New to Touring! (...ish)

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by Jugular, 20 Jun 2008.

  1. Jugular

    Jugular Well-Known Member

    Ok I've toured once with my family when I was young, but they had luggage transported between 4* hotels, so I can't imagine most would consider that real touring.
    Me and my gf are planning to go on a cyclecamping tour in the South West looking to go further afield in future if we like it, and I could do with all the advice I can get. I've spent a few evenings reading various forum posts and researching bikes and equipment. There's so much to learn and so much expense involved! I had hoped this would provide a cheap healthy holiday option once a year.

    OK down to brass tacks...
    - I don't currently own a bike (I sold my Terry Dolan custom build 3 years ago)
    - My gf owns a fairly old steel frame Raleigh Commuter/MTB type thing (not much in the way of bosses).
    - I can't gaurantee we'll both really enjoy the holiday so we're loathe to spend too much on new bikes.
    - Paying for a preorganised tour seemed to ruin the whole idea of the freedom and costs more than a good spec brand new bike.
    - I've heard really contradictory comments about buying 2nd hand touring bikes on Ebay. 1) "They're cheap and last a lifetime", 2) "All ebay bikes have hidden problems".
    - By my estimation buying 2xThorn Rohloff's (I'm not the best mechanic) plus kit will set us back £3500, buying 2nd hand Dawes Galaxy's on Ebay plus kit will set us back £1000. Am I in the right ball park?

    Am I mad?
  2. Bigtallfatbloke

    Bigtallfatbloke New Member

    You will enjoy the trip

    I dont think you need to go for top end gear necessarily, unless you plan on crossing the sahara later or something, but I have learn't that cycling is addicitive and there are some things I wish I had spent more cash on to start with...however one of those is NOT my bike. I bought a Dawes Galaxy and it is the perfect load carrying bike for me.
    I am a novice tourer, I did one last year and am about to set off on a tour from Northern Germany down to Switzerland. There are more experienced tourers on this site than me. However if you want any info on my gear, bikes, tents,etc...I can run you through my experiences with my gear as a novice tourer in East Anglia last year.

    I havent really changed any of the gear I bought lastyear for this years 'proper' tour so I reckon I got most things right...mainly because of advice I got from peeps on this site.
  3. Cathryn

    Cathryn California Correspondant

    To be honest, before we bought decent bikes in the past year, the husband and I toured on the bikes we had - simple, inexpensive hybrids. I had a Dawes Discovery 201 which was about £200 when I bought it and he had a Subway Carrera from Halfords (aaagh) which was about £250. We never had any problems with them at all and would still be on them now if I hadn't been lured into buying a Thorn and talked the husband into buying a decent bike as well. So...two decent hybrids £600 for the two max.

    Luggage....we both used bog standard Halfords panniers at £35 each for many years until I was lured into buying shiny Ortlieb jobbies (notice a theme here?). Line them with binliners and bang, you're sorted. The husband has just carried them 1200 miles through the Alps with no wet clothes. So...two sets of Halfords panniers lined with bin liners...£70

    Buy some waterproofs...worth investing in. Two waterproof jackets...£150 max. And some padded shorts at £35 per pop.

    Get yourself some tools, learn how to fix punctures (something I forgot to do for many years) and seriously, that's all you need. We all on this forum love to have 'stuff' and having good stuff is definitely lovely but you honestly don't need it.

    Seriously, you'll love it. You don't need to spend a fortune, and DEFINITELY don't pay anyone else to carry your stuff. Get decent, basic bikes and you'll be away!! Cycle touring is the most amazing way to travel. You'll be wet, sore, tired and fed up at times but most of the time you'll have a big grin plastered on your face and the world will be yours to conquer!!
  4. The Mrs and I did our first three tours to Spain, Brittany and Chile on £200 Raleigh and Peugot bikes and using pretty crappy kit. So, there's no need to rush out and buy expensive bikes. Use what you've got or buy second hand.
    However, I would recommend jumping on the ferry to Northern Spain as an alternative to the South West.
  5. Bigtallfatbloke

    Bigtallfatbloke New Member

    I should add that when I was a few days turned 16 i cycled to paris from London and back on a cheapy roadbike with some bags which I know now resembled panniers bit...I dont recall having a puncture kit on board! That was 1977 I I really feel old!
  6. Many years ago, when I were a lad....

    ... well anyway, I met a Dutch guy touring around hilly Devon. He had one of those immense cast iron Dutch roadsters, with only one gear. His luggage was mostly supermarket carriers strapped on with bungy cords - his bike looked like it needed milking. He was having a great time.

    Don't agonize too much. Just do it!

    No matter how much you spend on kit, something will be less than perfect, or something will break. Half the fun of it is learning to deal with these things. If you didn't want to be a bit self-sufficient, you'd be going to Lanzarote, where there's a rep to moan at if your orange juice isn't quite cold enough in the morning...
  7. xilios

    xilios Über Member

    Maastricht, NL
    My first touring bike is an Gazelle Playa (aluminum hybrid) which I bought used, and my wife has the Trek 7.2fx which she bought new. They both cost 300 euros (each), but we have made some changes to them like brooks saddles etc... (details on our page), they fit perfect and we have no plans of upgrading in the near future.
    Like everyone else has said you definetly do not need to spend thousands.
  8. Cathryn

    Cathryn California Correspondant

    The other option you know is to hire bikes!!! Then you can try touring with no financial outlay!!
  9. vernon

    vernon Harder than Ronnie Pickering

    Meanwood, Leeds
    My first tour (C2C) was done on a Raleigh Equipe 12 speed road bike. I used p clips top attach a rear rack and bought some Altura panniers. The bike was free and located in the free adds of a local newspaper. The tent was a £15 one man tent sold by Argos called a Pro Action Tiger Paws - currently on sale again at around £60.

    My current tourer is a s/h Dawes Galaxy which cost £200 and found on the web site. Private sales are often cheaper than Ebay goods. I've supplemented the luggage with Halfords fron panniers and low rider racks and have bought a Thermarest self inflating sleeping mat. I now have two 2-man Vango tents that I had given and they both have done great jobs. I'd recommend that you have a look at the Vango tent range - they are not the lightest of tents but are durable and spacious.

    Cooking is done with a Tangia meths stove. Once again I was lucky in having one given. I have used cheap gas stoves too and both types do the job of heating/cooking food well but in different ways.

    You can get decent sleeping bags and sleeping mats from Alpkits.

    If you want to buy new then the Edinburgh Bike Co-operative do tourers at £399.
  10. OP

    Jugular Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the advice everyone. It's heartening to hear of people using very accessible equipment to tour on. The suggestion of the Revolution Tourer under £400 was an excellent one, pricing up some additions and it looks really reasonable for a good bike.
    Thankfully we have a fair amount of camping gear and waterproofs as we hike sometimes and camp some weekends, so we're sorted for a tent (fairly heavy though), sleeping bag, roll mats but we still have to get some of that there cooking gear.
    For one weeks travelling will we need a full complement of front and back panniers on two bikes? Or is that just dependant on how little clothing we can get away with taking.
    I suspect that a good thing to spend a little more money on is a good toolkit are there any particularly well regarded ones, or do you just build them up as you go?
    Sorry if this is all well covered elsewhere, feel free to point me to the search function if I'm being too demanding.

    Thanks very much, it's good to hear a non-salesman's point of view on these things.
  11. Cathryn

    Cathryn California Correspondant

    I'll be honest...I'm not a mechanic by any means but we got a decent multi-tool and a spanner and that's kind of done us. If things get worse, we find a bike shop!!

    I'm glad we've all convinced you that you don't need to spend a bomb. If you want help planning a trip, we'd all love to help :evil:
  12. vernon

    vernon Harder than Ronnie Pickering

    Meanwood, Leeds
    My toolkit for touring has shrunk to:
    • A small adjustable spanner
    • A multitool whuch has an 8mm allenkey plus smaller sizes, chain breaker, and a range of screwdriver heads.
    • A couple of tyre levers
    • Puncture repair outfit
    • Spoke key
    • A small bottle of chain lube
    • A small roll of duct(aka duck) tape - it immobilises everthing that moves but shouldn't:biggrin:
    You could take a few spokes, sprocket removal tool and a chainwhip to remove the rear sprocket if you break spokes on the drive side of your rear wheel. You'll probably never abuse your rear wheel enough to need this step. I've seen outrageously expansive (and expensive) lists of tools recommended for touring but if touring in the UK and most of Europe, you're never too far away from a bike shop that can deal with the more complex serious problems that happen once in a blue moon. Trying to be equipped to cope with all eventualities is futile. The following could not be fixed with any tool kit that one is likely to carry:
    • I've had a frame break on a Land's End to John O'Groats ride (repaired within 2-3 hours on a Friday night in Chorley!)
    • Spokes pull through a rim on the same tour (ferried to a bike shop in Dumfries by the camp site owner.
    • Spokes pulled through a rim on a Channel to Med tour (I really must lose weight :smile:) and was ferried to a bike shop in Macon by a fellow camper
    My experiences are not typical though! Most people have serious failure-free tours.

    Once again, basic toolkits can be bought from Edinburgh Bike Co-Op (£40) or you could try hanging on for the Aldi/Netto/Lidl bike gear sales one of them does the equivalent kit for many fewer beer tokens (£20). The quality of their tools is questioned by some - my tools from such a kit are still OK but there again there's been only a few occasions where I've had to use them.

    An alternative strategy is to acquire tools as and when you anticipate needing them e.g. pedal spanners along with replacement pedals; sprocket removal tool and chain whip along with a replacement rear cassette and so on. Halford's Bike Hut range of tools are perfectly serviceable as are Park Tools (bit expensive though) and Topeak and Crank Brothers' stuff.
  13. xilios

    xilios Über Member

    Maastricht, NL
    And don't forget to get an air pump, we use the Topeak Mini Morph, it's very small, light and can pump up to 11 bar. Worth every penny.
  14. Andy in Sig

    Andy in Sig Vice President in Exile

    I keep my toolkit very small by carrying the following: a Leatherman, a purpose built bike muti too (made by Specialised I think) a spoke spanner and a set of tyre levers.

    The advice to hire is good because if you then get the bug you can start saving for the Thorn Rohloffs. IMO it's better to go right to the top than constantly upgrade.
  15. Cathryn

    Cathryn California Correspondant

    Totally agree. The Topeak Mini Morph changed my life!!! About £20 and amazing!!
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice