Which of my bikes to use???


New Member
I'm going to do the trip in September and just can't decide which of the three bikes at my disposal I should use. As far as I can see they've all got their significant pros and cons. Any advice to make my decision for me so I can get on with servicing and training would be brilliant. I've got 19 days from LE to JoG, on my own for half the way carrying a light 1-man tent and minimal gear, then I've got my dad and a camper van after that, so just carrying day supplies. The options are:

1. Dawes Super Galaxy with 531 frame from late 1980s or early 1990s - in pretty good condition and a classic, sturdy tourer, very well serviced as far as I can tell, but with a few imperfections you'd expect from a bike this age. The pedal bearings need a good service - not too noticable but must be adding small amount of drag - and the rear wheel probably needs replacing, as its also gravelly and the rim is worn. 5 speed on the back and 2 on the front (I forget which, but pretty indestructable). Gear changers on the downtube. Very slight dink on toptube. Tourer wheels and 1.25' wide tyres that go down tracks and towpaths etc with no trouble. I cycled this from London to Derbyshire last week and it felt solid, even going through a full-on rainstorm. But it did start squeaking a bit in the last 20 miles. It's as quick on my commute as any other bike with more gears that I've used. Braze-ons on rear drop-out mean I can put on a rack with P-clips on the seat stays.

2. Orbea Alpine Sport racing bike. 16-speed, gear-shifted integral in brake levers, oversized frame, carbon fork and seatpost. This is a very light, very smooth ride. Standard narrow road tyres. Caliper brakes. All works very well except the rear wheel rim is badly worn so will need a rebuild which will cost me at least £85. The other problem is there are obviously no braze-ons to attach a rack. I already have a frame-mounting rack that is light and straightforward so I really don't want to fork out for a seatpost-mounted one that will only carry half the weight (if that) and would require a alum seatpost. This would be fine if I had road support all the way and I would be happy to get the wheel rebuilt. But despite all its speedyness and simplicity, it doesn't work for the frist half of my trip.

3. BH Spyro haardtail mountain bike. Spanish-import aluminium double-butted frame. 24-speed Shimano Deore gears. Standard V-Brakes and XCM suspension forks (that can lock out) obviously make this the clunkier option, but its light for a MTB. With skinny road tyres this goes fast and I've done lots of road and track routes around the Peak District on it. There is always the option of some rougher off-road shortcuts as well. It obviously has smaller 23' wheels. Fflat handlebars but if I did take this one, I may well put some drop bars or the butterfly shape ones to give me more positioning options for the long haul. The position will inevitably be more upright however, and given my slightly unpredictable back, this may be good. This is the bike I'm most familiar with and it's very solid everywhere apart from slightly cheapish brakes that need adjusting more than I'd like. Like the Dawes, braze-ons on the drop outs but none at the top.

Sorry if this is a long one. Wanted to give as many details as I thought relavent as I know how important this choice will feel round about the second day when I'm going up and down those west country valleys. Basically I guess I'm asking what's the most important thing: weight of bike, number of gears, seating position(s), carriage or wheel shape and size? Any advice or info would be very appreciated. At the moment I'm trying to use them all as much as possible to make my mind up and it's just keeping me awake at night!


ps. www.justgiving.co.uk/samonbike


Senior Member
There are many on here who are much better qualified than me to comment on the technical pros and cons of each option.

However, I'm currently preparing for JOGLE in early September and clocking up a fair few miles training on my Revolution Country Explorer.

What I have learnt so far:

Gearings - very important. The more the better when it comes to dragging yourself and loaded panniers up the bigger hills. So I would discount the racing bike option and the Galaxy would need upgrading. Even with 27 I still feel I could do with more sometimes!
Weight of bike - for me not so crucial. The odd few lbs or so difference in weight is marginal compared to your body weight + gear. If you train and are reasonably fit either of the Galaxy or MTB would be fine
Comfort/riding position - probably stating the obvious but by far the most important aspect in my opinion is how comfortable the bike is doing mile after mile over 19 days. Is your saddle comfortable, riding position good, and do you experience any back aches, knee problems, foot aches or hand numbness. Only way to find this out is to put in a significant amount of miles on each bike, and not just on a single trip, but over 2-3 trips back to back. I seem to be spending a lot of time at the moment fine tuning my riding position and trying to eliminate minor discomforts.
Tyres/rolling resistance - pretty important. I've fitted Marathon Supremes that seem to be a good balance of comfort, rolling and puncture resistance

Looking at the details of your post the MTB with some adjustments seems a good option and the Galaxy would be possible with better gearing. But again which is most comfortable on a long trip?


Über Member
The road bike is clearly out for the first half. You could ask your dad to take it in the camper van and switch to it for the second half. Of the two remaining options much depends on the condition of the Galaxy. If it has five speeds on the rear it is a late seventies bike early eighties bike, actually. If it is fine, this is the bike I would probably prefer. But it may take more work and money than you find acceptable. Does it have 27 inch wheels? As for your mtb, in principle it does not need more than fast tyres such as Panaracer Pasela 26x1.75 (or Schwalbe Big Appels for more comfort an durability) and an Old Man Mountain Red Rock rack. I like 26 inch bikes with drop bars, but the conversion is not that cheap: new bars and stem, Tektro v brake levers for drop bars, and most expensive: bar end shifters.
You must have made your decision by now, so tell us.
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