Road Trip – Bike Getup

Posted: March 24, 2015 in Cycling, Travel
Tags: , ,

bike stick

The Bike…

Here I’m going to look into my bike options for my 3000km Pacific Coast road trip from Canada to Mexico.  I currently own 2012 Specialized Allez Comp road bike that in its current configuration weighs 9.6kg.  I have decided that I am going to make this bike work for the trip even though it is not designed for touring with excess baggage and weight.  The bike has no braze-ons or eyelets on the rear fork section to fit a standard rack.  There are a number of options to configure the bike into a suitable lightweight tour bike. I weigh 65kg so I am aiming for a total weigh in of less that 100kg for me, my bike and my stuff.  This gives me 25kg to play with.  I plan to mostly camp along the way so the bike will need to be set-up to carry all my camping and clothing needs.


Wheel Rim to Tyre SizesThe bike is currently fitted with 700c x 14 rims and 700c x 23 tyres.  The 700c refers to the diameter of the rim/tyre which is generally taken to be 622mm, this is the standard wheel size of most road bikes.  The next number refers to the rim/tyre width.  In my case the rim clincher inner width is 14mm and the tyre width is 23mm.  These tyres are fine for an unloaded bike but with additional weight I will look at fitting wider tyres, this should give a softer ride as there is more air between the bike and the road.  This should help prevent pinch flats and rim/spoke damage due extra damping provided by the wider tires.  It will also give better grip as there will be more tyre in contact with the road.  The chart above shows the tyre widths suitable for use on a particular rim width, for my 14mm wide rims I can go up to a 28mm width tyre and possibly I would get away with using a 32 mm tyre.  One other consideration to take into account when using wider tyres is the drag associated with the increased rolling resistance giving less output for the same input, drags a drag!

I am going to replace the front wheel hub with a dynamo hub allowing me to charge electronic items on route.  The best review/price/weight combination here is the Shimano DH-T780 dynamo hub which can output 3 watts at 6V when riding @ >15k/h, once rectified this should give 500mA output at 5V, enough to charge a smartphone with 2000mAh battery in roughly 5 hours.  This is ideal for charging phones/GPS/lights/battery packs on the go.  I have found a custom built wheel set made with 700c x 19 Mavec A319 rims to which I will add a Schwalbe Marathon 700c x 28 tyre on the rear and the same to the front which I will use as touring wheels.

Update – Post Trip
This wheel combination was perfect for the trip, no popped spokes and no punctures over the entire 3,000km distance, definitely recommended.  I didn’t use the dynamo hub for charging devices at all as I had a decent Anker battery pack which I used to charge everything.  Instead I used the hub for powering my front and rear lights.  I would say don’t bother with it!


The option to travel with a bicycle trailer should be considered as an alternative to loading the bike with all your gear, this option is especially suitable when touring with a road bike as the trailer takes most of the load and they can generally carry 30kg worth of gear.  The trailer can be easily detached which allows unrestricted use of the bike for side trips after camp setup for example.  With the trailer option you can also keep your skinny fast rolling tyres.  After seriously considering this option I have decided not to go this route, I would probably want to harm my trailer after our first encounter with any sort of ascent.  Apart from that I see the following pros and cons to touring with a trailer


  • Removes most of the load carrying off the bike to prevent damage
  • Quickly disconnects leaving behind a nimble & speedy road bike for day trips
  • Improved bike stability as the load is low to the ground
  • Additional load capacity (also a con!)
  • Additional luggage capacity lends itself to over-packing
  • Additional weight, most trailers weigh in at 5 – 6 kgs
  • Extra feeling of insecurity when mingling with city traffic
  • There expensive – expect to pay between €200 & €300 for a decent one
  • Logistic considerations associated with transporting extra hardware
  • One more wheel to puncture
  • Additional wheel equates to additional rolling resistance

After reviewing this option my two favorite trailer options are the BOB Yak (USA) and the Extrawheel (EUR).  If I was to pick one I’d go with the Extrawheel, it also allows you the option to fit a dynamo hub to charge your electronic gadgetry on the go.


Tubus Disco Rack

Tubus Disco

This option is the alternative to using a trailer.  Front and rear racks can be fixed to the bike to which pannier bags can be fitted to transport your gear.  Again a minor problem with this option is that road bikes sometimes don’t have the eyelets/braze-ons required to attach the rack to the bike.  There are a few models that overcome this with ingenious design or additional clamp sets that fix to the bicycle frame before fitting the rack.  This is a lighter option than using a trailer but puts the bike under additional strain and the handling is not as good as with a trailer.  Most decent racks weigh in at  500g/600g.  For the rack I opted for the Tubus Disco as its simple, lightweight and can be fitted to a bike without eyelets, it does require purchase of a separate seat stay mounting kit to bolt it to the bike.  It has a carrying capacity of 20kg which should cover my needs.   Another really good flexible option is the Thule Touring Rack, it can be mounted as a front or rear rack to bikes with or without eyelets, the downside is its pretty heavy and more expensive but definitely worth considering for its flexibility and positive user reviews.

Update – Post Trip
Can’t complain about this, It’s sturdy as a boss and caused me no trouble, ideal for a bike without mounting eyelets


This is a tough one as I haven’t figured out exactly what I need to carry with me yet but the 3 main “stuff” categories are Vaude Aqua Pannierscamping equipment, clothing and food/water.  I want to travel as light as possible while still retaining some comfort on the trip so I have decided to limit my main carrying capacity to 2 rear pannier bags.  Along with these I will have some smaller frame bags for tools/spares and a handlebar bag for food and easy accessible items.  I will not be travelling with front panniers.  The main pannier consideration is that their properly waterproof after which I’m not overly fussed.  For the panniers I choose a pair of Vaude Aqua Bags mainly because I like the look of them and they tick all the bag shaped boxes.  I have also chosen a triangular frame bag and a dry bag for the handlebars where I can attach heavier cylindrical items like a tent and sleep mat using elastic straps.  This will also hopefully help with the front back loading ratio on the bike which will help with uphill stability.

Update – Post Trip
Stay away from these panniers, after the first 3 days they started falling off the bicycle, the plastic holding mechanism just isn’t up to the job and once they start falling off you’ll be trying to fix them every other day.  I suggest going with Ortlieb one of the market leaders in panniers.


Keen Commuter IIIlMy road bike is currently fitted with standard road bike clip in pedals that accept road shoe cleats.  The road shoes I have are fine for short trips but I couldn’t be dealing with the clippety clop walking style when I’m off the bike all day every day for 2 months.  The hard plastic soles of the shoes are also pretty dangerous because they’re slippy as hell, I once fell down a tiled stairs at work wearing them!  Since I’ll be spending quite some time in these shoes I’ve decided to ditch what I have and look for a better option.  In this case I have 2 options, I can refit the standard el cheapo strappy pedals that came with the bike and ride using any shoe I like.  I would go with this option over the shoes I have but luckily there is a better one.  I like to be clipped in when riding and the extra pull on the upstroke should help when trying to get the load uphill.  I am going to replace the current pedals with MTB SPD pedals, I think these are more used on mountain bikes but they are also recommended for touring bikes.  They are better as the cleats under the shoe are recessed so that you can walk normally, also there are some pretty comfortable SPD shoes available which can be used from cycling to hiking Shimano PD-A530 Pedalswithout any alterations.  I have decided to go with Keen Commuter III SPD Sandals, these seem like a pretty decent option and should save on socks!  In cooler wet weather they can be used with merino wool socks and waterproof bootie covers.  There also fine to be walking about in during the summer along the Pacific Coast.  The pedals chosen are Shimano SPD PD-A530 these are flat on one side for any type of shoe and have a cleat clip on the other side that the sandals can clip into using a SPD cleat.

Update – Post Trip
These sandals were great, no need for socks through out the trip and your feet will end up with odd tan patches that people will laugh at you for but who cares!

Tools & Spares

I don’t plan to carry many tools other than the basics as the bike is pretty new and shouldn’t give too much trouble, If it does I should be able to buy/beg/borrow/steal what I need to fix it on the road, the list below should cover all I need.

  • Cross & Flat head screwdrivers as needed
  • Allen Key Set
  • Spoke Wrench
  • Adjustable Spanner
  • Tyre Levers
  • Pump
  • Chain Breaker
  • Chain Links
  • Puncture Repair Kit x 2


  • Tubes x 2
  • Gear Cable x 2
  • Cable Ties
  • Duck Tape

Bike Setup Costs

I bought most of my bike gear from Germany using, shipping to Ireland was only €3.  They have a huge range at really competitive prices.  I know if I was to buy what I bought below in a Dublin bike shop they’d have my pants down!

Qty Item Manufacturer Model Supplier Unit (€) Total (€) Weight (g)
1 Dynamo Wheel Set 28″ Shimano/Mavic DH-T780/A319 189.00 189.00 2493
1 Dynamo Hub Cnnector Shimano HBNX30 3.58 3.58 20
2 Rim Tape Schwalbe PU 622-20mm 1.50 3.00 30
1 Spoke Wrench Lezyne 3.22/3.3/3.45mm 9.95 9.95 29
2 Tyres Schwalbe Marathon 17.90 35.80 1200
2 Tubes Michelin Airstop Race 25/32 3.49 6.98 250
2 Tube Repair Kit Rema Tip Top TT 02 1.80 3.60 50
1 Mudguards SKS Raceblade 35.90 35.90 307
1 Rear Rack Tubus Disco 28″ 69.90 69.90 521
1 Rear Rack Clamp Kit Tubus 16mm Mount 7.90 7.90 42
1 Rear Panniers Vaude Aqua Bag 99.95 99.95 2100
1 Frame Bag I Deuter Front Triangle Bag 15.95 15.95 130
1 Frame Bag II Top Peak All Weather Tri Bag 19.95 19.95 65
2 Pro Storage Bottle Pro 750ml 3.49 6.98 50
1 SPD Bike Sandals Keen Commuter III 108.90 108.90 370
1 SPD Pedals Shimano PD-A530 34.90 34.90 383
1 SPD Cleats Shimano SH-51 8.95 8.95 40
1 Booties Shimano H2O 22.95 22.95 50
2 Break/Gear Cable Shimano 1.2mm x 2200mm 1.90 3.80 20
2 Chain Links KMC 10 Speed 2.99 5.98 20
2 Bottle Cage M-Wave Silver 2.95 5.90 100
Totals         €693.92 8170g


This pretty much covers all I can think of when it comes to the Bike stuff I need.  Time will illuminate any gaping holes in my planning……6 weeks to go!

Coming Next….

Camping Equipment & Clothing (2 panniers worth!)

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