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Why your bombproof touring bike costs exactly 594 euro

Why your bombproof touring bike costs exactly 594 euro

A new touring bike for your trip around the world has quite a price tag. You want something bombproof and the big (and small) bike brands make you believe only the best is good enough. What’s more, they probably try to trick you into choosing for the latest technologies. But these technologies become a problem when you are in a country that runs a bit late… bike-wise. In this post I will show your perfect touring bike will cost you a fraction of a new bike, while not compromising quality, by converting an old school 26 inch steel mountainbike to a round-the-world touring bike.

1: The Frame (100 euro)
Frames can break, new frames as well as old frames. This often is a result of a collision or a fault in the fabrication process. If you look for a frame as a basis for your touring bike, have a look at old mountain bikes with the following qualities:
– Is made out of steel: this is easier to repair (weld) when something breaks while on tour. Look for the higher-end frames and chose chromoly frames over hi-ten steel ones. The higher the quality of the steel, the more attention is paid to the production process and the less likely faulty welds will ruin your day.
– Takes 26 inch wheels: these wheels are stronger than 28 inch wheels and more prevalent in faraway places, so easier to replace.
– Has eyelets on the front fork: this makes mounting a front carrier a whole lot easier.
– Has no front suspension: front suspension is another moving part on your bikes can break, and it has a negative influence on efficiency.
– Is in good condition: a visual examination tells a lot about how the bike has been treated. You don’t need to be an expert to discover rust and dents on the frame.
Candidates
– Giant Terrago: There is quite an abundancy of these bikes being offered second hand in Germany and the Netherlands. The 1995 – 1996 models appear to made of chromoly steel. Almost every model has eyelets on the front fork. Many are being offered for well under 100 euro. Look for the models with the grip shift gear levers; although they don’t get much love on the internet fora, they are pretty reliable and simple of design.
– There are plenty of late 80’s mountain bikes with mid-fork eyelets, but somewhere around the beginning of the 90’s, manufacturers got rid of them. You may opt for an older mountain bike but this would possibly mean you have to upgrade the gear and brake levers, and derailleurs. That is why I would suggest looking for mid-90’s bikes with at least a 7 speed cassette, grip shifts, and cantilever brakes, because you still can get cheap replacement parts for these systems. There are ways of working around the mid-fork eyelets, I will discuss this in the ‘racks’ section.

2: Rear wheel (150 euro)
The back wheel takes the majority of the weight of rider and his gear. Because, on a derailleur bike, the cassette causes for an asymmetrical wheel, the rear wheel is not as strong as the front wheel. To prevent broken hubs, spokes and rims on this weak link in your noble stallion, you want a strong rear wheel built by an experienced wheel builder. Get some advice from your local bike shop on whether or not to replace the front wheel too.
Tip: Go for a Ryde Sputnik rim, Alpine iii spokes and a Shimano Deore LX hub. Use your old rear wheel to practice the art of wheel building on. That might be a valuable skill on the road.

3: Crank and bottom bracket (20 + 16 euro)
To bombproof your bike, I believe using a square taper bottom bracket is the way to go. They are cheap and last forever. Tip: combining the Shimano BB-UN55 bottom bracket with the Shimano Altus FC-M311 Crank Set will give you a combination that will get you around the world without problems.

4: Cassette and chain (15 + 20 euro)
Of course you want to start off with a fresh chain and cassette. Before you chose the number of teeth on the biggest cog of your cassette, you might want to check if your rear derailleur can handle this. Find the number of your derailleur and google till you are sure. Also take in mind the front chain rings.

5: Cables and brake pads(26 euro)
Cables are prone to rust and should be replaced before your big trip. Doing this yourself is pretty straightforward; if everything works you were successful, if not, keep op on trying.

6: Pedals (30 euro)
Many old mountain bikes come with cheap plastic pedals. Tip: the MKS Sylvan touring pedals are strong and can easily be taken apart on the road if something goes wrong.

7: tyres and tubes (50 euro)
I have seen people doing just fine with all kinds of tyres. I used the Schwalbe Marathon Mondial tyres, which turned out to be a bit overkill in the end. The single puncture I had in 6 months is a testimony to this. Choose your tyres according to the amount of off-road you plan to do. Tip: a Schwalbe Marathon tyre will set you back about 20 euro.

8: racks (110 euro)
Don’t skimp money on the racks. According to a good friend of me, ‘it is nice if she has a great rack’. I never took him for a bike enthusiast. Anyways, give this part of your bike some attention, I have seen plenty of racks brake. Things to take into account:
– As you use a mountain bike, you might run into problems of your heels hitting the rear panniers. A solution would be carrying your stuff in small ‘front’ panniers on the rear and use a luggage roll on top. Tip: the Tubus Cargo rack (70 euro) has a wide platform.
– On the front, things are a bit more complicated. If your bike of choice of has mid-fork eyelets on the front fork, all options are open. If not, you have four options. 1) Have metal worker add eyelets; you risk ruining a perfect fork, might be expensive. 2) Install a new fork. You can pick up a new 26” fork with eyelets for as little as 20 euro, but I don’t know about the quality and you’ll need a new crown race installed too. 3) Use racks that don’t use mid-fork eyelets. Old Man Mountain makes nice front carrier but these can be a little expensive. 4) Use Tubus clamps (10 euro). Not the best looking option but I have never heard of any of these clamps fail (you can bring a back-up clamp for your own peace of mind). Tip: an affordable way that worked great for me was the Racktime TopIt made by Tubus (30 euro). I did not use front panniers with it, but it took my tent in a roll bag on top without any problems on even the worse roads.

9: the saddle
Calm your ass down! Take your new oldie for a spin and discover whether the current saddle is working for you. If not, do like everyone else and go with the Brooks B17.

10: tools (57 euro)
Crank extractor tool: 10
Bottom bracket tool: 15
Chain whip: 10
Cassette removal tool: 13
Mounting paste: 10

Here you have it, your bike that can take you anywhere. And because you build it yourself, you have learned new skills that are vital for your keeping your bike going.

Trek Multitrack drop bar conversion

Trek Multitrack drop bar conversion

I love drop bars. In a windy country like the Netherlands a drop bar will allow for a much more aerodynamic position. What I also love are big tyres, to devour forest paths and cobble stone roads. Third, I love steel frames. Mostly for the looks, I can hardly say I notice the extra comfort but experts say steel frames provide. So a bike with a steel frame, drop bars and big tyres, that was what I was after. I began with a Trek Multitrack 730 (1997?) I found online. It looked like this:

trek multitrack before restoration.

When I was done it looked like this:

Trek Multitrack Drop Bar

 

New or second hand components I mounted were:

1 inch quill stem Kalloy AL 231, 25,4 clamp

New cables

Old Brooks saddle

New pedals

Maxxis Overdrive Excel (40-622) tyres

Shimano fc m 730 cranks with one 36 t ring and a bashguard

Kalloy 27,2 seatpost

Tektro RL520 brake levers

Because I installed only one chainring, I only needed one gear shifter, which I mounted on an old bar end on the quill stem. Like this:

gear shifter on quill stem

 

Gazelle Champion Mondial G Frame: a new project

Gazelle Champion Mondial G Frame: a new project

A fast tourer bike, a real bike, made of steel instead of aluminium. That was wat I was looking for. Gazelle’s top model was the Champion Mondial, made of Reynolds 531 tubing. Most of these bikes are classic road bikes but the, rather rare, G-type frame is a touring frame. Happily I could get my hands on one of those. It’s date of construction is 1976.

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Gazelle Champion Mondial

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Next weeks, or months, I will be building this lovely frame into a bike. I already increased the drop-out spacing from 120mm to 126mm using Sheldon Brown’s method. Some new-old-stock Shimano Exage 500 hubs (126mm) are underway and I will be building wheels around them (first time so fingers crossed). The plan is to use as much modern shimano parts as possible in order to make reparations and replacing parts easy. For now I will begin hunting down some 7 indexed speed bar end shifters.

 

16-8-2016: Update

The old frame had some rust stains. I wanted to make sure these stains did not obscure serious damage so I used sandpaper a lot. When the spray painter is done enjoying his vacation I will ask him to powder coat the frame in RAL 1013, creamy white. The wheels I will build up my self. I bought a second hand wheel stand last week and am waiting for the SunRinglé EQ21L rims to arrive. These are light, affordable, and wider than most other rims. When I am done measuring the rims I can buy spokes start building. I also got my hands on some bar end shifters: friction left and 7 speed indexed right. Super happy to have them for these barcons are rather rare!

 

The Beast

The Beast

I like to go just about anywhere a bike could go. Tarmac, gravel roads, jeep tracks. And to get there, I figured I needed a fast bike to go the distance, and big tyres to cope with bad roads. Hence my creation; the beast

 

Frame: Cube Aim Pro 29er

Fork: Exotic aluminium rigid

Wheels: shimano lx hub, DT Swiss Alpine iii spokes, rigida sputnik rims

Drivetrain: shimano slx 2×9

Cranks: Shimano FC MT60 with 36 and 24 tooth chainrings

Brakes: Shimano LX V-brakes

Headset: Cane Creek 40

Stem: Xtreme Pro High Rise 40 (80mm)

Bar: Deda RHM01

Brake Lever: Tektro RL520

Gear Lever: Shimano Dura Ace 7700 9 speed (rear derailleur indexed, fron derailleur friction)

Bottom Bracket: square tapered 68mm case, 127,5 axle length

Seat: Specialized Henge

 

With the Cube frame I found a frame that is both light, cheap and versatile. It can take a rear rack, V-brakes as well as disc brakes. For all other parts, I have chosen tough over light, and simple over complicated. For me it is the perfect adventure bike.

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