bed them in prior to leaving.

Frame
I can’t do anything about this. Its a great comfy frame, it just has a really small head tube which you can see with the stack above it but it makes for such a versatile bike. Racing bike to commuter to Tourer now! Offroad, on-road it can do it all. It has the fittings for a rear rack so I’m happy I don’t have to get a new bike.

Gears
When I come to replace my transmission (I’m thinking the latest Tiagra. I don’t need anything super special), I need to consider my gearing. I don’t want a traditional triple but I think it wise to try and get the lowest gear possible on my double chainset with a 34 inner ring. If I can get a 34T on the back to work I believe that will be low enough. I will stick with QRings too if I can afford it. That is a whole other post but put simply, they are best pound-for-pound upgrade on any bike I have made in the last few years.

Pedals & Shoes
I don’t intend to be walking much so I’m going to stick to road pedals which offer a wider cleat and a stiffer sole on the shoe than a traditional SPD touring pedal setup. This will be more efficient, so I’ll stick with my Look Keo’s and my Northwave SBS road shoes.

Pannier Rack
After a fair bit of research I asked  Father Christmas for a Topeak Super Tourist which is now fitted to my bike. Its solid, well made and looks very much upto the job, possibly a bit too good for what I’m doing! The fit was straight forward. It had all the correct brackets and bolts which allowed me to securely fit it correctly and keep my guards on too.

Panniers
Again after a fair bit of research I found a pair of Altura Arran 36 panniers at a good price and Father Christmas dropped a pair of these off under my tree too. Water resistant, plenty of space, good, solid fittings and not too heavy. I’d say they were a great mid-range set of bags. They look decent on the bike too. If I do run out of space I still have the option of a top bag for the rack too but I’m hoping that won’t be necessary as I want to keep my kit list to a minimum.

So rack and panniers are fitted, just need to to test them on a ride now and get my head around my gearing and transmission

I’ll keep you posted as and when I research stuff and what I find and decide to do

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