Gearing Up - I Miss My Electric Toothbrush - CycleBlaze

Gearing Up

Last year Al and I made a few discoveries:

  • We really like touring in Europe without camping gear.
  • Al's Dean Torrey isn't happy carrying heavy loads, especially on the rear rack, and shows its displeasure by shimmying scarily on descents.
  • Following the age-related demise of our lighter two-person tent, we were left with the one we'd bought for kayaking.  It's comfortable but really bulky and heavy at over 4 kg including the footprint.  This tent is a major cause of the shimmy.  (Yes, this is the one we took on our Western Alps trip, but Al was on his DeVinci Caribou.) 
  • Just because the forecast shows no rain in the coming week doesn't mean it won't rain tomorrow.

And last year I collected my new bike!  I'd ordered it around Labour Day of 2018 and, as promised, she was ready to pick up in the fall of 2019.  I was so looking forward to taking her to Italy!

Introducing Maple. I've never named a bike before but I just couldn't call her "Naked". It didn't seem right!
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Then the world changed and any touring must be done at home.  Others may disagree but BC is not a great place for cycle touring in our opinion.  Too many roads are narrow and busy with no shoulder and no alternate route.  Campground don't usually have showers, you rarely get to set up your tent on grass, and are often full.  Non-camping accommodation tends to be really expensive or non-existent.  I guess we've been spoiled by our European trips.

So, what to do?

Faced with touring in BC, we decided we needed to get a new tent.  It wasn't hard to make a decision--we needed an ultralight one with short poles so it would be easier to pack on Al's bike.  When we are touring together, he carries more weight, but he's switched to bikepacking style bags to keep his bike happy.  I've been looking into a new tent since our previous tent disintegrated so I had a good idea of what we should get, but until this year, we weren't sure how much camping we would be doing together.

Enter the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Bikepack edition.  All the features we wanted:  very light, short poles, two doors, two vestibules.  Lots of other people wanted it too, so it was almost impossible to find one, but we did.

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Rob VincentJacquie,
Nicely dressed naked bicycle!
Can I ask you why you didn’t add S&S couplers to this bicycle as it is going to be used for travel(Yes,we will travel again)?
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3 years ago
Jacquie GaudetHi Rob
A bunch of reasons:
- I wanted it to be as light as possible. Al got himself a titanium bike and it just doesn't work well when the bigger, stronger partner has the better (lighter) equipment.
- Packing a very small S&S bike is not easy. With my Co-Motion Pangea, I have to remove the fork because, with it attached, you can't fit the front part of the frame into the case without either the top tube or the down tube crossing through the middle, right where the rear hub needs to go. (I took it back to the shop the first time when I couldn't fit it in; he said it was the hardest one he'd done.). It's also a challenge to fit in the fenders and racks. In fact, about half the time I don't succeed and the rear rack has to go with the panniers. Even with Co-Motion's neoprene padding, my bike gets quite dinged up.
- It hasn't been a cost savings. The couplers plus suitcase added up to over $1000 US and, on my four return trips to Europe with it, I've saved far less. I've been travelling on Aeroplan points, so I'm limited to Air Canada or Lufthansa if I want to go from Vancouver to Europe without passing through the USA. Lufthansa charges about $300 for a bike while AC charges $50. Clearly, shopping around works. I use for research.
- For our first 3 trips, Al borrowed a Thule hard case and paid the bicycle fee. I could have borrowed one from another friend when we took our mountain bikes to the Yukon, but those cases are huge. We had to put it on top of our SUV and I wasn't certain if we could stack two up there, so I splurged on a Thule RoundTrip Pro case. Al was so impressed with it that he bought his own for our 2019 trip. I now own a case that doesn't require couplers, is easy to pack and manoeuvre, and collapses for storage. Plus it includes a bike stand to save my back!
- And last but not least, I opted for Di2 shifting and internal wiring. I don't think that would be compatible with couplers.
So, a longwinded reply to a simple question!
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3 years ago
Rob VincentTo Jacquie GaudetJacquie,
Thx for the reply.
You’ve answered many questions that I have regarding packing a bicycle with couplers.
After several trips to Europe to ride, sometimes renting and other times carrying one of my bikes using AirCaddy, Next trip I’m considering taking my favorite bike which just happens to be my “next” bike. So I was considering whether to leave the S&S coupler box unchecked.
Regarding the AirCaddy, I have found it very easy to ship mudguards and racks while leaving bike mostly assembled. The only downsize to the AirCaddy in fact is it’s size and shape. I once told an airline gate agent at Schiphol when asked what I had in the pie shaped box that it was a piece of Gouda Cheese. Humor was lost right then!
Thx again and appreciate your reply.
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3 years ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Rob VincentI hadn't heard of an Air Caddy when I was researching, but I would have ruled it out because I'd never be able to manoeuvre it or lift it myself and it doesn't have the advantage of a regular bike box of being cheap enough to just discard at the destination.

On my Pyrenees trip, I managed to take my bike in its case and my big duffel through the Barcelona airport, onto a local train, and then several cobbled blocks to my B&B. I'm too "economical" to pay for a taxi, especially travelling solo. On our 2019 trip, Al took his bike in its new Thule case and my bike case (containing his panniers and my duffel) on the train from Bordeaux to Paris and onward to the airport hotel where he left my case in storage for me. No way to do either of those things without a wheeled case.
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3 years ago
Kelly IniguezI have also suffered with a bike prone to shimmy. I was very stubborn about selling that bike because I loved it when it behaved. Finally I had an incident on a local, well known hill that shook me enough to sell the bike. I lost my love of downhills, but hope to get that back. My sympathies to Al.

My experience (which might not apply to him at all), is that changing how I packed the bike did no good at all . . .

I just had a good look around the Naked Bike website - it's certainly a catchy name and sharp looking bikes!

I'm off now to continue reading your journal.
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3 years ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Kelly IniguezWe got a new, much lighter tent which he carries on his handlebars, bikepacking style, instead of on the rear rack. That and smaller panniers to force him to take less stuff solved the problem.
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3 years ago