I asked Grant from Cycle Touring a company based in Lady Grey to give a short explanation on options available for equipment in South Africa. The market changes weekly on available equipment and we will try and provide information to riders of the various options. If you need advice please contact Grant he is a wealth of information and always helps out.
Getting set up for Touring
You can kit out any bike for touring, but to avoid possible tour ending equipment failures, get the best that your budget allows. You can spend R50k on a custom tourer but a basic mtb with descent components will also get the job done. Bear in mind that loaded touring puts extra demands on the drivetrain, wheels, brakes and tyres.
Choose reliable components like Shimano LX/ XT or equivalent quality.
Choose strong traditionally spoked wheels with 32 or more spokes.
Fit touring tyres like Schwalbe’s Marathon range.
A frame with rack/ fender eyelets is first prize, but not essential.
Make sure you are comfortable on the bike, you’ll be spending long hours on it.
You need to fit racks to the bike to carry the load. How much do you need to carry? Do you need to carry bulky camping kit? Do you need to carry extra water?
The size of the load will determine if you need front and rear racks or rear only. Unless you are travelling ultra-light, it is advisable to split the load between the front and rear. This will improve the handling of the bike and put less strain on the components.
The choice of rack depends on the bike you are using. It is best to email me a photo of the bike so that I can advise which racks will fit. Factors like position of the eyelets/ no eyelets, disc brake/ v-brake, wheel and tyre size need to be considered.
Generally, if the bike has eyelets then a rack from Tubus will work otherwise a rack from Old Man Mountain will work.
Panniers and bags.
How much do you need to carry?
The most common set-up is a pair of rear panniers and a handlebar bag. Keep your money, passport, camera/ phone/ GPS, snacks and valuables at hand on and off the bike in the handlebar bag. The rest of your gear goes in the panniers and you can strap extra stuff on top of the rack if needed. If you need to carry more, then add front panniers.
For a light set-up use a pair of front panniers on the rear rack and a handlebar bag.
If you are on a supported tour, then a handlebar bag and Tailrider trunk bag combination will work.
Ortlieb panniers from Germany are the most popular and first choice of long distance tourers around the world. They are simple, reliable and truly waterproof.
Arkel panniers from Canada offer top-end quality. They feature Arkel’s excellent Cam-Lock attachment system as well as the convenience of pockets and zips, but need raincovers (except their Dolphin range).
I keep stock locally of the most popular items. These can be viewed online at www.cycletouring.co.za.
If you need something specially ordered, please contact me for prices and delivery times.
Take a browse through the “Inspiration & Info” page on the website where you’ll find links to some informative websites.
I’m always happy to answer your cycle touring questions. Contact me on 0825767224 or . CycleTouring is also on Facebook.
CycleTouring, 55 Stephenson Street, Lady Grey, 9755. Grant Freeme 0825767224