In our previous article “Travel bike : how to choose it ?“, we presented you the essential components to pay attention to when choosing your travel bike (or when you assemble it yourself). But a travel bike alone won't make you travel very long… Many accessories and peripherals are highly useful, even necessary, to accomplish a long cycling trip with a minimum of autonomy. It is therefore important to prepare your travel bike well..
Luggage racks and saddlebags
It's hard to imagine going around the world by bike with your backpack on your shoulders. This is why it is strongly recommended to use saddlebags to transport the equipment directly on the bike, with the lowest possible center of gravity to avoid swaying while pedaling (we will not talk here about trailers or 3rd wheels, it is a choice that we have ruled out but which has its followers). 2 saddlebag families stand out : the saddlebags without bikepacking type luggage racks and the pannier bags, cyclotouring type.
Bikepacking or cycle touring ?
Bikepacking is a more sporty practice of roaming by bike with more minimalist and lighter equipment, but necessarily less bulky. For a one-year trip or +, hard to imagine a setup based solely on saddlebags, handlebar and frame (or you are used to traveling with very little). Nevertheless, here is an example of possible assembly for traveling (very) light.
Among the most famous brands for bikepacking bags, on notera Apidura, Ortlieb or Restrap. But there are also French manufacturers of saddlebags of all types, which we of course recommend for running small local businesses. We think of By Quentin&Marion, who are quickly establishing themselves in the world of French bikepacking via their Facebook page. The Redhead Who Rolls also produces quality eco-responsible bags. There you have different quality choices to achieve your ultra-light and compact setup, for more performance during your outings or your trips for the more adventurous.
For our part, we can only advise you to fit at least one luggage rack in order to’add load to the front of the bike to be more comfortable in terms of volume and equipment. Whenever you want to carry a sleeping bag, a tent and a camera, complicated to consider leaving without luggage racks and saddlebags. Here is an example of a setup a little more suited to itinerant travel, with the use of a luggage rack :
And as a general rule, if we leave loaded or with a lot of equipment like us, it is preferable to choose a more typical cycle touring option, with front and rear luggage racks and panniers. Sure, nothing prevents adding some bikepacking elements such as a handlebar and frame bag for better organization and comfort, like here for example.
To choose the right luggage rack, it's like the frame of the bike : you have to look at the component ! If it's steel, go for it, there is little chance that the model is not strong enough. If it's aluminum, be careful and look at the opinions of cycle tourists who have already used it. Among the best known and best quality steel luggage racks, we can note the Rear & Front Rack from Surly or the different models offered by Tube, reference in the field.
Be careful though when choosing the compatibility between your luggage rack and your saddlebags, not all systems go together. Cyclo-touring summarizes in a summary table the compatibilities between PB and saddlebags, we invite you to take a look this way.
Front / rear panniers
To make the right choice of panniers, you have to think about the different basic needs : do I need waterproofing ? How much volume do I need to store my things ? Do I need light saddlebags ?
Several brands allow us to equip ourselves according to our desires / needs and according to the available budget. Without claiming to be able to name the best brands, we still find pioneers such as Ortlieb, Carradice, Vaude, Lone Peak, Crosso or even Extrawheel. Most of these brands produce waterproof saddlebags, with in particular the Aqua range of Vaude, the Roller Classic from Ortlieb or the Premium range from Extrawheel.
For us, the priority is to have an optimal weight / volume ratio with a good seal.
So we chose to go with saddlebags Extrawheel, a Polish brand that produces its saddlebags in Europe (Extrawheel Wayfarer Premium in back, Extrawheel Rambler Premium in the front). The quality of the products seems flawless as the feedback is positive, and they meet all the necessary conditions :
- Assemblies in Cordura, an extremely resistant and waterproof fabric, they have foolproof waterproofing and durability.
- For a weight of 1750g the pair rear panniers (50L in total) and 1350g the pair before (25L in total), the weight / volume ratio is excellent compared to competitors, we let you watch.
- the affordable price is very competitive in relation to the quality of the products offered (99€ the rear pair, 89€ the pair before).
We would like to thank Extrawheel for their trust and the collaboration for our travel project. By sending us a pair of Wayfarer Premium and Rambler Premium to both of us, we are ready to go in the rain with all our equipment without any fear. We will not hesitate to talk to you about the quality of the equipment during our adventure of course., we will be completely transparent and this is what is important for you to judge for yourself the quality of the products chosen.
The most affordable
If you really want to equip yourself for the cheapest possible, there is another polish brand, Crossover, which produces good quality saddlebags at an even more attractive price (65€ the rear pair, 55€ the pair before). The wide choice of colors and the large volume of the saddlebags make Crosso Dry excellent candidates for long-haul travel..
As we told you above, we add to our front and rear bags a handlebar bag large enough to have all our important items at hand (telephone, menu, camera, Goals…). Exactly like the front / rear panniers, the important criteria are tightness, weight and volume. We have selected a few models that we think are really relevant for a bike trip.
Ortlieb Six Classic, a broken-in model
Ortlieb has been offering a waterproof polyester handlebar bag for several years., la Ultimate Six Classic. With a volume of 5, 7 or 8.5L and a weight of 570g (model 7L), this bag is a must-have for many cyclo-travelers. There is always a suitable model according to needs and it has good characteristics for a selected price. (from 60 To 80 € at Alltricks). However, plan to buy the fixing system in addition, because it is not supplied with the bag (some euros).
Restrap Bar Bag, very good quality
Restrap offers high-end bikepacking material with Cordura woven products (like Extrawheel and its saddlebags). The Restrap handlebar bag is made up of 2 parties : (1) the hanger attachment structure, who maintains (2) the waterproof bag of 14L. No technical characteristics on their site but the material is necessarily light, resistant and durable. Positive opinions are very numerous on the web. On the other hand, the price cools a bit (138€ for the large model) and access to business remains difficult compared to 2 other models.
Vaude Aqua Box, our choice
German brand that we love for its eco-responsibility, its choice to work with recycled products and the quality of the products offered, Vaude also offers equipment for cycling trips with very suitable saddlebags. The handlebar bag Vaude Aqua Box is made of durable PVC free tarpaulin and made in Germany. For a weight of 650g and a volume of 6L, the weight / volume ratio is slightly less efficient than for the Ortlieb model but the larger dimensions of the bag make it a reference choice for us who have to store a compact telephoto lens (24cm in its case). With a 28cm width, we have room for our photographic equipment ! Among 67 and € 90 with the Kickflix attachment system, the price is almost identical to that of the Ultimate Six Classic.
Now that you know how to transport all your gear, we are going to talk about your natural energy source : inertia !
While turning, your front wheel produces energy which is initially lost. But some hubs (the central component of the wheel that connects the spokes to the transmission) can store this energy and release it with a certain yield.
Sure, there is a slight friction when pedaling with this kind of hub but the better quality ones have very low friction and excellent efficiency. Obviously no magic : in the mountains, loaded, we risk not creating a lot of electricity ; it is accepted that you have to drive at about 12 km / h with quality hubs to provide energy.
The parameters to take into account when making your choice : the desired energy efficiency, the weight of the hub, and its lifespan. The last criterion is potentially the most important, because it is necessary to adapt the choice of the hub according to the chosen rim (no need to have a hub with a lifespan of 30 000 km if you have to change the rims every 5 000 km and dismantle the whole wheel). We can note 3 major brands producing quality dynamo hubs.
Without a doubt the best dynamo hubs on the market, but also the most expensive. The German manufacturer offers excellent quality bearings which have a lifespan of 50 000km and are quite light (about 450g). To be preferred when buying quality rims (Rhyde Andra, Rhyno Lite XL). The price remains very high (240€ manufacturer price).
Shutter Precision : our choice
SP is another benchmark in the field, just as interesting on paper as HIS. Its hubs for wheels 26″ (SP PD-8) weigh it same weight and present a identical yield in the field. On the other hand, they are less durable but remain a safe option for a long trip. These are the hubs that we have chosen to trust ! Their quality / price ratio is unbeatable : 135€.
Shimano (Alfino, XT, and other models "top of the line")
Although these hubs do not match the performance of their competitors, the price is more affordable and some models even have the possibility of being repaired yourself, unlike SP and SON which must be returned to the factory. There is also a average yield and an resistance persistent rolling, but if we start on a montage low-cost with a low endurance rim, it can be a very profitable solution !
In the absence of a USB connector, the only purpose of dynamo hubs is to power the bicycle light when needed. But some equipment, by connecting to the dynamo hub, allow to derive in parallel from the lighting a current of adjustable voltage and intensity to recharge various electronic devices (telephone, GPS, external battery, …). We present to you 3 interesting models just below.
Busch & Müller E-Werk
With USB-Werk, the E-Werk is the best-known USB connector model on the market and produced by the German giant Busch & Müller. For about 120€, you can have this USB output hooked to your bike (without counting the assembly costs). With a multitude of connectors, you will inevitably find the outlet that suits you for your devices. The only criticism that can be made of this product, it is its ergonomics and the mixed feedback from E-werk users (and USB-werk), which describe charging problems with certain GPS and waterproofing in certain situations.
the Cycle2Charge v3 is the latest USB connector from Cycle2Charge. And its price is unbeatable ! This connector costs the modest sum of 70€ and remain alone in the world on the podium of inexpensive devices. The clean style and lightness of the Cycle2Charge make it an interesting product, unfortunately, many users complain about load too low despite a speed of 12 km/h…
The lifespan also seems less good than for the E-Werk for example. At this price, We can not have everything !
Sinewave Cycles Revolution : our choice
The American brand Sinewave competes with Busch & Müller with its connector Revolution. Extremely sober, the Sinewave box weighs only 35g, the lightest of all connectors. L’tightness of the device is excellent and the many user feedback is positive. We can only understand why since the charge begins from 5,5 km/h according to the manufacturer, in other words at a very low speed compared to other connectors. For 100€ only, this device seems to be the most suitable in terms of waterproofing and durability, and it is cheaper than the different products offered by B&M. So we turn to the Sinewave Cycles Revolution for our adventure !
Saddle, or the choice of comfort
Several materials for the saddle
Among the most important devices for a long trip, of course we find the saddle. There are several types of stool, from gel saddles to leather and synthetic saddles. Gel saddles are not recommended for travel, because they settle down and are only suitable for short trips. On the other hand, leather saddles fit perfectly : very rigid when buying, the leather softens over the miles and adapts to our morphology and the anatomy of our buttocks. Alone “problem”, leather requires regular maintenance and does not tolerate humidity very well. Enough to slow down those who are afraid of forgetting to cover their saddle at night !
The best saddles for cycling travel
Renowned saddles can be found in the world of cycle tourism, who knew how to please as many people as possible. Even if the choice of the saddle is subjective and depends on morphological criteria, some brands strive to provide quality products, for everyone.
Selle Brooks B17 : top leather saddles
Without a doubt the reference saddle for the bike trip, acclaimed by all for many reasons. This saddle created by Brooks, in leather and quite vintage look, is a good choice for cycle tourism as it will adapt to your body shape over time. For 530g, the Brooks saddle is relatively heavy but its quality finishes give it an incomparable lifespan if it is well maintained.
Selle Middle School TRK : a benchmark for gel saddles
Specially designed to equip travel bikes, the SMP TRK gel saddle is sold in different sizes to find the width adapted to our anatomy. 160mm wide, the saddle weighs 480g, weight close to that of the Brooks B17. Very padded, it will satisfy those who do not want to prowl their Brooks saddle and who are looking for immediate comfort. Be careful for large sizes, however : some user feedback from people + of 80kg are negative, with the major criticism that the padding is no longer sufficient beyond a certain weight.
Selle Brooks C17 Carved All Weather : our choice
The Brooks C17 Carved All Weather is a leather-less alternative to the B17. Announced as comfortable and as efficient, we even want to say that it is even more ergonomic than the B17… Composed of rubber and nylon, these stools are totally waterproof and do not require no maintenance compared to leather saddles. No need for prowling no longer with synthetic coating, and the weight is a little more contained than for the B17 with 460g only. On paper, lots of advantages and few disadvantages !
The saddle adjustments
Depending on the position you want to have on your bike, the inclination of the saddle is a parameter to be managed for change your posture. The more you will be leaning forward, the more you will have a sporty and aggressive posture, uncomfortable. It is generally accepted that :
- Urban use of the bike does not require tilting the saddle (90 ° seated cyclist, straight bust) but the choice of a relatively wide saddle for the comfort of the pelvis.
- For sportsmen on the road it is better to have a very thin saddle, with a significant inclination of the saddle forward (cyclist seated at 45 °, engaged position).
- As part of cycle tourism, a low tilt of the saddle is preferable (cyclist sitting between 60 and 90 °), although it depends on the commitment of the cyclist on his touring bike. Clear, you need a happy medium between the previous settings for your touring bike.
Another essential parameter is the height of the saddle. Too low, your legs will be bent during your efforts ; too high, your forward tilt will be too great and you will hardly touch the pedals.
To properly adjust the saddle height, it is necessary to calculate your crotch : place a book between your thighs (imagine you are sitting on the top of the book), then measure the distance from the ground to the top of the book. This inseam value allows you to approximate the height of the saddle : crotch x 1,09 = the saddle height to choose for your body type.
Another essential device for your comfort on your cockpit, this is the handlebars (composed of the stem assembly + hanger). We talked to you in the article “Travel bike : how to choose it ?” the role of the handlebar stem to influence your position and your inclination. here, we will especially describe the types of hangers that exist and which are more or less suitable for cycling travel.
The straight flat hanger
The most common of all hangers, found on different models of mountain bikes and hybrid bikes. It is very manoeuvrable and allows precise control of the bike but the comfort is not ideal since you cannot change position on the handlebars to rest certain muscles. Not ideal when traveling, unless we add some accessories of course.
The curved flat hanger
Much more suitable for touring or city bikes, this curved back hanger allows you to adopt a less inclined position and more comfortable to relax. Having your hands clasped in the basic position also offers comfort over time by placing less strain on the arms, pecs and shoulders. A better choice for travel but there is better !
The multi-position hanger : our choice
The butterfly hanger is a straight hanger with rear extensions in the shape of a cow's horn or butterfly. It's a multi-position hanger which will allow you to have several conduits at your disposal. Undoubtedly the preferred hanger for cycle tourists for the resting positions found with these models which are even adjustable for some.
The horned one is a straight hanger with front extensions in the shape of a cow horn. It’s also a multi-position hanger allowing to adopt different behaviors.
Undoubtedly the favorite hangers for cycle tourists for the different positions they offer, however, they will not be suitable for all. This is still a personal choice, and the best thing is to be able to try different type of bike to find out what suits us best !
The road hanger
These hangers are designed for performance research, with some even more forward leaning positions for more aerodynamics. Some gravel type travel bikes equipped with bikepacking saddlebags have gravel / road handlebars for more performance but we personally prefer to go on a more comfortable butterfly handlebar..
Now that you have a rugged and durable travel bike, enough to transport your belongings, light you up and charge your devices, all while being comfortably installed on your saddle and your travel handlebar, all you have to do is learn how to ride the bike from A to Z ! We present this to you in our next article in the section “Assembly of our frames”. Waiting for, are you doing well !