Here, I’m going to try to list the gear we are carrying and using, or not using, for that matter. I’ll start with my gear first. Oh, and here’s a quick bicycle touring and camping gear checklist based on the gear we carry: Bicycle Camping Checklist
See the article about how to pack panniers here.
Bike: used 2005 Trek 520. I bought it off a young man on Craigslist and drove to Ann Arbor to get it. I had Mike at The Broadway Cyclery replace the chain, cassette, and bar tape. I also got a Brooks saddle, but there was not enough time to break it in before leaving on the tour.
The bike is still wearing its original multi-compound Bontrager tires. I’d love to review these soon!
The bike is steel frame, bar end shift, stock gearing and wheel set.
Saddle: I bought a new Velo saddle for the tour. Got it on Ebay for less than $20 shipped. I’m guessing it’s a discontinued item. Not sure what the model is, but they still have more HERE. It worked. I sat on it, it held my butt.
(Since we’ve returned home, I have installed my Brooks Classic Professional. They make so many models it gets so confusing. It’s Honey colored. I think it’s THIS. I paid around $120 for it. Here are my initial observations. I will eventually give it a thorough review when it is appropriately broken in.)
Brooks Saddle: The first thing I noticed was that it was extremely hard. Stiff. Very much reminded me of on of my favorite saddles ever, a super cheap hard plastic injection molded job with zero padding- just plain hard plastic. I loved that saddle (hopefully it’s still in the attic somewhere!).
Anyway, the very next thing I noticed (and very quickly) was that the Brooks is SLIPPERY! Zing! I was all over that thing in my riding shorts.
(edit: I now have several hundred miles 3-400 on my Brooks and it’s a changed saddle. No longer slippery. Sometimes it’s actually a bit sticky. I’m growing to like it, but it’s still not even close to being “broken in.” Also, I have yet to put anything on it, such as Proofide)
My next observation is that it actually feels more comfortable just wearing a pair of regular gym shorts, rather than my padded bicycle shorts. Can this actually be?! Has anyone else experienced this, or am I crazy?
I started with it in the same position as the Velo, but had to move it a little farther back, and I had a little too much weight on my hands. I had the Velo pretty dialed in, just before I took it off. After I moved it back, it was better, but I still had too much weight on my hands. Today I tipped the nose up just one tooth on my Ritchie seat post and things improved dramatically.
That’s where I am at so far with the Brooks. My next step is to get some Proofide and see if that moves things along…
Racks: front rack is a new Jandd low rider (reviewed). The rear is the stock rack that came with the Trek, a Trek Interchange. It has slightly oversized tubing compared to most racks, like say, the Jandds.
Bags: front bags are two zipped pockets. Vintage. Bought on EBay. Can’t remember who makes them… I’ll check later. The rear bags I bought for last year’s tour. They are Axiom’s Seymour Transit Series (reviewed). All bags are cordura.
Oh, I’m also sporting a trunk. It’s made by Ascent and is a good size. I use it as the catch-all: my hat, power bars, baby powder, tools and inner tubes, etc.
Lights: Headlight bought off EBay from a Chinese company names Anqi(?). The magic LED components are made by a company named Cree. The taillight is a Planet Bike Superflash Stealth. These need to be reviewed also.
Fenders: Planet Bike. I believe mine are the Hybrids… A little oversized for my current tires, but that leaves me with excellent coverage and room for larger tires when I need them. These turned out to be very durable. On our tour, when we needed the ride to Baer Wheels in Columbus my front fender had gotten bent completely in half! It was when we took off the wheels to load the bikes into the car. I merely picked up the front forks and it sprang back into shape, no worse for the wear. Not a crease nor a crack. I couldn’t believe it. Had to fiddle with it a bit to get it to fit the wheel correctly again, but that was no big deal at all. My Planet Bike Fender Review
Pedals: the bike came with platforms and cages. I very briefly considered using them, but I soon couldn’t take it, and installed the Shimano SPD 250’s off my old Raleigh. The 250’s seem to be the same pedal as the 520. I love these pedals!
Computer: no name Chinese. eBay. Speed, miles, daily miles, time, elapsed time, maybe something else. It was cheap, and so am I
Camera: I keep a Nikon Coolpix 14Mp strapped to my stem in a small Velcro pouch. I have near instant access to it, even while riding.
Helmet: made by Bell. Don’t remember the model, but it’s way light and has way more air flow than the one I was using from 1984 8-0
Shoes old Shimano road shoes from about five years ago. Just has three Velcro closure straps. I like that.
Gloves: currently Bontrager. Old fashion crochet style with lots of padding. My personal favorite style. Just got them in Mt. Vernon. We’ll see how they hold up. Link
Pump: I carry a frame mounted road pump. I believe it’s this: Pump
We’ve had it for years and it’s been very reliable. I review it HERE.
Bike: NOS 2010 Jamis Aurora. All steel, STI shifting
Racks: front rack is a new Jandd low rider. The rear is an old Blackburn, iirc
Bags: front and rear are vintage, cordura. Fronts are multi pocket Cycle Pro California Series from EBay. Rears are huge, multi pocket Eastpack (remember them?) $5 for the pair at a yard sale some years ago!
Lights: Headlight bought off EBay from a Chinese company names Anqi(?). The magic LED components are made by a company named Cree. The taillight is a Planet Bike Superflash Stealth.
Fenders: Planet Bike. Carol got the 700c appropriate size. Discarded the original plat aluminum stock Jamis’.
Pedals: stock platform with cages
Computer: no name Chinese. eBay. Speed, miles, daily miles, time, elapsed time, etc.
Mutual: this is stuff in the bags that we share, like camping gear. If I can, I’ll post pictures. I have a feeling we may be traveling a little on the heavy side, but we enjoy our comforts and we are packed to camp, stay in motels and with friends and even present well in public.
Our front bags: my fronts hold our sleeping bags and wind jackets, while Carol’s have the Therma Rests and rain ponchos.
My rear bags: in my left rear I have my clothes, walking shoes,U-Lock, toilet kit and Jim Beam traveler in the rear pocket. Right rear the tent, tarp, first aid bag (voodoo bag) a transistor radio (for emergencies) and a book.
iPad: we bought a new iPad 2 for this trip. We are using it for the internets, our email and to blog from. It’s a really cool and versatile piece. Not quite a computer and not a phone, it land somewhere in between. So far it seems to be the perfect tool.
Carol’s Rear Bags: Her clothes, maps, toilet kit, small stove in a pot, small bowl, utensils, cups, and fuel botlle.
Clothes: We each brought what we thought we really needed. We each have two pair of cycle shorts, one pair of long tights, about three jerseys each, and a lot of bike socks. In addition, we have street clothes; shorts, long pants, swimming suits, a dress shirt or dress, and some tee shirts. We each have a pair of regular old flip flops (at least for showering, if nothing else), and a pair of walking shoes. Carol has her favorite sandals, and I bought a cheap and light pair of slip ons, like deck shoes.