Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Year for Gear - New Bike

New Bike

First off I should go into the selection process of picking this “new bike”.

Plans to go back to Europe in the Spring had a large monkey wrench tossed in with the announcement by Lufthansa Airlines that they were leaving the Portland, Oregon airport. Personal experience along with the advice of other seasoned travelers had impressed on me to when ever possible travel with one airline with a few stops as possible. With only one airline to deal with when and if things go wrong they have very few options for deflecting blame. Having only one transfer with good luck you and your gear will make it on the same plane and arrive at the same place at….( listen closely as you can hear me knocking on wood) the same time.. (Hopefully Madrid was the exception.)

So now I was stuck with going to Plan ‘B’ finding one Airline to fly with one stop between here and Athens. This wasn't as quick or as easy as I had first thought. Most of the Portland options were long and involved flying to the east coast then jumping the Atlantic.

So then I looked at Seattle, one airline with one stop several choices. I checked each airline baggage rules; low and behold three airlines allow your bicycle as second bag. British Airlines charges you $60 for the second bag; both KLM and AIRFRANCE allow a second bag for no additional fee. Change that as of November that both charge a small fee for a second bag. But this fee is nowhere near the $200.00 each way that most American based and some European airlines want to charge Wahoo I can take a full sized touring bike on my upcoming trip to Greece and still have money left to hit the bakeries.

Now comes the difficult part.. My Raleigh road bike that has served me faithfully on many tours has a slight phobia to ridding on dirt roads. I have talked to it using all the knowledge from my college psychology 101 without getting it to change its mind. Something about narrow tires on gravel during an extended tour of Oregon that causes this impasse.

Oh gee, I will have to get a new bike. And so the research began.

Criteria for this bike:

Fat tires 700x32 minimum

that was my starting point. A wider tire to handle the rough gavel roads in Greece that from first hand experience knew I would encounter.
I also knew that the Island that I was traveling to had very little in higher quality bikes and or spare parts.

Recently I had read of this couple that was doing a world tour on Wally World type bikes. Part of their philosophy was that these tanks were cheap, easy to replace, parts were everywhere, and that if stolen they were out a 100 or so dollars. With the knowledge that the next town would provide them with a new ride or repair if needed... They showed a photograph of their bikes tossed high on a pile of cargo at a river crossing. If that was my Raleigh Road bike stacked up there I would have been in the major stress mode.

I realized that I was not looking for a ten ton Wally World bike but had subscribed partially to their way of thinking. Would or could a good urban cruiser fit my needs and handle a tour? There were several bikes out there that looked possible. 24 speed triples, nice up right flat handle bar options, most even came with fenders.. I looked at the Trek Globe, Raleigh detour and went with the Giant Transend DX from Discover Bicycles in Hood River, my local bike shop. I tossed the comfort saddle in favor of my normal touring seat. Changed the pedals for a set of Shimano duel platform pedals SPD on one side, shoe platform on the other, I was ready to ride.
I am currently using this as my work commuter and to say that I am happy with it is an understatement. Solidly build aluminum frame, 700 x 35 tires, rapid fire shifters, Ergon gp1grips (these are great, as in where have you been all my life?) With the new pedals I was into this bike for just under $600.
Waiting to fit it out with new panniers and a red town & country handlebar bag from to go with the sweet red Detour's Switchback trunk bag that now rides my rear rack. This Detours trunk bag is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles.

You would swear it was normal fabric, really cool knowing that these bottles are not heading for a landfill but have a new life as a functional item. What sold me on it was that it has built in hip belts that turn it from a trunk bag to a lumbar waist pack.
So more photos of my new ride will be posted soon..

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