CHOOSING A BIKE - EXPEDITION BIKES
IntroductionTop-end expedition bikes are designed, and in most cases made-to-order, by a small number of companies that really understand the needs of adventure cyclists. These are robust, well-made bikes that will happily carry you and all your gear around the world on the roughest of tracks and still be ready for more.
|Somewhere under all that gear is a fine expedition bike.|
- a tourer designed around 26" wheels;
- a great frame, in some cases made-to-measure;
- high standard of components;
- great build quality;
- a ready-to-go bike, no upgrades needed;
- personal service;
- great after sales support.
In choosing one of these bikes, the main decisions you will be faced with are:
- Whether to have a Derailleur or Rohloff Speedhub gearing (for more information on Derailleurs vs Rohloffs see Guide to Features)
- Whether you want front suspension.
- How much hi-tech componentry you want e.g. hydraulic or cable brakes, rim or disc brakes.
|Thorn eXp Rohloff|
Thorn CyclesBased in Bridgewater, Somerset, Thorn Cycles makes a range of touring bikes and tandems. Top of their range is the steel-framed, Rohloff equiped eXp, a full-on expedition bike which comes with a £2,899+ price tag (around £1,800 if you go for the derailleur version).
The derailleur equipped Nomad, a less full-on, but equally capable tourer, is a more manageable £1,200. A large proportion of British long distance tourers, have used Nomads and have been delighted with the bikes.
Thorn also has an outstanding reputation for supporting their customers, at home and while they are on tour.
|Koga Miyata World Traveller|
Koga-MiyataKoga Miyata are a Dutch firm making a range of highly regarded touring bikes. Their 26" wheel expedition bike is the aluminium framed "World Traveller". In the wilds of Central Asia or on Patagonian tracks, you see more Kogas than any other single brand of bike. The World Traveller comes very well equiped with high spec components and all the bells and whistles, e.g. prop stand, pump, water bottles etc. The bike sells at around £1,400.
Roberts CyclesChas Roberts is a frame builder of almost legendary renown, one of the best of in the UK. Each frame is bespoke, so you will have to visit their show room to get measured up before they start. Their 26" expedition bike is the "Roughstuff" which sells for around £1,700. Cycling author Josie Dew rides a Roughstuff.
|Fahrrad Manufaktur T400|
VSF Fahrrad ManufakturThe Fahrrad Manufactur T400 is a robust, well-specified trekking/expedition bike. Like most german expedition bikes, it comes equiped with hydraulic brakes. For a big trip you would probably need to fit a front rack and bar-ends, but otherwise at around £700 it is good value for money. A Rohloff equiped version is available for £1,350. In the UK, T400s are available from www.bikefix.co.uk
and www.chrisbikes.co.uk www.fahrradmanufaktur.de
Germans CyclesAnother German expedition bike I like the look of is the Germans Cycles Acid Extreme (ACID stands for Advanced Integrated Cycle Design). As yet I haven't been able to find out that much about it other than it's a well equiped bike based on on a good steel frame and a couple of German lads used a pair of them for a trip round Pakistan and Tibet - see www.chouca.net
Tout TerrainGermany's Tout Terrain produce some innovative designs with integral rear racks. As well as the racks, the bikes have some intesting features such as asymmetric forks, to take account of the disc brakes, and a handlebar stop to prevent over-rotation. The Silk road is available from £1,300 for the derailleur version and £1,900 if fitted with a Rohloff. The Panamerica is a novel frame design that may well represent the future of expedition bikes. I would be a little concerned at taking all that suspension on a long tour, but I'm sure it makes washboard tracks a lot easier to cope with. The Panamericana (frame only) sells for around £2,000.
www.tout-terrain.de. UK outlet www.bikefix.co.uk
|Toute Terrain Silkroad||Panamericana|
|Bruce Gordon Rock N' Road Tour-Ex|
Bruce Gordon CyclesAs well as proving this site isn't completely euro-centric, Bruce Gordon deserves a mention for the unanimously postive feedback his bikes get on US cycling forums. Based in Petaluma, California, Bruce uses a thorough understanding of the needs of touring cyclists to produce some well-designed and well-equiped bikes. The frames are handbuilt by Bruce, as are his own design racks, which also have a good reputation for reliability. The 26" Deore XT equipped Rock N' Road Tour-Ex sells for $3,000 including racks, excluding delivery. The bike is shipped disassembled, so unless you have the appropriate skills and tools, you'll have to get your local bike shop to assemble it for you.
|Copyright © Tim Barnes 2007|