Now for those vital statistics……

Ask a group of experienced long-distance cyclists what would be their ideal expedition bike and, I guarantee, there would be little agreement about the detail. 2014-01-12 12.17.00We might all agree that it should be a (roughly) diamond shaped frame, with two wheels, a wide range of gears and the capacity to carry luggage. But beyond that, everything (I mean absolutely everything) is open to discussion. And that is one of the things I love about cycling and associating with fellow cyclists……there’s never a dull moment! Never a chance to be smug or complacent……2014-01-12 12.20.45

Some will study the following vital stats of my new Dave Yates, and throw their hands up in horror, and shower me with suitably corrective advice. Some will agree, and quietly say “good choice”. Others, who haven’t given much thought to the equipment on their bike, might find some useful tips for a future machine. So let’s risk it and reveal all:2014-01-12 12.21.07

Frame: Reynolds 525 chromoly steel (sturdy and comfortable on long distances and easy to repair)

Wheels: 26″ Mavic rims with Chris King hubs, and 35mm Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres (26″ are easier to replace than 700c)

Brakes: Shimano Deore XT V brakes (disc brakes are arguably better, but harder to repair and replace in remote areas)

Transmission: Shimano Deore XT throughout, with rapid fire shifters (durable touring stuff)

Gearing: Rear: 11-34, Front: 48/36/26 giving a gear range of 19″- 106″ (high enough for rapid descents, low enough to climb Everest!)

Headset: Chris King Sealed Bearing “no Thread”

Bottom bracket: Chris King MTN

Handlebars: Ritchey Pro (straight bars with bar ends….my preference for long days in the saddle)

Stem: Thomson Elite x4

Seat post: Thomson Elite

Saddle: Brooks Pro (when it’s broken in, it should be the best)

Pedals: Shimano XT (with a platform for some comfort, and recessed cleats for walking off the bike).

In a nutshell, my choice of bike design was guided entirely by a need for comfort and stability, and my choice of materials and equipment was guided entirely by performance and replaceability.

I rest my case……2014-01-12 12.18.542014-01-12 12.19.28

About Frank Burns

My journeys around the world are less about riding a bicycle, and more about what happens when I get off the bicycle. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on January 13, 2014, in Cycling UK and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. I’ve been using a Kona cyclocross as a touring bike, Frank. Maybe not as sturdy as it could be, but it does the job. And yes, I too have fitted a Brooks saddle, though so far it my backside that’s been most of the adjusting. The saddle doesn’t yet feel any softer.
    http://richardtullochwriter.com/2011/06/13/best-touring-bike/

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  2. …..that’s right Richard, Brooks are not meant to get any softer……. we just mould our backsides over time to fit. When we talk about ‘breaking in’ a leather saddle, what we really mean is breaking in our own back ends to accommodate this seemingly unforgiving object.
    I like the idea of cyclocross. A nice compromise between a road bike and ATB.

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  3. Edward Valletta

    Just finished reading – its all about the bike – you have made some similar choices to Robert Penn. Great stuff

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  4. Edward, that’s a book I have yet to read……in fact, I ordered it from the library yesterday.

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  5. Nice, clean looking bike. Simple and funcional with good quality parts.

    I have a Brooks on our Tandem. Try not to let it get wet too often, as if ridden damp, the leather stretches more and you’ll go through the adjustment – to keep it tight – faster. Yours’ looks a little high at the front. I’d end up with ‘numbnutz’ very quickly!

    My current long distance commuter (I don’t, or haven’t toured solo yet) is a Surly Cross-check. Built-up for many of the same reasons; steel, comfort, clearance, eyelets etc. but I have 105 running gear. Drops in the summer and MTB bars in the winter. It means I also have to change the front mech but I prefer the extra bar width for control. I also run 25mm tires in the summer and 32s in the winter.

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  6. Good to hear from you Bob. The saddle position is experimental at the moment. On the shiny leather, I found myself sliding forwards,hence the slight tilt upwards.
    I met someone on a Surly Long Haul Trucker in Australia. Great looking bike, but he had it set up to look like a tank (or a ‘truck’…as the name suggests) with 50mm tyres! I err on the light and nimble side, since my luggage (some would say) is minimalist.

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  7. Great work Frank.
    I’m intrigued to see how you get on with the Brooks saddle. A lot of our customers swear by them, once you get beyond the initial ‘break-in’ period.

    We’re well overdue a coffee and a catch-up, Frank. I’ll try and get over to Grafham in the not too distant future.

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  8. Good to hear from you Adam. I look forward to that. But not Feb 11th-26th…….I will be away somewhere in the world testing the new steed!

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  9. Hi Frank,

    Okay, I’ll avoid the 11th-26th Feb. I’d like to say I’m not envious; but I’d be lying. Have you any thoughts on where you’ll be going? It’d be great to get a guest blog of your trip if time allows?

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  10. Tickets are booked…..watch this space. Needless to say, it’ll be warmer than it is here!

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  11. That’s just the gearing I need to get up Hardknott Pass in June. I wouldn’t need to do all the hard hill training that I’ve got planned over the next few months. How much to hire the bike!

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  12. I know Hardknott Pass….. it’s not called “hard” for nothing! I think you should do it on a 92″ fixed…….

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  13. I would say good choice… solid all round. I have changed my approach a wee bit of late opting for the Rohloff and more of a do-it-all frame. I have been swayed to cable-actuated discs, too. I realise I have to carry a few more spares, but the performance improvement is worth it.

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  14. The choice between disc and V brakes occupied my thinking for quite a while……. but I’m finding the Deore XT fiercely good. No lack of stopping power there.
    I also considered the Rohloff and the Alpine in some detail, but I have to say that replaceability in remote places still weighed heavily. Even though the Rohloff has an enviable record of reliability, there have been a few spectacular failures, even a leakage of lubricant during a flight.

    But as with everything in life, there are strengths and drawbacks with every choice.

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  15. You’re right the Rohloff is a risk, but a very small one. The lubricant leakage is not an issue as the hub only requires a film of oil to cover the internals… it’s not an ‘oil bath’ as such and some users seem to overfill on the oil change. I was swung by my experiences in Iceland and on dirt roads to be honest. Mechs getting clogged with grit, seizing up etc etc. As for brakes, V and well adjusted cantis are great, but their performance is affected on dirt roads/trails in my experience.

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  16. Love it Frank! And excellent part choices. You have been quite pragmatic on each component. It is funny what the bike manufacturers will try and sell you versus what is more reliable, easier to maintain, and easiest to replace.

    So where are you going to break it in this year? South America?

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  17. Thanks for those comments Chris. In answer to your question: 2 weeks in Florida in mid-February, then a trans-European in the spring. Watch this space…..

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  18. Awesome! Live vicariously…

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  19. Good post Frank. I am not necessarily an equipment buff but for comfortable long distance riding I swear by two things.

    The Dawes Galaxy has been a touring classic for so long for a reason – it remains the most comfortable ride I have ever sat on – the cycling armchair.

    Saddle – never gone wrong with Rolls.

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  20. Kevin, ask any CTC member for their image of an iconic tourer, and the Galaxy will feature more than any other model. The absolute classic.

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  21. Frank, lovely machine. My daughter made a poster for my birthday yesterday which says:

    You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy a bike and that’s pretty close…

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  22. You have a very wise daughter…….!

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