Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I bought all my own equipment, so when I recommend something, its not because I'm getting a sponsorship cheque at the end of the month, its because I genuinely believe in it. Rather than using cheap inferior equipment and carrying a load of spares, I only used what I believed to be the best available and I only carried 2 spare tubes, a puncture repair kit and a set of allen keys (and from China on, I carried one spare tyre).
First you need a good bicycle. I chose a Koga Signature. Its not available it Ireland so I took a one-way flight to Amsterdam and enjoyed the test ride home. All bike components were Shimano XT Deore. The saddle was a Brooks B17 and I have the same tyres since Rome; Swalable marathon plus. I encountered no problems with the bike. That bike has been left out in everything from freezing snow to the searing sun. Its been dropped, thrown over fences, dragged through ditches, choked with sand and dirt, smacked into potholes and those pedals have rotated a million times or more. I didn't even break a spoke. I believe its the best touring bike available. An average bicycle would have fallen apart within a month of what I put them through. I don't want to get to technical now, but if anyone wants more info on the chain choice, oil used, wheel rims etc, email me at
You need a good tent. It becomes home. I chose a Lightwave t0 ultra xt. I've slept in it about 400 times and only recently are the zips starting to fail. It only came down on me once - that was in a flash flood in Iran. It cost 300 euro and weights just over 1.5 kilos. It was worth every cent.
Sanity is relatively valuable - don't forget your ipod.
Now for equipment to avoid. Number one is Magura brakes. The first 5000KMs, they were just incredible, but after that they slowly deteriorated. Not stopping the bike when I needed them to and then sticking to the rims when I'm pedalling uphill. They were seriously expensive. The overpriced service kit was a joke. No instructions and not even brake pads. Magura brakes were probably the biggest regret of the trip.
And as for that XTX tyre from Bontrager. It takes a collective effort from research through to manufacture to create a tyre as hopeless as this. It failed to perform almost daily, giving countless punctures. Although I could never locate it, I'm certain there was some built in device that was able to locate and attract thorns. After a measly 2000KMs, I dumped this piece of balding rubber. I replaced the bontrager with the old swalable marathon plus tyre. Even though she had covered 13,000KMs, the retired swalable limped on the last 1,000KMs to Cancun. Its also worth noting that the bontrager cost more than the swalable. (It must have been that thorn tracker device.)

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